The American way of life was designed by white supremacists in favor patriarchal 

white supremacy, who have had at least a 400 year head start accumulating wealth, out of generations filled with blood sweat and tears of oppressed people. The same people who are still on the front lines and in the crosshairs of patriarchal white-supremacist capitalism today. There's no such thing as equality without a united revolutionary front to dismantle capitalism and design a worldwide socialist society.

—Johnny Gould
(Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)







Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library

Harriet Tubman as a Woman Warrior

by Al Sargis, Director, Friedrich Engels Institute of Marxist War & Military Analysis

The recent (2019) film, Harriet, left many aspects of Harriet Tubman's life and work unexplored. Tubman's military exploits include being head of military intelligence of the Department of the Potomac and her planning, organizing and leading the only amphibious assault by a woman in US history. Also, little known is both her co-planning of John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry and furnishing many of John Brown's troops. Additionally, she was an army hospital nurse. Tubman is described in one book as "America's most unsung Civil War general." General Grant regarded Harriet Tubman as "worth many regiments in the Northern forces." John Brown called her "General." While known for her work in the Underground Railroad, little is mentioned about how this prepared her for her later activities with John Brown and during the Civil War. This lecture will cover how each phase of her life groomed her for the next one: from before and during the Underground Railroad, her relationship with John Brown and, finally, her little known Civil War exploits.

Tubman's turn to armed revolutionary struggle to abolish slavery in contrast to many, if not most, abolitionists, and its political, moral and religious basis, will be an underlying theme.

Gerald Smith may join us to say a few words from a Black HISTORICAL context.

Sunday, Feb 23, 2020 – 10:30am-12:30pm

6501 Telegraph Ave, Oakland (just North of Alcatraz Ave.) FREE — but we will pass the hat to support ICSS — FREE

About Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library

A weekly discussion series inspired by our respect for the work of Karl Marx and our belief that his work will remain as important for the class struggles of the future as they have been for the past.

For info or to subscribe to our weekly announcements,

Call Gene Ruyle at 510-332-3865 or email: cuyleruyle@mac.com For our full schedule, go to icssmarx.org

Labor donated by ICSS volunteers



Stop the Extradition! Free Julian Assange!

Julian Assange is an innocent political prisoner. He is a journalist and publisher. His work with Wikileaks has provided vital information about what is being done behind our backs by the US government, information that we need to know. His upcoming trial on the 25th of February in London threatens him with likely imprisonment for life. 

See article, below.

Upcoming events in defense of Assange:

Monday, 24 February:

Global Protests: First Day of Julian Assange's extradition hearing

New York City: 11 am: UK Consulate, 2nd Ave & E 48th St., New York City.

San Francisco: 12 pm: British Consulate General, 1 Sansome St, San Francisco


Bay Area: Every Friday 4 pm: Basta! Free Chelsea and Julian, Fruitvale and MacArthur, Oakland

And see: Courage Foundation at couragefound.org

Tuesday, 25 February: Extradition trial begins in Belmarsh Prison, London.

_  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _

This Article is from Socialist Viewpoint, Jan-Feb, 2020.  socialistviewpoint.org

The Torture of Julian Assange:

US Takes One More Step Towards Fascism

By Chris Kinder

Julian Assange is a journalist who has committed no crime. He is only "guilty" of publishing information revealing the war crimes and other deceits of US imperialism, ie, things we the public should all know. Yet he--the truth teller and publisher of Wikileaks--is treated by the US as if he was the worst criminal the world has ever seen. This is all done to intimidate the media, and cover up the crimes of the imperialist ruling class of the US... 

The crimes of the US include the murder of innocent civilians, including children and journalists. The now famous video "Collateral Murder" showing one such incident in brutal detail, had been provided by Chelsea Manning, formerly (as Bradley Manning) of the US military in Iraq. Manning is a heroine truth-teller who was jailed once for releasing documents, and is now locked up for a second time by the US for refusing to testify against Julian Assange in a kangaroo-court grand jury set up to frame Assange.

Manning is not the only one jailed for refusing to testify against Assange before this secretive grand jury. Jeremy Hammond, a member of the hacktivist network Anonymous, is serving a decade in prison for allegedly disclosing information about the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), revealing that they had been spying on human rights defenders at the behest of corporations and governments; documents which were published by Wikileaks.  

Assange Faces Bogus Charge of Espionage

Assange is accused by the US, under the World War I-era Espionage Act, of conspiring with Manning to obtain secret documents.. There is no evidence for this alleged conspiracy whatsoever. Assange is a journalist/publisher, not a whistle-blower. He receives documents from whistle-blowers and publishes them. No one has ever accused him of illegal activity, nor shown his revelations to be inaccurate in any way. Furthermore, all the major US media, the NY Times, Washington Post and many others, have published the same material, straight from Wikileaks!

That is what the US ruling class wants to never happen again.. But they can't treat the US media as they are treating Assange! After all the US media is already about as subservient as it can be, and is owned by big corporations, for whom the US government is the lap-dog.. But what they can do is the modern-day equivalent of putting Assange's head on a spike, displayed for all to see.. The message to both journalists and publishers is: first amendment rights be damned, don't publish leaked material ever again! The threat to freedom of speech is blatant.(1)

UK-US Extradition Is Not For Political Offenses

This is why the US is determined to extradite Assange from Britain--even though he is not a US citizen (he's Australian) and his work with Wikileaks is based in Britain, not the US. They want to give him a life sentence--likely in solitary confinement--to shut him away in some US dungeon until he dies. And that's if they don't manage to kill him while he is in Belmarsh. All this is to intimidate any journalist or any publisher from repeating Assange's exposure of US war crimes..

Assange is falsely accused under the Espionage Act, but his actual "crime" was in exposing US war crimes for all to see.. He didn't steal this evidence, he just published it, after it was already revealed. Clearly, this was a political act, not a criminal one.. If the law actually played any role in this, which obviously it does not for the US and UK officials, it would prevent Assange's extradition from the UK to the US, because extradition for political offenses is illegal under the treaty governing extradition between the US and the UK..... The treaty is clear: "Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense." (2) 

Assange had Asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy, Until...

Assange now awaits an extradition hearing set for February 2020.. He is currently confined in Belmarsh, the top-security prison in Britain, a hell-hole on the outskirts of London where accused "terrorists" are sent to be tortured, rot away and/or die. Assange is kept there in isolation for 23 hours per day. Assange is no terrorist, and indeed no criminal whatsoever... He was sent there after police, at the behest of the US, invaded the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, and dragged him out. He was then locked up in Belmarsh for the crime of... skipping bail! Normally there would be no jail time for this at all, and certainly not in Belmarsh. But not so with Julian Assange. 

Assange's earlier political asylum, granted by Ecuador under Rafael Correa had been withdrawn by the new right-wing president Lenin Moreno.. Moreno has allowed the US to use the Galapagos Islands--a precious natural site explored by Darwin--as  a military airfield, signed an agreement with the IMF, and agreed to hand over Assange to the US and its CIA vultures.(3)  

Police were allowed to come into the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Assange had found refuge from the threat of extradition to the US for years. The US now had Assange where they wanted him: imprisoned, and on a fast-track to extradition to the US, under a trumped-up charge of "espionage." But that is just the beginning.

US/CIA Interference Against Assange In UK Court

In order to cater to the support of the US on the eve of Britain's separation from the European Union, British authorities have bent over backward to do whatever the US wants. That was shown in the Westminster Magistrates Court on 21 October 2019 in which Assange appeared for a hearing on the management and timing of the extradition proceedings. Assange's lawyers wanted to allow more time for Assange to prepare his defense before the extradition hearing. All of Assange's records and documents had been seized when he was arrested and forced out of the Ecuadorean Embassy, and he has been allowed only very limited contact with his lawyers while in Belmarsh prison. 

As if to add insult to injury, officials from the US embassy were seen to be openly conferring with the prosecution in the Magistrates Court during the hearing.. And the magistrate (judge), Vanessa Baraitser, completely ignored all the defense arguments and denied their claims for delay at the end of the hearing, without any further consideration. This was the same magistrate who a month earlier had ruled that Assange will remain in prison, despite the fact that his sentence for "absconding" bail expired on September 22. The extradition trial stays set for February, but in addition, it will now be held, not in the Westminster Magistrates Court, but in the much more restricted court in Belmarsh prison, which is hard to get to and has only 3 seats for public observers of the proceedings!

The CIA Spied on Assange's Privileged Contact With His Lawyers!

Even more importantly, a case now proceeding in a Spanish court shows that the CIA had contracted with a Spanish company to spy on Assange while in the Embassy, including recording privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers, in which his defense against the up-coming extradition proceedings was discussed. Such a charge would normally be grounds for the immediate dismissal of the case for extradition. Assange's lawyers sought a delay to the extradition trial in order to allow time for the Spanish court to submit its findings, so that they could be heard at the upcoming extradition hearing. But Magistrate Baraitser ignored this.

All this was reported by a former British ambassador and friend of Assange, Craig Murray, who attended the hearing, and who said, "The charade might as well have been cut and the US government simply sat on the bench to control the whole process." (4) 

Did the CIA Torture Assange in a British Prison?

Murray also said that from his appearance at the hearing, Assange appears to have been viciously tortured while in Belmarsh Prison. Murray reported: "I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated aging.. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before.. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight." Murray goes on, "But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both... it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought." 

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, who found earlier in 2019 that Assange was the victim of a protracted campaign of "psychological torture," has repeatedly condemned the British authorities for jailing him in a maximum-security prison. In a letter to the British government in May, Melzer stated that the conditions of Assange's detention had resulted in his "continued exposure to progressively severe psychological suffering and the ongoing exacerbation of his pre-existing trauma."(5)

Assange's Health--and Life--is at Stake

On 25 November 2019 the New York Times reported that "The mental and physical condition of Julian Assange has so deteriorated that he could die in a British jail before his February hearing on extradition to the United States, a group of international doctors has warned." In an open letter to the UK Home Secretary, the doctors called for Mr. Assange to be transferred from the high-security Belmarsh prison in London to a university teaching hospital to receive an expert medical assessment.(6)

These alarming reports about Assange, who was coherent and relatively healthy when arrested, combined with the US Embassy officials directing the prosecution with British officials at the October hearing, which signifies their deep and direct involvement, leads to only one conclusion: the CIA is torturing Assange in Belmarsh Prison to the point of incapacity to deal with his own case. This severe treatment could be destroying his mind, and even threatening him with death.

The CIA MK-Ultra Program

Death was a frequent occurrence for the victims of the CIA's secret MK-Ultra program, run for 20 years in the 1950s through early 1970s. This CIA "mind control" program involved giving huge doses of LSD and other drugs to various experimental victims who were often not informed that experiments were being performed on them.. Besides LSD, MK-Ultra used other chemicals, electroshocks, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, solitary confinement, and verbal and sexual abuse, all amounting to torture.

A new book by Stephen Kinzer reports on this in a description of how one man, Sidney Gottlieb, conducted this "work" in secret--even in secret within the CIA. CIA tops ordered it, but didn't want to know about the gruesome details. The original purpose was to both destroy a person's mind completely, and then recreate it in accordance with the desires of the perpetrators. As reported by Kinzer, this CIA project "was a continuation of the work begun in World War II-era Japanese facilities and Nazi concentration camps on subduing and controlling human minds."  Kinzer cites evidence that this was a continuation of a Nazi agenda, pursued at the Dachau concentration camp, and facilitated through the CIA's secret recruitment of Nazi torturers and vivisectionists at the end of the war.(7)

The MK-Ultra program was terminated in 1973, but anyone who thinks that the CIA would not now use these techniques to attempt to destroy the mind of a perceived enemy such as Assange is delusional.

Torture, a Long CIA Record

The MK-Ultra project headed by Gottlieb began on the order of CIA director Allen Dulles; it was a part of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The conclusion of this particular program was that while it was possible to destroy a person's mind, it was not possible to recreate a new mind in it's place.. But that was not the end of the story.

"Rendition" proved that the US was not done with torture, far from it. Ronald Reagan authorized a rendition in 1987, and Clinton authorized rendition to nations known to practice interrogation, which was dubbed "torture by proxy." George W Bush rendered hundreds for detention in foreign sites, and "extraordinary rendition" was continued under Obama. The UK authorities, specifically MI5 and MI6 (British security units), were complicit in renditions done by the US. "The Report," a new documentary film on CIA torture in rendition sites, displays CIA "enhanced interrogation" techniques, including use of graphic images, and shows that the real extent of this torture has been underestimated and hidden from the world.(8)

Belmarsh prison is the latest "rendition" torture site, with Assange in the CIA's cross hairs.

Did Assange Commit Rape?

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of this case for some leftists to understand is the "charge" of the rape of two women in Sweden which was leveled against Assange in the press. In general, believing the woman in a rape charge is important for many reasons: women are often afraid to come forward after the fact, the police are highly disrespectful and don't bother to process "rape kits," and while DNA evidence may be available, often the lack of con-sensuality in the act is difficult to prove... And while Assange has always maintained his innocence in this, and offered to be interrogated by Swedish officials, the charge still leaves a question as to his character. 

But unlike most rape cases, this one is vastly different: it has the footprints of the CIA all over it!

First of all, this alleged "rape" came up just months after Assange enraged the US war makers with the release of the "Collateral Murder" video, which showed the blatant killing of civilians in Iraq by US troops from a helicopter. 

Secondly, no official charge of rape has ever been leveled against Assange! The two women involved did not allege rape, and would not sign onto a charge of rape. A Swedish tabloid went public with the story of an alleged rape, which is how Assange found out about it.

It Was All About Assange's Extradition to the US 

After a senior Swedish prosecutor cancelled an arrest warrant for Assange, saying the evidence "disclosed no crime at all," another prosecutor mysteriously re-started the case. Assange went to the police to make a statement, and waited for 5 weeks to be questioned. He left Sweden only after being told by a prosecutor that he was not wanted for questioning.

After Assange left Sweden, Interpol strangely issued a Red Notice for Assange, something usually used for dangerous criminals and terrorists. At the same time--as we now know--a grand Jury in Eastern Virginia (which is notoriously in the home turf of the CIA-US Intelligence community) had begun proceedings to find a way to put Assange to death or jail him for life. 

As grand juries often are, this was a set-up. For us to not add 2 and 2 to make four... 

"You Would Have To Be Out of Your Mind"

We should have no doubt: the "rape" charge against Assange was a CIA construct from day one. Since when does the US or UK governments concern themselves with rape charges abroad (or even at home)? Yet the UK Supreme Court ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden for something he was not even charged with; and the Swedish government refused to give any assurance that Assange would not be extradited from there to the US! This--in 2012--is when Assange sought and received asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. 

Caitlin Johnstone, who defines herself as a 100% reader funded "rogue journalist" believes that, "rape culture is a ubiquitous societal illness that needs to be rolled back far beyond the conventional understanding of rape as a stranger in a dark alley forcibly penetrating some man's wife or daughter at knife point.."

And about Assange? Johnstone said, "...you'd have to be out of your mind to believe a completely unproven allegation about a known target of US intelligence agencies.. It's just as stupid as believing unproven claims about governments targeted for US regime change, like believing Saddam had WMD." (my emphasis) And: ".....the fact remains that even if Assange were somehow to be proven guilty of rape, the argument 'he's a rapist' is not a legitimate reason to support a US extradition and prosecution which would set a precedent that poses a threat to press freedom everywhere." (9)

The Official Swedish Report  

A piece in the Observer, a London-based weekly newspaper, revealed facts as laid out in the official Swedish report on the Assange alleged rape case.. Published in 2016, this report confirms that 1. neither woman charged Assange with rape; 2... both women kept him in their respective abodes for days after the sexual incidents concerned; 3. The two women "make it clear that their negative feelings after their sexual adventures with Mr. Assange were entirely due to the broken condoms and their fear of HIV"; 4. Assange remained in Stockholm for 5 weeks in mid-August 2010 in which he was wanted for questioning, and left only after the Swedish prosecutors dropped the case. (10)

The investigation was immediately reopened by another prosecutor, but after Assange was safely locked up and expected to be railroaded into US clutches for extradition, the case was closed for a final time in November 2019.

Women Against Rape Oppose Extradition of Assange

We do not tolerate any phony defense arguments against a rape charge, such as "how was she dressed" or "she was asking for it," or "having unprotected sex without the woman's permission shouldn't qualify as sexual assault...." That is not what this is about! 

As Women Against Rape spokespersons Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff put it in a Guardian article, "When Julian Assange was first arrested, we were struck by the unusual zeal with which he was being pursued for rape allegations. It seems even clearer now, that the allegations against him are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on Wikileaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction."

Axelsson and Longstaff also point out that the two women involved have been mistreated as well, both by the system and the public. This not withstanding, they oppose extradition for Assange.(11)

Socialists Must Defend Julian Assange

This a no-brainer: No extradition! Free Julian Assange immediately! And, freedom for Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond now!

 Assange falls in the category of muckraker, or in modern usage, investigative reporter... But journalists like Assange have played an important part in exposing the crimes of capitalism and imperialism throughout history. Consider, Upton Sinclair (1878–1968) who wrote The Jungle (1906), which exposed the US meat-packing industry; John Spargo (1876–1966), who was an early biographer of Karl Marx, a reformer and author of The Bitter Cry of Children about child labor; and Lincoln Steffens (1866–1936), who produced The Shame of the Cities (1904), which uncovered the corruption of several political machines in major cities.

Also, Ida M. Tarbell (1857–1944). She was one of the leading muckrakers of the Progressive era, and an early pioneer of investigative journalism. She wrote the exposé, The History of the Standard Oil Company

And Ida B.. Wells (1862-1931), an African American investigative journalist who was born in slavery. Wells came to co-own and write for the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, and was one of the founders of the NAACP. She condemned the flaws in the United States justice system that allowed lynching to happen, and supported the women's suffrage movement, among many other things. 

Working people need these important truth-tellers.

The harsh treatment of many of these Progressive Era journalists and investigators was severe.... But what Assange is going through today? The treatment of Assange shows how the US imperialist ruling class has used modern control of information and advanced torture techniques to tighten the screws on opposition, wherever it arises. This is not fascism yet. But the essential ground work needed to solidify the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in a fascist fashion is being built... The torture of Julian Assange is one important tentacle of this capitalist octopus.

Julian Assange is a libertarian, not a socialist, but his cause is critical to the class struggle against imperialist capitalism: we must know the truth of ruling class crimes.  

The working class needs to mobilize behind a program which includes defense of muckrakers and whistle-blowers such as Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Jeremy Hammond. This is an important part of revolutionary solution to the increasingly corrupt and oppressive bourgeois society that confines us all.


(1) Displaying heads on a pike after the crushing of a revolt, and posting them on the roads leading into town, is an ancient tyrannical practice which was widely used by slaveocracy rulers in the US after crushing slave revolts.

(2) See the US-UK Extradition Treaty, at: https://fas.org/irp/world/uk/extradite.pdf 

(3) The Long Coup in Ecuador 

(4) Craig Murray, "Assange In Court," 22 October 2019. www.craigmurray.org.uk.. 

(5) "British Judge Jails Assange Indefinitely, Despite End of Prison Sentence...." https://williambowles.info/2019/09/14/british-judge-jails-assange-indefinitely-despite-end-of-prison-sentence-by-oscar-grenfell/  

(7) Stephen Kinzer, Poisoner In Chief, Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control, New York 2019..  

(8) "The Report review – gripping, fiery drama on CIA torture investigation," The Report review – gripping, fiery drama on CIA torture investigation. "The Report" is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

(9) Caitlin Johnstone, "Responding To Assange's Critics 1-3," in Tariq Ali and Margaret Kunstler, editors, In Defense of Julian Assange, OR Books, 2019. Find the complete original Johnstone article, "Debunking All the Assange Smears," (29 total) at The Medium: Debunking All The Assange Smears 

(10) Celia Farber, "Exclusive New Docs Throw Doubt on Julian Assange Rape Charges in Stockholm," Observer, 05 February 2016. Exclusive: Best Western Rides Off Into the Sunset With J Public Relationsnew-docs-throw-doubt-on-julian-assange-rape-charges-in-stockholm/.

