Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, September 14, 2020

   San Francisco’s Air Quality Index: 22





ZOOM WEBINAR: Moving Money
from the Military to Human Needs

Register at: https://tinyurl.com/y3un85rg


U.S. Peace Council • P.O. Box 3105, New Haven, CT 06515 • (203) 387-0370 • USPC@USPeaceCouncil.org 
• https://uspeacecouncil.org • https://www.facebook.com/USPeaceCouncil/ • @USPeaceCouncil



Do Trump and coronavirus have you down? Then join us on September 26 to celebrate the 15 year anniversary of one of the world’s most beautiful projects: Cuba’s Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade!

Dear carole,

The Henry Reeve Brigade will celebrate its 15th anniversary next month! Yes, it will have been 15 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and prompted then-Cuban president Fidel Castro to offer to send doctors to help treat patients in the storm’s aftermath. The US government refused this offer, but Cuba was not deterred from wanting to show the world some much needed solidarity. 

Since its founding, the brave women and men of the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade have given emergency medical assistance to more than 3.5 million people in over 50 countries. To honor their compassion and commitment, we will hear directly from Cuban doctors working on the frontlines of the pandemic. 

What: Cuban Doctors Speak: 15 years of the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade

When: Saturday, September 26 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT

Where: Online via Zoom, YouTube and Facebook. 


There’s even more good news: Danny Glover will be on with us to offer his commentary, and journalist/author Vijay Prashad will host this fascinating conversation! Please join Danny, Vijay, and the Cuban medical personnel for this celebratory event. We promise it will nurture your soul.

In solidarity,
Alicia Jrakpo and Medea Benjamin

P.S. The attacks on Cuba’s medical internationalism are not stopping! Even Human Rights Watch (HRW), a liberal NGO, has joined in on the Trump administration’s campaign to slander this amazing example of solidarity. If you have not already, please read the rebuttal to the HRW report  then sign and share the petition asking HRW to retract their flawed report!

Also, Vijay Prashad has just published a lovely article about why Cuban doctors deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Check it out!

P.P.S. 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel just made a video endorsing the Nobel for Cuban Doctors campaign! Click here to watch it!

Want to make your own short video explaining why you support the Henry Reeve Brigade? Upload it to Twitter and tag @CubaNobel. Then we’ll be happy to like and retweet it! It’s a great way of spreading the word about the campaign.

We look forward to working with you to continue the aspirations of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Cuban Doctors campaign.  Watch for our upcoming webinars and film series.

Remember to follow us in social media: 


In friendship,
Alicia Jrapko and Medea Benjamin 
Co-Chairs of the Cuba Nobel Prize Committee

Donate Now!

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SHUT DOWN CREECH in the age of COVID-19

Creech Anti-drone Resistance, Fall Action:   

Sept. 27 - Oct. 3, 2020

Co-sponsored by CODEPINK & Veterans For Peace

Now that the online Veterans For Peace National Convention is coming to a close, many of you hopefully are re-invigorated to pump up your activism and peacemaking efforts. The many informative workshops and discussions at the convention underlined U.S. militarism and it’s multifaceted disastrous impact on the world.  "Now what can I do," you ask?

Please join us for all or part of this fall’s week of convergence at Creech Killer Drone Base in Nevada, north of Las Vegas.  Though the pandemic is in full force, we are committed to be at Creech for a full week of drone resistance.  What better way to work against U.S. Empire than to stand strong against the racist weapons that terrorize communities and brutally murder people remotely?

We will be sending out a detailed update around August 20, but at this point we plan to 100% camp outside to insure the safety of all of us during the Covid pandemic.  We will provide meals throughout the week.

Please go to www.ShutDownCreech.blogspot.com for more details.

Are you planning to join us?

Please register HERE, asap, to help us prepare ahead.

Contact us for any questions.  We hope to see you there!

In peace and justice,
Toby, Maggie, and Eleanor

CODEPINK, Women for Peace



The six remaining Kings Bay Plowshares defendants have had their sentencing 
dates moved from September to October 15 and 16.

The six remaining Kings Bay Plowshares defendants have had their sentencing dates moved from September to October 15 and 16. They had requested a continuance because they want to appear in open court in Georgia and the virus situation there is still too out of control to safely allow it. 

Steve Kelly has now served almost 29 months in county jails since the action in April, 2018 so has already met the guidelines for his likely sentence. The court may not want to grant him further extensions. (You can send a postcard to Steve to let him know you're thinking of him. Directions on writing here.

The other defendants are not sure if they would prefer to seek more continuances or choose virtual appearances for sentencing in solidarity with Steve on those dates in October if it appears unsafe to travel to Georgia at that time. Check the website for updates.

September 9 will be the 40thanniversary of the first plowshares action in King of Prussia, PA. Eight activists, known as the Plowshares Eight, entered the GE plant where nosecones for nuclear missile warheads were manufactured. They hammered on several and poured blood on the nosecones and documents.  

Emile de Antonio’s 1983 film, In the King of Prussia, is about the trial of the Plowshares Eight. The judge is played by Martin Sheen and the defendants are played by themselves. It’s available for viewing on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUph8GWFupE

The Plowshares 8: Fr. Carl Kabat, O.M.I., Elmer Mass, Phil Berrigan, Molly Rush, Fr. Dan Berrigan, S.J., Sr. Anne Montgomery, R.S.C.J., John Schuchardt, and Dean Hammer

You can read Fr. Daniel Berrigan’s reflections on the Plowshares Eight action from the book Swords Into Plowshares: Nonviolent Direct Action for Disarmament (1987), edited by Art Laffin and Anne Montgomery: http://www.nukeresister.org/2015/09/08/swords-into-plowshares-fr-daniel-berrigans-reflections-on-the-plowshares-8-nuclear-disarmament-action/

Here’s an article written by Anna Brown and Mary Anne Muller ten years ago, for the 30th anniversary: https://wagingnonviolence.org/2010/09/the-plowshares-8-thirty-years-on/

And here is a 1990 New York Times article about the Plowshares Eight: https://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/11/us/eight-sentenced-in-1980-protest-at-nuclear-unit.html

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares; their spears into pruning hooks. One nation shall not lift sword against another. Nor shall they train for war anymore.” (Is. 2:4) 



Call for the immediate release of 


Syiaah Skylit from CDCR custody! 



Sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/gavin-newsom-call-for-the-immediate-release-of-syiaah-skylit-from-cdcr-custody-blacktranslivesmatter?recruiter=915876972&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=abi_gmail&utm_campaign=address_book&recruited_by_id=7d48b720-ecea-11e8-a770-29edb03b51cc 

Syiaah Skylit is a Black transgender woman currently incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP). Syiaah has been a victim of multiple acts of brutal, senseless violence at KVSP at the hands of prison staff and others in custody. Many of these attacks are in retaliation for her advocacy for herself and other trans women. 

Syiaah’s life is currently at risk due to racist, transmisogynist violence at the hands of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCr). While all the offending officers should be fired, this isn’t about a couple of bad apples. We have centuries of evidence that prison will never be safe — for Black people, for trans people, and especially not for Black trans women.

“I’m not going to make it out of this prison alive if I’m left here any longer.” 

— Syiaah Skylit, June 2020

While incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison between 2018 and the present, prison staff have subjected Syiaah to severe and persistent physical, sexual, and psychological abuse (see below for examples, with content warnings). Staff at Kern Valley State Prison are also responsible for the 2013 death of Carmen Guerrero, a transgender woman who was forced to be housed with an individual who made it clear to officers that he would kill Ms. Guerrero if he was celled with her. Earlier this year, that individual was given the death penalty for killing Ms. Guerrero just eight hours after CDCR officers forced them to cell together. 

Facing immediate danger, Syiaah has repeatedly asked to be transferred to a women’s facility and CDCR has repeatedly denied her requests. We demand that Governor Newsom and CDCR immediately release Syiaah to her community and family before she falls further victim to the lethal danger that transgender people face in prison. 

[Content note: assault, sexual violence, anti-Black racism, transmisogny]

While in CDCR custody between 2018 and the present, Syiaah has:

- Been physically attacked by CDCR staff multiple times;
- Been threatened with sexual assault with a baton by CDCR staff; 
- Been forced by CDCR staff to parade through the yard naked from the waist down;
- Been stripped naked by CDCR staff and left overnight in her cell without clothes, blankets, or a mattress;
- Been attacked by other people in custody who admitted that CDCR staff directed them to do so;
- Had her property stolen and destroyed by CDCR staff;
- Been maced in the face and thrown in a cage after reporting an assault;
- Been intentionally placed on the same yard as an individual she testified against who is facing attempted murder charges for his assault of a transgender woman. As Syiaah feared, this individual violently attacked her as revenge. This man was then allowed to attack a gay man after attacking Syiaah. 
- Been intentionally placed on the same yard as individuals with histories of attacking trans women and other LGBTQI+ people, in spite of her pleas to be placed separately;
- Been thrown in administrative segregation after being the victim of an attack;
- Has had all of her recent documented complaints of discrimination and violence rejected under false pretenses;
- Has had contact with her legal representatives restricted to one phone call a week;
- Has been humiliated and discriminated against for going on a hunger strike as a form of protest;
- Has expressed numerous, documented concerns for her safety and had them blatantly ignored.

In spite of the constant violence Syiaah continues to survive, she continues to demonstrate her resilience and dedication to learning and growing. She has earned certifications in many educational and vocational programs and support groups. 

We as Syiaah’s community and chosen family are ready to support her with a safe and successful reentry plan if Governor Newsom uses his executive powers to grant her clemency. Organizations that can offer Syiaah comprehensive reentry support including housing and employment upon her release include TGI Justice Project, Transgender Advocacy Group (TAG), and Medina Orthwein LLP. 

You can read more about Syiaah's story in this article by Victoria Law for Truthout as well as this one by Dustin Gardiner for the SF Chronicle

Please sign and share this petition to #FreeSyiaah and declare #BlackTransLivesMatter! 

Please also check out our social media toolkit to support Syiaah!

[Please do not donate as prompted after signing, as the money goes to change.org and not to any cause associated with Syiaah.] 

Art by Micah Bazant at Forward Together.




Write to Kevin “Rashid” Johnson:

Kevin Johnson #264847

Wabash Valley Correctional Facility

6908 S. Old U.S. HWY 41, P.O. Box 500

Carlisle, IN 47838




Comrades, Friends, and Supporters,


This afternoon I received word through a third party that Rashid has been transferred from Pendleton and is now in Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlise, IN. He went through an intake process and was screened by a Ms. Clark who he believes is a nurse.  During this screening Ms. Clark informed Sgt. Nichols and Lt. Small to give him all of his K.O.P. meds to keep with him in his cell.  Sgt. Nichols and Lt. Small took Rashid to a cell in the S.H.U. (Segregated Housing Unit) but DID NOT give Rashid his medication or any of his property. He was also purposefully put into a cell that has no reception which has prevented him from calling and emailing directly from his tablet. Obviously they did this believing that it would prevent Rashid from communicating his condition and whereabouts to us.


We thank you for the support that you have shown and ask that calls and emails continue to be made on his behalf with increased intensity and that they be directed at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility's staff.  Our demands have not changed.  Please respond to this email if you have questions or suggestions or reach out to me directly.


-Shupavu wa Kirima



Frank Vanihel


Mailing Address

Wabash Valley Correctional Facility

6908 S. Old U.S. Highway 41

P.O. Box 500

Carlisle, IN 47838


Phone Number

(812) 398-5050


Administrative Secretary to the Warden

Janna Anderson


Facility Staff

Deputy Warden of Re-entry

Kevin Gilmore


Deputy Warden of Operations

Frank Littlejohn


Administrative Assistant

Legal Liaison

Michael Ellis


(812) 398-5050 ext. 4198


Our mailing address is:
Kevin Rashid Johnson
D.O.C. #264847
Pendleton Correctional Facility 4490 W. Reformatory Rd
PendletonIN  46064

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Snowden vindicated by court ruling – time to drop 


his charges.

Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA telephone surveillance program revealed by Edward Snowden was illegal and likely unconstitutional. This ruling should finally end any remaining debate on whether Snowden’s actions constituted whistleblowing, and on his necessity of going to the press. The question now is how to remedy the legal and ethical dilemma he was placed into. It’s time to either drop his charges or pardon him.

The court’s ruling validates Snowden on multiple levels. It settles beyond doubt that his belief in the illegality of the programs he witnessed was reasonable. The panel of judges ruled that the mass telephone surveillance conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act was illegal. And while they refrained from issuing a ruling on the Constitutional challenge, they strongly suggested that the program was in violation of the Fourth Amendment. They ruled that the government’s claims about the effectiveness of the surveillance had been lies, and that its legal theory about the necessity of mass collection of phone data was “unprecedented and unwarranted.”

Legally, a whistleblower does not need to ultimately be proved correct about the concerns they report. If they simply have a “reasonable belief” their employer is breaking the law, they are entitled to whistleblower protections. While any plain reading of the Fourth Amendment and the FISA statutes should have sufficed to prove a reasonable concern, this ruling is beyond sufficient affirmation that Snowden’s concern was “objectively reasonable”. 

While he should have been able to make a protected whistleblower disclosure based on such concerns, those channels were not a realistic option. As an outside contractor, he would not have been guaranteed protection under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) statute in place at that time. Critics of Snowden also conveniently ignore the history of other NSA employees who blew the whistle on these programs before him. The internal channels were used to “catch and kill” the complaints of at least four previous surveillance whistleblowers, placing them – and even the Congressional intelligence committee staffer they went to – under criminal leak investigations. Snowden saw, for example, the punitive treatment of NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake. Drake went through every conceivable internal channel: his boss, the NSA Inspector General (IG), the Defense Department IG, and the House & Senate Intel Committees. Not only did they fail to redress his grievances, many acted to further punish him: ignored his concerns, marginalized him, forced him out, blacklisted him, and ultimately drove his failed criminal prosecution.

Snowden correctly assessed that the only remaining option was to go to the press, and the 9th Circuit ruling credits him for choosing that path, noting that his disclosures enabled “significant public debate over the appropriate scope of government surveillance”. Indeed, this ruling simply would not have been possible without his public disclosures. The government had long maneuvered to keep mass surveillance programs beyond this kind of judicial scrutiny.

