12/22/2019

bauaw2003 BAUAW NEWSLETTER, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2019

 

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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.

Related

https://blacklivesmatteratschool...com/2019/10/15/save-the-date-black-lives-matter-at-school-week-feb-3-7-2020/










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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



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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!

https://www.change.org/p/san-quentin-warden-ronald-davis-stop-kevin-cooper-s-abuse-by-san-quentin-prison-guards-2ace89a7-a13e-44ab-b70c-c18acbbfeb59?recruiter=747387046&recruited_by_id=3ea6ecd0-69ba-11e7-b7ef-51d8e2da53ef&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=petition_dashboard&use_react=false


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



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

US ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR

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

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/sign-global-petition-to-dismiss-charges-against-anti-nuclear-plowshares-activists-facing-25-years?source=direct_link&




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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!


Miigwech

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/




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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.


Doksha,

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..


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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....



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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 ...





COURAGE TO RESIST ~ SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHO REFUSE TO FIGHT!

484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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


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Board Game

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/race-for-solidarity


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



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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]."


Furthermore:


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...



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50 years in prison: 

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!


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,

CSP-LAC

P.O. Box 4490

B-4-150

Lancaster, CA 93539


--

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/



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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. 

http://chng.it/Yprs8pXBBp


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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


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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.


http://freedomarchives.org/Support.Jalil/Campaign.html

Write:

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:

ANTHONY JALIL BOTTOM, 77A4283,

Sullivan Correctional Facility,

P.O. Box 116,

Fallsburg, New York 12733-0116




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Funds for Kevin Cooper

https://www.gofundme....com/funds-for-kevin-cooper?member=1994108


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!






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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/

https://internal.diem25.org/en/petitions/1


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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..]

https://www..nytimes.com/interactive/2019/05/01/magazine/lordstown-general-motors-plant..html


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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

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MAJOR TILLERY FILES NEW LEGAL PETITION

SEX FOR LIES AND

MANUFACTURED TESTIMONY

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:



HOW YOU CAN 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

    Call/Write:

    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com

    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail..com





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    Articles:



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    1) The Tax Break for Children, Except the Ones Who Need It MostThe child tax credit, begun in 1997 as a tax cut, has become an anti-poverty program. But more than a third of children don't receive it because their parents earn too little..

    "The 2017 tax bill, President Trump's main domestic achievement, doubled the maximum credit in the two-decade-old program and extended it to families earning as much as $400,000 a year (up from $110,000). The credit now costs the federal government $127 billion a year — far more than better-known programs like the earned-income tax credit ($65 billion) and food stamps ($60 billion). But children with the greatest economic needs are least likely to benefit. While Republicans say the increase shows concern for ordinary families, 35 percent of children fail to receive the full $2,000 because their parents earn too little, researchers at Columbia University found. A quarter get a partial sum and 10 percent get nothing. Among those excluded from the full credit are half of Latinos, 53 percent of blacks and 70 percent of children with single mothers. .....Because the credit rises with earnings, a single parent with two children has to earn more than $30,000 a year to collect the full amount. ...Of the $73 billion of increased spending on the credit, 39 percent went to families in the top quintile and 2 percent to those at the bottom, according to Elaine Maag of the bipartisan Tax Policy Center."

    By Jason DeParle, December 16, 2019

    https://www..nytimes.com/2019/12/16/us/politics/child-tax-credit.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage


    Christina McKeigan, a divorced mother of three, earned $23,000 last year and was eligible for about half the maximum credit..Credit...Andrea Morales for The New York Times


    MONROE, La. — With two children and a third on the way, Ciera Dismuke worked five jobs last year while earning just under $15,000. Although the Trump administration often boasts that it doubled the federal child tax credit to $2,000 per child, Ms. Dismuke, like millions of Americans, earned too little to fully qualify. Instead, she got $934 a child, an increase of just $75.

    Letha Bradford, a teacher's aide, qualified for an equally small increase, despite a household budget so tight that she listens to her son's high school football games outside the stadium to save the admissions fee. Michael Spielberg, a Sam's Club attendant, also received only a partial credit, while his son, Josh, who has Asperger's syndrome, doubled up on classes, hoping to graduate early and turn his job bagging groceries into full-time work.

    "Food has been a bit of a struggle," said Josh, 16.

    The 2017 tax bill, President Trump's main domestic achievement, doubled the maximum credit in the two-decade-old program and extended it to families earning as much as $400,000 a year (up from $110,000). The credit now costs the federal government $127 billion a year — far more than better-known programs like the earned-income tax credit ($65 billion) and food stamps ($60 billion).

    But children with the greatest economic needs are least likely to benefit..

    While Republicans say the increase shows concern for ordinary families, 35 percent of children fail to receive the full $2,000 because their parents earn too little, researchers at Columbia University found. A quarter get a partial sum and 10 percent get nothing. Among those excluded from the full credit are half of Latinos, 53 percent of blacks and 70 percent of children with single mothers.


    "The child tax credit is the largest federal expenditure for children, but it excludes from the full benefit the kids who need it the most," said Sophie Collyer, a member of the research team at Columbia, who analyzed the program with her colleagues Christopher Wimer and David Harris. "This is a significant flaw in its design that's at odds with the administration's claims about the achievements of the tax bill."

    Because the credit rises with earnings, a single parent with two children has to earn more than $30,000 a year to collect the full amount.

    Republicans say that the credit is mostly a tax cut, not an anti-poverty program — so rightly favors taxpayers — and that the needy have other sources of aid. But a majority of congressional Democrats have backed a bill to increase the credit and include both the working and nonworking poor, essentially creating a guaranteed income for families with children.

    Many rich countries have similar child allowances and less child poverty. But opponents call the idea welfare and warn it will discourage work and responsibility.

    Rarely has a program grown so rapidly with such little public notice.. While it began in 1997 almost entirely as a tax cut, it is already an anti-poverty program: About 30 percent of its value now goes to "refundable" credits — partial cash awards — for families with no income-tax liability.


    Championed by Newt Gingrich and expanded by Barack Obama, the credit has a history of bipartisan support. But the attempt by Democrats to remove the earnings test is a shift for a party that since the Clinton administration has been wary of the welfare label and reflects concerns over stagnant wages, as well as new research showing that even modest amounts of extra cash can have lifelong benefits for children.

    By enriching the credit and including the affluent, the Trump expansion itself has brought attention to the poor children it excludes. While the 2017 law made millions of upper-income families eligible for the $2,000 credit (in part to offset the loss of other tax benefits), it gave a boost of just $75 to most full-time workers at the minimum wage.

    "It left out 26 million kids" from the full sum, said Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat who has helped write a bill to raise the credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for those under 6) and pay a portion monthly. "It's critical that we don't leave it as a half measure. Our entire conception of ourselves as a land of opportunity is diminished by the fact that our child poverty rates are as high as they are."

