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.





Join the International Days of Action against Sanctions and Economic War March 13-15, 2020

Sanctions Kill!

Sanctions are War!

End Sanctions Now!

Organize an event in your area against U.S. imposed sanctions! Help build a Global Movement with hundreds of actions around the world March 13-15

Help expose this war crime against people of the world.

Add your endorsement at: https://sanctionskill.org/

List events and contact info at: info@SanctionsKill.org

Sanctions Kill!

Sanctions are War!

End Sanctions Now!

Please add your endorsement and help spread the word



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

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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




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



Mumia Abu-Jamal: New Chance for Freedom

Police and State Frame-Up Must Be Fully Exposed!

Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent. Courts have ignored and suppressed evidence of his innocence for decades. But now, one court has thrown out all the decisions of the PA Supreme Court that denied Mumia's appeals against his unjust conviction during the years of 1998 to 2012! 

This ruling, by Judge Leon Tucker, was made because one judge on the PA Supreme Court during those years, Ronald Castille, was lacking the "appearance of impartiality." In plain English, he was clearly biased against Mumia. Before sitting on the PA Supreme Court, Castille had been District Attorney (or assistant DA) during the time of Mumia's frame-up and conviction, and had used his office to express a special interest in pursuing the death penalty for "cop-killers." Mumia was in the cross-hairs. Soon he was wrongly convicted and sent to death row for killing a police officer.

*     *     *     *     *

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning and intrepid journalist, a former Black Panther, MOVE supporter, and a critic of police brutality and murder.  Mumia was framed by police, prosecutors, and leading elements of both Democratic and Republican parties, for the shooting of a police officer. The US Justice Department targeted him as well. A racist judge helped convict him, and corrupt courts have kept him locked up despite much evidence that should have freed him. He continues his commentary and journalism from behind bars. As of 2019, he has been imprisoned for 37 years for a crime he did not commit. 

Time is up! FREE MUMIA NOW!

*     *     *     *     *

DA's Hidden Files Show Frame-Up of Mumia

In the midst of Mumia's fight for his right to challenge the state Supreme Court's negative rulings, a new twist was revealed: six boxes of files on Mumia's case--with many more still hidden--were surreptitiously concealed for decades in a back room at the District Attorney's office in Philadelphia. The very fact that these files on Mumia's case were hidden away for decades is damning in the extreme, and their revelations confirm what we have known for decades: Mumia was framed for a crime he did not commit!

So far, the newly revealed evidence confirms that, at the time of Mumia's 1982 trial, chief prosecutor Joe McGill illegally removed black jurors from the jury, violating the Batson decision. Also revealed: The prosecution bribed witnesses into testifying that they saw Mumia shoot the slain police officer when they hadn't seen any such thing. Taxi driver Robert Chobert, who was on probation for fire-bombing a school yard at the time, had sent a letter demanding his money for lying on the stand.. Very important, but the newly revealed evidence is just the tip of the iceberg! 

All Evidence of Mumia's Innocence Must Be Brought Forward Now!

Mumia Abu-Jamal's trial for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner was rigged against him from beginning to end. All of the evidence of Mumia's innocence--which was earlier suppressed or rejected--must now be heard:

• Mumia was framed - The judge at Mumia's trial, Albert Sabo, was overheard to say, "I'm gonna help 'em fry the n____r." And he proceeded to do just that. Mumia was thrown out of his own trial for defending himself! Prosecution "witnesses" were coerced or bribed at trial to lie against Mumia.. In addition to Chobert, this included key witness Cynthia White, a prostitute who testified that she saw Mumia shoot Faulkner.. White's statements had to be rewritten under intense pressure from the cops, because she was around the corner and out of sight of the shooting at the time! Police bribed her with promises of being allowed to work her corner, and not sent to state prison for her many prostitution charges.

• Mumia only arrived on the scene after Officer Faulkner was shot - William Singletary, a tow-truck business owner who had no reason to lie against the police, said he had been on the scene the whole time, that Mumia was not the shooter, and that Mumia had arrived only after the shooting of Faulkner. Singletary's statements were torn up, his business was wrecked, and he was threatened by police to be out of town for the trial (which, unfortunately, he was)...

• There is no evidence that Mumia fired a gun - Mumia was shot on the scene by an arriving police officer and arrested. But the cops did not test his hands for gun-powder residue--a standard procedure in shootings! They also did not test Faulkner's hands. The prosecution nevertheless claimed Mumia was the shooter, and that he was shot by Faulkner as the officer fell to the ground. Ballistics evidence was corrupted to falsely show that Mumia's gun was the murder weapon, when his gun was reportedly still in his taxi cab, which was in police custody days after the shooting!

• The real shooter fled the scene and was never charged - Veronica Jones was a witness who said that after hearing the shots from a block away, she had seen two people fleeing the scene of the shooting.. This could not have included Mumia, who had been shot and almost killed at the scene. Jones was threatened by the police with arrest and loss of custody of her children. She then lied on the stand at trial to say she had seen no one running away. 

• Abu-Jamal never made a confession - Mumia has always maintained his innocence. But police twice concocted confessions that Mumia never made. Inspector Alfonso Giordano, the senior officer at the crime scene, made up a confession for Mumia. But Giordano was not allowed to testify at trial, because he was top on the FBI's list of corrupt cops in the Philadelphia police force... At the DA's request, another cop handily provided a second "confession," allegedly heard by a security guard in the hospital.. But at neither time was Mumia--almost fatally shot--able to speak. And an earlier police report by cops in the hospital said that, referring to Mumia: "the negro male made no comment"!

• The crime scene was tampered with by police - Police officers at the scene rearranged some evidence, and handled what was alleged to be Mumia's gun with their bare hands.. A journalist's photos revealed this misconduct. The cops then left the scene unattended for hours. All of this indicates a frame-up in progress...

• The real shooter confessed, and revealed the reason for the crime - Arnold Beverly came forward in the 1990s. He said in a sworn statement, under penalty of perjury, that he, not Mumia, had been the actual shooter. He said that he, along with "another guy," had been hired to do the hit, because Faulkner was "a problem for the mob and corrupt policemen because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity including prostitution, gambling, drugs without prosecution in the center city area"! (affidavit of Arnold Beverly).

• The corruption of Philadelphia police is documented and well known - This includes that of Giordano, who was the first cop to manufacture a "confession" by Mumia. Meanwhile, Faulkner's cooperation with the federal anti-corruption investigations of Philadelphia police is strongly suggested by his lengthy and heavily redacted FBI file.

• Do cops kill other cops? There are other cases in Philadelphia that look that way. Frank Serpico, an NYC cop who investigated and reported on police corruption, was abandoned by fellow cops after being shot in a drug bust. Mumia was clearly made a scape-goat for the crimes of corrupt Philadelphia cops who were protecting their ill-gotten gains.

• Politicians and US DOJ helped the frame-up - Ed Rendell, former DA, PA governor, and head of the Democratic National Committee--and now a senior advisor to crime-bill author Joe Biden--is complicit in the frame-up of Mumia. The US Justice Department targeted Mumia for his anti-racist activities when he was a teenager, and later secretly warned then-prosecutor Rendell not to use Giordano as a witness against Mumia because he was an FBI target for corruption.

*     *     *     *     *

All this should lead to an immediate freeing of Mumia! But we are still a ways away from that, and we have no confidence in the capitalist courts to finish the job. We must act! This victory in local court allowing new appeals must now lead to a full-court press on all the rejected and suppressed evidence of Mumia's innocence!

Mass Movement Needed To Free Mumia! 