(11) Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff, We are Women Against Rape but we do not want Julian Assange extradited, the Guardian, 23 August 2012. We are Women Against Rape but we do not want Julian Assange extradited | Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff



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



Who: San Francisco Bay Area Anti-War Coalition

What: A rally and a march to oppose the impending war on Iran, demand an end to U.S. occupation in Iraq, etc.

Where: Starts at the San Francisco Federal Building (90 7th Street, SF, CA 94103)

When: Thursday, March 19th @ 5PM

Why: To oppose U.S. Imperialism and imperialism in all its forms

Join us as we rally and march to demand an end to the U.S. occupation in Iraq and all other countries and oppose an impending war with Iran on the Iranian New Year, Nowruz, as well as the tragic commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. For decades, the United States has sought to dominate the Middle East through economic and military means. Now is the time for us to come together to start a new anti war movement within the United States that is able to put an end to the U.S. war machine once and for all!

We demand:

  • No War on Iran
  • No Sanctions on Iran
  • US out of Iraq



Please forward widely
The Prosecution of Julian Assange and the Fight for Free Speech
Sunday, April 19, 2:00 - 5:00 pm 
Humanist Hall 390  27th Street, Oakland
Donation: $20 -$10 sliding scale; Student $5, No one turned away for lack of funds
Benefit for the Courage Foundation, for Julian Assange's defense


Join us for a panel discussion of leading attorneys, human rights defenders and social justice activists as the London trial of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is underway. If Assange is extradicted to the United States, he faces the first-ever charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 for the publication of truthful information  in the public interest. Speakers will present  the ctitical  legal and policy issues involved as well as rebut  government efforts to undermine the reputation and credibility of Assange. In these difficult times for civil liberties and democratic rights we demand: Free Julian Assange! Defend Free Speech and the First Amendment!

Panel Speakers: Jim Lafferty, Executive Director for three decades, National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles
Representative, Bay Area National Lawyers Guild
Jennifer Robinson, Julian Assange's London attorney (message)
Joe Lombardo, National Coordinator, United National Antiwar Coalition
Nathan Fuller, Executive Director, Courage Foundation*
Nozomi Hayase, author, contributor to the new book, In Defense of Julian Assange
Margaret Kunstler, editor, In Defense of Julian Assange (tentative) 
Moderator: Jeff Mackler, author, Obama's National Security State: The Meaning of the Edward Snowden Revelations
*Courage Foundation www.couragefound.org, an international whistleblower support network, campaigning for the public and legal defense of Julian Assange and for the protection of truthtellers and the public's right to know, internationally.  

Sponsors: Bay Area Julian Assange Defense Committee • National Lawyers Guild Bay Area • Courage Foundation  • United National Antiwar Coalition
Initial co-sponsors: CodePink Bay Area • Social Justice Center of Marin • Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section • Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance, advisory board, Courage Foundation, past Steering Committee member  Chelsea  Manning Support Committee, Venezuelan Embassy defender • Marin Peace and Justice Center • Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

Contact information and to co-sponsor: Event coordinator, Jeff Mackler, jmackler@lmi.net

With video messages from Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky and Alice Walker




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: National Solidarity Events to Amplify Prisoners Human Rights AUGUST 21 - SEPTEMBER 9th

To all in solidarity with the Prisoners Human Rights Movement:

We are reaching out to those that have been amplifying our voices in these state, federal, or immigration jails and prisons, and to allies that uplifted the national prison strike demands in 2018. We call on you again to organize the communities from August 21st - September 9th, 2020, by hosting actions, events, and demonstrations that call for prisoner human rights and the end to prison slavery.

We must remind the people and legal powers in this nation that prisoners' human rights are a priority. If we aren't moving forward, we're moving backward. For those of us in chains, backward is not an option. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Some people claim that prisoners' human rights have advanced since the last national prison strike in 2018. We strongly disagree. But due to prisoners organizing inside and allies organizing beyond the walls, solidarity with our movement has increased. The only reason we hear conversations referencing prison reforms in every political campaign today is because of the work of prison organizers and our allies! But as organizers in prisons, we understand this is not enough. Just as quickly as we've gained ground, others are already funding projects and talking points to set back those advances. Our only way to hold our ground while moving forward is to remind people where we are and where we are headed.

On August 21 - September 9, we call on everyone in solidarity with us to organize an action, a panel discussion, a rally, an art event, a film screening, or another kind of demonstration to promote prisoners' human rights. Whatever is within your ability, we ask that you shake the nation out of any fog they may be in about prisoners' human rights and the criminal legal system (legalized enslavement).

During these solidarity events, we request that organizers amplify immediate issues prisoners in your state face, the demands from the National Prison Strike of 2018, and uplift Jailhouse Lawyers Speak new International Law Project.

We've started the International Law Project to engage the international community with a formal complaint about human rights abuses in U.S. prisons. This project will seek prisoners' testimonials from across the country to establish a case against the United States Prison Industrial Slave Complex on international human rights grounds.

Presently working on this legally is the National Lawyers Guild's Prisoners Rights Committee, and another attorney, Anne Labarbera. Members of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP), and I am We Prisoners Advocacy Network/Millions For Prisoners are also working to support these efforts. The National Lawyers Guild Prisoners' Rights Committee (Jenipher R. Jones, Esq. and Audrey Bomse) will be taking the lead on this project.

The National Prison Strike Demands of 2018 have not changed. As reflected publicly by the recent deaths of Mississippi prisoners, the crisis in this nation's prisons persist. Mississippi prisons are on national display at the moment of this writing, and we know shortly afterward there will be another Parchman in another state with the same issues. The U.S. has demonstrated a reckless disregard for human lives in cages.

The prison strike demands were drafted as a path to alleviate the dehumanizing process and conditions people are subjected to while going through this nation's judicial system. Following up on these demands communicates to the world that prisoners are heard and that prisoners' human rights are a priority.

In the spirit of Attica, will you be in the fight to dismantle the prison industrial slave complex by pushing agendas that will shut down jails and prisons like Rikers Island or Attica? Read the Attica Rebellion demands and read the National Prison Strike 2018 demands. Ask yourself what can you do to see the 2018 National Prison Strike demands through.


We rage with George Jackson's "Blood in my eyes" and move in the spirit of the Attica Rebellion!

August 21st - September 9th, 2020


Dare to struggle, Dare to win!

We are--

"Jailhouse Lawyers Speak"  


PRISON STRIKE DEMANDS:  https://jailhouselawyerspeak.wordpress.com/2020/02/11/prisoners-national-demands-for-human-rights/  



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Presidential candidate Gloria La Riva denounces Trump's new Iran sanctions

La Riva speaking on human impact of U.S. Sanctions

Campaign tweet of La Riva at anti-war protest speaking on the human impact of U..S. sanctions

"Sanctions are a silent killer that have already had devastating effects in Iraq and Iran. I denounce Mike Pompeo's and Steven Mnuchin's announcement of more sanctions on Iran, which are solely intended to create suffering on the Iranian people," said Gloria La Riva, 2020 presidential candidate and longtime anti-war activist.

"It is clear that the Trump administration is not backing down from its belligerence. In fact, Trump is forcefully pursuing further confrontation, and is all the more reason for us to remain mobilized against a new war on Iran."

Join the Sat. Jan. 25 – Global Day of Protest – No War On Iran!

"Sanctions are an act of war," she continued, "I traveled three times to Iraq during the 1990's when the United States government imposed a total blockade of the country for more than 12 years. I witnessed the human toll, thousands of people dying every month from the blocking of food, medicine, and infrastructure materials after the 78-day U.S... military bombing of 1991."

La Riva produced the 1998 award-winning documentary, Genocide by Sanctions: The Case of Iraq, based on her investigative work there...

"And now President Trump, via executive order, is virtually tightening a noose on Iran." In the Friday address Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced that Trump's sanctions included penalties that would be applied to any individual or governments trading with or involved with Iranian construction, manufacturing, textiles or mining industries.

"Sanctions are designed to destabilize a country's society, they are part of a larger war drive," La Riva said. "They hit the most vulnerable people first, the sick, young children, elderly and the poor because they lose access to necessary items. In Iran the prices of potatoes have already increased over 300% from previous sanctions. The costs of rice and chicken and many other goods have gone up.......... The point of sanctions is to create suffering—with these kinds of acts it is no wonder Iran and the Iraqi Parliament have called for the expulsion of the U..S. military from the region.

"There is no justification for these sanctions. In fact United Nations resolutions state that there is no justification for policies that target a whole population.... Such an act of aggression is recognized as genocide."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was behind imminent threats to Americans but when asked for specifics, he only cited the death of a U.S.. contractor killed in Iraq. However, that was weeks prior to the killing of Soleimani.

La Riva said, "by logic and definition a past occurrence does not constitute not an imminent threat. What we know instead is that with Trump's abrogation of the JCPOA, he embarked a while ago on an offensive that the people of the United States and worldwide are extremely worried about.."

La Riva has been in the streets of San Francisco with thousands of other people demanding No New War on Iran....

She is running nationally for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and in California she is seeking the Peace and Freedom Party nomination. Her vice-presidential candidate is Leonard Peltier, Native political prisoner unjustly held in federal prison now for 43 years.

Point five of La Riva's Presidential 10 Point Program reads, "Shut down all U.S. military bases around the world—bring all the troops, planes & ships home... U...S. foreign policy uses the pretext of national security to enforce the imperialist interests of the biggest banks and corporations... That is what is behind the endless wars and occupations. Use the $1 trillion military budget instead to provide for people's needs here and worldwide. Abolish nuclear weapons... Stop U.S. aid to Israel. Self-determination for the Palestinian people, including the right of return. End the U.S.. blockade of Cuba and sanctions against Venezuela, Iran and all countries...... Independence for Puerto Rico and cancel its debt!"

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Party for Socialism and Liberation

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La Riva / Peltier 2020 Campaign
10-Point Program

10 Point Program

The 10-Point Program of the La Riva/Peltier 2020 Campaign is a fighting program that represents the interests and needs of the vast majority of people of the United States and extends international solidarity to the peoples of the world. Our campaign will reach to every corner of the U.S. with the message that only socialism can solve the crises of climate change, racism, poverty and war. It will take a people's movement for real, lasting and sustainable change. We hope you will join us!

★ 1 | Make the essentials of life constitutional rights

The U.....S. has more than enough so that all the essentials of life — food, housing, water, education, health care and a job or basic income can be guaranteed rights — rather than distributed only for profit. Create a completely free and public healthcare system.. Make education free—cancel all student debt. Fully fund rebuilding of the infrastructure in transport, water and utility systems... Stop all foreclosures and evictions. End all discrimination based on ability/disability.

★ 2 | For the Earth to live, capitalism must be replaced by a socialist system

Global warming, pollution, acidified and depleted oceans, fracking, critical drought, plastics choking the seas, nuclear weapons and waste — it is clear that capitalism and production for profit are destroying the planet and threatening all life.. The crisis is already here, with the most vulnerable and oppressed areas of the U.S.. and Global South bearing the brunt. Using truly sustainable energy and seizing the oil and coal companies to stop fossil fuel pollution, are urgent steps needed to reverse climate change.. Ultimately, only the socialist reorganization of society can assure the future of the people and the planet.

★ 3 | End racism, police brutality, mass incarceration. Pay reparations to the African American community

Mass incarceration and racist policing are symptomatic of the 400 years of brutal repression meted out to African-descended peoples in the U.S. Reparations must be paid! More than 2...2 million people are behind bars in the largest prison complex in the world. End mass incarceration of all oppressed and working-class people. Fully prosecute all acts of police brutality and violence. Free Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners!

★ 4 | Full rights for all immigrants

Abolish all anti-immigrant laws. Stop the raids and deportations and demonization of immigrants......... Shut down ICE and the concentration camps and reunite families.. The government's war on immigrants must end. The border wall must be dismantled. Amnesty and citizenship for those without documents... Full rights for all!

★ 5 | Shut down all U.S.. military bases around the world—bring all the troops, planes & ships home

U.S. foreign policy uses the pretext of national security to enforce the imperialist interests of the biggest banks and corporations.. That is what is behind the endless wars and occupations. Use the $1 trillion military budget instead to provide for people's needs here and worldwide. Abolish nuclear weapons... Stop U....S... aid to Israel.. Self-determination for the Palestinian people, including the right of return. End the U.S. blockade of Cuba and sanctions against Venezuela, Iran and all countries. Independence for Puerto Rico and cancel its debt!

★ 6 | Honor Native treaties... Free Leonard Peltier now

Both major parties have continued to allow the destruction and theft of Native lands by mining and corporate agricultural interests in blatant disregard of indigenous sovereign rights. 33% of Native children live in poverty and many of the poorest U..S... counties are reservations..... The crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and the over-incarceration of Native peoples shows the bankruptcy of capitalism from its earliest inception in the Americas until today..

★ 7 | Full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people

Fight back against anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence.... Defend marriage equality. Full equality in all matters governed by civil law, including employment, housing, healthcare and education.. No to "religious exemption" laws that allow discrimination against LGBTQ people!

★ 8 | Equality for women and free, safe, legal abortion on demand

Stop the attack on women's reproductive rights and defend Roe v. Wade... Women must have the fundamental right to choose and to control their own bodies. Women still earn 22 percent less than men, and the gap is even more severe for Black and Latina women.. Close the wage gap and end the gender division of labor.....

★ 9 | Defend and expand our unions

Support the right of all workers to have a union. Fight back against the attacks on collective bargaining...... Require employers to recognize card check union votes. Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act. Focusing on low-wage worker organizing, rebuild a fighting labor movement.

★ 10 | Take over the stolen wealth of the giant banks and corporations – Jail Wall St.. criminals

The vast wealth of the giant banks and corporations is created by workers labor and the exploitation of the world's diminishing natural resources. The billionaires looted and destroyed the economy. It is time to seize their assets and use those resources in the interests of the vast majority. Power must be taken out of the hands of the super rich, and Wall Street criminals must be jailed.

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Chelsea Manning just spent another birthday behind bars.

Sign the Petition: Free Chelsea Manning Now

Judge Anthony Trenga


In 2010, former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning disclosed earth-shattering information about the nature of asymmetric warfare and U.S. handling of global affairs. And she paid dearly for it. Chelsea was incarcerated for years, including long stretches in solitary confinement, under conditions that the United Nations condemned as torture.

After millions of people around the world spoke out and demanded her release, Chelsea's sentence was commuted.. But the US government did not stop persecuting her.

Now, Chelsea has been back in jail for nine months, and faces nine more. Not because she has committed any crime, but because of her conscientious objection to participating in a secretive grand jury investigation into the publication of her 2010 disclosures.

Between their original forensic investigation and Chelsea's detailed statement at court martial, the government gained exhaustive knowledge about her role in the disclosures.. They have no need for her testimony—they obtained at least one indictment a full year before she was called to testify before the grand jury, and disclosed another two months after she was jailed for her refusal to do so.

Chelsea's refusal to participate in this process is part of a long history of resistance to grand juries, which are routinely used to harass and entrap activists, journalists, and truth tellers. In a shocking move, the judge in the case has imposed massive fines on Chelsea, charging her $1,000 per day while the US government holds her in "coercive confinement," ostensibly to convince her to agree to their demand that she give testimony to the grand jury.

We know Chelsea Manning's name because she is a principled and fearless advocate for her beliefs. She is prepared to spend another nine months in confinement, and to bear the crushing debt of these unprecedented fines..... Senior U.....S.... officials, including the Secretary of State and the President himself have publicly expressed their hostility toward her. It could not be more clear that the government wishes to punish Chelsea further for her 2010 disclosures. It could not be more clear that she will never comply with the grand jury.

Chelsea has already served half of the 18 month maximum that the government can hold her. She's about to spend another birthday in a jail cell... The US government has no legal justification for continuing to imprison her. This must stop. Sign the petition now to send the following letter to Judge Trenga demanding Chelsea Manning's immediate release.

To: Judge Anthony Trenga 

Dear Honorable Judge Trenga,

I am writing to ask you to recognize that continuing to keep Chelsea Manning behind bars is both futile and cruel.. She is known to the world as a principled advocate, and everything she does and says demonstrates her strong will and commitment to her ideals. Her testimony in this grand jury is not needed, and her current incarceration appears to be an attempt to punish her further for past offenses.. As she will never be convinced to betray her principles, even by jail time or burdensome fines, her imprisonment does not serve the interests of the grand jury, the government, the court, or the law.

Please make the right decision and order her release so that she may return to her community and heal in peace.

Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives....org



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

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

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

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

A bucket was eventually brought over and:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main Street

San Quentin, CA 94964

5) Email Lt. Sam Robinson at: samuel.robinson2@cdcr.......................ca.gov



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


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

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

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

In peace and solidarity,

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 Support Committee



Eddie Conway's Update on Forgotten Political Prisoners

EDDIE CONWAY: I'm Eddie Conway, host of Rattling the Bars. As many well-known political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal continue to suffer in prison…

MUMIA ABU JAMAL: In an area where there is corporate downsizing and there are no jobs and there is only a service economy and education is being cut, which is the only rung by which people can climb, the only growth industry in this part of Pennsylvania, in the Eastern United States, in the Southern United States, in the Western United States is "corrections," for want of a better word. The corrections industry is booming. I mean, this joint here ain't five years old.

EDDIE CONWAY: …The media brings their stories to the masses.. But there are many lesser-known activists that have dropped out of the spotlight, grown old in prison, or just been forgotten............. For Rattling the Bars, we are spotlighting a few of their stories....... There was a thriving Black Panther party in Omaha, Nebraska, headed by David Rice and Ed Poindexter...... By 1968, the FBI had began plans to eliminate the Omaha Black Panthers by making an example of Rice and Poindexter. It would take a couple of years, but the FBI would frame them for murder..

KIETRYN ZYCHAL: In the 90s, Ed and Mondo both applied to the parole board. There are two different things you do in Nebraska, the parole board would grant you parole, but because they have life sentences, they were told that they have to apply to the pardons board, which is the governor, the attorney general, and the secretary of state, and ask that their life sentences be commuted to a specific number of years before they would be eligible for parole.

And so there was a movement in the 90s to try to get them out on parole...... The parole board would recommend them for parole because they were exemplary prisoners, and then the pardons board would not give them a hearing. They wouldn't even meet to determine whether they would commute their sentence..

EDDIE CONWAY: They served 45 years before Rice died in the Nebraska State Penitentiary. After several appeals, earning a master's degree, writing several books and helping other inmates, Poindexter is still serving time at the age of 75.

KEITRYN ZYCHAL: Ed Poindexter has been in jail or prison since August of 1970. He was accused of making a suitcase bomb and giving it to a 16-year-old boy named Duane Peak, and Duane Peak was supposed to take the bomb to a vacant house and call 911, and report that a woman was dragged screaming into a vacant house, and when police officers showed up, one of those police officers was killed when the suitcase bomb exploded............

Ed and his late co-defendant, Mondo we Langa, who was David Rice at the time of the trial, they have always insisted that they had absolutely nothing to do with this murderous plot, and they tried to get back into court for 50 years, and they have never been able to get back into court to prove their innocence. Mondo died in March of 2016 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Ed is going to turn 75 this year, I think............. And he has spent the majority of his life in prison... It will be 50 years in 2020 that he will be in prison..

EDDIE CONWAY: There are at least 20 Black Panthers still in prison across the United States.. One is one of the most revered is H. Rap Brown, known by his Islamic name, Jamil Al-Amin.

