The Horrible History of Thanksgiving

Before you fill your plate, please remember why we mark this day.
By Charles M. Blow, November 27, 2019
Credit...Barney Burstein/Corbis/VCG, via Getty Images

When I was a child, Thanksgiving was simple. It was about turkey and dressing, love and laughter, a time for the family to gather around a feast and be thankful for the year that had passed and be hopeful for the year to come.
In school, the story we learned was simple, too: Pilgrims and Native Americans came together to give thanks.
We made pictures of the gathering, everyone smiling. We colored turkeys or made them out of construction paper. We sometimes had a mini-feast in class.
I thought it was such a beautiful story: People reaching across race and culture to share with one another, to commune with one another. But that is not the full story of Thanksgiving. Like so much of American history, the story has had its least attractive features winnow away — white people have been centered in the narrative and all atrocity has been politely papered over.

So, let us correct that.
What is widely viewed as the first Thanksgiving was a three-day feast to which the Pilgrims had invited the local Wampanoag people as a celebration of the harvest.
About 90 came, almost twice the number of Pilgrims. This is the first myth: that the first Thanksgiving was dominated by the Pilgrim and not the Native American. The Native Americans even provided the bulk of the food, according to the Manataka American Indian Council.
This is counter to the Pilgrim-centric view so often presented. Indeed, two of the most famous paintings depicting the first Thanksgiving — one by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe and the other by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris — feature the natives in a subservient position, outnumbered and crouching on the ground on the edge of the frame.
The Pilgrims had been desperate and sick and dying but had finally had some luck with crops.
The second myth is that the Wampanoag were feasting with friends. That does not appear to be true.
As Peter C. Mancall, a professor at the University of Southern California, wrote for CNN on Wednesday, Gov. William Bradford would say in his book “Of Plymouth Plantation,” which he began to write in 1630, that the Puritans had arrived in “a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men.”

Mancall further explained that after the visits to the New World by Samuel de Champlain and Capt. John Smith in the early 1600s, “a terrible illness spread through the region” among the Native Americans. He continued: “Modern scholars have argued that indigenous communities were devastated by leptospirosis, a disease caused by Old World bacteria that had likely reached New England through the feces of rats that arrived on European ships.”
This weakening of the native population by disease from the new arrivals’ ships created an opening for the Pilgrims.
King James’s patent called this spread of disease a wonderfullPlague” that might help to devastate and depopulate the region. Some friends.
But many of those native people not killed by disease would be killed by direct deed.
As Grace Donnelly wrote in a 2017 piece for Fortune:
The celebration in 1621 did not mark a friendly turning point and did not become an annual event. Relations between the Wampanoag and the settlers deteriorated, leading to the Pequot War. In 1637, in retaliation for the murder of a man the settlers believed the Wampanoags killed, they burned a nearby village, killing as many as 500 men, women, and children. Following the massacre, William Bradford, the Governor of Plymouth, wrote that for “the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.”
Just 16 years after the Wampanoag shared that meal, they were massacred.
This was just one of the earliest episodes in which settlers and colonists did something horrible to the natives. There would be other massacres and many wars.
According to History.com, “From the time Europeans arrived on American shores, the frontier — the edge territory between white man’s civilization and the untamed natural world — became a shared space of vast, clashing differences that led the U.S. government to authorize over 1,500 wars, attacks and raids on Indians, the most of any country in the world against its indigenous people.”
And this says nothing of all the treaties brokered and then broken or all the grabbing of land removing populations, including the most famous removal of natives: the Trail of Tears. Beginning in 1831, tens of thousands of Native Americans were forced to relocate from their ancestral lands in the Southeast to lands west of the Mississippi River. Many died along the way.

I spent most of my life believing a gauzy, kindergarten version of Thanksgiving, thinking only of feasts and family, turkey and dressing.
I was blind, willfully ignorant, I suppose, to the bloodier side of the Thanksgiving story, to the more honest side of it.
But I’ve come to believe that is how America would have it if it had its druthers: We would be blissfully blind, living in a soft world bleached of hard truth. I can no longer abide that.



The Vicious Reality Behind the Thanksgiving Myth

If Americans continue to insist on associating the holiday with Pilgrims and Indians, the least we can do is try to get the story straight.
By David J. Silverman, November 27, 2019
Credit...Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Generations of Americans have told themselves a patriotic story of the supposed first Thanksgiving that misrepresents colonization as consensual and bloodless. 
The story goes like this: English Pilgrims cram aboard the Mayflower and brave the stormy Atlantic to seek religious freedom in America. They disembark at Plymouth Rock and enter the howling wilderness equipped with their proto-Constitution, the Mayflower Compact, and the confidence that they are God’s chosen people. Yet sickness and starvation halve their population during the first winter and challenges their faith. 
Meanwhile, the neighboring Indians (rarely identified by tribe), with whom the English desperately wish to trade for food, keep a wary distance. Just when Plymouth seems destined to become another lost colony, miraculously, the Natives make contact through the interpreters Samoset and Squanto (the story sidesteps how these figures learned English, nor does it explain why the Indians suddenly became so friendly). The sachem (or chief), Ousamequin (whom the English know, from his title, as “Massasoit”), even agrees to a treaty of alliance with Plymouth. 
Over the spring and summer, the Indians feed the Pilgrims and teach them how to plant corn; the colony begins to thrive. In the fall, the two parties seal their friendship with the first Thanksgiving. The subsequent 50-year peace allows colonial New England and, by extension, the United States to become a citadel of freedom, democracy, Christianity and plenty.

As for what happens to the Indians next, this story has nothing to say. The Indians’ legacy is to present America as a gift to white people — or in other words, to concede to colonialism. Like Pocahontas and Sacagawea, the other famous Indians of American history, they help the colonizers and then move offstage.
The Wampanoags, who are the Indians in this tale, have long contended that the Thanksgiving myth sugarcoats the viciousness of colonial history for Native people. It does. The Pilgrims did not enter an empty wilderness ripe for the taking. Human civilization in the Americas was every bit as ancient and rich as in Europe. That is why Wampanoag country was full of villages, roads, cornfields, monuments, cemeteries and forests cleared of underbrush. Generations of Native people had made it that way with the expectation of passing along their land to their descendants.
Contrary to the Thanksgiving myth, the Pilgrim-Wampanoag encounter was no first-contact meeting. Rather, it followed a string of bloody episodes since 1524 in which European explorers seized coastal Wampanoags to be sold into overseas slavery or to be trained as interpreters and guides. The Wampanoags reached out to the Pilgrims not only despite this violent history, but also partly because of it. 
In 1616, a European ship conveyed an epidemic disease to the Wampanoags that over the next three years took a staggering toll on their population. Afterward, the Narragansett tribe to the west began raiding the Wampanoags. To answer this threat, Ousamequin wanted the English to serve the Wampanoags both as military allies and as a source of European weaponry. His use of Squanto (or Tisquantum) as a go-between with the Plymouth settlers also stemmed from the Wampanoags’ history of being raided by Europeans. Squanto knew English because he had spent years in captivity in Spain and England before orchestrating an unlikely return home shortly before the Mayflower’s arrival. Such dark themes are hardly the stuff of Americans’ grade school Thanksgiving pageants.
The Thanksgiving myth also sanitizes the power politics of the Pilgrim-Wampanoag alliance. For years afterward, Ousmequin threatened rivals in and outside the Wampanoag tribe with violence from his English allies. Such intimidation played a far more important role in the Wampanoags’ alliance with Plymouth than the first Thanksgiving.

And the myth distorts history by highlighting the alliance while ignoring its deterioration. After Ousamequin’s death in 1660, the English and the Wampanoags constantly teetered on the edge of war because of the colonists’ aggressive, underhanded expansion. These tensions culminated in King Philip’s War of 1675-76, in which the English killed thousands of Native people — including Ousamequin’s son, Pumetacom — and enslaved thousands more. Plymouth and Massachusetts celebrated their bloody victory with a day of thanksgiving.
If Americans continue to insist on associating Thanksgiving with Pilgrims and Indians, the least we can do is try to get the story straight. We should put Wampanoags at its center and acknowledge the remarkable fact of their survival to this very day. 
The challenges are undoubtedly stark. The Native American past and present tend to make white people uncomfortable because they turn patriotic histories and heroes inside out and loosen claims on morality, authority and justice. They threaten to tear down monuments and rename buildings. But confronting the dark history of colonialism in Indian country also promises to shed light, cultivate national humility and, most important, signal to Native people that the country values them. 
As one gracious Aquinnah Wampanoag elder once told me, “We do ourselves no good by hiding from the truth.” I think she was talking about all of us. 
David J. Silverman is a professor of history at George Washington University and the author, most recently, of “This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving.”