Mumia's persecution by local, state and federal authorities of both political parties has been on-going, and has generated a world-wide movement in his defense.. This movement has seen that Mumia, as a radio journalist who exposed the brutal attacks on the black community by the police in Philadelphia, has spoken out as a defender of working people of all colors and all nationalities in his ongoing commentaries (now on KPFA/Pacifica radio), despite being on death row, and now while serving life without the possibility of parole (LWOP).

In 1999, Oakland Teachers for Mumia held unauthorized teach-ins in Oakland schools on Mumia and the death penalty, despite the rabid hysteria in the bourgeois media. Teachers in Rio de Janeiro held similar actions. Letters of support came in from maritime workers and trade unions around the world. Later in 1999, longshore workers shut down all the ports on the West Coast to free Mumia, and led a mass march of 25,000 Mumia supporters in San Francisco. 

A year later, a federal court lifted Mumia's death sentence, based on improper instructions to the jury by trial judge Albert Sabo. The federal court ordered the local court to hold a new sentencing hearing. Fearing their frame-up of Mumia could be revealed in any new hearing, even if only on sentencing, state officials passed. Much to the chagrin of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)--which still seeks Mumia's death--this left Mumia with LWOP, death by life in prison. 

Mumia supporters waged a struggle to get him the cure for the deadly Hepatitis-C virus, which he had likely contracted through a blood transfusion in hospital after he was shot by a cop at the 1981 crime scene. The Labor Action Committee conducted demonstrations against Gilead Sciences, the Foster City CA corporation that owns the cure, and charged $1,000 per pill! The Metalworkers Union of South Africa wrote a letter excoriating Governor Wolf for allowing untreated sick freedom fighters to die in prison as the apartheid government had done. Finally, Mumia did get the cure. Now, more than ever, struggle is needed to free Mumia!

Now is the Time: Mobilize Again for Mumia's Freedom!

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal | Mumia Abu-Jamal is an I...

November 2019

"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/



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





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:


    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






    1) D.H.S.. Inspector General Finds 'No Misconduct' by Officials in Deaths of 2 Migrant Children

    The deaths, in December 2018, provoked outrage, particularly among critics of the Trump administration who saw them as evidence of cruelty toward young migrants.

    By Aimee Ortiz and Michael Levenson, December 21, 2019


    Ruben Garcia, director of the Annunciation House, after he read a statement from the family of Jakelin Caal Maquín, pictured at left, at a news briefing in El Paso, Texas, in December 2018.Credit...Rudy Gutierrez/The El Paso Times, via Associated Press

    The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General said Friday that it had found "no misconduct or malfeasance" by department officials in the deaths of two Guatemalan children who died in the custody of the United States Border Patrol last year.

    The office announced the finding in two brief reports. The reports did not name the children, but the details listed match the deaths of Jakelin Caal Maquín, 7, and Felipe Gómez Alonso, 8, both of whom died in December 2018.

    The deaths provoked outrage, particularly among critics of the Trump administration who saw them as evidence of the administration's cruelty toward young migrants fleeing Central America.

    The Department of Homeland Security said Friday night that it was "still saddened by the tragic loss of these young lives," and added that it continued "to bolster medical screenings and care at D.H.S. facilities on the border."

    "The men and women of Border Patrol are committed to the highest standards of professionalism and care and have the full support of the department," a spokesperson said..

    Jakelin, who died in an El Paso hospital a few days past her 7th birthday, was detained, along with her father, in Antelope Wells, N..M., on Dec.. 6, 2018, the inspector general's report said.

    On Dec.. 7, as the two were being transported to another border patrol facility in Lordsburg, N.M., her father reported that she had a fever and was vomiting.. Then she started to have seizures. After arriving in Lordsburg, the little girl was flown a hospital.

    On Dec. 8, she was pronounced dead

    Jakelin had an advanced infection, said several physicians who reviewed her autopsy report earlier this year.

    The inspector general's report said "the child died of natural causes due to sequelae of Streptococcal sepsis."

    Felipe and his father were detained by immigration authorities on Dec. 18, the report said.

    Days later, on Dec. 24, a border patrol agent "noticed that the child appeared ill and interviewed the father, who requested medical treatment for his son," the report said.

    The boy was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was found to have an upper respiratory infection, and was "prescribed amoxicillin and acetaminophen." The hospital staff then "discharged the child, who was returned to the U.S.B.P. facility."

    The authorities obtained and administered the boy's medicine once he was back at the border patrol facility, the inspector general's report said, and the boy "improved briefly, and subsequently worsened."

    For the second time, the boy was taken to the hospital.

    "Upon arrival, the child was unresponsive and pronounced dead," the report said, which states that the cause of death was "sepsis caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria," An autopsy report for Felipe, who died on Dec. 24, also mentioned complications from the flu as a cause of death.

    It was not immediately clear why the flu was not listed in the inspector general's report.

    Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement late Friday that the inspector general's investigations "leave many questions, and I will request a meeting as soon as possible to get answers." 

    "I went to Antelope Wells and Alamogordo to investigate the deaths of Felipe and Jakelin, and I was startled by the conditions and lack of even the most basic medical facilities,'' he continued. "The bottom line is that migrant children are being treated with less than basic humane care at our border and are dying as a result. In fact, more children have died in C.B.P. custody since the deaths of Jakelin and Felipe. This pattern of death should disturb and alarm us all."

    In February, caucus members introduced legislation directing Customs and Border Protection to implement a set of minimum humanitarian standards for the treatment of people in the agency's custody.

    This week, President Trump met with Guatemala's president, Jimmy Morales, at the White House, where the two discussed illegal immigration.

    Mr. Trump praised Guatemala's efforts to curb the flow of migrants and spoke of his push to build a "very big wall" on the United States' border with Mexico.

    Mr. Morales also spoke about immigration.

    "We have been able to work with migration, and we're trying to make it legal, because by no means we can endanger minors or populations, who are vulnerable, to coming to the border illegally," he said, according to a White House transcript.



    2) A Cree Artist Redraws History

    With humor and fantasy Kent Monkman disrupts clichés of Native victimhood at the Met.

    By Holland Cotter, December 19, 2019


    Kent Monkman's painting "Welcoming the Newcomers" in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art..Credit...Aaron Wynia for The New York Times

    Coonskin caps for Christmas! I was a kid in mid-20th-century America. The biggest cultural event I can remember from early childhood was Walt Disney's gigantically popular "Davy Crockett: Indian Fighter" on TV. The first installment of a serial, which debuted on Dec. 15, 1954, it was basically about the exploits of a Tennessee backwoods gun-for-hire, and promoted nostalgia for the days when the Wild West was "won" from indigenous peoples. A verse of the theme song, which was everywhere on the radio, went:

    Andy Jackson is our gen'ral's name
    His reg'lar soldiers we'll put to shame
    Them redskin varmints us Volunteers'll tame
    'Cause we got the guns with the surefire aim
    Davy, Davy Crockett, the champion of us all!

    Andy Jackson was, of course, Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, whose 1830 signing of the Indian Removal Act led to the Trail of Tears, and whose portrait now hangs, at the request of the 45th and sitting president, in the Oval Office of the White House.

    All this came back to mind when I saw "The Great Hall Commission: Kent Monkman, mistikosiwak (Wooden Boat People)" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The second in a continuing series of contemporary works sponsored by the Met, it consists of two monumental new paintings by the Canadian artist Kent Monkman, installed on either side of the museum's main entrance in the soaring Great Hall. 

    The paintings are pretty stupendous. Each measuring almost 11 feet by 22 feet, they are multi-figured narratives, inspired by a Euro-American tradition of history painting but entirely present-tense in theme and tone. And both are unmistakably polemical, suggesting that with this and other commissions — an earlier one, sculptures by the Kenyan-born artist Wangechi Mutu, is still in place on the museum's Fifth Avenue facade — certain winds of change could be blowing through the Met's art-temple precincts.