    The limits of the credit's reach can be seen in Monroe, a sleepy commercial crossroads 100 miles or more from surrounding cities, where pay is low and workers looking to advance often travel for oil-field jobs or check the want ads in Texas.


    Monroe is in Louisiana's Fifth Congressional District, one of 37 districts in 22 states where half the children or more have parents too poor to get the full credit, according to Ms.. Collyer of Columbia. In the New York 15th (the Bronx), the share is 68 percent. In the Texas 34th (Brownsville to the outskirts of San Antonio), it is 61 percent..

    In the Louisiana Fifth, 54 percent of children are too poor to receive the full $2,000. Among those with a partial benefit, the average is $1,008.

    Many low-income families do not realize they receive the complicated benefit, which is often confused with the earned-income tax credit. Until she showed a reporter her tax return, Ms.. Dismuke did not know she had gotten $934 per child.. Told that affluent families get much more, she said, "That is not right — I'm quite sure they don't need it."

    But Christina McKeigan, a divorced mother of three eligible for about half the maximum credit, said it made sense for richer families to get more. "They probably pay more in taxes," she said. She earned $23,000 last year and stretched her budget with apps for discount grocery stores and recipes for cheesy chicken spaghetti. "I can do a lot with the amount I get.."

    Scholars have long debated whether giving needy families cash raises their children's prospects, especially if there are other problems like depression or domestic violence. But many cite growing evidence that money alone does in fact help..

    The National Academy of Sciences, a group created to convey the scholarly consensus, recently concluded that raising incomes of poor families has "been shown to improve child well-being." Reviewing dozens of studies, it found child benefits as varied as better test scores and graduation rates, less drug use, and higher earnings and employment as adults.

    While findings vary, "the weight of the evidence shows additional resources help the kids," said Greg Duncan, an economist at the University of California-Irvine who led the study..


    Giving the full $2,000 credit to poor families would cut child poverty rates by 26 percent, the academy found.

    At least 17 wealthy countries provide a child allowance, including Australia, Ireland and Britain. After a 2016 Canadian expansion offered up to $6,400 per child, the country's child poverty rate fell by a third.

    Money helps children in part because of what it can buy — more goods (cheesy chicken spaghetti) and services (gymnastics classes or tutors). Ms. Bradford, the teacher's aide, is so eager to invest in her sons that she has used tax refunds to send them on Boy Scout trips to 42 states — even when a flood left them living in her car. "I'm trying to instill in them that it's education that gives you knowledge and power, not cars or clothes," she said.

    Before traveling to Washington and visiting the Vietnam Memorial, the boys — Tony, 17, and Micah, 13 — wrote a report on a Monroe man killed in the war, which the public library added to its collection. Finding the soldier's name on the wall, Micah said, "felt like touching history."

    Money also helps children by relieving stress, which can reach toxic levels in poor families. Earning just $16,000 despite 15 years in the public schools, Ms. Bradford is an accomplished penny-pincher. Still, food often runs short, and the power company recently shut off the lights, leaving Ms. Bradford so upset that the boys could not focus in school.

    "Sometimes the look in her eye, it's like she's sick — but she's not sick, she's just stressed," Tony said. "It makes me feel the exact same way."

    Micah said his teacher scolded him for acting distracted, but "all I could think about is how is my Mama going to pay this bill?"


    Most needy families get other benefits, often at considerable taxpayer expense.. Between food stamps, the earned-income tax credit and the child tax credit, Ms.. Bradford receives about $10,000, plus Medicaid for herself and her sons. Mr. Spielberg gets Medicaid, subsidized housing and food stamps.

    As recently as last week, Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, tweeted that the expanded credit shows that "we are fighting each and every day for hard-working American families.."

    But the 2017 law mostly cut corporate taxes, and the Senate rejected an attempt by two Republicans, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah, to slightly reduce the corporate cuts to finance a larger credit for the poor. It would have given Ms. Bradford a gain of $450, rather than $75.

    Of the $73 billion of increased spending on the credit, 39 percent went to families in the top quintile and 2 percent to those at the bottom, according to Elaine Maag of the bipartisan Tax Policy Center.


    Robert Rector of the conservative Heritage Foundation warns that a universal child allowance would promote dependency and discourage work. "It's classic, traditional welfare," he said. "If there was anything we learned from the welfare debate in the 1990s, it was that having a single mom at home with a child and no job is not a good idea."

    But some on the right argue that an allowance promotes work and family. "The problem with the old welfare system wasn't that it gave money to single mothers, but that it clawed it back, dollar for dollar, when they went to work," said Samuel Hammond of the libertarian Niskanen Center.. "There's no reason to think that a flat allowance would have the same effect.."

    From liberals like Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California to conservatives like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a majority of Democrats in both houses favor a broad allowance, as do at least seven of the party's presidential candidates, suggesting the push is likely to continue. On Sunday, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah proposed a credit of $1,500 per child, payable to even the poorest families, becoming the first Republican in Congress to support an income floor for families with children.

    To understand how poverty limits children, consider Josh Spielberg, whose Asperger's syndrome would present challenges even if his family had money. "Social interaction is a little different for me — like I don't understand jokes," he said, sitting through an interview while solving Rubik's Cubes. After he made his first friend last year — a "very good kid, sweet kid" — the friend killed himself.

    While affluent students who share his goal of attending a good college often spend junior year prepping for tests, Josh took an after-school job at $7.50 an hour and is accelerating classes to graduate early and work full time. The extra load has been "a bit of a struggle," he said, and may hurt his grades, but "I was tired of seeing my family not being able to get the things they needed and deserved."

    Asked what money could buy, his father said he wished Josh had an ACT tutor — though even without studying he beat the statewide average. For Josh, who is 6-foot-3 with a teenager's appetite, the appeal of his paycheck is more basic.

    "To be honest, it's eating," he said. "I treat myself to more expensive food.. Like at Taco Bell, I'll upgrade to the chicken instead of the beef."

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    2) A Defense of Cursive, From a 10-Year-Old National ChampionEdbert Aquino is a national handwriting champion from New Jersey, where a lawmaker wants all public schools to teach the skill again.

    By Tracey Tully, December 17, 2019

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/nyregion/cursive-writing-nj.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage


    Edbert Aquino, 10, won a national competition for his cursive writing.Credit...Bryan Anselm for The New York Times


    A fifth grader in New Jersey is a master of curlicues and connecting loops... His technique is so good he was named a state and national champion of a dying art: cursive writing, a skill that once seemed destined to go the way of the typewriter.

    The boy, Edbert Aquino, who is 10, took home last year's national trophy, $500 and bragging rights for his Roman Catholic elementary school in Bergen County.


    But competition for the prize might just get stiffer in New Jersey. 

    Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, a Democrat from Jersey City, has introduced legislation that would require public schools to again teach a skill that had been phased out across the country, but is now enjoying something of a revival.


    Like many students in New Jersey, Ms. McKnight's son had never been taught cursive writing. Tasks she considers fundamental were beyond him: autographing a yearbook; endorsing a check; signing an application.

    So she bought a workbook and taught him at home. "I wanted him to be able to sign his name," she said. "It's a life skill."

    The proliferation of computers and screens, coupled with the advent of rigorous Common Core standards and new demands on teachers, had led to a gradual disappearance of cursive instruction across the nation. In New Jersey, public schools have not been required to teach handwriting since 2010. 

    To many people who recall being berated for their illegible writing, the disappearance of cursive is nothing to lament.


    "As an exercise, writing things by hand is up there with cobbling shoes and shoeing horses," a columnist, Alexandra Petri, wrote in 2012 in The Washington Post.


    "Why is the world so cruel?" Christopher Borrelli, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, wrote last year.

    "My thoughts turned to the children, the poor darlings, who must be scared and confused now, wondering what they did to tick off the gods of education," he wrote. "They can't have cupcakes in class, but they can have cursive."

    In spite of the ample fodder it has provided humor writers, teachers may end up getting the last laugh.

    Kathleen Wright, who worked for Zaner-Bloser, a company that publishes cursive workbooks and sponsored the national competition, said 24 states now required some form of cursive instruction, including seven that had adopted policies since 2013. 

    "After they got rid of handwriting, now they're all rediscovering it," Virginia Berninger, a retired University of Washington professor who has conducted research on the ways children learn when using print or script. "People mistakenly assumed because we had computers, we didn't need handwriting. We need both."


    Putting a pencil or pen to paper helps form an impression in a child's brain and is beneficial for early literacy, regardless of whether the letters are printed or written in script, Professor Berninger said. But her studies have shown a connection between the linked letters in cursive writing and improved spelling proficiency. 

    "We think those connecting strokes help children link the letters into word units, which helps their spelling," she said. Handwriting, she said, also allows children to write fluidly and quickly, which can lead to longer stories and essays. 

    Edbert, who was declared a national winner as a third grader, said that when he does use cursive, he is forced to slow down, which allows his ideas to flow more freely and helps with creativity. "If I'm, like, handwriting it, I just tend to write better," he said.

    Still, even Edbert said he would prefer to use a computer (and spell-check) for long assignments. "I can type faster than I can write," he said.


    New Jersey school districts still have the option of teaching cursive, according to the state School Boards Association, which has not taken a position on Ms. McKnight's bill. And an informal survey done in 2012 by the association found that many schools still did.

    To enter the nationwide competition among third graders, Edbert and his classmates wrote a sentence that contained every letter in the alphabet, known as a pangram: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog..


    Filomena D'Amico, the principal of Edbert's school, the Academy of Our Lady of Grace in Fairview, said students practiced printing or handwriting immediately after lunch. "It calms the students down," Ms. D'Amico said. "They unwind.."

    Tamara Plakins Thornton, a professor of history at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said this was not the first time in the country's history when schools had turned with renewed interest to cursive writing, which she considered obsolete.

    Professor Plakins Thornton, who wrote the book "Handwriting in America: A Cultural History," said the pendulum tended to swing back toward cursive instruction during times of cultural upheaval. She pointed to the early 1900s, with its influx of immigrants, and the 1960s, when America was roiled by the antiwar movement and the sexual revolution, as two of the biggest heydays for cursive instruction.


    "Cursive — it's all about following rules," she said. "Whenever the present looks scary and the future looks worse, we tend to want to go running back to the past."

    She added, "It's a countercultural rebellion. I think it's a conservative backlash against cultural change."

    AlabamaArkansasLouisianaMississippiNorth CarolinaSouth Carolina and Tennessee have all passed legislation since 2013 requiring the instruction of handwriting, Ms. Wright said.


    The proposed legislation faces an uncertain future in New Jersey, where teachers are already asked to help children reach greater levels of proficiency in core subjects like and English.

    "Teachers are inundated with so much to get through," said Shannon Keogh, who has taught third and fourth grade in public schools in Orange, N.J., and now teaches math in the district. "To add another thing — that kids are really never going to use — is kind of silly."

    "The signature," Ms. Keogh, a mother of four, added, "is probably going to be a thing of the past by the time our kids will ever sign a mortgage."

    But Ms.. Knight believes cursive instruction could still be interwoven into the English or history classes, and would not take away significant time from academic instruction. 

    At Our Lady of Grace, Ms.. D'Amico said assignments are sometimes done on computers, and turned in electronically, while others must be written in cursive and turned in on paper, forcing students to unplug.

    "We can disconnect them for a bit from the technology," she said. "I think it's a healthy combination."


    Edbert is hoping to become a doctor — in spite of his perfect penmanship.

    "They have to write out their observations, and they have to do it in a time crunch. So it can get a little messy," he said. "I'll try to write neatly so my patients can understand."

    Susan C. Beachy contributed research


    My NYT Comment:

    "OK, I'm 74-years-old, so I can't wrap my mind around not learning cursive writing. I write notes to myself all the time, every day, whenever a thought occurs to me. I write on napkins and paper towels, purchase receipts, etc.. And it's ridiculous to me that somehow cursive writing is a "politically conservative" idea. I believe it's just the opposite—that it's part of the dumbing down of education in general for poor and working class students that has been going on since the late '60 and '70s. How can writing quicker be anything else but better for children trying to learn to write their thoughts clearly—take notes quickly and instantaneously—instead of having to pull out a smart phone or tablet that, by their very nature, encourages or, in fact, requires short-cuts in spelling and grammar. Without learning the ground rules of spelling and grammar through physical hand-writing, typing produces work just as sloppy as not knowing the language fluently enough to hand-write it in the first place. Not being taught cursive has become a distinct disadvantage for the overwhelming majority of our children and it is shameful." —Bonnie Weinstein 

    https://www..nytimes.com/2019/12/17/nyregion/cursive-writing-nj.html#commentsContainer&permid=104192480:104192480

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    3) How Families Cope with the Hidden Costs of Incarceration for the Holidays

    Prisons cost taxpayers $80 billion a year. But the price that loved ones pay often goes unnoticed.

    By Nicole Lewis and Beatrix Lockwood, December 17, 2019

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/us/incarceration-holidays-family-costs.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage


    Telita Hayes estimates that her ex-husband's incarceration has cost her more than $10,000 in phone, email and commissary charges.Credit...Olivia Perillo/The Marshall Project


    Every month, Telita Hayes adds nearly $200 to the commissary account for her ex-husband, William Reese, who has been in the Louisiana State Penitentiary for 28 years.