Oakland Un-housed Neighbors
have created the

Oakland City Hall

Oscar Grant Plaza
(Frank H. Ogawa Plaza)
14th and Broadway St.
(nr. 12th Street BART)

Indybay Article:

Article & Photos by Dave Id

Un-housed folks who have been traumatized and brutalized by the city of Oakland, whose encampments have been destroyed, have moved onto Oscar Grant Plaza asking "Where do we go?" Where are the millions that were set aside to upgrade, not evict encampments and to build permanent housing for the homeless?
Oakland like other cities is letting people die on the streets.. 

Tents are up in Oscar Grant Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall to protest the city's never ending homeless encampment demolitions and evictions, its lack of seriousness and urgency in addressing the housing crisis.  If you can support, come by!  

This action is 24/7.

If you can help with supplies or just come by – all are welcomed!

Action is organized by: The Village, The East Oakland Collective, and First They Came For the Homeless…



Women in Black Annual Black Friday Action.

Friday, Nov. 29, 11:45:  Meet at Powell St. BART station. 
12:00:  March to Union Square for one hour vigil, chants and "anti-carols".

1:00 return to Powell St.
SFPD will escort us..

Please join them if you can,  
Toby     (We'll be out of town)

Dear all,

Please join Bay Area Women in Black for our annual Black Friday march and vigil in San Francisco. Our fliers and signs will carry the message, on the most profitable shopping day of the year in the US, that people's purchases may be contributing to the illegal and deadly Israeli occupation and colonizing of Palestine.  We will name specific products to be boycotted, explaining the rationale of each call for boycott. We will also urge people to remind their elected representatives of the role of US taxpayers in the increased violence of the Israeli military government toward Palestinian civilians, particularly children,  and in the official steps that Israel is taking, with US support, toward a state worse than apartheid South Africa.

Please dress in black.  Drums are welcome. Let us know if you are willing to wear a "puppet" (see attached photo by Phil Pasquini). And please pass this message along to allies.ro

Peace and be well,
Judith and BAWiB



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.





Federal Executions Put On Hold

Late last night, a U.S. district judge halted four federal executions scheduled for this December and January — the first executions by the federal government set to take place in 16 years. Of course, this is welcome news and an answer to our prayers.
The court's decision, although subject to appeal, prevents the federal government from resuming the practice of executing its citizens and perpetuating a culture of death.
Find more information here:
At the moment, CMN is working to determine next steps to ensure the 16-year hiatus from federal executions becomes permanent. 
Please join me in holding in prayer all those who sit on federal death row, the victims of the crimes which put them there, and the members of our federal government with the power to choose hope over death.
In solidarity,

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy
Executive Director

Contact Us

Catholic Mobilizing Network

415 Michigan Ave. NE, Suite 210

Washington, DC 20017
(202) 541-5290
Having trouble viewing this email? 



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

"The world is facing unprecedented crises, none of which can be solved within the existing capitalist system. We are in a race against time. The need for the radical reorganization of society on a socialist basis has never been greater or more urgent," said Gloria La Riva in announcing her 2020 presidential candidacy as the nominee of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. 
La Riva's vice-presidential running mate is the renowned Native leader and political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who has been unjustly incarcerated for more than 43 years. He was railroaded into prison by the FBI and federal prosecutors in 1976, despite his innocence. A worldwide movement demands his freedom.
In a letter from the Federal Corrections Unit in Coleman Florida accepting the nomination, Leonard Peltier wrote: "I am not only a Native traditionalist, but also a socialist, who is against any abuse and exploitation of the working and poor class! 
Plus, as you are well aware, we Natives are the true environmentalists. These are just reminders. Nothing has changed for me! So, I'm more than honored to accept your offer to run on your VP ticket."
In announcing their campaign, La Riva and Peltier say: "The greatest threats confronting the working class and humanity worldwide include the growing danger of new and wider wars, catastrophic climate change, and the corporate destruction of stable employment — which will have even more devastating consequences in the looming economic crisis." 



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/


Leonard Peltier's 2019 Thanksgiving Message: "Walking on Stolen Land"

by Levi Rickert
Published November 23, 2019

COLEMAN, FLORIDA – Leonard Peltier, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who is incarcerated at the U.S. Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida, for his 1977 conviction in connection with a shootout with U.S. government forces, where two FBI agents and one young American Indian lost their lives..
Peltier, who is considered a political prisoner of war by many, released this statement on Thanksgiving through the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee:

The year of 2019 is coming to a close and with it, comes the day most Americans set aside as a day for Thanksgiving. As I let my mind wander beyond the steel bars and concrete walls, I try to imagine what the people who live outside the prison gates are doing, and what they are thinking. Do they ever think of the Indigenous people who were forced from their homelands? Do they understand that with every step they take, no matter the direction, that they are walking on stolen land? Can they imagine, even for one minute, what it was like to watch the suffering of the women, the children and babies and yes, the sick and elderly, as they were made to keep pushing west in freezing temperatures, with little or no food? These were my people and this was our land.. There was a time when we enjoyed freedom and were able to hunt buffalo and gather the foods and sacred medicines. We were able to fish and we enjoyed the clean clear water! My people were generous, we shared everything we had, including the knowledge of how to survive the long harsh winters or the hot humid summers. We were appreciative of the gifts from our Creator and remembered to give thanks on a daily basis. We had ceremonies and special dances that were a celebration of life.

With the coming of foreigners to our shores, life as we knew it would change drastically. Individual ownership was foreign to my people. Fences?? Unheard of, back then. We were a communal people and we took care of each other. Our grandparents weren't isolated from us! They were the wisdom keepers and story tellers and were an important link in our families. The babies? They were and are our future! Look at the brilliant young people who put themselves at risk, fighting to keep our water and environment clean and safe for the generations yet to come. They are willing to confront the giant, multi-national corporations by educating the general public of the devastation being caused. I smile with hope when I think of them. They are fearless and ready to speak the truth to all who are willing to listen. We also remember our brothers and sisters of Bolivia, who are rioting, in support of the first Indigenous President, Evo Morales. His commitment to the people, the land, their resources and protection against corruption is commendable. We recognize and identify with that struggle so well.

So today, I thank all of the people who are willing to have an open mind, those who are willing to accept the responsibility of planning for seven generations ahead, those who remember the sacrifices made by our ancestors so we can continue to speak our own language, practice our own way of thankfulness in our own skin, and that we always acknowledge and respect the Indigenous linage that we carry.

For those of you who are thankful that you have enough food to feed your families, please give to those who aren't as fortunate. If you are warm and have a comfortable shelter to live in, please give to those who are cold and homeless, if you see someone hurting and in need of a kind word or two, be that person who steps forward and lends a hand. And especially, when you see injustice anywhere, please be brave enough to speak up to confront it.

I want to thank all who are kind enough to remember me and my family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for continuing to support and believe in me. There isn't a minute in any day that passes without me hoping that this will be the day I will be granted freedom. I long for the day when I can smell clean fresh air, when I can feel a gentle breeze in my hair, witness the clouds as their movement hides the sun and when the moon shines the light on the path to the sacred Inipi. That would truly be a day I could call a day of Thanksgiving.

Thank you for listening to whomever is voicing my words. My Spirit is there with you.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

Levi Rickert, a tribal citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, is the publisher and editor of Native News Online. Previously, he served as editor of the Native News Network. He is a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan.