    Mr. Monkman, 54, is one of Canada's best-known contemporary artists, and one who has stirred controversy on his home ground. Of mixed Cree and Irish heritage, he has made the violence done under European occupation, to North America's first peoples, a central subject of his work.

    But he has also, crucially, flipped a conventional, disempowering idea of Native victimhood on its head.

    His paintings, done in a crisply realistic, highly detailed, somewhat cut-and-paste illustrational style, are far from grim. In many of them, humor and erotic, usually homoerotic, fantasy have an important role. So does the image of the artist himself in the guise of his alter ego, a buff, cross-dressing, gender-fluid tribal leader named Miss Chief Eagle Testickle. Updating the figure of the "berdache," a transsexual figure traditional in Indigenous cultures, and channeling Cher in her "Half Breed" phase, Miss Chief is an avatar of a global future that will see humankind moving beyond the wars of identity — racial, sexual, political — in which it is now perilously immersed.

    Mr. Monkman's "Resurgence of the People," from 2019, references art history, from "Washington Crossing the Delaware" to Delacroix's "The Natchez." The artist's alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, stands tall, based on a gender non-binary figure in Indigenous cultures.

    The most radical aspect of his work in the context of the Met — an "encyclopedic" museum thoroughly Western in attitude — is that it presents a view of art history through the eyes of the Other, in this case Native Americans and people of Canada's First Nations. The shift in cultural positioning begins with the exhibition title. Mistikosiwak, or Wooden Boat People, was a Cree name for European settlers arriving in what is now North America.

    One of the two paintings, "Welcoming the Newcomers," depicts such an arrival, with Native people greeting strangers at the Atlantic shore. But the scene is less a reception than a rescue. A capsized boat is visible in the distance. The newcomers are exhausted swimmers who've barely made it to land: an English "pilgrim" in a buckled stovepipe hat; an enslaved black man, shackles on his arms; a missionary clutching a crucifix; an impoverished Frenchwoman sent abroad to help populate the New World. All are being pulled from the water by native inhabitants, led by Miss Chief. Old stereotypes — fearless pioneers, hostile natives — are banished.

    Emanuel Leutze's "Washington Crossing the Delaware," from 1851, is one of many art references Mr. Monkman updates. In "Resurgence of the People," Miss Chief Eagle Testickle pilots a boat with Indigenous people at the oars.Credit...The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    A detail from Eugène Delacroix's "The Natchez," 1823-24 and 1835. The scene was inspired by a romantic novel in which the infant born to a Native couple is doomed to die.Credit...The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    A detail from Kent Monkman's "Resurgence of the People" updates Delacroix's pessimistic image by depicting a healthy baby in the arms of a same-sex Indigenous couple.Credit...Kent Monkman

    And with them go other clichés. Several of the painting's Indigenous figures are based on examples of 19th-century art in the Met's collection. Among them are sculptures like "Mexican Girl Dying" by Thomas Crawford (1846), on view in the museum's American Wing, and paintings like Eugène Delacroix's "The Natchez," in the 19th- and early 20th-Century European galleries. Each of the originals perpetuates the myth of the Native Americans as a vanishing people, doomed to disappear, a fiction that usefully underpinned and fueled another myth, that of Western "Manifest Destiny."

    In Mr. Monkman's paintings, Indigenous people are, for the most part, proactive figures, shaping the world around them, which doesn't mean he ignores the catastrophes that followed the European occupation.. When Mr. Monkman appropriates Henry Inman's 1830s portrait of Eagle of Delight, also named Hayne Hudjihini, a native woman noted for her beauty, he marks her chest and shoulders with traces of measles, the imported disease from which she died. And when he depicts the figure of a child apparently sick and dying in his mother's arms, he lifts the figure from a painting of "The Massacre of the Innocents" by the European artist Francois Joseph Navez.

    Mr. Monkman's image of the child — a reference to the damage done by the forced placement of Indigenous children in white-run boarding schools — appears in the second Met-commissioned painting, "Resurgence of the People." Here we are in an imagined future. Centuries have passed since "Welcoming the Newcomers." Terrible things have happened to the planet. The only remaining bit of solid earth is an island guarded by armed white nationalists and soon to be submerged by a churning oil-slicked sea.

    In Mr. Monkman's paintings, Indigenous people are mostly proactive figures shaping the world around them. Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, in heels, provides a rescuing hand in "Welcoming the Newcomers." His sources include Courbet and Titian.Credit...Kent Monkman

    Indigenous people now command an open boat, of a kind familiar from contemporary news photos of refugees. People rescued in the first painting are now rescuers themselves, pulling in and tending to whoever swims toward them, including a white businessman wearing a chunky gold watch and Hermès tie. All of the boat's rowers are Indigenous; more than half are women dressed in contemporary traditional styles, their skin ornamented with symbolic tattoos.

    And once again Miss Chief presides over all, leads the way forward. Nude except for high heels and filmy salmon-colored wrap, she's modeled on the title figure in Emanuel Leutze's 1851 painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware," one of the Met's most popular American art attractions.

    The effect is simultaneously loopy and moving, the way extreme theater can be. Both Monkman pictures are, indeed, based on a form of theater. They're painted from photographs of models posing in elaborately staged tableaus in the artist's Toronto studio. The studio itself, which I visited recently, is run like a classic atelier, with several hands contributing to a final product. Mr. Monkman prepares initial drawings and stage-directs the photographic sessions. Several young painters, whom he has trained, then execute the final image in acrylic on canvas, to which he adds finishing touches, sometimes extensive. (Nor is his work necessarily finished when a painting is. He also appears in related performances as Miss Chief, live and on film.)

    Henry Inman's "Hayne Hudjihini, Eagle of Delight," 1832–33, a young Native American who was noted for her beauty and died of measles, an imported disease..Credit...The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    In "Welcoming the Newcomers" Mr. Monkman marks the shoulders and chest of this Indigenous woman with traces of measles.Credit....Kent Monkman

    Even in the Met's two-story-high Great Hall, the two pictures read clearly, vividly, particularly "Resurgence of the People" with its more organic composition, toothsome colors, and skillfully managed use of painted light. The high positioning — both pictures hang above eye level, over the museum's checkrooms — means that telling details (many of the Indigenous faces in "Resurgence" are tender, taken-from life portraits) can be hard to see.. But the tonal slipperiness of Mr. Monkman's art, with its compound of anger and absurdity, social realism and serious camp, comes through.

    With this commission, which the artist conceived in consultation with Sheena Wagstaff, chairwoman of the Met's department of modern and contemporary art, and Randall Griffey, a curator in the department, the Met seems to be taking some steps toward a kind of in-the-present political engagement that it has rarely made in the past, and that, realistically, cannot be ducked in the pro-nationalist, anti-Other neo-1950s cultural moment we're in.

    If the museum intends to sustain this engagement, as seems likely under its current director, Max Hollein, commissioned projects like this one (and Ms. Mutu's) are one way to go, leaving trophy displays of celebrity collectibles to art fairs..

    "I want to make the contemporary feel historic and the historic feel contemporary," Mr. Monkman said in a 2017 interview for the Toronto Globe and Mail. That's an excellent goal for the Met to shoot for too



    3) Woman Ran Over Girl Because She Was 'a Mexican,' Police Say

    The police charged a Des Moines woman with attempted murder after she told investigators she intentionally ran over a 14-year-old girl with her vehicle.

    By Johnny Diaz, December 21, 2019


    Nicole Marie Poole Franklin was charged with attempted murder after she told the police that she intentionally struck a 14-year-old girl with her car in Clive, Iowa.Credit...Polk County Jail, via Associated Press

    An Iowa woman was charged with attempted murder after running over a 14-year-old girl because she thought the teenager was Mexican, the police said.

