Sunday, January 20, 2019

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, SUNDAY, JANUARY 20, 2019


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Six Boxes of Mumia Abu-Jamal's Files Found Hidden in DA Storage Room



Mumia Abu-Jamal

BREAKING NEWS! SHARE WIDELY!

On January 3, 2019 the office of District Attorney Larry Krasner filed a letter memorandum to Judge Leon Tucker.  "DA [Larry Krasner], and members of his staff went to a remote and largely inaccessible of the DA's office marked "Storage" looking for office furniture." And found six boxes of files on Mumia Abu-Jamal's case that were not produced duringthe recent court proceedings.

The District Attorney Krasner's remarkable and suspicious discovery of six boxes of files marked Mumia or Mumia Abu-Jamal hidden in a storage room on December 28 was one day after Judge Tucker's historic decision granting Mumia Abu-Jamal new rights of appeal.

This is confirmation of what we've known for decades--the prosecution has hidden exculpatory evidence in Mumia's case.  Evidence that is likely proof that Mumia's guilt was intentionally manufactured by the police and prosecution and the truth of his innocence suppressed.

These files should be released to the public. DA Krasner should take this as evidence of the total corruptness of this prosecution against an innocent man. The remedy for this is nothing less than dismissal of the charges against Mumia and his freedom from prison!

It took DA Krasner six days to report this find to Judge Tucker. Why? And who has gone through those six boxes of files on Mumia's case? What assurance can DA Krasner give that there hasn't been further tampering with and covering up of the evidence, which led to an innocent man being framed for murder and sentenced to death?

The DA's letter was not publicly available, nor was the January 3 docket filing shown on the court's public access web pages of docket filing, until January 9.

Rachel Wolkenstein, January 10, 2019
WHYY (an affiliate of NPR)
https://whyy.org/articles/philly-prosecutors-discover-mysterious-six-boxes-connected-to-mumia-abu-jamal-in-storage-room/
Philly prosecutors discover mysterious 'six boxes' connected to Mumia Abu-Jamal in storage room
By Bobby AllynJanuary 9, 2019
A group of two dozen activists briefly block traffic during a rally outside the Philadelphia District Attorney's office on Friday. The group called on DA Larry Krasner to not challenge a Common Pleas court ruling that allows Mumia Abu-Jamal to file an appeal. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Days after Christmas, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and some of his assistants went rummaging around an out-of-the-way storage room in the office looking for some pieces of furniture. What they stumbled upon was a surprising find: six boxes stuffed of files connected to the case of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Five of the six boxes were marked "McCann," a reference to the former head of the office's homicide unit, Ed McCann. Some of the boxes were also marked "Mumia," or the former Black Panther's full name, "Mumia Abu-Jamal."

It is unknown what exactly the files say and whether or not the box's contents will shed new light on a case that for decades has garnered worldwide attention.

But in a letter to the judge presiding over Abu-Jamal's case, Assistant District Attorney Tracey Kavanagh wrote "nothing in the Commonwealth's database showed the existence of these six boxes," she said. "We are in the process of reviewing these boxes."

The surprise discovery comes just weeks after a Philadelphia judge reinstated appeals rightsto Abu-Jamal, saying the former radio journalist and activist should get another chance to reargue his case in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to a conflict-of-interest one of the justices had at the time Abu-Jamal's petition was denied.

Abu-Jamal's supportersare seizing on the mysterious six boxes as proof that his innocence has been systematically suppressed by authorities.

"There's no question in my mind that the only reason they could've been hidden like this is that this is the evidence of the frame-up of Mumia," said Rachel Wolkenstein, who has been a legal advocate and activist for Abu-Jamal for more than 30 years.

"What these missing boxes represent is confirmation of what we've known for decades: there's hidden, exculpatory evidence in Mumia's case, and that is evidence that Mumia's guilt was intentionally manufactured by the police and prosecution and the truth of his innocence was suppressed," Wolkenstein said.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office did not say anything at all about what is in the boxes, or whether there is evidence that the files are exculpatory, or capable of demonstrating that Abu-Jamal did not commit a crime. During his original trial three separate eyewitnesses testified Mumia did commit the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Wolkenstein's assessment is wild speculation, according to Ed McCann, the former homicide unit chief whose name was scrawled across the six boxes. McCann left the office in 2015 after 26 years there as a prosecutor. He was never directly involved in Abu-Jamal's case.

"I can't tell you 100% what is in these boxes," McCann said Wednesday night. "But I doubt there is anything in them that is not already in the public eye."

How and why did six boxes tied to one of the most legendary and racially-charged cases the office has ever handled get relegated to a dusty storage room?

McCann is not sure. But he said when the office moved locations in 2006, hundreds of boxes with his name written them were moved into the current headquarters on South Penn Square, just across the street from Philadelphia City Hall.

"I don't remember these six boxes. But nobody over there discussed this with me before filing this letter," McCann said. "I would think if they were really interested in what happened, they would have reached out to me."

In the two-page letter to the court, assistant district attorney Kavanagh wrote that if Judge Leon Tucker would like to review the boxes, prosecutors will turn them over.

Tucker, who is the same judge who ordered that Abu-Jamal should be given a new appeals argument, has not weighed in on the newly-discovered boxes.

But in his opinion last month, Tucker said former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille should have recused himself from hearing Abu-Jamal's petitions, since Castille himself was Philadelphia's District Attorney when the case was actively on appeal. "True justice must be completely just without even a hint of partiality, lack of integrity or impropriety," wrote Tucker, saying a new hearing in front of the state's high court is warranted.

Prosecutors have not taken a position yet on Tucker's opinion. The files unearthed in the six boxes could influence whether Krasner's office supports or opposes a new hearing for Abu-Jamal.

Wolkenstein said the thousands of people who have joined the "Free Mumia" movement around the globe should be able to review the documents themselves.

"These files should be released publicly," Wolkenstein said. "The remedy for this is nothing less than dismissal of Mumia's charges and his release from prison."




Tell DA Larry Krasner: Do NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting Mumia Abu-Jamal New Appeal Rights!


Mail: 
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
Three South Penn Square
Corner of Juniper and South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499

phone:
215-686-8000

tweet:
@philaDAO

Here's an online petition to sign and share widely.
Mumia Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence in the 1981 fatal shooting of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His prosecution was politically-motivated because of his Black Panther Party membership, his support of the MOVE organization and as a radical journalist. His 1982 trial and subsequent 1995 PCRA appeals were racially biased: the prosecution excluded African Americans from the jury; and PCRA trial Judge Albert Sabo, the same judge in Abu-Jamal's initial trial, declared, "I'm gonna help them fry the n----r." On Dec. 27, Mumia Abu-Jamal won a significant case before Judge Leon Tucker in a decision granting him new rights of appeal. Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:  We call on you to do the right thing.  Do not stand in the way of justice.  Do not appeal Judge Tucker's decision. As a progressive attorney you ran for Philadelphia District Attorney on a platform that included standing "for justice, not just for convictions."  You promoted reviewing past con
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Artwork by Kevin "Rashid" Johnson

Save the date: 
January 26, 2019, 9:00 P.M. broadcast of 48 Hours on CBS
for a two-hour television interview with Kevin Cooper and others about his case.
Erin Moriarty is revisiting the case, interviewing Kevin Cooper, his lawyer Norm Hile, and others including (I believe), the actual killer.

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Statement: Academic Institutions Must Defend Free Speech

The International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity issued the following statement on 23 December, signed by 155 distinguished academics and human rights advocates.



Petition Text


Statement issued by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity:
We, the undersigned, oppose the coordinated campaign to deny academics their free speech rights due to their defense of Palestinian rights and criticism of the policies and practices of the state of Israel. Temple University in Philadelphia, USA and the University of Sydney, Australia have been under great pressure to fire, respectively, Marc Lamont Hill and Tim Anderson, both senior academics at their institutions, for these reasons. Steven Salaita and Norman Finkelstein have already had their careers destroyed by such attacks. Hatem Bazian, Ahlam Muhtaseb, William Robinson, Rabab Abdulhadi and others have also been threatened.
The ostensible justification for such action is commonly known as the "Palestinian exception" to the principle of free speech. One may freely criticize and disrespect governments – including one's own – religions, political beliefs, personal appearance and nearly everything else except the actions and policies of the state of Israel. Those who dare to do so will become the focus of well-financed and professionally run campaigns to silence and/or destroy them and their careers.
We recognize that much of the free speech that occurs in academic and other environments will offend some individuals and groups. However, as has been said many times before, the answer to free speech that some may find objectionable is more free speech, not less. We therefore call upon all academic institutions, their faculty and students, as well as the public at large, to resist such bullying tactics and defend the free speech principles upon which they and all free societies and their institutions are founded.
https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/academic-institutions-must-defend-free-speech?just_launched=true
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Open letter to active duty soldiers on the border
DON'T TURN THEM AWAY
THE MIGRANTS IN THE CENTRAL AMERICAN CARAVAN ARE NOT OUR ENEMIES
Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the U.S. are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country's elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.
Courage to Resist has been running a strategic outreach campaign to challenge troops to refuse illegal orders while on the border, such as their Commander-in-Chief's suggestion that they murder migrants who might be throwing rocks, or that they build and help run concentration camps. In addition to social media ads, About Face, Veterans For Peace, and Courage to Resist, are also printing tens of thousands of these leaflets for distribution near the border. Please consider donating towards these expenses.


Don't turn them away

The migrants in the Central American caravan are not our enemies

Open letter to active duty soldiers
Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the U.S. are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country's elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.
"There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone."
These extremely poor and vulnerable people are desperate for peace. Who among us would walk a thousand miles with only the clothes on our back without great cause? The odds are good that your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived similar experiences to these migrants. Your family members came to the U.S. to seek a better life—some fled violence. Consider this as you are asked to confront these unarmed men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. To do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy.
The U.S. is the richest country in the world, in part because it has exploited countries in Latin America for decades. If you treat people from these countries like criminals, as Trump hopes you will, you only contribute to the legacy of pillage and plunder beneath our southern border. We need to confront this history together, we need to confront the reality of America's wealth and both share and give it back with these people. Above all else, we cannot turn them away at our door. They will die if we do.
By every moral or ethical standard it is your duty to refuse orders to "defend" the U.S. from these migrants. History will look kindly upon you if you do. There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone. It is much harder to punish the many than the few.
In solidarity,
Rory Fanning
Former U.S. Army Ranger, War-Resister
Spenser Rapone
Former U.S. Army Ranger and Infantry Officer, War-Resister
Leaflet distributed by:
  • About Face: Veterans Against the War
  • Courage to Resist
  • Veterans For Peace
Courage to Resist has been running a strategic outreach campaign to challenge troops to refuse illegal orders while on the border, such as their Commander-in-Chief's suggestion that they murder migrants who might be throwing rocks, or that they build and help run concentration camps. In addition to social media ads, About Face, Veterans For Peace, and Courage to Resist, are also printing tens of thousands of these leaflets for distribution near the border. Please consider donating towards these expenses.
COURAGE TO RESIST ~ SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHO REFUSE TO FIGHT!
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559
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COURAGE TO RESIST


New "Refuse War" Shirts


We've launched a new shirt store to raise funds to support war resisters.

In addition to the Courage to Resist logo shirts we've offered in the past, we now  have a few fun designs, including a grim reaper, a "Refuse War, Go AWOL" travel theme, and a sporty "AWOL: Support Military War Resisters" shirt.