KAIRI AL-AMIN: My father has been a target for many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many years of the federal government, and I think him being housed these last 10 years in federal penitentiaries without federal charges show that the vendetta is still strong. The federal government has not forgotten who he was as H.. Rap Brown, or who he is as Imam Jamil Al-Amin...

JAMIL AL-AMIN: See, it's no in between.. You are either free or you're a slave. There's no such thing as second-class citizenship.

EDDIE CONWAY: Most people don't realize he's still in prison. He's serving a life sentence at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson...

KAIRI AL-AMIN: Our campaign is twofold.. One, how can egregious constitutional rights violations not warrant a new trial, especially when they were done by the prosecution........ And two, my father is innocent. The facts point to him being innocent, which is why we're pushing for a new trial.. We know that they can't win this trial twice... The reason they won the first time was because of the gag order that was placed on my father which didn't allow us to fight in the court of public opinion as well as the court of law.. And so when you don't have anyone watching, anything can be done without any repercussion..

EDDIE CONWAY: Another well-known political prisoner that has been forgotten in the media and in the public arena is Leonard Peltier. Leonard Peltier was a member of the American Indian Movement and has been in prison for over 40 years and is now 75 years old.

SPEAKER: Leonard Peltier represents, in a very real sense, the effort, the struggle by indigenous peoples within the United States to exercise their rights as sovereign nations, recognized as such in treaties with the United States.. For the government of the United States, which has colonized all indigenous peoples to claim boundaries, keeping Leonard in prison demonstrates the costs and consequences of asserting those rights.

EDDIE CONWAY: Leonard Peltier suffers from a host of medical issues including suffering from a stroke... And if he is not released, he will die in prison...

LEONARD PELTIER: I'll be an old man when I get out, if I get out.

PAULETTE D'AUTEUIL: His wellbeing is that he rarely gets a family visit. His children live in California and North Dakota. Both places are a good 2000 miles from where he's at in Florida, so it makes it time consuming as well as expensive to come and see him. He is, health-wise, we are still working on trying to get some help for his prostate, and there has been some development of some spots on his lungs, which we are trying to get resolved....... There's an incredible mold issue in the prison, especially because in Florida it's so humid and it builds up. So we're also dealing with that...

EDDIE CONWAY: These are just a few of the almost 20 political prisoners that has remained in American prisons for 30 and 40 years, some even longer. Mutulu Shakur has been in jail for long, long decades.... Assata Shakur has been hiding and forced into exile in Cuba........ Sundiata has been in prison for decades; Veronza Bower, The Move Nine.......... And there's just a number of political prisoners that's done 30 or 40 years.

They need to be released and they need to have an opportunity to be back with their family, their children, their grandchildren, whoever is still alive. Any other prisoners in the United States that have the same sort of charges as those people that are being held has been released up to 15 or 20 years ago. That same justice system should work for the political prisoners also.

Thank you for joining me for this episode of Rattling the Bars. I'm Eddie Conway.....



Courage to Resist

Reality Winner, a whistleblower who helped expose foreign hacking of US election systems leading up to the 2016 presidential election, has been behind bars since June 2017. Supporters are preparing to file a petition of clemency in hopes of an early release... Reality's five year prison sentence is by far the longest ever given for leaking information to the media about a matter of public interest.............. Stand with Reality shirts, stickers, and more available. Please take a moment to sign the letter

Vietnam War combat veteran Daniel Shea on his time in Vietnam and the impact that Agent Orange and post traumatic stress had on him and his family since... Listen now

This Courage to Resist podcast was produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans For Peace — "Towards an honest commemoration of the American war in Vietnam." This year marks 50 years of GI resistance, in and out of uniform, for many of the courageous individuals featured.. If you believe this history is important, please ...


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








Contact Sophia Williams 917-806-0521, Ted Kelly 610-715-6924 or Joe Piette 610-931-2615

Philadelphia, Jan. 30 - Mumia Abu-Jamal has always insisted on his innocence in the death of police officer Daniel Faulkner, blaming police, judicial and prosecutorial misconduct for his politically-tainted conviction. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is expected to announce his response this week to the legal briefs for Post Conviction Relief Act hearings and the request to remand Abu-Jamal's case back to Common Pleas court, filed by his attorneys in early September 2019.

Abu-Jamal's supporters will rally outside DA Krasner's office at 4:30 on Friday, January 31, whether or not he challenges Mumia's appeals. We call for Mumia's release...

Recent exonerations of 10 Philadelphia residents unfairly convicted for crimes they did not commit reveal a simple truth - the Philadelphia police, courts and prosecutors convicted innocent Black men based on gross violations of their constitutional rights. The same patterns of constitutional violations plague the case of Abu-Jamal.

Since Jan. 2018, Sherman McCoy, James Frazier, Dwayne Thorpe, Terrance Lewis, Jamaal Simmons, Dontia Patterson, John Miller, Willie Veasey, Johnny Berry and Chester Holmann III have all been exonerated by DA Larry Krasner's Conviction Integrity Unit

Philadelphia is not alone. The National Registry of Exonerations counted 165 exonerations last year. The registry has tallied 2,500 wrongful convictions since 1989, costing defendants more than 22,000 years of incarceration.

Seven of the ten men released in Philadelphia were convicted by longtime district attorney Lynne Abraham, a "tough-on-crime" prosecutor who regularly sought maximum punishments and death spentences. Abraham as Common Pleas Court Judge arraigned Abu-Jamal in 1981and years later as District Attorney fought his post conviction relief hearings..

Ineffective counsel, false witness testimony, witness coercion and intimidation, phony ballistics evidence, prosecution failure to turn over evidence to the defense as required by law, racist jury selections -- these and other legal errors led to the exoneration of these innocent defendants after decades in prison.. These are the same police, judicial and prosecutorial misconduct practices Abu-Jamal's attorneys and supporters have been citing since 1982.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, Abu-Jamal was a daily radio reporter for WHYY and NPR who earned acclaim for his award-winning reporting. As a journalist who reported fairly on the MOVE organization's resistance against state repression, he drew the ire of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police and the notoriously racist Police Commissioner and later Mayor Frank Rizzo.

On Dec. 9, 1981, while driving a cab to supplement his income, Abu-Jamal happened upon his brother in an altercation with Faulkner. Faulkner was killed. Abu-Jamal, who was shot and severely beaten by police, was charged in Faulkner's death, even though witnesses reported seeing another man, most probably the passenger in Abu-Jamal's brother's car, running from the scene.

Imprisoned for nearly four decades, Abu-Jamal has maintained his innocence. He successfully won his release from Pennsylvania's death row in 2011.. In December 2018 he won the right to appeal his 1982 conviction because of biased judicial oversight by PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille

In early January 2019, DA Krasner reported finding six boxes of previously undisclosed evidence held by prosecutors in the case and allowed Abu-Jamal's attorneys to review the files.

In September 2019 Abu-Jamal's lawyers filed new appellate briefs, including a request that the case be returned for a hearing before the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court based on finding of concrete evidence of prosecutorial misconduct by the DA's office in his 1982 trial.

A Sept.. 9, 2019 Abu-Jamal's attorneys Judith Ritter and Sam Spital filed a brief in PA Superior Court to support his claim that his 1982 trial was fundamentally unfair and violated the Constitution. They argue the prosecution failed to disclose evidence as required and discriminated against African Americans when selecting the jury. And, his 1982 lawyer did not adequately challenge the State's witnesses.                                                                                              

The attorneys also filed a motion revealing new evidence of constitutional violations such as promises by the prosecutor to pay or give leniency to two witnesses. There is also new evidence of racial discrimination in jury selection.

Attorney Ritter contends that the new evidence shows Abu-Jamal's trial was "fundamentally unfair and tainted by serious constitutional violations."




Mumia Abu-Jamal: New Chance for Freedom

Police and State Frame-Up Must Be Fully Exposed!

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

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

*     *     *     *     *

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

Time is up! FREE MUMIA NOW!

*     *     *     *     *

DA's Hidden Files Show Frame-Up of Mumia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*     *     *     *     *

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

Mass Movement Needed To Free Mumia! 

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

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

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

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

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

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

November 2019

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

-Toni Morrison



Board Game

Solidarity against racism has existed from the 1600's and continues until today

An exciting board game of chance, empathy and wisdom, that entertains and educates as it builds solidarity through learning about the destructive history of American racism and those who always fought back. Appreciate the anti-racist solidarity of working people, who built and are still building, the great progressive movements of history.. There are over 200 questions, with answers and references.

Spread the word!!

By Dr.... Nayvin Gordon



Action Alert for Shaka Shakur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

What You Can Do to Support Shaka:

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

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

As Shaka stated:

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

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

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



50 years in prison: 


FREE Chip Fitzgerald 

Grandfather, Father, Elder, Friend

former Black Panther 


Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald has been in prison since he was locked up 50 years ago...... A former member of the Black Panther Party, Chip is now 70 years old, and suffering the consequences of a serious stroke. He depends on a wheelchair for his mobility. He has appeared before the parole board 17 times, but they refuse to release him..

NOW is the time for Chip to come home!

In September 1969, Chip and two other Panthers were stopped by a highway patrolman..... During the traffic stop, a shooting broke out, leaving Chip and a police officer both wounded. Chip was arrested a month later and charged with attempted murder of the police and an unrelated murder of a security guard. Though the evidence against him was weak and Chip denied any involvement, he was convicted and sentenced to death.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty......... Chip and others on Death Row had their sentences commuted to Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. All of them became eligible for parole after serving 7 more years...... But Chip was rejected for parole, as he has been ever since. 

Parole for Lifers basically stopped under Governors Deukmajian, Wilson, and Davis (1983-2003), resulting in increasing numbers of people in prison and 23 new prisons. People in prison filed lawsuits in federal courts: people were dying as a result of the overcrowding.. To rapidly reduce the number of people in prison, the court mandated new parole hearings:

·        for anyone 60 years or older who had served 25 years or more;

·        for anyone convicted before they were 23 years old;

·        for anyone with disabilities 

Chip qualified for a new parole hearing by meeting all three criteria.

But the California Board of Parole Hearings has used other methods to keep Chip locked up. Although the courts ordered that prison rule infractions should not be used in parole considerations, Chip has been denied parole because he had a cellphone..........

Throughout his 50 years in prison, Chip has been denied his right to due process – a new parole hearing as ordered by Federal courts. He is now 70, and addressing the challenges of a stroke victim. His recent rules violation of cellphone possession were non-violent and posed no threat to anyone. He has never been found likely to commit any crimes if released to the community – a community of his children, grandchildren, friends and colleagues who are ready to support him and welcome him home.

The California Board of Parole Hearings is holding Chip hostage.....

We call on Governor Newsom to release Chip immediately.

What YOU can do to support this campaign to FREE CHIP:

1)   Sign and circulate the petition to FREE Chip. Download it at https://www.change.org/p/california-free-chip-fitzgerald

Print out the petition and get signatures at your workplace, community meeting, or next social gathering.

2)   Write an email to Governor Newsom's office (sample message at:https://docs..google.com/document/d/1iwbP_eQEg2J1T2h-tLKE-Dn2ZfpuLx9MuNv2z605DMc/edit?usp=sharing

3)   Write to Chip: 

 Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald #B27527,


P.O. Box 4490


Lancaster, CA 93539


Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863...................9977 https://freedomarchives.org/



On Abortion: From Facebook

Best explanation I've heard so far......, Copied from a friend who copied from a friend who copied.................., "Last night, I was in a debate about these new abortion laws being passed in red states. My son stepped in with this comment which was a show stopper. One of the best explanations I have read:, , 'Reasonable people can disagree about when a zygote becomes a "human life" - that's a philosophical question.... However, regardless of whether or not one believes a fetus is ethically equivalent to an adult, it doesn't obligate a mother to sacrifice her body autonomy for another, innocent or not..., , Body autonomy is a critical component of the right to privacy protected by the Constitution, as decided in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), McFall v.. Shimp (1978), and of course Roe v. Wade (1973).. Consider a scenario where you are a perfect bone marrow match for a child with severe aplastic anemia; no other person on earth is a close enough match to save the child's life, and the child will certainly die without a bone marrow transplant from you.. If you decided that you did not want to donate your marrow to save the child, for whatever reason, the state cannot demand the use of any part of your body for something to which you do not consent.... It doesn't matter if the procedure required to complete the donation is trivial, or if the rationale for refusing is flimsy and arbitrary, or if the procedure is the only hope the child has to survive, or if the child is a genius or a saint or anything else - the decision to donate must be voluntary to be constitutional.... This right is even extended to a person's body after they die; if they did not voluntarily commit to donate their organs while alive, their organs cannot be harvested after death, regardless of how useless those organs are to the deceased or how many lives they would save...., , That's the law.., , Use of a woman's uterus to save a life is no different from use of her bone marrow to save a life - it must be offered voluntarily.............. By all means, profess your belief that providing one's uterus to save the child is morally just, and refusing is morally wrong........... That is a defensible philosophical position, regardless of who agrees and who disagrees....... But legally, it must be the woman's choice to carry out the pregnancy..., , She may choose to carry the baby to term.... She may choose not to. Either decision could be made for all the right reasons, all the wrong reasons, or anything in between... But it must be her choice, and protecting the right of body autonomy means the law is on her side... Supporting that precedent is what being pro-choice means....", , Feel free to copy/paste and re-post., y

Sent from my iPhone



Celebrating the release of Janet and Janine Africa

Take action now to support Jalil A.... Muntaqim's release

Jalil A...... Muntaqim was a member of the Black Panther Party and has been a political prisoner for 48 years since he was arrested at the age of 19 in 1971. He has been denied parole 11 times since he was first eligible in 2002, and is now scheduled for his 12th parole hearing.. Additionally, Jalil has filed to have his sentence commuted to time served by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Visit Jalil's support page, check out his writing and poetry, and Join Critical Resistance in supporting a vibrant intergenerational movement of freedom fighters in demanding his release.

48 years is enough. Write, email, call, and tweet at Governor Cuomo in support of Jalil's commutation and sign this petition demanding his release.


The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of the State of New York

Executive Chamber State Capital Building

Albany, New York 12224

Michelle Alexander – Author, The New Jim Crow; Ed Asner - Actor and Activist; Charles Barron - New York Assemblyman, 60th District; Inez Barron - Counci member, 42nd District, New York City Council; Rosa Clemente - Scholar Activist and 2008 Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate; Patrisse Cullors – Co-Founder Black Lives Matter, Author, Activist; Elena Cohen - President, National Lawyers Guild; "Davey D" Cook - KPFA Hard Knock Radio; Angela Davis - Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz; Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - Native American historian, writer and feminist; Mike Farrell - Actor and activist; Danny Glover – Actor and activist; Linda Gordon - New York University; Marc Lamont Hill - Temple University; Jamal Joseph - Columbia University; Robin D.G. Kelley - University of California, Los Angeles; Tom Morello - Rage Against the Machine; Imani Perry - Princeton University; Barbara Ransby - University of Illinois, Chicago; Boots Riley - Musician, Filmmaker; Walter Riley - Civil rights attorney; Dylan Rodriguez - University of California, Riverside, President American Studies Association; Maggie Siff, Actor; Heather Ann Thompson - University of Michigan; Cornel West - Harvard University; Institutional affiliations listed for identification purposes only.

Call: 1-518-474-8390

Email Gov............... Cuomo with this form

Tweet at @NYGovCuomo

Any advocacy or communications to Gov. Cuomo must refer to Jalil as:


Sullivan Correctional Facility,

P.O. Box 116,

Fallsburg, New York 12733-0116



Funds for Kevin Cooper

For 34 years, an innocent man has been on death row in California.. 

Kevin Cooper was wrongfully convicted of the brutal 1983 murders of the Ryen family and houseguest. The case has a long history of police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering, and numerous constitutional violations including many incidences of the prosecution withholding evidence of innocence from the defense. You can learn more here ..... 

In December 2018 Gov. Brown ordered  limited DNA testing and in February 2019, Gov..... Newsom ordered additional DNA testing. Meanwhile, Kevin remains on Death Row at San Quentin Prison.. 

The funds raised will be used to help Kevin purchase art supplies for his paintings ......... Additionally, being in prison is expensive, and this money would help Kevin pay for stamps, paper, toiletries, supplementary food, and/or phone calls........

Please help ease the daily struggle of an innocent man on death row!



Don't extradite Assange!

To the government of the UK

Julian Assange, through Wikileaks, has done the world a great service in documenting American war crimes, its spying on allies and other dirty secrets of the world's most powerful regimes, organisations and corporations. This has not endeared him to the American deep state.......... Both Obama, Clinton and Trump have declared that arresting Julian Assange should be a priority... We have recently received confirmation [1] that he has been charged in secret so as to have him extradited to the USA as soon as he can be arrested. 

Assange's persecution, the persecution of a publisher for publishing information [2] that was truthful and clearly in the interest of the public - and which has been republished in major newspapers around the world - is a danger to freedom of the press everywhere, especially as the USA is asserting a right to arrest and try a non-American who neither is nor was then on American soil. The sentence is already clear: if not the death penalty then life in a supermax prison and ill treatment like Chelsea Manning... The very extradition of Julian Assange to the United States would at the same time mean the final death of freedom of the press in the West..... 

The courageous nation of Ecuador has offered Assange political asylum within its London embassy for several years until now. However, under pressure by the USA, the new government has made it clear that they want to drive Assange out of the embassy and into the arms of the waiting police as soon as possible... They have already curtailed his internet and his visitors and turned the heating off, leaving him freezing in a desolate state for the past few months and leading to the rapid decline of his health, breaching UK obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. Therefore, our demand both to the government of Ecuador and the government of the UK is: don't extradite Assange to the US! Guarantee his human rights, make his stay at the embassy as bearable as possible and enable him to leave the embassy towards a secure country as soon as there are guarantees not to arrest and extradite him.......... Furthermore, we, as EU voters, encourage European nations to take proactive steps to protect a journalist in danger... The world is still watching.



Words of Wisdom

Louis Robinson Jr., 77

Recording secretary for Local 1714 of the United Auto Workers from 1999 to 2018, with the minutes from a meeting of his union's retirees' chapter.

"One mistake the international unions in the United States made was when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. When he did that, the unions could have brought this country to a standstill...... All they had to do was shut down the truck drivers for a month, because then people would not have been able to get the goods they needed. So that was one of the mistakes they made. They didn't come together as organized labor and say: "No.... We aren't going for this......... Shut the country down." That's what made them weak. They let Reagan get away with what he did. A little while after that, I read an article that said labor is losing its clout, and I noticed over the years that it did.. It happened... It doesn't feel good..."

[On the occasion of the shut-down of the Lordstown, Ohio GM plant March 6, 2019.......]



Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg

Keith "Malik" Washington is an incarcerated activist who has spoken out on conditions of confinement in Texas prison and beyond:  from issues of toxic water and extreme heat, to physical and sexual abuse of imprisoned people, to religious discrimination and more...  Malik has also been a tireless leader in the movement to #EndPrisonSlavery which gained visibility during nationwide prison strikes in 2016 and 2018..  View his work at comrademalik.com or write him at:

Keith H. Washington
TDC# 1487958
McConnell Unit
3001 S............ Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102

Friends, it's time to get Malik out of solitary confinement.

Malik has experienced intense, targeted harassment ever since he dared to start speaking against brutal conditions faced by incarcerated people in Texas and nationwide--but over the past few months, prison officials have stepped up their retaliation even more.

In Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement) at McConnell Unit, Malik has experienced frequent humiliating strip searches, medical neglect, mail tampering and censorship, confinement 23 hours a day to a cell that often reached 100+ degrees in the summer, and other daily abuses too numerous to name..  It could not be more clear that they are trying to make an example of him because he is a committed freedom fighter.  So we have to step up.