    The woman, Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, 42, of Des Moines, told the police that she intentionally struck the girl with her vehicle on Dec. 9 because she believed that she was "a Mexican,'' Chief Michael G. Venema of the Clive Police Department said in a news release Friday.

    "She went on to make a number of derogatory statements about Latinos to the investigators," Chief Venema said.. 

    The episode took place in Clive, a city of about 17,000 residents about 10 miles west of Des Moines. The authorities said the girl was walking on the sidewalk on her way to Indian Hills Junior High School when "a vehicle left the roadway and ran the girl over," the news release said.

    The driver fled without giving aid to the girl, the police said.

    The girl, who had a concussion and bruises, was hospitalized for two days, The Associated Press reported. Television news footage showed her in a neck brace and walking with crutches before being released.

    "I don't remember the impact," the girl told the television station KCCI in Des Moines. "I just remember the car coming towards me."

    Ms. Franklin was driving a Jeep Cherokee, according to Pete De Kock, assistant city manager for the city of Clive.

    The girl was able to return to school a week later, a West Des Moines school district spokeswoman said at a news conference on Friday.

    On Thursday, the authorities identified Ms. Franklin as the driver and charged her. At a news conference, Chief Venema said officers knocked on doors, checking for home video surveillance, and spoke with bus drivers to help develop details about the vehicle.

    Ms. Franklin was already at the Polk County Jail on a separate assault charge that took place the same day as the hit and run. 

    She was accused of making racist comments to a West Des Moines convenience store clerk and customers, and of hurling items at the clerk, The A.P. reported. Ms. Franklin was being held on $1 million bond on the attempted murder charge, according to jail records.

    Chief Venema said the girl's family requested privacy. The police did not reveal her identity.

    "We are grateful that the victim is safe and recovering with her family," Mayor Scott Cirksena of Clive said in a statement on Friday. "We recognize this hate, we reject it, and we will overcome it."

    Chief Venema also said investigators would continue to gather information to present to prosecutors.

    "There is no place in our community (or any other) for this type of hatred and violence,'' he said. "We are committed to stand by and support this family and work diligently with them to seek justice."

    The Des Moines chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens called for Ms. Franklin to be charged with a hate crime.

    "Clearly this is a hate crime,'' said Joe Henry, president of Council 307 for the Hispanic civil rights group in Des Moines, adding that members of his group plan to attend Ms. Franklin's court hearing on Dec.. 30.

    "When hate is promoted by the president of our country, it is going to show itself in the weakest elements of society and Latinos have been targeted," Mr. Henry said. "We had to deal with this ever since he was a candidate for president and it has just gotten worse over time."



    4) Homelessness Rises 2.7 Percent, Driven by California's Crisis, Report Says

    Soaring rates of homelessness in California, which is struggling with out-of-reach housing costs and affordable housing construction, pulled that figure upward.

    By Lola Fadulu. December 20, 2019


    A makeshift shelter in Oakland, Calif. The administration has yet to release its promised homelessness plan for the state.Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — Homelessness in the United States continued to rise this year, driven by soaring rates of homelessness in California, according to a new federal report that could prompt long-promised action for people living in the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    Homelessness rose 2.7 percent from 2018 to 2019, according to the annual assessment by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That figure was pulled upward by a 16.4 percent increase in homelessness in California, which is struggling with out-of-reach housing costs and intractable fights over affordable housing construction.

    A summary of the report was first published by The Associated Press.

    Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, blamed welfare programs that he said fostered dependency and despair. On President Trump's favorite cable program, "Fox & Friends," on Friday, Mr. Carson said policies that allowed people to sleep on streets, bridges and other public places were not compassionate.

    Such policies are creating a "health hazard," he said, discouraging homeless people from going "to the places that are actually designed to help them get out of that situation."

    "We still have to provide a mechanism for people to ascend out of a level of dependency and despair and reach the right place," Mr. Carson said.

    Senior Trump administration officials visited California in September to troubleshoot ways to minimize homelessness. Over the summer, Mr. Trump said on Fox News that his administration was "looking very seriously" at abating the homelessness crisis..

    The administration has yet to release its promised homelessness plan for California, but activists fear Mr. Trump's pending executive order could crack down on homeless encampments, give more resources to police departments to clear shanty towns and threaten cities that fail to control their homeless populations.

    White House Council of Economic Advisers report in September emphasized criminal justice responses to ending homelessness. And an aggressive response would be in keeping with other Trump administration actions against California, which has already been threatened with a loss of federal highway funding over a backlog of pollution-control plans.

    "We know that there is a lot of homelessness in California, but we also know there's a lot of homelessness nationally, and what's driving that is increased housing costs," said Maria Foscarinis, the founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

    "Housing costs are going up dramatically in many parts of the country, including in California, and that's driving increases in homelessness as well as a housing crunch for many people," she said.

    The HUD report said 568,000 people experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2019, according to The A.P., up from last year's count of 553,000. But the number of homeless veterans and homeless families with children declined.

    According to The A.P., the states with the lowest rates of homelessness per 10,000 people were Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Dakota. The states with the highest rates were New York, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington.

    Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington announced Thursday that he would spend $300 million to end homelessness.

    The figures are based on people in shelters and people who are visible and counted in public.

    If anything, Ms. Foscarinis said, those numbers are "a severe undercount."

    The summary of the report comes after the Trump administration has taken a number of steps that have worried advocates for homeless people. 

    In December, the White House appointed Robert Marbut, a former homelessness consultant, to direct the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which works with 19 federal departments and agencies to address the matter. Mr. Marbut has worked with cities in states such as California and Florida to build homeless shelters equipped with job training, mental health services, and other support services. His shelters often have an outside courtyard where people who have broken rules are told to sleep.

    Mr. Marbut told HuffPost in 2014 that he believed in "Housing Fourth," which breaks from the widely accepted "housing first" philosophy that holds that people need to be given stable shelter before they can be expected take advantage of other support services such as job training or mental health counseling.

    Mr.. Marbut is succeeding Matthew Doherty, who was pushed out in November. 

    In April, the housing department proposed a rule that would bar families with undocumented immigrants from receiving housing assistance. The public comment period closed in July and over 30,000 public comments were submitted. The department must consider those comments before completing the rule.

    In May, the department proposed requiring homeless shelters to make transgender clients use bathrooms and sleeping accommodations that match their biological sex, a rule that some feared would open transgender homeless people to abuse in shelters and keep them on the streets. The public comment period has not opened yet.

    In August, the department proposed raising the legal bar to prove that a landlord, insurance company or lender is guilty of housing discrimination, setting a standard that civil rights advocates say would make proving discrimination virtually impossible.



    5) Iraq in Worst Political Crisis in Years as Death Toll Mounts From Protests

    After three months of demonstrations, the politicians and the protesters are talking past each other, there's no prime minister and Iran maintains its influence.

    "Overhauling the entire system of government seems far from politically possible. But the protesters' focus reflects their frustration with the government's failure to foster economic opportunity or deal with entrenched corruption. These grievances unite all of those who have come to the street: the young people, the workers, the poor, the educated and the barely literate, the tribal leaders as well as urban street sweepers."

    By Alissa J. Rubin, December 21, 2019


    A funeral for a man who was killing during an anti-government protest in Baghdad in November. More than 500 protesters have been killed and 19,000 wounded since the start of the demonstrations.Credit....Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

    BAGHDAD — For 12 weeks, Iraqi protesters have massed in the streets of Baghdad and cities in southern Iraq to demand the ouster of the government, an end to corruption and a halt to the overweening influence of Iran.

    And for 12 weeks, the government has foundered in its response, alternating vague promises of reform with brutal treatment of protesters by its security forces. More than 500 protesters have been killed and 19,000 wounded, according to the United Nations special envoy to Iraq, but the violent response has only deepened protesters' resolve. 