Shirts are $25 each for small through XL, and bit more for larger sizes. Please allow 9-12 days for delivery within the United States.

50% of each shirt may qualify as a tax-deductible contribution.

Courage to Resist -- Support the Troops who Refuse to Fight!
484 Lake Park Ave. #41, Oakland, CA 94610, 510-488-3559
couragetoresis.org -- facebook.com/couragetoresist

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Abu-Jamal Wins New Right to Appeal

By Rachel Wolkenstein



 On December 27, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker granted Mumia's petition for new appeal rights, over the opposition of "progressive DA" Larry Krasner. 

This is the first Pennsylvania state court decision in Mumia's favor since he was arrested on December 9, 1981.  

 In his decision Judge Tucker ruled former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who was the District Attorney during Mumia's first appeal of his frame-up conviction and death sentence, "created the appearance of bias and impropriety" in the appeal process when he didn't recuse himself from participating in Mumia's appeals. Judge Tucker relied heavily on Ronald Castille's public statements bragging that he would be a "law and order" judge, that he was responsible for 45 men on death row, that he had the political and financial support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and new evidence of Castille's campaign for death warrants for convicted "police killers." The appearance of bias and lack of "judicial neutrality" exhibited by Castille warranted his recusal.

Judge Tucker's order throws out the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions from 1998-2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia's racially-biased, politically-motivated murder conviction on frame-up charges of the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. 

Judge Tucker's decision means that Mumia Abu-Jamal's post-conviction appeals of his 1982 conviction, that he was framed by police and prosecution who manufactured evidence of guilt, suppressed the proof of his innocence and tried by racist, pro-prosecution trial Judge Albert Sabo who declared, "I'm gonna help them fry the nigger."   and denied him other due process trial rights must be reheard in the Pennsylvania appeals court. 

The new appeals ordered by Judge Tucker opens the door to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom. Abu-Jamal's legal claims and supporting evidence warrant an appeal decision of a new trial or dismissal of the frame-up charges that have kept him imprisoned for 37 years. 

The international campaign for Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom has launched a new offensive. At the top of its actions is a call for letters and phone calls to DA Larry Krasner demanding he not appeal Judge Tucker's order granting new appeal rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Tell DA Larry Krasner: Do NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting Mumia Abu-Jamal New Appeal Rights!

Email: DA_Central@phila.gov, Tweet: @philaDAO, Phone: 215-686-8000
Mail: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
3 S. Penn Square, Corner of Juniper and S. Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499

Write to Mumia at:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
SCI Mahanoy
Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733


Listen to a radio report at Black Agenda Report:
https://www.blackagendareport.com/judge-soon-rule-mumias-appeal-bid

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A Call for a Mass Mobilization to Oppose NATO, War and Racism
Protest NATO, Washington, DC, Lafayette Park (across from the White House)

1 PM Saturday, March 30, 2019.
Additional actions will take place on Thursday April 4 at the opening of the NATO meeting

April 4, 2019, will mark the 51st anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the internationally revered leader in struggles against racism, poverty and war.

And yet, in a grotesque desecration of Rev. King's lifelong dedication to peace, this is the date that the military leaders of the North American Treaty Organization have chosen to celebrate NATO's 70th anniversary by holding its annual summit meeting in Washington, D.C. This is a deliberate insult to Rev. King and a clear message that Black lives and the lives of non-European humanity really do not matter.   

It was exactly one year before he was murdered that Rev. King gave his famous speech opposing the U.S. war in Vietnam, calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" and declaring that he could not be silent.

We cannot be silent either. Since its founding, the U.S.-led NATO has been the world's deadliest military alliance, causing untold suffering and devastation throughout Northern Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

Hundreds of thousands have died in U.S./NATO wars in Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yugoslavia. Millions of refugees are now risking their lives trying to escape the carnage that these wars have brought to their homelands, while workers in the 29 NATO member-countries are told they must abandon hard-won social programs in order to meet U.S. demands for even more military spending.

Every year when NATO holds its summits, there have been massive protests: in Chicago, Wales, Warsaw, Brussels. 2019 will be no exception.

The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) is calling for a mass mobilization in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 30.  Additional actions will take place on April 4 at the opening of the NATO meeting. 

We invite you to join with us in this effort. As Rev. King taught us, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

No to NATO!
End All U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad!
Bring the Troops Home Now! 
No to Racism! 
The Administrative Committee of UNAC,

To add your endorsement to this call, please go here: http://www.no2nato2019.org/endorse-the-action.html



Please donate to keep UNAC strong: https://www.unacpeace.org/donate.html 

If your organization would like to join the UNAC coalition, please click here: https://www.unacpeace.org/join.html

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To: Indiana Department of Corrections

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Should Have Access to His Personal Property

Petition Text

1. IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII must be respected! Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) must be allowed to select from his property the items that he most immediately needs. He has been left without any of the material he requires for contacting his loved ones, his writing (this includes books), his pending litigation, and for his artwork. 
2. Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) should be released into General Population. Prolonged solitary confinement is internationally recognized as a form of torture. Moreover, he has not committed any infractions.

Why is this important?

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson (IDOC# 264847) – a Virginia prisoner – was transferred to Indiana on November 4. His transfer was authorized under the Interstate Corrections Compact, commonly used to ship prisoners out of state. Virginia is one of several states that make use of this practice as a tool to repress and isolate prisoners who speak up for their rights.
These transfers are extremely disruptive, and serve as an opportunity for prison officials to violate prisoners' rights, especially regarding their property. This is exactly what has been done to Rashid.
Rashid has 24 boxes of personal property. These are all of his possessions in the world. Much of these 24 boxes consist of legal documents and research materials, including materials directly related to pending or anticipated court cases, and his list of addresses and phone numbers of media contacts, human rights advocates, outside supporters, and friends.
At Pendleton Correctional Facility, where Rashid is now being kept prisoner and in solitary confinement, only one guard is in charge of the property room. This is very unusual, as the property room is where all of the prisoners' belongings that are not in their cells are kept. The guard in charge, Dale Davis, has a dubious reputation. Prisoners complain that property goes missing, and their requests to access their belongings – that by law are supposed to be met within 7 days, or if there are court deadlines within 24 hours – are often ignored, answered improperly, or what they receive does not correspond to what they have asked for.
Despite having a need for legal and research documents for pending and anticipated court cases, his requests to receive his property have not been properly answered. The property officer, Dale Davis, is supposed to inventory the prisoners' property with them (and a witness) present, according to IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII; this was never done. When Rashid did receive some property, it was a random selection of items unrelated to what he asked for, brought to the segregation unit in a box and a footlocker and left in an insecure area where things could be stolen or tampered with.
On December 19th, Rashid received notice that Davis had confiscated various documents deemed to be "security threat group" or "gang" related from his property. Rashid has no idea what these might be, as (contrary to the prison regulations) he was not present when his property was gone through. Rashid does not know how much or how little was confiscated, or what the rationale was for its being described as "gang" related. None of Rashid's property should be confiscated or thrown out under any circumstances, but it is worth noting that the way in which this has been done contravenes the prison's own regulations and policies!
Dale Davis has been an IDOC property officer for 8 years. He has boasted about how he does not need any oversight or anyone else working with him, even though it is very unusual for just one person to have this responsibility. Prisoners' property goes "missing" or is tampered with, and prisoners' rights – as laid out by the Indiana Department of Corrections – are not being respected.
Rashid is not asking to have all of his property made available to him in his cell. He is willing to accept only having access to some of it at a time, for instance as he needs it to prepare court documents or for his research and writing. 
After two months in Indiana, he has still not been supplied with his documents containing the phone numbers and addresses of his loved ones and supporters, effectively sabotaging his relationships on the outside. Rashid is not asking for any kind of special treatment, he is only asking for the prison property room to follow the prison's own rules.
We ask that you look into this, and make sure that Mr. Johnson's right to access his property is being respected, and that something be done about the irregularities in the Pendleton property room. We ask that the rules of the Indiana Department of Corrections be respected.

Sign the petition here:
https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/kevin-rashid-johnson-should-have-access-to-his-personal-property?bucket&source=facebook-share-email-button&time=1547257147&fbclid=IwAR3rjpTZog631Oxv6oqjZmaJQv1GLIMHMuhDaP4g0Xu_EajWwW6X1faBPbE


FOR UPDATES CHECK OUT RASHID'S WEBSITE AT RASHIDMOD.COM
you can also hear a recent interview with Rashid on Final Straw podcast here: https://thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org/post/tag/kevin-rashid-johnson/
Write to Rashid:
Kevin Rashid Johnson's writings and artwork have been widely circulated. He is the author of a book,Panther Vision: Essential Party Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, Minister of Defense, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, (Kersplebedeb, 2010).

Kevin Johnson D.O.C. No. 264847
G-20-2C Pendleton Correctional Facility
4490 W. Reformatory Rd.
Pendleton, IN 46064-9001
www.rashidmod.com

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Prisoners at Lieber Correctional Institution in South Carolina are demanding recognition of their human rights by the South Carolina Department of Corrections and warden Randall Williams.  Prisoners are also demanding an end to the horrific conditions they are forced to exist under at Lieber, which are exascerbating already rising tensions to a tipping point and people are dying. 
Since the tragedy that occured at Lee Correctional earlier this year, prisoners at all level 3 security prisons in SC have been on complete lockdown, forced to stay in their two-man 9x11 cells 24 hours a day (supposed to be 23 hrs/day but guards rarely let prisoners go to their one hour of rec in a slightly larger cage because it requires too much work, especially when you keep an entire prison on lockdown) without any programming whatsoever and filthy air rushing in all day, no chairs, tables, no radios, no television, no access to legal work, no access to showers, and no light!  Administration decided to cover all the tiny windows in the cells with metal plates on the outside so that no light can come in.  Thousands of people are existing in this manner, enclosed in a tiny space with another person and no materials or communication or anything to pass the time.  
Because of these horific conditions tensions are rising and people are dying. Another violent death took place at Lieber Correctional; Derrick Furtick, 31, died at approximately 9pm Monday, according to state Department of Corrections officials:
Prisoners assert that this death is a result of the kind of conditions that are being imposed and inflicted upon the incarcerated population there and the undue trauma, anxiety, and tensions these conditions create.  
We demand:
- to be let off solitary confinement
- to have our windows uncovered
- access to books, magazines, phone calls, showers and recreation
- access to the law library and our legal cases
- single person cells for any person serving over 20 years
Lieber is known for its horrendous treatment of the people it cages including its failure to evacuate prisoners during Hurricane Florence earlier this year:
Please flood the phone lines of both the governor's and warden's offices to help amplify these demands from behind bars at Lieber Correctional.
Warden Randall Williams:  (843) 875-3332   or   (803) 896-3700
Governor Henry McMaster's office:  (803) 734-2100
Status 

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Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg


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

Keith H. Washington
TDC# 1487958
McConnell Unit
3001 S. Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102
Friends, it's time to get Malik out of solitary confinement.

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

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


Phone zap on Tuesday, November 13

**Mark your calendars for the 11/13 call in, be on the look out for a call script, and spread the word!!**

Demands:
- Convene special review of Malik's placement in Ad-Seg and immediately release him back to general population
- Explain why the State Classification Committee's decision to release Malik from Ad-Seg back in June was overturned (specifically, demand to know the nature of the "information" supposedly collected by the Fusion Center, and demand to know how this information was investigated and verified).
- Immediately cease all harassment and retaliation against Malik, especially strip searches and mail censorship!