    Each prisoner there is given three meals a day and some personal hygiene items, like soap and toothpaste. But when Mr. Reese gets hungry between meals, or when his state-issued supplies run out, the commissary money buys him extra food and other necessities.

    That is not the only way his imprisonment drains her wallet. On top of the $2,161 she has put in his commissary account so far this year, Ms. Hayes has paid $3,586 in charges for talking to him on the phone when she cannot make the hourlong drive to the prison, and even $419 for emails sent through the prison's email system. 

    The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that the United States spends more than $80 billion each year to keep roughly 2.3 million people behind bars. Many experts say that figure is a gross underestimate, though, because it leaves out myriad hidden costs that are often borne by prisoners and their loved ones, with women overwhelmingly shouldering the financial burden. These costs rise during the holiday season, relatives say, as they make more visits, call more often and send more care packages.


    National data on how much families pay into the corrections system is rarely gathered. So to better understand the hidden costs of incarceration, The Marshall Project asked people to document their spending. Nearly 200 people responded. Many families said they shell out hundreds of dollars each month to feed, clothe and stay connected to someone behind bars, paying for health care, personal hygiene items and phone calls and other forms of communication.


    Ms. Hayes said she spends an additional $200 on visits and phone calls around Christmastime.


    "I think the biggest misconception that people have about prison is that 'the state' pays for everything," wrote Connie Martin, 50, from Hazel Park, Michigan. "No one realizes that it's the friends and families of loved ones that pay."

    The Prison Policy Initiative, an organization working to reduce mass incarceration, estimates that families spend $2.9 billion a year on commissary accounts and phone calls. Families are also often responsible for paying court fees, restitution and fines when a member goes to prison. According to a 2015 report by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the average family paid roughly $13,000 in fines and fees. 

    Kae Boone, 52, says she spends $100 a month on her boyfriend, Charles Lee Isaac, 52, who is incarcerated at the Graceville Work Camp in Graceville, Fla., for failing a drug test, a violation of his parole for an earlier offense. Ms. Boone says the money mostly goes toward toiletries and food. The one hotel-sized bar of soap Mr.. Isaac gets each week from the prison won't last through a full week of showers.


    Keeping Mr. Isaac clean and fed has forced Ms. Boone to make trade-offs in her own life. Sometimes she struggles to pay her own bills.. "I had one of my cars repossessed because I would prefer to send him money and make sure he's taken care of," she said.


    In many facilities, basic items are sold by private vendors, often with substantial markups or added service fees. Over the years, the cost to families has increased as prisons and jails across the country increasingly outsource many of the basic functions of running a correctional facility to private companies. 

    It is a trend that has accelerated since the 2008 recession, as state legislatures have looked for ways to bring down the rising cost of incarceration, according to Hadar Aviram, a professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.. "Public prisons are public only by name," she said. "These days, you pay for everything in prison."

    Prison officials often say the switch to private vendors makes the prisons more secure and prevents contraband from being smuggled in with outside food or gifts. Many families say they're now paying more for the same goods they used to be able to purchase on their own.

    "Back in the day, we could buy underwear and tennis shoes and jeans and have it shipped directly to the inmate," said Ms. Hayes, who is 50.. Now, she said, she has to go through approved vendors. 

    "The price is jacked up on everything," she said. 

    Over the two years since the couple reconnected after a 12-year separation, Ms. Hayes estimates that she has spent upward of $10,000 supporting her ex-husband in prison. He is serving a life sentence for aggravated rape, so the costs of staying in touch could extend for many years.


    When Dawn Hodges, 47, moved back to her hometown, she learned that her childhood friend T.J. Davis, also 47, was serving a two-year sentence for driving on a suspended license. Mr. Davis had been in and out of prison over the years as he struggled to overcome a drug addiction. Although he had been sober and out of trouble for nearly a decade, the driving charge violated the terms of his parole.


    At first, Ms. Hodges wrote Mr. Davis letters. But when their exchanges rekindled old feelings, they wanted to stay in touch more often, so Ms. Hodges bought Mr.. Davis a tablet device. The tablets, which cost $80, offer Florida prisoners more ways to connect with people back home, including email and video calls — but at a price. 

    Each email requires a digital "stamp," which costs $12 for a set of 30. Pictures and attachments require an additional stamp. Ms. Hodges says she emails Mr. Davis at least once a day, blowing through 30 to 40 stamps a month..

    Jennifer Erschabek, executive director of the Texas Inmate Families Association, considers the money that people like Ms. Hodges spend an additional tax. The high prices are the result of contracts that are written with profits in mind, she said. Texas recently reduced the cost of telephone calls with prisoners to 6 cents a minute, from 23 cents, by negotiating a better deal with the provider.

    In states where the rates are still exorbitant, it is perilously easy to binge on expensive services to stay in touch.. As a result, people often trade tips for saving money through numerous Facebook groups and chat rooms for families of the incarcerated.


    Whatever their workarounds, family members said the strain of finding the money to stay in touch and ease the burdens of incarceration exacts a continual emotional toll.


    "At times I can't afford stamps, and my loved one feels forgotten about, but life is expensive out here," wrote Jestine Pudlo, 24, of Crystal River, Fla. "I can't afford to put money on the phone, either, so I have to decline calls, and it hurts my heart to do that."

    In November and December, people incarcerated in federal prisons are allowed to receive an extra 100 minutes of phone calls. Family members say the extra time can feel like a lifeline because of restrictions on receiving gifts from outside prison.

    Those limitations make calls and visits around the holidays extremely important, wrote Sheena Perron, 34, from St. Paul, Minn.. "I find myself willing to put myself in a financial crunch just to make that communication happen!"

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    4) 'The Far Side' Is Back. Sort Of. Gary Larson Will Explain.A website will feature some of the beloved comic strip's classics and, Larson says, "I'm looking forward to slipping in some new things every so often."

    By George Gene Gustines, December 17, 2019

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/arts/far-side-gary-larson.html


    Some of the familiar creatures of "The Far Side" wave hello (except maybe the cow) in this panel by Gary Larson.Credit...Larson and FarWorks, Inc


    Just shy of 25 years since its last original installment, the offbeat comic strip "The Far Side" has returned. In a manner of speaking, but please don't call it a comeback.

    "I'm not 'back,' at least in the sense I think you're asking," said Gary Larson, the cartoonist who created it, via email last week ahead of a website revival. "Returning to the world of deadlines isn't exactly on my to-do list." 

    Beginning Tuesday, the "Far Side" site will provide visitors with "The Daily Dose," a random selection of past cartoons, along with a weekly set of strips arranged by theme. There will also be a look at doodles from the sketchbooks of Larson, who said: "I'm looking forward to slipping in some new things every so often.." (Previously, there was no content on the site.)