Eddie Conway's Update on Forgotten Political Prisoners

EDDIE CONWAY: I'm Eddie Conway, host of Rattling the Bars. As many well-known political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal continue to suffer in prison…
MUMIA ABU JAMAL: In an area where there is corporate downsizing and there are no jobs and there is only a service economy and education is being cut, which is the only rung by which people can climb, the only growth industry in this part of Pennsylvania, in the Eastern United States, in the Southern United States, in the Western United States is "corrections," for want of a better word. The corrections industry is booming. I mean, this joint here ain't five years old.
EDDIE CONWAY: …The media brings their stories to the masses. But there are many lesser-known activists that have dropped out of the spotlight, grown old in prison, or just been forgotten. For Rattling the Bars, we are spotlighting a few of their stories. There was a thriving Black Panther party in Omaha, Nebraska, headed by David Rice and Ed Poindexter. By 1968, the FBI had began plans to eliminate the Omaha Black Panthers by making an example of Rice and Poindexter. It would take a couple of years, but the FBI would frame them for murder.
KIETRYN ZYCHAL: In the 90s, Ed and Mondo both applied to the parole board. There are two different things you do in Nebraska, the parole board would grant you parole, but because they have life sentences, they were told that they have to apply to the pardons board, which is the governor, the attorney general, and the secretary of state, and ask that their life sentences be commuted to a specific number of years before they would be eligible for parole.
And so there was a movement in the 90s to try to get them out on parole. The parole board would recommend them for parole because they were exemplary prisoners, and then the pardons board would not give them a hearing. They wouldn't even meet to determine whether they would commute their sentence.
EDDIE CONWAY: They served 45 years before Rice died in the Nebraska State Penitentiary. After several appeals, earning a master's degree, writing several books and helping other inmates, Poindexter is still serving time at the age of 75.
KEITRYN ZYCHAL: Ed Poindexter has been in jail or prison since August of 1970. He was accused of making a suitcase bomb and giving it to a 16-year-old boy named Duane Peak, and Duane Peak was supposed to take the bomb to a vacant house and call 911, and report that a woman was dragged screaming into a vacant house, and when police officers showed up, one of those police officers was killed when the suitcase bomb exploded.
Ed and his late co-defendant, Mondo we Langa, who was David Rice at the time of the trial, they have always insisted that they had absolutely nothing to do with this murderous plot, and they tried to get back into court for 50 years, and they have never been able to get back into court to prove their innocence. Mondo died in March of 2016 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Ed is going to turn 75 this year, I think.. And he has spent the majority of his life in prison. It will be 50 years in 2020 that he will be in prison.
EDDIE CONWAY: There are at least 20 Black Panthers still in prison across the United States. One is one of the most revered is H. Rap Brown, known by his Islamic name, Jamil Al-Amin.
KAIRI AL-AMIN: My father has been a target for many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many years of the federal government, and I think him being housed these last 10 years in federal penitentiaries without federal charges show that the vendetta is still strong. The federal government has not forgotten who he was as H. Rap Brown, or who he is as Imam Jamil Al-Amin.
JAMIL AL-AMIN: See, it's no in between. You are either free or you're a slave. There's no such thing as second-class citizenship.
EDDIE CONWAY: Most people don't realize he's still in prison. He's serving a life sentence at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson.
KAIRI AL-AMIN: Our campaign is twofold.. One, how can egregious constitutional rights violations not warrant a new trial, especially when they were done by the prosecution. And two, my father is innocent. The facts point to him being innocent, which is why we're pushing for a new trial. We know that they can't win this trial twice. The reason they won the first time was because of the gag order that was placed on my father which didn't allow us to fight in the court of public opinion as well as the court of law. And so when you don't have anyone watching, anything can be done without any repercussion.
EDDIE CONWAY: Another well-known political prisoner that has been forgotten in the media and in the public arena is Leonard Peltier. Leonard Peltier was a member of the American Indian Movement and has been in prison for over 40 years and is now 75 years old.
SPEAKER: Leonard Peltier represents, in a very real sense, the effort, the struggle by indigenous peoples within the United States to exercise their rights as sovereign nations, recognized as such in treaties with the United States. For the government of the United States, which has colonized all indigenous peoples to claim boundaries, keeping Leonard in prison demonstrates the costs and consequences of asserting those rights.
EDDIE CONWAY: Leonard Peltier suffers from a host of medical issues including suffering from a stroke. And if he is not released, he will die in prison.
LEONARD PELTIER: I'll be an old man when I get out, if I get out.
PAULETTE D'AUTEUIL: His wellbeing is that he rarely gets a family visit. His children live in California and North Dakota. Both places are a good 2000 miles from where he's at in Florida, so it makes it time consuming as well as expensive to come and see him. He is, health-wise, we are still working on trying to get some help for his prostate, and there has been some development of some spots on his lungs, which we are trying to get resolved. There's an incredible mold issue in the prison, especially because in Florida it's so humid and it builds up. So we're also dealing with that.
EDDIE CONWAY: These are just a few of the almost 20 political prisoners that has remained in American prisons for 30 and 40 years, some even longer. Mutulu Shakur has been in jail for long, long decades. Assata Shakur has been hiding and forced into exile in Cuba. Sundiata has been in prison for decades; Veronza Bower, The Move Nine. And there's just a number of political prisoners that's done 30 or 40 years.
They need to be released and they need to have an opportunity to be back with their family, their children, their grandchildren, whoever is still alive. Any other prisoners in the United States that have the same sort of charges as those people that are being held has been released up to 15 or 20 years ago. That same justice system should work for the political prisoners also.
Thank you for joining me for this episode of Rattling the Bars. I'm Eddie Conway.



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



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."

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The Campaign To Bring Mumia Home


As many of you know, Jalil has been to the parole board twelve times since 2002, when he first become parole eligible.

Jalil has been denied each time for a variety of reasons, all of which are tantamount to the nature of the crime—something that will never change.

Pursuant to NYS Constitutional Article IV, Section 4, Jalil has filed an Application to Commute the Sentence to Time Served with NYS Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Governor Cuomo has the authority to grant the Application and order Jalil's immediate release from NYS DOCCS custody.

Since the Application's submission it has been revealed that the NYS Board of Parole had a "secret deal" with the NYC Police Benevolent Association (PBA), permitting them to submit opposition letters directly to the Board of Parole from their website. These opposition letters negatively influenced the decision-making process, ensuring Jalil would not receive a fair and impartial parole hearing. During Jalil's 2014 parole hearing, he was told that "current and former members of law enforcement" were parole commissioners, many of whom decided to deny his release.

On December 4th & 5th, 2016, The New York Times published an extensive exposé entitled "The Scourge of Racial Bias in New York States Prisons" that informed: "The racism can be felt from the moment a black inmate enters New York's upstate prisons." This implacable racism has been institutionalized in the entire parole system, permitting subjective biases of parole commissioners to influence parole decisions.

Since the submission of the Application to Commute the Sentence to Time Served, Governor Cuomo has received many letters and communications urging him to grant Jalil's Application. However, due to the revelation of political collusion between the Board of Parole and the PBA, and the PBA/media backlash and scrutiny of the Parole Board's release of Jalil's co-defendant, it has become necessary to launch this initiative in support of Jalil's Application.

Jalil exceeds all requirements for release. His release on parole has been supported by activists, academics and community leaders from across the country and around the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the family of one of the victims. The political nature of his conviction has prevented parole commissioners from giving fair and impartial consideration to his release, despite the overwhelming community support.


During his 48+ years of his imprisonment, Jalil has accomplished the following: Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, Certificate of Architectural Drafting, Certificate of Computer Literacy.

He has established many programs, such as the first Men's Group for therapeutic training in the NY State prison system, an African/Black Studies program, a computer literacy class, a Sociology class and a poetry class. He has received two commendations for preventing prison riots. He has raised money for the children's fund, was office manager of the computer lab and a teacher's aide for GED classes.

Jalil is also the recipient of several certificates for rehabilitation programming, and is a published author, poet, educator and blogger.

As a human rights advocate, he had the first U.S. prisoners national petition heard and recorded by a Special Committee at the United Nations on U.S. prisons and the existence of U.S. political prisoners. He has litigated several civil rights complaints on behalf of prisoners. In 2000, Essence magazine featured an article on father-daughter relationships. The article, entitled "Daddy Says," quoted Jalil stressing the importance of maintaining these relations even during incarceration.

We request that people do the following for Jalil throughout the months of November and December:

We are requesting that Friends and Supporters call, tweet, email and write NYS Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's office and appeal to him to grant Jalil's Application to Commute the Sentence to Time Served.

We also request that this initiative be widely posted on social media platforms, encouraging freedom loving people around the world to join in this initiative.

Since this will be ongoing throughout the months of November and December, we propose that people tweet and/or email Governor Cuomo every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and call and write the Governor every Tuesday and Thursday.

Communications to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's office must refer to Jalil as: ANTHONY JALIL BOTTOM, 77A4283, Sullivan Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 116, Fallsburg, New York 12733-0115.