Who to contact:
TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier
Phone: (936)295-6371

Senior Warden Philip Sinfuentes (McConnell Unit)
Phone: (361) 362-2300

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Background on Malik's Situation

Malik's continued assignment to Ad-Seg (solitary confinement) in is an overt example of political repression, plain and simple.  Prison officials placed Malik in Ad-Seg two years ago for writing about and endorsing the 2016 nationwide prison strike.  They were able to do this because Texas and U.S. law permits non-violent work refusal to be classified as incitement to riot.

It gets worse.  Malik was cleared for release from Ad-Seg by the State Classification Committee in June--and then, in an unprecedented reversal, immediately re-assigned him back to Ad-Seg.  The reason?  Prison Officials site "information" collected by a shadowy intelligence gathering operation called a Fusion Center, which are known for lack of transparency and accountability, and for being blatant tools of political repression.

Malik remains in horrible conditions, vulnerable to every possible abuse, on the basis of "information" that has NEVER been disclosed or verified.  No court or other independent entity has ever confirmed the existence, let alone authenticity, of this alleged information.  In fact, as recently as October 25, a representative of the State Classification Committee told Malik that he has no clue why Malik was re-assigned to Ad-Seg.  This "information" is pure fiction.   

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Listen to 'The Daily': Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder?

By Michael Barbaro, May 30, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/30/podcasts/the-daily/kevin-cooper-death-row.html?emc=edit_ca_20180530&nl=california-today&nlid=2181592020180530&te=1

Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile deviceVia Apple Podcasts | Via RadioPublic | Via Stitcher


The sole survivor of an attack in which four people were murdered identified the perpetrators as three white men. The police ignored suspects who fit the description and arrested a young black man instead. He is now awaiting execution.


On today's episode:
• Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California for three decades.



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Last week I met with fellow organizers and members of Mijente to take joint action at the Tornillo Port of Entry, where detention camps have been built and where children and adults are currently being imprisoned. 

I oppose the hyper-criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers. Migration is a human right and every person is worthy of dignity and respect irrespective of whether they have "papers" or not. You shouldn't have to prove "extreme and unusual hardship" to avoid being separated from your family. We, as a country, have a moral responsibility to support and uplift those adversely affected by the US's decades-long role in the economic and military destabilization of the home countries these migrants and asylum seekers have been forced to leave.

While we expected to face resistance and potential trouble from the multiple law enforcement agencies represented at the border, we didn't expect to have a local farm hand pull a pistol on us to demand we deflate our giant balloon banner. Its message to those in detention:

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

Despite the slight disruption to our plan we were able to support Mijente and United We Dream in blocking the main entrance to the detention camp and letting those locked inside know that there are people here who care for them and want to see them free and reunited with their families. 


We are continuing to stand in solidarity with Mijente as they fight back against unjust immigration practices.Yesterday they took action in San Diego, continuing to lead and escalate resistance to unjust detention, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and to ICE. 

While we were honored to offer on-the-ground support we see the potential to focus the energy of our Drop the MIC campaign into fighting against this injustice, to have an even greater impact. Here's how:
  1. Call out General Dynamics for profiteering of War, Militarization of the Border and Child and Family Detention (look for our social media toolkit this week);
  2. Create speaking forums and produce media that challenges the narrative of ICE and Jeff Sessions, encouraging troops who have served in the borderlands to speak out about that experience;
  3. Continue to show up and demand we demilitarize the border and abolish ICE.

Thank you for your vision and understanding of how militarism, racism, and capitalism are coming together in the most destructive ways. Help keep us in this fight by continuing to support our work.


In Solidarity,
Ramon Mejia
Field Organizer, About Face: Veterans Against the War


P.O. Box 3565, New York, NY 10008. All Right Reserved. | Unsubscribe
To ensure delivery of About Face emails please add webmaster@ivaw.org to your address book.


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Major George Tillery
MAJOR TILLERY FILES NEW LEGAL PETITION
SEX FOR LIES AND
MANUFACTURED TESTIMONY
April 25, 2018-- The arrest of two young men in Starbucks for the crime of "sitting while black," and the four years prison sentence to rapper Meek Mill for a minor parole violation are racist outrages in Philadelphia, PA that made national news in the past weeks. Yesterday Meek Mills was released on bail after a high profile defense campaign and a Pa Supreme Court decision citing evidence his conviction was based solely on a cop's false testimony.
These events underscore the racism, frame-up, corruption and brutality at the core of the criminal injustice system. Pennsylvania "lifer" Major Tillery's fight for freedom puts a spotlight on the conviction of innocent men with no evidence except the lying testimony of jailhouse snitches who have been coerced and given favors by cops and prosecutors.

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

Homicide detectives and prosecutors threatened Claitt with a false unrelated murder charge, and induced him to lie with promises of little or no jail time on over twenty pending felonies, and being released from jail despite a parole violation. In addition, homicide detectives arranged for Claitt, while in custody, to have private sexual liaisons with his girlfriends in police interview rooms.
In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies". In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on JusticeforMajorTillery.org.
Without the coerced and false testimony of Claitt there was no evidence against Major Tillery. There were no ballistics or any other physical evidence linking him to the shootings. The surviving victim's statement naming others as the shooters was not allowed into evidence.
The trial took place in May 1985 during the last days of the siege and firebombing of the MOVE family Osage Avenue home in Philadelphia that killed 13 Black people, including 5 children. The prosecution claimed that Major Tillery was part of an organized crime group, and falsely described it as run by the Nation of Islam. This prejudiced and inflamed the majority white jury against Tillery, to make up for the absence of any evidence that Tillery was involved in the shootings.
This was a frame-up conviction from top to bottom. Claitt was the sole or primary witness in five other murder cases in the early 1980s. Coercing and inducing jailhouse informants to falsely testify is a standard routine in criminal prosecutions. It goes hand in hand with prosecutors suppressing favorable evidence from the defense.
Major Tillery has filed a petition based on his actual innocence to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Larry Krasner's Conviction Review Unit. A full review and investigation should lead to reversal of Major Tillery's conviction. He also asks that the DA's office to release the full police and prosecution files on his case under the new  "open files" policy. In the meantime, Major Tillery continues his own investigation. He needs your support.
Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years
The Pennsylvania courts have rejected three rounds of appeals challenging Major Tillery's conviction based on his innocence, the prosecution's intentional presentation of false evidence against him and his trial attorney's conflict of interest. On June 15, 2016 Major Tillery filed a new post-conviction petition based on the same evidence now in the petition to the District Attorney's Conviction Review Unit. Despite the written and video-taped statements from Emanuel Claitt that that his testimony against Major Tillery was a lie and the result of police and prosecutorial misconduct, Judge Leon Tucker dismissed Major Tillery's petition as "untimely" without even holding a hearing. Major Tillery appealed that dismissal and the appeal is pending in the Superior Court.
During the decades of imprisonment Tillery has advocated for other prisoners challenging solitary confinement, lack of medical and mental health care and the inhumane conditions of imprisonment. In 1990, he won the lawsuit, Tillery v. Owens, that forced the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) to end double celling (4 men to a small cell) at SCI Pittsburgh, which later resulted in the closing and then "renovation" of that prison.
Three years ago Major Tillery stood up for political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and demanded prison Superintendent John Kerestes get Mumia to a hospital because "Mumia is dying."  For defending Mumia and advocating for medical treatment for himself and others, prison officials retaliated. Tillery was shipped out of SCI Mahanoy, where Mumia was also held, to maximum security SCI Frackville and then set-up for a prison violation and a disciplinary penalty of months in solitary confinement. See, Messing with Major by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Major Tillery's federal lawsuit against the DOC for that retaliation is being litigated. Major Tillery continues as an advocate for all prisoners. He is fighting to get the DOC to establish a program for elderly prisoners.
Major Tillery Needs Your Help:
Well-known criminal defense attorney Stephen Patrizio represents Major pro bonoin challenging his conviction. More investigation is underway. We can't count on the district attorney's office to make the findings of misconduct against the police detectives and prosecutors who framed Major without continuing to dig up the evidence.
Major Tillery is now 67 years old. He's done hard time, imprisoned for almost 35 years, some 20 years in solitary confinement in max prisons for a crime he did not commit. He recently won hepatitis C treatment, denied to him for a decade by the DOC. He has severe liver problems as well as arthritis and rheumatism, back problems, and a continuing itchy skin rash. Within the past couple of weeks he was diagnosed with an extremely high heartbeat and is getting treatment.
Major Tillery does not want to die in prison. He and his family, daughters, sons and grandchildren are fighting to get him home. The newly filed petition for Conviction Review to the Philadelphia District Attorney's office lays out the evidence Major Tillery has uncovered, evidence suppressed by the prosecution through all these years he has been imprisoned and brought legal challenges into court. It is time for the District Attorney's to act on the fact that Major Tillery is innocent and was framed by police detectives and prosecutors who manufactured the evidence to convict him. Major Tillery's conviction should be vacated and he should be freed.


Major Tillery and family

HOW YOU CAN HELP
    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing. He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom.
    Go to JPay.com;
    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:
    The Conviction Review Unit should investigate Major Tillery's case. He is innocent. The only evidence at trial was from lying jail house informants who now admit it was false.
    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:
    Security Processing Center
    Major Tillery AM 9786
    268 Bricker Road
    Bellefonte, PA 16823
    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org
    Call/Write:
    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com
    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com




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    Free Leonard Peltier!


    Art by Leonard Peltier
    Write to:
    Leonard Peltier 89637-132
    USP Coleman 1,  P.O. Box 1033
    Coleman, FL 33521

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    Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 
    Charity for the Wealthy!



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    MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN MUMIA'S CASE. TIME SENSITIVE. SHARE WIDELY. WE WANT KRASNER TO BE DELUGED.

    INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

    December 29, 2018

    Dear Comrades and Friends Across the Globe:

     On December 27, 2018, in a historic action, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker granted Mumia's petition for new appeal rights, over the opposition of "progressive DA" Larry Krasner. 
    This is the first Pennsylvania state court decision in Mumia's favor since he was arrested on December 9, 1981.  The new appeals ordered by Judge Tucker open the door to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom. The legal claims and supporting evidence, previously denied in the PA Supreme Court with Justice Ronald Castille's participation, warrant a dismissal of the frame-up charges that have kept Mumia imprisoned for 37 years, or, at the very least, a new trial. 

     It is critical that Mumia can go forward immediately with these appeals. However, DA Larry Krasner has the authority to appeal Judge Tucker's decision. Krasner's position, to the surprise of many who had described him as the "new kind" of district attorney, more bent toward justice than mere conviction, with a history of defending dissident activists, been adamant in his opposition to Mumia' petition.  His legal filings, court arguments, and his statements on public radio have all argued that there is no evidence of Justice Castille's bias or the appearance of impropriety when he refused to recuse himself in Mumia's PA Supreme Court appeals from 1998-2012 (!).

     If the prosecution appeals, there will follow years of legal proceedings on the validity of Judge Tucker's order before Mumia can begin the new appeal process challenging his conviction. .Mumia is now 64 years old. He has cirrhosis of the liver from the years of untreated hepatitis C. He still suffers from continuing itching from the skin ailment which is a secondary symptom of the hep-C. Mumia now has glaucoma and is receiving treatment. He has been imprisoned for almost four decades.  An extended appeals process coming at the age of 64 to a person whose health had already been seriously compromised is the equivalent of a death sentence by continued incarceration.    

