Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, October 31, 2020






Judge Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced Patrick O'Neill of Garner, NC, to 14 months in prison for his role in the nonviolent protest on April 4, 2018 at the Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, GA.

The remaining codefendants, Mark Colville, Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady, and Carmen Trotta, go before Wood for sentencing on November 12 and 13. 

October 16, 2020

Patrick Challenges Judge, Judge Surprises Patrick

BRUNSWICK, GA—In a decision likely unexpected by both the defendants and prosecutors, a federal judge today passed down a significantly lower prison sentence to one of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7.

Judge Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced Patrick O'Neill of Garner, NC, to 14 months in prison for his role in the nonviolent protest on April 4, 2018 at the Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, GA.

“I’m grateful that we were able to pull the heartstrings of the judge and help her be as merciful as she can be under the circumstances,” Patrick said afterwards. “Mercy is not her forte.”

Wood began the proceedings by telling Patrick she’d “received quite a lengthy, quite tall stack of records, of letters on your behalf.” (The KBP7 and their support team thank everyone who has written Judge Wood on their behalf!)

Federal prosecutors argued Patrick, 64, should serve the full extent of the recommended prison sentence, up to 26 months, because of his “past criminal history” of nonviolent protest and “noncooperation” during them as well as his “criminal associations” with nonviolent protesters. They argued that Patrick was not remorseful, risked his life and the lives of the people on the base including security personnel, and helped cause more the $33,000 in damages. The prosecutors’ so-called "risk of death" argument is unprecedented in 40 years of Plowshares federal prosecutions.

Representing himself before the judge, and once referring to “the fool for a lawyer that I am," Patrick objected to dozens of the prosecutors’ arguments. Over the course of the first hour the judge overruled all of Patrick’s objections to the prosecutors’ rationales for lengthening his prison sentence. 

Countering the argument that lives were at risk by their action, Patrick said the seven activists were at the site for three hours and seen by guards who repeatedly passed by but kept going. When a guard finally approached Patrick and some of the others the Navy sergeant cracked a joke.

”Now you know you're all in a bit of trouble don't you?” he said.

“I don't think he was feeling at risk of death at that time,” O’Neil told the judge.

Video from the body camera Patrick wore on his head the entire night provided the primary evidence against the defendants. “I went far beyond any acceptance of responsibility of any defendant. I signed a conspiratorial document with my codefendants,” he said. 

"You brought to bear the possibility, the specter, of deadly use,” the judge replied. "Thank goodness that nobody was shot."

Neither the judge nor prosecutor made mention that this protest took place at the locus of the most destructive weaponry in the known universe.

When Wood asked the prosecutor if there are any "victims" of the Plowshares’ “crime” available to speak, the prosecutor said there were none. 

Two of Patrick’s children testified on his behalf as character witnesses, as did his uncle who helped raise him after his father died when he was five years old.

On a video link from his home in Connecticut, Patrick’s uncle Dennis O’Donnell, 80, described his pride of his long time as a soldier in the US Army and 35 years as a Yonkers, NY police officer. O’Donnell, a Trump supporter, then spoke of his long admiration of his nephew and his wife Mary Rider’s kindness and generosity.

"I don't want to find fault with Patrick because I love him and the other parts of our family love him as well. He's a committed pacifist and that's not a dirty word. I'm not against the military in any way. I'm a proud soldier and so are my children. I’m proud of Patrick. I'm proud of Mary. And I'm proud of their children."

Patrick’s daughter, Bernadette Naro, 32 and a campus minister at a Catholic school in Atlanta, then read a statement describing growing up in the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker House founded by her parents. (The statement will be available at www.kingsbayplowshares7.org.)

“Women and children who were in crisis came to live alongside us,” she said. “My parents chose to live in this way because of their commitment to living out their Christian faith, their commitment to sharing all that they have with the poor, and to taking personal responsibility for the problems they saw in our world. They centered their life around a few questions: Who is Jesus? What was he all about? And, especially what does he require of us?  He taught me to dig into these questions as I grew up and considered what to do with my life.

“When we were younger, and my sister and I would argue, my dad’s approach was to sit me down, stand my sister in front of me and say to me emphatically, ‘See your sister in front of you? See her? She is the body of Christ.’ His life is guided by the question of what it means to be a Christian. Not in words, but as a lived reality.”

When Wood asked her if there should be consequences to her dad's actions Bernadette replied, "I guess there already have been consequences.”

Timmy Patrick, 21, and a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said his father exemplifies "love incarnate, just positive intention towards everyone... (as opposed to) money and power and status.”

“He provides love and care not just for our family but for other people in our community, town, church community, and many of them receive substantial assistance in housing, food, and clothing, and human necessity from my father and mother.

“Dad's service to community is extended through this action,” Timmy Patrick said. “The Plowshares movement is a very internally consistent group with very strong held religious beliefs who are inspired by the teachings of activists and theologians throughout history.”

His father and his codefendants see nuclear holocaust as “a matter of when. They express legitimate dissent against the hegemony of militarism and violence that exists throughout our nation.”

Although his family members are the most important people in the world to him and they all share the same perspective, they do not agree on all things, he told the court. 

Judge Wood asked Timmy if it is possible to go too far in protesting nuclear weapons. He replied no, not compared to the trillions spent on war.

Seeming to some in the courtroom to be deflated following the testimony of the character witnesses, US Attorney Greg Gilluly referred to Patrick as "a man who has done so much good in this world and has a family to care for."

He then read a litany of Patrick’s offenses repeating the phrase "Unlike Martin Luther King... Unlike Martin Luther King…” arguing the sentencing guidelines are appropriate. 

Patrick then read a long statement to the judge. (It will be available at www.kingsbayplowshares7.org.)

“My hope is to never be vindicated. I hope the world can survive the nuclear arms race, and for global warming to turn out to be no big deal. I want our children and grandchildren to have a future with as much love, hope, and prosperity as most of you and I have enjoyed in our upbringings under First World circumstances. 

“I want my efforts on April 4, 2018 to essentially be viewed as misguided, foolish and in vain. In essence, I want to be judged wrong — not just by the findings of this court — but by the world,” he said. “For me to be a failure and a fool would be so much better than the calamity I fear for future generations if the Kings Bay Plowshares´ message turns out to be the horror we fear will come.

“This court, by its refusal to consider the lawlessness of weapons of mass destruction, is essentially declaring the end of the world to be acceptable. If the trident D-5 missiles are ever launched and millions of people die, including many of you who reside here at the center of Ground Zero, one fact will remain clear: No laws were broken.

“Rather than criminals, we are messengers, just like the abolitionists were in the face of legalized slavery, or pacifists who went to prison rather than kill. And we took a chance, risked our freedom, and were mischaracterized by this court as threats to the safety of the community.”

The “decision to invent, build, deploy and possibly use nuclear weapons will not stand the test of time as good moral choices,” just as slavery and other historical wrongs have now been judged by history to have been horrible mistakes, he said.

Patrick reminded the court that only three more nations are now needed for global ratification of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Ratification is expected soon.

In response to the defendants’ prior petition under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, an earlier judge concluded their act was "prophetic, sacramental, symbolic denuclearization.” Judge Wood, Patrick said, concluded instead that the compelling interest the court has in is to protecting the sanctity of Naval Station Kings Bay. That makes the unusual nature and risk of the action necessary above, he said, lobbying and writing letters.

“No one in this room today can deny that the theatrical tactics of the Kings Bay Plowshares has gotten your attention and the attention of thousands of people all over the world in a way no letter or phone call to Congress could.”

“I want you to see incarceration from the perspective of the convicted,” he said. “For me, walking into this courtroom is agonizing, emotionally horrifying and makes me feel physically sick. A person coming here for sentencing is likely experiencing one of the worst days of his or her life.”

“Trident is the opposite of love. It is a machine of mass destruction, that robs our neighbors of love and hope. 

“While I have not heard much support for us expressed by this court, my hope is that I have been part of an effort to plant a seed that will sprout and grow in your souls, and eventually bear the fruit of true peace in your hearts. And that all humanity will come together to reject war and trident and embrace the teachings of Jesus to Love One Another.”

Before passing her sentence Wood told Patrick, "You have a lot to put on the good side. And that must be counted for during sentencing…. But I have to take into consideration.... we are all bound by the laws of this country... There are consequences.”

Patrick must report to prison within 90 days. With time served and good behavior he might be eligible for release about 10 months later. He will then have supervised release for three years. Like the others, he is required to pay towards restitution to the Navy in the amount of $33,504 and $310 in special assessments. The judge ordered probation officers to have access to financial information, permission needed for getting credit, half of Patrick’s wages garnished.

The day before sentencing Patrick, Wood sentenced his codefendant, Jesuit Father Steve Kelly, to 33 months. Kelly has spent every day since the action in a southern Georgia jail and may be released soon, pending another judge’s decision about his probation violation from a protest at Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Washington state, the only other Trident submarine base in the US. 

"Your criminal history is not a storied as Fr. Kelly’s,” she told Patrick. Codefendant Elizabeth McAlister was sentenced to time served in June. The remaining codefendants, Mark Colville, Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady, and Carmen Trotta, go before Wood for sentencing on November 12 and 13. 

Patrick intends to appeal.

It is perhaps a sideways victory. Patrick has received at least six months less time than expected. Still, he must serve a 14-month sentence in federal prison during a pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States alone. Twenty seven people, including a guard, have died of COVID at the Butner Federal Correction Institution, which Wood recommended for his sentence, Patrick said. He said 824 people there have contracted the disease. 

But, standing before the judge with his hands behind his back he gave a thumbs up to his family and supporters in the courtoom when Wood read his sentence.

“I think she saw how I live my life and she decided she wasn’t going to give me the maximum,” he said afterwards. “I’m not going away for as long as I thought I was going to be.

“I think this is a good omen for my codefendants.”

We understand that many are struggling financially at this time. We ask for donations only if you are able and doing well. Thank you for all the support you have given through these past two and a half years. Your support for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 will help cover the ongoing costs surrounding the seven co-defendants while in prison and their families and communities. Checks can be sent to Plowshares, PO Box 3087, Washington, DC 20010. Or donate online here at this link: https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/donate_isaiah

TWITTER: https://www.twitter.com/kingsbayplow7

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) 



SIGN PETITION: Don't reincarcerate Jalil Muntaquim

Support for Jalil Muntaqim petition from the Movement for Black Lives:

Please click the below link to sign & share widely.

Support for Jalil Muntaqim
STATEMENT OF COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR JALIL MUNTAQIM We the undersigned fully support the New York State Parole Board’s decision to release Jalil Muntaqim. The parole process is meant to evaluate a person for release based on who they are today, not to extend one’s sentence into perpetuity. Mr. Muntaqim has been incarcerated since 1971, when he was 19 years old. During his 49 years in prison, Mr. Muntaqim has led education/mentorship programs for prisoners, earned several educational degrees and mentored many younger incarcerated men. He has been commended for preventing prisoner violence and promoting safety. As a result, hundreds of organizations and individuals have stepped forward to support his release including community and faith leaders, family members, and the NY State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. The Board finally acted honorably in following the guidelines put forth by New York State Executive Law 259-(i). A 2011, bi-partisan amendment to the law passed by Republican and Democratic lawmakers makes it clear that an individual’s readiness for successful re-entry should take priority in the decision to grant release. Upon his release, Mr. Muntaqim was warmly welcomed by a large, diverse set of community leaders and residents of Rochester, New York. He reported to his parole officers and followed instructions to sign up for various social services required by all senior citizens in his position. He was handed a large stack of paperwork including a voter registration form. Muntaqim, eager to follow instructions, appropriately filled out and signed everything required of him. Now, the Rochester District Attorney is attempting to reincarcerate an elder recovering from COVID-19 because he filled out a form as instructed. We are statewide and national organizations, community and faith leaders, elected officials, civil rights organizations, public defenders, and residents of the Rochester area. We pledge our continuing support for Mr. Muntaqim and our assistance in facilitating his reintegration into society. We vehemently oppose any efforts to remove him from our community and/or place him back in prison.
Please click the below link to sign & share widely.