Write the Governor:

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

Call the Governor: 1-518-474-8390

Tweet the Governor: @NYGovCuomo

For more information concerning Jalil's case, check his website: www.freejalil.com and https://thejerichomovement.com/

Click here to download a pamphlet to distribute to your family, friends, neighbors, faith group, etc.

"There is no time for despair, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilizations heal."

-Toni Morrison



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



Action Alert for Shaka Shakur

Urgent Action Alert: Stop Prison Officials from Blocking Shaka Shakur's Access to Educational and Vocational Services

Shaka Shakur is a politically active, incarcerated, New Afrikan who was transferred on December 18th, 2018, from the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) to the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) as part of campaign to neutralize his activism by prison officials. This transfer was done in violation of his due process rights as a prisoner. He is currently incarcerated at the Sussex 1 State Prison in Waverly, Virginia.. His VA DOC # is 135647.  Since being held there, his right to access educational and vocational programs has been violated. Below is a summary of these violations in Shaka's own words:

"1) i was moved out of the state of Indiana against my will in violation of Indiana Code and due process. i was never afforded any form of hearing where i was informed as to why i was being shipped out of state nor allowed to present evidence challenging the decision to move me.

2) Upon my arrival to the prison system in Virginia, i was never given any form of orientation.. I've never been informed as to what my rights are, nor informed as to how i can go about challenging any decision made by the state of Va. I've only been informed that the state of Va has custody of my body and that all decisions pertaining to my classification, security level and placement was being determined and controlled by the state of Indiana and its Department of Corrections (IDOC).

3) There is supposed to be an IDOC liaison that oversees my placement in Va and communicates with an official in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) named Ms. Collins. She has refused to respond to any and all efforts to contact her by myself or any outside sources. Any questions i've had pertaining to video visits, security level, placement, and classification have gone unanswered except for being told that it is up to Indiana.

4) Per Indiana Code i am supposed to be afforded the same rights and privileges as if i was still in Indiana. That includes jobs, programming, religious services etc.s To deny me such is a const violation and discrimination. In fact, it denies me equal protection under the law. I am not being allowed to find a job outside of the housing unit. i'm being told that i'm not going to be allowed to drop my security level even though my points will drop as low as 10 points in Va and less than 15 in indiana. Both of which would qualify me for a level 3 security level placement.

5) The counselor Ponce falsified my classification review/progress report by lying and saying that i had assaulted a staff member within the last 12 months. This was in order to justify my continued placement at a level 4/5 prison. When this was brought to her attention, she pretended that she had corrected it and instead further falsified the report and then blamed it on Indiana. i have copies of these documents and my lawyer have the originals [see images posted in event below]."


6) The doctors at Sussex 1 have not been provided with Shaka's medical records past 2014. Shaka experiences nerve and other issues due to a degenerative disc on which he has been operated. Without these records he cannot be provided with the necessary care for his chronic condition.

7)There is no appeals process available to Shaka or any other out-of-state inmate. Indiana code establishes the sender state [Indiana] as having unchallenged authority in cases of interstate transfer. Having access only to internal grievance procedures in Virginia, Shaka is unable to appeal decisions made in Indiana

You can read about Shaka's long history of activism and rebellious activity in Indiana prisons here and here..

What You Can Do to Support Shaka:

On Monday, 11/11, call  the Indiana DOC Executive Director of Classification Jack Hendrix at (317) 232-2247. Leave a message with whoever you are able to speak to, or a voicemail. You can also email Jack Hendrix at jdhendrix@idoc.in.gov.

Please tell them to drop Shaka's  security level dropped to a level 3 for which he qualifies so that he can access vocational and educational programs, or to authorize Shaka's lateral transfer to a facility where he can be allowed to participate in vocational and educational programs.

As Shaka stated:

"How am i supposed to work my way back to Indiana if i'm not being allowed to participate in anything positive or constructive?"

To make a donation to Shaka Shakur's legal defense fund and for more info on his case, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/shaka-shakur-legal-defense-fund

For more information, contact Seth Donnelly at sethdonnelly2000@yahoo.com..


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.
    ©2019 ILPDC | 116 W Osborne Avenue Tampa, FL 33603 

    Free Leonard Peltier!






    1) White Alabama Officer Guilty of Manslaughter for Killing Black Man
    The officer shot Greg Gunn after initiating a stop-and-frisk encounter as the unarmed man was walking home from a card game in 2016.
    By Vanessa Swales and Andeel Hassan, November 22, 2019
    Greg Gunn, 58, was killed by a Montgomery, Ala.., police officer in 2016.Credit...Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser, via Associated Press

    An Alabama jury found a white police officer guilty of manslaughter on Friday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in Montgomery in 2016, the latest case in which an officer has been held to account for using lethal force. 
    The officer, Aaron Cody Smith, 26, faced a murder charge, but the 12-person jury also had the option of convicting him of manslaughter, which it did after a few hours of deliberation. He resigned from the Montgomery Police Department after the verdict, Capt. Regina Duckett, a spokeswoman, said in an email.
    Mr. Smith was patrolling the Mobile Heights neighborhood in February 2016 when he stopped Greg Gunn, who was returning home from a late-night card game. According to Mr. Smith, Mr. Gunn fled midway through the stop-and-frisk encounter. 
    Mr. Smith chased Mr. Gunn, used his Taser on him three times, struck him with a metal baton and fired seven bullets from his gun. Five hit Mr. Gunn, who died steps from his home.

    He later said that Mr. Gunn, 58, fit the description of a black man in dark clothing who had previously run from him in an area where burglaries had been reported.. He also said Mr. Gunn tried to strike him with a paint pole during the encounter.

    Prosecutors said Mr. Smith's account had many inconsistencies, including about the struggle that broke out after he patted down Mr. Gunn. Mr.. Smith did not turn on his body and dashboard cameras after getting out of his vehicle to stop Mr. Gunn at 3:20 a.m.
    "We were very confident in the facts of the case," Daryl Bailey, the Montgomery County district attorney, said in comments to reporters after leaving the courtroom. Mr. Bailey said his office would ask for the maximum punishment, which is 20 years. Mr. Smith remained in custody after the verdict and his lawyer, Mickey McDermott, said he would appeal.
    "He needs to be in the county jail until he goes to prison just like everybody else," said Mr. Bailey, who said there was no sentencing date yet.

    The case created tensions between the city and the district attorney, who criticized the decision to allow Mr. Smith to remain on the payroll for the last three years. But Mr. Bailey reiterated on Friday afternoon that "this is not a conviction against the Montgomery Police Department."
    There have been at least a dozen fatal police shootings in Alabama since 2015, according to a database created by The Washington Post. In February, an officer who killed a 21-year-old black man he had mistaken for a gunman was ultimately not taken to trial.
    "This is a tragedy that we must not forget, we must learn from it, and move forward together to do everything in our power to make sure something like this never happens again," Steven Reed, Montgomery's mayor, said in a statement. 
    "Better training could prevent a tragedy and prevent crime in general," he added, saying he would examine police practices. "One family's wounds will never be fully healed."
    A national movement for racial justice, Black Lives Matter, was ignited when Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York were killed by white police officers in the summer of 2014. Since then, there have been several more high-profile cases across the country in which a black man was killed by a white officer.. 
    Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago officer, was sentenced to seven years in prison in January for murdering Laquan McDonald.. Last month, Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years after murdering Botham Jean in his Dallas apartment. Ms.. Guyger was off duty at the time of the shooting.
    The verdict in the Alabama case was the culmination of a winding judicial process
    Eight judges had recused themselves in the case, which was relocated from Montgomery, where protests broke out after the shooting, to Ozark, about 85 miles southeast, in the majority-white Dale County. There had been concerns that news media coverage of the case could taint the pool of jurors.

    "They brought this case to a very conservative county, expecting a different outcome," Franklin Gunn, Mr. Gunn's brother, said after the verdict was read. "But I believe that we have seen the best of Alabama today. One bad apple in a bunch has been weeded out."
    Neil Vigdor contributed reporting.