    "The Far Side" became a cultural phenomenon after it appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 1, 1980. The single-panel comic, which ran until Larson, now 69, retired in 1995, featured men, women, children, animals and insects in often offbeat and sometimes inscrutable situations. One installment, "Cow Tools," featured a bovine in front of a worktable with an odd assortment of implements. The image was described on Reddit as the comic's most "notoriously confusing cartoon." There were also occasional controversies: A chimp once described Jane Goodall as a tramp, though she later wrote the foreword for a collected edition of the series. One scientist even named an insect after Larson.

    A "Far Side" character surfs the web in this cartoon by Larson.Credit...Larson and FarWorks, Inc


    After stepping away from his daily deadline 24 years ago, Larson said he rarely drew, except for Christmas cards.. But even that was not easy. It "had turned into an annual pain because I seemed to always be dealing with clogged pens, dried-up markers, or something else related to lack of use," he said.. That changed when he tried working on a digital tablet. 

    "Lo and behold, within moments I found myself having fun drawing again," he said. 

    Here are edited excerpts from the email interview.

    What was your inspiration for "The Far Side?"

    It probably all started with "Alley Oop." I had always liked to draw as a kid, and I remember being grabbed visually by that strip. I was especially fascinated with the dinosaurs, and that's when I started drawing my own, along with other animals. No cows, though. Later came a major influence from Mad magazine, especially the style and humor of Don Martin. I think that's the first time I actually laughed at a cartoon. Still later I was taken with the cartoons of Gahan WilsonB. Kliban and George Booth. All these cartoonists seemed to attach a lot of importance to nuance and composition. There was something almost organic going on between the humor and the art that conveyed it.

    Did any cartoons provoke controversy?

    Man, controversy never seemed too far away from me, especially during my first year of syndication. I truly thought my career may have ended a number of times.


    I remember one I did of a couple dogs that were playing this game, where they were smacking around a cat hanging from a long rope attached to a pole. I called it "Tethercat..." To me, and I assume my editor, it didn't cross any line because this was just a game dogs might play.. But that one got people stirred up. Especially cat people. 

    Doing something controversial was never my intention... This was just my sense of humor, and the kind of humor in my family. I never drew anything my mom wouldn't have laughed at. Of course, my mom was insane. I'm kidding! Well, maybe a little.

    I'll forever be grateful to fans, who in those early days often rescued "The Far Side" from cancellation, or campaigned to get it reinstated.

    Why did you avoid recurring characters?

    I would have felt locked in. I just wanted to go anywhere my mind would take me, from bacteria to outer space.

    When I first met the editor of my syndicate-to-be, he asked about developing recurring characters. The moment scared me. I didn't have a clue on how to approach character-based cartooning. And then he dropped the idea just a few minutes after bringing it up. To me, characters were only in a cartoon to serve an idea, to play a supportive role just like any film actor might, but in a film so short it was only a single frame.

    But my own version of central casting started taking shape. I could sometimes be asked by someone if I would draw "that nerdy kid" or "that woman with the beehive hairdo" and of course I knew who they meant. But I didn't assign a specific name or persona to any of them. One of my characters could be teaching a class one day and get trampled by an elephant the next. You would never want to get too attached..


    Was it initially tough to pitch "The Far Side" to newspapers or your agent?

    I never really "pitched" my cartoons to anyone. Seems to me cartoons have to speak for themselves. My goal was to see if I could get editors to just look at my work. Other than that, I stayed out of it.

    I did manage to sell a handful of cartoons to one very small weekly, for which I received $5 each. Aside from that, though, the few doors I knocked on were of the revolving kind. But the handful of times an editor actually did look at my work, not only did he or she not rain on my parade, they seemed to take a genuine interest in me, and ended up giving my self-confidence a boost.. 

    Then a big shot in the arm was when The Seattle Times started running my cartoons on a weekly basis. It didn't last forever — too many complaints, I was told — but it ultimately motivated me to head down to San Francisco, where I walked through the doors (again, unannounced) of The San Francisco Chronicle, and the rest, as they say …


    At what point did you know the strip was a success?

    My own benchmark for success was pretty basic — I just wanted to be able to pay my rent. Beyond reaching that goal I really didn't care much. I was doing something I loved, getting by, and that's what mattered. So, in my own eyes, I think I became successful somewhere in my second year. But I'm not sure I ever quite shook the sense that the whole thing might be a house of cards. I always felt like yesterday's cartoon was yesterday's cartoon, and I was only as funny as today's.

    And then there was "Cow Tools."

    "Cow Tools" is difficult to describe, so I don't think I should attempt it here or it could turn into an essay. But the bottom line is that it was a massively confusing cartoon.. When that came out, suddenly I found myself being called by reporters and doing interviews about a cartoon with the inane title, "Cow Tools." I think one newspaper even held a contest to see if anyone could figure out what it meant. It got kind of wild.


    But, in a weird way, this is how I first came to realize that there was something going on, and that there were other humans actually reading my cartoons. Cartooning is kind of a loner endeavor. You draw stuff, you mail it in, draw stuff, mail it in. 

    Which "Far Side" cartoons are your favorites?

    I've always been more inclined to remember the ones I wish I hadn't done. There was a time when I felt embarrassed about a fair number of them, mostly because I thought they were kind of stupid or corny. Or they flat-out tanked. But now when I look back at those cartoons, I think many of them have a kind of innocence to them, and they don't bother me so much.

    As for favorites, these days I'm actually having a harder time just remembering many of them. I don't have cause to look at them very often, and when I do it feels sort of like bumping into an old friend you haven't seen or thought about for years. 

    Are there any strips you wish you could take another stab at?

    I retroactively tweaked some captions on a handful of cartoons after they were initially published, trying to dial them in just a little better, but I almost regret doing even that. I think it's possible to keep refining something until you've managed to kill it. Even the warts probably play a role. 

    What is it like to have two species named after you?

    Amazing. And truly flattering. Truthfully, I think it's officially only one species, a chewing louse that lives exclusively on owls. I believe the other one, an Ecuadorean butterfly, hit some kind of taxonomic snag. But hey, I'm honored to get the louse! I can die now.


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    5) A New Drug Scourge: Deaths Involving Meth Are Rising Fast Today's meth is far more potent than earlier versions, but because it isn't an opioid, many federal addiction treatment funds can't be used to fight it.

    By Abby Goodnough, December 1, 2019

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/health/meth-deaths-opioids.html


    Shayla Divelbiss used methamphetamine for six years, ignoring a thyroid condition and going days at a time without sleep. She waited two months for a bed at a treatment center.Credit....Joseph Rushmore for The New York Times


    TULSA, Okla.. — The teenager had pink cheeks from the cold and a matter-of-fact tone as she explained why she had started using methamphetamine after becoming homeless last year.

    "Having nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat — that's where meth comes into play," said the girl, 17, who asked to be identified by her nickname, Rose. "Those things aren't a problem if you're using."