Charlie Hinton
No one ever hurt their eyes by looking on the bright side



VICE News Video: What Really Happened at Standing Rock, Featuring Chase Iron Eyes

We worked with VICE News to produce this powerful episode of "I Was There." Featuring an exclusive interview with Chase Iron Eyes, the episode describes the NoDAPL protests in depth and in relation to the present moment.

View video at:




Denver Black Lives 

Matter Activists 


Above: PSL activists marching in Colorado anti-racist protest 

By Left Voice

On September 17, six protest leaders, including four members of the Party of Socialism and Liberation, were arrested in Denver, Colorado in a coordinated  police action. Those arrested are now being threatened with a litany of bogus felony charges, including “kidnapping.” Four of the arrested individuals—Russel Ruch, Lillian House, Joel Northam, and Eliza Lucero—are protest leaders who have denounced the crimes of the Colorado police, most notably the racist murder of Elijah McClain. The repression against these activists, and many others, is nothing short of police-state retribution. As a PSL statement noted, 

“This attack on the Denver anti-racist movement and the PSL is part of a concerted national assault on the Black Lives Matter movement, an attack driven directly from the White House, from Governor’s mansions, and from local police chiefs and police departments around the country.”

It is clear from the manner of the arrests that the Denver area police are trying to punish and intimidate activists. Russel Ruch, for instance, was followed to Home Depot and arrested in the parking lot; Lillian House was surrounded by five police cars as she was driving; and a S.W.A.T. team was sent to Joel Northam’s home. According to the 30-page long arrest affidavits, the police used livestream footage, call transcripts, and social media posts to build a case against those arrested. These coordinated arrests, which utilized both surveillance and brute force, aim to instill fear in every Denver area activist. “Protest, and you could be next” is the message being sent. And the absurd list of felony charges, known as “charge stacking,” means the arrested activists could be facing years, if not decades, in prison. 

The arrest of these protest leaders in Denver are part of a larger nationwide crack-down on the Black Lives Matter movement. Across the country, protesters have been snatched off the streets by the police or federal forces in unmarked vehicles. In New York City, the NYPD used facial-recognition software to find and harass a Black Lives Matter activist. And earlier this month, in Washington, federal marshals gunned down Portland activist Michael Reinoehl without warning as he walked to his car. 

Left Voice denounces the attempts to repress or otherwise intimidate anti-racist, anti-police activists. It is unacceptable that the state, under direction from both Republican and Democratic Party leaders, targets and intimidates activists fighting for racial justice, while the murderers of Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor and many more walk free. The real threat to public safety can be found in every police precinct, every city hall, and every seat of political power. 

Drop the charges against Denver PSL activists—Free all the arrested protesters! 

To sign the PSL’s petition to have the charges dropped, click here: 


To donate to the PSL’s legal defense, click here:


— Left Voice, September 18, 2020




History, Great Britain, and Julian Assange

By Clifford D. Conner

Below are the comments Clifford D. Conner made at a September 8, 2020 press conference in front of the British consulate in New York City. Conner is an historian and author of Jean Paul Marat: Tribune of the French Revolution and The Tragedy of American Science: From Truman to Trump. The court in Britain is holding hearings on the Trump administration’s request to have Julian Assange, the Australian editor, publisher and founder of WikiLeaks, extradited. Assange would be tried in a Virginia court on 17 counts of espionage and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison.

In 2010 Assange had the audacity to post a video showing a U.S. Apache helicopter indiscriminately murdering a dozen civilians and two Reuters’ journalists in the streets of Baghdad.

Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, testified in court on September 16 that Assange could not receive a fair trial in the United States. When he pointed out that the Collateral Murder video was clearly a war crime, the prosecution maintained that Assange was not wanted by Washington for it but for publishing documents without redacting names. Ellsberg pointed out that when he leaked the Pentagon Papers, he did not redact a single name.

Assange’s lawyer has since informed the London court that in 2017 former Republican U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher and Charles Johnson, a far-right political activist, relayed Trump’s offer to pardon Assange if he provided the source for the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails. This was described to Assange as a “win-win” situation for all involved.

A National Committee to Defend Assange and Civil Liberties, chaired by Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, and Alice Walker has been set up. For further information, go to: www.facebook.com/CommitteeToDefendJulianAssangeThe press conference was organized by the New York City Free Assange Committee. The press conference was organized by the New York City Free Assange Committee: NYCFreeAssange.org

—Dianne Feeley for The Editors, Against the Current

Comments by Clifford D. Conner

I am here at the British Consulate today to protest the incarceration and mistreatment of Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison in Great Britain, to demand that you immediately release him, and above all, to demand that you NOT extradite Julian Assange to the United States.

As a historian who has written extensively on the case of the most persecuted journalist of the 18th century, Jean Paul Marat, I am in a position to make historical comparisons, and in my judgement, Julian Assange is both the most unjustly persecuted journalist of the 21st century and arguably the most important journalist of the 21st century.

Julian Assange is being hounded and harassed and threatened with life in prison by the United States government because he dared to publish the truth about American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan for the whole world to see. This persecution of Julian Assange is an assault on the fundamental principles of journalistic freedom.

The sociopathic Donald Trump and his accomplice, Attorney General William Barr, are demanding that you deliver Assange to them to face false charges of espionage. Every honest observer in the world recognizes Trump and Barr as utterly incapable of acting in good faith. If they succeed in suppressing Julian Assange’s right to publish, it will be a devastating precedent for journalists and publishers of news everywhere—and above all, for the general public, who will lose access to the information necessary to maintaining a democratic society.

If you allow yourselves to become co-conspirators in this crime, History will not look kindly on Great Britain for that.

Last November, more than 60 doctors from all over the world wrote an open letter to the British government saying that Julian Assange’s health was so bad that he could die if he weren’t moved from Belmarsh Prison, where he was being held, to a hospital, immediately. Your government chose to ignore that letter and he was not hospitalized, then or later. History will not look kindly on Great Britain for that.

Of all crimes against humanity, the most unforgivable is torture. No nation that perpetrates torture has the right to call itself civilized. United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, has unequivocally characterized Julian Assange’s treatment in Belmarsh Prison as torture. History will neither forget nor forgive that terrible moral transgression.

Furthermore, the exposure of the widespread use of torture by the United States military and the CIA at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, at Guantánamo Bay, and at so-called “black sites” all over the world, absolutely disqualifies the United States from sitting in moral judgement of anybody. If you deliver Julian Assange into the hands of torturers, history will not look kindly on Great Britain for that.

So, I join together today with human rights advocates and advocates of journalistic freedom around the world.

I stand with the Committee to Protect Journalists, which declared: “For the sake of press freedom, Julian Assange must be defended.”

I stand with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which said that the attempt to prosecute Julian Assange is “a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist the Trump administration chooses to deride as ‘fake news’.”

And I stand with the ACLU, which said: “Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for WikiLeaks’publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations.”

History will not only record the names of the countries that collaborate in this travesty of justice, but also the names of the individuals—the judges, the prosecutors, the diplomats, and the politicians—who aid and abet the crime. If you, as individuals, choose to ally yourselves with the likes of Donald Trump and William Barr, be prepared for your names to be chained to theirs in infamy, in perpetuity.

History will certainly absolve Julian Assange, and it certainly will not absolve his persecutors.

Against the Current, November/December 2020




Sign the petition at:




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.




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



From Across the Pond

Johnson the Invisible Brat

By John Blackburn

Johnson the invisible brat,

Thinks he’s better than us all,

For he’s a posh prime minister,

Who defies international law,

No matter how many graves get filled,

Or the cupboards are running bare,

You bet you can rely on this,

Johnson won’t be there.


Hancock, Priti, any sycophant,

It doesn’t matter who,

Can keep a straight face on camera,

While reading the lies on the autocue.

Nursing homes, schools there’s Covid everywhere,

But whenever there’s a crisis,

Johnson isn’t there


Depravity, depravity there’s no match for his depravity.

He is nastiness in human form, with not a shred of common humanity.

You may read him in a by-line, or see his face in the morning paper,

But when there’s a problem to deal with,

Boris Johnson won’t be seen till later.


Depravity, depravity the are no bounds to his depravity,

He’s already broken every law and conduct of normality,

His powers of crass dishonesty are way beyond compare,

He lies in every sentence and doesn’t seem to care,

You may look for him in Downing Street or in another lair,

But when a job is needing done,

Boris Johnson is never there.


He’ll sack anyone who happens in his way 

And tear up any treaty he doesn’t like today,

He is outwardly respectably but he cheats all his friends

He’ll trample over anyone to get to his own ends,

Or he’ll send his hoodlum Cummings to crush dissenting minds.

Lies, corruption, negligence we know he doesn’t care

But when there is money to be made,

This time,

Johnson and mates will be there.


In Britain he acts like a dictator doing just as he wants,

Ignoring real life tragedies while posing for photo stunts,

For all his fake bravado, he’s just another coward,

A liar, a bully a posh self-centred fraud.

He’s an invisible prime minister who is never here, 

But whenever there’s Trump’s arse to kiss,

You can be sure that,

Boris Johnson will reappear.


Calamity then catastrophe with grand theft larceny,

Another billion of our money flushed down the lavat’ry,

He cares not for our suffering our deaths and our pain,

Fake news and lies again and again,

When things go wrong and account is called,

It is always someone else’s fault,

What ever the problem no matter where

He always can claim that he wasn’t there.


Covid 19’s, coming, 

He says we’ll take it on the chin,

World beating, moonshot, track and trace,

Endless lies and spin

Just more meaningless hot air from this uncaring buffoon,

Exam results fiasco, yet he never showed his face.

Children going hungry a national disgrace

We must take matters in our own hands,

To make things proper here,

Have confidence in our own powers,

Make Johnson and his kind 

Completely disappear.



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
Follow Us 
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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.

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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
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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) Number of Women Alleging Misconduct by ICE Gynecologist Nearly Triples

Advocates briefed senators on allegations that a doctor working with an ICE detention center performed unnecessary or overly aggressive procedures.

By John Washington, Jose Olivares, October 27 2020


AT LEAST 17 women treated by a doctor alleged to have performed unnecessary or overly aggressive gynecological procedures without proper informed consent remain in detention at Irwin County Detention Center, a privately run facility in Georgia housing U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainees, according to a briefing and written materials submitted by attorneys and advocates to Senators in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. The total number of women known to have been seen by the doctor since 2018 who say they underwent or were pressured to undergo unnecessary treatments has risen to 57 — a higher number than previously known — according to the group of lawyers.


The new numbers of relevant cases and women who remain in detention were included in the materials submitted to the closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill about the ordeal over women’s medical care at Irwin. Organized by the Senate Democratic Caucus, attorney Sarah Owings of Owings MacNorlin law firm in Atlanta, two women previously detained in Irwin, and four independent doctors presented recent findings, including more than 60 pages of written materials, in a Monday briefing for the senators. The briefings came as part of Congressional investigations into the allegation, which Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress have pledged to look in to.