    2) Glenn Greenwald: Bolsonaro Wants to Silence Free Press in Brazil
    The president's political movement regards journalists as obstacles and prefers intimidation and violence to civic discourse.
    By Glen Greenwald, November 25, 2019
    Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil making gestures mimicking a gun, a signature of his campaign, at the launch of his new political party, Alliance for Brazil, on Thursday.Credit...Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

    RIO DE JANEIRO — On Nov. 7, I was physically assaulted by a far-right, pro-Bolsonaro pundit, Augusto Nunes, at a television and radio studio in São Paulo while we were live on the air.
    This is the latest, and perhaps most vivid, example of journalists and news organizations in Brazil being threatened, menaced and subjected to actual violence by the Bolsonaro movement, all for doing our jobs..
    The episode illustrates how press freedoms and the democratic order in Brazil are endangered — not just with words, but violence — by this authoritarian movement that now wields power in the world's fifth-most-populous country.
    Mr. Nunes had once been a prominent mainstream journalist as the editor in chief of the country's largest newsweekly, Veja. Seven weeks before he assaulted me, he responded on his radio program to a series of journalistic exposés I have published in The Intercept revealing corruption at the highest levels of the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.

    Seemingly out of nowhere, he called on a family court judge to investigate whether I and my husband, David Miranda, a congressman for the Socialism and Liberty Party, are taking proper care of our two adopted children. A judge should investigate, he argued, since we both work.
    But that attack on our family did not come out of nowhere. President Bolsonaro has long featured anti-L.G.B.T. animus as a central weapon in his political arsenal and has repeatedly used anti-gay attacks against me. He and his allies have attacked other journalists and activists who oppose him.
    During the last six months of The Intercept's reporting on Mr. Bolsonaro's government, the right-wing leader not only repeatedly and publicly threatened me with prison, but also explicitly accused me and my husband of having a sham marriage, and of having adopted Brazilian children as a fraud, in order — he claimed — to enable me to avoid being deported. With that ugly history from the president himself, Mr. Nunes's attack as retaliation for the journalism I've been doing made complete sense.
    On the program in which I appeared with Mr. Nunes, I told him on the air that his was an act of cowardice, because he'd never call for a similar investigation for the millions of heterosexual couples with children who both work, including his own bosses and colleagues. He then physically attacked me, and the video of the attack quickly went viral on social media within Brazil and outside of it.. I was not hurt, but the reaction in Brazil to that incident speaks volumes about the imperiled state of press freedoms and democracy here.
    While mainstream journalists and political officials from across the ideological spectrum denounced Mr.. Nunes's attack, the leading figures of the Bolsonaro movement, including the president's two politician sons and his "guru," Olavo de Carvalho, explicitly cheered it. That the violence against me should be worse the next time — not a slap but a closed-fist punch or worse — was a common theme.

    The Bolsonaro movement, like most authoritarian factions, favors intimidation and violence over civic discourse — against their adversaries in general, but especially against journalists they regard as obstacles. Predictably, the climate for journalists since the 2018 presidential election has become far more dangerous than before.
    Other journalists have suffered similar attacks. Patrícia Campos Mello, a journalist from the nation's largest newspaper, broke a major story during the 2018 campaign about illegal, unreported financing by Mr. Bolsonaro's rich supporters through WhatsApp messaging campaigns. She then spent months being targeted with credible threats of violence, along with a highly organized and well-financed fake news network spreading horrific lies about her.
    In July, one of the nation's most famous and influential journalists, Globo's Miriam Leitão, was forced to cancel a public appearance after being deluged with threats following the president's attacks on her.
    That same month, I was invited to speak about our journalistic exposés at a famous literary event in the town of Paraty that typically draws international authors and journalists. Event organizers were so concerned about the number of threats of violence aimed at me that they required me to arrive by a small boat rather than by land.
    As we arrived, we had fireworks shot at us horizontally by Mr. Bolsonaro's supporters. Throughout my speech, they continued to shoot fireworks at us, one of which landed in the crowd of 3,000 people and lit a flag on fire. Mr. Bolsonaro's supporters, including Congress members from his party, celebrated that aggression. 
    After a Globo investigation last month revealed the Bolsonaro family's links to the 2018 assassination of City Councilwoman Marielle Franco, the president made good on his pledge to cut off public funds to Globo. He's long threatened to do the same to the newspaper Folha, and even promised in the last speech he gave before being elected president that he would usher in a Brazil "without Folha of São Paulo."
    When I was called to testify before the Congress in July about The Intercept's reporting, numerous members of Mr. Bolsonaro's party demanded that I be arrested before I left the building. Since we began reporting on The Intercept's explosive Brazil archive, neither I nor my husband has left our house once without a team of armed security guards and an armored vehicle.

    Before his 2018 victory, Mr. Bolsonaro spent nearly three decadesas a congressman on the fringes of political life because of his overt support for the brutal military dictatorship that ruled the country until 1985.
    Recently, his congressman son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, and Mr. de Carvalho explicitly threatened a return of dictatorship-era decreesin the event that civic disorder necessitates repression — a state of affairs they clearly are eager to provoke so that their real, often explicit goal, the reinstatement of tyranny, can be realized.
    That is why they want intimidation and violence in lieu of politics and journalism. They need that as the pretext for ushering in the repression they crave.
    Fortunately, Brazil's Constitution guarantees press freedoms that are even more robust and specific than those guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. As long as there is a free press, we are able to not just reveal corruption and wrongdoing by the nation's most powerful actors, but also to ensure that history is not rewritten, that the horrors of Brazil's two decades of military regime are not whitewashed or forgotten.
    That's precisely why members of the Bolsonaro movement target us: They know that transparency and free discourse are the primary obstacles to returning Brazil back to its darkest days. The more they show their true face, the more resistance they have encountered. The job of journalists, the purpose of a free press, is to ensure that this truth remains clear.
    Glenn Greenwald is a journalist based in Brazil and the author of several books, including "No Place to Hide." He is a co-founding editor of The Intercept and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his reports on global surveillance programs.



    3) Hong Kong Election Results Give Democracy Backers Big Win
    A surge in voting, especially by young people, allowed democracy advocates to win many more seats on local councils.
    By Keith Bradsher, Austin Ramzy and Tiffany May, November 24, 2019
    Democracy supporters celebrating in Hong Kong on Sunday night outside a polling station.Credit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

    HONG KONG — Pro-democracy candidates buoyed by months of street protests in Hong Kong won a stunning victory in local elections on Sunday, as record numbers voted in a vivid expression of the city's aspirations and its anger with the Chinese government. 
    It was a pointed rebuke of Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong, and the turnout — seven in 10 eligible voters — suggested that the public continues to back the democracy movement, even as the protests grow increasingly violent. Young Hong Kongers, a major force behind the demonstrations of the past six months, played a leading role in the voting surge. 
    With three million voters casting ballots, pro-democracy candidates captured 389 of 452 elected seats, up from only 124 and far more than they have ever won.. The government's allies held just 58 seats, a remarkable collapse from 300.

    To many democracy advocates, Sunday was a turning point.
    "There has been a very deep awakening of the Hong Kong people," said Alan Leong, chairman of the Civic Party, one of the largest pro-democracy parties.

    The elections were for district councils, one of the lowest elected offices in Hong Kong, and they are typically a subdued affair focused on community issues. The job mostly entails pushing for neighborhood needs like bus stops and traffic lights. 
    But this election took on outsize significance, and was viewed as a referendum on the unrest that has created the city's worst political crisis in decades. In a semiautonomous part of China where greater democracy is one of the protesters' biggest demands, it gave residents a rare chance to vote. 
    The gains at the ballot box are likely to embolden a democracy movement that has struggled with how to balance peaceful and violent protests to achieve its goals.
    They are also likely to deepen the challenges for China's central government, which wants to curb the unrest in Hong Kong. And they might exacerbate Beijing's fears about giving the city's residents even greater say in choosing their government.

    The district councils are among the most democratic bodies in Hong Kong. Almost all the seats are directly elected, unlike the legislature, where the proportion is just over half. The territory's chief executive is also not chosen directly by voters, but is instead selected by a committee stacked in favor of Beijing.
    The election results will give democracy forces considerably more influence on that committee, which is scheduled to choose a new chief executive in 2022.
    The district councils name about a tenth of the group's 1,200 members, and now all of these will flip from pro-Beijing to pro-democracy seats. Democracy advocates already control about a quarter of the seats, while other previously pro-Beijing sectors of the committee are now starting to lean toward democracy, most notably accountants and real estate lawyers.
    Mr. Leong, the Civic Party chairman, called on the Chinese Communist Party to change its policies in Hong Kong.
    "Unless the C.C.P. is doing something concrete to address the concerns of the Hong Kong people," he said, "I think this movement cannot end..." 
    Regina Ip, a cabinet member and the leader of a pro-Beijing political party, said she was surprised to see so many young voters, many of whom tried to confront her with the protesters' demands.