    We are asking you to join us in demanding that Larry Krasner stop acting in league with the Fraternal Order of Police. Mumia should be freed from prison, now!  We are asking you to call, email or tweet DA Larry Krasner TODAY and tell him: DO NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting New Rights of Appeal to Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    In his decision, Judge Tucker ruled that former PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who was the District Attorney during Mumia's first appeal of his frame-up conviction and death sentence, had "created the appearance of bias and impropriety" in the appeal process when he didn't recuse himself from participating in Mumia's appeals. Judge Tucker relied heavily on Ronald Castille's public statements bragging that he would be a "law and order" judge, that he was responsible for putting 45 men on death row, that he had the political and financial support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and in recently discovered new evidence that Castille had particularly campaigned for immediate death warrants of convicted "police killers".  Judge Tucker states unequivocally that the appearance of bias and lack of "judicial neutrality" exhibited by Castille warranted his recusal. 

    Judge Tucker's order throws out the PA Supreme Court decisions from 1998-2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia's racially-biased, politically-motivated murder conviction on frame-up charges of the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. 

     Judge Tucker's decision means that Mumia Abu-Jamal's post-conviction appeals of his 1982 conviction must be reheard in the PA appeals court. In those appeals Mumia's lawyers proved that Mumia was framed by police and prosecution who manufactured evidence of guilt and suppressed the proof of his innocence. And, he was tried by a racist, pro-prosecution trial judge, Albert Sabo, who declared to another judge, "I'm gonna help them fry the n----r" and denied Mumia his due process trial rights.

    We can win Mumia's freedom! We have a legal opening. It is our opportunity to push forward to see Mumia walk out of prison! The international campaign for Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom has launched a new offensive. At the top of its actions is this call for letters and phone calls to DA Larry Krasner demanding he not appeal Judge Tucker's order granting new appeal rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Please take this action today.  Please send us back your name so we can compile a list of international signers.  Also, no matter how many letters for Mumia you have signed in the past year or two, please sign this one as well.  The moment is different, and the demand of Krasner is different.  We want all possible supporters included.

    CONTACT:    Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. 
                            Phone: (215) 686-8000; Email: DA_Central@phila.gov; Tweet: @philaDAO
                            Mail: Phila. DA Larry Krasner, Three South Penn Square, Phila, PA 19107

    Tell DA Krasner:     Do Not Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Reinstating Appeal Rights 
                                     for Mumia Abu-Jamal!


    In solidarity and toward Mumia's freedom,

    (Initiated by all the US based Mumia support organizations)
    International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; The MOVE Organization; Educators for Mumia; International Action Center; Mobilization for Mumia; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC); Campaign to Bring Mumia Home; Committee to Save Mumia; Prison Radio, Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oakland; Oakland Teachers for Mumia; Workers World/Mundo Obrero

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    1)  Actually, the Numbers Show That We Need More Immigration, Not Less
    By Shikha Dalmia, January 15, 2018
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/opinion/trump-immigration-myth.html
    A A naturalization ceremony in Los Angeles in December. 


    President Trump has shut down the government to get money for a border wall that he says will stop illegal immigration. But the fact of the matter is that that's not all he wants to stop. During the three-day shutdown last January, he demanded a 40 percent reduction in legal immigration, arguing that America has been swamped by immigrants. 
    "There's a limit to how many people a nation can responsibly absorb into their societies, " he has declared.
    He is not alone in invoking this boogeyman. That America is being overwhelmed by a flood of immigrants has become conventional wisdom across the political spectrum, presented in books from, on the right, Reihan Salam of National Review, the son of Bangladeshi immigrants; in the center, Francis Fukuyama of Stanford, whose mother immigrated from Japan; and on the left, Jefferson Cowie of Vanderbilt University, who actually counsels his fellow progressive not to fear more immigration.
    But by any reasonable metric, the idea that America is experiencing mass immigration is a myth. The reality is that we desperately need to pick up the pace of immigration to maintain our work force and economic health.

    You could argue that mass immigration — a vague term with no set definition — is happening in Lebanon and Jordan, primary destinations for refugees escaping Syria's civil war. Lebanon, which had about 4.4 million people in 2010, has admitted in just a few years around one million Syrian refugees, which works out to around 23 percent increase in its population.
    In America, by contrast, there are about 44 million foreign-born people who now constitute about 13.7 percent of the population, according to the Pew Research Foundation. This is close to the historic high of 15 percent at the turn of the 20th century. Why is that considered a meaningful benchmark? Because at that time the United States, responding to nativist and union pressure, embraced strict border controls, essentially ending what had until then been an open borders policy.
    Literacy tests were instituted in 1917, and the 1924 Johnson-Reed Actimposed national-origins quotas limiting visas to 2 percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States as of the 1890 census. The purpose of this legislation was to cut back immigration overall, especially from Eastern Europe and Asia — and it succeeded spectacularly.
    Congress finally eliminated these quotas, which had widely come to be regarded as racist, in 1965, and immigration subsequently picked up. But immigration opponents have made the 15 percent foreign-born figure a tipping point, as if it were based on science instead of being an arbitrary historical event. 
    If it were indeed a tipping point, countries would regularly experience a backlash once the immigrant population approached that level. That is far from the case.

    America's share of the foreign born ranks 34th among 50 wealthy countries with a per capita gross domestic product of over $20,000. The United States netted five new immigrants — authorized and unauthorized — per 1,000 people from 2015 to 2017, United Nations figures show. Compare that to the figures in two other English-speaking liberal democracies: Canada let in eight (and just announcedthat it's going to admit over a million new immigrants over three years), and Australia 14. All in all, the foreign-born are now over 20 percent of Canada's population and 28.2 percent of Australia's (more than double America's figure). And yet they haven't inspired the sort of public condemnation of immigration that often occurs in the United States. 
    America has also taken in a relatively modest numbers of immigrants over the last half-century. In 1965, when Congress got rid of national-origin quotas, America's foreign-born made up around 5 percent of the population. Over two decades from 1980 to 2000, this proportion rose to 11.1 percent, from 6.2 percent, not insignificant but not particularly noteworthy.
    But then the rate of increase slowed to a crawl, rising from 11.1 percent in 2000 to 12.9 percent in 2010 and then barely inching to 13.5 percent in 2016. In other words, in six years, America's foreign-born population inched up 0.6 percent. Yet the more America's (modest) immigration decelerates, the more the mass immigration trope accelerates.
    A good yardstick for whether a country is admitting too many or too few immigrants — beyond the political mood of the moment — is its economic needs. If America were admitting too many immigrants, the economy would have trouble absorbing them. In fact, the unemployment rate among immigrants, including the 11 million undocumented, in 2016, when the economy was considered to be at full employment, was almost three-quarters of a point lower than that of natives. How can that be evidence of mass immigration?
    The truth is that America is a low-immigration nation. Demographic trends in America point to a severe labor crunch that'll become a huge bottleneck for growth unless the country opens its doors wider.
    It has long been clear that the dropping fertility rates of native-born white Americans meant that the generations coming after the millennials were on track to be much smaller. From 2015 to 2035, the number of working-age Americans with domestic-born parents is expected to fall by eight million. Furthermore, the Census Bureau in 2017 quietly revised downward its population forecast for 2050 by a whopping 50 million people from its 2008 estimates, as Jack Goldstone, a political demographer at George Mason University, pointed out. 
    Why? Because immigration from Mexico dwindled after the Great Recession at the same time that Hispanic fertility rates dropped by a quarter as well. At the current rate that America is admitting immigrants, this means that the total work force will grow only 0.3 percent per year.

    Unless American birthrates pick up suddenly and expand the work force — an unrealistic assumption given that the country just set a record for low fertility — or the productivity of its dwindling work force quickly doubled, only slightly less unrealistic, says Mr. Goldstone, the United States will be staring at real G.D.P. growth of less than 1.6 percent per year in less than a decade, all else remaining equal.
    America should be admitting a million more immigrants per year — more than double the current number from now until 2050. This still won't add up to mass immigration because it would put America's foreign-born population that year at around 26 percent, less than Australia's is today.
    Fifteen years ago when I was writing about immigration for the conservative editorial page of The Detroit News, the myth that America was being overwhelmed by immigrants had retreated mostly to nativist activist circles. Just because it has spread now does not mean it's true. It's a myth that should be killed before it kills the American dream.
    Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation, a writer at Reason magazineand a columnist at The Week.
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    2) What's Really at Stake in the Los Angeles Teachers' Strike
    By Miriam Pawel, January 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/opinion/california-teachers-strike.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    A December rally of teachers in Los Angeles.


    LOS ANGELES — For decades, public schools were part of California's lure, key to the promise of opportunity. Forty years ago, with the lightning speed characteristic of the Golden State, all of that changed.
    In the fall of 1978, after years of bitter battles to desegregate Los Angeles classrooms, 1,000 buses carried more than 40,000 students to new schools. Within six months, the nation's second-largest school district lost 30,000 students, a good chunk of its white enrollment. The busing stopped; the divisions deepened.
    Those racial fault lines had helped fuel the tax revolt that led to Proposition 13, the sweeping tax-cut measure that passed overwhelmingly in June 1978. The state lost more than a quarter of its total revenue. School districts' ability to raise funds was crippled; their budgets shrank for the first time since the Depression. State government assumed control of allocating money to schools, which centralized decision-making in Sacramento.
    Public education in California has never recovered, nowhere with more devastating impact than in Los Angeles, where a district now mostly low-income and Latino has failed generations of children most in need of help. The decades of frustration and impotence have boiled over in a strike with no clear endgame and huge long-term implications. The underlying question is: Can California ever have great public schools again?

    The struggle in Los Angeles, a district so large it educates about 9 percent of all students in the state, will resonate around California. Oakland teachers are on the verge of a strike vote. Sacramento schools are on the verge of bankruptcy. The housing crisis has compounded teacher shortages. Los Angeles, like many districts, is losing students, and therefore dollars, even as it faces ballooning costs for underfunded pensions.
    California still ranks low in average per-pupil spending, roughly half the amount spent in New York. California legislators have already filed bills proposing billions of dollars in additional aid, one of many competing pressures that face the new governor, Gavin Newsom, as he begins negotiations on his first state budget.
    Unlike other states where teachers struck last year, California is firmly controlled by Democrats, for whom organized labor is a key ally. And the California teachers unions are among the most powerful lobbying force in Sacramento. 
    On paper, negotiations between the 31,000-member United Teachers of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District center on traditional issues: salaries that have not kept pace, classes of more than 40 students, counselors and nurses with staggering caseloads. But the most potent and divisive issue is not directly on the bargaining table: the future of charter schools, which now enroll more than 112,000 students, almost one-fifth of all K-through-12 students in the district. They take their state aid with them, siphoning off $600 million a year from the district. The 224 independent charters operate free from many regulations, and all but a few are nonunion.
    When California authorized the first charter schools in 1992 as a small experiment, no one envisioned that they would grow into an industry, now educating 10 percent of public school students in the state. To counter demands for greater regulation and transparency, charter advocates have in recent years poured millions into political campaigns. Last year, charter school lobbies spent $54 million on losing candidates for governor and state superintendent of education.