As a witness to large scale illegality, and without effective or safe channels, Snowden was placed in a dilemma: break his agreement to protect classified information, or break his sworn oath to uphold the laws and defend the Constitution. He chose to honor his higher duty and so turned to the only other available channel that could serve as a check against government wrongdoing: the press. Snowden turned to the “Fourth Estate” and it played exactly the role the Founders intended. We cannot now prosecute him as a spy or abandon him to a lifetime of exile for having done so.

In solidarity,


Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack

Donate Now



In April of 1971, Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, formerly David Rice, were sentenced to life in prison for the death of an Omaha police officer- a crime they did not commit. The two were targeted by law enforcement and wrongfully convicted due to their  affiliation with the Black Panther Party, a civil rights and anti-fascist political group.  Nearly 50 years later, Ed is still in prison and maintains his innocence. He has earned several college degrees, taught anti-violence classes to youth, authored screenplays, and more. His last chance for freedom is to receive a commutation of sentence from the Nebraska Board of Pardons. At age 75, he is at high risk for COVID related health complications. He must receive an immediate and expedited commutation hearing from the Board.-EMAIL: freedomfored@gmail.com@freedom4ed
Take Action Now
Write, email and call the Nebraska Board of Pardons. Request that they expedite Ed’s application, schedule his hearing for the October 2020 meeting and commute his sentence. 
WRITE: Nebraska Board of Pardons/ P.O. Box 95007/ Lincoln, NE 68509
*please email a copy of your letter..to freedomfored@gmail.com---EMAIL: ne.pardonsboard@nebraska.gov
CALL:  Governor Pete Ricketts--402-471-2244  & SoS Robert B. Evnen---402-471-2554  & AG Doug Peterson--402-471-2683



Urgent Action: Garifuna leader and 3 community members kidnapped and disappeared in Honduras

Share This 
On the morning of Saturday, July 18, Garifuna leader Snider Centeno and other three members of the Triunfo de la Cruz community where kidnapped and disappeared by a group of men wearing bullet proof vests with the initials of the Honduran National Police (DPI in Spanish). The DPI is the Investigative Police Directorate and when it was formed years ago, was trained by the United States. As of this Monday Morning, there is still no word on the whereabouts of Mr. Centeno, Milton Joel Marínez, Suami Aparicio Mejía and El Pri (nickname).
Snider was the president of the elected community council in Triunfo de la Cruz and his community received a favorable sentence from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2015. However, the Honduran state has still not respected it. The kidnapping and disappearance of Snider and the 3 other men is another attack against the Garifuna community and their struggle to protect their ancestral lands and the rights of afro-indigenous and indigenous people to live.
National and international pressure forced the Honduran Ministry of Human Rights to put out a statement urging authorities to investigate and act. Your support can make the difference!
For more information and updated on what is happening in Honduras, please follow the Honduras Solidarity Network

Contact Us

Alliance for Global Justice
225 E 26th St Ste 1

Tucson, Arizona 85713-2925
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About Albert Einstein

In September 1946, (after the war, before the civil rights movement), Albert Einstein called racism America’s “worst disease.” Earlier that year, he told students and faculty at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the oldest Black college in the Western world, that racial segregation was “not a disease of colored people, but a disease of white people, adding, “I willl not remain silent about it.” 

His peers criticized this appearance. The press purposefully didn't cover it. He simply wanted to inspire young minds with the beauty and power of science, drawing attention to the power of ALL human minds, regardless of race.

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” -Albert Einstein



Party for Socialism and Liberation

Gloria La Riva nominated by Peace and Freedom Party in California

Now on the ballot in California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and New Mexico!
Longtime San Francisco labor and anti-war activist Gloria La Riva was chosen today as the Peace and Freedom Party nominee for U. S. President. The party's state central committee cast 62 votes for La Riva and 3 votes for Howie Hawkins, with three abstentions. Anti-racist and disability rights advocate Sunil Freeman of Washington DC was then chosen without opposition as the party's nominee for Vice President.
La Riva received over 2/3 of the vote for the nomination in the March primary, but the State Central Committee's action Saturday will officially place the La Riva / Freeman ticket on California's November general election ballot. They will appear in a number of other states on the ballot lines of the Vermont Liberty Union Party and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Gloria La Riva said "We are honored to be the nominees of the Peace and Freedom Party. We are running not just to represent voters, but to represent the millions without the right to vote: undocumented immigrants, permanent residents, prisoners and parolees who are unable to cast a ballot. This is their country too."
Kevin Akin of Riverside, the new California State Chair of the party, reports that the ticket expects to get more votes in California than in any other state. "It's a clear way for a voter to show support for peace, socialism, and the immediate needs of the working class."

Read our Campaign Statements

Gloria La Riva Condemns Israeli Annexation Plan Calls for Solidarity with Palestinian People and End to U.S. Aid to Israel

Upcoming Events

Follow the campaign on twitter
Questions? Comments? Contact us.
You can also keep up with the PSL on Twitter or Facebook.
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Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests. 

The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page. 

Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.

Emergency Hotlines

If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities. 

State and Local Hotlines

If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for: 

National Hotline

If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:

Know Your Rights Materials

The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides. 

WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective



 Reality Winner Tests Positive for COVID, Still Imprisoned
With great anguish, I’m writing to share the news that NSA whistleblower Reality Winner, still in federal prison, has tested positive for COVID-19. Winner, despite her vulnerable health conditions, was denied home release in April – the judge’s reasoning being that the Federal Medical Center, Carswell is “presumably better equipped than most to deal with the onset of COVID-19 in its inmates”. 
Since that ruling, COVID infections at Carswell have exploded, ranking it now as second highest in the nation for the number of cases, and substantially increasing the likelihood that its medical capacity will be overwhelmed.
This news comes one week after Trump’s commutation of convicted felon Roger Stone, and two months after the home release of Trump’s convicted campaign manager, Paul Manafort:

Roger Stone’s Freedom Is All the More Outrageous While Reality Winner Languishes in Prison

Donald Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence is galling on numerous levels. It’s a brazen act of corruption and an egregious obstruction of an ongoing investigation of the President and his enablers. There are few figures less worthy of clemency than a Nixonian dirty trickster like Stone. But the final twist of the knife is that Reality Winner, the honest, earnest, anti-Stone of the Russian meddling saga, remains in federal prison.

Continue Reading
Please share this with your networks, and stand with us in support of Reality Winner and her family during this critical time.
Thank you,
Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)
Twitter: @JesselynRadack

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WHISPeR Project at ExposeFacts 1627 Eye Street, NW Suite 600 Washington, DC 20006 



Note: Below are comments from Ambassador Andrew Young, who is also the former Mayor of Atlanta. The Ambassador notes that Imam Jamil Al-Amin was wrongfully convicted and that it's time to 'rejudge'.

Below is also a correction in the title of the previous posting about Otis Jackson, who admitted to the killing of which Imam Jamil Al-Amin was falsely accused of committing. The article is included below with the title correction being, "There are demands for a new trial"

And again, please sign the petition for a new trial and ask your friends to do so as well.

August 10, 2020
Justice Initiative

"(There's one case) that weighs heavy on my heart because I really think he was wrongfully convicted."
This Man, a Muslim, helped "clean up" Atlanta's West End.
"I'm talking about Jamil Al-Amin," he said, "H. Rap Brown."
"I think it's time to rejudge. He's been dying of cancer and has been suffering away from his family in the worst prisons of this nation." 
Ambassador Andrew Young Jr. 

Otis Jackson Speaks - 
The Man Who Committed 
The Crime Imam Jamil Is Serving Life For
There are demands for a new trial for 
Imam Jamil Al-Amin
Please sign the petition for a new trial

The Confession - My Name Is James Santos aka Otis Jackson (We Demand A Retrial For Imam Jamil)
The Confession - My Name Is James Santos aka OtisJackson (We Demand A Retrial For Imam Jamil)

Otis Jackson is a self-proclaimed leader of the Almighty Vice Lord Nation (AVLN). Founded in the late 1950s, the AVLN is one of the oldest street gangs in Chicago.
According to Jackson, the group under his leadership was focused on rebuilding communities by pushing out drug dealers and violence.
In a never-before published sworn deposition, Jackson recalls the events of the night of Thursday, March 16, 2000, in vivid detail.
It was a cool night as Jackson remembers. He wore a knee-high black Islamic robe with black pants, a black kufi-Muslim head covering-underneath a tan hat, and a tan leather jacket. His silver sunglasses with yellow tint sat above his full beard and mustache.
He arrived at Mick's around 7PM, when he realized his schedule had changed. He was no longer the food expediter in the kitchen; his title was now dishwasher/cook, which meant he would wash dishes and then help close the kitchen at night.
Since his title changed, he wasn't required to work that Thursday night. It immediately dawned on him that he had a 10-hour window to do whatever he wanted. As a parolee under house arrest, the opportunity to have truly free time was rare if even existent. Jackson decided to fill his new found freedom like most people fill their free time-he ran a few errands.
His first stop was the West End Mall where he got a bite to eat, did some shopping and then headed toward the West End community mosque, led by Al-Amin. He knew it was a regular building off of Oak Street, but wasn't sure which one exactly.
He parked his black Cadillac in an open field and walked down toward a house that turned out to be the mosque. He passed a black Mercedes before he got to the mosque, where he met a man named Lamar "Mustapha" Tanner. They talked for a while during which Jackson explained to Tanner that he was looking for Al-Amin to talk about how the AVLN could help Al-Amin's community.
Tanner told Jackson to check the grocery store, since Al-Amin could usually be found there. Tanner then gave Jackson his phone number and hurried away to go pick up his wife. Jackson proceeded to the grocery store. He wanted to discuss with Al-Amin how his AVLN organization could help further clean the streets of drug dealers in the West End community.
By the time Jackson made his way to Al-Amin's store, it was already late. He was afraid the store would be closed since he didn't see anyone else on the street. His fear was affirmed; the store wasn't open.
Hoping that maybe the owner would be in the back closing up, he knocked on the door a few more times. No answer. As he turned to leave, Jackson saw a patrol car pull up. By the time Jackson walked by the black Mercedes, the patrol car was parked in front of it, nose-to-nose. The driver of the patrol car got out and asked Jackson to put his hands up.
Immediately, this scenario flashed through Jackson's head: Here he was, violating his parole by not being at work, with a 9mm handgun in his waist. Jackson was afraid the cops would think he was breaking into the store. That meant they would probably frisk him and find the gun. The gun would be a direct violation of his parole; he'd be sent back to prison in Nevada.
Jackson ignored the order to put his hands up and instead began to explain that he was not trying to break into the store. He stated that he wasn't trying to steal the Mercedes either; his car was parked down the street. Both officers were out of the car with guns drawn and demanding Jackson put his hands up. The cops were closing in and there was little space between them. Jackson made a quick decision. He backed up against the Mercedes, pulled out his gun and began to fire.
He fired off two shots. The officers, while retreating, returned fire. Jackson wasn't hit and bolted toward his car, where in the trunk he had an arsenal of other weapons. As Jackson explains, "the organization I was about to form, the Almighty Vice Lord Nation, we're anti-oppression, and we fight, you know, drug dealers and what not, so...we need artillery."
He quickly opened the trunk - the lock was broken and held together with shoe string-and grabbed a lightweight, semiautomatic carbine Ruger Mini-14 with an extended clip housing 40 .223 caliber rounds. Jackson then headed back toward the cops; one was moving for cover behind the Mercedes, the other was on the police radio screaming for backup.
Jackson approached the officer he thought was the most aggressive, who was using the Mercedes for cover and resumed firing his rifle. The officer returned fire, hitting Jackson in the upper left arm twice.
Jackson, now angered and fearful for his life, shot back, downing the officer. Jackson stood over him and shot him in the groin up to four times. The fallen officer, Deputy Kinchen, in a last attempt to plead with his killer, described his family, mother, and children to Jackson, hoping for mercy.
But Jackson admits that by this time, "my mind was gone, so I really wasn't paying attention." Jackson fired again at the officer on the ground. Dripping his own blood on the concrete where he stood, Jackson then turned his attention to Deputy English who was running toward the open field. Jackson believed English was flagging down another officer; he couldn't let him get away.
Jackson hit English four times. One shot hit him in the leg; he soon fell, screaming, thereby confirming Jackson's shot. After English went down, Jackson, in a state of shock, walked down pass the mosque.
Nursing his bleeding wounds, he tried to stop three passing cars on the road; no one dared pull over. He then walked back down the street and knocked on three different doors for assistance. Only one even turned the light on, but no one opened the door for Jackson. He then made his way back to his car and drove to his mother's home.
As he walked in the door, the phone rang. His mother was asleep, so Jackson hurriedly answered it in the other room. It was a representative from the Sentinel Company that provided the monitoring service for Jackson's ankle bracelet. The man on the phone asked where Jackson was; he responded that he was at work. The Sentinel representative explained that his unaccounted for absence would have to be marked down as a violation. Jackson agreed and quickly ended the conversation.
Although one bullet exited through the back of his arm, the other was still lodged in his upper left arm. Jackson called a couple of female friends, who were registered nurses. The women, who were informed by Jackson that he was robbed in the middle of the night, arrived at his house and worked for three hours to remove the bullet from his arm. Jackson then called Mustapha Tanner, whom he just met earlier in the evening, and asked him to come by his house.
Tanner arrived before 10am. Jackson explained what had happened the previous night and said he needed to get rid of the guns and the car. Jackson's car trunk contained enough artillery for a mini-militia: three Ruger Mini-14 rifles, an M16 assault rifle, a .45 handgun, three 9mm handguns and a couple of shotguns. Once Tanner left, Jackson called his parole officer Sarah Bacon and let her know that he "had been involved in a situation," but left out the details.
In the following days, Jackson was asked to report to the Sentinel Company. He checked in with the monitoring company and his parole officer, and was then given a ride back home. As they pulled onto his street, Jackson noticed many unmarked police cars. After entering his driveway, multiple police officers emerged. The police searched Jackson's house and found rounds of Mini-14, .223, 9mm, and M16 ammunition. Jackson's bloody clothes and boots from the shootout with the deputies the night before were left untouched in his closet.
On March 28, 2000, Jackson's parole was revoked and he was sent back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence in Nevada. Upon his detainment in Florida and later transfer to Nevada, Jackson confessed the crime to anyone who would listen. Jackson claims that when he reached the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas, Nevada, he made numerous phone calls to the F.B.I., after which an agent arrived to discuss the incident with him. Jackson recalls telling his story to "Special Agent Mahoney."
Special Agent Devon Mahoney recalls documenting the confession, but not much beyond that. Mahoney remembers getting a call from a superior to "talk to someone" in a Las Vegas jail and then to "document it and file it up the chain of command." The confession was documented and filed on June 29, 2000.