    The prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, has resigned but has remained in a caretaker role, and Parliament has yet to come up with someone to replace him

    The political crisis that now confronts Iraq is as serious as any since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein 16 years ago, and its leaders appear ill-equipped to reckon with it. No consensus has emerged for a plan to reform the government to meet the protesters' demands.

    Parliament has not seriously considered even the proposed changes to the election law put forward by President Barham Saleh, which would reduce the influence of parties and the corruption they foster.

    This week, a constitutional deadline for Parliament to nominate a new prime minister came and went. Even finding an acceptable candidate for prime minister is a tall order.

    "It's very difficult to find someone who is both broadly acceptable to the street, to the protesters, but who also has the party support, the political support to navigate the transition," said Maria Fantappie, a senior adviser on Iraq and Syria for the International Crisis Group.

    Even if they did, that would hardly begin to address the protesters' sweeping demands.

    "Our goal is not to have Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resign," said Mehdi Chassin, a college student from Amara, in southern Iraq, who came to Baghdad to join the protests. "That makes no difference because another guy will come who will be just the same. We want them all to go."

    But Parliament is unlikely to adopt reforms that would end the careers of everyone in it, and the protesters are unlikely to accept anything less. 

    "What the parties want is rejected by the Iraqi people and what the Iraqi people want is rejected by the parties," said Karim al-Nuri, a senior official in the Badr Organization, one of the parties that is close to Iran, but has a diverse membership.

    "So there are two alternatives: either to change the Iraqi people or to change some of the political class and make some change in the political process."

    Parliament also seems unprepared to find a way to reduce Iranian influence.

    Iranian political and military operatives — including senior figures like Qassim Soleimani, the head of the powerful Quds Force that reports to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — have been in and out of Baghdad trying to ensure that whomever is nominated for prime minister meets Iran's needs.

    Finding someone acceptable to the Iraqi street, to Shiite political parties and to Iran seems "quite insurmountable," Ms. Fantappie said. 

    So, rather than debate the protesters' demands directly, members of Parliament talk about how much they are doing — passing legislation to limit salaries of the ministers for instance.

    Qais Al-Khazali, the leader of one of the Shiite parliamentary blocs close to Iran, said, "We have enacted legislation, that is our responsibility, now the government's responsibility is to enforce it."

    When the protests started on Oct. 1, many who came to demonstrate in Baghdad and across southern Iraq were demanding jobs and services such as electricity and clean water.

    But after the government opened fire on them, killing more than 100 in the first five days, the number of protesters multiplied and they began to agitate for more far-reaching changes.

    Overhauling the entire system of government seems far from politically possible. But the protesters' focus reflects their frustration with the government's failure to foster economic opportunity or deal with entrenched corruption. These grievances unite all of those who have come to the street: the young people, the workers, the poor, the educated and the barely literate, the tribal leaders as well as urban street sweepers.

    Some members of Parliament acknowledge that they are engaged in a different struggle: the allocation of spoils in the next government. The discussions over choosing a new prime minister, they said, have centered less on the ideals and desires of the Iraqi people than on political power and money.

    "There's a lot of division about who comes next as prime minister, and that's a problem because the political parties are redividing up the ministries, looking to figure out who gets which ministry share," said Haithem al-Jubori the head of Parliament's finance committee.

    Iran is particularly concerned that it maintain influence in Iraq's ministries, especially those dealing with security and economic matters. With America's tight sanctions against Iran, Tehran increasingly needs Iraq in order to "breathe" economically — both for its markets and for military purposes, to protect its interests in Syria and Lebanon. 

    The parties that are most powerful and closest to Iran are those that grew out of the armed Shiite groups. It is militia units from ministries controlled by those parties, or agencies of the prime minister, that are blamed by human rights activists for the most violent attacks on the protesters.

    In responding to the protests with violence, these forces are taking a page from the Iranian playbook: When Tehran was faced with protests over gas prices in November, it crushed them brutally, killing as many as 450 people in four days and imprisoning 7,000.

    While the pace of killings in Iraq has ebbed and flowed, the attacks have become more brutal and there has been an increase in kidnappings, arrests and disappearances of protest leaders, doctors who treat wounded protesters, and journalists.

    Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Human Rights Commission have called on the government to halt its lawless crackdown. Human Rights Watch has demanded that the United States and Europe to do more to censure the government.

    For those demonstrating, the more comrades they lose, the harder it is to give up, said Haithem al-Mayahi, a protest leader from Karbala, who said he tried for years to work within the political system.

    "The protesters lost hundreds of their friends, their brothers, their family members," he said. "It's either you fight to win or you die."

    What remains uncertain is whether such continued fighting will lead to political change. One longtime Iraq watcher, the former American ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, said of the protesters, "Unless some leader or cadre of leaders emerges, not much is going to happen and the overthrow of the government is highly unlikely.."

    "The prime minister has resigned and no one else probably will be named quickly," Mr. Crocker said. "And that, in a perverse way, keeps the government safe because there is nothing to overthrow, so things just keep going along."

    Falih Hassan contributed reporting.



    6) How Your Phone Betrays Democracy

    By Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson, December 21, 2019


    IN FOOTAGE FROM DRONES hovering above, the nighttime streets of Hong Kong look almost incandescent, a constellation of tens of thousands of cellphone flashlights, swaying in unison. Each twinkle is a marker of attendance and a plea for freedom. The demonstrators, some clad in masks to thwart the government's network of facial recognition cameras, find safety in numbers.

    But in addition to the bright lights, each phone is also emitting another beacon in the darkness — one that's invisible to the human eye. This signal is captured and collected, sometimes many times per minute, not by a drone but by smartphone apps. The signal keeps broadcasting, long after the protesters turn off their camera lights, head to their homes and take off their masks.

    In the United States, and across the world, any protester who brings a phone to a public demonstration is tracked and that person's presence at the event is duly recorded in commercial datasets. At the same time, political parties are beginning to collect and purchase phone location for voter persuasion.

    "Without question it's sinister," said Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism at Columbia University and former president of Students for a Democratic Society, a prominent activist group in the 1960s. "It will chill certain constitutionally permitted expressions. If people know they'll be tracked, it will certainly make them think twice before linking themselves to a movement."

    A trove of location data with more than 50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans obtained by Times Opinion helps to illustrate the risks that such comprehensive monitoring poses to the right of Americans to assemble and participate in a healthy democracy.

    Within minutes, with no special training and a little bit of Google searching, Times Opinion was able to single out and identify individuals at public demonstrations large and small from coast to coast.

    By tracking specific devices, we followed demonstrators from the 2017 Women's March back to their homes. We were able to identify individuals at the 2017 Inauguration Day Black Bloc protests. It was easy to follow them to their workplaces. In some instances — for example, a February clash between antifascists and far-right supporters of Milo Yiannopolous in Berkeley, Calif. — it took little effort to identify the homes of protesters and then their family members.

    The anonymity of demonstrators has long been a contentious issue. Governments generally don't like the idea for fear that masked protesters might be more likely to incite riots. Several states, including New York and Georgia, have laws that prohibit wearing masks at public demonstrations. Countries including Canada and Spain have rules to limit or prohibit masks at riots or unlawful gatherings.. But in the smartphone era — masked or not — no one can get lost in a sea of faces anymore.

    Imagine the following nightmare scenarios: Governments using location data to identify political enemies at major protests.. Prosecutors or the police using location information to intimidate criminal defendants into taking plea deals. A rogue employee at an ad-tech location company sharing raw data with a politically motivated group. A megadonor purchasing a location company to help bolster political targeting abilities for his party and using the information to dox protesters. A white supremacist group breaching the insecure servers of a small location startup and learning the home addresses of potential targets.