    In Los Angeles, they have had more success. After his plan to move half of the Los Angeles district students into charter schools failed to get traction, the billionaire and charter school supporter Eli Broad and a group of allies spent almost $10 million in 2017 to win a majority on the school board. The board rammed through the appointment of a superintendent, Austin Beutner, with no educational background. Mr. Beutner, a former investment banker, is the seventh in 10 years and has proposed dividing the district into 32 "networks," a so-called portfolio plan designed in part by the consultant who engineered the radical restructuring of Newark schools.
    "In my 17 years working with labor unions, I have been called on to help settle countless bargaining disputes in mediation," wrote Vern Gates, the union-appointed member of the fact-finding panel called in to help mediate the Los Angeles stalemate last month. "I have never seen an employer that was intent on its own demise."
    It's a vicious cycle: The more overcrowded and burdened the regular schools, the easier for charters to recruit students. The more students the district loses, the less money, and the worse its finances. The more the district gives charters space in traditional schools, the more overcrowded the regular classrooms.
    Enrollment in the Los Angeles school district has declined consistently for 15 years, increasing the competition for students. It now educates just under a half-million students. More than 80 percent are poor, about three-quarters are Latino, and about one-quarter are English-language learners. On most state standardized tests, more than one-third fall below standards. 
    For 20 years, Katie Safford has taught at Ivanhoe Elementary, a school so atypical and so desirable that it drives up real estate prices in the upscale Silver Lake neighborhood. Ivanhoe parents raise almost a half million a year so that their children can have sports, arts, music and supplies. But parents cannot buy smaller classes or a school nurse. Mrs. Safford's second-grade classroom is a rickety bungalow slated for demolition. When the floor rotted, the district put carpet over the holes. When leaks caused mold on the walls, Mrs. Safford hung student art to cover stains. The clock always reads 4:20. 
    "I was born to be a teacher," Mrs. Safford said. "I have no interest in being an activist. None. But this is ridiculous." For the first time in her life, she marched last month, one of more than 10,000 teachers and supporters in a sea of red. 
    Monday she walked the picket line outside a school where just eight of the 456 students showed up. Now her second graders ask the questions no one can answer: When will you be back? How will it end?

    It is hard to know, when the adults have so thoroughly abdicated their responsibility for so long. Last week, the school board directed the superintendent to draw up a plan examining ways to raise new revenue.
    This strike comes at a pivotal moment for California schools, amid recent glimmers of hope. Demographic shifts have realigned those who vote with those who rely on public services like schools. Voters approved state tax increases to support education in 2012, and again in 2016. In the most recent election, 95 of 112 school bond issues passed, a total of over $15 billion. The revised state formula drives more money into districts with more low-income students and English learners. Total state school aid increased by $23 billion over the past five years, and Governor Newsom has proposed another increase.
    If Los Angeles teachers can build on those gains, the victory will embolden others to push for more, just as teachers on the rainy picket lines this week draw inspiration from the successful #RedforEd movements around the country. The high stakes have drawn support from so many quarters, from the Rev. James Lawson, the 90-year-old civil rights icon, to a "Tacos for Teachers" campaign to fund food on the picket lines. 
    If this fight for public education in Los Angeles fails, it will consign the luster of California schools to an ever more distant memory.
    Miriam Pawel (@miriampawel), a contributing opinion writer, is an author, journalist and independent historian.  
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    3) Pentagon Extends Troop Deployment at Mexican Border Through September
    By Mihir Zaveri, January 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/troops-border-wall.html

    The troops that the Pentagon said would now quite likely remain at the border through September would focus on placing concertina wire in between ports of entry as well as "mobile surveillance and detection."


    The deployment of active-duty United States troops at the border with Mexico will most likely be extended through September, the Pentagon said Monday.
    The Pentagon's border mission had previously been scheduled to end on Dec. 15, and the Defense Department later extended the deploymentinto January. Then came Monday's announcement.
    In a rare use of military force first announced in October, the Trump administration sent about 5,900 active-duty troops to join up with Border Patrol agents and National Guard members, as a caravan of Central American migrants made its way toward the United States.
    The move was viewed by many as unnecessary political fear-mongering as the midterm elections approached. Border and military officials insisted the caravan was a serious threat.

    On Monday, the Pentagon said that its "assistance" would continue through Sept. 30 at the Department of Homeland Security's request, and that the support would focus on "mobile surveillance and detection" and placing concertina wire "between ports of entry."
    It's not clear exactly how many troops are currently at the border or how the number is expected to change — a Pentagon official said in November that the number was expected to dip below the 5,900 initially deployed. The Pentagon did not immediately answer further questions about Monday's announcement.
    The extension comes as a new migrant caravan was forming in Honduras, and Mr. Trump and Congress's differing visions on border security have led to the longest shutdown of the federal government in American history.
    Mr. Trump continues to push for a wall to stem what he calls a crisis at the border.
    But the reality is more complicated.
    Illegal border crossings have been declining for nearly two decades, and border-crossing apprehensions in 2017 were at their lowest level in more than 45 years.

    But a record number of families have tried to cross the border in recent months, and asylum claims have jumped as many migrant families say they fear returning to their home countries.
    The troops, who are prevented by the Posse Comitatus Act from engaging in law enforcement activities within the country, had been spread across small bases where they spent the initial weeks setting up concertina wire and other security barriers. Later, the troops were also giving rides to Border Patrol agents and conducting more training

    Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting.

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    4) 'The Shutdown Makes Me Nervous': Young People Caught in Cross Hairs of Impasse
    By Dan Levin, January 15, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/us/youth-jobs-government-shutdown.html

    Cartonise Lawson-Wilson, 20, a sophomore at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, has been unable to submit paperwork for a grant because the I.R.S. is closed.


    Stella Blaylock has not been sleeping well since before Christmas, when the partial government shutdown furloughed her father and unexpectedly extended his holiday vacation. Days later, her mother was laid off from her job as a federal contractor.
    A sixth grader at Williamsburg Middle School in Arlington, Va. — a Washington, D.C., suburb home to thousands of government workers — Stella now worries whether her parents will be able to scrape together enough money for her braces, or whether a planned overnight camp in June will have to be deleted from the family's calendar.
    "The shutdown makes me nervous," said Stella, 11, whose father, a foreign service officer, was furloughed for a week but is now working without pay.
    Now in its fourth week, the government impasse that has upended the daily lives of thousands of federal employees has also caught in its cross hairs young people across America, from children who are agonizing alongside their parents over lost jobs and wages to college students unable to pay tuition or file financial aid forms.

    With the Internal Revenue Service closed, Cartonise Lawson-Wilson, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, has been unable to submit required paperwork for a grant that will pay her housing and tuition. Desperate for help while she awaits a resolution to the deadlock, she started a GoFundMe campaign, but has received only $15 of her $7,512 goal.

    "I don't have a backup plan," she said.
    As President Trump and Congress remain at odds over the president's demand for $5 billion to address what he calls a humanitarian crisis on the southern border, the protracted standoff has exacted an escalating financial and emotional toll on the 800,000 federal workers and the thousands of government contractors who have not been paid. And the effects of the stalemate, the longest in United States history, are cascading across generations, with little that breadwinners can do to hide the consequences from their children.
    "The shutdown is like an acute recession," particularly for those living paycheck-to-paycheck, said Gustavo Carlo, an expert on child and adolescent development at the University of Missouri who has studied the effects of financial strain on families.
    The economic instability can lead to depression that hurts parent-child relationships, he said, adding, "It's not good for these kids, it's not good for these families."

    Children have tapped their entrepreneurial spirits to assist their parents. In Virginia, Stella's 9-year-old brother Tiger has picked up on the family's financial tension and has offered to sell his comic book drawings to help pay their mounting bills. And when Bella Berrellez found out that her mother had been furloughed from her job at the Food and Drug Administration, the fifth grader from North Potomac, Md., started making soap scrubs to bring in extra cash.

    "My mom's not getting paid so I thought about ways I could help," said Bella, 11, who has sold more than 300 jars of the $7 scrub to neighbors and online customers through the handicrafts website Etsy. Her father has not lost his job, so the family decided to donate the proceeds to a food bank to help others affected by the shutdown.

    Elsewhere in the Washington region, public schools have offered free or reduced-price lunches to students whose parents have been furloughed. The Alexandria, Va., school district received nearly 20 requests the day after the subsidized meal plan was offered last week, a spokeswoman said.
    The shutdown has become a teaching moment, too. In several high schools across the country, it has been used as a real-time lesson in governance and economics. Scott Zwierzchowski, a teacher at Lincoln Park High School in Chicago, last week split his Advanced Placement microeconomics classes into groups and asked students to study the shutdown's short- and long-term impacts on consumer spending, tourism and trade.
    Shortly after class ended, Shadi Naji, 17, shared his analysis. "The costs definitely outweigh the benefits," he said.

    With the costs, financial and otherwise, climbing, Mr. Trump has warned that the shutdown could last for months or even years. Federal workers missed their first paychecks last week.

    "The stress is just too much," said Lucy Ugochukwu, who said she got chest pains watching Mr. Trump deliver his televised address last week about the impasse. Furloughed from her job at the Treasury Department, she was unable to pay her son's spring tuition at Penn State University's Schuylkill campus. The university eventually granted David Ugoshukwu, 19, a scholarship that will cover part of his balance, but she has struggled not knowing when her paychecks might resume.
    "How can I set up a payment plan when I don't have income?" she said, adding that a GoFundMe campaign she created to pay the outstanding debt is far shy of its goal.
    The sudden halt in income forced Keisha McKoy, a furloughed F.D.A. employee, to visit a local food pantry last week for the first time. She stood in line with other furloughed workers and their children. She said she was afraid she would not be able to afford next month's $1,785 rent or pay her internet and credit card bills. One of her sons, James Williams, 19, who attends Prince George's Community College, has applied for part-time jobs because, he said, "any little bit helps."
    "Trump's talking about a crisis on the border, but we have a crisis right here," said Ms. McKoy, whose home in Upper Marlboro, Md., was plunged into darkness earlier this month after she was unable to pay her electric bill. A single mother of five, Ms. McKoy told her two smaller children there was a power failure, but could not hide the truth from her older sons.
    "They have to watch me cry," she said, "and figure out how to feed them all."

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    5) Nicholas Heyward Sr., 61, Dies; Spoke Out Against Police Brutality
    By Daniel E. Slotnik, January 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/obituaries/nicholas-heyward-dead.html
    Nicholas Heyward Sr., whose son was killed by a police officer in 1994 in Brooklyn, took part in a protest against police brutality at City Hall Park in New York in 2016.

    One September evening in 1994, Nicholas Heyward Jr., 13, was playing cops and robbers with friends on a rooftop at the Gowanus Houses, the Brooklyn housing project where he lived. The boys, carrying toy guns, decided to go back inside and rushed down the stairs, jostling one another.
    At the same time, Brian George, a 23-year-old police officer on patrol, was responding to a report of a man with a gun and possibly shots having been fired at the project. Housing police said that people had sometimes fired actual firearms for "target practice" on the roofs.
    Officer George went to the building where the boys were and was heading to the staircase when he encountered the boys. Nicholas was holding an 18-inch toy rifle.
    "We're playing," Nicholas told the officer, according to his friends.
    But in seconds Officer George shot him in the stomach with his .38-caliber service revolver.