Gray & Associates, PO Box 8291, ATLANTA, GA 31106
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Subject: Shut Down Fort Hood! Justice for Vanessa Guillén. Sign the petition!




Timeless words of wisdom from Friedrich Engels:

This legacy belongs to all of us:

“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forest to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. . . Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature–but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.” The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man 1876. —Friedrich Engels



Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (Official Video 2019)


Because once is not enough. Because sometimes music is my only solace. Because sometimes it hurts too much too care but to be human is to hurt. Because I feel lucky to have grown up with great music. Because that music was harmonic and melodious. Because that music had soul. Because I grew up with Blues and Motown and Jazz. Because I grew up with Black friends and we played ball everyday and we had fun and we were winners. Because they taught me about music and soul and acceptance. Because they didn't hate me for being white. Because I was brought up with Irish Catholics who taught me that fighting and arguing for justice kept depression in its place. Because they taught me that if you never quit fighting you haven't lost so never quit fighting for justice. Because I was in a union and learned that solidarity is the original religion. Because without solidarity you are alone. And alone is hell and because I have never been in hell. Because I am part of the human race. Because the human race is the only race on earth. Because I am grateful for Marvin Gaye, and John Coltrane, and Sam Cooke and because you know what I am talking about. Because we are going to win and we are going to have fun. Because that's the truth. Because no lie can defeat truth. Because you are there to hear me. Because I know I am not alone.  —Gregg Shotwell


(Gregg Shotwell is a retired autoworker, writer and poet.)




Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers that police have used to kill thousands of Americans!

BlackRock loves to make a killing on killing: Over a thousand Americans have been killed by Tasers — 32 percent of them are Black Americans. Tasers are made by the colossal law enforcement supplier Axon Enterprise, based in Arizona.
One of their top shareholders happens to be Blackrock. Recently Blackrock has been trying to be sympathetic to the atrocities of murders waged on Black Americans and communities of color. If we ramp up massive pressure and blow the whistle on their deadly stocks, we can highlight that divesting from Tasers and the war in our streets will be a step in the right direction in building a fair and just society.
This issue is important to having peace in our streets. But this will only work if people participate. Send an email to Blackrock to divest from the Taser manufacturer Axon Enterprise which is responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans, and CODEPINK will pull out all the stops to make sure Blackrock execs hear our call:

Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers!

Blackrock could do this. They recently announced that they were divesting from fossil fuels — signaling a shift in their policies. If CEO Larry Fink cares about “diversity, fairness, and justice” and building a “stronger, more equal, and safer society” — he should divest from Tasers.
Plus, compared to Blackrock’s other holdings, Taser stocks aren’t even that significant!

But if Blackrock does this, it could be the first domino we need to get other investment companies on board too. Send an email to BlackRock and share this widely! 

Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers!

If there’s one thing our community stands for, it’s peace and social justice. And one way we can help achieve that is by cutting off the flow of cash into the manufacturing of Tasers. So, let’s come together to make that happen, and help prevent more innocent Americans from being killed with these senseless tools.

With hope,
Nancy, Carley, Jodie, Paki, Cody, Kelsey, and Yousef

Donate Now!

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Rayshard Brooks, 27 years old, was shot to death while running away from police in Atlanta Friday, June 12, 2020.





Kimberly Jones

If you haven't seen this, you're missing something spectacular:

On Saturday May 30th filmmaker and photographer David Jones of David Jones Media felt compelled to go out and serve the community in some way. He decided to use his art to try and explain the events that were currently impacting our lives. On day two, Sunday the 31st, he activated his dear friend author Kimberly Jones to tag along and conduct interviews. During a moment of downtime he captured these powerful words from her and felt the world couldn’t wait for the full length documentary, they needed to hear them now.

Kimberly Jones on YouTube 






Ultimately, the majority of human suffering is caused by a system that places the value of material wealth over the value of
human life. To end the suffering, we must end the profit motive—the very foundation of capitalism itself.
(Bay Area United Against War Newsletter)



George Floyd's Last Words
"It's my face man
I didn't do nothing serious man
please I can't breathe
please man
please somebody
please man
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
man can't breathe, my face
just get up
I can't breathe
please (inaudible)
I can't breathe sh*t
I will
I can't move
I can't
my knee
my nuts
I'm through
I'm through
I'm claustrophobic
my stomach hurt
my neck hurts
everything hurts
some water or something
I can't breathe officer
don't kill me
they gon' kill me man
come on man
I cannot breathe
I cannot breathe
they gon' kill me
they gon' kill me
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
please sir
please I can't breathe"

Then his eyes shut and the pleas stop. George Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after.






Trump Comic Satire—A Proposal
          By Shakaboona

Hello everyone, it's Shakaboona here, on May 29, 2020, Friday, it was reported by NPR and other news agencies that when protestors marched on the White House, the Secret Service (SS) rushed Pres. Trump to a protective bunker in the basement of the White House for his safety. When I heard that news I instantly visualized 3 scenes - (Scene 1) a pic of Pres. Saddam Hussein hiding in an underground cave in fear of the U.S. Army, (Scene 2) a pic of Pres. Donald Trump hiding in an underground bunker shaking in fear beneath a desk from U.S. Protestors as Secret Service guards (with 2 Lightning bolts on their collars) in hyper security around him with big guns drawn out, and (Scene 3) a pic of Pres. Trump later stood in front of the church across from the White House with a Bible in hand & chest puffed out & threatened to activate the U.S. Army against American citizen protestors.
 ~ I think this would be an underground iconic image of the power of the People & the cowardice/fear of Pres. Trump, not to mention that I think such a creative comic satire of Trump would demolish his self image (haha). I ask for anyone's help to turn my above visual satire of Trump into an actual comic satire strip & for us to distribute the finished comic satire strip worldwide, esp. to the news media. Maybe we can get Trump to see it and watch him blow a gasket (lol).
 ~ Please everyone, stay safe out there, b/c Trump is pushing this country to the verge of Civil War. Be prepared in every way imaginable. Peace. - Ur Brother, Shakaboona

Write to Shakaboona:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
Kerry Shakaboona Marshall #BE7826
SCI Rockview
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733









Still photo from Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove"released January 29, 1964

Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons 

Spending 2020

  In its report "Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons Spending 2020" the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has produced the first estimate in nearly a decade of global nuclear weapon spending, taking into account costs to maintain and build new nuclear weapons. ICAN estimates that the nine nuclear-armed countries spent $72.9 billion on their 13,000-plus nuclear weapons in 2019, equaling $138,699 every minute of 2019 on nuclear weapons, and a $7.1 billion increase from 2018.
These estimates (rounded to one decimal point) include nuclear warhead and nuclear-capable delivery systems operating costs and development where these expenditures are publicly available and are based on a reasonable percentage of total military spending on nuclear weapons when more detailed budget data is not available. ICAN urges all nuclear-armed states to be transparent about nuclear weapons expenditures to allow for more accurate reporting on global nuclear expenditures and better government accountability.
ICAN, May 2020



Shooting and looting started: 400 years ago

Shooting, looting, scalping, lynching,
Raping, torturing their way across
the continent—400 years ago—
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide rolling down on
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide leaving in-
visible yellow crime
scene tape crisscrossing Tallahassee
to Seattle; San Diego to Bangor… 
Shooting Seneca, Seminole, Creek,
Choctaw, Mohawk, Cayuga, Blackfeet,
Shooting Sioux, Shawnee, Chickasaw,
Chippewa before
Looting Lakota land; Looting Ohlone
Looting Ashanti, Fulani, Huasa, Wolof,
Yoruba, Ibo, Kongo, Mongo, Hutu, Zulu…
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide—hot lead storms—
Shooting, looting Mexico for half of New
Mexico; a quarter of Colorado; some of
Wyoming and most of Arizona; Looting
Mexico for Utah, Nevada and California
So, next time Orange Mobutu, Boss Tweet,
is dirty like Duterte—howling for shooting;
Next time demented minions raise rifles to
shoot; Remind them that
Real looters wear Brooks Brothers suits;
Or gold braid and junk medals ‘cross their
chests. Real looters—with Capitalist Hill
Steal trillions
Not FOX-boxes, silly sneakers, cheap clothes…
© 2020. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.       











Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire, The Lasting Effects of War Book Discussion, Sir, No Sir Viewing, VFP's Online Convention, Workshop Proposals, Convention FAQ, No More COVID-19 Money For the Pentagon, Repeal the AUMF, Community Conversation on Hybrid Warfare, St Louis VFP Delivers VA Lunch, In the News and Calendar

Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire 

Veterans For Peace, as a United Nations Department of Global Communication affiliated NGO, is most gratified to see UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres make his plea for a worldwide ceasefire during this global pandemic. 

The first line of the Preamble of the UN's Charter says that they originated to save “succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. But sadly, because the UN was created by the victors of WW2 who remain the powers of the world, and because the UN depends for funding on those same militarily and economically dominant nation-states, primarily the U.S., much more often than not the UN is very quiet on war. 

Please join Veterans For Peace in appealing to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft to support the Secretary General's call for a GLOBAL CEASEFIRE! 

For more information about events go to:




Courage to Resist
www.couragetoresist.org ~ 510.488.3559 ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist

484 Lake Park Ave # 41
OaklandCA 94610-2730
United States
Unsubscribe from couragetoresist.org 





















From Business Insider 2018



"The biggest block from having society in harmony with the universe is the belief in a lie that says it’s not realistic or humanly possible." 

"If Obama taught me anything it’s that it don’t matter who you vote for in this system. There’s nothing a politician can do that the next one can’t undo. You can’t vote away the ills of society people have to put our differences aside ban together and fight for the greater good, not vote for the lesser evil."

—Johnny Gould (Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)







When faced with the opportunity to do good, I really think it’s the instinct of humanity to do so. It’s in our genetic memory from our earliest ancestors. It’s the altered perception of the reality of what being human truly is that’s been indoctrinated in to every generation for the last 2000 years or more that makes us believe that we are born sinners. I can’t get behind that one. We all struggle with certain things, but I really think that all the “sinful” behavior is learned and wisdom and goodwill is innate at birth.  —Johnny Gould (Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)



















Support Major Tillery, Friend of Mumia, Innocent, Framed, Now Ill

Major Tillery (with hat) and family

Dear Friends of the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia,

Major Tillery, a prisoner at SCI Chester and a friend of Mumia, may have caught the coronavirus. Major is currently under lockdown at SCI Chester, where a coronavirus outbreak is currently taking place. Along with the other prisoners at SCI Chester, he urgently needs your help.

Major was framed by the Pennsylvania District Attorney and police for a murder which took place in 1976. He has maintained his innocence throughout the 37 years he has been incarcerated, of which approximately 20 were spent in solitary confinement. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture has said that 15 days of solitary confinement constitutes torture.

When Mumia had Hepatitis C and was left to die by the prison administration at SCI Mahanoy, Major Tillery was the prisoner who confronted the prison superintendent and demanded that they treat Mumia. (see https://www.justiceformajortillery.org/messing-with-major.html). Although Mumia received medical treatment, the prison retaliated against Major for standing up to the prison administration. He was transferred to another facility, his cell was searched and turned inside out repeatedly, and he lost his job in the prison as a Peer Facilitator.

SCI Chester, where Major is currently incarcerated, has been closed to visitors since mid-March. Fourteen guards and one prisoner are currently reported to be infected with the coronavirus. Because the prison has not tested all the inmates, there is no way to know how many more inmates have coronavirus. Major has had a fever, chills and a sore throat for several nights. Although Major has demanded testing for himself and all prisoners, the prison administration has not complied.

For the past ten days, there has been no cleaning of the cell block. It has been weeks since prisoners have been allowed into the yard to exercise. The food trays are simply being left on the floor. There have been no walk-throughs by prison administrators. The prisoners are not allowed to have showers; they are not allowed to have phone calls; and they are not permitted any computer access. 

This coronavirus outbreak at SCI Chester is the same situation which is playing out in California prisons right now, about which the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia, along with other groups, organized a car caravan protest at San Quentin last week. Prisons are enclosed indoor spaces and are already an epicenter of the coronavirus, like meatpacking plants and cruise ships. If large numbers of prisoners are not released, the coronavirus will infect the prisons, as well as surrounding communities, and many prisoners will die. Failing to release large numbers of prisoners at this point is the same as executing them. We call for "No Execution by COVID-19"!

Major is close to 70 years old, and has a compromised liver and immune system, as well as heart problems. He desperately needs your help. 

Please write and call Acting Superintendent Kenneth Eason at:

Kenneth Eason, Acting Superintendent
SCI Chester
500 E. 4th St.
Chester, PA 19013

Telephone: (610) 490-5412

Email: keason@pa.gov (Prison Superintendent). maquinn@pa.gov (Superintendent's Assistant)
Please also call the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at:Department of Corrections
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Telephone: (717) 737-4531
This telephone number is for SCI Camp Hill, which is the current number for DOC.
Reference Major's inmate number: AM 9786

Email: ra-contactdoc@pa.gov
Demand that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections immediately:

1) Provide testing for all inmates and staff at SCI Chester;
2) Disinfect all cells and common areas at SCI Chester, including sinks, toilets, eating areas and showers;
3) Provide PPE (personal protective equipment) for all inmates at SCI Chester;
4) Provide access to showers for all prisoners at SCI Chester, as a basic hygiene measure;
5) Provide yard access to all prisoners at SCI Chester;
6) Provide phone and internet access to all prisoners at SCI Chester;
7) Immediately release prisoners from SCI Chester, including Major Tillery, who already suffers from a compromised immune system, in order to save their lives from execution by COVID-19.

It has been reported that prisoners are now receiving shower access. However, please insist that prisoners be given shower access and that all common areas are disinfected.