    Lokman Tsui, an activist, researcher and professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told us that third parties that sell this data are a problem because "the standards to buy this information aren't that rigorous — it's not like the companies have ethical review boards. The university I'm at is able to buy data, and it's fairly easy to get it. And the kind of data they can buy makes me raise my eyebrows, 'Oh, wow, you can buy that?' Creepy data."

    The data doesn't even need to leak or transfer hands — its mere existence can have a chilling effect on democratic participation. Word has already spread through the more professional protester circles to leave cellphones at home, toggle them to airplane mode or simply power them off. Many antifascist protesters show up to rallies covering their faces to protect their identities from hate groups, the police and the press. "But that means you're only getting the diehards to show.... We tell people don't bring your phone to protests or if you do, keep GPS off at the very least… The more secure you are the less able you are to organize," an antifascist researcher told us. He agreed to be quoted only if we did not reveal his name.

    Joshua Wong, the activist who helped drive Hong Kong's 2014 Umbrella Movement and is now a key figure in the city's continuing protests, said that omnipresent tracking has fundamentally changed the democratic protests in Hong Kong. "In the past, they feel like, if they are not activists or high-profile figures, they are safe from surveillance as they have nothing to hide," he said. "But they have come to realize recently that surveillance poses a threat to them as more are involved in the protest, and even if they are not high-profile, the government would also target them."

    Even those we identified in the data who were public about their activism were unnerved by their movements' getting catalogued in databases that can be bought, sold, merged or hacked.

    "Personally, I'm happy to protest Trump and have people knowing about it," said Eric Hensal, who lives in Takoma Park, Md., and appeared in the dataset at a 2016 picket line protest at the Trump Hotel in Washington. "But there's so much somebody, say, a state actor could determine just by a travel pattern. It's honestly frightening."

    Granular surveillance is still new. But some experts argue the window to define our cultural values around tracking citizens may be closing. Mr. Tsui, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, argued that there are three current competing visions for the internet built by China, the United States and the European Union. China is moving fast and breaking things, including civil rights. The E.U., with its focus on privacy, is making a moral point around surveillance and consent. And the United States, with its powerful tech companies, is caught in the middle, trying to weigh ethical concerns while still pushing forward on innovation for fear of being left behind by China. If China pushes forward, skirting human rights via technology, and the United States follows, Mr. Tsui argued that America could see an uptick in using surveillance, data and artificial intelligence to manipulate and change behavior and direct outcomes. "I hope we don't end up there," he said.

    Location data is already part of the 2020 race for the White House. Political action committees for Republicans and Democrats have invested in location data to target voters based on their interest. For example, companies are enlisting data brokers to help monitor the movements of churchgoers to find conservative-leaning voters and sway their votes.

    In company documents from 2017, Phunware, a Texas-based technology company, describes the race to collect location data to target voters as a "gold rush," suggesting that "as soon as the first few political campaigns realize the value of mobile ad targeting for voter engagement, the floodgates will open. Which campaigns will get there first and strike it rich?"

    The company reportedly signed a deal with American Made Media Consultants, a company set up by the Trump campaign manager, Brad Parscale, to offer location collection services. Phunware toutsvoters' smartphones as "the ultimate voter file." Its marketingclaims that mobile data can tell campaigns "everything from the device operating system (iOS or Android) to what other apps are on the device, what Wi-Fi networks the device joins and much more. And that doesn't even cover the information it's possible to infer, such as gender, age, lifestyle preferences and so on."

    These are, of course, just the early days. Much of the political manipulation happening now looks no different from serving up a standard political ad at the right moment. The future, however, could get dark quickly. Political candidates rich in location data could combine it with financial information and other personally identifiable details to build deep psychographic profiles designed to manipulate and push voters in unseen directions. Would-be autocrats or despots could leverage this information to misinform or divide voters and keep political enemies from showing up to the polls on election day.

    Then, once in power, they could leverage their troves of data to intimidate activists and squash protests. Those brave enough to rebel might be tracked and followed to their homes. At the very least, their names could be put into registries.

    Public dissent could quickly become too risky a proposition, given that the record of one's attendance at a rally could be held against them at a later date. Big Data, once the domain of marketers, could become a means to elevate dictators to power and then frustrate attempts to remove them.

    It is not difficult, in other words, to imagine a system of social control arising from infrastructure built for advertising. That's why regulation is critical. "It is very clear from the examples of the intersection of authoritarianism and surveillance that we've seen around the world that a privacy bill of rights is absolutely necessary," said Edward Markey, the Massachusetts senator who wrote the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. "Privacy needs to start being seen as a human right."

    Carlo Ratti, a professor at M.I.T. and director of its Senseable City Lab, echoed the senator's concerns. "The present path is untenable," he told us. "If you have asymmetrical control of information, it is very dangerous. Whether it's companies or states, they can crush political opponents before they can band together.. If we go this route, it is very dangerous and very volatile."

    If Hong Kong has taught the world anything, it is that surveillance systems, once in place, are nearly impossible to uproot.

    "I think Hong Kong citizens are worried that they are retroactively surveilled," Mr. Wong, the activist, said. "As there are more reports revealing the effort and attempts of Beijing in monitoring its people, Hong Kong-ers are worried that they have been subjected to the same treatment."

    Over time, protest could become the exclusive right of those with the means to safeguard themselves technologically, including having a second, "burner" phone. "It's technologically possible to be anonymous, but it's hard," Mr. Tsui told us. "You can only protect privacy with tech right now, and so only those who have money and knowledge can do it. But privacy is not just for the rich or geeks. Privacy is for everyone."

    Even in non-authoritarian countries, the future of unfettered mobile surveillance seems likely to force dissenters into difficult decisions. "The way I see it, there's two directions this could all go. It could force people to embrace the danger of full exposure," the antifascist researcher and protester said.. "Or things go way underground. And things continue to heat up. It forces governments and other organizations to get more and more militant toward each other."

    The future for the world's activists may look increasingly like Hong Kong.. The leaderless protest movement of the past six months has been made possible by technology. The messageboard LIHKG and encrypted chat apps like Telegram have allowed for the kind of organization that has kept the protests going. But the movement has also been undermined by the very same technology. Protesters and journalists and even law enforcement have been doxxed (had their private information published) by the thousands. A real-time location tracking app used by protesters to identify the positions of law enforcement was taken down by Apple's App Store — suggesting that governments will have a competitive advantage when it comes to the resource.

    And while protesters have rebelled by wearing masks, blocking government cameras with lasers and even tearing down lamppoststhey suspected were outfitted with beacons and surveillance equipment, their efforts are being quietly undermined by the spies in their pockets. Like the rest of us, they are only as secure as the least secure apps on their phones.

    The hundreds of thousands of phones that light up the sky in places like Hong Kong are the expression of peaceful opposition to authority. But the inspiring images and the democratic spirit the glittering devices represent only work if the lights are eventually able to vanish..



    7) Where the Police Wear Masks, and the Bodies Pile Up Fast

    The police killed an average of 17 people every day in Brazil last year, and rogue officers are killing even more off duty. "I'm a hero to my people," one militia leader said..

    "Nationwide, researchers say, 75 percent of the people shot and killed by the police are black."

    By Azam Ahmed, December 20, 2019


    Wanda's Bar in Belém, a port city on the Amazon River in Brazil, has been closed since gunmen massacred 11 people there in May.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

    BELÉM, Brazil — The masked gunmen pulled up to Wanda's Bar at 3:49 p.m. on May 19 and began firing the moment they left their vehicles. Two people, including Wanda herself, died on the patio.

    Inside, the gunmen worked in silence: two in front, shooting unarmed patrons at the bar and in the main room, while a third followed behind with a gun in each hand, firing a single shot into the head of anyone still moving.