Who to contact:

TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier

Phone: (936)295-6371

Senior Warden Philip Sinfuentes (McConnell Unit)

Phone: (361) 362-2300





April 25, 2018-- The arrest of two young men in Starbucks for the crime of "sitting while black," and the four years prison sentence to rapper Meek Mill for a minor parole violation are racist outrages in Philadelphia, PA that made national news in the past weeks. Yesterday Meek Mills was released on bail after a high profile defense campaign and a Pa Supreme Court decision citing evidence his conviction was based solely on a cop's false testimony....

These events underscore the racism, frame-up, corruption and brutality at the core of the criminal injustice system. Pennsylvania "lifer" Major Tillery's fight for freedom puts a spotlight on the conviction of innocent men with no evidence except the lying testimony of jailhouse snitches who have been coerced and given favors by cops and prosecutors..........

Sex for Lies and Manufactured Testimony

For thirty-five years Major Tillery has fought against his 1983 arrest, then conviction and sentence of life imprisonment without parole for an unsolved 1976 pool hall murder and assault.............. Major Tillery's defense has always been his innocence..... The police and prosecution knew Tillery did not commit these crimes..... Jailhouse informant Emanuel Claitt gave lying testimony that Tillery was one of the shooters..

In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies"... In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on JusticeforMajorTillery...org..

Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:


    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing..... He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom...

    Go to JPay...com;

    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:

    The Conviction Review Unit should investigate Major Tillery's case. He is innocent.. The only evidence at trial was from lying jail house informants who now admit it was false.

    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:

    Security Processing Center

    Major Tillery AM 9786

    268 Bricker Road

    Bellefonte, PA 16823

    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org


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

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






    1) Leaked Audio Captures Bloomberg Defending Racial Profiling and Stop-and-Frisk Policing

    By Elliot Hannon, February 11, 2020

    Michael Bloomberg addresses the NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk practice on Aug. 12, 2013 in New York City.

    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Given his history, registered Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat Michael Bloomberg was always going to have to work to convince Democrats he was one of them.. On Monday night, recently surfaced 2015 audio from Bloomberg's Aspen Institute remarks on controversial "stop-and-frisk" policing in 2015 show why.


    Ninety-five percent of murders- murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16-25. That's true in New York, that's true in virtually every city (inaudible). And that's where the real crime is. You've got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed. So you want to spend the money on a lot of cops in the streets. Put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods. 

    So one of the unintended consequences is people say, 'Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.' Yes, that's true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that's true. Why do we do it? Because that's where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them… And then they start… 'Oh I don't want to get caught.' So they don't bring the gun.. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home..

    Those comments were apparently controversial enough in real time, the Aspen Times reportedin 2015, that Bloomberg requested that video of the event not be made public. "We basically honor the wishes of our speakers, and Mayor Bloomberg preferred that we not use the video for broadcast," the Institute's chief external affairs officer told the Aspen Times. "He did not give a reason nor did we have any reason to ask for one. We often feature speakers who prefer that their presentations not be videotaped." It was a line of argument that Bloomberg made repeatedly however, digging himself into a theoretical vortex that somehow resulted in this 2013 radio interview. 

    Here's the text of that portion of the interview:

    One newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying 'oh it's a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.' That may be, but it's not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the [crime]. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It's exactly the reverse of what they're saying. I don't know where they went to school, but they certainly didn't take a math course. Or a logic course.

    The techniques and strategies used during Michael Bloomberg's tenure at New York City mayor were a known vulnerability in his new life as a Democratic presidential candidate. During his 12 years as mayor, Bloomberg advocated for the city's stop-and-frisk policy that gave police officers wide latitude to aggressively police stop and search anyone vaguely suspected of a crime. There was even an official "furtive movements" category for reason of arrest. As a result, New York City police piled into minority neighborhoods making millions of stops targeting black and brown young men in the name of deterrence. In 2013, a federal judge ruled the tactics a violation of the constitutional rights of largely minority communities. Bloomberg stood by stop-and-frisk even as it was phased out at the end of his term and then undone under his successor. 

    The racial disparity at the height of the stop and frisk era, which began under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is startling. "Of 575,000 stops conducted in 2009, black and Latino people were nine times as likely as white people to be targeted by the police (even though, once stopped, they were no more likely to actually be arrested)," according to the New York Times.. "In 2011, police officers made about 685,000 stops; 87 percent of those stopped were black or Latino."

    As a Democratic presidential candidate, Bloomberg has made a U-turn after years of defending his approach even after the courts ruled it unconstitutional. "I was wrong," Bloomberg said in November before getting into the presidential race. "And I am sorry." Whether that's enough to convince minority voters remains to be seen. "Over time, I've come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong," Bloomberg said. "I got something important really wrong. I didn't understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives, but as we know, good intentions aren't good enough." 



    2) Sugary Drink Consumption Plunges in Chile After New Food Law

    A study finds that a landmark law requiring warning labels on unhealthy foods made a swift difference in purchases of sodas, bottled water and juices.

    By Andrew Jacobs, February 11, 2020


    Supermarket chocolates on a shelf in Santiago, Chile, bearing labels that warn of high sugar, calorie and saturated fat content.Credit...Martin Bernetti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Four years after Chile embraced the world's most sweeping measures to combat mounting obesity, a partial verdict on their effectiveness is in: Chileans are drinking a lot fewer sugar-laden beverages, according to study published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine.

    Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks dropped nearly 25 percent in the 18 months after Chile adopted a raft of regulations that included advertising restrictions on unhealthy foods, bold front-of-package warning labels and a ban on junk food in schools. During the same period, researchers recorded a five percent increase in purchases of bottled water, diet soft drinks and fruit juices without added sugar.

    "An effect this big at the national level in the first year is unheard-of," said Lindsey Smith Taillie, a nutrition epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the study's lead author. "It is a very promising sign for a set of policies that mutually reinforce one another. This is the way we need the world to go to begin to really combat preventable diseases like obesity, hypertension and diabetes."

    The rules, adopted in 2016, were a bold gambit by the government of a country with some of the world's highest obesity rates. Three-quarters of Chilean adults and more than half of children are overweight or obese, and health officials warned that the medical costs of obesity could consume 4 percent of the nation's health care spending by 2030, up from 2.4 percent in 2016.

    Since then, PeruUruguayIsrael have adopted Chilean-style front-of-package labels; Brazil and Mexico are expected to finalize similar labels in the coming months, and a dozen other countries are considering them as well.

    The Chilean regulations were championed by then-president Michelle Bachelet, a socialist, and passed by the National Congress over fierce objections from big multinational food companies. Despite his initial opposition, Chile's current president, Sebastián Piñera, a conservative billionaire businessman, has left the regulations in place.

    The law is far-reaching. It includes mandatory package redesigns that erased cartoons like Tony the Tiger from sugary cereal boxes, and television advertising restrictions that banished ads for unhealthy products from the airwaves between 6 a.m.. and 10 p.m. A study published last year by the journal Public Health Nutrition found that Chilean children were subjected to half as many ads for junk food and sugary drinks after the restrictions were put in place.

    The regulations followed a 2014 measure that raised the tax on sugary beverages to 18 percent from 13 percent..

    A centerpiece of the rules is a series of black stop signs that must appear on the front of packaged foods and beverages high in salt, sugar, fat or calories. Experts say the "high in" logos have had an unmistakable impact on the way Chileans shop for groceries. In focus groups, parents have described being reprimanded at the supermarket by their children if they reach for products emblazoned with the stop signs.

    "Children are learning at an early age what types of food they should eat and which ones they should avoid," said Dr. Camila Corvalán, a nutritionist at the University of Chile who also worked on the study. "We believe these regulations will change the way this new generation approaches eating, hopefully empowering them to demand healthier foods."

    The study, which tracked the purchasing habits of 2,000 households from 2015 to 2017, found that the drop in sugary-beverage consumption occurred both among the highly educated and those without a high school degree, although the reductions were somewhat greater among individuals who attended college.

    The food industry's initial resistance to the measures has largely faded. To avoid having to display the dreaded stop signs on their products, companies like Nestlé, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have reformulated hundreds of products, reducing the amount of sodium in salad dressings and substituting artificial sweeteners for sugar in carbonated drinks.

    Asked to comment on the new study, a number of companies expressed a grudging acceptance of Chile's laws but called for additional studies to assess their impact on obesity.

    "We are committed to working with governments and other stakeholders to ensure that consumers have the information they need at their fingertips to support a balanced diet, and we offer a wide array of smaller-portion and lower or no-sugar options," the International Council of Beverages Association said in a statement. A spokeswoman for Nestlé noted that the company had eliminated more than 3,000 tons of sugar from dairy products and breakfast cereals sold in Chile.

    Experts say it is too soon to know whether the food regulations are making a dent in Chile's obesity rates. But the early results could embolden policymakers in Chile. Barry M. Popkin, a University of North Carolina nutritionist who is advising the government, said legislators there are considering what he called a "mega tax" on processed foods — the frozen pizza, instant noodles and fast-food meals that are responsible for two-thirds of all calories consumed by children..

    "Right now people are just focused on sugary beverages, which is a tiny part of the problem," he said. "This is just the beginning of a fairly profound change to encourage healthy eating."

    Sara Bleich, a professor of public health policy at Harvard University who was not involved in the study, said the early results suggested that a raft of food policies, not just stand-alone measures like soda taxes, were needed to address a growing obesity crisisthat is affecting nations rich and poor. "For countries hoping to move the needle on obesity, all eyes are on Chile," she said, noting that half of American adults could be obese by 2030. "We need policies like these that are going to make a meaningful difference. And we need them now, not in five or ten years."



    3) Who's Profiting From Your Outrageous Medical Bills?

    The same people who should be fixing them.

    "Surprise bills are just the latest weapons in a decades-long war between the players in the health care industry over who gets to keep the fortunes generated each year from patient illness — $3..6 trillion in 2018. ...So today your hospital and doctor and insurer — all claiming to coordinate care for your health — are often in a three-way competition for your money.."

    By Elisabeth Rosenthal, February 14, 2020


    Michael George Haddad

    Every politician condemns the phenomenon of "surprise" medical bills. This week, two committees in the House are marking up new surprise billing legislation. One of the few policy proposals President Trump brought up in this week's State of the Union address was his 2019 executive order targeting them. In the Democratic debates, candidates have railed against such medical bills, and during commercial breaks, back-to-back ads from groups representing doctors and insurers proclaimed how much the health care sector also abhors this uniquely American form of patient extortion.

    Patients, of course, hate surprise bills most of all. Here's a typical scenario: A patient having a heart attack is taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital, and gets hit with a bill of over $100,000 because that hospital wasn't in his insurance network. A patient selects an in-network provider for a minor procedure, like a colonoscopy, only to be billed thousands for the out-of-network anesthesiologist and pathologist who participated.

    And yet, no one with authority in Washington has done much of anything about it.

    Here's why: Major sectors of the health industry have helped to invent this toxic phenomenon, and none of them want to solve it if means their particular income stream takes a hit. And they have allies in the capital.

    That's explains why President Trump's executive order, issued last year, hasn't resulted in real change. Why bipartisan congressional legislation supported by both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Health Committee to shield Americans from surprise medical bills, has gone nowhere. And why surprise billing provisions were left out of the end-of-year spending bill in December, which did include major tax relief for many parts of the health care industry.

    Surprise bills are just the latest weapons in a decades-long war between the players in the health care industry over who gets to keep the fortunes generated each year from patient illness — $3.6 trillion in 2018.

    Here's how they came to be:

    Forty years ago, when many insurers were nonprofit entities, and being a doctor wasn't seen as a particularly good entree into the 1 percent, billed rates were far lower than they are today, and insurers mostly just paid them. Premiums were low or paid by an employer. Patients paid little or nothing in co-payments or deductibles.

    That's when a more entrepreneurial streak kicked in. Think about the opportunities: If someone is paying you whatever you ask, why not ask for more?

    Commercial insurers as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans, some of which had converted to for-profit status by 2000, began to push back on escalating fees from providers, demanding discounts.

    Hospitals and doctors argued about who got to keep different streams of revenue they were paid. Doctors began to form their own companies and built their own outpatient surgery centers to capture payments for themselves.

    So today your hospital and doctor and insurer — all claiming to coordinate care for your health — are often in a three-way competition for your money.

    As the battle for revenue has heated up, each side has added new weapons to capture more: Hospitals added facility fees and infusion charges. Insurers levied ever-rising copayments and deductibles. Most important they limited the networks of providers to those that would accept the rates they were willing to pay.

    Surprise bills are the latest tactic: When providers decided that an insurer's contracted payment offerings were too meager, they stopped participating in the insurer's network; either they walked away or the insurer left them out. In some cases, physicians decided not to participate in any networks at all. That way, they could charge whatever they wanted when they got involved in patient care and bill the patient directly.. For their part, insurers didn't really care if those practitioners demanding more money left.

    And, for a time, all sides were basically fine with this arrangement.

    But as the scope and the scale of surprise bills has grown in the past five years, more people have experienced these costly, unpleasant surprises.. With accumulating bad publicity, they have became impossible to ignore. It was hard to defend a patient stuck with over $500,000 in surprise bills for 14 weeks of dialysis. Or the $10,000 bill from the out-of-network pediatrician who tends to newborns in intensive care. How about the counties where no ambulance companies participated in insurance, so every ambulance ride costs hundreds, or even thousands of dollars?

    These practices are an obvious outrage. But no one in the health care sector wants to unilaterally make the type of big concessions that would change them. Insurers want to pay a fixed rate. Doctors and hospitals prefer what they call "baseball- style arbitration," where a reasonable charge is determined by mediation. Both camps have lined up sympathetic politicians for their point of view.

    So, nothing has changed at the federal level, even though it's hard to imagine another issue for which there is such widespread consensus. Two-thirds of Americans say they are worried about being able to afford an unexpected medical bill — more than any other household expense. Nearly eight in 10 Americans say they want federal legislation to protect patients against surprise bills.

    States are passing their own surprise billing laws, though they lack power since much of insurance is regulated at a national level.

    Now, members of Congress have yet another chance to tackle this obvious injustice. Will they listen to hospitals, doctors, insurers? Or, in this election year, will they finally heed their voter-patients?



    4) A Graphic Novel Remembers Attica

    A friend of an inmate, Big Black, who helped others during the uprising, tells his story in "Stand at Attica."

    By George Gene Gustines, February 14, 2020


    The graphic novel tells the story of Frank Smith, known as Big Black, and the 1971 riot at Attica prison.Credit...Améziane/Archaia

    Telling the story of Frank Smith, a prisoner who was a central figure in the 1971 uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in western New York, was a life's mission for Jared Reinmuth, an actor and playwright whose family was friends with Smith.

    Reinmuth is finally seeing it fulfilled on Tuesday when the original graphic novel "Big Black: Stand at Attica," which he co-wrote with Smith, arrives in book stores..

    The novel recounts the siege, when inmates rebelled against conditions there and state troopers stormed in, killing dozens of people. Smith, known as Big Black, was tortured by officers because he acted as security chief for the inmates during negotiations.

    Lawyers for 1,281 inmates filed a lawsuit against state officials in 1974 for civil rights violations, including being denied medical care and forced to crawl naked over broken glass. The legal battle culminated in 2000 with an $8 million settlement for the inmates and $4 million in lawyers' fees..

    In 1997, Frank Smith was awarded $4 million by a federal jury in Buffalo for the abuse he suffered in Attica. The decision, depicted above, was overturned. But in 2000, inmates, including Smith, won a settlement.Credit...Améziane/Archaia

    Reinmuth spent significant time with Smith for "Big Black," which is being published by Archaia, an imprint of Boom! Studios. Smithdied from kidney cancer in 2004.

    "I come from a very political family," Reinmuth, 52, said during a recent telephone interview.

    As a child, Reinmuth said, he saw news about Attica on TV in his living room. "My mom vowed that if there was any way to help the Attica brothers, we would," he recalled. Years later, his mother, Joan Max Reinmuth, met and married Daniel L. Meyers, a lawyer representing the Attica prisoners in a class-action lawsuit. Once Meyers became Reinmuth's stepfather, "Attica became this family project," Reinmuth said.

    The Reinmuths were friends with Smith and his wife, Pearl. In 1997, as a civil suit for Smith's case went to trial in Buffalo, about 30 miles from Attica, Smith and Reinmuth talked a lot about his life, with the goal of telling Smith's story. (Smith was awarded $4 million by a federal jury that year, but that award was overturned two years later..)

    "He was such a wonderful storyteller," Reinmuth said.. "He would captivate you," he added, "but he didn't really write things down." Reinmuth, however, took copious notes. The result was a screenplay, but a friend suggested that the story might work as a graphic novel.

    "Big Black" follows in the footsteps of recent nonfiction graphic novels. "March" is a personal account of the civil rights movement by the U.S. Representative John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; and "They Called Us Enemy" tells the story of George Takei (written with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott) and his family's time in internment camps during World War II.

    In 2016, a graphic novel about Muhammad Ali was written by Sybille Titeux de la Croix and drawn by Améziane, who also drew "Big Black." "I love stories that tell the whole life of a character, and if you choose wisely, you could have stories that are better than fiction," Améziane said in an email.

    'Big Black: Stand at Attica' Events

    Jared Reinmuth, Daniel Meyers and Pearl Smith will speak Feb. 17, 7 p.m., at Strand Bookstore, Manhattan; and Feb. 22, 3 p.m., at New York Public Library, Grand Central Branch.



    5) Border Patrol Will Deploy Elite Tactical Agents to Sanctuary Cities

    Agents from a special tactical team that normally confronts smugglers on the border are being sent to sanctuary cities across the country.

    By Caitlin Dickerson and olan Kanno-Youngs, February 14, 2020


    An agent with the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit, known as BORTAC, an elite group that functions essentially as the SWAT of Border Patrol.Credit...Adrees Latif/Reuters

    The Trump administration is deploying law enforcement tactical units from the southern border as part of a supercharged arrest operation in sanctuary cities across the country, an escalation in the president's battle against localities that refuse to participate in immigration enforcement..

    The specially trained officers are being sent to cities including Chicago and New York to boost the enforcement power of local Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, according to two officials who are familiar with the secret operation. Additional agents are expected to be sent to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, N..J.

    The move reflects President Trump's persistence in cracking down on so-called sanctuary cities, localities that have refused to cooperate in handing over immigrants targeted for deportation to federal authorities. It comes soon after the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security announced a series of measures that will affect both American citizens and immigrants living in those places.

    Lawrence Payne, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, confirmed that the agency was deploying 100 officers to work with ICE, which conducts arrests in the interior of the country, "in order to enhance the integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security."

    The deployment of the teams will run from February through May, according to an email sent to C.B..P. personnel, which was read to The New York Times by one official familiar with the planning..

    Among the agents being deployed to sanctuary cities are members of the elite tactical unit known as BORTAC, which acts essentially as the SWAT team of the Border Patrol. With additional gear such as stun grenades and enhanced Special Forces-type training, including sniper certification, the officers typically conduct high-risk operations targeting individuals who are known to be violent, many of them with extensive criminal records.

    The unit's work often takes place in the most rugged and swelteringly hot areas of the border.. It can involve breaking into stash houses maintained by smuggling operations that are known to be filled with drugs and weapons.

    In sanctuary cities, the BORTAC agents will be asked to support interior officers in run-of-the-mill immigration arrests, the officials said. Their presence could spark new fear in immigrant communities that have been on high alert under the stepped-up deportation and detention policies adopted after Mr. Trump took office.

    In a statement, ICE's acting director, Matthew T. Albence, said the deployment comes in response to policies adopted by sanctuary cities, which have made it harder for immigration agents to do their jobs.

    "As we have noted for years, in jurisdictions where we are not allowed to assume custody of aliens from jails, our officers are forced to make at-large arrests of criminal aliens who have been released into communities," he said. "When sanctuary cities release these criminals back to the street, it increases the occurrence of preventable crimes, and more importantly, preventable victims."