In solidarity,

The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal



Kiah Morris

May 7 at 6:44 AM

So, in MY lifetime....

Black people are so tired. 😓

We can’t go jogging (#AhmaudArbery).

We can’t relax in the comfort of our own homes (#BothemJean and #AtatianaJefferson).

We can't ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride).

We can't have a cellphone (#StephonClark).

We can't leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards).

We can't play loud music (#JordanDavis).

We can’t sell CD's (#AltonSterling).

We can’t sleep (#AiyanaJones)

We can’t walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).

We can’t play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).

We can’t go to church (#Charleston9).

We can’t walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).

We can’t hold a hair brush while leaving our own bachelor party (#SeanBell).

We can’t party on New Years (#OscarGrant).

We can’t get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland).

We can’t lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).

We can't break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).

We can’t shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)p^p.

We can’t have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).

We can’t read a book in our own car (#KeithScott).

We can’t be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover).

We can’t decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).

We can’t ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).

We can’t cash our check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).

We can’t take out our wallet (#AmadouDiallo).

We can’t run (#WalterScott).

We can’t breathe (#EricGarner).

We can’t live (#FreddieGray).

We’re tired.

Tired of making hashtags.

Tired of trying to convince you that our #BlackLivesMatter too.

Tired of dying.




So very tired.

(I don’t know who created this. I just know there are so many more names to be added and names we may never hear of.)








1) U.S. Marine Pardoned for Killing Transgender Woman Is Deported From Philippines

Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton was formally deported and flown out on a U.S. military plane. His pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte has drawn anger from activists.

By Jason Gutierrez, Sept. 13, 2020

Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, center, who was convicted in 2015 of killing a transgender woman, was escorted to a plane in Manila on Sunday.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, center, who was convicted in 2015 of killing a transgender woman, was escorted to a plane in Manila on Sunday. Credit...Philippine Bureau of Immigration

MANILA — A U.S. Marine who received a pardon from President Rodrigo Duterte for the killing of a transgender woman was deported from the Philippines on Sunday.


Immigration agents escorted Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton to a waiting U.S. military cargo plane from the Philippine military’s headquarters in Manila on Sunday, just days after Mr. Duterte ordered the soldier released, saying he had been treated unfairly.


The Philippine immigration commissioner, Jaime Morente, said on Sunday that Lance Corporal Pemberton was barred from ever returning to the country as a consequence of the deportation order.


The U.S. Embassy in Manila said that Mr. Duterte’s “absolute pardon” of Lance Corporal Pemberton meant there were no legal impediments to his departure.


“All legal proceedings in the case took place under Philippine jurisdiction and law,” the embassy said in a statement. “Lance Corporal Pemberton fulfilled his sentence as ordered by Philippine courts and he departed the Philippines on Sept. 13.”


It was not immediately known where in the United States the plane carrying Lance Corporal Pemberton was heading.


Mr. Duterte’s decision to pardon the Marine had angered gay and transgender rights activists as well as nationalist groups that resent American military involvement in the Philippines, a longtime ally in the Asia-Pacific region and a former U.S. colony. Opponents of the pardon had held peaceful protests asking the president to reconsider.


On Sunday, Lance Corporal Pemberton’s lawyer, Rowena Flores, said her client was “extremely grateful” for the president’s action, calling his freedom an “act of compassion.”


Lance Corporal Pemberton, then 20, was convicted of homicide in 2015 for the killing of Jennifer Laude, 26. He was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison — a term that was later reduced to 10 years.


Rather than serving his sentence in a Philippine prison, Lance Corporal Pemberton was held at Camp Aguinaldo, the Philippine military headquarters outside Manila, in keeping with a Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States. That pact gives the U.S. authorities certain jurisdiction over troops who become involved in criminal cases while on training missions here.


Mr. Duterte had threatened to scrap the agreement early this year but reversed his stand in June. His spokesman, Harry Roque, said last week that Mr. Duterte might have granted the pardon to ensure that the Philippines would receive priority consideration for any Covid-19 vaccines being developed by American scientists.


Mr. Roque, who as a lawyer once represented the family of Lance Corporal Pemberton’s victim, criticized a Philippine court’s decision this month to release the Marine less than six years into his sentence. The president’s office initially said it would seek to block the court order before Mr. Duterte announced he was issuing a pardon. On Thursday, Mr. Roque said he respected the president’s decision, which he said was based on the “broader national interest.”


“While I represented the Laude family in the past, if it means that the pardon could result in all Filipinos getting a vaccine if the Americans develop it, I do not have a problem with that,” he said.


On Sunday, Ms. Flores, the lawyer, said that Lance Corporal Pemberton “extends his most sincere sympathy for the pain he caused.”


“He wishes he had the words to express the depth of his sorry and regret,” she added.



2) For Prisoners in the West, the Virus and the Wildfires Are Colliding Threats

Prisoners are more vulnerable than ever to the twin crises of the pandemic and a historic wildfire season.

By Tim Arango and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Sept. 14, 2020

Inmate firefighters clearing a fire line on the Walbridge Fire, during the L.N.U. Complex fires in August. The prisoner firefighting program has long been controversial.

Inmate firefighters clearing a fire line on the Walbridge Fire, during the L.N.U. Complex fires in August. The prisoner firefighting program has long been controversial. Credit...Max Whittaker for The New York Times

As wildfires tore through huge swaths of Oregon this week, prisoners were hurried away from the encroaching flames — not to freedom but to an overcrowded state prison, where they slept shoulder-to-shoulder in cots, and in some cases on the floor. Food was in short supply, showers and toilets few, and fights broke out between rival gang members.


They were safe from one catastrophe, but delivered to another: the coronavirus pandemic, which has spread at an alarming rate in America’s prisons.


“From what we know about Covid-19, how quickly it can spread and how lethal it can be, we have to prepare for the worst,” said Bobbin Singh, executive director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center, a prisoner advocacy organization.


Twin crises of the pandemic and a devastating wildfire season have left a significant toll in prisons along the West Coast. Virus outbreaks have spread through cellblocks — Oregon’s state prison system has had 1,600 infections over the last three months — even as poor ventilation systems have whipped in smoke from the fires outside.


The dilemma for prison officials, too, is complex, as they grapple with managing large facilities through simultaneous dangers. Before the fires started, the virus spread in America’s prisons partly because routine transfers of prisoners proceeded without testing them first for the coronavirus and isolating those infected. Now fires have forced Oregon officials to move so many prisoners so quickly that some inmates and advocates for prisoners say they fear it is only a matter of time before transferred inmates begin falling sick with the virus.



“Right now, it’s this situation of, no matter which way you turn there’s something waiting,” said Rasheed Stanley-Lockhart, who was released from prison in California in January after serving 18 years for armed robbery, and now works for Planting Justice, a nonprofit in Oakland, Calif., that helps newly released prisoners. “Turn here, there’s covid. Turn here, there’s the fires. You turn here, there’s mass incarceration as a whole.”


There have been more than 200,000 coronavirus infections in American prisons and jails and nearly 1,200 deaths since the pandemic began. As the wildfires have raged, the problems have been especially acute in Oregon, where officials ordered evacuations of about 2,750 prisoners.


Kristina Boswell, a prisoner in Oregon who was moved overnight on Friday from a state prison in the fire zone to one away from the threat of fires, described a chaotic evacuation in an audio recording her lawyer shared with The Times. She said prisoners were bound together with zip-ties and loaded into buses in the middle of the night, without their medications or water. When they arrived at the new prison, she said, there was a shortage of mattresses and no chance of social distancing.


“We’re all in dorm settings,” said Ms. Boswell, who was among more than 1,300 female prisoners moved to Deer Ridge Correctional Facility in Madras, Ore. “Everyone is crammed in.”


Ms. Boswell said prisoners were watching newscasts of the fires, and worried about their families outside. She said prisoners had gone almost 24 hours without food.


“I hate not knowing what’s going to happen,” she said. “I’m worried about my family out there.”


Her lawyer, Tara Herivel, a public defender in Portland, said of the wildfire evacuations: “It’s like Covid doesn’t even exist.”


Jennifer Black, a spokeswoman for Oregon’s Department of Corrections, said that the fires had created a highly difficult situation for everyone in the state. “Our daily operations have been affected and life at some of our institutions is not ideal for those who live and work at them,” she said, “However, life and safety are our first priority and we will return to normal operations as soon as conditions allow.”


In California, thousands of dry lightning strikes set off ferocious wildfires in Northern California in August. As thousands of people evacuated homes in the city of Vacaville, and volunteers rescued animals from the encroaching flames, thousands of people incarcerated in two prisons, some suffering from the coronavirus, were not moved. Even the animal shelter just up the road from the prison complex was emptied.


The fire ultimately did not reach the prisons — known as the California State Prison, Solano and the California Medical Facility — but prisoners and their families grew increasingly anxious as the flames crept closer.


A spokesman for the California’s corrections agency said no prisons are currently threatened by wildfires, and that there are “longstanding evacuation contingency plans in place in the event a prison needs to be evacuated.” When the fires were burning near the prisons in Vacaville, the spokesman said prisoners were given N95 masks.


Laurie Johnson said her husband, Orlando Johnson Sr., who is imprisoned at the medical facility for a robbery, had tried to block the fire from his mind — and sight — as it approached, covering up a small window through which he could see smoke and a reddening sky. He smelled the smoke, Ms. Johnson said, and caught a glimpse of a newscast on television that said some Vacaville residents were being ordered to leave their homes.


Ms. Johnson’s husband has asthma and a heart condition that she fears makes him more vulnerable to both the virus and smoky air.


“Half of my life is him, and I have no control over what’s going to happen,” said Ms. Johnson, who lives a half-hour from the prison and has not been able to visit her husband since March because of virus restrictions. “I’m doing all these things on the outside, trying to bring him home sooner, but it’s just Russian roulette — there’s no control.”


Families of prisoners worry that so many people in close quarters could lead to a large virus outbreak, especially because similar prison transfers elsewhere in the country in recent months have turned deadly because of the virus. None of the prisoners who were transferred in Oregon have been tested for the virus, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections, which acknowledged overcrowding at the Oregon State Penitentiary, where prisoners from three facilities have been taken in recent days as the fires intensified.


At San Quentin State Prison in California, 26 inmates have died of the virus and more than 2,500 prisoners and staff have been sickened since infected prisoners from a Southern California prison were transferred to San Quentin in May without being tested.


And at an immigration detention center in Farmville, Virginia, a botched inmate transfer in June led to the death of one detainee and the infection of at least 339 others — nearly every single person housed at the facility, according to court documents and federal data.


Adnan Khan, who was previously incarcerated in California and now runs Re: Store Justice, a criminal justice reform organization, spent three years at the prison in Solano.  As the fires were bearing down in the area last month, he said he spoke with a friend at the prison over the phone.


“I got a call and honestly, man, I could literally hear people coughing in the background,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Is that Covid, what’s going on?’ My friend says, ‘No, there’s fires here.’”


He said his friend told him that corrections officers were walking into the building with ash on their hats and shoulders. Mr. Khan said he had no confidence that prison officials would be able to safely evacuate prisoners if a fire became threatening enough.


“Approximately 7,000 people in both prisons,” he said. “And Covid. And buses. Where are you going to get all these buses from? Fire evacuations are relatively fast. You can’t just take your time.”


In California, some activists who had been lobbying for prison reform because of the pandemic, are now pushing for releases, or at least evacuations, because of the fires.


“As a coalition we came together about Covid and our demand was always mass releases as the only way to mitigate future deaths and to mitigate the pandemic,” said Courtney Morris, an activist in Northern California who helped organize a protest outside the Sacramento home of Ralph Diaz, the secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, for failing to evacuate the prisons in Vacaville. “And then it also became a demand for mass evacuations.”


Mr. Stanley-Lockhart, the former prisoner, said he knows the dangers of fires firsthand. While he was incarcerated, he worked among the ranks of prisoners who joined firefighting crews, and is a trained emergency medical technician.


Every month while he was in San Quentin, he said, he participated in evacuation drills for staff and corrections officers, but still worried that he and other prisoners would be left behind in a fire.


California has long relied on prison firefighting crews to battle blazes. This year, facing a historic wildfire season and with resources stretched thin, there are fewer prisoner firefighters available, either because they were released early because of the pandemic or became sick.


The prisoner firefighting program has long been fiercely debated. Some activists have called it exploitative, because firefighters earn up to just over $5 a day — and an extra $1 per hour while fighting fires — for such dangerous work. $1 an hour for such dangerous work. Others have said it is deeply unfair that once inmate firefighters are released from prison they are not allowed to become professional firefighters because of their criminal records.


As Mr. Stanley-Lockhart was being interviewed on the phone Friday, he suddenly paused when he received a text message, alerting him that Gov. Gavin Newsom of California had just signed a bill that will allow more inmates who work as firefighters while serving their sentences to get jobs with fire departments once they are released.


“Sorry,” he said, as he paused. “That’s huge.”


As a medic in San Quentin, Mr. Stanley-Lockhart found himself increasingly administering care and CPR to aging inmates, another consequence he said of the long sentences that have led to America having the highest incarceration rate in the world.


“It tends to attack your sense of hope,” he said. “If Covid doesn’t get us, the fires will get us. If the fires and Covid don’t get us, we’ll never be able to come out from underneath these sentences.”


Timothy Williams, Mike Baker, Danya Issawi and Libby Seline contributed reporting.



3) When Good People Don’t Act, Evil Reigns

Stop thinking that the horrors of the world will simply work themselves out.

By Charles M. Blow, Opinion Columnist, Sept. 13, 2020

Supporters at President Trump’s rally in Minden, Nev., on Saturday.

Supporters at President Trump’s rally in Minden, Nev., on Saturday. Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

I have often wondered how major world tragedies and horrors were allowed to unfold. Where were all the good people, those who objected or should have? How did life simply go on with a horror in their midst?


How did the trans-Atlantic slave trade play out over hundreds of years? How did slavery thrive in this country? How was the Holocaust allowed to happen? How did the genocides in Rwanda or Darfur come to be?


There is, of course, nearly always an explanation. Often it is official policy; often it is driven by propaganda. But I’m more concerned with how people in the society considered these events at the time, and how any semblance of normalcy could be maintained while events unfolded.


It turns out that our current era is providing the unsettling answer: It was easy.