As the number of women alleging medical misconduct at Irwin, which is run by the private prison company LaSalle Corrections, grows, advocates for detainees worry that there may never be a full accounting. The numbers presented to the Senate on Monday were limited to only those cases lawyers could identify, the advocates said. Because of the opacity of the immigration system and the constant flux of detainees — as well as the deportation of witnesses and survivors — a comprehensive review is unlikely.


“It pains me to know that there could be many more women out there who will never be able to talk about what happened to them and the abuse that they suffered while at Irwin, let alone receive a measure of redress, while living with the life-long damage to their bodies and spirits,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director of Project South, which first raised the issues in a whistleblower complaint. “ICE and the private prison corporation LaSalle must be held to account.”


In the Senate briefing, the doctors and former detainees outlined a pattern of gynecological operations conducted by Dr. Mahendra Amin, the doctor at the center of the allegations, and the “uniform absence of truly informed consent,” according to materials submitted on Capitol Hill by the coalition of attorneys, advocates, and women recently detained in Irwin. After allegations of the medical abuses came to light in September, following the whistleblower complaint first reported by The Intercept, ICE said it stopped referring patients to Amin.


The materials submitted to Congress were compiled by on-the ground organizations; attorneys, including Owings; and advocates, led by the South Georgia Immigrant Support Network, Project South, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Georgia Detention Watch, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative.


In response to an inquiry from The Intercept about the growing numbers of women alleging medical misconduct and congressional interest in the case, Amin’s lawyer, Scott Grubman, sent a statement responding to a Los Angeles Times story published last week about a medical review of some of the immigration detainees’ cases. In the statement, Grubman, who said the doctor could not comment on individual cases because of privacy regulations, claims that there are “serious questions to the veracity” of the LA Times reporting, specifically citing that the team of medical experts didn’t request medical records from Irwin County Hospital or Amin himself. (Records of medical procedures are also maintained by ICE and can be requested by attorneys or detainees.)


Grubman, who did not respond to specific follow-up questions from The Intercept, has maintained throughout the ordeal that Amin is cooperating with investigators and that the doctor will be cleared of any wrongdoing.


Mounting Allegations


The widespread attention on the women at Irwin has amplified calls for better medical care in immigration detention, where there has been a dramatic increase in deaths over the past year. Advocates for immigration detainees have long complained of dangerously poor medical care in the sprawling patchwork of often privately run detention facilities.


Initial reports estimated that 20 or more women detained in Irwin had undergone full or partial hysterectomies in the last six years. Amin and his attorney dispute the claims. New information collected by attorneys and advocates who spoke with The Intercept — and who presented their findings to the Senate, including the written materials, which The Intercept reviewed — points to a broader pattern of women being pressured to undergo potentially unnecessary procedures.


Overall, the attorneys counted 57 confirmed patients of Amin, 17 of whom remain at Irwin as of October 25. (The Intercept was able to speak with attorneys who represented at least 52 of those women.) None of them have received any follow-up gynecological care since ICE stopped sending patients to Amin five weeks ago.


“The recent allegations by the independent contracted employee raise some very serious concerns that deserve to be investigated quickly and thoroughly,” said Tony Pham, ICE’s acting director, in a statement to The Intercept. Pham said ICE welcomes efforts of both the Department of Homeland Security, ICE’s parent agency, as well as the department’s Office of Inspector General to investigate. The statement concluded, “If there is any truth to these allegations, it is my commitment to make the corrections necessary to ensure we continue to prioritize the health, welfare and safety of ICE detainees.”


The Senate briefing comes on the heels of an independent medical review led by the ALLGOOD Foundation. The review, which was first reported in the LA Times article, was conducted by nine board-certified OB-GYNs and two nursing experts who reviewed over 3,200 pages of medical records for 19 of the women who had alleged medical misconduct by Amin. The team, according to their report, found “a disturbing pattern of aggressive treatment, including ‘overcalling’ the need for invasive surgeries, unwarranted pressure to undergo surgery, and a failure to obtain informed consent.”


“Not Something You Can Go Back From”


Over the past five weeks, since the whistleblower complaint emerged, a steady stream of women who visited with Amin have shared their stories with the press. One, Jamileth, whose name has been changed for fear of retaliation, told The Intercept that Amin did procedures on her without getting her permission. In May, amid a nine-month stint at Irwin, she began experiencing stomach pain and irregular periods. The ICE detention center sent her to Amin.


“He did a vaginal ultrasound, but he didn’t ask me if I wanted one or not. He just did it,” Jamileth told The Intercept in Spanish. “I don’t know, he treated me in a very — well, in a very rough way.”


According to Jamileth, Amin said she had an ovarian cyst. She said he asked if he could give her an injection — Jamileth does not know for what — and then suggested surgery to remove the cyst. Jamileth refused both the injection and the operation, saying she needed to consult with her family first. In the end, she refused to see Amin again.


“I didn’t want to return, because I had seen other examples,” Jamileth said, explaining that she had seen other women in detention after visits with Amin. She described, in one instance, seeing a woman return from surgery: “She was bleeding through the wound, she was purple, black in her stomach, and it looked really bad.”


Several women told their attorneys they were prescribed Depo-Provera, a hormonal birth control shot with sometimes serious side effects, without their consent. One woman, after her operation and shot of Depo-Provera, was “still unclear what exactly happened to her body,” according to the briefing materials provided to Senate Democrats. There were a number of cases that resulted in lasting confusion. One woman was deported to El Salvador and thinks that she had a hysterectomy but remains unsure, according to the materials provided to senators.


Another woman went to Amin for pain she suspected resulted from having fibroid cysts removed from her uterus before her time in detention, according to the Senate briefing. Amin administered three shots to her, explaining they were “for the pain,” according to her recollection in the briefing. Only after she was returned to Irwin did she learn from a nurse there that she had been given Depo-Provera.


When the woman asked about the shots at a follow-up appointment, Amin got defensive. “I’m trying to help you,” he said, according to the testimony in the briefing. He later pressured her into submitting to a hysterectomy, the testimony said, telling the detainee, “You’re an old woman, why would you want to have more babies?” She refused the surgery.


Yet another woman said she felt lucky when she was diagnosed with Covid-19 — the detention center failed to take basic precautionary measures, refused to test symptomatic detainees, and underreported cases of Covid-19, according to the earlier whistleblower report — and her hysterectomy was delayed. ”I felt like I didn’t have control over my life,” she said. She eventually refused the surgery and was deported.


The medical review of pathology reports conducted by ALLGOOD showed “a pattern of overly aggressive care,” including “inappropriate, unconsented transvaginal procedures,” “exaggerated interpretations of imaging results,” and less invasive methods not being pursued.


Attorney Benjamin Osorio, who represents two of the women tallied in the Senate briefing, said in an interview with The Intercept that one of his clients was told a hysterectomy was the only possible option to remove a possibly cancerous cyst. “There are less invasive, less aggressive treatments, but he took out her whole reproductive system,” Osorio explained “That’s not something you can go back from.”


The Intercept spoke to Yuridia, who was deported three days after undergoing an operation she said she did not comprehend and did not consent to. She was dumped into Mexico not knowing what happened to her, still bleeding, wondering if she still had a uterus, her attorney Kathleen Hoyos told The Intercept. It was a month before Yuridia, who asked to be identified by her first name because of an ongoing immigration case, was able to see a gynecologist in Mexico and learn what had happened to her. (She had been given a shot of a hormonal contraceptive and underwent a dilation and curettage to remove a cyst.) Hoyos said, “All she knew was what happened to her was wrong.”


Deportations Concern Congress


Since the initial whistleblower report was submitted in September, ICE has deported at least five women who were seen by Amin. At least two more women may be deported this week, according to the Senate briefing. “ICE, LaSalle, and DHS are ensuring fewer witnesses are able to participate in the pending federal investigation,” the Senate briefing materials say.


Members of Congress are taking note. “Advocates have shared with my team that many of the women who questioned Dr. Amin’s advice were quickly deported, and that many others at the facility are now fearful of seeking medical care at all,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said in a statement to The Intercept. “We need a full accounting of what has been done to the women at Irwin, so we can hold perpetrators of any horrific actions accountable, and give the American people the answers they deserve.”


Last Friday, eight members of Congress, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., sent a letter to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet outlining concerns about gynecological procedures on women in Irwin. They requested that Bachelet lead an investigation into the procedures conducted on immigrant women.


“These allegations illustrate a clear pattern of alleged human rights violations by DHS,” the letter says. “This pattern of behavior is perpetuated and encouraged by the consistent and unforgivable failure of the United States government and its institutions to take these allegations seriously by investigating them in a transparent, thorough, and impartial manner.”


Last week, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., also sent a letter to ICE, along with Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., demanding that Irwin be shut down.


One detained woman quoted in Monday’s Senate briefing materials also called for Irwin to be shut down, adding, “We could die locked up in here.”



2) Philadelphia Protests Continue After Fatal Shooting by Police

Demonstrators gathered in the streets for a second night after Walter Wallace Jr. was killed by two officers.

By Jon Hurdle, Oct. 28, 2020

Video player loading

Demonstrators gathered in the streets for a second night Tuesday after Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man, was killed by two officers. Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

PHILADELPHIA — Protesters looted stores and scuffled with police late Tuesday in a second night of street protests over the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man, during a confrontation more than 24 hours earlier.


Local television and news websites showed looters entering stores in the Port Richmond neighborhood, northeast of the city center, while officers struggled with protesters in the heart of West Philadelphia, where Mr. Wallace was killed on Monday afternoon after approaching police officers with a knife.


The victim’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., urged looters to stop. “It will leave a bad scar on my son, with all this looting and chaos,” Mr. Wallace said in an interview on CNN. “This is where we live, and it’s the only community resource we have, and if we take all the resource and burn it down, we don’t have anything.”


Danielle Outlaw, the police commissioner, told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that she would release information about the shooting within the next few days but that she did not know whether it would include body camera footage from the officers who shot Mr. Wallace.


“It’s common for officers to respond to domestic disturbance or any type of call with a gun because it’s one of the tools we carry on our tool belt,” said Commissioner Outlaw, who added that the officers were not carrying stun guns.


The protests in Philadelphia are the latest in a series of nationwide demonstrations demanding justice after the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, among others.


In addition to signs and chants, some of the rallies from New York to Portland, Ore., have included looting, arson and destruction of police vehicles. Officers have aggressively targeted protesters at times, firing tear gas and striking them with batons.


In a joint statement on Tuesday, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, sought to validate protesters’ anger over the death of Mr. Wallace while discouraging violence and attacks on the police.


“We cannot accept that in this country a mental health crisis ends in death,” Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris said. But, they added: “Looting is not a protest, it is a crime. It draws attention away from the real tragedy of a life cut short.”


Thirty officers were injured on Monday as protesters threw bricks and rocks at them, a police spokesman said, adding that one officer had a broken leg after being struck by a pickup truck. The Pennsylvania National Guard was expected to send hundreds of people to Philadelphia within the next few days, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Demonstrators gathered in response to the death of Mr. Wallace. In a video posted on social media, shouts of “Back up!” and “Put the knife down!” can be heard he walks toward two officers before collapsing in a flurry of gunshots. A woman wails as more officers arrive.


“Bro, they just killed him in front of me,” a man can be heard saying in the video. “Y’all ain’t have to give him that many shots.”


Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement on Monday night that he had spoken with Mr. Wallace’s family and that a full investigation of the shooting would be conducted.


“I have watched the video of this tragic incident,” he said, “and it presents difficult questions that must be answered.”