    When the massacre ended, 11 people lay dead, slumped over the bar, draped across chairs or huddled on the floor. Only two people survived, one by hiding under a friend's lifeless body, case files show.

    Once again, masked gunmen had struck in the Brazilian city of Belém, as they have for nearly a decade, stalking the streets in open defiance of the law. Robbing, extorting and killing without compunction.

    Yet they did not belong to one of the many gangs that traffic drugs or guns in Brazil, leaving a trail of corpses.

    They were cops.

    Brazil's elite ROTAM police force is known for its military culture and hyperviolence.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

    The killings drew national attention to the police militias that have long plagued Belém, a dilapidated port city on the Amazon River. Part death squad, part criminal enterprise, their ranks are filled with retired and off-duty police officers who kill at will, often with total impunity.

    In fact, the slaughter at Wanda's Bar was not unique because off-duty police officers gunned down civilians without cause. Such killings are routine. What made this case stand out beyond its brutality was the government's response: It decided to prosecute.

    Of the seven people charged with the crime, four were off-duty police officers — including the three suspected gunmen.

    "We've discovered a cancer inside the police," said Armando Brasil, one of the prosecutors. "Now, we are seeing just how far it has spread."

    The militias operate in the shadows of a severe crackdown on crime by the Brazilian government, which has openly declared war on the gangs, thieves and drug dealers afflicting the nation. Killings by the police have soared in recent years, as a force long known for its deadliness has managed to outdo itself.

    The number of people officially killed by the police reached a five-year high last year, rising to 6,220 — an average of 17 people each day, according to the Brazilian Public Security Forum, which compiles government data. Police killings may exceed that this year, coaxed on by President Jair Bolsonaro and his contention that criminals should "die like cockroaches."

    The deaths have stirred a familiar debate in Brazil. Human rights advocates denounce the heavy-handed approach as both inhumane and ineffective, while proponents say it is the only way to confront a crime wave that has put the entire nation at risk.

    But even police officers acknowledge that the official statistics are only part of the picture.

    There is a parallel form of police violence, masked from the public and carried out by illegal militias that draw their ranks from officers with little patience or respect for due process, according to interviews with militia members here in Belém.

    By their own admission, groups of off-duty and retired officers regularly commit extrajudicial killings, targeting people they consider criminals, robbers and cop killers without so much as an arrest warrant. 

    "We're going after criminals who hurt innocent people," said one militia commander who, like others, asked that his name be withheld because he confessed to extrajudicial killings.

    In their telling, militia members are delivering a public service, eliminating threats to society who, they fear, may never get convicted or will simply participate in sprawling criminal networks from prison, as often happens in Brazil.

    "I've killed more than 80 criminals in my time as a police officer," said another militia leader. "I'm a hero to my people. They love me."

    Latin America is in the midst of a homicide crisis. More killings take place in the region's five most violent nations than in every major war zone combined, according to the Igarapé Institute, which tracks violence worldwide. 

    The usual suspects are often to blame: the cartels and gangs, the surfeit of guns, frequently from the United Statesthe paralyzed legal systems.

    But violence by the state is another important factor in the bloodshed — driven by an abiding belief that nations must fight force with ruthless force to find peace.

    In Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico and other countries, the use of deadly force by the authorities — and the acceptance, or even applause, by the population for that approach — is so widespread that even the public statistics point to an abundance of extrajudicial killings, researchers say.

    In many dangerous places, even when gangs and organized crime are very well armed, it is not surprising that criminals die in greater numbers than the police or military they are fighting, researchers say. 

    But when that ratio is highly skewed — and 10 or more suspected criminals die for every police officer or soldier killed — researchers often view that as a clear indication of excessive force by the authorities.

    In El Salvador, where the government is battling the gangs, the ratio is staggering — almost 102 to 1 — according to the Lethal Force Monitor, a research group that tracks the rates across several Latin American countries. In other words, for every policeman killed in El Salvador, nearly 102 suspected criminals die — 10 times the level researchers consider suspiciously high.

    In Brazil, the number is also striking: 57 suspected criminals die for every police officer killed, the analysts found.

    "We believe that homicides are not a problem, they're a solution," said Bruno Paes Manso, a researcher at the University of São Paulo, describing the public acceptance of killings by the police.

    "There is a strong belief that violence promotes order," he added. "And the militias thrive off this feeling."

    But extrajudicial killings are often much more than an extreme step by overzealous officers in cities like Belém and Rio de Janeiro, and some militia members are candid about their criminal motivations.

    To line their pockets, some militia members say they bill businesses for security services, taking in hefty sums with mafia-style promises to keep the peace, or they charge local residents for the right to engage in basic commerce, like selling cooking gas or pizzas.

    The militias also extort criminals and kill those who don't pay, operations that hardly differ from the ones they are supposedly confronting.

    "It became explicit for me," said a third militia member. "It became organized crime."

    Today in Belém, there are hundreds of militia members operating in more than a dozen different factions, often with help from on-duty police officers, according to officials and militia members themselves. And until recently, officials say, the government rarely prosecuted or investigated them aggressively.

    The government of Pará State, where Belém is the capital, says most police officers "do not deviate from their duties," but acknowledges that others do. It says it has arrested about 50 officers this year in operations "to dismantle criminal organizations involving public security agents."

    The prosecutor investigating the massacre at Wanda's Bar, Mr. Brasil, has linked the militias to at least 100 murders in the state in the last three years, but he thinks the actual number is much higher.

    "They've killed way more than that," said Mr. Brasil, who has bodyguards because he is going after the militias. "It's well into the hundreds."

    He took his first life in 2010, a few years out of the police academy, after a gang called the Red Command killed his colleague.

    He and other officers shed their uniforms, put on masks and killed a dozen people they deemed responsible or connected in some way, he said.

    After that, every time an officer was killed, he said, he and his fellow officers killed at least 10 suspected gang members in response. If violence was the language of the streets, their message would be the loudest.

    Residents took notice, he said, and in 2012 a father in his neighborhood asked for help. A man had raped his daughter and was still walking free.

    He asked if the officer would kill the man, to end his family's nightmare. When it was done and the suspect was dead, the officer said, the father wept with gratitude and offered money.

    He refused at first, then accepted it.

    "It was the first time I felt like a hero," said the officer. "I felt like an instrument of justice.."

    From there, it was a short jump to becoming a contract killer, the officer said. Each step away from the law grew easier. Soon, the self-declared principles that marked the start of his militia activity were gone.

    By 2014, the officer said, he was robbing drug dealers, kidnapping and torturing them when they resisted. His hatred of criminals justified just about anything, even killing innocent civilians accidentally. He said he came to embody the thing he hated most.

    By that time, he said, militias were operating all over Belém. Some were strictly about killing known criminals. Others were about making money.

    Then in 2014, one of the most powerful militia members in Belém, Antônio Figueiredo, was gunned down in the street. The militias took his death personally, three members said, and decided to respond.

    On the night of Nov. 4, 2014, they retaliated, killing at least 10 people.. But the revenge was reckless, sweeping up innocents as masked officers unleashed their rage.

    The officer said he joined a team on motorcycles that went to the Terra Firme neighborhood, an area of mud streets and open sewage canals. He said he watched as a fellow officer dismounted, raised his weapon and fired at a teenager in a baseball cap.

    The teenager, Eduardo Chaves, 16, was the first person gunned down in the massacre that night. At the time, his family said, he was leaving church with his grandparents and girlfriend.. It was shortly after 9 p.m.

    The masked officer shot Eduardo five times, killing him, while the others watched.

    "He was a kid," the officer said. "I knew he was innocent and I knew things were getting out of control. But I was so full of anger I didn't say anything."

    "By that point, I was already hard-core," he said. "I didn't feel anything."