As I write this, nearly two hundred thousand Americans have died — many of them needlessly — from Covid-19, in large part because the Trump administration has refused to sufficiently address the crisis, be honest with the American people and urge caution. Instead, Trump has lied about the virus, downplayed it, resisted scientists’ warnings and continues to hold rallies with no social distancing and no mask requirements.


Things are poised to get worse: Models now predict that the number of Americans killed by the virus could double between now and Jan. 1. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington:


“We expect the daily death rate in the U.S., because of seasonality and declining public vigilance, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December. Cumulative deaths expected by Jan. 1 are 415,090; this is 222,522 deaths from now until the end of the year.”


And yet, Americans still flock to Trump rallies, Republicans continue to defend his pandemic response and it is not clear that he will be defeated in November. We are, in many states, back to restaurants and bars, schools and churches, gyms and spas. It’s not as if we don’t know that there is a deadly virus being transmitted through the air, but it seems as though many Americans, weary of restrictions, have simply made their peace with it.


We have a climate crisis that continues to worsen. Storms are getting stronger. Droughts are severe. Rivers are flooding. The sea level is rising. And yet, we don’t do nearly enough to stop it and may not do enough before it’s too late to do anything.


Right now much of the West Coast is ablaze with hellish scenes of orange skies, and yet too many of us entertain climate change deniers, or, perhaps worse, know well the gravity and precariousness of the situation and still haven’t changed our habits or voted for the candidates with the boldest visions to save the planet.


Right now, China has detained as many as one million mostly Muslim citizens, in indoctrination camps, hoping to remold many into what The New York Times called “loyal blue-collar workers to supply Chinese factories with cheap labor.”


And yet, the world does little. Many look away. Life goes on.


This is how these catastrophes happen — in full sight — and people with full knowledge don’t revolt. People sometimes think that the issue is far away, or if it’s not, that it’s too big and they are too powerless.


They think provincially, or even parochially, concerned with their own house, their own street, their own community.


“It’s too bad that those children are in cages, but I can’t worry about that now, the clothes in the dryer need folding.”


“It’s too bad that an unarmed Black man just got shot by the police, but I can’t worry about that now, the yard needs mowing.”


I guess in some ways this impulse is self-protecting, preventing the mind and spirit from becoming overwhelmed with angst and rage. But, the result is that evil — as a person or system — rampages, unchecked, taking your personal laissez-faire as public license.


If you don’t complain, you condone.


But this mustn’t be. Stop thinking of yourself as weak or helpless. Stop thinking that things will simply work themselves out. Stop thinking that evil will stop at the gate and not trample your own garden.


Gather the energy. Gather your neighbor. Fight, vote, email, post. Do all you can to stand up for the vulnerable, for the oppressed, for the planet itself. Don’t let history record this moment as it has recorded too many others: a time when good people did too little to confront wickedness and disaster.


As Edmund Burke wrote in his 1770 “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents”: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”


But you may be more familiar with another quote often attributed to Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”



4) Georgia Sheriff’s Deputy Is Fired Over Beating of Black Man

The Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said the deputy was terminated for “excessive use of force” after a video showing him pinning and punching Roderick Walker, 26, was circulated widely on social media.

By Allyson Waller and Aimee Ortiz, Sept. 13, 2020

Roderick Walker, who was beaten during a traffic stop, at the Clayton County Jail in Jonesboro, Ga., on Saturday.
Roderick Walker, who was beaten during a traffic stop, at the Clayton County Jail in Jonesboro, Ga., on Saturday. Credit...The Cochran Firm, via Associated Press

A sheriff’s deputy in Georgia has been fired after video circulated on social media showing him pinning and beating a Black man after a traffic stop, the authorities said on Sunday.


The sheriff’s office in Clayton County, just south of Atlanta, said in a statement that the deputy had been fired for “excessive use of force.” The deputy, whose name was not released, was initially placed on unpaid administrative leave after the department was “made aware of a video posted on social media involving a deputy using physical force on a man,” the sheriff’s office said.


Cellphone footage of the confrontation, which took place on Friday, was recorded by at least two bystanders and shared widely on social media. The videos show two deputies, who are white, pinning and beating the Black man, Roderick Walker, 26, in the street.


Shean Williams, a lawyer representing Mr. Walker and his family, demanded that he be released from the Clayton County Jail in Jonesboro, Ga., where Mr. Walker remained in custody on Sunday on two counts each of battery and obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers, according to jail records.


At a news conference on Saturday night, Mr. Williams said that Mr. Walker and his girlfriend returned a rental car on Friday and then paid a man to take them to their next destination. Mr. Williams said the car they were riding in was pulled over because it had a broken taillight.


The deputies asked Mr. Walker for his identification even though he was not the driver, Mr. Williams said. The deputies “became upset when he inquired — like every American citizen has the right to inquire — ‘Why are you asking me for my ID? I’m not driving, and I have not done anything wrong,’” Mr. Williams said.


“The next thing you know — and you’ve seen on the video — he’s attacked, beaten in his face, throughout his body,” Mr. Williams said. “He is choked, he is unable to breathe.”


At one point, the videos show one of the deputies punch Mr. Walker several times in the head. Both deputies appear to be on top of Mr. Walker, using their body weight to apply pressure to his neck and torso.


Mr. Walker appears to say “I can’t breathe.” He also appears to lose consciousness as the deputies roll him over to reveal his bloodied face. A woman who was recording one of the videos can be heard screaming throughout the interaction, and an officer asks her to return to a car as she pleads with them.


One of Mr. Walker’s four children witnessed the encounter, Mr. Williams said.


The sheriff’s office said in its statement that Mr. Walker had been denied release on bond because of a felony probation warrant out of Fulton County, Ga., for cruelty to children and possession of a firearm by a felon, and a separate warrant for failure to appear in court in Hapeville, Ga.


The department said that Mr. Walker had received medical treatment, including X-rays of his head, and that no fractures were detected. He was being monitored by a doctor in the jail’s hospital, the sheriff said.


Calling for Mr. Walker’s release, Mr. Williams mentioned the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which set off nationwide protests this spring.


“We could, unfortunately, be talking and mourning his life,” Mr. Williams said, surrounded by members of Mr. Walker’s family outside the Clayton County Jail in Jonesboro, Ga. “We have seen this happen in George Floyd. We’ve seen this happen on too many occasions, and we’re just tired of it.”


Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, wrote on Twitter on Saturday night that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation should “immediately take over the investigation.”


The Georgia chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. called for similar action. The organization said in a statement that it was “meeting with the family to come up with legal support and next steps for community action.” In a separate statement on Saturday, it also called for the resignation of the Clayton County sheriff, Victor Hill; for the termination of the two sheriff’s deputies; and for the county’s district attorney to drop all charges against Mr. Walker.



5) Vaccine Makers Keep Safety Details Quiet, Alarming Scientists

Researchers say drug companies need to be more open about how vaccine trials are run to reassure Americans who are skittish about getting a coronavirus vaccine.

By Katie Thomas, Sept. 13, 2020

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of the drug company AstraZeneca, in Washington in February.
Pascal Soriot, chief executive of the drug company AstraZeneca, in Washington in February. Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The morning after the world learned that a closely watched clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine had been halted last week over safety concerns, the company’s chief executive disclosed that a person given the vaccine had experienced serious neurological symptoms.


But the remarks weren’t public. Instead, the chief executive, Pascal Soriot of AstraZeneca, spoke at a closed meeting organized by J.P. Morgan, the investment bank.


AstraZeneca said on Saturday that an outside panel had cleared its trial in Britain to begin again, but the company still has not given any details about the patient’s medical condition, nor has it released a transcript of Mr. Soriot’s remarks to investors, which were reported by the news outlet STAT and later confirmed by an analyst for J.P. Morgan.


Another front-runner in the vaccine race, Pfizer, made a similarly terse announcement on Saturday: The company is proposing to expand its clinical trial to include thousands more participants, but it gave few other details about its plan, including how it would determine the effectiveness of the vaccine in its larger study.


It’s standard for drug companies to withhold details of clinical trials until after they are completed, tenaciously guarding their intellectual property and competitive edge. But these are extraordinary times, and now there is a growing outcry among independent scientists and public health experts who are pushing the companies to be far more open with the public in the midst of a pandemic that has already killed more than 193,000 people in the United States.


These experts say American taxpayers are entitled to know more since the federal government has committed billions of dollars to vaccine research and to buying the vaccines once they’re approved. And greater transparency could also help bolster faltering public confidence in vaccines at a time when a growing number of Americans fear President Trump will pressure federal regulators to approve a vaccine before it is proved safe and effective.


“Trust is in short supply,” said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and health care researcher at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., who has spent years prodding companies and academic researchers to share more trial data with outside scientists. “And the more that they can share, the better off we are.”


Last week, nine pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca and Pfizer, pledged to “stand with science” and rigorously vet any vaccine for the coronavirus — an unusual pact among competitors. But the researchers said that missing from the joint statement was a promise to share more critical details about their research with the public and the scientific community.


None of the three companies with coronavirus vaccines in advanced clinical trials in the United States have made public the protocols and statistical analysis plans for those trials — the detailed road maps that could help the independent scientists better understand how the trials were designed, and hold the companies accountable if they were to deviate from their plans. In some cases, crucial details about how the trials have been set up — such as at what points an independent board can review early study results, or under what conditions a trial could be stopped early — have not been made public.


“We’ve never had such an important clinical trial — or series of clinical trials — in recent history,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif., and a longtime expert on clinical trials. “Everything should be transparent.”


Public confidence in the drug companies’ findings and federal regulators’ rigor will be critical in persuading Americans to get vaccinated. A growing number of people are skeptical. A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation this past week found that nearly two-thirds of Americans — 62 percent — are worried that the Food and Drug Administration will rush to approve a coronavirus vaccine without making sure it is safe and effective, under political pressure from Mr. Trump.


Pharmaceutical companies are counting on their vaccine research to help them rebuild reputations that have been tarnished by soaring drug prices and the industry’s role in fueling the opioid epidemic.


In an effort to restore public trust, senior regulators at the F.D.A. took the highly unusual step of promising in a USA Today op-ed piece on Thursday to uphold the scientific integrity of the process of evaluating treatments and vaccines, and to maintain the agency’s independence.


Representatives for the three companies with vaccine candidates in large, advanced trials in the United States — Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca — said they had released many details about the trials.


Pfizer said in a statement that the novelty of the virus and the fast-moving nature of the coronavirus crisis had meant that the protocol had to be flexible “to enable us to enhance the evaluation of the potential vaccine’s safety and efficacy.” The company said it would publish the full protocol from the trial as part of its submission to a medical journal “that will include results, enrollment criteria and final number of participants enrolled.”


On Saturday, Pfizer said it would ask the F.D.A. for permission to expand its trial to 44,000 participants, from its initial target of 30,000. But the announcement raised new questions about how the company would be able to know the results by its goal of the end of October, with so many new participants. A Pfizer spokeswoman, Amy Rose, said, “We are not going to speak to timing or specifics of any interim analyses.”


AstraZeneca did not initially report that a participant’s illness had halted its clinical trials around the world. The studies were paused last Sunday, but not reported until the news was broken by STAT on Tuesday. The company still has not disclosed the patient’s illness that led to the pause, even though it has discussed the medical condition of another participant who developed multiple sclerosis in July, which led to another brief halt of the trial. That illness was determined to be unrelated to the vaccine.


The company said that Mr. Soriot’s appearance at the J.P. Morgan meeting was part of a long-planned event, and that he largely discussed the company’s business outlook, with a few questions about the trial. The New York Times has reported that the patient developed symptoms consistent with transverse myelitis, or inflammation of the spinal cord.


A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca, Michele Meixell, said that while trial sponsors were required to notify the doctors operating clinical trial sites if an “unexplained event” occurred, “it is not common practice for those pauses to be communicated beyond the clinical community involved in a trial — including the media — in order to protect the privacy of individual participants and maintain the integrity of the trial.”


There is precedent for greater transparency. The large Recovery trial being run by the University of Oxford in Britain — which helped determine that the steroid dexamethasone reduces deaths in patients with Covid-19 — has published its trial protocol and statistical analysis plans.


While the broad outlines of the vaccine trial designs have been made available — including on a federal clinical trial registry — crucial details remain a mystery.


For example, Pfizer’s chief executive has said the company could apply to the F.D.A. for emergency authorization of its vaccine as early as October. But the company has not said how many times — and at what point in the trial — it will allow an independent review board to examine its study data to evaluate whether the evidence of safety and efficacy is strong enough that it can stop the trial early and apply for an emergency approval from federal regulators.


And none of the companies have published the criteria they will use to determine when these outside boards would advise stopping the trial, which could happen if the vaccine showed overwhelming efficacy, if it showed that it did not protect against Covid-19 or if it was linked to serious safety issues.


These so-called interim analyses are the subject of intense interest, because they are the only way that late stage trials could be halted early.


Company executives have provided some trial details when they have spoken on discussion panels or at investor conferences, or in news releases. But researchers looking for clues have had to comb through transcripts, videos and articles posted online, rather than to examine documents that the companies provided.


The lack of transparency is unacceptable, several researchers said, given that the federal government has billion-dollar deals with each of the companies.


“Look, we paid for it,” said Saad B. Omer, the director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. “So it’s reasonable to ask for it.”


A federal clinical trial registry details the number of trial participants, who should be included and excluded from the study, and the main outcomes. But it only skims the surface, Dr. Krumholz said. “The protocols are much more detailed.”


Peter Doshi, who is on the faculty at University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore and an editor with The BMJ, a medical journal, said he recently requested the protocols from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. None of the companies shared them, he said.


“I imagine most of the public would like to believe scientists are all sharing their data, that this process is open to scrutiny among the scientific community,” said Dr. Doshi, who has helped pressure drug makers to share trial records with researchers. “Just not true.”


Dr. Doshi said the protocols could help researchers answer important questions about the studies, and possibly to critique them. For example, can the trials determine whether the vaccine can prevent Covid-19 and complications in high-risk groups like older adults? When the researchers test for the coronavirus, how do they account for false results?


Other independent scientists said they were eager to examine the trials’ statistical analysis plans, which would guide them in analyzing the results.