Azi Paybarah contributed reporting from New York.



3) Labour Party Suspends Jeremy Corbyn Over Anti-Semitism Response

A long-awaited official report strongly criticized Britain’s main opposition party, which Mr. Corbyn once led. His reply to the findings prompted his suspension.

By Benjamin Mueller, Oct. 29, 2020

Jeremy Corbyn posted a statement in response to an anti-Semitism investigation in which he accused  “opponents inside and outside the party” of overstating Labour’s failures. Credit...Leon Neal/Getty Images


[Note to readers: This article keeps repeating that Jeremy Corbyn is Anti-Semitic because the Tories declared that being Anti-Zionism and Anti-Israel apartheid is Anti-Semitic which it is NOT. Corbyn defended the people of Palestine who are fighting for their right to be free people with equal rights in Israel, and for an end to the wall imprisoning the Palestinian people in Gaza. The article says nothing about what Corbyn actually said and only accuses him of being Anti-Semitic…tell a lie over and over again and people will believe it…sound familiar? This article is the perfect example of this.] 

—Bonnie Weinstein


LONDON — Britain’s main opposition party, Labour, suspended its former leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday after he tried to deflect blame for the party’s handling of anti-Semitism allegations.


Mr. Corbyn made his comments after a human rights watchdog in Britain said in the findings of a formal investigation that the party bore responsibility for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jewish members, reinforcing complaints that long clouded Mr. Corbyn’s tenure as party leader from 2015 to 2020.


A few hours after Mr. Corbyn posted a statement on Facebook blaming “opponents inside and outside the party” and the media for overstating Labour’s failures on anti-Semitism, the party said that Mr. Corbyn had been suspended.


“In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation,” the party said.


Before the suspension was announced, Keir Starmer, Mr. Corbyn’s successor as leader of the party, responded to the watchdog report by apologizing.


“I found this report hard to read and it is a day of shame for the Labour Party,” he said, standing behind a lectern bearing the slogan “A New Leadership” — an unsubtle signal of his effort to turn the party away from the hard-left policies and the sometimes divisive leadership of Mr. Corbyn. “We have failed the Jewish people, our members, our supporters and the British public.”


The watchdog, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission — an independent official body whose recommendations are legally enforceable — said it had investigated complaints of anti-Semitism and found that Labour’s political leadership had interfered in the party’s own investigations of anti-Semitic incidents. Those included a complaint against Mr. Corbyn, who stepped down as party leader in April.


Mr. Starmer said that the party had already taken steps to combat anti-Semitism, including changes in how complaints were handled.


The commission’s report described the party as having created a culture that could, at times, be seen as tolerant of anti-Semitism and accused two former party officials of anti-Semitic comments that it said amounted to unlawful harassment.


Complaints of anti-Semitism prompted an exodus of Jewish lawmakers and members from the Labour Party during Mr. Corbyn’s leadership and contributed to a groundswell of public discontent that culminated in Labour’s devastating loss in a December general election.


That vote, won by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party, put Britain on an irreversible path toward leaving the European Union and handed Mr. Johnson an overwhelming majority in Parliament.


Mr. Corbyn’s own response to the watchdog report acknowledged anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, but at the same time cast the yearslong scandal as a creation of its political opponents.


In the statement on Facebook that triggered his suspension from Labour, he said that he had tried to make it easier to expel anti-Semitic members and that his leadership team had involved itself only “to speed up, not hinder the process.”


“One anti-Semite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media,” he added. “That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.”



4) Polish Women Lead Strike Over Abortion Ruling Amid Threats of Crackdown

The leader of Poland’s ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, accused demonstrators of seeking the destruction of the nation and appealed to supporters to “defend Poland.”

By Marc Santora, Monika Pronczuk and Anatol Magdziarz, Published Oct. 28, 2020, Updated Oct. 29, 2020

A protester outside Parliament on Wednesday holds up a banner with the red lightning bolt that has been a symbol of the protests. Credit...Omar Marques/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of women took to the streets in dozens of Polish cities and towns for a nationwide strike on Wednesday to protest a top court’s decision to ban nearly all abortions, even as the nation’s leading politician urged his conservative supporters to “defend Poland.”


The call by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the deputy prime minister and leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, to fight back against the protesters and his description of the opposition as “criminals” seeking to “destroy the Polish nation,” threatened to escalate an already tense moment in the deeply divided nation.


“This is the only way we can win this war,” Mr. Kaczynski said, using martial language that critics said served as a call to arms.


His remarks, made in a speech to Parliament on Wednesday and in a video posted Tuesday night to his supporters on Facebook, came as protests stretched into a sixth straight day and drew in the Roman Catholic Church, with demonstrators interrupting Mass, vandalizing church facades and staging sit-ins at cathedrals as they held coat hangers aloft to symbolize dangerous abortions.


One group of women donned long red dresses and white bonnets meant to evoke the subjugated women in the Handmaid’s Tale novel and television series and marched into a cathedral and down the aisle between worshipers.


The women protesting the abortion ruling have been joined by a host of other groups opposed to what they see as the authoritarian drift of the ruling party. The ban on abortion — made by a court ruling that is not subject to appeal — was for many the culmination of a multiyear effort by the ruling party to undermine the rule of law and, step by step, take control of the judicial system.


Twice before, in 2016 and 2018, the ruling party moved in Parliament to impose a ban on abortion. But it backed off both times after nationwide demonstrations underscored the political cost. This time, the ban came through the Constitutional Tribunal, which is firmly controlled by party loyalists.


The widespread outpouring of anger over the past week reflected the pent-up frustration felt by many after watching the steady erosion of institutions meant to safeguard democracy, said Marcin Matczak, a constitutional scholar and law professor at the University of Warsaw.


The court’s decision on abortion, he said, “would not be possible without the previous assault on the rule of law.”


The grievance with the church is also, in many ways, the culmination of watching the critical role many of its leaders have played in the political victories of the Law and Justice party.


On Wednesday, people — overwhelmingly women — poured out from their offices to take part in the work stoppage. They filled the streets in cities like Gdansk, Lodz, Warsaw and Wroclaw, but also in smaller towns like Siemiatycze in eastern Poland, which used to be a stronghold of the Law and Justice party.


In Warsaw, a large crowd — most of them wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus — marched to Parliament, blocking traffic, and chanting “Come with us!” to the people watching from windows and balconies along the route.


Many of the protesters carried signs bearing anti-government slogans and umbrellas, which became the symbol of protests in 2016 against efforts to ban abortion.


“My uterus is not your playground,” one sign read. “I wish I could abort my government,” said another.


The country’s Constitutional Tribunal issued its ruling on Thursday, tightening what were already among the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.


The court’s decision halted pregnancy terminations for fetal abnormalities, virtually the only type of abortion currently performed in the country. Abortions of pregnancies resulting from rape and those threatening the life of women are still formally legal.


Even before Mr. Kaczynski’s call to action on Tuesday to his Facebook supporters — in which he called on people to defend Poland, patriotism and “in particular” Polish churches —  right-wing extremists had seized on the protests and formed vigilante groups outside of churches, leading to clashes and small brawls with protesters.


Edit Zgut, a fellow at the Germain Marshall Institute, said Mr. Kaczynski was using the “ultimate populist manifesto: If you are criticizing us, you are against the nation.”


Mr. Kaczynski’s call to oppose the demonstrations came as the nation faces the largest outbreak of the coronavirus since the pandemic began in the spring. Doctors have warned that hospital beds are running low, ventilators are in short supply and the health care system could soon buckle under the pressure.


“When others were getting ready for a war with the virus, you were getting ready for a war with the nation,” Donald Tusk, the former president of the European Council and a leading opposition figure, said in comments directed against the government on Twitter. “Back out before a tragedy occurs.”


The anger on the streets has been raw, with women saying they feel they have been made pawns in the government’s culture wars.


The church holds a special place in Polish society, in part because of the integral role that many priests, as well as the Polish pope, John Paul II, played in the 1980s in the Solidarity movement and the fight for freedom from communist rule.


For many Poles, the role of the church in politics today feels like a betrayal.


“Now it’s not really just about abortion, it’s a protest about the loss of humanity,” said Emma Herdzik, an actress who has attended protests in Warsaw.


As protests have persisted, the threat of violence has started to loom ever larger, with right-wing extremists rushing to join the fray. And Mr. Kaczynski’s exhortations to his supporters may encourage them further.


Robert Bakiewicz, the leader of an ultranationalist group, had already said his supporters would form a “Catholic self-defense” force, what he called a “national guard,” to confront “neo-Bolshevik revolutionaries.”


“The sword of justice is hanging over them and, if necessary, we will crush them to dust and destroy this revolution,” he told reporters Monday. “If the Polish nation isn’t able to give us this security, we will take action.”


His supporters clashed with demonstrators outside St. Alexander’s Church in the center of Warsaw this week, and an image of one of them throwing a protester from the steps of the church has been shared widely around the country.


Outside the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, one of Poland’s holiest Catholic shrines, police deployed tear gas to separate protesters and nationalists, according to local radio reports. In Poznan, where protesters staged a sit-in at a cathedral, one protester was badly beaten by nationalists who confronted the group, according to the local news website TenPoznan.


At a demonstration in Warsaw on Monday, a car hit two women participating in the protests. Some observers said it looked as if the car was driven into the crowd deliberately. One of the women was treated for injuries in the hospital and later released, according to the police.


On Wednesday, Gazeta Wyborcza, the country’s largest daily newspaper, reported that the driver was a 44-year old government security officer from the Internal Security Agency. He was detained by the police, according to the authorities.


The combustible mix of public unrest and the pandemic added to the uncertainty of the moment and led to a remarkable series of bitter exchanges in Parliament.


Opposition lawmakers carried protest signs as they confronted Law and Justice members, and tried to approach Mr. Kaczynski on Tuesday.


Mr. Kaczynski, who was protected by Parliament’s security unit, denounced the opposition as “Russian agents,” while female Law and Justice lawmakers shielded him with their bodies.


Cezary Tomczyk, the parliamentary leader of the main opposition party, Civic Platform, accused Mr. Kaczynski of issuing a “call to lynching” and condemned what he said was the creation of “militias” loyal to the ruling party.


After they reached Parliament on Wednesday, demonstrators tried blocking an exit, scuffling with the police guarding the building.


“Let’s do a lockdown for our parliamentarians,” said Marta Lempart, one of the Women’s Strike leaders, through a megaphone. “We will do everything not to let them get out.”


“Until the Middle Ages finish in Poland,” added a voice from the crowd.



5) Social Security Seemed Like a Future Problem. The Virus Changed That.

Even before the pandemic, Social Security’s finances were under growing pressure. The next president and Congress will play a crucial role in what happens next.

By Tara Siegel Bernard, Oct. 28, 2020


Joyce Welch, 73, lives solely on the $1,370 that she receives each month from Social Security. She lives with her son in Sacramento to make ends meet. Credit...Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Social Security has always seemed like a future problem, with experts long predicting a benefits squeeze in the decades ahead. But the coronavirus has put tens of millions of Americans out of work, and economists are predicting that the recovery will take years.


That means the future is now.


If nothing is done to shore up the program, all benefit checks will need to be cut by roughly one-quarter in perhaps 11 years — or, if the recession is protracted and severe, maybe even sooner.


“We thought we had more than a decade, and now it could be less than a decade,” said Kathleen Romig, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “That makes a big difference both psychologically and in policy terms.”