    But Gil Kerlikowske, the former commissioner of C.B.P., which oversees tactical units along the border, said sending the officers to conduct immigration enforcement within cities, where they are not trained to work, could escalate situations that are already volatile. He called the move a "significant mistake."

    "If you were a police chief and you were going to make an apprehension for a relatively minor offense, you don't send the SWAT team. And BORTAC is the SWAT team," said Mr. Kerlikowske, who is a former chief of police in Seattle. "They're trained for much more hazardous missions than this.."

    It was a gun-wielding BORTAC agent who, in April 2000, seized Elian Gonzalez — a Cuban boy who was embroiled in an international asylum controversy — from his uncle's arms after agents had forced their way into the home where the boy was staying.

    The Border Patrol squads will be charged with backing up ICE agents during deportation operations and standing by as a show of force, the officials said..

    ICE agents typically seek out people with criminal convictions or multiple immigration violations as their primary targets for deportation, but family members and friends are often swept up in the enforcement net in what are known as "collateral" arrests, and many such people could now be caught up in any enhanced operations.

    ICE leadership requested the help in sanctuary jurisdictions because agents there often struggle to track down undocumented immigrants without the help of the police and other state and local agencies. Law enforcement officers in areas that refuse to cooperate with ICE and the Border Patrol — which include both liberal and conservative parts of the country — often argue that doing so pushes undocumented people further into the shadows, ultimately making cities less safe because that segment of the population becomes less likely to report crimes or cooperate with investigations.

    The goal of the new joint operation, one of the officials said, was to increase arrests in the sanctuary jurisdictions by at least 35 percent.

    The operation reflects an increasingly hawkish approach to immigration enforcement, following the firings and resignations of leaders who have been viewed in the White House as unwilling to take the harsh steps Mr. Trump and his advisers view as necessary to slow illegal immigration.

    Other recent attempts at aggressive enforcement by ICE have faltered, such as a series of raids targeting more than 2,000 migrant families that were planned during the summer of 2019. Mr. Trump's advance warnings on Twitter led many of those who were targeted to refuse to open their front doors, and ultimately, only 35 of those who had been targeted were arrested in the operation's first several weeks.

    Even with the added show of force from BORTAC, agents will be limited in their abilities compared to the police or sheriff's deputies.. Unlike operations on the border, where BORTAC agents may engage in armed confrontations with drug-smuggling suspects using armored vehicles, immigration agents in cities are enforcing civil infractions rather than criminal ones. They are not allowed to forcibly enter properties in order to make arrests, and the presence of BORTAC agents, while helpful in boosting the number of agents on the ground, may prove most useful for the visual message it sends.

    The agents will not be busting down doors or engaging in shootouts, said one official with direct knowledge of the operation, who like the other official would not be identified because he was not authorized to discuss it.

    Some C.B.P. agents are permitted certain enforcement powers, including setting up immigration checkpoints, within 100 miles of a land or coastal port.

    Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, questioned whether the teams would use that authority in the targeted cities, most of which are within that 100-mile zone.

    "This is about further militarizing our streets," Ms. Shah said. "It could actually have deadly effects. We could see C.B.P. officers who aren't trained for interior enforcement using aggressive force."

    Many ICE agents say their jobs have become increasingly difficult, three years into Mr. Trump's presidency, because of robust campaigns by immigrant advocacy organizations seeking to safeguard undocumented immigrants by educating them on the legal limitations that ICE officers face. As a result, in many communities where undocumented immigrants live, people now turn immediately to their phones when ICE agents are spotted to alert neighbors that they should stay inside..

    Mr.. Trump campaigned on a promise to crack down on sanctuary cities. Within a few months of taking office, the Justice Department moved to withhold certain federal funds from the jurisdictions. Last week, the department filed suit against state and local governments in California, New Jersey and Washington State over sanctuary policies there. Also this month, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would ban New Yorkers from enrolling in programs that allow travelers to speed through customs checkpoints in airports and at the border as a result of the state's decision to offer driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and bar Homeland Security agencies from accessing the state's motor vehicle database.

    The president again highlighted the issue in his State of the Union address, arguing that sanctuary cities "release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public.."

    In January, a New York City Council member wrote an open letterfor his fellow councilors expressing concern about increasing ICE activity in the region, including collateral arrests. Last week, an acquaintance of a man in New York who was being arrested by ICE was shot in an incident that the agency later blamed on sanctuary policies.

    The aggressive immigration enforcement tactics being implemented around the country are not limited to any one agency. In a widely circulated video recorded in El Paso on Tuesday night, Border Patrol agents are shown subduing and using a Taser to apprehend a man in a Burger King restaurant.

    The video shows the man pleading repeatedly with the agents while shouting that he had done nothing wrong. A bystander asks the agents to leave the restaurant, as she cries while witnessing the episode. While the man was writhing in pain on the floor after being stunned repeatedly, another woman in the video approached the agents and asked, "Why are you still hitting him?"

    A Border Patrol spokesman said in a statement that the apprehended man was a "suspected alien smuggler," without offering any evidence to support that assertion. The spokesman did not respond to a request for the man's name and nationality.

    "The man refused to cooperate with the verbal instructions and attempted to avoid being handcuffed and a struggle ensued," the Border Patrol spokesman said.

    In the same statement, the spokesman said that a "citizen" had notified law enforcement of a suspicious vehicle parked on his property. The Border Patrol said the man apprehended by the agents on Tuesday was the driver of the vehicle and that "record checks indicated that the man was in the country illegally and had a positive criminal history."

    An ICE spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of the latest effort in sanctuary cities, citing the agency's policy against sharing information about enforcement operations before they have taken place.. However, the spokesman added that the agency had "made it abundantly clear for years that, in jurisdictions where we are not allowed to assume custody of aliens from jails, our officers would be redirected to make at-large arrests."

    Simon Romero, Miriam Jordan and Annie Correal contributed reporting.



    6) Oklahoma Botched 2 Executions. It Says It's Ready to Try Again.

    After a pair of botched executions and a five-year hiatus, Oklahoma is preparing to once again carry out the death penalty with the use of lethal injections.

    By Graham Lee Brewer and Manny Fernandez, February 13, 2020


    Gov. Kevin Stitt expressed confidence that Oklahoma would carry out executions without problems like the ones that led to a death penalty moratorium in 2015.Credit...Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

    NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma plans to resume putting inmates to death using lethal injection drugs, five years after officials halted all executions in the wake of a series of botched procedures that drew national attention to the state's death penalty protocol.

    Officials in Oklahoma, one of the country's most prolific death penalty states, said on Thursday that they now have access to the drugs necessary to carry out capital punishment, though when the next execution would be scheduled remained unclear. It would be the first execution in Oklahoma since a string of errors and problematic executions in 2014 and 2015 that President Barack Obama had described as "deeply troubling."

    "I believe capital punishment is appropriate for the most heinous of crimes, and it is our duty as state officials to obey the laws of the state of Oklahoma by carrying out this somber task," the Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, told reporters at a news conference in Oklahoma City.

    Two state agencies — the attorney general's office and the Department of Corrections — have been working to revise Oklahoma's execution protocol and to establish a reliable source of lethal injection drugs, and Mr. Stitt and other officials expressed confidence that the state would be able to go forward without new problems.

    The state said it had no plans to change the three-drug sequence that it used in its execution protocol before the moratorium: midazolam, a short-acting sedative; vecuronium bromide, which stops breathing; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

    "The additions that we've made to the protocol simply add more checks and balances, more safeguards to the system, to ensure that what has happened in the past won't happen again," the Oklahoma attorney general, Mike Hunter, said Thursday.

    Mistakes in administering and overseeing the drug supply were among the factors that led to problems in the state's last two executions.

    The first of these was in 2014 at the state prison in McAlester, Okla., when Clayton D. Lockett appeared to moan and struggle during a procedure that took 43 minutes. Doctors concluded that Mr. Lockett had not been fully sedated; he regained consciousness during the process and writhed in pain before he died, long after witnesses, including members of the news media, had been escorted from the death chamber's viewing room.

    Then in January 2015, Charles F. Warner was put to death in an 18-minute execution in which officials mistakenly used the wrong drug to stop his heart. Later in 2015, Richard E. Glossip, a death row inmate who challenged the constitutionality of Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol before the Supreme Court, was granted a stay of execution after the state's supplier of lethal injection drugs sent prison officials the wrong drug.

    In both of the 2015 cases, the drug supplier unexpectedly substituted potassium acetate for the heart-stopping drug potassium chloride. In Mr. Glossip's case, officials did not notice the mistake until they opened the box two hours before he was set to die.

    It was that case that prompted state officials to order a moratorium on all executions until the state's death penalty procedures could be reviewed.

    "Until we have complete confidence in the system, we will delay any further executions," the Republican governor at the time, Mary Fallin, said in 2015.

    That decision was later backed by a federal judge in Oklahoma, who ordered the state to stop executions until the protocol was revised. Mr. Stitt and other officials said on Thursday that the court-ordered moratorium would end in 150 days. After that, the state's use of lethal injections will resume and officials will begin the process of carrying out the first execution since Mr. Warner's in 2015, officials said.

    The move by Oklahoma's leaders is likely to be challenged in court by lawyers representing death row inmates. Dale A... Baich, one of Mr. Glossip's lawyers, said he planned to ask a federal court to resume hearing a lawsuit on the use of midazolam, filed several years ago, that had been put on hold during the moratorium on executions.

    "Oklahoma's history of mistakes and malfeasance reveals a culture of carelessness around executions that should give everyone pause," Mr. Baich said.

    Oklahoma and other death penalty states have had problems in recent years not only administering lethal injections, but also acquiring execution drugs. States have been scrambling to obtain the drugs and trying new combinations in the face of shortages as manufacturers have ceased production or prohibited the use of their products in executions.

    That scramble has caused some states, including Oklahoma, to consider more antiquated ways putting inmates to death. Tennessee is allowing prison officials to use the electric chair if lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

    In Oklahoma, lawmakers approved a backup execution procedure — to be used only if lethal drugs cannot be acquired — involving the use of nitrogen gas. Although the law does not specify how the gas should be administered, a state study in 2014 proposed covering a condemned inmate's head with a bag that would slowly fill with nitrogen gas. Supporters likened it to the experience of pilots flying too high into the atmosphere and losing consciousness, while critics called it barbaric.

    "Ensuring we have an alternative is just being responsible," said Mr. Hunter, the attorney general.

    Of the 47 inmates on Oklahoma's death row, 26 have exhausted their appeals and are awaiting an execution date.

    Mr. Glossip, who remains on death row and whose case has attracted support from celebrities and death penalty opponents who believe he is innocent, is the next inmate in line to be executed. He was convicted in the 1997 murder of Barry Van Treese, the owner of the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, where Mr. Glossip was the manager.

    Prosecutors said Mr. Glossip persuaded a 19-year-old man, Justin Sneed, to kill Mr. Van Treese in return for thousands of dollars in motel revenues. Mr. Sneed admitted to beating Mr. Van Treese to death with a baseball bat but said he was pressured by Mr. Glossip. He is serving a sentence of life without parole.

    Mr. Glossip's lawyers have questioned Mr. Sneed's credibility and produced statements from two men who served time with him, one of whom said Mr. Sneed had boasted of "setting up" Mr. Glossip.

    Graham Lee Brewer reported from Norman, and Manny Fernandez from Houston.



    7) She Didn't Want a Pelvic Exam. She Received One Anyway.

    By Emma Goldberg, February 17, 2020


    Ashley Weitz, who received an unauthorized pelvic exam in 2007, on the grounds of the Utah State Capitol.. Last year she testified before the Utah Senate in favor of a bill requiring express consent for the procedure.Lindsay D'Addato for The New York Times

    Janine, a nurse in Arizona, checked into the hospital for stomach surgery in 2017. Before the procedure, she told her physician that she did not want medical students to be directly involved. But after the operation, Janine said, as the anesthesia wore off, a resident came by to inform her that she had gotten her period; the resident had noticed while conducting a pelvic exam.

    "What pelvic exam?" Janine, 33, asked. Distressed, she tried to piece together what had happened while she was unconscious. Why had her sexual organs been inspected during an abdominal operation, by a medical student? Later, she said, her physician explained that the operating team had seen she was due for a Pap smear.

    Janine burst into tears. "I started having panic attacks trying to figure out what had happened," she recalled in an interview. "I have a history of sexual abuse, and it brought up bad memories."

    She felt especially unnerved as a medical professional: "Patients put such trust in the medical profession, especially on sensitive topics such as going under anesthesia." (Janine asked that she be identified only by her middle name. The hospital declined to comment on its policies regarding informed consent for pelvic exams.)

    Pelvic exams necessitate physical inspection of the most sensitive areas of a woman's body. The exams are typically conducted while the patient is awake and consenting at a gynecologist visit, to screen for certain cancers, infections and other reproductive health issues.

    But across many U.S. states and medical institutions, physicians are not required to obtain explicit consent for the procedure. Sometimes the exams are conducted — by doctors or doctors-in-training — while women are under anesthesia for gynecological and other operations. Often the exams are deemed medically necessary, but in some cases they are done solely for the educational benefit of medical trainees. At some hospitals, physicians discuss the procedure with patients beforehand or detail its specifics in consent forms, but at others the women are left unaware..

    There are no numbers to indicate how many pelvic exams have been performed nationwide without consent, but regional surveys suggest that the practice is not uncommon. A 2005 survey at the University of Oklahoma found that a majority of medical students had performed pelvic exams on unconscious patients, and in nearly 3 of 4 instances they thought informed consent had not been obtained.

    Phoebe Friesen, a biomedical ethicist at McGill University, drew attention to the issue in 2018 with articles in Bioethics and Slate, which elicited stories from other women with the hashtag #MeTooPelvic. Dr. Friesen learned about the subject while leading a bioethics seminar at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where she heard a narrative from some students that amounted to, "I can put my hand in this woman's vagina because it helps with my training."

    Sarah Wright, a science teacher in Madison, Wis., said she was given a diagnosis of extreme vulvar sensitivity after a surgery in 2009. She wondered how an operation performed through incisions in her abdomen could have affected her sexual organs, and concluded that either a uterine manipulator was used or a pelvic exam was conducted without her knowledge. So when scheduling another operation with University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health's hospital system in 2018, she asked to draft her own consent contract.

    "A woman unconscious on an operating table is at her most vulnerable," Ms. Wright said. "If anyone is going to be penetrating the vagina with their hands or an instrument, that needs to be disclosed."

    She said department administrators rebuffed her request. "They told me: 'Is this a deal breaker for you? Because if so, you should have your surgery somewhere else.'" Last month, Ms. Wright testified before the Wisconsin legislature in favor of a bill on informed consent.

    The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health declined to comment on the specifics of Ms. Wright's case. In 2019, the School of Medicine and Public Health adopted a new policy requiring doctors to obtain informed consent before allowing students to perform sensitive exams, which must be related to routine care, on anesthetized patients.

    "The formalization of the sensitive-exam policy provides clear, specific and universally employed standards for consent processes for breast, pelvic, urogenital, prostate and rectal exams," said Dr. Laurel Rice, Chair of University of Wisconsin Health's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

    Last year, the United States saw a wave of bills banning unauthorized pelvic exams in 11 states. Maryland, Utah, New York and Delaware passed laws mandating informed consent, joining six states with prior regulations on the books. A number of medical institutions have their own policies in place.

    "We know we shouldn't treat women's bodies like they're somebody's property, and that extends to medicine," said Robin Fretwell Wilson, a professor of law and associate dean at University of Illinois College of Law, who has been a longtime advocate for informed consent laws. "With the 'Me Too' movement, we're at a moment in time where we're realizing that."

    That moment of realization has been long in coming. Nearly three decades ago, Dr. Ari Silver-Isenstadt was a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. Just before his gynecological clerkship, a friend cautioned him that he would probably be asked to perform pelvic exams on unconscious female patients.

    Dr. Silver-Isenstadt nervously discussed the prospect with his wife, who was studying for her doctorate in the history of medicine. The pair devised a plan: He would show up late for each day's gynecological operation, conveniently missing the introductory portion when a pelvic exam might be performed.

    After several weeks, he was reported to the medical school dean, and he worked out an arrangement to finish the course without conducting pelvic exams on anesthetized patients. But he kept a troubled eye on the practice. In 2003, Dr. Silver-Isenstadt was co-author of a study titled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He surveyed 401 students at five Pennsylvania medical schools and found that 90 percent had performed pelvic exams on anesthetized patients. Completing a gynecological clerkship, he found, was associated with a reduced appreciation of the importance of consent for the procedure.

    As Dr. Silver-Isenstadt tried to sound the alarm on the practice, he learned that medical faculty members tended to accept it as a necessary component of a physician's training. Although the practice has broadly persisted, a number of states passed laws banning it, some citing his paper: California in 2003, Illinois in 2004, Virginia in 2007, Oregon in 2011, Hawaii in 2012 and Iowa in 2017.

    "The general public has no awareness of it," Dr. Silver-Isenstadt said. "When I talked to my colleagues in medicine about it, it didn't seem like a red flag to them.

    Ryan O'Keefe, a fourth-year medical student in Pennsylvania, recently completed his gynecological rotation. He said students were frequently instructed to perform pelvic exams on anesthetized patients; they were told to check the consent forms that patients signed before the operation, although he said he "would not be surprised if now and then people didn't check."

    What was most unsettling to Mr. O'Keefe were the racial and socioeconomic disparities apparent in his pelvic exam training.

    Mr. O'Keefe's rotation crossed between two clinics in Philadelphia. On one side of the street was a pearly white high-rise serving patients with private insurance, Penn Medicine Washington Square. On the other side was the more run-down Ludmir Center for Women's Health, primarily for those on Medicaid and the uninsured. At the private insurance clinic, Mr. O'Keefe said, medical students mostly observed as their residents conducted gynecological procedures. At Ludmir, the quality of care was high, but Mr. O'Keefe noted that students were encouraged to get more hands-on experience, especially by stepping in to perform pelvic exams.

    "My first experience doing a pelvic exam was in Ludmir, where it's expected that medical students will do it," he said. He recalled anxiously maneuvering his hands as he looked to the resident for guidance.

    "It leaves a strange feeling in your gut, because it's the most obvious example of how there's different standards of care depending on your insurance status," he said. "It's like a tale of two clinics."

    A spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania's Health System said the Perelman School of Medicine includes a dedicated session on health disparities in its obstetrics and gynecology rotation, and the school's policy mandates that students can only perform pelvic exams under the direct supervision and at the discretion of an attending or resident physician. The spokesman said that the school "will review this matter to ensure that all patients are treated equally in accordance with our institutional policies and values."

    For medical students, performing unauthorized exams can leave a sense of discomfort that fades with time. But for the patients, the scars can run deeper, sometimes rupturing their sense of trust in health care providers.

    One evening in 2007, Ashley Weitz drove to a Salt Lake City emergency room, at Intermountain Healthcare LDS Hospital, suffering from uncontrollable vomiting. She was given an ultrasound and blood work, the standard approach; her attending physician ran through a list of possible ailments. Then he asked if he could run a test for sexually transmitted infections. Ms. Weitz declined, explaining that she was celibate and a childhood abuse survivor, and that she preferred to forgo the exam.

    The doctor gave her Phenergan, a sedative. Later, she returned to consciousness with her feet in metal stirrups and a speculum inside of her, cold and foreign.. Ms. Weitz cried out in discomfort. She recalled that the doctor responded, "Hang on, I'm almost finished."

    "I remember feeling pain and confusion, like, 'Is this a nightmare?'" Ms. Weitz, 36, said. "I was very sleepy and sedated.. My next memory is looking over and he was bagging the swabs he had collected without my permission."