“Frankly, I would love to know what they’re planning to do, and how they’re planning to do it,” said Dr. Judith Feinberg, the vice chairwoman for research in medicine at West Virginia University in Morgantown.


By making these documents public, outside experts said they would be able to hold the companies accountable if they changed the way they analyzed the results.


“There’s no downside” to sharing the documents, said Dr. Paul A. Offit, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who serves on the F.D.A. advisory committee that will review coronavirus vaccines. “People are skittish about these vaccines. I think it helps to be transparent.”


Dr. Omer said he was in favor of the companies releasing the protocols and analysis plans, but he said he also worried that, in the wrong hands, the technical documents could be misinterpreted.


“You cannot kid around with this kind of stuff,” he said. In the long run, however, he said it was to the companies’ advantage to allow qualified researchers to evaluate the plans.


If independent researchers agreed the trials were set up properly — and Dr. Omer said he expected that would be the case — that could help enhance their credibility. They can say: “Hold your horses. No need to jump up and down.”



6) Human Weakness Is Responsible for This Poisonous Air

Maybe the wildfires will finally force America to recognize that.

By Farhad Manjoo, Opinion Columnist, Sept. 16, 2020

The wildfires and poisonous air in the American West are best seen as a product of negligence at all levels of society. Credit...Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Among the few remaining advantages that Americans can claim over other countries is the relative cleanliness of our air. Air pollution is a leading risk factor for early death; it is linked to an estimated four million premature fatalities around the world annually. But over the last 50 years, since Congress passed environmental legislation in 1970, air quality in the United States has steadily improved. Today, America’s air is significantly cleaner than in much of the rest of the world, including in many of our wealthy, industrialized peers.


Well, not literally today, considering I needed an N95 mask to walk to the mailbox this morning. Over the last few years, for weeks and sometimes months in late summer and fall, my home state, California, and other parts of the American West erupt in hellish blaze, and plumes of smoke turn the heavens visibly toxic.


In some of the country’s most populous cities in the last few weeks, the concentration of dangerous particulates in the air shot up to levels worse than the averages in the most polluted cities in China, India and Pakistan. Ash generated by some of the largest wildfires in California’s and Oregon’s history fell across the region like snow. The sky burned Martian orange — a hue so alien that smartphones struggled to faithfully photograph it.


I have been searching for some glint of optimism during an otherwise bleak time. While choking through a walk this past weekend (I had to leave the house), I came up with this: Maybe such disasters will finally force us to recognize the steep costs of incompetent, neglectful, uncaring government.


Like America’s failed response to the coronavirus, the wildfires and poisonous air are best seen as a product of negligence at all levels of society, from individuals to cities and states to a federal government that, in recent decades, exited the business of getting anything done. These were natural disasters exacerbated by human weaknesses: a reluctance to plan, a preference for denial over prevention, for consumption and convenience over caution, and for quick fixes over lasting change.


Now, the singed chickens are coming home to roost. Militarily and economically, the United States remains an indomitable superpower. But in just about every other way, we have been exposed as a fragile nation, whose overlapping vulnerabilities can be attributed to a political system that has ceased caring about the most basic of citizens’ needs — even that of fresh air.


Donald Trump did not cause these fires; no lawmaker did. But as I watched the president’s brief photo op this week — he popped into town near Sacramento on Monday for about two hours, a layover between campaign events in Nevada and Arizona — it struck me that he is the embodiment of a political and cultural rot that will remain long after he’s left the scene.


In Sacramento, all of Trump’s familiar tics were on display. There was magical thinking: “It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch,” he told a state official who implored him to recognize that climate change is contributing to worsening wildfire seasons. There was the absence of empathy, with just a perfunctory mention of the people who’ve lost homes and businesses. And there was ego-driven denial. When the official pointed out that scientific consensus disagreed with Trump, the president all but pouted and stuck his fingers in his ears. “I don’t think science knows, actually,” he said.


Science does know, actually. Trump has argued that California’s fires could be addressed by better forest management. “You gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests,” he said last month. He’s not totally wrong. Experts do say that improved management would mitigate fires (though they prescribe managed burns rather than whatever “cleaning floors” might mean).


But that is far from the whole story. A barrage of scientific evidence shows that climate change has intensified droughts and hotter, drier weather across the Western United States, which has made brush, trees and other organic matter more combustible. According to one study, between 1984 and 2015, climate change contributed to the near-doubling of the geographical area vulnerable to wildfires in the West. To put it in a way that might register with the president: We now have twice as much floor to clean.


If you live in the West, the connection between climate change and fire is unavoidable. A month ago, we suffered a record-breaking heat wave that baked the earth into kindling. Then the match was struck. The Bay Area woke up to a sky flashing blue with dry lightning — lightning unaccompanied by rain. Nearly 9,000 strikes hit the ground, sparking fires across the region.


Can the climate-denying right really continue to ignore this basic cause-and-effect? Trump’s brand of denial is hardly unique. In some ways, it is embedded in our political system. Trump has ignored climate change because it’s been politically easy to do so. The effects of climate change are imprecise, and in the case of the wildfires, they’re almost not his problem, as the Electoral College allows him to write off the West Coast entirely. (Trump often tweets as if “blue states” are not even part of the country.)


The political challenges will remain even if Joe Biden wins the White House and Democrats gain control of Congress. Environmental legislation is difficult: It imposes identifiable short-term costs and inconveniences on people and businesses in return for long-term benefits for society as a whole.


It may seem that passing rules to protect the earth would require unusual political courage. But we have tackled these problems before. The late 1960s and early 1970s were no model of political comity in the United States; that era, like ours, was a time of intense polarization, with a citizenry restive for change.


But according to a fascinating history of the Clean Air Act by Brigham Daniels, Andrew P. Follett and Joshua Davis that was published recently in the Hastings Law Journal, Richard Nixon and Democrats in Congress passed the law precisely because Americans had become so cynical about their government. Lawmakers saw fixing the environment as a difficult goal they could nevertheless achieve: “Vietnam, civil rights, and Soviet tension may all have been out of reach, but cleaning the air seemed to be attainable, and gains could be measured and seen,” the authors write.


The same logic holds today. Dirty air and fire surround us, but we still have the collective capacity to mitigate them. Breathing is important. Let’s get to it.



7) It’s Not Just the West. These Places Are Also on Fire.

Extreme temperatures and more severe droughts, the result of human-caused climate change, have created a world that’s ready to burn.

By Veronica Penney, Sept. 16, 2020

A volunteer firefighter at work in the Pantanal region of southern Brazil last month. Credit...Maria Magdalena Arrellaga for The New York Times

Wildfires are devastating the American West, but the United States isn’t the only place on Earth that’s burning. This year, other countries have also experienced their worst wildfires in decades, if not all of recorded history.


In each case, the contributing factors are different, but an underlying theme runs through the story: Hotter, drier seasons, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, have made the world more prone to erupt in flames.


“We don’t have a fire problem; we have many fire problems,” said Stephen J. Pyne, an emeritus professor at Arizona State University who studies wildfires and their history. “One, obviously, is a deep one. It has to do with fossil fuels and climate.”


Here’s a look at some of the worst recent blazes and how humans played a role in them.


The Arctic and Siberia


The Arctic as a whole is experiencing warming at more than twice the pace of the rest of the world. Record-low snow cover, high temperatures and dry soils, almost certainly a result of human-caused climate change, have all contributed to the fires.


This summer, portions of the Arctic shattered wildfire records set just last year, which at the time was the worst fire season in 60 years. The Russian town of Verkhoyansk became the first place above the Arctic Circle to experience temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 38 Celsius, in June. Record heat also thawed combustible, but usually frozen, peatland, which fed wildfires that burned an area roughly the size of Belgium.


While no lives were lost, smoke smothered the Russian countryside and the burned land emitted a surge of planet-warming carbon dioxide — about as much as Norway emits annually.




In the humid tropics, climatic conditions play a smaller role in wildfires. There, clearing and burning land for agriculture is the primary cause of fires.


In July, Central Kalimantan Province on Borneo declared a state of emergency as fires burned out of control. That followed severe fires in Indonesia last year and in 2015, the year of a drought in the country that was linked to El Niño, the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that can affect weather worldwide.


Even without dry conditions, though, agricultural practices played a crucial role in the fires.


“It’s very, very rare to see fires naturally,” said Ruth DeFries, a professor of sustainable development at Columbia University. “When we see fires in the humid tropics, there is a human ignition source behind it.”


“Without the land use, you could have dry conditions associated with El Niño and not have fires,” Dr. DeFries said.




The worst fires on record are burning now in the Pantanal wetlands in the country’s south. Farther north, in the Amazon rain forest, tens of thousands of fires are still burning after a summer of blazes. In June, Brazilian officials called the Amazon fires the worst in 13 years.


As in Indonesia, deforestation for agriculture is a primary culprit. Farmers and ranchers cut down trees on the edge of the rainforest and set them on fire to clear the land for crops or grazing. But climate change is a force multiplier: During droughts like the current one in the country, those fires penetrate farther into forests, burning more trees and causing more damage.


Unlike the wildfires in California, which burn tree canopies, fires in the Amazon often creep along the forest floor “essentially no higher than my knee,” said Jennifer Balch, an associate professor of geography at the University of Colorado Boulder and director of the university’s Earth Lab. “And they can go for a very long period of time.”




Fires are raging now across grasslands in the Paraná Delta and around farmland in central Argentina, where farmers and ranchers have been burning fields for a century to improve their soil. This year, the fires got out of control.


“It’s easy for fires to leave the perimeters of someone’s property and just burn huge areas,” said Virginia Iglesias, a research scientist at the Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder who lived in Argentina most of her life.


“It’s the end of winter, and it’s been a really, really dry winter,” Dr. Iglesias said. “These exceptionally dry conditions in central Argentina, and in many other areas of the country, create conditions that are perfect for fires once you have fuel.”




At the beginning of this year, Australia was just emerging from its worst wildfire season on record. Thousands of homes were lost and millions of acres burned. At least 30 people died. Estimates of the number of animals killed range between a few hundred million and a billion.


Researchers found that human-caused climate change played a significant role in the fires, making the high-risk conditions that led to widespread burning at least 30 percent more likely than in a world without global warming.


Now, as the Southern Hemisphere heads into spring, Australians are bracing themselves for a new season of blazes. Officials say they doubt this year’s fires will be as severe, because there is simply not much left to burn, but homeowners are still hastening to clear shrubs and weeds, and complete prescribed burns.


In the short term, Dr. Pyne said, we can mitigate fire risks by designing more fire-safe communities, creating better evacuation plans and improving fire management on wild lands.


“Prescribed fire is clearly going to be a part of that,” he said. “If you think of fire as a contagion, which in many ways it is, prescribed burning is part of herd immunity.”


When it comes to human causes of climate change, “We need to take action, but that will take a long time,” Dr. Pyne said. “We are going to be living with an enhanced fire world for decades, at least.”



8) Police or Prosecutor Misconduct Is at Root of Half of Exoneration Cases, Study Finds

Wrongly convicted Black defendants were slightly more likely than whites to be victims of misconduct, especially in drug and murder investigations.

By Aimee Ortiz, Sept. 16, 2020


These five men were wrongfully convicted as teenagers of raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989. A new report found men and Black exonerees “were modestly more likely to experience misconduct.” Credit...Mario Tama/Getty Images

Official misconduct played a role in the criminal convictions of more than half of innocent people who were later exonerated, according to a new report by a registry that tracks wrongful convictions.


According to the report, by the National Registry of Exonerations, official misconduct contributed to false convictions in 54 percent of exonerations, usually with more than one type of misconduct. Over all, men and Black exonerees “were modestly more likely to experience misconduct,” although there were larger differences by race when it came to drug crimes and murder.


The report comes at a time of reckoning for the American criminal justice system as nationwide civil unrest against racism and police brutality continue.


“Official misconduct damages truth-seeking by our criminal justice system and undermines public confidence,” Samuel Gross, a professor emeritus of law at the University of Michigan and the report’s lead author, said in a statement on Tuesday.


“It steals years — sometimes decades — from the lives of innocent people,” said Professor Gross, senior editor of the registry. “The great majority of wrongful convictions are never discovered, so the scope of the problem is much greater than these numbers show.”


The study, which is based on 2,400 exonerations recorded in the registry from 1989 until early 2019, found that prosecutors and police officers committed misconduct at comparable rates (30 percent and 34 percent). In federal cases, however, prosecutors “committed misconduct more than twice as often as police,” especially in federal white-collar cases in which they “committed misconduct seven times as often as police, ” according to the report.


The report details the different types of misconduct that can occur at different stages of a case. Nearly all of the official misconduct identified falls into five general categories: witness tampering, misconduct in interrogations, fabricating evidence, concealing exculpatory evidence and misconduct at trial.


Over all, the study found that exonerated Black defendants “were slightly more likely than white defendants to be victims of official misconduct,” by a margin of 57 percent to 52 percent. The disparity grew when it came to drug crimes (47 percent to 22 percent) and for murder cases, (78 percent to 64 percent). In exonerations involving death sentences, there was misconduct in 87 percent of the cases involving Black defendants compared with 68 percent for white defendants.


On Tuesday, Joel Feinman, the chief public defender in Pima County, Ariz., which includes Tucson, called the report “one of the least surprising things I read this morning.”


Mr. Feinman, said that prosecutorial misconduct, which was detailed in the report, rarely garnered “the attention it deserves.”


“As few police officers as there are who are arrested and convicted of official misconduct, there are almost no prosecutors” who face such consequences, Mr. Feinman said, adding, “I’ve never heard of any prosecutor being arrested for misconduct, and almost no prosecutors are fired or disbarred for misconduct.”


The new report follows a 2017 study by the registry that found that Black people were more likely to be wrongfully convicted than their white counterparts, and more likely to spend more time in prison before being exonerated.


Kalfani Turè, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Quinnipiac University and a former police officer, said on Tuesday that the new report reinforced “what we know and understand, or we suspect, about race and policing and also prosecutorial misconduct.”


Dr. Turè, who is also the senior fellow of the Urban Ethnography Project at Yale, said the report was a tough condemnation of the criminal justice system, and it supported the Black Lives Matter critique that the system itself, from the point of entry with law enforcement officers to encounters with prosecutors, is rife with corruption, “and it seems to be of the racist sort.”