The pandemic has hastened the cash crunch’s arrival by wiping out jobs and the payroll taxes — Social Security’s dedicated source of revenue — that they provide. Fewer people are paying into the retirement trust fund, and the longer they’re out of work, the deeper the problem becomes. (Even more pressing may be a fix for Social Security’s disability program, which has a trust fund of its own. A report issued by the Congressional Budget Office last month projects that fund could be exhausted in 2026.)


Despite such grim projections, Social Security hasn’t received a lot of attention  during the presidential campaign,  given everything else going on. But whoever wins next week will have little choice but to stretch out his hand toward the third rail of politics. And both candidates have offered ideas that could significantly shift how Social Security works.


President Trump hasn’t released a proposal, but he has said he wants to eliminate the payroll tax — Social Security’s lifeblood — as an expansion of the temporary holiday enacted by executive action over the summer. (Few companies have stopped collecting the tax, which would have to be repaid in 2021.)


“At the end of the year, on the assumption that I win, I’m going to terminate the payroll tax,” he said in August. Instead, he said, he would pay for the program through the general budget, which could count on “tremendous growth.”


Mr. Trump has stated this on more than one occasion, but Sarah Matthews, deputy White House press secretary, said the president meant only that he wanted to forgive the taxes deferred under his order.


“President Trump will always protect Social Security, as he has stated numerous times,” she said.


Policy experts are highly skeptical that the payroll tax could be eliminated; it would require congressional action and be politically difficult. But if it happened, Social Security would have to compete for funding in a way it hasn’t before.


“We have a very crowded budget as it is,” said Shai Akabas, economic policy director at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “And having Social Security in the mix with everything else puts the program at risk in the future.”


Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, has released a  proposal that’s more moderate than many offered by his party’s progressive wing. But it would nonetheless make fundamental changes.


Mr. Biden proposes an expansion of the payroll tax, but only on the highest-earning Americans. Currently, the payroll tax — 12.4 percent, split between employees and employers — applies to the first $137,700 of a worker’s earnings. Under Mr. Biden’s plan, high earners would also have the tax assessed on their earnings above $400,000. (Because the $137,700 threshold rises over time, eventually all income up to $400,000 would be subject to the tax — in about 30 years, the Urban Institute estimated.)


For decades, the amount a worker pays into the system has factored into how much they ultimately receive in benefits. But Mr. Biden has suggested that higher earners might not get anything in return for the added tax they pay, a change that would break a link that has been in place since the program began. The issue is still being studied, however, and no decision has been reached.


“A key principle of social insurance in general — and the Social Security program in particular — is that contributions are linked to benefit calculations,” said William Arnone, chief executive office of the National Academy of Social Insurance, a nonpartisan group of social insurance experts.


Mr. Biden’s plan also proposes more generous benefits, including a new minimum benefit for new retirees equivalent to 125 percent of the poverty level, or $15,950 in 2020. He would also allow certain caregivers unable to work full time to earn Social Security credits. Those provisions and others would immediately lift more than 350,000 beneficiaries out of poverty, according to a recent analysis by the Urban Institute.


And all retirees would probably see their benefit checks grow slightly faster. Mr. Biden’s plan would calculate cost-of-living adjustments using a different price index that more closely tracks the spending of older consumers, like on health care bills.


Even with the tax on high earners, Mr. Biden’s proposal would buy the program only an additional five years of solvency, according to the Urban Institute analysis, though it would soften the benefit cuts that would be necessary if further changes weren’t made.


Mr. Biden’s policy advisers, however, said the proposal was something of an opening bid. “The vice president’s financing proposal shows how he would protect and increase benefits for all Social Security recipients while making a down payment on long-term solvency,” said Gene Sperling, an outside adviser to Mr. Biden and a former national economic adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.


Just about every American has something at stake, or someone close who does: Roughly 178 million workers contribute to the program, and, this year, an estimated 45.8 million retirees will receive nearly $70 billion in benefits — the average monthly check is about $1,500 per month, according to the Social Security Administration.


Under current law, retirement benefits can come only out of the trust fund, which will be depleted by 2034, according to Social Security Administration estimates that do not take the pandemic into account. At that point, taxes collected will be enough to pay only 76 percent of benefits. (A Congressional Budget Office report from September predicted the trust funds would run out in 2031; others, including the Bipartisan Policy Center, project it could be sooner.)


The cost of inaction is serious, Mr. Akabas said, because as insolvency creeps closer, the changes necessary will become increasingly painful — tax increases will need to be greater, any cuts more severe.


“The longer we wait to fix the problem,” he said, “the fewer people who can play a role in the solution.”


About half the population 65 and older lives in households that receive at least half of their income from Social Security, according to a 2017 study published in the Social Security Bulletin. Roughly 25 percent of elderly households rely on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.


Joyce Welch, a 73-year-old retiree in Sacramento, subsists on Social Security alone. A single mother who raised two sons, she worked full time for most of her life. But her health started to decline roughly 15 years ago because of an undiagnosed autoimmune disease, and within a couple of years, she had to retire from her job as a site supervisor and family consultant at a caregiver support center in Los Angeles.


Ms. Welch paid $800 a month to extend her health insurance through COBRA, which she funded with retirement savings  that quickly dwindled because of early-withdrawal penalties. She eventually applied for Social Security Disability, and moved in with her youngest son.


“I lost my home, my life savings and my independence,” she said.


Her Social Security retirement check of $1,370 is deposited on the third of each month, and she shops for the month at Costco and a local food co-op. By the 15th — after paying for her share of rent and other expenses — Ms. Welch has just a few dollars left.


Without the program, she’d have nothing. “What happened to me,” she added, “is not unique.”



6) Justice Dept. Is Said to Quietly Quash Inquiry Into Tamir Rice Killing

Supervisors denied civil-rights prosecutors’ request to use a grand jury for their investigation into the 2014 shooting of a Black boy by a Cleveland police officer, but did not tell his family.

By Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, Oct. 29, 2020

The police shooting of Tamir Rice became a touchstone in the national debate over race and policing. Credit...Ty Wright for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department decided more than a year ago to effectively shut down its civil-rights investigation into the high-profile killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy carrying a pellet gun who was shot by a Cleveland police officer in 2014, according to people familiar with the matter.


Career prosecutors had asked in 2017 to use a grand jury to gather evidence in their investigation, setting off tensions inside the department. In an unusual move, department supervisors let the request languish for two years before finally denying permission in August 2019, essentially ending the inquiry without fully conducting it.


But more than a year later, the department has yet to take the bureaucratic steps to close the case, like completing a draft memo explaining why it declined to indict anyone. And it has not told the Rice family or the public that it will not charge the police officer.


Subodh Chandra, a former federal prosecutor who is representing the Rice family, said Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, was devastated. “When Samaria Rice heard the news, she cried out repeatedly, ‘I’m not ready for this!’” Mr. Chandra said. “The federal investigation was her last hope for justice. Accountability was so important to her and her family.”


The Justice Department’s press office declined to comment. Henry Hilow, a lawyer for the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association who represented the two officers involved in the case, did not return a phone message left with his assistant on Thursday.


Tamir Rice’s killing became a touchstone in the national debate over race and policing and prompted protests. But the prospect of bringing a federal case against Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot him, was broadly seen as challenging because prosecutors would need to prove that he had intentionally violated Tamir’s civil rights. His pellet gun looked real, a 911 dispatcher had failed to relay that it might have been a toy wielded by a juvenile, and Officer Loehmann shot him immediately upon arriving.


The investigation had stagnated in the final year of the Obama administration. President Trump’s two attorneys general, Jeff Sessions and William P. Barr, have set a tone that their Justice Department will not aggressively police the conduct of local law-enforcement officials, but the matter was apparently handled by civil rights division supervisors. A former department official said Mr. Sessions was never briefed about prosecutors’ request for permission to use a grand jury, and a current one said the same about Mr. Barr.


State prosecutors have broader latitude to charge police officers with crimes based on lower standards of proof, like manslaughter resulting from recklessness. But in late 2015, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor announced that a grand jury, on his recommendation, had decided not to charge Officer Loehmann with any crime under state law.


The outcome upset lawyers for the Rice family, especially after the disclosure that the prosecutor apparently permitted the police officers to read prepared statements before the grand jury without cross-examining them. The Rice family asked for a federal civil-rights investigation, and the Justice Department said it was conducting a review.


Since then, Cleveland agreed in 2016 to pay $6 million to the Rice family to settle a lawsuit, and Officer Loehmann was fired in 2017. But the Justice Department has been largely silent about what was happening with its investigation.


Current and former officials familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, described a dysfunctional and delayed effort. They spoke in response to inquiries by The New York Times after it learned that David Z. Seide, a lawyer representing a person familiar with the case, filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, accusing the department of mishandling the matter.


Mr. Seide, a senior counsel at the Government Accountability Project, which assists whistle-blowers, approached The Times after the inspector general’s office informed him last week that it would not investigate the complaint. Lawmakers have not empowered Mr. Horowitz to scrutinize allegations of ethical violations and professional misconduct by department lawyers. (Congress is weighing legislation to expand his jurisdiction; Mr. Barr has objected to it.)


The case stagnated throughout 2016, the final year of the Obama administration, according to the interviews, including with Mr. Seide’s client. One factor, several people said, was that federal law enforcement officials in Ohio were reluctant to further pursue Officer Loehmann.


The Justice Department had obtained a so-called consent decree to overhaul the Cleveland Police Department on matters like training and wanted to focus on such systemic issues. In addition, officials recognized that it would be difficult to prove intent to meet the legal standard to convict the officer of a federal civil-rights crime, they said.


Other people familiar with the case said another problem caused delays: The civil rights division needed to gather and review local investigative files. Local officials, they said, had dragged their feet in turning over all the evidence.


In 2017, after Mr. Trump took office, the civil rights division reassigned the investigation to two career prosecutors, Jared Fishman and Nick Reddick. They began trying more aggressively to gather further evidence.


One angle they proposed exploring was whether Officer Loehmann and his partner had given statements whose accuracy was subject to scrutiny for potential obstruction of justice charges; if so, the department could leverage them to build toward civil-rights charges. In particular, they wanted to know the extent to which Officer Loehmann had clearly and repeatedly warned Tamir to put his hands up before shooting him, as the officer claimed he had.


Under Justice Department rules, criminal prosecutors with the civil rights division must receive permission to use a grand jury to subpoena for documents or witness testimony. In mid-2017, the people said, Mr. Fishman and Mr. Reddick wrote a roughly 20-page memo analyzing the case and requesting permission to pursue a grand jury investigation.


Two career supervisors in the section concurred with the request, the people said. They submitted the memo to Robert Moossy Jr., a deputy assistant attorney general, who, although a career official, works alongside Mr. Trump’s political appointees who run the division.


Typically, the people said, such a request is approved or denied within a few weeks. But no one responded to the memo. In fall 2018, the career prosecutors submitted a supplemental memo of about equal length that contained additional evidence and analysis making the case that a grand jury investigation was justified, the people said. But that memo also yielded no response.


The inaction prompted suspicions among career lawyers that political appointees were running out the clock: The statute of limitations generally expires after five years for obstruction charges, and the officers made their statements in 2014 and 2015. But they had no direct knowledge of the discussions within the division’s front office — which was first led by John Gore and then Eric S. Dreiband after October 2018 — nor about interactions, if any, regarding the case with the attorney general’s office.


In July 2019, Mr. Barr decided that the department would not seek an indictment of the New York City police officer who had put Eric Garner into a chokehold in July 2014, ignoring his cries of “I can’t breathe”; Mr. Garner passed out and was later pronounced dead. Shortly after that public announcement, the people said, word reached the career ranks that their request to use a grand jury to investigate the Rice case had been denied.