    She stopped two months ago, she said, after smoking so much meth over a 24-hour period that she hallucinated and nearly jumped off a bridge. Deaths associated with meth use are climbing here in Oklahoma and in many other states, an alarming trend for a nation battered by the opioid epidemic, and one that public health officials are struggling to fully explain.

    The meth problem has sneaked up on state and national leaders. In Oklahoma, meth and related drugs, including prescription stimulants, now play a role in more deaths than all opioids combined, including painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention..


    The spending package that lawmakers agreed on this week includes legislation from Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, and Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, that would allow states to address the resurgence of meth and cocaine by using some of the billions of dollars that Congress had appropriated to combat opioid addiction. 

    Meth use first ballooned in the United States from the 1990s into the early 2000s, when it was often made in small home labs with pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in many drugstore cold medicines. But today's meth, largely imported from Mexico, is far more potent.

    "It's way different from the meth people were using 20 years ago," said Dr. Jason Beaman, the chairman of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Center for Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University. "It's like they were drinking Mountain Dew and now they are injecting Red Bull."


    Nationally, since late last year, meth has turned up in more deaths than opioid painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. In 14 of the 35 states that report overdose deaths to the federal government on a monthly basis, meth is also involved in more deaths than fentanyl, by far the most potent opioid.


    Provisional data from the C.D.C. shows there were about 13,000 deaths involving meth nationwide in 2018, more than twice as many as in 2015. That is still far fewer than opioid deaths over all, which passed 47,000, but the pace is accelerating while opioid fatalities have flattened.

    The most recent federal data, for example, estimates that from May 2018 to May 2019 there were 24.6 percent more deaths involving meth and other drugs in its class than in the previous year, compared with 9...4 percent more deaths involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.. Deaths involving meth have been concentrated in the western United States but are moving eastward, even to regions that meth barely touched in the past, like New England. 

    "This is the one thing that keeps me awake at night," said Dr. Brett P. Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Health and Human Services Department, at a conference on stimulant abuse on Monday. "Within a few short months, and you can model it any way you want, methamphetamines will be secondary to fentanyl nationwide associated with overdose deaths."

    Unlike with opioids, there is no way to reverse the effects of a meth overdose, just as there is no medication approved to treat meth addiction and the cravings it creates. For now, treatment for meth addiction consists largely of behavioral therapies with "a much more moderate effect size compared with medication," said Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    For many here in Oklahoma, what treatments do exist are out of reach. Most poor adults in the state do not qualify for Medicaid coverage that would help those with meth addiction gain access to treatment, because the state has chosen not to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act. And while Oklahoma has won a windfall of money — $355 million — from lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, much of it is specifically for fighting opioid addiction. 

    "We know there is funding coming in for the opioid problem," said Mimi Tarrasch, the chief officer of Women in Recovery, an alternative sentencing program in Tulsa. "But what I see, and what our community continues to see, is really a lot of addiction to methamphetamine."


    Meth is still not considered nearly as deadly as heroin or synthetic fentanyl, the latter of which has killed tens of thousands of Americans over the past five years, often within minutes, by depressing their breathing. Instead, meth stimulates the central nervous system, causing agitation, sleeplessness, psychosis and gradual damage to the heart, brain and other organs.


    "Basically your blood pressure goes up so high that you can rupture your aorta or have a stroke," said Dr. Andrew Herring, an emergency medicine and addiction specialist in Oakland, Calif.

    In many cases, opioids are contributing to meth deaths, as people use both types of drugs together. Opioids were found to play a role in about half of the deaths involving meth in 2017, the most recent year for which detailed toxicology results are available. 

    Some experts think the number is probably larger.. Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies patterns of drug use, said he suspected some coroners and medical examiners were not checking the blood of overdose victims for dozens of fentanyl analogues, which have chemical structures similar to fentanyl but require specialized toxicology testing.

    Meth-related deaths may also be rising simply because the number of users is rising, Dr. Ciccarone said, including those with underlying heart or other problems..

    "It's embarrassing that we don't have the answer at our fingertips and we should," Dr. Ciccarone said at the stimulant abuse conference.

    Research suggests that in some cases, fear of dying from fentanyl is compelling people to use meth instead. Others are using meth as an upper to rouse themselves after using opioids, which have a sedative effect, or to help with opioid withdrawal. Still others are turning to meth for a high even as they take anti-craving medications to recover from opioid addiction..


    Dr. Giroir said combining meth and fentanyl could be the most dangerous move of all, although researchers are still trying to figure out how the drugs work together.

    "We definitely want to dissuade people from the notion that somehow a downer and an upper cancel each other out," he said. "Early data suggests the combination is probably more deadly than the sum of its parts."

    Some deaths involving meth are due to the risky or violent behavior it can cause, not the drug itself. Rose and her 19-year-old boyfriend, stopping to talk to a reporter one morning on their way to a drop-in center where they hoped to shower, said they knew of a man who had hanged himself after a meth-fueled fight with his girlfriend.

    Last year in Tulsa, a 25-year-old man with schizophrenia died after he shattered the glass door of a downtown bank while on meth and two police officers, who had been pursuing him, shot him with a Taser 27 times. His autopsy report said the likely cause of death was cardiac arrest "due to methamphetamine toxicity in the setting of physical exertion/restraint," with cardiovascular disease as a contributing factor. The man's relatives say excessive force by the police was to blame and are planning to sue, said Damario Solomon-Simmons, a lawyer for the family.

    Many autopsies of Oklahoma residents whose deaths involved meth also found heart problems. In one typical case, a 48-year-old receptionist was found dead in a hotel room in May, her body withered to 77 pounds, her heart diseased. The cause of death was found to be acute methamphetamine toxicity.


    Dr. Beaman, who sees patients at a psychiatric crisis center here in Tulsa, said psychosis and other mental conditions caused by meth use were taking up more and more resources. In June alone, he said, more than half of the admissions to the crisis center were related to meth..


    "I can't treat people with schizophrenia," Dr. Beaman said, "because I'm spending all my time treating people who are using meth."

    Shayla Divelbiss, 29, of Glenpool, Okla., considers herself lucky to be in good health now after using meth for six years, during which she ignored a thyroid condition and went days at a time without sleep. After waiting two harrowing months for a bed at 12 & 12, a treatment center for the poor and uninsured, she was able to stop.

    "All the responsibilities of being a human just went out the window," she said of her time on meth.. "I quit cooking and eating. I had real bad anxiety.. I was skin and bones."

    Daniel Raymond, the director of policy at the national Harm Reduction Coalition, said it was imperative to figure out exactly how meth users were dying so that cities and states could build public health strategies based on that knowledge. For now, those strategies include warning users about the risks of "overamping," a word used to describe using too much meth, and the best ways to address it, like cooling down, drinking water and sleeping. Syringe exchanges have an important role for those who inject meth, he said, just as they do for opioid users.