“In fairness, this report doesn’t make the case that both prosecutors and all police are somehow racist,” he said. “But it certainly demonstrates that there’s a disparity, and there’s a consistent disparity in the sort of wrongful convictions.”


Dr. Turè said he wasn’t shocked by the report, calling it “damning.”


“It’s consistent with what I know professionally,” he said. “But it’s also part of this sort of consistent outcry by members of the Black community and members of the Latinx community that corruption is in fact part of their experience.”


Andrea Headley, an assistant professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown, said the report’s findings were “a clear example of what I would call a ‘pipeline’ problem from police to courts and back again, especially considering accountability after misconduct is found.”


Professor Headley noted in an email interview on Tuesday that this not only reduced trust in the criminal justice system over all, but also reduced reliance on the system for ensuring and enhancing public safety and as a solution for crime.


“Trust is rarely built with grand gestures,” she said. “But more about small moments that lay a foundation, either for the better or worse.”


Jeffrey Bellin, a junior professor at the William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Va., and a former prosecutor, called the trial of an innocent person “the most important test of our criminal justice system.” He said it was not surprising that “when the system fails that test by convicting someone who is innocent, police and prosecutors are often implicated in that failure.”


“At the same time, this is a part of the problem that can most easily be fixed,” Professor Bellin said.


“Part of that fix, as I have written extensively, is cultural,” he added. “Prosecutors need to see themselves as part of a system that does justice, not as unilaterally responsible for convicting those who they perceive to be guilty.”



9) How Does the Federal Eviction Moratorium Work? It Depends Where You Live

From state to state, and even judge to judge, a simple-sounding order by the C.D.C. on eviction cases is open to interpretation.

By Matthew Goldstein, Sept. 16, 2020

Marilyn Hoffman lost her job as an aide at a group home for mentally disabled adults and is now facing eviction from her home in Sanford, N.C. Credit...Kate Medley for The New York Times

Fending off an eviction could depend on which judge a renter in financial trouble is given, despite a federal government order intended to protect renters at risk of being turned out.


The order, a moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is meant to avoid mass evictions and contain the spread of the coronavirus. All a qualifying tenant must do is sign a declaration printed from the C.D.C. website and hand it over to his or her landlord.


But it’s not as simple as it sounds: Landlords are still taking tenants to court, and what happens next varies around the country.


Some judges say the order, which was announced on Sept. 1, prevents landlords from even beginning an eviction case, which can take months to play out. Some say a case can proceed, but must freeze at the point where a tenant would be removed — usually under the watchful eye of a sheriff or constable. Other judges have allowed cases to move forward against tenants who insist they should be protected, and at least one judge, in North Carolina, has raised questions about whether the C.D.C.’s order is even constitutional.


The uneven treatment means where tenants stand depends on where they live.


“It’s paramount that we have uniform enforcement,” said Emily Benfer, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law who has been tracking the differing interpretations of the C.D.C. moratorium.


With millions of people unemployed and no progress on an agreement on another relief package, housing advocates and legal aid lawyers are fretting over the confusion. They say they are going to unusual lengths to inform tenants — who usually go to court without a lawyer — of their rights under the moratorium. In Kentucky, there is an online tool for generating declarations. In Atlanta, lawyers created a YouTube video about how to comply with the order. In Indianapolis, housing lawyers are working with the city on a plan to better publicize the need for tenants to sign a declaration of their inability to pay because of the health crisis.


But most pressing, lawyers say, are the wildly varying interpretations of what seems like a simple order.


The C.D.C. says individual renters expecting to make under $99,000 in 2020 are protected until the end of the year if they sign a declaration — under penalty of perjury — that eviction would be likely to leave them homeless or force them to live in close quarters with others. When the order was issued, most legal experts believed that the act of handing the declaration to the landlord would keep the landlord from even filing an eviction case. If the case had already begun, experts believed, the signed declaration would halt the process.


Marilyn Hoffman showed up to a hearing in North Carolina — where court administrators informed state court clerks last week that the protections “must be invoked by a tenant” — and expected to have her eviction case put on hold. But the judge refused to accept her signed declaration.


Ms. Hoffman, who rents a single-family house in Sanford, N.C., said the judge seemed to be under the impression the C.D.C. order applied only to rental apartments that were covered by a previous moratorium under the CARES Act, which had a more limited scope.


“He was very rude. He said, ‘This doesn’t apply to you,’” said Ms. Hoffman, who had lost her job as an aide at a group home for mentally disabled adults and now volunteers at a homeless shelter.


The judge gave Ms. Hoffman, whose monthly rent is $649, 10 days to come up with more than $3,000 in back rent and late fees or face eviction. A group of volunteers tried to appeal the judge’s order on Monday but were told by a court clerk that Ms. Hoffman first needed to pay $500 toward the overdue rent, one of her representatives said.


“If I had the money, I would pay the rent,” she said.


Isaac Sturgill, a Legal Aid lawyer in North Carolina, said judges were doing “a mix of things” for tenants who invoked the C.D.C. moratorium, and eventually they should be more consistent. “Judges and magistrates need an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the law and process it,” he said.


In New Hampshire, the state’s Supreme Court has put the onus on the landlords. An order from the court said they must file affidavits stating that they are in compliance with the C.D.C. order before commencing an eviction proceeding and must notify the court if at any point a tenant signs a declaration saying she can’t pay rent because of the pandemic.


Other states fall somewhere in the middle. In Missouri, some courts are allowing landlords to file eviction cases as long as the landlord states that the tenant has not signed a declaration. In Michigan, court administrators said it was a matter of “judicial interpretation” whether landlords could continue to file eviction actions.


But even with guidance there can be confusion. Geoff Moulton, the Pennsylvania state court administrator, told judges that the plain language of the C.D.C. order means a signed declaration prevents the filing of an eviction and suspends any pending cases. But in a follow-up message to the judges, he said his earlier memo was not intended “to supplant judicial interpretation.”


In Maryland, tenants can’t use declarations to keep an eviction case from starting, but they can use them as a defense once a case begins. The only thing the declaration automatically prevents, according to the Maryland Supreme Court, is a judgment of eviction that puts a renter out on the street.


Maryland is essentially saying tenants have no choice but to go to court if they want to keep their homes, said Matthew Vocci, a Baltimore-area housing lawyer. “That seems to encourage more people to attend in-person court proceedings,” he said. “I’m not a scientist or a physician but I’m uneasy about having more people inside courtrooms.”


Landlord groups have problems with the moratorium, too, because they’re being asked to house nonpaying renters while still paying their own bills, including mortgages, utilities and taxes. Tenant and landlord organizations alike argue that the moratorium would work better if it were paired with money for rent-assistance programs, which would allow everyone to pay their bills.


But with little indication there will be an agreement on another stimulus bill, landlords have already have started fighting the moratorium. Last week, one landlord filed a legal challenge in federal court in Atlanta. That lawsuit contends the C.D.C. order is unconstitutional because it impairs private contract rights and the C.D.C. lacks the authority to “order state courts and relevant state actors not to process summary evictions.”


And even as they argue that the C.D.C. has overstepped, property owners are still filing eviction cases.


Corporate landlords, including private equity firms, filed more than 1,500 eviction actions in large counties in Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Texas since the C.D.C. announced it was imposing a moratorium, according to Private Equity Stakeholder Project, an advocacy group.


Jim Baker, the group’s executive director, said tenants have hardly had a chance to figure out how the moratorium works.


Tonya McElroy, a home health care aide in Georgia who hasn’t worked since March, is awaiting a court hearing to find out if she will be able to stay in her apartment. She owes more than $5,000 in rent.


Ms. McElroy, who has a 12-year-old grandson living with her, was protected by the CARES Act moratorium until it expired in late July. Her landlord filed an eviction action against her on Aug. 31, the day before the C.D.C. announced the new order.


Ms. McElroy is trying to get rental assistance — one of the things she must try to do to qualify for the moratorium. And her daughter helped her print a copy of the declaration from a website and leave it in the landlord’s dropbox. But nobody has returned her calls.


Now, “they won’t even talk to me,” said Ms. McElroy, who couldn’t come up with enough money for a burial service for her father this summer. “All they said is if I didn’t have the money, they will file an eviction order.”



10) War Crime Risk Grows for U.S. Over Saudi Strikes in Yemen

State Department officials have raised alarms about the legal risk in aiding airstrikes that kill civilians. The Trump administration recently suppressed findings as it sold more weapons to Gulf nations.

By Michael LaForgia and Edward Wong, Published Sept. 14, 2020, Updated Sept. 16, 2020

Burying a child who was killed in an airstrike in Sana, Yemen, in 2017. Credit...Yahya Arhab/European Pressphoto Agency

WASHINGTON — The civilian death toll from Saudi Arabia’s disastrous air war over Yemen was steadily rising in 2016 when the State Department’s legal office in the Obama administration reached a startling conclusion: Top American officials could be charged with war crimes for approving bomb sales to the Saudis and their partners.


Four years later, more than a dozen current and former U.S. officials say the legal risks have only grown as President Trump has made selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Middle East nations a cornerstone of his foreign policy.


Yet rather than taking steps to address the legal issues, State Department leaders have gone to great lengths to conceal them. Even after a State Department inspector general investigation this year revealed that the department had failed to address the legal risks of selling bombs to the Saudis, agency officials ensured that details of the finding were put in a classified part of the public report released in August, and then so heavily redacted that lawmakers with security clearances could not see them.


The concerns will be the subject of a congressional hearing on Wednesday. House lawmakers are expected to question senior State Department officials, including the agency’s top lawyer and the assistant secretary overseeing weapons sales.


Legal scholars say U.S. officials are right to be concerned. No episode in recent American history compares to Yemen, where the United States has provided material support over five years to the Saudi-led coalition for actions that have caused the continuous killing of civilians. More than 127,000 people have died in the war, including 13,500 civilians in targeted attacks, according to an estimate from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.


U.S. officials have had full knowledge of the pattern of indiscriminate killing, which makes them legally vulnerable. Legal scholars say prosecutors abroad — including those from nations like Sweden, Germany and Argentina that assert universal jurisdiction over war crimes anywhere in the world — could bring charges against American officials. Although there has been no move so far by any foreign court to do so, some State Department officials who shepherd arms sales overseas are worried enough to consider retaining their own legal counsel and have discussed the possibility of being arrested while vacationing abroad.


“If I were in the State Department, I would be freaking out about my potential for liability,” said Oona Hathaway, a Yale Law School professor and a Defense Department lawyer in the Obama administration. “I think anyone who’s involved in this program should get themselves a lawyer. It’s very dangerous territory the U.S. is in, continuing to provide support given the number of civilians who have been killed.”


There are precedents. Spanish prosecutors in 2009 pursued charges against six officials in the George W. Bush administration over torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, although a higher court dismissed the case.


Beyond courts in sovereign nations, charges against Americans over Yemen could also be brought in an international tribunal if one were set up to investigate atrocities in that war. United Nations investigators last week issued a detailed report on atrocities in Yemen that asked the Security Council to refer actions by all parties to an international tribunal for potential war crimes prosecution, a sign of momentum behind the idea of legal action.


International judges and prosecutors are at the same time more eagerly embracing the idea of holding Americans accountable for wartime actions in other parts of the world. In March, the International Criminal Court in The Hague ruled that its chief prosecutor could open an investigation into the actions of American forces in the Afghanistan war — the first time the court had authorized a case against the United States. The Trump administration responded this month by imposing sanctions on the chief prosecutor and another court lawyer, a sign of how seriously it takes the potential of war crimes charges.


State Department spokespeople declined to discuss the decision-making process but issued a statement that said the agency had a strategy to lessen civilian casualties before the last major arms sale to the Saudi-led coalition in May 2019. They added that the department had “continued to work tirelessly” on reducing civilian harm in Yemen and elsewhere, citing redesigned policies, expanded analyses and new training for the Saudis and the Emiratis, who are part of the Saudi-led coalition.


The Obama administration had its own struggles with Yemen. When a State Department lawyer determined in 2016 that American officials could be charged with war crimes, the agency’s top lawyer effectively set the opinion aside when he decided not to send the analysis to the secretary of state’s office. By then the administration was already taking a tougher line on civilian deaths in Yemen. That December, a month before leaving office, President Barack Obama blocked a shipment of precision-guided bombs that he had agreed to sell to the Saudis.


But within months, the new Trump administration delivered the bombs Mr. Obama had halted. Then the administration sought to advance still more sales: $8.1 billion in weapons and equipment in 22 batches, including $3.8 billion in precision-guided bombs and bomb parts made by Raytheon Company, to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


Lawmakers blocked shipments for nearly two years, until Secretary of State Mike Pompeo instructed his subordinates to circumvent Congress. They did so by declaring an emergency over Iran, which prompted the inspector general review. That investigation not only documented the longstanding legal worries but also created a critical report that could itself increase the legal risks, scholars said.


“The findings could be used as evidence in the future against U.S. officials or the U.S. government,” said Ryan Goodman, a New York University law professor who was a Defense Department lawyer in the Obama administration.


With the civilian death toll rising in Yemen, the American role in the war has become a significant political issue.


Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential candidate who was vice president when the conflict began, says he would end U.S. support for the war. By contrast, Mr. Trump is doubling down on arms sales and boasting of revenue from the Saudis.


“I have a very good relationship with them,” Mr. Trump said during an interview in February. “They buy billions and billions and billions of dollars of product from us. They buy tens of billions of dollars of military equipment.”


The Specter of War Crimes


In March 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition first moved to dislodge Houthi rebels who had captured Sana, the Yemeni capital, Mr. Obama agreed to support the effort. His administration signed off on the sale of $1.3 billion in precision-guided bombs and bomb parts to replenish Saudi stockpiles depleted “due to the high operational tempo” in Yemen.


But it quickly became clear that the Saudis and their partners at the time, including the Emiratis, were either using the bombs negligently or deliberately aiming them at civilians. In the first 18 months of fighting, human rights groups linked American bombs to attacks on homes, apartment buildings, factories, warehouses, a cultural center, an agricultural complex, a primary school and other nonmilitary sites.


As concerns over such strikes were intensifying in Washington, the State Department’s legal office examined whether American officials who approved arms sales to the Saudis and their partners faced legal risks.