Another department official, defending its handling of the Rice investigation on the condition of anonymity, noted that the matter was still not technically closed and suggested that the department might, in theory, someday change course and empower prosecutors to use a grand jury after all. Still, Mr. Seide said the statute of limitations for the final statements that might yield potential obstruction charges would expire by year’s end.


In one respect, the Garner case was similar to Tamir Rice’s killing: In both instances, federal law enforcement officials who worked with the local police departments were more reluctant than civil rights division prosecutors in Washington to pursue a federal police brutality case. In another respect, it was very different: The Garner case received a full grand jury investigation, while the Rice case was quashed without one.


Mr. Chandra said the “stench of political interference hovers over this case” and called the outcome tragic.


“It was devastating to learn that this supposedly ‘law-and-order’ administration defied the judgment of career prosecutors, slow-rolled the investigation to let the statute of limitations run out, hid from the crime victim’s family its decision not to prosecute, and let the officers get away with murder and obstruction of justice,” he said.



7) U.S. to Remove Wolves From Protected Species List

Populations have rebounded in recent decades, but some scientists on the panel that evaluated the proposal said it was deeply flawed.

By Catrin Einhorn, Oct. 29, 2020


A gray wolf in Montana. By the mid-20th century they had nearly vanished from the lower 48 states. Credit...Alan and Sandy Carey/Nature Production, via Minden Pictures

Gray wolves, one of the first animals shielded by the Endangered Species Act after Americans all but exterminated them in the lower 48 states, will no longer receive federal protection, officials announced Thursday.


“After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement.


Environmentalists condemned the decision as dangerously premature and vowed to take the Fish and Wildlife Service back to court, where they have successfully blocked previous attempts to strip wolves of federal protections. “Wolves just occupy a fraction of their former range,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and chief executive of Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental group. “There’s so much work that needs to be done.”


The new rule will officially publish on Tuesday and become effective 60 days after that. Then, states and tribes will assume control of the nation’s wolves, except for a subspecies called the Mexican wolf that remains under federal protection.


It was the second time in recent years that the federal government had tried to take wolves off the endangered species list; the last attempt, under the Obama administration, was withdrawn amid strong opposition.


Thursday’s decision came despite significant concerns raised by scientists who performed the independent review that is required before the Fish and Wildlife Service can delist a species. Four out of the five researchers charged with reviewing the proposal raised substantive concerns.


“I thought it was critically flawed,” said Carlos Carroll, an independent biologist with the Klamath Center for Conservation Research who said the Fish and Wildlife Service proposal, which is based on the consensus that wolves now face a low risk of extinction, ignored the importance of genetic variation in species.


That variation will be critical to allowing the animals to adapt to future threats like climate change, Dr. Carroll said, and is essential for their long-term survival. “That is the building block of their ability to persist,” he said.


Another reviewer, Adrian Treves, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said he was troubled that the Fish and Wildlife Service seemed to disregard his concerns that the proposal did not accurately estimate how many wolves would be killed by people.


“I predict that the consequence of the inaccurate risk assessment is that gray wolves are not secure in the Western Great Lakes,” he wrote last month in a follow-up memo to the federal Office of Management and Budget, “and the federal government will have to re-list them again, either by federal court mandate or after another wolf population crash.”


Dr. Carroll and Dr. Treves are also co-authors of an article published Wednesday in the journal BioScience rebutting the Fish and Wildlife Service’s argument for delisting wolves.


Officials said the 442-page final ruling, made public on Thursday, had taken into account the concerns in the peer review but gave few details. Dr. Carroll did not agree. “If the Service had seriously addressed the issues we raised, they couldn’t have come to the same conclusion,” he said.


Before the arrival of Europeans, wolves flourished from coast to coast in North America, living in forests, prairies, mountains and wetlands. After two centuries of eradication campaigns — the colonial authorities, then states and eventually the federal government paid bounties for dead wolves — the animals had all but vanished. By the mid-20th century, perhaps 1,000 were left in the lower 48 states, mainly in northern Minnesota.


Wolves’ numbers began to rebound after they were placed under federal protection in the 1960s, and in the mid-1990s, the Service took a bold new step, relocating 31 wolves from Canada into Yellowstone National Park. They multiplied quickly, and now about 6,000 wolves range the western Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains, with small numbers spreading into Oregon, Washington and California.


But with their recovery came old conflicts. Ranchers complained of lost livestock, hunters of decreased deer and elk.


The matter is complicated by a fundamental disagreement over the extent of the Endangered Species Act’s scope: Must it simply save animals from the risk of extinction in the wild, or must it restore them until they occupy an environmentally significant role in their ecosystems?


“There’s little federal guidance on this question and no state-level goals for what ecological outcomes should look like,” said Ya-Wei Li of the Environmental Policy Innovation Center. “As a result, people on both sides of the issue continue to wrestle over ‘how much is enough’ conservation under the Act.”


Because wolves are not in immediate danger of extinction in the lower 48 states and are even spreading into new habitats, Mr. Li said the government should focus its resources on hundreds of species that are far more imperiled.


But other advocates and scientists point to the ripple effects of restoring top predators to an ecosystem. Wolves, for example, help new trees and other critical vegetation grow by reducing deer and elk grazing. A healthier habitat supports myriad species.


“Wolves shape the places where they live,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are so many places where they lived before and can thrive again.”


Despite Thursday’s ruling, Colorado could be the next place where wolves make a comeback. A groundbreaking question on the ballot in Tuesday’s election will let voters decide whether to reintroduce wolves to the state.


“You have wolf lovers and wolf haters,” said Jon T. Coleman, a historian at the University of Notre Dame who has written about the relationship between wolves and people in America. The controversy protects the species, he said, but also limits progress.


“Everybody backs into their camps,” he said.



8) U.S. Expels Migrant Children From Other Countries to Mexico

Children from Central America are being sent across the border to Mexico, where they may not have any family. An internal email said the transfers violated the government’s own policies.

By Caitlin Dickerson, Published Oct. 30, 2020Updated Oct. 31, 2020

A U.S. Customs and Border officer guiding asylum-seeking migrants across a bridge from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, into the U.S. Credit...Fernando Llano/Associated Press

U.S. border authorities have been expelling migrant children from other countries into Mexico, violating a diplomatic agreement with Mexico and testing the limits of immigration and child welfare laws.


The expulsions, laid out in a sharply critical internal email from a senior Border Patrol official, have taken place under an aggressive border closure policy the Trump administration has said is necessary to prevent the coronavirus from spreading into the United States. But they conflict with the terms upon which the Mexican government agreed to help implement the order, which were that only Mexican children and others who had adult supervision could be pushed back into Mexico after attempting to cross the border.


The expulsions put children from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador at risk by sending them with no accompanying adult into a country where they have no family connections. Most appear to have been put, at least at first, into the care of Mexican child welfare authorities, who oversee shelters operated by religious organizations and other private groups.


The expulsions, which appear to number more than 200 over the past eight months, reflect the haphazard nature with which many of the administration’s most aggressive immigration policies have been introduced. In many cases, they have led to the shuffling of young children between U.S. government agencies — and now between the governments of countries that are not their own. For years, the Trump administration’s handling of migrant children has left members of families separated for months on end and unable to reach one another.


A report to the courts this month revealed that the parents of 545 such children currently in the United States, some of them separated from their families as long ago as 2017, still have not been located.


Under existing diplomatic agreements and U.S. policies, children from countries other than Mexico are supposed to be put on flights operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to their home countries, where they can be reunited with their families.


Rumors of children from other countries being expelled into Mexico have swirled among nonprofit workers advocating for child welfare in Mexico and the United States. But locating any such children has been difficult because of spotty reporting from Mexican government authorities.


But an email from the U.S. Border Patrol’s assistant chief, Eduardo Sanchez, obtained by The New York Times, makes it clear that such transfers have not only occurred, but that they are a clear violation of U.S. policy.


“Recently, we have identified several suspected instances where Single Minors (SM) from countries other than Mexico have been expelled via ports of entry rather than referred to ICE Air Operations for expulsion flights,” Mr. Sanchez wrote.


Referring to the federal public health statute upon which the administration’s border closure policy rests, he continued, “Please note that if not corrected, these actions will place Title 42 operations in significant jeopardy and must be ceased immediately. To reiterate, under no circumstances should a SM from a country other than Mexico be knowingly expelled to Mexico.”


Brian Hastings, chief of the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, acknowledged in an interview that non-Mexican children had been sent back into Mexico.


Mr. Hastings said that without rapidly returning migrants under the pandemic rule, “we would have massive amounts of infections, massive amounts of commingling and again, we would fill a hospital.” He said border agents were directed to contact the Mexican consular office each time an unaccompanied child was expelled.


And Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection agency, acknowledged in a separate interview this week that such expulsions would violate an agreement between Mexico and the United States. “That’s not part of their policy,” Mr. Morgan said of Mexico.


The two officials said that the expulsion policy has helped prevent the kind of overcrowding in border facilities that led to widespread criticism over the agency’s care for children last year.


But border agents have now been directed to exempt most children under the age of 10 from the expulsion policy and transfer them to shelters in the United States that are overseen by the U.S. Health and Human Services agency, Mr. Hastings said.


The coronavirus pandemic created an opportunity for the Trump administration to enact its most stringent border restrictions yet. Thousands of children have since been rapidly expelled to their home countries after crossing the border into the United States — a departure from years of established practices, under which children traveling without adult guardians were transferred into an American government shelter system, where they were assigned to caseworkers who worked to reunite them with American sponsors while their cases for asylum were being considered in the courts.


Contrary to that policy, the children expelled during the pandemic have been held only briefly in Border Patrol facilities or in hotels before being sent to their home countries, often without any notification to their families ahead of time. Some have had to borrow cellphones when they arrive at airports to look for family members who may be willing to take them in.


The latest expulsions add a new and potentially more devastating complication, creating even more confusion for families from Central America and elsewhere who may be trying to find their children.


It is possible that some of the expelled children may have had family members in Mexico who were themselves waiting for entry to the United States, but Mexican authorities did not provide information about children handed off to their shelters.


A Salvadoran father living in California who asked not to be named because he is undocumented said he first learned that his 15-year-old daughter had been expelled into Mexico in August, when he received a phone call from the Salvadoran embassy in Ciudad Juárez.


“They said I had to stay calm because she was going to be OK,” the father said. “I didn’t know what to ask, it was just all confusing.” His daughter had no family in Mexico, he said.


She had been waiting in El Salvador to be approved for a visa to enter the United States under a special program for victims of sexual violence, based on what had happened to her in her home country, he said. He was not sure why she had tried to cross the American border before she was approved to do so — he assumed it was out of fear for her safety.


After lawyers intervened on the girl’s behalf, arguing that her rights had been violated during the expulsion, she was allowed into the United States and is now living in a shelter in Arizona. Her father said he was waiting for permission from the U.S. government to be reunited.


“I’ve been out of my mind,” he said. “This is a really, really stressful situation. It’s about your kids, you want always the best for them, but at the same time you know that you can’t physically protect them or do anything right now, so that is really frustrating.”


Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union are challenging the practice of expelling migrant children in federal court, arguing that it violates child welfare laws, such as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as well as national immigration laws, which require special protections for migrant children traveling alone.


“Even apart from the general illegality of Title 42, it is separately illegal under the immigration laws to expel a non-Mexican child to Mexico,” said Lee Gelernt, the lead attorney in the case.