    Ms. Weitz said that she would have been comfortable with an exam if she had been given a better explanation of its purpose: "If the doctor had more of a conversation with me, I probably would have consented. It was the absence of consent that made this a trauma."

    Ms. Weitz testified before the Utah legislature in favor of an informed consent bill, which was signed into law last year. A spokesman for Intermountain Healthcare said that its "caregivers do not perform exams or procedures, including pelvic area exams without informed consent in accordance with current Utah law."

    Ms. Wilson interviewed medical faculty members in more than a dozen states to gauge the opposition to informed consent policies. She found that doctors often argued that patients implicitly consented to being enlisted in medical teaching when visiting a teaching hospital, or that consent for one gynecological procedure encompassed consent for any additional, related exams.

    Last March, the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics released a statement recommending that students perform exams on anesthetized women only when "explicitly consented to" and "related to the planned procedure."

    But some medical professionals are dismayed to see the issue legislated rather than negotiated through direct conversation between doctors and their patients.

    Dr. Jennifer Goedken, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Emory University, said working in a teaching hospital showed her the importance of giving students hands-on experience with pelvic exams and she initially worried that legislative debates could stigmatize the procedure.

    "As doctors that care about women's health, we don't want to relegate pelvic exams to something that's taboo," Dr. Goedken said. "We want students to learn how to recognize abnormalities and do a good, comfortable exam." Pelvic exams, she added, are one of the least risky procedures, involving just hands or the blunt end of a speculum, and are critical for reproductive health care.

    Sarah Burns, a third-year student at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, said of practicing pelvic exams, "It's like learning to drive." Repeated experience is necessary to master the delicate skills, and to overcome the nerves that accompany initial attempts.

    But among students now learning to perform pelvic exams, there is a growing awareness of the need to tend to the patient's psychological and emotional well-being.

    Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts, where the method is utilized, also uses consent forms that specify that patients may undergo pelvic exams while anesthetized.

    "We let them know what the procedure entails and we vocalize every member who will be participating in it," said gynecologist Dr. Deborah Bartz. "We think carefully about which patient needs a pelvic exam under anesthesia, who needs to perform it and why." This has been the hospital's policy for several years, she said, but it has been more strictly enforced in the last year, to ensure that no procedures are done without transparency or without the patient's explicit consent.

    Many hospitals now work with gynecological teaching associates, or G.T.A.s, who allow students to practice pelvic exams on them as they offer guidance.

    Dr. Deborah Bartz, a gynecologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts, explained that medical students learn different skills from practicing pelvic exams on conscious and unconscious patients. Examining conscious patients teaches them to listen and respond to feedback; with anesthetized patients, the muscles are relaxed, which makes it easier to feel the ovaries and uterus.

    Some medical institutions, including Brigham and Women's, are now utilizing a method known as trauma-informed care, which emphasizes informed consent and delicate use of language to respect survivors.

    Last year, Ms. Weitz revisited her experience with an unauthorized exam as she prepared for her testimony before the Utah Senate, rereading her doctor's report from that night in the emergency room.

    Words floated in front of her: "She is quite somnolent," "I performed a pelvic exam," "The patient is adamant that she has never had any kind of sexual encounter that could result in an S.T.D." Ms. Weitz felt dizzy.

    "It put words to this feeling I had for so long, that I had been vulnerable and disrespected," she said. "I'm not associating all health care with assault, but I have a good reason to associate some health care with trauma. Health care providers are not exempt from that ethical obligation to have obtained consent.."



    8) Sanders Tells New York Times He Would Consider a Preemptive Strike Against Iran or North Korea

    By Jacob Crosse and Barry Grey, February 17, 2020


    Bernie Sanders has won the popular vote in both the New Hampshire and Iowa presidential primary contests in considerable part by presenting himself as an opponent of war. Following the criminal assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani last month, Sanders was the most vocal of the Democratic presidential aspirants in criticizing Trump's action. His poll numbers have risen in tandem with his stepped-up anti-war rhetoric.

    He has repeatedly stressed his vote against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, reminding voters in the Iowa presidential debate last month,

    "I not only voted against that war, I helped lead the effort against that war."

    However, when speaking to the foremost newspaper of the American ruling class, the New York Times, the Sanders campaign adopts a very different tone than that employed by the candidate when addressing the public in campaign stump speeches or TV interviews.

    The answers provided by Sanders' campaign to a foreign policy survey of the Democratic presidential candidates published this month by the Times provide a very different picture of the attitude of the self-styled "democratic socialist" to American imperialism and war. In the course of the survey, the Sanders campaign is at pains to reassure the military/intelligence establishment and the financial elite of the senator's loyalty to US imperialism and his readiness to deploy its military machine.

    Perhaps most significant and chilling is the response to the third question in the Times' survey.

    Question: Would you consider military force to pre-empt an Iranian or North Korean nuclear or missile test?

    Answer: Yes.

    A Sanders White House, according to his campaign, would be open to launching a military strike against Iran or nuclear-armed North Korea to prevent (not respond to) not even a threatened missile or nuclear strike against the United States, but a mere weapons test. This is a breathtakingly reckless position no less incendiary than those advanced by the Trump administration.

    Sanders would risk a war that could easily involve the major powers and lead to a nuclear Armageddon in order to block a weapons test by countries that have been subjected to devastating US sanctions and diplomatic, economic and military provocations for decades.

    Moreover, as Sanders' response to the Times makes clear, the so-called progressive, anti-war candidate fully subscribes to the doctrine of "preemptive war" declared to be official US policy in 2002 by the administration of George W. Bush. An illegal assertion of aggressive war as an instrument of foreign policy, this doctrine violates the principles laid down at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi officials after World War II, the United Nations charter and other international laws and conventions on war. Sanders' embrace of the doctrine, following in the footsteps of the Obama administration, shows that his opposition to the Iraq war was purely a question of tactics, not a principled opposition to imperialist war.

    The above question is preceded by another that evokes a response fully in line with the war policies of the Obama administration, the first two-term administration in US history to preside over uninterrupted war.

    Question: Would you consider military force for a humanitarian intervention?

    Answer: Yes.

    Among the criminal wars carried out by the United States in the name of defending "human rights" are the war in Bosnia and the bombing of Serbia in the 1990s, the 2011 air war against Libya that ended with the lynching of deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi, and the civil war in Syria that was fomented by Washington and conducted by its Al Qaeda-linked proxy militias.

    The fraudulent humanitarian pretexts for US aggression were no more legitimate than the lie of "weapons of mass destruction" used in the neo-colonial invasion of Iraq. The result of these war crimes has been the destruction of entire societies, the death of millions and dislocation of tens of millions more, along with the transformation of the Middle East into a cauldron of great power intervention and intrigue that threatens to erupt into a new world war.

    Sanders fully subscribes to this doctrine of "humanitarian war" that has been particularly associated with Democratic administrations.

    In response to a question from the Times on the assassination of Suleimani, the Sanders campaign calls Trump's action illegal, but refuses to take a principled stand against targeted assassinations in general and associates itself with the attacks on Suleimani as a terrorist.

    The reply states:

    Clearly there is evidence that Suleimani was involved in acts of terror. He also supported attacks on US troops in Iraq. But the right question isn't 'was this a bad guy,' but rather 'does assassinating him make Americans safer?' The answer is clearly no.

    In other words, the extra-judicial killing of people by the US government is justified if it makes Americans "safer." This is a tacit endorsement of the policy of drone assassinations that was vastly expanded under the Obama administration—a policy that included the murder of US citizens.

    At another point, the Times asks:

    Would you agree to begin withdrawing American troops from the Korean peninsula?

    The reply is:

    No, not immediately. We would work closely with our South Korean partners to move toward peace on the Korean peninsula, which is the only way we will ultimately deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.

    Sanders thus supports the continued presence of tens of thousands of US troops on the Korean peninsula, just as he supports the deployment of US forces more generally to assert the global interests of the American ruling class.

    On Israel, Sanders calls for a continuation of the current level of US military and civilian aid and opposes the immediate return of the US embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

    On Russia, he entirely supports the Democratic Party's McCarthyite anti-Russia campaign and lines up behind the right-wing basis of the Democrats' failed impeachment drive against Trump:

    Question: If Russia continues on its current course in Ukraine and other former Soviet states, should the United States regard it as an adversary, or even an enemy?

    Answer: Yes.

    Question: Should Russia be required to return Crimea to Ukraine before it is allowed back into the G-7?

    Answer: Yes.

    Finally, the Times asks the Sanders campaign its position on the National Security Strategy announced by the Trump administration at the beginning of 2018. The new doctrine declares that the focus of American foreign and military strategy has shifted from the "war on terror" to the preparation for war against its major rivals, naming in particular Russia and China.

    In the following exchange, Sanders tacitly accepts the great power conflict framework of the National Security Strategy, attacking Trump from the right for failing to aggressively prosecute the conflict with Russia and China:

    Question: President Trump's national security strategy calls for shifting the focus of American foreign policy away from the Middle East and Afghanistan, and back to what it refers to as the 'revisionist' superpowers, Russia and China. Do you agree? Why or why not?

    Answer: Despite its stated strategy, the Trump administration has never followed a coherent national security strategy. In fact, Trump has escalated tensions in the Middle East and put us on the brink of war with Iran, refused to hold Russia accountable for its interference in our elections and human rights abuses, has done nothing to address our unfair trade agreement with China that only benefits wealthy corporations, and has ignored China's mass internment of Uighurs and its brutal repression of protesters in Hong Kong. Clearly, Trump is not a president we should be taking notes from. [Emphasis added].

    In a recent interview Ro Khanna, a Democratic congressman and national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, assured Atlantic writer Uri Friedman that Sanders would continue provocative "freedom of the seas" navigation operations in the Persian Gulf and the South China Sea, while committing a Sanders administration to "maintain some [troop] presence" on the multitude of bases dotting "allied" countries from Japan to Germany.

    Millions of workers, students and young people are presently attracted to Sanders because they have come to despise and oppose the vast social inequality, brutality and militarism of American society and correctly associate these evils with capitalism. However, they will soon learn through bitter experience that Sanders's opposition to the "billionaire class" is no more real than his supposed opposition to war. His foreign policy is imperialist through and through, in line with the aggressive and militaristic policy of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration.

    The Democrats' differences with Trump on foreign policy, though bitter, are tactical. Both parties share the strategic orientation of asserting US global hegemony above all through force of arms.

    No matter how much Sanders blusters about inequality, it is impossible to oppose the depredations of the ruling class at home while supporting its plunder and oppression abroad.

    Sanders is no more an apostle of peace than he is a representative of the working class. Both in foreign and domestic policy, he is an instrument of the ruling class for channeling the growing movement of the working class and opposition to capitalism back behind the Democratic Party and the two-party system of capitalist rule in America.



    9) My $145,000 Surprise Medical Bill

    What my brief glimpse into the financial abyss taught me about the American health care system.

    By Jennifer Finney Boylan, February 18, 2020


    Don Petersen/Associated Press

    "Well," I said to my wife. "We're wiped out."

    She'd called me late in the day to let me know she'd received a bill for our child's hospital stay. The bill was for $145,000.

    "What are we going to do?" she asked.

    "I'm sure it's just a mistake," I said.

    "But Jenny," she said, "what if it's not?"

    The bill in question was for a procedure that had been scheduled months before. We'd consulted with the provider, who, indeed, was out of network, but our doctors had assured us that the total cost would nevertheless require nothing but a modest co-payment.

    But in this our doctors appeared to be wrong. Now we were looking at a bill for $145,000.

    I believe this is what people refer to as a "surprise medical bill." About 20 percent of Americans receiving elective surgery are now on the receiving end of these bombshells. This month, I got one.

    I went to bed that night not knowing whether we would have to declare bankruptcy in the morning.

    In the House of Representatives, two bills have been proposed recently to address crises like the one now facing our family. The Ban Surprise Billing Act, sponsored by Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, would require hospitals to notify patients and get consent if they will be receiving any out-of network treatment. And last week, the Ways and Means Committee sent the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act to the House floor. This would also flag potential out-of- network costs for patients, and require insurers and providers to settle disputes through arbitration.

    I have no idea how these bills will fare in the Republican-controlled Senate (and they have not yet even been passed by the full House), although I will note that the Senate is the same institution which devoted itself in 2017 to the noble dream of taking away health care coverage from 29 million people by repealing the Affordable Care Act.. That effort failed by a single vote, of course — the last great political act of John McCain, who, although no fan of Obamacare, hated even more the idea of bullies picking on the little guy.

    The bully in this instance being — well, you know.

    The presidential election will give us a chance to end bullying of many different varieties. If Senator Elizabeth Warren winds up not becoming the nominee, it is possible that one reason for this was voter uncertainty about her "Medicare for all" proposal. Apparently whenever Americans consider this idea, we are thrown into a panic by the possibility that we will lose our health care insurance, and that it will be replaced by some governmental entity.

    Such as Medicare, which people like, by a wide margin.

    Ronald Reagan denounced Medicare, back in 1961, as socialized medicine. If Medicare wasn't blocked, he said, "one of these days we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free." Before Medicare, only 54 percent of Americans 65 and over had hospital coverage; three years after its passage, 96 percent of older Americans did. Eighty percent to 90 percent of recipients really like Medicare — and these older Americans are the most conservative voters in the country.

    Which makes you think.

    I admit I have never quite understood the hatred Reagan had for Medicare, nor the hatred today's Republicans have for Obamacare (itself modeled on Romneycare, a Republican idea). Is it just that they cannot abide the idea that government sometimes — even if only as a last resort — does good things?

    I contacted our doctor the day after we got our $145,000 bill and he very kindly told me not to worry. "Doctor's orders!" he added, which I thought was nice. Later, another doctor in the practice told me that even when procedures are pre-authorized (as my child's was) insurers often deny them anyway. His understanding was that insurance companies often respond to preapproved claims with denial and delay, hoping that consumers will somehow just give up.

    Fortunately for our family, my child's doctors did not give up. The bill was fixed, and our family is not, as I feared, wiped out.

    It would be nice if the members of Congress — looking at you, Republican Senate — had this same devotion. It would be nice if they came to understand that there are worse things in the world than making people's lives better.

    Sometimes I fear American health care has contracted the capitalist equivalent of a condition called Cotard syndrome — the unshakable conviction that you are dead. One of my aunts suffered from it, in fact. "I'm dead," she announced one day. "Don't worry, it doesn't hurt."

    The cure for my aunt was antidepressants; the cure for American health care is the kind of universal coverage that virtually every other civilized nation has. Have our health care insurers really been so angelic to us that we cannot possibly imagine something better?

    We hate our insurance companies. We hate them more than lima beans. We hate them more than spin class. We hate them more than colonoscopies. We hate them more than jellyfish.

    And yet somehow, the prospect of losing them is the thing that fills us with terror.

    It would be nice just once if our insurance companies were filled with terror by the prospect of losing us.



    10) U.K.'s New Immigration Rules Will Restrict Low-Skilled Workers

    Business groups denounced the plan, warning of looming labor shortages at a time of nearly full employment.

    By Stephen Castle, February 19, 2020


    Workers picking cabbages in a field near Boston, England, in October.Credit....Andrew Testa for The New York Times

    LONDON — To a chorus of complaints from employers, Britain said on Wednesday that it would slam the door on low-skilled workers as it moved to cut overall immigration by locking migrants from Europe and elsewhere out of sectors like catering, construction, senior care and hospitality.

    Under new post-Brexit rules starting next January, migrants will have to meet a number of criteria to qualify for a work visa, including specific skills and an ability to speak English.

    Applicants will also be required to have a job offer with a minimum salary threshold of £25,600, about $33,300. (Salary requirements are lower for certain job categories with critical shortages, such as nursing.)

    That was lower than the £30,000 figure that some employers feared. But it could nonetheless have a chilling effect on recruitment for jobs that Britons seem to want to avoid, and at a time when many economists say the country is effectively at full employment.

    The changes are a remarkable turnaround for Britain, which in 2004 voluntarily opened its labor markets to citizens of former Communist nations that had joined the European Union — even while those workers remained barred for years from jobs in countries like Germany and France.

    Immigration was one of the driving forces behind the 2016 Brexit referendum. And after that vote, immigration from within continental Europe dropped. But with more migrants now coming to Britain from outside the European Union than from within the bloc, the Conservative government has continually failed to make good on its promises to cut net migration levels.

    On Wednesday, the government said that it would prioritize people with skills and that employers would have to wean themselves off a seemingly inexhaustible supply of cheap labor.

    Britain suffers from poor productivity growth, and some economists believe that a ready supply of cheap foreign labor has discouraged companies from investing in technology.

    Immigration opponents contend that it has also helped suppress wages for manual workers, whose earnings have stagnated. And they note that because Britain's welfare system is easy to gain access to (if not particularly generous by European standards), government payments for low earning workers may have subsidized poorly paid non-Britons to the benefit of their employers.

    In response, the government is trying to alter the composition of the migrant work force, tilting it toward people with greater skills.

    "Today is a historic moment for the whole country," the home secretary, Priti Patel, whose portfolio includes immigration, said in a statement. "We're ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people's priorities by introducing a new U.K. points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down.."

    She said the new system would "attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country's full potential."

    The more than three million immigrants from the European Union now in Britain will be allowed to stay, while a visa scheme for fruit pickers and other farm workers will be expanded in time for the 2020 harvest from 2,500 to 10,000 places.

    But with the British economy close to full employment, many companies are less concerned with attracting the best and brightest than with filling vacant positions.

    Employers have long argued that they cannot recruit local people to fill vacancies. In 2017, the fast-casual food chain Pret a Manger said that only one in 50 applicants for jobs in its restaurants was British.

    "In some sectors, firms will be left wondering how they will recruit the people needed to run their businesses," Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry, the country's main business lobby group, said in a statement. "With already low unemployment, firms in care, construction, hospitality, food and drink could be most affected," she said.

    The government's argument that companies should invest in training Britons was no answer to the challenges posed by sectors reliant on low-skilled labor, Ms. Fairbairn said.

    "Firms know that hiring from overseas and investing in the skills of their work force and new technologies is not an 'either or' choice." she said. "Both are needed to drive the economy forward."

    As if to make that point, while the government announced its migration plans, it also claimed credit for the health of the jobs market. The employment rate is at a record high of 76.5 percent, while youth unemployment has almost halved since 2010 — dropping from 939,000 to 481,000 — the Treasury said.

    But as much as putting more Britons to work, the government seems intent on driving down the number of immigrants, even though concerns about immigration seem to have subsided since 2016.

    It estimates that 70 percent of European Union workers currently in Britain would not have met the new requirements, and that therefore the overall number of immigrants should fall in the future.

    As for the needs of employers, Ms. Patel said that there were more than 8.45 million people age 16 to 64 who were classified as economically inactive in Britain, and that the government wanted "businesses to invest in them, invest in skilling them up."

    That could be easier said than done. More than six million of those people are say they are students, have a long-term illness or are looking after family or home. According to Britain's Office for National Statistics, 6.6 million say they do not want a paid job, as opposed to nearly 1.9 million who say they would like to work.

    Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said it was "impossible to overstate how devastating" the policy would be to Scotland because of the country's need to attract workers from abroad.

    Donald Macaskill, the chief executive of Scottish Care, which represents independent care providers, told BBC Scotland that the government had "not listened" to his group's concerns and that the new rules would put the care sector at risk.

    The Institute for Economic Affairs, a free market research institute, said that a points-based immigration system was likely to have unintended consequences.

    "Businesses need a variety of workers — with a range of skills and salary expectations — and are better placed than the state to decide what is missing from the current labor market," said the institute's head of political economy, Kristian Niemietz.

    "The decision to reduce the salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600 is a welcome move," he said in a statement. "However, by deliberately focusing on limiting low-skilled migration, the scheme is likely to have a significant negative impact on staffing levels in many industries, including the care system, construction and hospitality, especially in the short-term."