    At 12 & 12, a former hotel on the outskirts of Tulsa, 64 percent of the clients are addicted to meth, said Bryan Day, the chief executive. State lawmakers have agreed to give the center more money next year to add beds for meth patients and increase their average stay, which is about 30 days. He estimated that 4,000 people in the state need treatment for meth addiction but are not receiving it. 

    "My belief is that their judgment for a period of time is very, very skewed, leading to frightening choices and decisions and impulses," Mr. Day said. "The brain takes time to heal. We don't want to shortchange this population."

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    6) How Has This Pesticide Not Been Banned?Government scientists say chlorpyrifos is unsafe. And yet it's still in use.

    By The Editorial Board, December 17, 2019

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/opinion/chlorpyrifos-pesticide.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage


    Illustration by Nicholas Konrad; photograph by Getty Images


    The pesticide known as chlorpyrifos is both clearly dangerous and in very wide use. It is known to pass easily from mother to fetus and has been linked to a wide range of serious medical problems, including impaired development, Parkinson's disease and some forms of cancer. That's not entirely surprising. The chemical was originally developed by Nazis during World War II for use as a nerve gas. 

    Here's what is surprising: Tons of the pesticide are still being sprayed across millions of acres of United States farmland every year, nearly five years after the Environmental Protection Agency determined that it should be banned.. 

    The E.P.A. proposed a full federal ban after its scientists concluded that there was substantial risk for children and developing fetuses. But federal officials backed off the proposal soon after President Trump took office, and then reversed it completely this past July.. The agency now says the data on chlorpyrifos is insufficient and unreliable, but that argument cuts against well-established scientific opinion and years of careful study by E.P.A. experts.

    With the federal government abdicating its responsibility, individual states have been left to fill the void. Hawaii and California have issued statewide bans, and several other states, including New Jersey, are taking steps to do the same. The New York attorney general is spearheading a lawsuit against the E.P.A., contending the agency broke the law when it reversed course on the federal ban of chlorpyrifos. And New York's State Legislature passed, with broad bipartisan support, a bill to ban the chemical. Nearly 100 medical, consumer and environmental organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, supported the measure.


    Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, vetoed that bill. Mr. Cuomo promises to institute a ban on the pesticide — and quickly, by July 2021 — but says that his administration will accomplish this goal through regulations, not legislation. That's an unfortunate choice.. Regulations tend to be far more vulnerable to legal challenge and other stalling tactics, including regulatory hearings that could take years even to schedule, than actual laws. It's hard to see why the governor would forgo the latter option, especially when he had it sitting right in front of him..

    The chemical industry and some farmers have lobbied intensively against a chlorpyrifos ban, insisting that there are no effective alternatives. That's a specious argument. The pesticide was recently banned in the European Union, and farmers in the United States and abroad have already started to replace it with safer alternatives, including integrated pest management. California has paired its statewide chlorpyrifos ban with nearly $6 million in funding to help develop those alternatives. A nationwide effort to do the same would only accelerate that process.

    The health risks posed by continued spraying of chlorpyrifos are especially high for farmworkers and rural communities. But the E.P.A. has found that young children everywhere are exposed to the chemical — at levels 140 times higher than the agency's safety threshold — through the simple act of eating. 

    In 2018, a panel of federal judges ordered the Trump administration to ban chlorpyrifos in accordance with the E.P.A.'s initial findings. But the administration appealed — a legal battle that is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.. The administration also blocked the release of a federal report indicating that chlorpyrifos poses a direct threat to more than 1,000 species that are already at risk of extinction. (Corteva Agriscience, the pesticide's manufacturer, donated $1 million to Mr. Trump's inauguration committee.)

    Banning a chemical as clearly dangerous as chlorpyrifos should not be this difficult. A better functioning E.P.A. would do just that, heeding the conclusions of its own scientists and honoring the agency's stated mission.


    Instead, countless children are being routinely exposed to an unnecessary risk, while the nation waits for someone — anyone — to take a stronger stand.

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    7) 'I'm Kidnapped': 

    A Father's Nightmare on the BorderA father was tortured in front of his 3-year-old son until his wife in New Jersey paid $2,000 to his captors. Chilling audio of the negotiations for his release shows how migrants, turned back by the U.S., are facing new dangers in Mexico..

    By Miriam Jordan, December 21, 2019

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/21/us/border-migrants-kidnapping-mexico.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage


    José and his son were kidnapped in Reynosa, Mexico.Credit...Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times


    REYNOSA, Mexico — He remembers being on his knees, gagged and blinded with duct tape, his hands tied behind his back. One of his captors struck his left thigh with a bat and scraped his neck with an ax, threatening to cut him.

    His 3-year-old son watched and wailed.

    "Tell the boy to shut up. Make him shut up," one of the men barked, ripping the duct tape from his mouth.

    A few hours earlier, the 28-year-old migrant from Honduras, whose name is José, had been walking with his son down a street in Reynosa, Mexico, having been turned back at the border by the United States. Suddenly three men grabbed him, shoved a hood over his head and thrust him and his son into a vehicle.

    The abduction on Nov. 25 set off hours of intense negotiations as José's wife in the United States, forced to listen to the sounds of her husband being tortured, tearfully negotiated a ransom over the phone.


    In a series of phone conversations, and in several voice messages reviewed by The New York Times, the wife, a woman named Cindy who works at a bakery in Elizabeth, N.J., promised to get the $3,000 the kidnappers were demanding. "I will do everything to get it," she said, sobbing into the phone. "But don't let them hurt him. Take care of the child."


    Hundreds of thousands of people fled Central America over the past year, many of them seeking asylum in the United States from threats of extortion, murder and forced recruitment into gangs. But instead of allowing them to enter, the Trump administration has forced more than 55,000 asylum seekers to wait for months in lawless Mexican border towns like Reynosa while it considers their requests for protection, according to Mexican officials and those who study the border.

    Drug-related violence has long plagued these areas but this bottleneck of migrants is new — and because many asylum seekers have relatives in the United States, criminal cartels have begun kidnapping them and demanding ransoms, sometimes subjecting them to violence as bad or worse than what they fled.

    In the past, migrants from places like Central America, Africa and Asia seeking asylum were allowed to enter the United States while their claims were adjudicated. Those who could not demonstrate a fear of persecution usually were ordered deported to their home countries. That changed earlier this year with the adoption of the "Remain in Mexico" policy, under which most asylum applicants are prevented from entering the United States except for their court hearings.


    With the Mexican government struggling to contain crime and violence, and ramshackle camps full of vulnerable migrants cropping up on the border, kidnappings have spiked. "Families on this side of the border, regardless of social status, will manage to pay ransom," said Octavio Rodriguez, a scholar at the University of San Diego who studies violence in Mexico and the border region.