    Nicholas was taken to a Manhattan hospital, where he died hours later. One of Nicholas's friends said that Officer George, who, like Nicholas, was African-American, left the scene in tears.
    The boy's death drew intense news media coverage nationwide; about a thousand people attended his funeral, where Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani spoke.
    Nicholas Hayward Jr., who was 13 when he was fatally shot by a Brooklyn police officer in 1994. The officer had encountered him holding a realistic-looking toy gun. Nicholas and his friends had been playing cops and robbers.
    And it set Nicholas's father, Nicholas Heyward Sr., on a quest for justice for his son. Long before Akai GurleyTamir RiceEric Garner and many other young black men would be killed in encounters with police officers, sparking protests and leading to the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement, Mr. Heyward had been an activist against police brutality and a comfort to the loved ones of people killed by police officers.
    He died on Dec. 31 at 61. His family members and a foundation named after his son announced his death without providing further details.
    Mr. Heyward argued publicly for toy stores to stop carrying authentic-looking toy guns, or toy guns that could be made to appear realistic.

    "I speak in schools, churches, wherever they'll have me," Mr. Heyward told The Daily News in New York in 1998. "Kids shouldn't be playing with those things, but cops also have to realize that if they come out pointing real guns, a kid will go into a kind of shock and maybe not drop the toy gun."
    Later that year, Kmart and Kay-Bee Toys pulled realistic toy guns off their shelves.
    In December 1994, the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, cited Nicholas's realistic-looking toy rifle as his rationale for declining to press charges against Officer George. Mr. Hynes said an investigation had made it "abundantly clear that the circumstances leading to the tragic death of this 13-year-old were not the fault of Police Officer Brian George, but rather the result of a proliferation of imitation toy guns."
    Mr. Heyward expressed what has become a refrain by the families of people killed by police officers when those officers are not subsequently tried or convicted of a crime.
    "It's amazing the way things operate in this city, the way they allow the officers to come into the project, do what they want, even kill a child and then protect the officer," he told Newsday after Mr. Hynes's decision.

    Mr. Heyward, foreground, in baseball cap, and Assemblyman Charles Barron, left foreground, marched with relatives of the victims of police brutality and others in 2016 to press the Brooklyn district attorney to further investigate the killing of Nicholas Heyward Jr.

    Mr. Heyward helped convene an annual march against police brutality in New York as one of the first members of the October 22 Coalition, a group that has documented and protested police killings nationally. He held training sessions to teach young black people their legal rights. He also supported the grieving relatives of people who were killed by the police.
    In 1997, Mr. Heyward testified before several congressional representatives at Medgar Evers College in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn after Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was brutalized in a precinct house in one of the most notorious incidents of police abuse in New York in recent memory.
    Mr. Heyward and Nicholas's mother, Angela Heyward, refused to let his memory fade away. They helped establish the Nicholas Naquan Heyward Jr. Memorial Foundation to help youths in Brooklyn, and arranged an annual day of remembrance for Nicholas at the Gowanus Houses playground. The Parks Department renamed the playground the Nicholas Naquan Heyward Jr. Park in 2001, after Mr. Heyward spent years lobbying for the change.

    "My therapy is going to police brutality meetings and speaking about my fears and concerns, and speaking about the death of my son," he told The New York Times at the third annual memorial for Nicholas, in 1997.
    The next year, Mr. Heyward told The Daily News that he thought police officers had to be held accountable for their actions, and had to change their mind-set, before episodes like his son's death would stop.
    "It's too simplistic to say it's just a race thing," he said. "My son was shot by an African-American officer born and reared inside Brooklyn. It's more of the police mentality thing. They need to face some sort of consequences."
    Mr. Heyward repeatedly sought prosecution in his son's killing and eventually settled a civil charge with the city, but he expressed dismay that Officer George had never faced any consequences.

    Officer George, who has retired, could not be reached for comment. He told The New York Post in 2004 that he "could understand the loss of the family — that's the biggest struggle." He said he was haunted by the shooting.
    "You ask yourself, 'Why, why, why?,' " Officer George was quoted as saying. "You say to yourself: 'I was just doing the right thing, I was doing my job' . . . then politics gets involved, and all of a sudden you're demonized."
    Mr. Heyward told Newsday that he ran into Officer George on the street in Brooklyn in 1995, not even a year after Nicholas's death.

    "I said: 'You killed my son and you're back down in the projects? How could you want to be here? Never once did you openly apologize or show any remorse to me, my wife or my family.' "
    Officer George did not respond, he said, and Mr. Heyward walked away.
    Mr. Heyward was born on June 24, 1957. His marriage to Angela ended in divorce. His survivors include his wife, Donna Heyward, and a son, Quentin.
    In 2015, he told Story Corps, a nonprofit organization that records and shares stories by Americans of diverse backgrounds, that time had not assuaged the pain of losing his son.
    "It's been 20 long years, and the pain has actually gotten deeper for me," he said. "I wonder what it'd be like to have a son 33 years old. I would give my life today if I could just have him back."

    Jack Begg contributed research.

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    6) Kamala Harris Was Not a 'Progressive Prosecutor'
    By Lara Bazelon, January 17, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/opinion/kamala-harris-criminal-justice.html
    Before she was a senator, Kamala Harris was an attorney general and district attorney who acted in ways that could hardly be described as "progressive," 

    SAN FRANCISCO — With the growing recognition that prosecutors hold the keys to a fairer criminal justice system, the term "progressive prosecutor" has almost become trendy. This is how Senator Kamala Harris of California, a likely presidential candidate and a former prosecutor, describes herself.
    But she's not. 
    Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state's attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent. Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors. 
    Consider her record as San Francisco's district attorney from 2004 to 2011. Ms. Harris was criticized in 2010 for withholding information about a police laboratory technician who had been accused of "intentionally sabotaging" her work and stealing drugs from the lab. After a memo surfaced showing that Ms. Harris's deputies knew about the technician's wrongdoing and recent conviction, but failed to alert defense lawyers, a judge condemned Ms. Harris's indifference to the systemic violation of the defendants' constitutional rights. 
    Ms. Harris contested the ruling by arguing that the judge, whose husband was a defense attorney and had spoken publicly about the importance of disclosing evidence, had a conflict of interest. Ms. Harris lost. More than 600 cases handled by the corrupt technician were dismissed.

    Ms. Harris also championed state legislation under which parents whose children were found to be habitually truant in elementary school could be prosecuted, despite concerns that it would disproportionately affect low-income people of color.
    Ms. Harris was similarly regressive as the state's attorney general. When a federal judge in Orange County ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional in 2014, Ms. Harris appealed. In a public statement, she made the bizarre argument that the decision "undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants." (The approximately 740 men and women awaiting execution in California might disagree).
    In 2014, she declined to take a position on Proposition 47, a ballot initiative approved by voters, that reduced certain low-level felonies to misdemeanors. She laughed that year when a reporter asked if she would support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Ms. Harris finally reversed course in 2018, long after public opinion had shifted on the topic.
    In 2015, she opposed a bill requiring her office to investigate shootings involving officers. And she refused to support statewide standards regulating the use of body-worn cameras by police officers. For this, she incurred criticism from an array of left-leaning reformers, including Democratic state senators, the A.C.L.U. and San Francisco's elected public defender. The activist Phelicia Jones, who had supported Ms. Harris for years, asked, "How many more people need to die before she steps in?"
    Worst of all, though, is Ms. Harris's record in wrongful conviction cases. Consider George Gage, an electrician with no criminal record who was charged in 1999 with sexually abusing his stepdaughter, who reported the allegations years later. The case largely hinged on the stepdaughter's testimony and Mr. Gage was convicted.

    Afterward, the judge discovered that the prosecutor had unlawfully held back potentially exculpatory evidence, including medical reports indicating that the stepdaughter had been repeatedly untruthful with law enforcement. Her mother even described her as "a pathological liar" who "lives her lies." 
    In 2015, when the case reached the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, Ms. Harris's prosecutors defended the conviction. They pointed out that Mr. Gage, while forced to act as his own lawyer, had not properly raised the legal issue in the lower court, as the law required. 
    The appellate judges acknowledged this impediment and sent the case to mediation, a clear signal for Ms. Harris to dismiss the case. When she refused to budge, the court upheld the conviction on that technicality. Mr. Gage is still in prison serving a 70-year sentence.
    That case is not an outlier. Ms. Harris also fought to keep Daniel Larsen in prison on a 28-year-to-life sentence for possession of a concealed weapon even though his trial lawyer was incompetent and there was compelling evidence of his innocence. Relying on a technicality again, Ms. Harris argued that Mr. Larsen failed to raise his legal arguments in a timely fashion. (This time, she lost.)
    She also defended Johnny Baca's conviction for murder even though judges found a prosecutor presented false testimony at the trial. She relented only after a video of the oral argument received national attention and embarrassed her office. 
    And then there's Kevin Cooper, the death row inmate whose trial was infected by racism and corruption. He sought advanced DNA testing to prove his innocence, but Ms. Harris opposed it. (After The New York Times's exposé of the case went viral, she reversed her position.)
    All this is a shame because the state's top prosecutor has the power and the imperative to seek justice. In cases of tainted convictions, that means conceding error and overturning them. Rather than fulfilling that obligation, Ms. Harris turned legal technicalities into weapons so she could cement injustices.

    In "The Truths We Hold," Ms. Harris's recently published memoir, she writes: "America has a deep and dark history of people using the power of the prosecutor as an instrument of injustice."
    She adds, "I know this history well — of innocent men framed, of charges brought against people without sufficient evidence, of prosecutors hiding information that would exonerate defendants, of the disproportionate application of the law."
    All too often, she was on the wrong side of that history. 
    It is true that politicians must make concessions to get the support of key interest groups. The fierce, collective opposition of law enforcement and local district attorney associations can be hard to overcome at the ballot box. But in her career, Ms. Harris did not barter or trade to get the support of more conservative law-and-order types; she gave it all away. 
    Of course, the full picture is more complicated. During her tenure as district attorney, Ms. Harris refused to seek the death penalty in a case involving the murder of a police officer. And she started a successful program that offered first-time nonviolent offenders a chance to have their charges dismissed if they completed a rigorous vocational training. As attorney general, she mandated implicit bias training and was awarded for her work in correcting a backlog in the testing of rape kits. 
    But if Kamala Harris wants people who care about dismantling mass incarceration and correcting miscarriages of justice to vote for her, she needs to radically break with her past. 
    A good first step would be to apologize to the wrongfully convicted people she has fought to keep in prison and to do what she can to make sure they get justice. She should start with George Gage.

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    7) There's Nothing Wrong With Open Borders
    By Farhad Manjoo, January 16, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/opinion/open-borders-immigration.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
    Undocumented immigrants from Central America in McAllen, Tex., after being released from ICE custody last June.