    Others argued that the policy would set back social justice. Mandu Reid, the leader of the Women's Equality Party, said Britain's government had ignored warnings that such a system would "disadvantage women because of the global gender pay gap."

    The policy would also worsen the problems of the care sector, she said, with worker shortages possibly limiting the number of available slots, which in turn could force women to quit their jobs to become unpaid carers.

    Diane Abbott, who speaks for the opposition Labour Party on home affairs, told the BBC that the announcement sent a "toxic" message that immigration was a bad thing.

    Writing on Twitter, she added that it was a "conjurer's trick" because most net migration to Britain was now from outside the European Union.



    11) Fossil Fuels Are to Blame for Soaring Methane Levels, Study Shows

    By Hiroki Tabuchi, February 19, 2020


    Emissions from human activity like the burning of fossil fuels may have been sharply underestimated.Credit...Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

    Oil and gas production may be responsible for a far larger share of the soaring levels of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, in the earth's atmosphere, new research has found.

    The findings, published in the journal Nature, add urgency of efforts to rein in methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry, which routinely leaks or intentionally releases the gas into air.

    "We've identified a gigantic discrepancy that shows the industry needs to, at the very least, improve their monitoring," said Benjamin Hmiel, a researcher at the University of Rochester and the study's lead author. "If these emissions are truly coming from oil, gas extraction, production use, the industry isn't even reporting or seeing that right now."

    Atmospheric concentrations of methane have more than doubled from preindustrial times. A New York Times investigation into "super emitter" sites last year revealed vast quantities of methane being released from oil wells and other energy facilities instead of being captured.

    The extent to which fossil fuel emissions, as opposed to natural sources, are responsible for the rising methane levels has long been a matter of scientific debate. Methane seeps from the ocean bed, for instance, and also spews from land formations called mud volcanoes.

    To shed light on the mystery, researchers at Rochester's Department of Earth and Environmental Studies examined ice cores from Greenland, as well as data from Antarctica stretching back to about 1750, before the industrial revolution.

    They found that methane emissions from natural phenomena were far smaller than estimates used to calculate global emissions. That means fossil-fuel emissions from human activity — namely the production and burning of fossil fuels — were underestimated by 25 to 40 percent, the researchers said.

    The scientists were helped in their analysis by different isotopes found in methane emissions from natural sources, compared to emissions from the production of fossil fuels. Isotopes are versions of an element that have very slight differences, allowing the researchers to differentiate between them.

    They used a melting chamber with a set of high-power burners to melt more than 2,000 pounds of ice cores to extract and examine air samples from the past. "It looked like a little rocket ship," said Vasilii Petrenko, a co-author of the Nature study and an associate professor at Rochester.. "Think of a rocket engine, but except the flames pointing at the device."

    Robert Howarth, an earth system scientist at Cornell University who was not involved with the research, called it "a very important study." He said it was consistent with recent research, like a study he published last year that estimated that North American gas production was responsible for about a third of the global increase in methane emissions over the past decade.

    "Emissions from fossil sources are correspondingly larger than many have been estimating," Dr. Howarth said. "I find it very convincing."

    Daniel J. Jacob, professor of atmospheric chemistry and environmental engineering at Harvard University, also described the findings as significant. Current estimates of methane from geological sources "were widely considered too high by atmospheric modelers such as myself," he wrote in en email.

    But he took issue with the suggestion that emissions from fossil fuel production were larger than previously estimated. Fossil fuel emissions are "based on fuel production rates, number of facilities, and direct measurements if available. The natural geological source is irrelevant for these estimates," he said.

    The disagreement reflects an overall discrepancy between what are called "bottom-up" measurements of emissions, those from individual oil and gas sites, as opposed to "top-down" calculations like the ones carried out by the Rochester researchers. "Bottom-up" measurements can be unreliable because of a lack of data from individual oil and gas sites.. With "top-down" measurements, on the other hand, the exact source of emissions can be hard to pin down.

    The findings come as oil and gas companies face increased pressure to rein in greenhouse gas emissions from their operations to address rising concerns about climate change.

    Methane, the main component of natural gas, is of particular concern, because it can warm the planet more than 80 times as much as the same amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. On top of fossil fuel production, livestock, landfills and other sources linked to human activity also emit methane.

    Last week, the British oil giant BP set an ambitious climate change goal, saying it aimed to eliminate or offset by 2050 all planet-warming emissions from its oil and gas production, as well as emissions caused by the burning of the oil and gas it pumps from the ground. The company provided few details on how it would achieve that feat, however.

    Adding to climate concerns, the Trump administration is moving forward with a plan that effectively eliminates requirements that oil companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from oil and gas facilities. By the Environmental Protection Agency's own calculations, the rollback would increase methane emissions by 370,000 tons through 2025, enough to power more than a million homes for a year.

    Dr. Petrenko, one of the Rochester study's authors, said that the huge undertaking of studying giant ice cores meant the study relied on a small sampling of data. "These measurements are incredibly difficult. So getting more data to help confirm our results would be very valuable," he said. "That means there's quite a bit more research to be done."



    12) A Town of Immigrant Farm Workers Says No to an ICE Detention Center

    A private prison company wants to operate an immigration detention center in McFarland, Calif., a town that is home to thousands of undocumented farm workers.

    By Miriam Jordan, February 20, 2020


    McFARLAND, Calif. — As an undocumented immigrant, Maribel Ramirez does not officially have a say in the affairs of the small agricultural town in California's Central Valley that she has called home for 20 years.

    But late into the night on Tuesday, she stood with hundreds of field workers and other residents outside McFarland's City Council chambers, a bullhorn in her hand. "No ICE! No GEO! We're farmworkers, not delinquents," they chanted in Spanish, led by Ms. Ramirez, 42.

    At issue was a multi-billion-dollar corporation's proposal to convert two state prisons slated for closure into detention centers for undocumented immigrants, operated under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — a plan that city leaders said could provide this impoverished town with a financial lifeline.

    A new law in California outlawing private prisons will cost the city $1.5 million a year in taxes and other fees paid by the prison corporation, the GEO Group, unless the company can convert the two facilities it has operated there into immigration detention centers.

    McFarland, located about 30 miles north of Bakersfield, is home to thousands of workers like Ms. Ramirez, who toil in the vineyards and the almond, pistachio and citrus orchards that stretch out in every direction. Up to half of the city's 15,000 residents, according to private estimates, are undocumented — the very kind of people who might be housed behind bars in the facilities that until now have been sheltering criminals.

    "Without GEO, we can't guarantee we can pay for law enforcement, fire or any other services," Mayor Manuel Cantu cautioned on Wednesday, a day after the city's planning commission, bowing to overwhelming public sentiment, voted against the proposal.

    Mr. Cantu, who announced his resignation as mayor on Wednesday, predicted that closure of the prison facilities, in a city already facing a $500,000 budget deficit, would be "devastating."

    But he appeared resigned: "If the residents don't want them because of their fear of ICE or whatever, the city belongs to the residents," he said in an interview.

    The company could appeal the planning commission's decision to the City Council, but residents made it clear they would do whatever they can to block the plan.

    Tuesday night's commission meeting saw a stream of residents come to the podium, urging city leaders to remember who lived in their town.

    "You can find other options, but don't bring ICE. In the long term, the McFarland community will suffer," said Estevan Davalos, an undocumented farmworker from Mexico who has lived and worked in McFarland for years.

    Rural, cash-strapped cities across the country have increasingly relied on private prison companies for tax revenue, jobs and other financial benefits to stay afloat.

    But the private facilities have been criticized for promoting incarceration and lacking oversight. The new law in California also prohibits private immigration detention centers, but the GEO Group signed an agreement with ICE to operate the proposed facilities in McFarland before the law took effect — leaving the final decision in the hands of the planning commission.

    In Adelanto, Calif., where the GEO Group already operates an immigration detention center, the city planning commission on Wednesday voted to approve a permit to convert another state prison, also run by GEO, to house immigrants.

    Ms. Ramirez, who helped organize the opposition in McFarland, said she was just 22 when she crossed the border from Mexico, found work picking grapes in McFarland and started a family.

    In all their years in the little town, she said, neither she nor her husband, Eusebio Gomez, who is also undocumented, had ever encountered immigration authorities.

    "We have lived here in peace. We built our lives in McFarland, working to support our family without any fear," she said.

    Her son Jesus made straight A's in school, a source of pride for Ms. Ramirez, who is illiterate. Eusebio Jr. excelled at soccer and worked in the fields during his summer vacations to help the family.

    Feeling settled and secure, the couple last year began discussing with their landlord the possibility of buying the two-bedroom house that they have rented from him for 13 years.

    Then one day in mid-January, while she was pruning grapevines with her new red shears, her crew leader told her about a plan to refashion the prisons downtown into ICE facilities.

    "Those two prisons three minutes from my house, they never bothered me," said Ms. Ramirez, sitting in the tidy kitchen of her house before heading downtown for the protest march and hearing on Tuesday. "An ICE detention center, that would bring fear to our community. We might have to leave.."

    Both GEO and the Justice Department have sued the state over the law banning new or renewed private prison contracts. In a bid to circumvent the law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October, GEO and ICE signed an agreement in December to turn the state prisons in McFarland into federal detention facilities for immigrants, which they contend would still be legal.

    That's when the community got to work.

    Faith in the Valley, a local nonprofit, gathered people at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church and organized groups to distribute petitions. Each afternoon after finishing her shift in the vineyards at 4 p.m., Ms. Ramirez and her oldest son joined dozens of other people knocking on doors to inform the community and seek support for their campaign.

    They asked people to fill out their name, address and phone number on a green commitment card that read in Spanish, "No to Immigrant Detention Centers in McFarland." They laid out what was at stake to whomever would listen.

    "Some people slammed doors on our faces," said Stefani Davalos, Mr. Davalos's 17-year-old daughter, who went door-to-door with her father. "Others were afraid to sign. But a lot of people, even though they didn't have papers, agreed to fill out the card."

    All told, the group collected 1,000 cards.

    Antero Sanchez, the priest at St. Elizabeth's, sent a letter to the planning commission urging its members to oppose immigrant detention centers. "For an immigrant community such as McFarland, this troubling contact would mean constant fear of ICE presence in the area," he wrote.

    Before Tuesday night's planning commission hearing, Ms. Ramirez was teary and worried. Fiddling with the embroidered cloths that she had made to cover the tortillas on her kitchen table, she said, "If ICE comes to McFarland, I guess we could go to Oregon or Washington. There are farm jobs there."

    By the time she arrived outside the chambers, sun shades over her eyes, she was motivated and leading the crowd of 300 in protest chants.

    Across the street, about 30 GEO employees from an immigration detention center in Adelanto hoisted white posters in a counterprotest. "Please save our jobs," said one. "GEO is here to stay," said another.

    "ICE is just picking up people who committed crimes," said Aaron Juarez, a detention officer at the Adelanto facility.

    Inside the chambers, GEO executives, who declined to be interviewed, occupied three rows of chairs on one side. Speaking on behalf of the company's proposal, David Venturella, a senior vice president, referred to "outrageous claims" that ICE would step up enforcement in McFarland.

    In other California cities where GEO runs immigrant detention centers, including Adelanto and Bakersfield, "ICE doesn't conduct neighborhood sweeps," he said.

    He said the facilities would employ more than 300 people, with entry-level officers making about $96,866, compared to the $34,474 paid to entry-level prison employees. The city would receive $511,000 in community-impact payments from the company, he said.

    He said the company also planned a number of "enhancements" at the facilities, including changes to the fencing, a decorative wall, visual barriers, new street lighting and sidewalks.

    The detainees would consist of men and women who had recently been apprehended at the border or by law-enforcement in the interior of the country, he said, and would not include migrant families.

    But most city residents appeared unconvinced.

    Several predicted that McFarland would turn into a "ghost town."

    Ms. Avalos brandished a box stacked with cards that she and others had collected. "We don't want GEO here. We want colleges, and to pursue our dreams. We don't want to live in fear," she said.

    After the 2-2 vote that under planning commission rules meant failure for the motion, company executives walked out of the chambers and declined to comment.

    On Wednesday, the company suggested that it would ask the City Council to review the planning commission's rejection. "We look forward to presenting to the City Council on the important benefits of keeping the Central Valley and Golden State facilities open," the company said in a statement.

    It appeared that Mr. Cantu, the mayor, would not be around to review it, in any case. His resignation, after nine years as mayor, was to be effective on Friday.

    "The city is in a position for a lot of great things to happen, or for its possible demise," he said. "I have done as much as I could."

    Outside the council chambers Tuesday night, residents erupted in cheers over the planning commission's vote.

    "The community made a big difference," said Rudy Nuñez, a commission member who voted against the plan.

    "We are a tight community," said Ricardo Cano, who also voted no.

    The other commissioners left without discussing the matter further..

    Outside, the crowd erupted in chants of, "Si se pudo," or "Yes we could.''

    Ms. Ramirez, in tears, said, "I'm happy for my people."

    She stepped aside and called her husband, who was out of town. "I am so proud that the people supported us," she told him. "We won. I wanted to tell you, my love. Good night."

    Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.



    13) Why This Inmate Chose the Electric Chair Over Lethal Injection

    Nationally, electrocution is outdated. But several condemned men put to death in Tennessee have chosen it. Nicholas Sutton is scheduled to be the fifth tonight.

    By Rick Rojas, February 19, 2020


    Death row inmates in Tennessee can choose the method the state will use to end their lives. Increasingly, they are choosing the electric chair.Credit...Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    NASHVILLE — Nicholas Sutton, like other death row inmates in Tennessee, has a choice in how the state will end his life.

    The default, as set by state law, would be a series of injections, one to sedate him, followed by others that would paralyze him and stop his heart. Yet Mr. Sutton, like four other inmates executed before him in Tennessee since 2018, has chosen the state's other option: Two cycles of 1,750 volts of electricity.

    Nationally, the electric chair is a method of the past; no other state has used it since 2013. But inmate advocates and lawyers say the condemned men in Tennessee are choosing electrocution because they fear being frozen in place and feeling intense discomfort while drugs work to kill them.

    In Ohio, a federal judge recently wrote that part of the state's lethal injection protocol is akin to waterboarding, and botched procedures in other states have left men writhing in agony.

    "When everything works perfectly, it's about 14 minutes of pain and horror," said Stephen Kissinger, an assistant federal community defender who has represented Mr. Sutton and other death row inmates. "Then, they look at electrocution, and how long does it take?"

    Tennessee joined other states more than two decades ago in turning to lethal injection as the primary method for executions, with lawmakers viewing it as a visibly calmer and less violent alternative to electrocution..

    But that view has been challenged in recent years, as errors and problematic executions, including one in Oklahoma in 2014 in which an inmate regained consciousness, have gained widespread notice. Many pharmaceutical companies have also made it more difficult for states to acquire the proper drugs, not wanting them associated with ending lives.

    The death penalty, in general, has been on the decline in the United States, with seven states carrying out 22 executions in 2019, the second-lowest number since 1991. Last year, New Hampshire became the 21st state, and the last in New England, to abandon capital punishment. And a year ago, Ohio paused executions while state officials considered a new lethal injection protocol after the drugs could not be obtained and a federal judge found that the method could cause an inmate "severe pain and needless suffering."

    "Ohio is not going to execute someone under my watch when a federal judge has found it to be cruel and unusual punishment," Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said last year.

    But other states have doubled down. Last week, state officials in Oklahoma announced that lethal injection deaths would resume after a five-year hiatus and a series of botched executions.

    In Tennessee, the protocol calls for the injection of three drugs: midazolam, a sedative; vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes the inmate; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. Dorinda L. Carter, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Correction, noted that "lethal injection has repeatedly been upheld as constitutional in Tennessee."

    The state's Republican governor, Bill Lee, has also maintained his support of the death penalty, saying in an interview with The Associated Press published in December that he believes the punishment remains "appropriate for those most heinous of crimes."

    Some medical experts contend that lethal injection tests the constitutional limits on cruel punishment. Joel B. Zivot, an associate professor of anesthesiology and surgery at Emory University, said the sedative used in the three-drug cocktail does not inure the inmates to pain and that the paralytic masks the torment they are enduring.

    "You just don't see much," Dr. Zivot said. "You see a person lying there." He added that it creates an impression that the inmates are simply "falling asleep and dying." Instead, he said, the drugs can cause their lungs to fill with fluid, asphyxiating them, and makes them feel like they are burning.

    Dr. Zivot, who has evaluated Mr. Sutton, along with other inmates on Tennessee's death row, said the inmates are often in poor health, with a litany of medical problems, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and pulmonary ailments.

    "With respect to the rightness or wrongness, I'm agnostic," Dr. Zivot said of capital punishment. But, he added, "You may say, who cares? It's just an inmate who has killed someone, and we owe them nothing. Some people may think that, but the constitution says otherwise."

    Nearly four decades had passed without an inmate being put to death in Tennessee when state lawmakers, in 1998, added lethal injection as a method of execution. Two years later, it became the state's primary method. But according to state law, inmates who were condemned to death before 1999 are allowed to choose between lethal injection and electrocution.

    Of the 52 inmates on Tennessee's death row, more than half received their sentences before the cutoff, according to data from the state's Department of Correction.

    In 2007, Daryl Keith Holton, who confessed to killing four children, including three of his own, was the first inmate to be executed by electrocution in the state since 1960. Since 2018, four inmates have been put to death by the electric chair.

    The most recent was Lee Hall, who was executed in December for killing his former girlfriend, Traci Crozier, by dousing her in gasoline and setting her on fire. A helmet with a sponge soaked in saline solution was put on his head, and a dark shroud was attached to it.

    "I think people can learn forgiveness and love and make the world a better place," Mr. Hall, 53, said before being struck by a burst of electricity, which caused steam or smoke to emanate from his head, witnesses told the news media.

    Afterward, Stacie Wooten, the victim's sister, said Mr. Hall's death had brought a measure of consolation. "Our family's peace can begin, but another family's hell has to begin," she told reporters, according to The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.

    Mr. Sutton, 58, was sentenced to death for his involvement in the killing of Carl Estep, another inmate in the prison where Mr. Sutton, who was 23 at the time, was incarcerated. He had been convicted of first-degree murder for knocking unconscious his grandmother, who had raised him, and throwing her into a river. He received two other life sentences after he confessed to killing a pair of men, John Large and Charles Almon.

    In an appeal for clemency, Mr. Sutton's lawyers depicted his transformation over more than 35 years in prison. The mother of a fellow inmate who had untreated multiple sclerosis said Mr. Sutton had comforted her son and even carried him, they said. Corrections officers also said they "owed their lives" to him for rescuing them from being attacked by other inmates.

    "He placed my safety and well-being above his own," one corrections official, Tony Eden, wrote in an op-ed published in The Tennessean, where he also called Mr. Sutton the "most rehabilitated inmate I have ever known."

    "Simply put," he added, "the prison will be safer with Sutton serving life than it would be if he is executed."

    Mr. Sutton also sought to put off his execution by arguing, among other things, that he had been improperly shackled in front of jurors while on trial. But the Tennessee Supreme Court rejected his claims, saying in a ruling last Friday that "Mr. Sutton has failed to prove a likelihood of success on the merits of the litigation in both matters."

    With his execution scheduled for Thursday night, Mr. Sutton was moved on Tuesday into death watch at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, a facility in Nashville situated in a crook of the Cumberland River that houses Tennessee's death row for men.

    He was placed under 24-hour observation in a cell adjoining the execution chamber, allowed to have his toiletries, 12 sheets of stationery, three stamped envelopes and a pencil that he must return to a correctional officer whenever he isn't using it. There, he awaited the governor's decision on whether to carry out his execution, which came Wednesday.

    "After careful consideration of Nicholas Sutton's request for clemency and a thorough review of the case," Mr. Lee said in a statement, "I am upholding the sentence of the State of Tennessee and will not be intervening."