    The authorities have doubled the number of police officers in the past three years in the state of Tamaulipas, which includes Reynosa, but it is not enough, said Aldo Hernandez, the state's communications director. "Neither the municipal nor state governments have the resources to fight this situation," he said.

    Some are blaming Mexico's president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and his government's decision to step back from confrontations with drug cartels.

    "The López Obrador administration has sent the message to organized crime that police and national guard will not confront you. That emboldens them to target this population," said Tony Payan, a scholar at the Baker Institute of Rice University who studies the United States-Mexico border. 

    Mark A. Morgan, acting commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, said that those awaiting asylum hearings who fear for their safety should "work with the government of Mexico" to keep themselves safe.

    "I have heard reports the same as you of violence," he told reporters last week, noting that it is well known that dangerous drug cartels target migrants south of the border.. "We encourage these people first of all not to even put themselves in the hands of the cartels to begin with." 

    In the border towns of the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest migrant crossing point into the United States, kidnappers have struck in recent months near shelters, at bus stops and outside grocery stores.


    35-year-old Salvadoran man who was waiting with his family in Tijuana after claiming asylum near San Diego was kidnapped, fatally stabbed and dismembered on Nov. 20, Mexican authorities reported. His lawyer said he had been pursued by "criminal organizations" in his home country. 

    A 28-year-old woman from El Salvador and her 3-year-old son were abducted — not once but twice — after arriving at the border. The woman, who gave her name as Nora, said that in August they were held hostage until a family member in Houston transferred $2,200 to their captors. 

    Then in October, Nora said, she took her son to use the bathroom outside the encampment where they were staying and encountered three men. She was blindfolded, she said, and the men took turns raping her over several hours, in front of her son, before dumping the two of them on the side of a road.

    "I surrendered to American immigration and thought we would be safe," she said in a recent interview at a shelter in Reynosa.

    Nora was kidnapped and raped in front of her 3-year-old son in Mexico.Credit...Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times


    There have been 636 documented cases of violent attacks, including abduction and rape, against migrants who were returned to Mexico by United States authorities since the Remain in Mexico policy began in January, with 293 attacks in the last month alone, according to Human Rights First. The advocacy group based its tally on credible reports from researchers, lawyers and media outlets, but said the actual numbers were likely higher because most incidents go unreported. 

    The story of José and his family began in Honduras earlier this year, when they decided to seek safe haven in the United States. Gang members had demanded a "war tax" to allow him to keep operating his carwash and dropped notes at the family's doorstep, threatening to kill them.


    Cindy, who had a valid tourist visa, flew to the United States with their older son in June. José and their younger child, who lacked visas, made their trek over land.. They arrived at the Texas border in July and applied for asylum, but were told to wait in Mexico and return for a series of court hearings in the ensuing months. 

    The kidnappers struck in November, after José and his son had already attended two court hearings in the United States.

    His captors ordered him to contact any family he had in the United States, he said, and when he denied knowing anyone there, the beatings began. 

    "You're lying. This bat is thirsty for blood," he recalled one of them saying. 

    José dictated his wife's number to the men, and they called her from his cellphone. When she did not pick up, they clubbed him, causing him to keel over in pain. 

    When they called again, Cindy answered.

    "I'm kidnapped," Cindy, who, like her husband, did not want her last name published because of fear of reprisals, recalled José uttering in agony over the phone.


    Then the captors hung up, apparently hoping to ratchet up the pressure. When they called again, they told Cindy to come up with $3,000 within an hour if she wanted to spare the lives of her son and husband.


    "I was completely desperate. I could hear my son crying in the background," Cindy recalled. "I told them I didn't have the money; I'd have to borrow it. Give me more time.."

    Cindy sprinted to the home of the babysitter who cares for her 5-year-old son and collapsed there, pleading for help. 

    A fusillade of calls and texts with threats from the kidnappers soon followed.

    "If you don't deposit the money fast, we'll disappear with your son," the men told her. 

    Cindy called her husband's cellphone again and left a voice message.

    "José, send me — send me an audio. I want to know how the child is doing," she said, her voice rising in anguish. "Respond! Respond!"

    While she was driving to the bank with the babysitter to withdraw cash, one of the men in Reynosa taunted her husband and scraped his neck with the blunt side of an ax, he said, while another put a gun to his head.

    On the next call, Cindy told the men she could manage no more than $2,000, and they relented. She rushed to a money-transfer kiosk to send the cash, and as the one-hour deadline approached, the captors urged her to hurry. "Si, I am here. Right now," she typed back.

    There was a problem, though. She could not complete the transaction without their names, so they texted them to her — unfamiliar names belonging to a man and a woman. In the text, they urged her to use Moneygram or Western Union and send "one thousand to each."


    "This is the first one," she texted, sending the kidnappers a photograph of the invoice for $1,009.99, including a $9.99 transfer fee. 

    Because the money-transfer outlet would not allow her to send more than $1,000, she rushed to another shop to send the rest of the money.

    "As soon as all the money is here, we'll free them," one of the captors typed.

    "O.K., gracias," Cindy replied.

    Back at home, though, she received a call from the kidnappers: They had been unable to access the money. "We give you 20 minutes to fix this," a kidnapper typed. 

    Eight minutes later, another text message popped up: "Hurry up. It's getting late."

    Back in Reynosa, one of the men struck José's right arm with the bat and kicked him in the stomach, and he began to vomit. The man brought a bucket and shoved his head inside.


    After visits to three money senders, Cindy managed to transfer the rest of the money. José's abductors stripped the tape from his eyes and put the hood back over his head. They dropped him and his son at the Reynosa bus station, warning that if he notified the police, "You're both dead. We have pictures of you."


    With no phone and no money, José said, he staggered across the bridge that leads to the United States to seek out Border Patrol agents. He pleaded to stay in the United States. "Our lives depend on it.. I swear I am telling the truth," he told them.

    He said the agents took him to an office, where he remembers that they photographed his wounds and gave him a tranquilizer before sending them to spend the night at a holding facility.

    The next day, José was escorted to a room where, over the phone, he expressed fear of returning to Mexico to an asylum officer.

    About 40 minutes later, an immigration official told José that they would have to go back to Mexico. He handed him a document that said that José "did not establish a clear probability of persecution or torture in Mexico."

    Recently, José described his ordeal from a migrant shelter in Reynosa. He still had bruises and scrapes on his neck, arms and legs, and said his right arm, the one that received most of the blows from the bat, was still numb.

    His son, who just turned 4, was playing with another child near the picnic table where he sat. That day, José said, he had been able to borrow a phone to call Cindy, who was crying when she heard his voice. He was crying, too. They did not know when they would meet again.

    Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting from Washington.

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