    The internet expands the bounds of acceptable discourse, so ideas considered out of bounds not long ago now rocket toward widespread acceptability. See: cannabis legalization, government-run health care, white nationalism and, of course, the flat-earthers. 
    Yet there's one political shore that remains stubbornly beyond the horizon. It's an idea almost nobody in mainstream politics will address, other than to hurl the label as a bloody cudgel.
    I'm talking about opening up America's borders to everyone who wants to move here.
    Imagine not just opposing President Trump's wall but also opposing the nation's cruel and expensive immigration and border-security apparatus in its entirety. Imagine radically shifting our stance toward outsiders from one of suspicion to one of warm embrace. Imagine that if you passed a minimal background check, you'd be free to live, work, pay taxes and die in the United States. Imagine moving from Nigeria to Nebraska as freely as one might move from Massachusetts to Maine.
    There's a witheringly obvious moral, economic, strategic and cultural case for open borders, and we have a political opportunity to push it. As Democrats jockey for the presidency, there's room for a brave politician to oppose President Trump's racist immigration rhetoric not just by fighting his wall and calling for the abolishment of I.C.E. but also by making a proactive and affirmative case for the vast expansion of immigration.
    It would be a change from the stale politics of the modern era, in which both parties agreed on the supposed wisdom of "border security" and assumed that immigrants were to be feared. 
    As an immigrant, this idea confounds me. My family came to the United States from our native South Africa in the late 1980s. After jumping through lots of expensive and confusing legal hoops, we became citizens in 2000. Obviously, it was a blessing: In rescuing me from a society in which people of my color were systematically oppressed, America has given me a chance at liberty.
    But why had I deserved that chance, while so many others back home — because their parents lacked certain skills, money or luck — were denied it?
    When you see the immigration system up close, you're confronted with its bottomless unfairness. The system assumes that people born outside our borders are less deserving of basic rights than those inside. My native-born American friends did not seem to me to warrant any more dignity than my South African ones; according to this nation's founding documents, we were all created equal. Yet by mere accident of geography, some were given freedom, and others were denied it.

    "When you start to think about it, a system of closed borders begins to feel very much like a system of feudal privilege," said Reece Jones, a professor of geography at the University of Hawaii who argues thatDemocrats should take up the mantle of open borders. "It's the same idea that there's some sort of hereditary rights to privilege based on where you were born."
    I admit the politics here are perilous. Although America's borders were open for much of its history — if your ancestors came here voluntarily, there's a good chance it was thanks to open borders — restrictions on immigration are now baked so deeply into our political culture that any talk of loosening them sparks anger.
    People worry that immigrants will bring crime, even though stats show immigrants are no more dangerous than natives. People worry they'll take jobs away from native workers, even though most studies suggests that immigration is a profound benefit to the economy, and there's little evidence it hurts native workers. And if we worry that they'll hoover up welfare benefits, we can impose residency requirements for them.
    But these are all defensive arguments, and when you're on defense, you're losing. For opponents of the president's xenophobic policies, a better plan is to make the affirmative case for a lot more immigrants.
    Economically and strategically, open borders isn't just a good plan — it's the only chance we've got. America is an aging nation with a stagnant population. We have ample land to house lots more people, but we are increasingly short of workers. And on the global stage, we face two colossi — India and China — which, with their billions, are projected to outstrip American economic hegemony within two decades.
    How will we ever compete with such giants? The same way we always have: by inviting the world's most enthusiastic and creative people — including the people willing to walk here, to risk disease and degradation and death to land here — to live out their best life under liberty.
    A new migrant caravan is forming in Honduras, and the president is itching for the resulting political fight.

    Here's hoping Democrats respond with creativity and verve. Not just "No wall." Not just "Abolish ICE." 
    Instead: "Let them in."
    Farhad Manjoo became an opinion columnist for The New York Times in 2018.  Before that, he wrote The Times' State of the Art column. He is the author of "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society."  

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    8) Yalitza Aparicio of 'Roma' and the Politics of Stardom in Mexico
    By Laura Tillman, January 17, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/movies/yalitza-aparicio-roma.html?action=click&module=Features&pgtype=Homepage
    Should she get an Oscar nomination for "Roma," Yalitza Aparicio says, "I'd be breaking the stereotype that because we're Indigenous we can't do certain things."

    MEXICO CITY — Yalitza Aparicio, the star of Alfonso Cuarón's "Roma," sat on a sunny bench in Parque Mexico, just a few blocks from the Mexico City neighborhood that gave the film its title. She chose the park for a chat amid months of red carpets, photo shoots and press interviews in hotel rooms because she said it reminded her most of home, Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca.
    Aparicio, now 25, had just completed her teaching degree and was living in that mountainous city of 40,000 when she auditioned on a whim for the lead role in "Roma," a housekeeper and nanny named Cleo. Now, Aparicio is being heralded as a role model for women and Indigenous people in Mexico, and buzzed about by critics for her performance.
    Does she get recognized a lot these days?
    "No! Here? Well, no," Aparicio said in Spanish. "They only seem to recognize me when we go out dressed up, but when I'm dressed naturally, no. I think that a lot of people haven't seen it yet, and we look different on the screen than in person."

    [Read our review of "Roma," and follow Alfonso Cuarón on a tour of Mexico City.]
    The park is a flurry of activity — joggers under a canopy of jacaranda and palm trees, dog walkers holding the leashes of 10 or more pups, telecommuters at cafe tables. She came here for the first time during filming two years ago.

    "I feel freer here than when I'm surrounded by buildings and closed in. I've never liked feeling closed in," Aparicio said.
    Within a few minutes, she was surrounded by something else: fans. They appeared one by one, studying her from afar, then approaching to shake her hand and take selfies. She obliged.
    Congratulations, Yali — incredible, incredible movie. I grew up here, it took me back. I had a nanny, all those details. When I saw it, I think I cried five times. 
    It's you, right? Can you take a photo of us? I'm not made up at all. If you can, the further away, the better. Congratulations, lots of future success!
    In Mexico, "Roma" is more than a personal project by a famous director. It has started a national conversation about inequality, the treatment of domestic workers and who is welcome on the red carpet in a country where Indigenous women are rarely seen in magazines, much less at Hollywood awards shows.

    She isn't sure she'll continue to act or return to her original plan, teaching.

    In December, Aparicio appeared on the cover of Vogue México, a milestone for a woman of Indigenous descent in the magazine's 20-year history. Aparicio isn't satisfied to be an exception; she wants to use her emerging star power to create a more inclusive future for her country.
    "It shouldn't matter what you're into, how you look — you can achieve whatever you aspire to," she said.
    Even before the movie began showing on Netflix in December, there were signs of change: That month, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that the 2 million-plus domestic workers, the vast majority of whom are women, must have access to the country's social security system. The new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has vowed a special focus on alleviating the oppression and poverty Indigenous peoples face.
    Though Cuarón didn't set out to make a political film, he is embracing the result. At a premiere last month at the Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City, he welcomed a domestic-workers-rights advocate, Marcelina Bautista, to the stage. "All domestic workers in Mexico are Libo, we identify with her," Bautista told the audience, referring to Cuarón's childhood nanny, Liboria Rodríguez, on whom Cleo is based. "Mexico owes a lot to its women, and we must end the violence and abuse of power over women."
    Even as Aparicio is celebrated, she has become a target of racist attacks online. Aparicio said that while it initially upset her, she is now focused on the scores who have called her a role model and sent fan art. "I'm not the face of Mexico," she added, since the country has many faces.
    This cover made history for Vogue México.
    The editor in chief of Vogue México and Vogue Latinoamérica, Karla Martinez de Salas, said she witnessed the racist and classist reactions to photos of Aparicio in Vanity Fair, and worried that the Vogue images would meet a similar response. Rather, they were celebrated with the largest response the magazine has ever received on social media.
    In the park, Aparicio sat facing the sun. Her best friend in real life and on film, Nancy García García (who plays Adela, the cook), has told her she looks tired these days. She feels tired. In August, Aparicio flew to Venice for the premiere of "Roma," where she watched the movie for the first time. She tried to contain her emotions, but 30 minutes in, she began crying, and continued until the closing credits. It has been a whirlwind ever since, with trips to London, San Francisco, New York, Toronto, Los Angeles and more.
    The journey actually started two years earlier. The director of a Tlaxiaco cultural center had invited Aparicio's older sister, Edith, to a mysterious casting call that would turn out to be for Cuarón's big-screen portrait of Cleo and Mexico City in the 1970s. Casting the lead was a monthslong process that involved tapes of more than 3,000 women, none of whom Cuarón found quite right. At the audition, Edith Aparicio, who was pregnant, hesitated and urged Yalitza to try out instead so she could recount the details.
    Cuarón met her at a callback. "I was starting to get a bit nervous until suddenly Yalitza walks into the office, and it was that presence — kind of shy but very open," Cuarón recalled by phone. He'd been looking to match the sensibility of Libo, an empathic way of relating to others.
    "It's how she approaches people, how she is in a place and wants to make sure that people, particularly vulnerable people, are fine," he said. But when he told Aparicio he wanted her to star in the film, she wavered. She had just finished her teaching degree and would have to talk with her family.

    Soon after, Aparicio called back. There was a gap before the application season for teaching jobs. "She says, 'Well, I think I can do it,'" Cuarón recalled. "'I have nothing better to do.'"
    To prepare for filming, Cuarón asked Aparicio and García to improvise scenes. He was amazed at how quickly they began playing Cleo and Adela — not replicating a conversation they might have had after class at teachers college. "What you see in the film, that's not Yalitza, that is Cleo," Cuarón said. "She crafted that character, you know? And she did it in a very kind of detailed way."

    The actors were not given a script or even a story arc. Aparicio drew on the intricate world of the set, based on Cuarón's childhood memories, along with her own vision of the character, based in part on her mother's experiences as a domestic worker. Aparicio became so invested in the role that when tragedy strikes her character, she suffers with agonizing realism. In fact, when the doctors deliver terrible news to Cleo, Aparicio didn't believe them at first.
    On set, Cuarón created a reality for Aparicio to inhabit. Now, she hopes to create a new reality in Mexico and show that Indigenous women can rise to the highest level in any field. It's an aspiration that faces significant obstacles: More than 70 percent of Mexico's Indigenous population lives in poverty, and discrimination — in hiring, education and the justice system — is rampant.
    If by an outside chance Aparicio receives an Oscar nomination — she has picked up a handful of awards but was overlooked, for instance, by the Golden Globes — "I'd be breaking the stereotype that because we're Indigenous we can't do certain things because of our skin color," she said. "Receiving that nomination would be a break from so many ideas. It would open doors to other people — to everyone — and deepen our conviction that we can do these things now."
    Aparicio isn't sure if she'll continue to act. As a teacher, she recognizes that film can transmit powerful messages. Molding the minds and hearts of children is much easier than changing the ingrained beliefs of adults, she said, yet she has been astonished to find that "Roma" is doing just that.
    "In the end, this isn't so different from what I wanted to do," she said. "I realized that film can educate people of all ages, in a far-reaching way."

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    9) Global Warming Is Helping to Wipe Out Coffee in the Wild
    By Somini Sengupta, January 16, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/16/climate/climate-change-coffee.html?action=click&module=Discovery&pgtype=Homepage
    Drying coffee beans in Ethiopia. More than half of all species are at risk of vanishing in the wild because of climate change and deforestation.

    Aaron Davis, a British botanist, has spent 30 years trekking across forests and farms to chronicle the fate of one plant: coffee.

    He has recorded how a warming planet is making it harder to grow coffee in traditional coffee-producing regions, including Ethiopia, the birthplace of the world's most popular bean, arabica. He has mapped where farmers can grow coffee next: basically upcountry, where it's cooler. He has gone searching for rare varieties in the wild.
    Now, in what is perhaps his most disheartening research, Dr. Davis has found that wild coffee, the dozens of varieties that once occurred under forest canopies on at least three continents, is at risk of vanishing forever. Among the world's 124 coffee species, he and a team of scientists have concluded, 60 percent are at risk of extinction in the wild. Climate change and deforestation are to blame.