    "Normally," she said, "the young people do not come out to vote. But this time, the opposition managed to turn them out."
    Ahead of the election, the city's leadership was concerned that the vote would be marred by the chaos of recent months. Some of the most violent clashes yet between protesters and the police took place last week, turning two university campuses into battlegrounds.. 
    But the city remained relatively calm on Sunday as voters turned out in droves. Long lines formed at polling centers in the morning, snaking around skyscrapers and past small shops. Riot police officers were deployed near polling stations on Sunday.

    David Lee, a retired printer approaching his 90th birthday, was among the earliest voters on Hong Kong Island and said he had come because he wanted democracy.
    "This is important," he said. 
    Some analysts had predicted that pro-democracy candidates would have difficulty making big gains. Pro-Beijing candidates are much better financed, and the district races have traditionally been won on purely local issues, not big questions like democracy, saidJoseph Cheng, a retired professor at City University of Hong Kong.
    But voter turnout soared to 71 percent, far surpassing expectations. Typically in district council elections, it is little more than 40 percent. Four years ago, after the 2014 Umbrella Movement increased public interest in politics, turnout climbed to 47 percent. This year, the number of registered voters hit a record.

    On Sunday, several prominent pro-Beijing politicians lost their races, among them Michael Tien, a longtime establishment lawmaker. After his defeat, he said the increase in young voters signaled that they were becoming more politically engaged, adding that the government should listen to them.
    In the district of Tuen Mun, about a hundred people celebrated with cheers and champagne the defeat of Junius Ho, a controversial lawmaker many protesters accused of supporting mob attacks against them.
    The victory on Sunday eclipsed the pro-democracy camp's last big win in these elections, when they won 198 seats, still short of a majority, following huge protests in 2003. Those demonstrations led the government to scrap a national security bill requested by Beijing that critics said would have endangered civil liberties in Hong Kong.
    The government's allies dominated the elections that followed, though. Beijing began investing heavily in grass-roots mobilization efforts, including busing large numbers of older Hong Kong citizens from retirement homes in mainland China to polling places in Hong Kong.

    Instead of just focusing on local issues, many pro-democracy candidates ran on the broad themes of the protest movement, especially anger at police brutality, and the intensity of the demonstrations sometimes spilled into the race. Candidates on both sides were attacked while campaigning. 
    Mandy Lee, 53, a homemaker who voted at the Kowloon Bay neighborhood, showed up to vote for the pro-Beijing establishment and criticized the protests.

    "It's not that I have no sympathy toward young people, but I strongly believe that their efforts are futile," she said. "We are a tiny island; it's only a matter of time before China takes us over and integrates us."
    The outcome of the election could further complicate the position of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's embattled chief executive. Critics say that she has failed to engage with the community over the protests and many have demanded she step down..
    On Monday, Mrs. Lam said in a statement that the government respected the results of the election. "Many have pointed out that the results reflect the public's dissatisfaction with the social situation and deep-seated problems," she said, adding that the government would "listen to the views of the public with an open mind and seriously reflect on them.."

    In June, Mrs.. Lam set off enormous protests by pushing ahead with a bill that would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kong residents to the opaque judicial system in mainland China. The issue played to deeper worries about Beijing's encroachment on Hong Kong, which has maintained its own political and judicial system since the former British colony was reclaimed by China in 1997.
    Mrs. Lam withdrew her proposal after months of protests, but many said she acted too late. The protesters are now demanding additional concessions, including the introduction of universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police conduct. 
    The election results on Sunday will allow them to argue that the public supports them. About 57 percent of voters cast ballots for pro-democracy candidates, while nearly 40 percent voted for Beijing's allies. The remaining 3 percent voted for independents, who won five seats.

    Many pro-Beijing political parties receive large donations from the Hong Kong subsidiaries of state-owned enterprises in mainland China, which they use to organize picnics and other campaign events. But the results on Sunday showed the limits of these efforts.
    Reporting was contributed by K.K. Rebecca Lai in New York and Jin Wu and Katherine Li in Hong Kong.



    4)  Corruption Inquiry Spreads to U.A.W. Lakeside Resort
    A dozen union officials have been charged or convicted in a sprawling federal investigation.
    By Neal Boudette, November 25, 2019
    Rather than a showplace for the U.A..W., the union's Black Lake resort is a part of the union's financial difficulties.Credit....Neal E. Boudette/The New York Times

    ONAWAY, Mich. — The United Auto Workers union is based in Detroit, but its spiritual home lies 250 miles to the north, in a dense and remote forest on the shores of Black Lake.
    Here, 40 miles from the nearest Starbucks, the U.A.W. owns a spartan retreat known to few people outside the auto industry, though it opened nearly 50 years ago. Covering 1,000 acres, the gated compound includes cabins, lodges, a banquet hall and a recreation center with an Olympic-size swimming pool. An eternal flame marks the hilltop resting place of the ashes of Walter Reuther, who built the U.A.W. into one of the most powerful unions in the country in the 1950s and 1960s..
    This tranquil scene was disrupted in August when the F.B.I. raided the compound, seizing documents and records. The raid was the latest chapter in a yearslong Justice Department investigation into corruption at the union that has thrown the U.A.W. into turmoil and embroiled two of Detroit's Big Three automakers — Fiat Chrysler and General Motors
    The resort was one of a half-dozen locations government agents searched. The raids signaled that investigators were not done with their work, despite having charged or won convictions of a dozen union officials and three Fiat Chrysler executives.

    Last week, the U.A.W. president, Gary Jones, resigned as the union's executive board was preparing to remove him for the submission of false expense reports and using union money for personal gain. The U.A.W. said Mr. Jones had concealed the use of more than $1 million in union funds for luxury travel, extravagant dinners and purchases of high-price cigars, golf clubs and apparel for himself, his family and his lieutenants.

    What drew federal agents to Black Lake is not clear.. But union members and labor experts have criticized the U..A.W.'s unusual decision to build a luxury lakeside cabin at the resort for the exclusive use of Mr. Jones's predecessor as president, Dennis Williams. Federal agents searched the cabin and separately raided a home owned by Mr. Williams in Corona, Calif. The union is reviewing other financial transactions for possible wrongdoing, and now plans to sell the cabin and the land that it sits on in a secluded corner of the retreat, said Brian Rothenberg, a U.A.W.. spokesman. 
    The decision to sell the cabin was part of a set of reforms instituted by the acting president, Rory Gamble, after he took the helm from Mr. Jones. "Restoring the full faith and trust of our membership and protecting their interests is the top priority," Mr. Rothenberg said.
    The U.A.W. provided more modest, rustic cabins within the retreat complex for other previous retired presidents, and the union is considering ending that practice, too.

    Union members and supporters say it is particularly disappointing that the resort — formally called the Walter P.. and May Reuther Family Education Center — has been pulled into the investigation. The union uses it as a place for members to study the past and plan for the future in training seminars and conferences.
    "Black Lake serves a critical purpose for the union," said Harley Shaiken, a labor relations professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has attended and taught seminars at the retreat since the 1970s. "It's historically important for the union. It's meant to get people together to debate critical issues. It's a place of thinking and engaging."

    When the retreat opened in 1970, it was heralded for its timbered beams and spare Scandinavian design.
    Today, rather than a showplace for the U.A.W., Black Lake is a part of the union's financial difficulties. The union spends several million dollars a year to operate it — money that is classified as a loan to the subsidiary that operates Black Lake. In 2018, the accumulated debt amounted to more than $60 million.
    Anyone can book a stay there. During a recent overnight stay, I found it dated. Guest rooms feature few of the amenities found in modern hotels, like Wi-Fi and cable TV. Some hallways were marked by musty odors.. But a golf course the U.A.W. built just outside the retreat in 2000, at a cost of $6.7 million, is considered one of the best in Michigan.

    At the main gate, I was told only union-made vehicles were allowed on the grounds. I had to park my Volkswagen in a lot outside the perimeter... Some Chevrolets and Fords were parked there, too, because vehicles made in Mexico are not welcome, either.