The government has recently begun referring to migrant children who cross the border alone differently — as “single minors” rather than “unaccompanied alien children” — reinforcing the notion that while the pandemic-related border closure is in place, such children are not eligible for the legal protections that would otherwise have been available to them.


According to public data, U.S. authorities have expelled more than 200,000 people since the new public health border closure took effect, but the administration would not answer questions about how many of them were children, nor about how many were sent to Mexico. In December, border authorities acknowledged in federal court that at least 8,800 children have been expelled from the United States since March.


The human rights organization Women’s Refugee Commission, working with several other advocacy organizations, filed a public records request with Mexican authorities and received data suggesting that at least 208 Central American children had been returned to the custody of Mexican authorities between March 21 and June 5.


Mexican child welfare authorities did not respond to requests for comment.


Adults have also been expelled during the pandemic, in relatively large numbers, allowing some of them to quickly attempt to re-enter the country.


To combat repeat attempts, Mr. Hastings said, the Border Patrol has begun expulsion flights into the interior of Mexico for Mexican adults who have tried to enter the United States four or more times.


Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting from McAllen, Texas.



9) Don’t Fool Yourself. Trump Is Not an Aberration.

By Jamelle Bouie, Oct. 30, 2020

White supremacists marched at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 2017. Credit...Edu Bayer for The New York Times

For many millions of Americans, the presidency of Donald Trump has been a kind of transgression, an endless assault on dignity, decency and decorum. They experience everything — the casual insults, the vulgar tweets, the open racism, the lying, the tacit support for dangerous extremists and admiration of foreign strongmen — as an attack on the fabric of American society itself. And they see the worst of this administration, like separating children from their families at the border, as an unparalleled offense against the values of American democracy.


There’s no question these are useful beliefs — they are responsible for the mass outrage against Trump at the beginning of his term, the wave against the Republican Party in the 2018 midterm elections and the currently strong anti-Trump energy of at least half of the voting public — but it’s hard to say they are true ones. Trump is transgressive, yes. But his transgressions are less a novel assault on American institutions than they are a stark recapitulation of past failure and catastrophe.


For as much as it seems that Donald Trump has changed something about the character of this country, the truth is he hasn’t. What is terrible about Trump is also terrible about the United States. Everything we’ve seen in the last four years — the nativism, the racism, the corruption, the wanton exploitation of the weak and unconcealed contempt for the vulnerable — is as much a part of the American story as our highest ideals and aspirations. The line to Trump runs through the whole of American history, from the white man’s democracy of Andrew Jackson to the populist racism of George Wallace, from native expropriation to Chinese exclusion.


And to the extent that Americans feel a sense of loss about the Trump era, they should be grateful, because it means they’ve given up their illusions about what this country is, and what it is (and has been) capable of.


There is very little about Donald Trump or his policies that doesn’t have a direct antecedent in the American past. Despite what Joe Biden might say about its supposedly singular nature (“The way he deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening”), the president’s racism harkens right back to the first decades of the 20th century, when white supremacy was ascendant and the nation’s political elites, including presidents like Woodrow Wilson, were preoccupied with segregation and exclusion for the sake of preserving an “Anglo-Saxon” nation.


Trump’s indifference to the pandemic is, in the same way, an echo of the Hoover administration, which stood by as the country was crushed by economic depression and the immiseration of millions of Americans. It is impossible (for me at least) to think about child separation without also thinking about chattel slavery and the nation’s vast trade in enslaved people, conducted over decades under three generations of American presidents, including men like James Polk, who — decades removed from planter-politicians like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe — bought and sold human beings from the White House.


The president’s personal corruption is  unique — there’s never been someone in the White House so clearly committed to the most petty forms of graft — but his lawlessness (and that of his administration) is the direct outgrowth of a contempt for accountability that stretches across four decades of Republican presidencies, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush.  Trump does nothing more than embody Nixon’s quip to David Frost that “when the president does it … that means that it is not illegal.” And in that, he’s backed by deputies like Attorney General William Barr, who on his first turn through Washington helped cover up Iran-contra for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and who is now, under Trump, ready to abuse the law for the sake of the president’s re-election.


Trump isn’t the first president in recent memory to let Americans suffer and die in the face of a deadly hurricane — that distinction goes to the aforementioned George W. Bush. And he’s certainly not the first to let a plague kill thousands of Americans — that distinction goes to Reagan (of course, for his dull response to the flu pandemic in 1918, Wilson deserves that distinction too).


Trump has helped bring ugly forces out into the open, giving aid and comfort to assorted racists and white nationalists. Yet it’s also true that these groups and individuals have always been with us and that our focus on Trump betrays a lack of attention to the ways in which they’ve grown and changed over time, waiting for a moment like this one.


Read the catalog of horribles for Donald Trump and his White House and what you find is an administration that has embraced the worst aspects of our political culture and merged them into a potent brew of destruction, lawlessness and authoritarianism. But to recognize this is to see as well how it doesn’t make sense to say that Trump is an aberration from the mainstream of American life. Instead, he is the exclamation point on our consistent failure to live up to our own self-image.


Perhaps more than most, Americans hold many illusions about the kind of nation in which live in. We tell ourselves that we are the freest country in the world, that we have the best system of government, that we welcome all comers, that we are efficient and dynamic where the rest of the world is stagnant and dysfunctional. Some of those things have been true at some points in time, but none of them is true at this point in time.


What Trump has done is made it difficult to maintain the illusion. Whenever he finally leaves the scene, we can either take the opportunity to look with clear eyes and assess this country as it is and as it has been or again seek the comfort of myth.



10) Some Areas of N.Y.C. Are Getting a Lot More Testing. Guess Which Ones.

Coronavirus tests are free, yet data show some wealthy neighborhoods are testing at nearly four times the rate of poor neighborhoods. Why?

By Ginia Bellafante, Oct. 30, 2020

Dave Sanders for The New York Times

This week, in an anxious nation where nearly any encounter with a screen has become triggering, Kim Kardashian West took a shot with all her firepower, announcing plans for her 40th birthday. To the undoing of Twitter, she noted that she had flown friends and family to a private island to pretend “things were normal just for a brief moment.” The pandemic at the heart of the current peculiarities was easily circumvented by quarantine and “2 weeks of multiple health screens.”


Covid cases are now rising around the country, with the prospect of the holidays heightening the fear of another wave. In an effort to avert further disaster, mayors and governors have begun to preach a doctrine of mirthlessness to American families — this will be the year of pie eaten alone in front of an iPad. Many will have little choice but to comply.


Others, however, will find a way to create their own private islands, traveling to places where they will sit at long communal tables, conviviality unhindered. The difference, in many instances, will come down to testing, who does and does not get it, another mark of division amid all the gripping upheaval that is shaped by class.


In New York, the disparities are unmistakable. Recently, Wil Lieberman-Cribbin, a doctoral student in environmental health at Columbia, tabulated the prevalence of coronavirus testing in the city, during the months of September and October, according to ZIP code.


Overwhelmingly, the wealthiest neighborhoods — in fact, most of Manhattan below 110th Street — showed the highest rates of testing, while the poorest neighborhoods, in Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx, for example, largely correlated with the lowest. In some instances, the differences between the most affluent communities and the least advantaged were four times as great.


So many months into the pandemic, these inequities might have been corrected; instead they have simply been left to persist. In September, Mr. Lieberman-Cribbin, in conjunction with fellow researchers, published a paper in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine that looked at analogous testing data for March and April and found a similar imbalance. The authors concluded that widespread testing and public-health outreach was urgently needed in the city’s most vulnerable populations.


As it happened, the tide took things in a different direction. In effect, testing among the privileged was routinized. It became a function of neurosis; of a return to office work or private school; of an iron will to avoid certain constraints and sacrifices in lifestyle. In recent years, urgent-care centers have come to fill gentrified neighborhoods, making it no harder to get a Covid test in many places than it is to pick up a box of Raisin Bran; concierge medicine, delivering quick results, has filled other parts of the void.


As Emanuela Taioli, the director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at Mount Sinai, pointed out, testing in Manhattan has evolved as a mechanism for screening and contact tracing, while in low-income communities, it has been deployed more narrowly as a diagnostic tool for those already experiencing symptoms or otherwise at high risk.


This is not the way to contain a virus. What concerns public-health experts is that high rates of positivity have emerged in areas with low rates of testing, which suggests that infection could be much more widespread than it appears. In the early days of the pandemic, testing was virtually impossible for all but the visibly sick. Since then, the city has created 200 testing sites, where it is free. But disseminating information about these sites — where they are, what sort of identification is needed when you get there, what risks the process might pose to immigration status and so on — has been fraught.


To address some of this confusion, the Health Department created “tailored webinars.” But, along with other online sources, they have turned out to be of little use to the many low-income people with no internet access. “We just don’t have the technology,” Shirlene Cooper, an AIDS activist living in Flatbush, Brooklyn, told me. “For me, a person living with H.I.V., no one told me what to do.”


In the view of Beverly Xaviera Watkins, a social epidemiologist at the University of California-Irvine, messaging in low-income communities of color hasn’t been inadequate; it has been “horrendous.” It has had little success overriding deeply held suspicions of a medical class that has a long history of exploiting Black Americans or disabling a broader mistrust of government. These strains of doubt are amplified in public housing, where decades of neglect and deceit have resulted in buildings tainted with lead paint and mold and a vanished faith among people who live there that their well-being is anyone’s priority.


Not long ago, Dr. Watkins began investigating the spread of the coronavirus in buildings of the New York City Housing Authority. With Karen Blondel, an environmental-justice advocate and longtime resident of the Red Hook Houses, she surveyed a representative sample of people living in three complexes in Brooklyn and found that a vast majority of respondents had not been tested even though more than a third knew someone who had died of Covid-19.


At one point, the city had workers knocking on doors to ask people if they wanted to be tested, but this, Ms. Blondel observed, served only to spread more fear. The people who showed up were strangers, and those on the other side of the door experienced a sense of invasion. They worried, too, about what might be done surreptitiously with their bodily submissions — what else would clinicians be looking for?


Dr. Watkins’s survey also included a question about a potential vaccine, another explosive subject. Nearly half in the group said they were not sure that they would take one if it were offered. A few people wondered if it might give you the disease. There was also an urban myth circulating that the vaccine would contain a tracker that allowed the government to check your movements.


“I thought it was insane at first, but then I kept hearing it,” Dr. Watkins told me. “The thing is, you could get control of the virus everywhere in the city, but if you can’t get it down in public housing, you’ve lost the war.”



11) Kentucky Police Training Quoted Hitler and Urged ‘Ruthless’ Violence

A training slide show that urged officers to “always fight to the death” is no longer used but has raised an outcry in a state that has struggled with police violence.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Oct. 31, 2020

A slide in a training manual used by the Kentucky State Police includes a quote from Adolf Hitler encouraging the “regular employment of violence.” Credit...Kentucky State Police

A slide show once shown to cadets training to join the Kentucky State Police includes quotations attributed to Adolf Hitler and Robert E. Lee, says troopers should be warriors who “always fight to the death” and encourages each trooper in training to be a “ruthless killer.”


The slide show, which came to light on Friday in a report from a high school newspaper, brought harsh condemnation from politicians, Jewish groups and Kentucky residents, but not from the Kentucky State Police department itself, which said only that the training materials were old.


Morgan Hall, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, which oversees the State Police, said that the slide show was “removed” in 2013 and was no longer in use but declined to answer a list of questions, including queries about how long the material was used and how many cadets had seen the training.