    14) When Did Bloomberg Turn Against Stop-and-Frisk? When He Ran for President.

    Mr. Bloomberg has begun to imply that he turned against the practice much sooner than he did. In reality, he defended it for years, including the month before he entered the presidential race.

    By Maggie Astor, February 19, 2020


    Michael R. Bloomberg in November at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, where he renounced the police practice of stop-and-frisk for the first time.Credit...Karsten Moran for The New York Times

    Days before he announced his presidential campaign in November, Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City from 2002 through 2013, renounced one of his signature policies: stop-and-frisk, in which police officers stopped and searched millions of New Yorkers, the vast majority of whom were black or Hispanic and had not committed a crime.

    But as his campaign has grown — he qualified on Tuesday for this week's Democratic debate — and stop-and-frisk has become a major piece of ammunition for his opponents, Mr. Bloomberg has begun to imply that he turned against the policy much sooner than he did.

    He has also taken credit for the near-disappearance of the practice by the time he left office at the end of 2013 (the practice plummeted because of a court case whose outcome Mr. Bloomberg fiercely opposed), and claimed that the only reason he didn't apologize before 2019 was that no one asked him about it (not true).

    In reality, Mr. Bloomberg defended stop-and-frisk throughout his time as mayor and continued to do so, consistently and repeatedly, for nearly six years afterward — including in an interview the month before he entered the presidential race.

    At a news conference in May 2012, when a reporter asked if he was bothered by how controversial stop-and-frisk was, Mr. Bloomberg said:

    "When you do polling, my understanding is that the polls show overwhelming support by the public for the tactics we've been using to bring down crime. There's always going to be somebody who disagrees, and they have a right, but if you were ever to do a balanced story, I think you'd find that it's a minority of people who don't like the tactic.

    We are very careful to follow the law. We go where the crime is. If our school system were better and if we kept working with families to help them raise their kids, maybe someday we won't have the crime. But right now, we unfortunately do in certain communities."

    Mr. Bloomberg went on to suggest the policy had saved thousands of lives — though a study released the next year would find that only 6 percent of stops from 2009 to 2012 had resulted in an arrest, and 0.1 percent in a conviction for a violent crime. And he said that neither he nor the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, would apologize for it.

    "When we came into office, people always thought that crime was at rock bottom and it couldn't go any lower. I think conventional wisdom was that crime would go up in this city.

    If that had been true, and if we had just held on to the gains that Rudy Giuliani's administration brought to the city — and he did dramatically reduce the crime — there'd be another 5,600 people dead today. … Nobody should ask Ray Kelly to apologize — he's not going to, and neither am I — for saving 5,600 lives.

    I think it's fair to say that stop, question and frisk has been an essential part of the N.Y.P.D.'s work."

    In a speech at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged the validity of some criticisms and said he and Mr. Kelly were working to reform the practice. But he refused to abandon it.

    "We've also sent a message to criminals: If we suspect you may be carrying a gun, we will stop you. Through those stops, the police have recovered thousands of guns over the past decade, and tens of thousands of other weapons. There is no doubt those stops have saved lives.

    Now, I understand why some people want us to stop making stops. Innocent people who are stopped can be treated disrespectfully. That is not acceptable. If you've done nothing wrong, you deserve nothing but respect and courtesy from the police.

    Police Commissioner Kelly and I both believe we can do a better job in this area, and he's instituted a number of reforms to do that. We believe that when it comes to making stops — to borrow a phrase from President Clinton — the practice should be mended, not ended. That work has already begun, and Commissioner Kelly has said that he fully expects the number of stops to decline."

    As contenders to replace him as mayor made stop-and-frisk a campaign issue, Mr. Bloomberg accused them of "playing politics with people's lives" and said in a speech to police leaders:

    As the ongoing federal court case is now demonstrating for any objective observer to see, the N.Y.P.D. conducts stops based on seeing something suspicious, or witnesses' descriptions of suspects, not on any preconceived notions or on demographic data that would have you stopping old women as often as you stop young men. That's not the real world.

    If the N.Y..P.D. conducted stops and intelligence gathering based on demographic data rather than real leads, guns would be everywhere in our city, thousands of New Yorkers who are alive today would be dead, and terrorists may well have succeeded in attacking us again."

    He went on to denounce a City Council proposal to ban racial profiling, claiming that if a witness described the perpetrator of a crime as "a 20-something white man wearing a blue windbreaker," the legislation would make officers ignore the racial identification and "stop 80-year-old black women if they're wearing blue windbreakers."

    "The legislation is based on the false allegation that the N.Y.P.D. disproportionately stops young men of color. But as you know, stops are made based on descriptions of suspects and suspicious activity only. And the sad reality is on the streets of our city, 90 percent of murder suspects and murder victims are black and Latino, and blacks and Hispanics are the overwhelming majority of suspects in other violent crimes.

    The truth of the matter is, comparing stops to the general population is just not rational. Comparing stops to the witnesses' description of suspects and the identification of suspicious activity, which together reflect the racial and ethnic breakdown of criminal activity, is what matters. And the numbers put the lie to the racist allegations. In fact, the percentage of stops of blacks is less than that of whites and Asians when adjusted for crime reports."

    In comments that drew a strong backlash at the time, Mr. Bloomberg said on a radio show that, in fact, the police stopped and frisked too few people of color.

    "They just keep saying, 'Oh, it's a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.' That may be. But it's not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murders. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It's exactly the reverse of what they're saying. I don't know where they went to school, but they certainly didn't take a math course or a logic course."

    The Wall Street Journal reported additional comments:

    "For years now, critics have been trying to argue that minorities are stopped disproportionately. If you look at the crime numbers, that is just not true. The numbers don't lie. … I understand that we're in a campaign season and everybody wants to do something right for their campaign, rather than help us get out of this terrible situation where a disproportionate percentage of the crime is committed by a group of young kids that just don't have any future."

    In a New Yorker interview, Mr. Bloomberg said:

    "I would suggest to the next mayor, whoever it is, that saving lives is the most important thing, more so than pandering. Stop-and-frisk has been shown to be not the only, but the most effective, tool in getting guns out of the hands of kids."

    After a federal judge ruled that New York's use of stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional, Mr. Bloomberg complained in a radio interview: "What does she know about policing? Absolutely zero. Your safety and the safety of your kids is now in the hands of some woman who does not have the expertise to do it."

    He also gave a lengthy speech defending the policy.

    "I'm happy to say we are on pace for another record low of shootings and homicides this year because our police officers follow the law and follow the crime. They fight crime wherever crime is occurring, and they don't worry if their work doesn't match up to a census chart. As a result, today we have fewer guns, fewer shootings and fewer homicides. In fact, murders are 50 percent below the level they were 12 years ago, when we came into office — something no one thought possible back then.

    Stop-question-frisk, which the Supreme Court of the United States has found to be constitutional, is an important part of that record of success. It has taken some 8,000 guns off the streets over the past decade, and some 80,000 other weapons. … We have the lowest percentage of teenagers carrying guns of any major city across our country.

    The possibility of being stopped acts as a vital deterrent. … The fact that fewer guns are on the streets now shows that our efforts have been successful, and there is just no question that stop-question-frisk has saved countless lives. And we know that most of those lives saved, based on the statistics, have been black and Hispanic young men.

    Shortly after the court ruling, Mr. Bloomberg defended stop-and-frisk in an interview with New York magazine.

    "The judge is just wrong. We have not racial profiled, we've gone where the crime is. I don't have any doubts that she will be reversed right away. The question is, will our successor continue the battle?

    I cannot get involved in the next administration, nor should I. But for something like that, I would certainly make my views known. … The sad thing, which nobody's willing to talk about, is that most of our crime is in two neighborhoods: southeast Bronx, central Brooklyn. All minority males 15 to 25. We've got to do something about that. And unless you get the guns out of their hands, you're not going to ever be able to do anything."

    Mr. Bloomberg went to a black church in Harlem in late 2013 to defend the policy. Here is his account from a speech two years later at the Aspen Institute:

    "Two Decembers ago, my last year in office, some minister from a black Baptist church in Harlem invited me to come speak about stop-and-frisk. And I never turn down an opportunity to explain to the voters what we're doing. Sometimes people like it, sometimes they don't, but I went. And while I'm sitting there, he introduced me, he said to his congregation, 'You know, if every one of you stopped and frisked your kids before they went out at night, the mayor wouldn't have to.' And so I knew I was going to be OK."

    When he eventually apologized years later, Mr. Bloomberg would take credit for almost eliminating stop-and-frisk by the end of his tenure (a trend largely attributable to the legal challenges that he opposed). In reality, he still gave a full-throated defense of stop-and-frisk in a Rolling Stone interview after he left office.

    "Almost all murders are young minority males killing young minority males. It's like 90 percent. Take out domestic violence; after that, there's nothing left. … So you go to those places where the crimes are reported, you look for people that look like the description, and then you use good police work. Is there any reason to stop them? The courts say if you act furtively, or there's a bulge in their pocket or something like that, you stop them. And what happens is the kids learn, 'I don't want to carry a gun.'"

    When the interviewer brought up the ruling that the practice "violated the constitutional rights of black and Latino New Yorkers as it was applied," Mr. Bloomberg responded:

    "Well, that's what cops do. That is the job. If you don't do that, you're not going to ever stop anybody. And in fact, one judge did rule that it was discriminatory. We argued — and I am 100 percent convinced it would have won on appeal — that that's not true. We are not targeting any race. The sick thing in our society is, the perpetrators and victims fit that description, 90 percent of them. That's where we should be focusing our efforts.

    We did two things, really: less incarceration, because you create less criminals, and stop-and-frisk. If you hadn't done that in the last 12 years, 9,000 more murders would have taken place in New York City, and they all would have fit that description of male minorities, 15 to 25. Just think about the carnage. Think about the families. … I've looked at it very carefully, and I am 100 percent convinced that as explained to me by lawyers, we were consistent with the law, that we were doing the right thing, and that we saved 9,000 lives.

    You can actually get a list of those 9,000 lives. It'll be an interesting list. That's what we should do — run an ad with the names of the 9,000 people."

    Mr. Bloomberg's "9,000 lives" figure is hypothetical: a statistical extrapolation from past and present crime rates. It is not possible, as he claims, to identify specific people whose lives were saved.

    In an audio clip from his speech at the Aspen Institute, which circulated widely this month, Mr. Bloomberg said:

    "It's controversial, but the first thing — 95 percent of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities, 15 to 25. That's true in New York, it's true in virtually every city in America, and that's where the real crime is.

    You've got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed. … Kids think they're going to get killed anyway because all their friends are getting killed, so they just don't have any long-term focus or anything. It's a joke to have a gun, it's a joke to pull the trigger."

    He said other cities had higher murder rates than New York because "they haven't gone after scaring the kids to get guns out of them. A lot of people don't like the fact that that's what you do, but that's what stops this."

    "Put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods. An unintended consequence is people say, 'Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana, they're all minorities.' Yes, that's true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes, that's true. Why do we do it? Because that's where all the crime is.

    The first thing you can do for people is to stop them getting killed. We did a calculation on how many people who would have been dead if we hadn't brought down the murder rate and got the guns off the streets, and the way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them against the wall and frisk them. Because then they say, 'I don't want to get caught,' so they don't bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home."

    After a long stretch in which he didn't prominently comment on stop-and-frisk, Mr. Bloomberg confirmed in an interview with The New York Times (parts of which were published at the time) that he still believed it had been the right policy during his tenure. He did allow, though, that circumstances might be different now.

    "We used it at a point in time where there were an awful lot of people killing each other, and it was a technique that we used which was supported by a lot of people who said, 'Look, we just got to stop this carnage no matter what.' And based on that, we've evolved into using other techniques. But the murder rate came down dramatically, and what I look at is the number of people whose lives were saved by getting kids to not carry guns because they were afraid to be stopped.

    The New York City Police Department is very well managed and has stayed within the law. And I can't tell you every cop did everything perfectly, but I think it was a technique that was appropriate at the time. My job was to do everything I could to stop murder."

    When pressed on the fact that the crime rate kept falling after Bill de Blasio became mayor and abandoned stop-and-frisk, Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged the trend but said:

    "Keep in mind, all of this stuff is built on what was done before. So you can't just say the techniques you would have after kids are afraid to carry guns are different than the techniques you would use if they were not afraid to carry guns."

    During a question-and-answer session at the United States Naval Academy, a midshipman asked Mr. Bloomberg what he would say to the black and Latino communities affected by stop-and-frisk. Mr. Bloomberg said the police "certainly did not pick somebody by race" and added:

    "We focused on keeping kids from going through the correctional system — kids who walked around looking like they might have a gun, remove the gun from their pockets and stop it.. … The result of that was, over the years, the murder rate in New York City went from 650 a year to 300 a year when I left. … It was a program which we had, and then when the number of guns we were confiscating started to fall and people left their guns at home, we tailed that off."

    Just a month before he renounced stop-and-frisk, Mr. Bloomberg defended it in a Washington Post interview and argued that it had actually helped minority communities.

    "I came into a situation where an awful lot of people were killing an awful lot of other people, and it was all pretty much one community. And I just said, we are going to do anything we can to stop the carnage. The first thing was stop the murders. And we brought down the incarceration rate in jails by a third, mostly minority kids. We brought down the murder rate by 50 percent, from 600 to 300 murders, and you know who would have been killed."

    On the eve of his presidential campaign announcement, standing in the same church where he defended stop-and-frisk in 2012, Mr. Bloomberg renounced the policy for the first time.

    "I can't change history. However, today, I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong, and I'm sorry. … Over time, I've come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong. I got something important really wrong. I didn't understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives, but as we know, good intentions aren't good enough."

    Mr. Bloomberg reiterated his apology in an interview with CBS News's Gayle King, and acknowledged that the continued decrease in crime after stop-and-frisk ended undermined his argument that it had been necessary.

    "We were overzealous at the time to do it. Our intent was to do anything we could to stop the carnage, the murder rate. What was surprising is when we stopped doing a little bit, we thought crime would go up. It didn't; it went down. Should have, would have and could have — in looking back, I can't help that. In looking back, I made a mistake. I'm sorry. I apologize."

    When Ms. King noted that the timing of Mr. Bloomberg's apology raised questions about its sincerity, Mr. Bloomberg claimed falsely, "Well, nobody asked me about it until I started running for president, so come on."

    People had asked him about it at least four times between when he left office and when he started running for president, including twice in 2019 alone, and he defended it each time.

    In a statement after the release of the audio from his 2015 Aspen Institute speech, Mr. Bloomberg said he had "taken responsibility" but simultaneously sought to play down his responsibility by saying stop-and-frisk predated his time as mayor.

    "I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused. By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95 percent, but I should've done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologized — and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on black and Latino communities."

    This statement falsely implied, once more, that Mr. Bloomberg had begun to reject the policy "by the time" he left office.

    Alexander Burns contributed reporting. 



    15) The Law Says Chelsea Manning Must Be Freed From PrisonNatasha Lennard - February 19, 2020

    By Natasha Lennard, February 19, 2020


    Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning arrives at the Albert Bryan U.S Courthouse on May 16, 2019, in Alexandria, Va.

    Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

    To observe Chelsea

    Manning's actions over the last months is to know that she will not be coerced. She could have avoided her current incarceration at Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia, where she has been held for nearly a year. She could have freed herself at any point. She could have avoided accruing fines of $230,000 and counting. She could still avoid further days in jail and further crippling debts to the government. All she would have to do — all she ever had to do — is testify in front of the federal grand jury currently investigating WikiLeaks.

    What has long been clear — no amount of jail time will coerce Manning into speaking — is now, surely, undeniable. The sole purpose of Manning's detention has been to coerce her to testify, and it has failed.

    On Wednesday, Manning's legal team filed what's known as a Grumbles motion in court, asserting that Manning has proven herself incoercible and so must, according to legal statute, be released from her incarceration.

    "Should Judge Trenga agree that Chelsea will never agree to testify, he will be compelled by the law to order her release."

    It is a grim peculiarity of American law that a person who refuses to cooperate with a grand jury subpoena may be held in contempt of court and fined or imprisoned with the express purpose of coercing testimony, but when the coercive condition is absent, such incarceration becomes illegal. Wednesday's motion directs Judge Anthony Trenga, who is presiding over the grand jury and Manning's imprisonment, to accordingly recognize the illegality in this case.

    "The key issue before Judge Trenga is whether continued incarceration could persuade Chelsea to testify," said Manning's attorney, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, on filing the Grumbles motion. "Judges have complained of the 'perversity' of this law: that a witness may win their freedom by persisting in their contempt of court. However, should Judge Trenga agree that Chelsea will never agree to testify, he will be compelled by the law to order her release."

    If the motion is successful, Manning will be freed for the very reason she has been caged: her silence. The judge can decide to recognize that Manning won't speak as a consequence of more time in jail — or because she will continue to face unprecedented $1,000-per-day fines. Any other conclusion, after her months of steadfast and principled grand jury resistance, would fly in the face of all reason. The whistleblower's actions and words make it plain.

    "I have been separated from my loved ones, deprived of sunlight, and could not even attend my mother's funeral," Manning said in a statement Wednesday. "It is easier to endure these hardships now than to cooperate to win back some comfort, and live the rest of my life knowing that I acted out of self-interest and not principle."

    Federal grand juries have long been used to investigate and intimidate activist communities — from the late 19th century labor movements, to the Puerto Rican Independence Movement and black liberationists of the last century, to the more recent persecutions of environmentalists, anarchists, and Indigenous rights fighters. Manning has consistently shown her refusal to cooperate with any such process, and again asserted in her latest statement that grand juries are "used by federal prosecutors to harass and disrupt political opponents and activists through secrecy, coercion, and jailing without trial."

    The Grumbles motion filed on Wednesday contains a letter from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, written late last year accusing the United States of submitting Manning to treatment that is tantamount to torture. As I wrote after the letter was first released, Melzer not only criticized the torturous practice of coercive imprisonment and harsh fines, but noted that Manning's "categorical and persistent refusal to give testimony demonstrates the lack of their coercive effect."

    The motion also includes a personality assessment carried out by Dr. Sara Boyd, a clinical and forensic psychologist from the University of Virginia, which suggests that Manning is constitutionally incapable of acting against her conscience. "Manning exhibits long standing personality features that relate to her scrupulousness, her persistence and dedication, and her willingness to endure social disapproval as well as formal punishments," Boyd wrote.

    Manning's consistent behavior in the face of immense hardship and financial ruin should be wholly sufficient evidence that she will not be coerced; the personality assessment and the letter from the U.N. rapporteur no more than state the obvious. Were the judge to decide to continue imprisoning Manning, which he has the discretion to do, he would do so in the face of overwhelming evidence.

    Meltzer-Cohen, Manning's attorney, has in the past successfully seen a grand jury resister released as a consequence of her filing a Grumbles motion. In 2014, her former client, a New York-based anarchist, was released after spending 241 days in a federal prison for refusing to testify. Meltzer-Cohen filed a motion arguing that since the young man had made amply evident that he would never cooperate, the coercive premise of his imprisonment was proven invalid.

    That motion was aided by letters from friends and acquaintances, as well as a Change.org petition — arguably less august testimony than that which accompanies Manning's motion. But the judge in that case ruled, begrudgingly, that the evidence compelled him to release the prisoner. "The refusal to testify is somehow transmogrified from a lock to a key," the judge wrote in his decision. At the time, Meltzer-Cohen told me that the case illustrated the power of grand jury resistance; that people "have been capable of standing strong in the face of serious consequences" and that resisters "can survive and even prevail."

    It is a perverse juridical logic that finds potential justice in brutally coercing a witness to testify before a secretive hearing, ripe for governmental abuse. But even the nefarious law, if followed to the letter, demands that Manning be immediately freed.

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