    That week Black Lake was hosting about 150 workers for a weeklong seminar on the history of organized labor and the U.A.W. Any member is welcome to attend such courses. The union covers the cost and offsets the wages workers would have earned that week.. Participants said they spent much of the day in lectures — instructors take attendance. One afternoon is set aside for recreation.
    When I visited, the large gymnasium with two full-size basketball courts and the pool were empty most of the day. Six pool tables remained untouched in a darkened room.
    These days, senior union officials often hold meetings in places like Orlando, Fla., Washington, D.C., and May, N.J. Before becoming the U.A..W. president in 2018, Mr. Jones ran a regional office in Hazelwood, Mo., and held annual conferences in Palm Springs, Calif. Court filings by federal prosecutors and an internal union complaint against Mr.. Jones claim that he and other union officials booked luxury villas for four weeks or more, even though the Palm Springs conferences lasted less than a week.
    In raids at Mr. Jones's home and elsewhere, agents seized thousands of dollars in cash, hundreds of bottles of high-price liquor, hundreds of golf shirts, multiple sets of golf clubs and large quantities of cigars that had been billed to union accounts, according to court filings. One dinner described by prosecutors ran up a bill of $6,599.87 that included $1,760 for four bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne.
    A lawyer for Mr. Jones, J. Bruce Maffeo, said the suggestion that the conference expenses had been concealed "is without any basis in fact." Spending for the conferences in Palm Springs was "laid out in sufficient detail to the U.A..W. accounting department over a period of years."
    A close associate of Mr. Jones who helped organize the conferences in Palm Springs and has been charged by federal prosecutors, Vance Pearson, resigned from the U.A.W. on Sunday. The union had been taking steps to remove him from his post as a regional director.

    Back at the union's Black Lake resort, the stone and glass cabin for Mr. Williams, the former president, is in a fenced-off area more than a mile from the main complex. But it is accessible from the lake. Wading in to its shoreline, I found the home with picture windows facing the lake. According to the county planning office, the 1,885-square-foot residence has cherry cabinets, granite countertops, three-and-a-half baths and a stone patio.

    Mr. Reuther hoped the union would train future generations of leaders in the contemplative setting far from the toil of assembly lines. At one time, it had a day care center — Mr. Reuther imagined workers' families joining them on their retreats.
    He also hoped it would be a place where the U.A.W. could use its power to solve societal problems. The first event held at Black Lake was a conference on the environment that the union organized with the United Nations in the summer of 1970.
    Such was the U.A.W.'s reach that it could attract foreign government officials to Northern Michigan. But Mr. Reuther didn't attend the event. He died in a plane crash while traveling to Black Lake a few months earlier. 
    Shortly after the resort opened, the union waged a bitter strike against G.M., and it eventually prevailed, coming away with significant wage increases. The strike was tough on the union, which depleted its strike fund and went into debt, even mortgaging Black Lake to the Teamsters for a time.
    By the 1980s, the Big Three auto companies and the union were in a slow decline. Today, the U.A.W.'s membership has fallen to about 400,000, from as many as 1.5 million when Mr. Reuther ran it. But it still remains a potent force, recently winning higher wages and bonuses for G.M. workers after a 40-day strike.

    Around the time G.M. and Chrysler were in bankruptcy in 2009, the U.A.W. tried sell the resort, which was viewed as a luxury when thousands of workers were losing their jobs. But the union couldn't find a buyer.
    That's good news, said JoAn Matney, a retired autoworker from Toledo. "It's empowering and fun to go there," she said. "I definitely think they should keep it."



    5) They Spent 36 Years Behind Bars for Murder. Someone Else Did It.
    Three men were imprisoned as teenagers for the shooting of a middle school student over his jacket. That was 1983. Now prosecutors say they didn't do it.
    By Timothy Williams, November 25, 2019
    Alfred Chestnut hugged his mother after being freed from prison in Baltimore on Monday.Credit...Todd Kimmelman/Miap, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    The three teenagers were arrested on Thanksgiving Day, 1983, and deemed the perpetrators of a brazen crime: They had shot and killed a 14-year-old boy as he walked down the hallway of his junior high school to lunch. They wanted the boy's jacket, a popular Georgetown Starter style, the authorities said, and that motive — chilling and petty — drew outrage in Baltimore, where a jury soon convicted the teenagers of murder and sent them away for life. 
    Thirty-six years later, prosecutors announced that the convictions had been in error. Another teenager, the prosecutors now acknowledge, had been the real killer.
    On Monday, three men — now graying and in their 50s — walked out of prison, freed after spending all of their adult lives behind bars. Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart appeared relieved but also perplexed as they emerged to tell a cluster of waiting news cameras about their years in prison, waging what often seemed like a hopeless fight to prove their innocence in the long-ago murder that they had always insisted they did not commit.

    "I've been always dreaming of this," said Mr. Chestnut, who was flanked by his mother and his fiancée. "All my friends in prison know that I've always been talking about this, dreaming about this all of the time. Even when I was a kid, you know? 'Why is this happening to me?'"
    From left, Alfred Chestnut, Andrew Stewart and Ransom Watkins.Credit...Todd Kimmelman/Miap, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    As part of a series of recent examinations of old, questionable cases, a unit of the Baltimore prosecutor's office found numerous errors in the investigation of the school shooting case. The new review concluded that a different student, now deceased, actually shot DeWitt Duckett, the junior high school student who was killed as he walked through Harlem Park Junior High School in Baltimore. 
    On Monday, Charles Peters, a Baltimore circuit court judge, accepted the state's attorney's request to exonerate the three men.
    "My heart breaks for all three of these men, who must now reconcile that we live in a world that could take 36 years away from innocent men," said Marilyn Mosby, the state's attorney, who took over the prosecutor's office in 2015, decades after the original trial. "Today isn't a victory. Today it's a tragedy that these men had 36 years of their lives stolen."
    Around the country, it has become increasingly common for prosecutors' offices to assign investigators to re-examine convictions when evidence suggests an error might have been made.

    From San Francisco to Brooklyn, prosecutors now have teams of specialized investigators who sift through old evidence. Dozens of people have been freed every year because of findings of significant errors or evidence of police or prosecutorial misconduct. In Baltimore, Ms. Mosby's office has cleared six other people of serious crimes since she took over.
    The case of the three men released on Monday stood out for the length of time the men had served, and the ages at which they had been sent to prison: They spent more than twice as long behind bars as they had growing up at home. They had all along insisted that they were innocent, and they told people that every chance they got. Even when they had chances of parole, years into their sentences, they had been unable to get it because they were unwilling to admit to the killing. 
    Ms. Mosby's office said that the case against the three men was plagued with misconduct, including lies told by Jonathan Shoup, the state's attorney at the time, that unfairly tipped the case in prosecutors' favor. Mr. Shoup died in 2016.
    The three men, who were then 16-year-old high school students, had ditched classes on Nov. 18, 1983, and had been at the junior high visiting friends until a security guard kicked them off campus.
    About 30 minutes later, DeWitt, the junior high student, was walking to lunch with friends when someone demanded his jacket. After a struggle, he was shot with a .22-caliber handgun in the neck and collapsed. He died two hours later.
    The school shooting drew close attention at the time, and police officers had been under immense pressure to swiftly solve the case, prosecutors said. 
    Among failings of the earlier investigation, Ms. Mosby's office said, were denials by Mr. Shoup that his office possessed evidence that might cast doubt on the guilt of the three. Yet multiple witnesses at the time, Ms.. Mosby's office said, had actually identified a different person, Michael Willis, then 18, as the gunman.

    Mr. Willis died in a shooting in 2002. 
    The new evidence was only revealed after Mr. Chestnut, now 52, submitted a public records request in 2018 and was eventually granted access to the court file that had been sealed by the trial judge. 
    The file also showed that four juvenile witnesses, who told the court that Mr. Chestnut and the others had been involved in the shooting, had actually failed multiple times to identify them in photo arrays before the trial.
    The witnesses, who were junior high school students, have since recanted, according to the court documents. They told investigators that they had been coached and pressured by police officers, who met with them a number of times without their parents present..



    6) FEMA's Hurricane Aid to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Has Stalled
    Two years after Hurricanes Maria and Irma, records show the agency's work on long-term recovery on the islands is crawling compared with some states on the mainland.
    By Mark Walker and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Photo by Christopher Gregory, November 27, 2019
    The Public Works Department's workshop in Yabucoa, P.R., last month. Much of the town was destroyed by Hurricane Maria..

    ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands — More than two years after back-to-back hurricanes ravaged this tropical island, medical workers are still treating gunshot wounds in hallways and kidney failure in a trailer. They ignore their own inflamed rashes that they say are caused by the mold that has shut down an entire hospital floor below a still-porous roof.
    At least they have a hospital. The lone medical center on Vieques, an idyllic island that is part of Puerto Rico, was severely damaged by Hurricanes Maria and Irma, then abandoned to wandering roosters and grazing horses. Ailing people wait at the ferry dock to catch a boat to the mainland. 
    Two years on, "we are in the same situation as we were in the days after the hurricane," said Rafael Surillo Ruiz, the mayor of Yabucoa, on Puerto Rico's hard-hit eastern edge.
    An examination of Federal Emergency Management Agency dataand records demonstrates the degree to which the recovery from Hurricanes Maria and Irma on America's Caribbean islands has been stalled compared with some of the most disaster-prone states on the mainland, leaving the islands' critical infrastructure in squalor and limbo. FEMA officials say 190 long-term recovery projects have been funded in Puerto Rico — out of more than 9,000 requests. On the United States Virgin Islands, about 218 projects had funding — out of more than 1,500 requests and still counting.

    In contrast, about 3,700 large and small permanent work projects had obligated funding in Texas, two years after Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in August 2017. More than 3,700 such projects had been funded over that time in Florida.

    That disparity underscored how a federal government in Washington has treated citizens on the mainland, with voting representatives in Congress and a say in presidential contests, compared with citizens on the islands. Further complicating the recovery are issues of corruption, often amplified by President Trump and, islanders say, questions of race. 
    "At the end of the day, we're talking about the life and the well-being of human beings," said Dyma Williams, the acting chief executive at the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix. "I hate to make the distinction about American versus not American, but at the end of the day, we're not being treated the same way as other Americans are being treated."

    Jeffrey Byard, the associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery at FEMA, said the agency had never seen recovery efforts like those from the natural disasters of 2017, which included Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, as well as wildfires in California. 
    "Comparing disasters misleads the American people," he said. "Each event has a unique set of circumstances, and numbers alone cannot and do not provide a complete picture of what is needed to help communities recover."
    FEMA, through its public assistance program, helps communities recover from major disasters by assisting with debris removal, lifesaving emergency protective measures and public infrastructure reconstruction. Debris removal and protective measures are classified as emergency work. The "permanent work" of public infrastructure repair is what guarantees long-term recovery.
    And that permanent work is in little evidence on St. Croix and in Puerto Rico.
    "When you're living on an island and you don't have a voice on decisions that are made, that tends to happen to you," said Yves Abraham, the principal of St. Croix's hard-hit Central High School. "Who do you gripe to? All we can do is sit and wait."

    FEMA officials say much of the problem lies with the system that Washington uses to pay for recovery assistance. Local governments or charities usually front the money to at least begin construction and then are reimbursed by FEMA. But the islands have seen a sluggish economic recovery after the hurricanes.

    "Because of the fiscal challenges and their situation financially, they don't have the funding or access to loans," said Chris Currie, the director of the Government Accountability Office team that studies disaster relief. "So they are completely reliant on FEMA." 
    Hopes were raised recently at the Juan F. Luis Hospital with the appearance of a row of trailers where the community could be treated until a replacement hospital is built. But Adrienne Williams-Octalien, the director of the local disaster recovery office on St. Croix, said the island did not have the upfront funds to start retrofitting the trailers, and help from FEMA had been delayed by a tussle over how much of the costs the federal agency would cover. That has pushed the completion date of even the temporary structure to the spring of 2020 — near the start of the next hurricane season. 
    "Most municipalities and agencies, which is what we are focusing on right now, don't have the money to start the work," said Ottmar J. Chavez, the executive director of Puerto Rico's Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency.

    Almost from the beginning, relief funds have been caught in Trump-era politics, with freighted charges coming from Democrats and the White House. 
    "From Day 1, right after Maria hit Puerto Rico, there has been a different standard for how the administration responded to Harvey and Irma," said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, Democrat of New York and the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House. She grew emotional as she described her trip to Vieques this month; her own sister had no power for 13 months.
    The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, who personally clashed with the president, said she had searched for the answer for why the recovery effort in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands had been so slow and could come up with only one: Those places were treated with no sense of urgency because the victims were people of color.

    "You can kill people with a gun or you can kill them with neglect," Ms. Cruz said.
    Some officials on the islands conceded that they bore some responsibility; they have struggled to retain local staff and have had difficulty with the paperwork needed to assess hurricane damage.
    Mr. Byard referred to what he called Puerto Rico's "history of fiscal mismanagement of U.S. taxpayer dollars." 
    Mr. Trump has complained often about waste and fraud, especially in Puerto Rico, where the governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló, resigned in July amid a popular uprising driven by decades of mismanagement.. 
    In truth, misuse of FEMA disaster relief is as old as the agency itself. After Hurricane Katrina, a Texas hotel owner was charged with submitting $232,000 in bills for phantom victims. Officials ordered mobile homes worth nearly half a billion dollars that were never used, and renovations for a shelter at a former Alabama Army base cost $416,000 per evacuee.
    In their criticism of Puerto Rico, White House aides pointed to 375 public corruption convictions between 2008 and 2017, but that figure was driven largely by a federal investigation into its police force in 2011. During the same time frame, Texas had almost 1,000 public corruption convictions.

    James Lee Witt, who led FEMA from 1993 through 2001, noted that in September 1995, Hurricane Marilyn struck St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, damaged or destroyed most of the homes, closed the island's hospital and cut off most communication. FEMA completed what he considered a smooth and fast recovery

    Now, he said, he knows of contractors in the Caribbean who are not being paid and have suspended operations until they are. Others have yet to start.
    Congress recognized the slow pace of recovery in Puerto Rico and on the Virgin Islands when it allowed FEMA to waive certain requirements for reconstruction of infrastructure on the islands, including the rebuilding of hospitals and schools. The federal agency no longer needed to consider the condition of the facilities before the disasters in order to rebuild them. 
    FEMA made another significant concession for Puerto Rico. For some projects in the past, the agency has used "alternative procedures" that allowed a local government and FEMA to negotiate the overall cost of a rebuilding effort; FEMA would then front the money in a flat-fee contract rather than reimburse the local government later. As Puerto Rico's recovery stalled, FEMA decided to use that method to finance virtually all of the infrastructure rebuilding projects.
    But those concessions have not cut through the distrust. Puerto Rico says FEMA is lowballing its rebuilding estimates, while FEMA accuses Puerto Rico of exaggerating costs. Because they cannot agree on project-by-project recovery costs, work cannot begin.

    So far, FEMA and other agencies have disbursed about $14 billion in aid to Puerto Rico, out of an estimated $91 billion that will be needed over the next two decades, Mr. Chavez said. Most of that money went toward debris removal, emergency home repairs and restoring power, which took almost a year.
    Teachers at the Hope School, a special-needs public school in San Juan, were able to raise $60,000 for air-conditioners for the stricken building. They are still waiting for FEMA to reimburse them, the head of the school said. The Berwind Intermediate School in San Juan has been abandoned because of mold and water damage, its students shipped to an overcrowded school nearby. 
    "We have been able to deal with it, but it is uncomfortable," said Manuel Echavarria, an English teacher who worked at Berwind for 13 years. 
    On Vieques, Ismael Guadalupe Ortiz, 75, has struggled to get treatment for his chronic kidney issues. The ferry to the main island is unreliable and overrun with tourists who get first dibs.
    "Most of the people of Vieques don't take care of their health because they have problems with the transportation," Mr. Guadalupe Ortiz said.

    Mr. Surillo, the Yabucoa mayor, estimated that residents in his city had abandoned 200 to 300 homes while waiting for help from FEMA. About 50 other houses are occupied, with blue tarps to keep out the rain.. About 85 bridges need repairs.

    "We received a little bit of money for single debris pickup, but when it comes to permanent work, not a penny," he said.
    The recovery efforts are more visible in the schools of the Virgin Islands, but they are far from where residents thought they would be two years ago. Children on St. Croix attend classes in trailers that from the inside are hard to differentiate from a typical classroom. But school gyms and music halls — some with collapsed roofs, others festering with mold — remain closed.
    Students at St. Croix Central High School have complained of skin rashes from the mold, said Mr. Abraham, the school's principal. Teachers have threatened legal action over their unsanitary work conditions.
    He doubted that they would still be forced to work in those conditions if they were on the mainland.
    Emily Cochrane contributed reporting from Washington. Kitty Bennett contributed research.































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


    Posted by: Bonnie Weinstein <bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com>

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