Drawing on an international tribunal case against Charles Taylor, the Liberian warlord, that the United States has cited in Qaeda prosecutions, the legal office reached the alarming conclusion that it put in writing in a memo in 2016: American officials, including the secretary of state, could be charged with war crimes for their role in arming the Saudi coalition, according to six current and former government officials with knowledge of the memo.


That year, scholars discussed a law journal paper laying out a war crimes argument for that type of conflict written by Brian Finucane, a State Department lawyer assigned to the agency’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which oversees arms exports. Speaking in a private capacity at a Yale Law School conference in 2018 on the Yemen war, Mr. Finucane said officials who could be prosecuted were “those who have decision-making authority or veto authority.” He added, “I think you’re looking at potentially very senior individuals.”


But the top State Department lawyer never sent the memo to the secretary of state’s office. Legal scholars say the government’s national security lawyers often engage in an increasingly problematic practice: refraining from enshrining blunt legal opinions that might tie the hands of policymakers. Brian Egan, the department’s legal adviser at the time, did not respond to requests for comment. (Reuters reported on aspects of the concerns in 2016.)


Though the analysis did not advance within the State Department, the Obama administration opened a policy review, and Secretary of State John Kerry tried to broker a cease-fire.


Since 2018, Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, has asked the State Department to release the memo, but it has refused to do so.


Scrambling for a Legal Shield


Over the spring of 2017, Mr. Trump’s aides and some State Department officials worked to unfreeze the bomb delivery that Mr. Obama had halted. Mr. Trump and his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, were preparing for a trip to Saudi Arabia that May and were eager for a big presidential announcement in Riyadh on the restart of U.S. arms sales.


Still, officials in the Political-Military Affairs Bureau wanted assurances that they could do the president’s bidding on arms sales without putting themselves in legal jeopardy. During one White House meeting before the trip, Mike Miller, then a senior State Department official involved in arms sales, put the concerns bluntly, according to two officials. He said he was worried he could be found liable for aiding the killing of civilians.


U.S. officials set to work to address the concerns. They had been given an opening by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who in March at the Pentagon had pressed the visiting Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince, to “stop bombing the women and children.” The crown prince agreed to take steps to curb the killing. Over weeks, U.S. officials drafted guidelines for the Saudi and American governments to follow as a condition of future arms sales.


The officials envisioned the plan not only saving civilian lives, but also offering protection against claims of American complicity in war crimes.


“We worked pretty rigorously to try to give them a sense that this was now going to be a harder sell,” Tina S. Kaidanow, who headed the Political-Military Affairs Bureau at the time, said of the Saudis.


But as Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner prepared for the Saudi trip, officials pared back the guidelines in their effort to push through the weapons sales.


Emails obtained by The Times show that Stuart E. Jones, then the acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, and his colleagues discussed how to draft acceptable language about the use of precision-guided munitions for a letter that Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, was to sign before Mr. Trump’s trip.


In April 2017, Timothy A. Lenderking, a deputy assistant secretary in the bureau, wrote to Mr. Jones that he had met with State Department lawyers “and agreed on edits to cut back the language of the letter.” The next day, Mr. Jones wrote that Mr. al-Jubeir had “quickly agreed” to sign a letter. (Mr. Jones, who left the State Department in 2018, referred questions to the department.)


The letter listed about five assurances, including a promise by the Saudis to have their forces take part in a $750 million training program run by the U.S. military.


In Riyadh, Mr. Trump and King Salman announced the arms deal.


‘A Horror Show’


After Mr. Trump abruptly fired his first secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, in March 2018, and as Mr. Pompeo awaited Senate confirmation to lead the State Department, John J. Sullivan, the deputy secretary, served as the agency’s acting head.


The officials worried about the arms sales believed Mr. Sullivan to be attentive to the humanitarian concerns in the Yemen war. In the roughly three weeks he was running the department, they sent an appeal for legal clarity.


Mr. Sullivan responded by approving a memo the officials had drafted that recommended carrying out a robust strategy to reduce civilian casualties and updating the legal analysis before the bomb sales moved forward, according to two U.S. officials. But the agency failed to do those, the inspector general later determined.


Mr. Pompeo took over soon after. That August, a coalition jet dropped an American-made bomb on a Yemeni school bus, killing 54 people, including 44 children, in an attack that Mr. Trump would later call “a horror show.”


The next month, Mr. Pompeo issued a formal certification to Congress that the Saudi-led coalition was working to minimize civilian deaths, despite news reports and internal State Department assessments to the contrary. Senior department officials had warned Mr. Pompeo against the certification, in part because they had grown more anxious over the legal issues, officials said.


The move provoked a backlash in Congress and strengthened lawmakers’ resolve to continue blocking arms sales.


By April 2019, Mr. Pompeo was frustrated by the delay, and senior State Department political appointees were discussing a rarely invoked tactic to force through $8.1 billion in weapons sales without congressional approval: declaring an emergency over Iran.


At the center of those discussions was Marik String, a former Senate aide who had joined the State Department in 2017. By January 2019, he had become the acting head of the Political-Military Affairs Bureau and closely oversaw the emergency planning.


Mr. Pompeo announced the emergency on May 24, 2019, and the stalled weapons deals moved forward, including the sale of some 120,000 bombs and bomb parts to the Saudis and Emiratis.


But no updated civilian casualty mitigation strategy or legal analysis was carried out before the equipment was shipped, according to the inspector general’s report.


Released this August, the report said that although Mr. Pompeo did not violate the law in declaring an emergency, the State Department had failed to take proper measures to reduce civilian casualties and the associated legal risk.


Notably, the public section of the final report did not include a recommendation from an earlier draft: The department should “update its analysis of legal and policy risks” related to selling bombs to the Saudi coalition, according to text obtained by The Times. The language of that recommendation was edited and moved to the classified annex after pressure from department officials.


The day Mr. Pompeo declared the emergency, he also promoted Mr. String to be the State Department’s top lawyer. From that position, Mr. String tried to pressure Steve A. Linick, the inspector general, to drop his investigation, Mr. Linick said in congressional testimony this June. Mr. String’s office also handled the redacting of the report, while R. Clarke Cooper, the current head of Political-Military Affairs, pushed to classify the most significant material — after he had been an interview subject in the investigation. This May, Mr. Pompeo pushed Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Linick.


Since the emergency declaration, which applied to only the sales last year, the Saudis and their partners have sought to buy more American bombs. About $800 million in orders is now pending, held up in the same congressional review process that had frustrated Mr. Pompeo and the White House.


The Emirates announced last summer that it was withdrawing most of its forces from the grinding war in Yemen, but it continues to fight in the Libyan war.


From July to early August this year, at least three airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen killed civilians, including a total of nearly two dozen children, according to the United Nations, aid workers and Houthi rebels. One strike occurred during a celebration after the birth of a newborn baby, a human rights worker said. The boy, just 1 week old, did not survive.



11) Documents Reveal How the Police Kept Daniel Prude’s Death Quiet

Officials in Rochester, N.Y., spent months trying to suppress video footage of the police encounter that led to Mr. Prude’s death.

By Michael Wilson and Edgar Sandoval, Published Sept. 15, 2020, Updated Sept. 16, 2020


City records show how officials sought to frame the narrative around Daniel Prude’s death in the hours and days after his encounter with the police.

Daniel Prude was in Rochester visiting his brother when he was detained by the police. Credit...Roth and Roth LLP, via Associated Press

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It was early June, days after the death of George Floyd, and cities around the country were erupting in protests against police brutality.


In Rochester, the streets were relatively calm, but behind closed doors, police and city officials were growing anxious. A Black man, Daniel Prude, had died of suffocation in March after police officers had placed his head in a hood and pinned him to the ground. The public had never been told about the death, but that would change if police body camera footage of the encounter got out.


“We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers’ actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed Black men by law enforcement nationally,” a deputy Rochester police chief wrote in an email to his boss. “That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result.”


His advice was clear: Don’t release the body camera footage to the Prude family’s lawyer. The police chief replied minutes later: “I totally agree.”


The June 4 exchange was contained in a mass of city documents released on Monday that show how the police chief, La’Ron Singletary, and other prominent Rochester officials did everything in their power to keep the troubling videos of the incident out of public view, and to prevent damaging fallout from Mr. Prude’s death.


The dozens of emails, police reports and internal reviews reveal an array of delay tactics — from citing hospital privacy laws to blaming an overworked employee’s backlog in processing videos — used in that mission.


The documents show how the police attempted to frame the narrative in the earliest hours, playing up Mr. Prude’s potential for danger and glossing over the tactics of the officers who pinned him, naked and hooded, to the ground before he stopped breathing.


In a police report on the confrontation, marking a box for “victim type,” an officer on the scene listed Mr. Prude — who the police believed had broken a store window that night — simply as an “individual.” But another officer circled the word in red and scribbled a note.


“Make him a suspect,” it read.


Mr. Prude’s death has sparked daily protests in Rochester, as well as accusations of a cover-up from his family. Earlier this month, the city’s mayor, Lovely Warren, suspended seven officers involved in the encounter.


The documents were contained in a 323-page internal review of Mr. Prude’s death and the city’s actions in the ensuing months. She cited the report, which she released on Monday, in her decision to fire Mr. Singletary two weeks before he was to step down.


Mr. Prude was found by the police around 3 a.m. on March 23, ranting naked in the street, telling at least one witness he had the coronavirus. Mr. Prude had just arrived at his brother’s home in Rochester, and was seemingly under the influence of PCP, his brother had told police.


Officers handcuffed him, but when Mr. Prude ignored orders to stop spitting, they placed a hood over his head. He became agitated, and three officers pinned him, one leaning heavily on Mr. Prude’s head. Mr. Prude’s pleas changed to gurgling noises and he stopped breathing. He was removed from life support a week later.


In their incident reports, officers described the encounter with Mr. Prude as peaceful until he began spitting and demanding a gun. After officers restrained him, he “threw up and then became unresponsive,” a police lieutenant wrote in an email four hours later.


A preliminary review of the incident singled out Officer Mark Vaughn, who restrained Mr. Prude’s head “using a segmenting technique” until he “appears to ease pressure to the area.”


In fact, Officer Vaughn leaned heavily on Mr. Prude’s head in a push-up position that lasted at least 68 seconds, a New York Times analysis of the body camera footage showed. He relented after Mr. Prude appeared to have lost consciousness. Police officials would later say Mr. Prude suffered a drug overdose.


Mr. Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, and other family members had immediate doubts that he died of an overdose. They contacted a lawyer, Elliot Shields, who filed a legal notice April 3 compelling the city to preserve evidence from the encounter, a precursor to a wrongful-death lawsuit.


He also filed a demand under the state’s Freedom of Information Law that all documents and videos pertaining to Mr. Prude’s arrest be handed over.


On April 10, the county medical examiner released its autopsy findings, ruling Mr. Prude’s death a homicide from asphyxia, and noting the PCP in his system. Chief Singletary wrote a summary of the incident (“Officers did stabilize the individual on the ground”) for Justin Roj, the city’s communications director.


“The mayor has been in the loop,” the chief wrote then.


Mayor Warren has said she was not told of the struggle with officers that preceded Mr. Prude’s cardiac arrest — only that he had suffered a drug overdose.


By April 21, the state attorney general’s office had informed local officials that it was opening an investigation into the death.


Days later, the Rochester police concluded its own investigation: “The officers’ actions and conduct displayed when dealing with Prude appear to be appropriate and consistent with their training,” an internal report stated.


In late May, Mr. Shields, the Prudes’ lawyer, began following up on his open records request, saying the deadline to hand over the materials had lapsed.


But officials in Rochester were increasingly reluctant to turn them over. Mr. Floyd died on Memorial Day, and scenes of unrest were spreading across the country.


Mark Simmons, the deputy chief, shared his concern about “blowback” from the public. He was not alone.


“I am very concerned about releasing this prematurely in light of what is going on in Rochester and around the country,” Police Lt. Michael E. Perkowski wrote in an email to Stephanie A. Prince, a city lawyer. “I may be overthinking, but would think the chief’s office and the mayor’s office would want a heads-up before this goes out.”


The officials who wanted to keep the videos away from the public appeared to find a convenient, if unlikely, means to do so: the attorney general’s inquiry. Mr. Simmons, Ms. Prince and others repeatedly suggested that the city not turn over records to Mr. Prude’s family because the case was under investigation, a blanket exception to the open records laws.


Mr. Simmons raised the possibility in his email to the chief, to deny the records request “based on the fact that the case is still active, as it is currently being investigated for possible criminal charges to be brought forth by the A.G.’s office.”


Ms. Prince raised a similar strategy: The city could stall the general release of videos by allowing a lawyer for the Prude family to view them in a meeting with the attorney general’s office, but not be permitted to keep his own copies. She told others in an email June 4 that this idea came from Jennifer Sommers, a state assistant attorney general.


“What her office typically does and what she’s suggested for this matter,” Ms. Prince wrote, is to invite a lawyer for the Prude family to view the case file in person, “provided he agrees to sign an agreement that he cannot scan/copy/otherwise attempt to reproduce the information. This way, the A.G. is making the file available to the family’s attorney, but we are not releasing anything to the public.”


She repeated the idea the following day: “This way, the city is not releasing anything pertaining to the case for at least a month (more like 2), and it will not be publicly available.”


The attorney general’s office has denied playing any role in releasing the videos. “The Prude family and the greater Rochester community deserve answers, and we will continue to work around the clock to provide them,” the state attorney general, Letitia James, said in a statement.


A meeting with the lawyer and the attorney general’s office took place in June, and another, with Mr. Shields and members of the Prude family, took place in July. But Mr. Shields was unrelenting in his demands to obtain the videos. The city pushed back, citing the sensitivity of the images of Mr. Prude’s naked body, his privacy as a patient who received medical attention and, in late July, the “enormous backlog of work” for the lone employee who reviews body camera videos for release.


Copies of the videos were finally released to Mr. Shields on Aug. 12, more than four months after he requested them. The videos were mailed via the U.S. Postal Service.


He released them to the public on Sept. 2. The response was just as the officials had feared, filling blocks of downtown Rochester with protesters every night since.


Mr. Simmons, the deputy chief who urged the videos not be released, was demoted to a lieutenant last week. The demotion did not last long: On Monday, he was named acting police chief.




























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

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