    The boy's relatives said they ran to the scene and found his body in the mud. His grandmother, Maria Auxiliadora Neves, said she wept as she collected his silver necklace, his cellphone and the few dollars he had saved to buy his girlfriend a pair of sandals. 

    In the aftermath, Mrs. Neves began to speak out about his murder, a risk even the police warned her against. She became an activist, calling attention to police shootings across Belém. 

    And then, it happened to her family again.

    On New Year's Day, 2016, Danilo de Campos Galucio, another of her grandsons, was shot, this time by men in an unmarked car, she said. Investigators call that a telltale sign of a militia shooting.

    The bullet passed through several organs and left him debilitated, at 15. He spent the next four years in and out of the hospital undergoing surgeries. Bedridden and depressed, he tried to kill himself twice.

    This September, he died at 19, having succumbed to medical complications related to the shooting.

    "I never paid attention to this before because it never affected me," his grandmother said, referring to the killings by militias, which she once assumed were justified. "I don't want revenge. I want justice."

    Officially, the police here in Pará State killed 626 people last year — a dozen each week. 

    That's more than 150 times the number of deadly police shootingsin all of New York City last year, even though they are roughly the same size. 

    In Belém, the state capital, the people killed by the police are disproportionately poor people of color, as they are elsewhere in Brazil. Nationwide, researchers say, 75 percent of the people shot and killed by the police are black.

    Those factors — the frequency of official police shootings and the marginalized status of the people shot — add to an atmosphere in which death by the police seems common, almost inevitable, experts say, laying the groundwork for the militias to operate with relative ease. 

    Over the course of a week, The New York Times tracked seven police shootings in Belém, with nine casualties. This is a snapshot of just one day.

    On Nov. 16, three young men tried to rob a clothing store. But the building belonged to a police officer, a member of the elite ROTAM force, known for its military culture and hyperviolence.

    The officer, who was home at the time, saw the men enter the store on his security cameras and took them on himself, according to the police. As they left the store, he opened fire, shooting two of the men — one in the hand and the other in the head.

    The officer stood outside, shirtless, clutching a revolver with a streak of blood smeared on his abdomen as the young man he shot in the head was rushed to the hospital. He survived.

    Less than an hour later, an image of the young man's face appeared on a WhatsApp group shared by militiamen, police officers and sympathizers. In case he evaded justice somehow, they would all know who he was, according to a person included in the group.

    That evening, two men stole an S.U.V. and exchanged gunfire with the police as they tried to escape. The officers fired three shots into the vehicle. When it stopped, one of the men was taken into custody, witnesses said, adding that he appeared injured but could walk.

    An hour later, when he arrived at the hospital, he was dead, with a gunshot wound to the heart, a photo of the body showed.

    "I don't know whether they executed him, and I don't want to know," his sister said on condition of anonymity, fearful of reprisals from the police. "The police here do what they want."

    Later that night, Ramon Silva Oliveira, 18, was also killed. He and a friend were coming home from a party, sharing a motorcycle, when the police tried to stop them, the family said.

    Ramon, they said, was young, black and had a large tattoo, which officers here openly admit arouses suspicion. But he was no gang member, his family said. He had applied to join the military and, in the meantime, was looking for work. He played soccer well. Medals hung from the walls of his room like ornaments.

    But that night, his friend, who was driving the motorcycle, decided to keep going. The police fired at the two young men, striking Ramon and forcing the motorcycle to fall over. He died almost immediately. 

    "I don't know whether the gunshot wound killed him or the fall," said his mother, Marlene Silva de Oliveira, folded in grief. "I didn't have the heart to go and look at his body."

    The family held a wake for him the following evening, next to a plot of grass where children played soccer.

    The arrests began days after the massacre at Wanda's Bar. Using surveillance footage from street cameras, investigators found the gunmen's car at a local repair shop. 

    The owner was trying to get some work done to the car, to disguise it. Soon enough, the authorities arrested four police officers — two hailed from the elite ROTAM force — and three others suspected in the crime.

    Tying the murders to the police was relatively straightforward. Forensic analysts found numerous .40 caliber shells at the scene, a bullet available only to the military police, a prosecutor said.

    But a judge in one of the cases thinks the evidence is relatively weak, partly because prosecutors have failed to uncover a motive.

    In the meantime, the bar is closed, a mausoleum to the events of May 19, and residents remain terrified. Some of the accused lived nearby — and their friends still do.

    The fear is so palpable that not a single family member of the deceased agreed to be interviewed. Some have moved, others changed phones and those still around refused to answer their doors or respond to messages.

    But a close family friend of the bar's owner, Maria Ivanilza Pinheiro Monteiro, known widely as Wanda, contended that everyone in the bar was innocent. They were all friends, partying, and the bar itself was a haunt for lots of militia guys, he said on the condition of anonymity for fear for his life.

    That's why the motive is so elusive, he said.. The bar had been around for 15 years. They all knew the militias, or were even friends with them. Some of the people killed in the attack actually supported what the militias did, he said, thinking it was the only way to clean up the community.

    In fact, the friend still felt that way. He believed that rogue cops were the best way to rid Belém of crime. Even with many of his friends now dead, he still clung to the belief that the militias were a "necessary evil."

    "They make life easier for the good people," he said. "Overall, I still think they are a force for good." 

    The militia men interviewed for this article all felt the killings at Wanda's Bar were inexcusable, but they defended the militias in general. To them, violence was the only solution, and the only question was how to wield it.

    "There's a way to fix this," said one of the militia leaders. "The governor should call the good cops and let us go and allow us to kill anyone. Only the bad people, the criminals, those who prey on the weak."

    "That will finish the violence once and for all," he said.

    Yan Boechat contributed reporting from Belém.



    8) What You're Unwrapping When You Get a DNA Test for Christmas 

    To what extent is gifting a DNA test also a present for law enforcement?

    "FamilyTreeDNA, a DNA database of 2 million people, similarly was built from its founders' desire to help people connect with relatives. "We feel the only person that should have your DNA is you," Bennett Greenspan, the company's president, said in a news release in 2017. But it's also a company that offers law-enforcement officials, for a fee of $800, the ability to search its database for relatives of suspected killers and rapists."

    By Heather Murphy, December 22, 2019


    Chris Gash

    The company GEDmatch, the DNA database that facilitated an arrest in the Golden State Killer case and in dozens of other cases since, emerged from a desire to connect people to their relatives. For the past decade, the site's co-founder Curtis Rogers has been running the company out of a small yellow house in Lake Worth, Fla. 

    When Mr. Rogers first learned that the DNA of GEDmatch users had played a critical role in identifying a suspected serial killer, he was upset. "I didn't think this was an appropriate use of our site," he said in an interview in May 2018, five weeks after the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo. This month, Mr. Rogers sold GEDmatch to Verogen, a commercial forensic company best known for providing police and F.BI. labs with tools for making predictions about suspected criminals' ancestry, eye color and hair color. 

    FamilyTreeDNA, a DNA database of 2 million people, similarly was built from its founders' desire to help people connect with relatives. "We feel the only person that should have your DNA is you," Bennett Greenspan, the company's president, said in a news release in 2017. But it's also a company that offers law-enforcement officials, for a fee of $800, the ability to search its database for relatives of suspected killers and rapists. 

    So what do these developments mean for that DNA kit sitting under your Christmas tree? Men's Journal calls them "one of the hottest gifting ideas," and US Weekly promises that "they're going to love it, no matter how tough of a critic they are." But is using one of these kits also opening the door to letting the police use your DNA to arrest your cousin?

    The answer in this rapidly evolving realm depends largely on which sites you join and the boxes you check off when you do. And even if you never join any of these sites, their policies could affect you so long as one of your 800 closest relatives has.