Ms. Hall said in a statement that it was “unacceptable” that such material had ever been included in law enforcement training. “Our administration does not condone the use of this material,” she said. She added that the cabinet agency “began an internal review” after learning about the material on Friday.


Kentucky State Police have assisted the Louisville Metro Police Department during protests over Louisville police officers’ killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency room technician shot by the police when they raided her apartment in March. The state agency also helped to investigate the Taylor killing, providing a ballistics report to the state attorney general before he determined that the officers who shot Ms. Taylor were justified.


The quotations attributed to Hitler, the genocidal leader of Nazi Germany, and Lee, the Confederate general, are included among 33 slides that were shown to cadets in the Kentucky State Police Academy as part of a slide show entitled “The Warrior Mindset.”


“The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence,” reads one quotation attributed to Hitler, who is quoted more than anyone in the training document. Some of the statements attributed to Hitler link to a website providing biographical information about him and listing books by and about him.


The training itself emphasizes that troopers must be ready to employ violence in order to do their jobs properly. One of the slides that quotes Hitler — under the heading “Violence of Action” — also says troopers should “be the loving father, spouse, and friend as well as the ruthless killer.” Another says warriors “always fight to the death, they never quit” and that they must be willing to “commit to the fight.”


The title page indicates that the training was created by a retired captain, Curt Hall, who could not be reached for comment. Local news reports, Mr. Hall’s LinkedIn page and a news release from the State Police in 2018 indicate that Mr. Hall was an assistant commander at the police academy from 2005 to 2015 and later served as a commander in the internal affairs department and as the commander of one of the agency’s 16 regional posts.


The lesson appears to be at least partially in line with “warrior training,” a controversial practice that often begins during basic training in academies and is modeled on military boot camp, which many police departments embrace. Many of the nation’s police academies and departments have long emphasized a warrior mentality, experts have said, with officers trained for conflict and equipped with the gear and weapons of modern warfare. Critics have said the specialized training can lead officers to believe they are under constant threat of being harmed and can intensify encounters with civilians.


The slide show was obtained by a lawyer who is suing a Kentucky State Police trooper who shot and killed Bradley J. Grant, 37, in 2018. David Ward, the lawyer, said he had received a copy of the slide show after filing a public records request for documents that the trooper had seen when he was going through training at the academy in 2013.


Mr. Ward said he was shocked by the material, and that it seemed to coincide with the combative nature of the trooper’s encounter with Mr. Grant that preceded the fatal shooting. The State Police said at the time that Mr. Grant had confronted two officers with a shotgun before he was killed, but Mr. Ward said Mr. Grant had been pointing the shotgun at his own chin and asking officers to shoot him.


“This type of training — these quotes — creates a mind set that these troopers are at war, that they need to come to work ready for battle,” Mr. Ward said. “This type of mind set is likely to create an adversarial situation or a violent encounter, and I think that becomes even more likely when you encounter a person who is suffering a mental health crisis and is less likely to respond to verbal commands in a rational way.”


The slide show was first reported by The Manual Redeye, a student newspaper at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, in an article written by the 16-year-old and 14-year-old sons of another lawyer involved in the lawsuit against the trooper.


“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It is further unacceptable that I just learned about this through social media. We will collect all the facts and take immediate corrective action.”


The 33-slide presentation ends with a quotation usually attributed to Theodore Roosevelt about credit belonging to “the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”


It ends: “Questions??”


Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio contributed reporting.



12) How the Wealthy World Has Failed Poor Countries During the Pandemic

Despite pledges for debt relief and expanded programs, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have delivered meager aid, say economists.

"Since the pandemic began, the I.M.F. has allocated $500 million to cover the costs of debt suspension, while handing out more than $100 billion in fresh loans. More than $11 billion from the loan proceeds has paid off private creditors, according to a report from the Jubilee Debt Campaign."

By Peter S. Goodman, Nov. 1, 2020


Women lined up to receive cash assistance in Hyderabad, Pakistan, earlier this month. Families have lost livelihoods and struggled to feed themselves in the pandemic. Credit...Nadeem Khawar/EPA, via Shutterstock

LONDON — Like much of the developing world, Pakistan was alarmingly short of doctors and medical facilities long before anyone had heard of Covid-19. Then the pandemic overwhelmed hospitals, forcing some to turn away patients. As fear upended daily life, families lost livelihoods and struggled to feed themselves.


On the other side of the world in Washington, two deep-pocketed organizations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, vowed to spare poor countries from desperation. Their economists warned that immense relief was required to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and profound damage to global prosperity. Emerging markets make up 60 percent of the world economy, by one I.M.F. measure. A blow to their fortunes inflicts pain around the planet.


Wages sent home to poor countries by migrant workers — a vital artery of finance — have diminished. The shutdown of tourism has punished many developing countries. So has plunging demand for oil. Billions of people have lost the wherewithal to buy food, increasing malnutrition. By next year, the pandemic could push 150 million people into extreme poverty, the World Bank has warned, in the first increase in more than two decades.


But the World Bank and the I.M.F. have failed to translate their concern into meaningful support, say economists. That has left less-affluent countries struggling with limited resources and untenable debts, prompting their governments to reduce spending just as it is needed to bolster health care systems and aid people suffering lost income.


“A lost decade of growth in large parts of the world remains a plausible prospect absent urgent, concerted and sustained policy response,” concluded a recent report from the Group of 30, a gathering of international finance experts, including Lawrence Summers, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, and Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration.


The wealthiest nations have been cushioned by extraordinary surges of credit unleashed by central banks and government spending collectively estimated at more than $8 trillion. Developing countries have yet to receive help on such a scale.


The I.M.F. and the World Bank — forged at the end of World War II with the mandate to support nations at times of financial distress — have marshaled a relatively anemic response, in part because of the predilections of their largest shareholder, the United States.


During a virtual gathering of the two organizations this month, the U.S. Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, urged caution. “It is critical that the World Bank manage financial resources judiciously,” he said, “so as not to burden shareholders with premature calls for new financing.”


The World Bank is headed by David Malpass, who was effectively an appointee of President Trump under the gentlemen’s agreement that has for decades accorded the United States the right to select the institution’s leader. A longtime government finance official who worked in the Trump administration’s Treasury Department, he has displayed contempt for the World Bank and the I.M.F.


“They spend a lot of money,” Mr. Malpass said during congressional testimony in 2017. “They’re not very efficient. They’re often corrupt in their lending practices.”


Under his leadership, the World Bank has required that borrowers deregulate domestic industry to favor the private sector as a condition for loans.


“There is an ideological attitude here, a more conservative attitude of, ‘Well, it’s going to be money that goes to waste,’” said Scott Morris, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. In the midst of a crisis caused not by profligacy but by a pandemic, he added, “that’s a very wrongheaded attitude.”


World Bank officials said the institution had expanded lending at a historic pace, while defending Mr. Malpass’s demand for tighter conditions on loans as responsible stewardship. “He wants to have good country outcomes,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, the World Bank’s managing director of operations. “He wants to make sure that the programs reach people.”


The I.M.F. is run by a managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, a Bulgarian economist who previously worked at the World Bank. She is answerable to the institution’s shareholders. The Trump administration has resisted calls to expand the I.M.F.’s reserves, arguing that most of the benefits would flow to wealthier countries.


In April, as worries about poor countries intensified, world leaders issued elaborate promises for help.


“The World Bank Group intends to respond forcefully and massively,” Mr. Malpass said. At the I.M.F., Ms. Georgieva said she would not hesitate to tap the institution’s $1 trillion lending capacity. “This is, in my lifetime, humanity’s darkest hour,” she declared.


But the I.M.F. has lent out only $280 billion. That includes $31 billion in emergency loans to 76 member states, with nearly $11 billion going to low-income countries.


“We have really stepped up in terms of quick disbursement to be able to support countries that are in need,” Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, director of the I.M.F.’s Strategy Policy and Review department, said in an interview.


The World Bank more than doubled its lending over the first seven months of 2020 compared with the same period a year earlier, but has been slow to distribute the money, with disbursements up by less than a third over that period, according to research from the Center for Global Development.


The limited outlays by the I.M.F. and the World Bank appear to stem in part from excessive faith in a widely hailed initiative that aimed to relieve poor nations of their debt burdens to foreign creditors. In April 2020, at a virtual summit of the Group of 20, world leaders agreed to pause debt payments through the end of the year.


World leaders played up the program as a way to encourage poor countries to spend as needed, without worrying about their debts. But the plan exempted the largest group of creditors: the global financial services industry, including banks, asset managers and hedge funds.


“The private sector has done zilch,” said Adnan Mazarei, a former deputy director at the I.M.F., and now a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “They have not participated at all.”


Concerns about developing countries’ debts rested atop the reality that many were spending enormous shares of their revenues on loan payments even before the pandemic.


Since 2009, Pakistan’s payments to foreign creditors have climbed to 35 percent of government revenues from 11.5 percent, according to data compiled by the Jubilee Debt Campaign, which advocates for debt forgiveness. Ghana’s payments swelled to more than 50 percent of government revenues from 5.3 percent.


As the pandemic spread, Pakistan raised health care spending but cut support for social service programs as it prioritized debt payments.


The debt suspension was at best a short-term reprieve, delaying loan payments while heaping them atop outstanding bills.


Some 46 countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, have collectively gained $5.3 billion in relief from immediate debt payments. That is about 1.7 percent of total international debt payments due from all developing countries this year, according to data compiled by the European Network on Debt and Development.


Mr. Summers recently described the debt suspension initiative as “a squirt gun meeting a massive conflagration.”


But the program has proved powerful in one regard: It conveyed a sense that the troubles of the poorest countries have been contained.


“Part of the reason why so little has been done is that there was a misguided expectation that you could provide all the support low-income countries needed simply by deferring payments on their debts,” said Brad Setser, a former U.S. Treasury official and now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.


This month, the G20 extended the program into the middle of next year. Ms. Georgieva has chided private creditors for remaining on the sidelines.


Private creditors have been reluctant to offer debt suspension in part because of uncertainty over who will reap the benefits. Many developing countries have borrowed aggressively from Chinese institutions in a process both opaque and uncoordinated. If American or European institutions forgo collecting on their debts, the money may simply be passed on to a Chinese lender rather than lifting health care spending.


Private creditors maintain that poor countries have not requested relief, recognizing that credit rating agencies may treat debt suspension as a default — a status that jeopardizes their future ability to borrow.


“They don’t want to lose the market access,” said Clay Lowery, executive vice president of research and policy at the Institute of International Finance, a trade association representing financial companies around the world.


But that fear has been actively fomented by creditors, discouraging poor countries from seeking relief.


“The private sector is often highly misleadingly aggressive in suggesting that debt restructuring will cut countries off forever, and that complying with its wishes will get them new money very soon,” Mr. Summers said in an interview.


Some argue that anything short of debt restructuring, in which terms are renegotiated and creditors absorb losses on loans, merely extends the pain — for borrowers and lenders alike.


Critics of the I.M.F. say its handling of the pandemic has displayed the same trait that has long defined its mission — a bias toward ensuring that creditors get paid, even at the expense of wrenching spending cuts in poor countries.


Since the pandemic began, the I.M.F. has allocated $500 million to cover the costs of debt suspension, while handing out more than $100 billion in fresh loans. More than $11 billion from the loan proceeds has paid off private creditors, according to a report from the Jubilee Debt Campaign.


“International financial institutions are going to leave countries in much worse shape than they were before the pandemic,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development, a Manila-based alliance of 50 organizations. “Their interest is not primarily about these countries getting back on their feet, but to get these countries back into the business of borrowing.”
























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