    It matters because those wild varieties could be crucial for coffee's survival in the era of global warming. In those plants could lie the genes that scientists need to develop new varieties that can grow on a hotter, drier planet.

    Ultimately, Dr. Davis said, those wild coffees are vital for the millions of farmers who make a living from coffee, not to mention the many more who rely on caffeine to start their days. (Dr. Davis limits it to "one cup of really good coffee" a day.)

    "There are a broad range of traits, which have good potential for addressing specific issues in the future, whether its drought tolerance or disease resistance," Dr. Davis said by phone from the Royal Botanic Gardens in the London suburb of Kew, where he is a senior researcher. "As we lose those coffees, our options diminish."
    Dr. Davis and his co-authors published their findings Wednesday in two separate papers, in Science Advances and Global Change Biology.

    Of the 124 known wild species, most are not cultivated or consumed. Two exceptions are arabica, which has been farmed for hundreds of years in East Africa, and robusta, which has gone from the wild to one of the world's most important commodities in the past 100 years. Coffee farmers already face mounting pressure from drought, disease and the vagaries of commodities prices. Addressing those risks requires tapping into the genetic riches of wild varieties.

    Wild coffees can be preserved in seed banks or in nationally protected forests. Most are not. Dr. Davis' inventory found that nearly half of all wild coffee species are not held in seed banks, and a third do not grow in national forests.

    A 2018 report by the Crop Trust, which runs a global seed bank, also warned of the need to preserve the genetic diversity of coffee, including its wild varieties. Only a handful of gene banks hold coffee trees, the report found, and many of them are hampered by either aging specimens or a lack of adequate funding.

    To assess the risks faced by wild coffees, Dr. Davis and his colleagues applied a barometer developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, an international organization that assesses biodiversity risks. Using that index,
    commonly used to document risks to big mammals like elephants and rhinos, they found wild arabica, which mainly grows in the forests of Ethiopia, to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

    If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current pace, changing climate conditions could move wild arabica from the conservation union's "near threatened" category to "extinct" by the end of the century.

    For Dr. Davis, the loss of wild varieties is important not just for plant breeders, farmers and coffee drinkers. The loss of a species also means less food and less shelter in its ecosystem. The result, in his view, is a diminished Earth. "Our planet becomes less diverse, less interesting," he said.

    His most recent expedition took him to Sierra Leone in December. He and his colleagues went searching for what they had feared was a lostcoffee species, the slow-growing stenophylla, which hadn't been seen on a plantation in more than 60 years.
    On that land, the team found one plant — insufficient to propagate. So they kept walking. Across the border in Liberia, after a six-hour trek, they arrived at a hillside covered with stenophylla. It is now being tested in Sierra Leone.
    Somini Sengupta covers international climate issues and is the author of "The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young." 

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    10)  Learning From Cuba's 'Medicare for All'
    By Nicholas Kristof, January 18, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/18/opinion/sunday/cuba-healthcare-medicare.html
    Dr. Lisett Rodríguez talks with Odalys Navarro Carbonell, 31, at a consultorio, or clinic, in Havana. Ms. Navarro is four months pregnant.

    HAVANA — Claudia Fernández, 29, is an accountant whose stomach bulges with her first child, a girl, who is due in April.
    Fernández lives in a cramped apartment on a potholed street and can't afford a car. She also gets by without a meaningful vote or the right to speak freely about politics. Yet the paradox of Cuba is this: Her baby appears more likely to survive than if she were born in the United States.
    Cuba is poor and repressive with a dysfunctional economy, but in health care it does an impressive job that the United States could learn from. According to official statistics (about which, as we'll see, there is some debate), the infant mortality rate in Cuba is only 4.0 deaths per 1,000 live births. In the United States, it's 5.9.
    In other words, an American infant is, by official statistics, almost 50 percent more likely to die than a Cuban infant. By my calculations, that means that 7,500 American kids die each year because we don't have as good an infant mortality rate as Cuba reports.

    How is this possible? Well, remember that it may not be. The figures should be taken with a dose of skepticism. Still, there's no doubt that a major strength of the Cuban system is that it assures universal access. Cuba has the Medicare for All that many Americans dream about.

    "Cuba's example is important since for decades 'health care for all' has been more than a slogan there," said Dr. Paul Farmer, the legendary globe-trotting founder of Partners in Health. "Cuban families aren't ruined financially by catastrophic illness or injury, as happens so often elsewhere in the neighborhood."
    In Havana, I shadowed a grass-roots doctor, Lisett Rodríguez, as she paid a house call on Fernández — and it was the 20th time Dr. Rodríguez had dropped in on Fernández's apartment to examine her over the six months of her pregnancy. That's on top of 14 visits that Fernández made to the doctor's office, in addition to pregnancy consultations Fernández held with a dentist, a psychologist and a nutritionist.
    This was all free, like the rest of the medical and dental system. It's also notable that Cuba achieves excellent health outcomes even though the American trade and financial embargo badly damages the economyand restricts access to medical equipment.
    Fernández has received more attention than normal because she has hypothyroidism, making her pregnancy higher risk than average. Over the course of a more typical Cuban pregnancy, a woman might make 10 office visits and receive eight home visits.

    Thirty-four visits, or even 18, may be overkill, but this certainly is preferable to the care common in, say, Texas, where one-third of pregnant women don't get a single prenatal checkup in the first trimester.
    Missing a prenatal checkup is much less likely in Cuba because of a system of front-line clinics called consultorios. These clinics, staffed by a single doctor and nurse, are often run down and poorly equipped, but they make health care readily available: Doctors live upstairs and are on hand after hours in emergencies.

    They are also part of the neighborhood. Dr. Rodríguez and her nurse know the 907 people they are responsible for from their consultorio: As I walked with Dr. Rodríguez on the street, neighbors stopped her and asked her about their complaints. This proximity and convenience, and not just the lack of fees, make Cuba's medical system accessible.
    "It helps that the doctor is close, because transportation would be a problem," Fernández told me.
    Home visits are also a chance to reach elderly and disabled people and to coach dysfunctional families, such as those wracked by alcoholism (a common problem), and to work on prevention. During Dr. Rodríguez's visits to Fernández, for example, they discuss breast-feeding and how to make the home safe for the baby.
    "It's no secret that most health problems can be resolved at the primary-care level by the doctor, nurse or health worker nearest you," said Gail Reed, the American executive editor of the health journal Medicc Review, which focuses on Cuban health care. "So, there is something to be said for Cuba's building of a national primary-care network that posts health professionals in neighborhoods nationwide."
    Each consultorio doctor is supposed to see every person in the area at least once a year, if not for a formal physical then at least to take blood pressure.
    All this is possible because Cuba overflows with doctors — it has three times as many per capita as the United States — and pays them very little. A new doctor earns $45 a month, and a very experienced one $80.

    The opening of Cuba to tourism has created some tensions. A taxi driver who gets tips from foreigners may earn several times as much as a distinguished surgeon. Unless, of course, that surgeon also moonlights as a taxi driver.
    Critics inside and outside the country raise various objections to the Cuban system. Corruption and shortages of supplies and medicine are significant problems, and the health system could do more to address smoking and alcoholism.
    There are also allegations that Cuba fiddles with its numbers. The country has an unusually high rate of late fetal deaths, and skeptics contend that when a baby is born in distress and dies after a few hours, this is sometimes categorized as a stillbirth to avoid recording an infant death. 
    Dr. Roberto Álvarez, a Cuban pediatrician, insisted to me that this does not happen and countered with explanations for why the fetal death rate is high. I'm not in a position to judge who's right, but any manipulation seems unlikely to make a huge difference to the reported figures.

    Outsiders mostly say they admire the Cuban health system. The World Health Organization has praised it, and Ban Ki-moon, the former United Nations secretary general, described it as "a model for many countries."
    In many ways, the Cuban and United States health care systems are mirror opposites. Cuban health care is dilapidated, low-tech and free, and it is very good at ensuring that no one slips through the cracks. American medicine is high-tech and expensive, achieving some extraordinary results while stumbling at the basics: A lower percentage of children are vaccinated in the United States than in Cuba.
    The difference can also be seen in treatment of cancer. Cuba regularly screens all women for breast and cervical cancer, so it is excellent at finding cancers — but then it lacks enough machines for radiation treatment. In the United States, on the other hand, many women don't get regular screenings so cancers may be discovered late — but then there are advanced treatment options.

    As Cuba's population becomes older and heavier (as in the United States, the nutrition problem here is people who are overweight, not underweight), heart disease and cancer are becoming more of a burden. And the lack of resources is a major constraint in treating those ailments.
    There's a Cuban saying: "We live like poor people, but we die like rich people."

    Cuba invests heavily in health care partly because it's a moneymaker. Cuba exports doctors to other countries, and this has become an important source of hard currency (the doctors earn a premium while abroad, but much of the surplus goes to the government).
    With its doctors, Cuba creates a global public good: I've encountered Cuban physicians in impoverished countries around the world, and Cuba also trains many doctors from Haiti and other countries. Hundreds of Cuban physicians also risked their lives to travel to West Africa during the Ebola crisis.
    Cuba has developed its own pharmaceutical industry, partly to get around the American embargo, and this also creates financial opportunities. A lung cancer medication from Cuba is now undergoing a clinical trial in the United States, and a similar U.S.-Cuba partnershipis pursuing a Cuban treatment for diabetic foot ulcers. To me, those partnerships represent a path toward cooperation that both sides should build on.
    While we should call on Cuba to grant people like Fernández meaningful political rights, we should likewise push for American babies born in low-income families to have the same opportunity for attentive health care as her daughter will have.
    My NYT comment:
    After reading the first two paragraphs I was wondering why Kristof was writing this, since, at the outset, he puts doubt on the statistics he's writing about. With no explanation he claims that the Cuban people can't speak freely about politics. Then he describes the closeness between the people and their doctors—frequent home visits, advice on home safety for infants, etc., and free dental! Free Dental!!! Nobody in the U.S gets free dental! He makes no mention of how, in the U.S., Child Protective Services routinely involves the police, court fees and punishments such as jail and ending parental rights altogether for people addicted to drugs or who commit petty crimes—crimes of poverty. He also fails to mention that education in Cuba is free to everyone from cradle to grave; that there is free food and housing subsidies; that Cuban's vote locally on issues affecting their communities and for their representatives in those communities, or that the U.S. Embargo economically oppresses the Cuban people by prohibiting other countries from trading with Cuba. The U.S. is the richest nation in the world yet we still have communities with no running water or flush toilets. And, as for "democracy?" Well, we get to vote for one wealthy liar or another. —Bonnie Weinstein
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/18/opinion/sunday/cuba-healthcare-medicare.html?comments#permid=30221084

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    11) Family Separation May Have Hit Thousands More Migrant Children Than Reported
    By Miriam Jordan, January 17, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/us/family-separation-trump-administration-migrants.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    Brenda Garcia reunited with her 7-year-old son, K.G.G., at Dulles Airport outside Washington in June, 34 days after they were separated by officials after crossing the border into the United States illegally.CreditCreditRyan Christopher Jones for The New York Times


    HOUSTON — The Trump administration most likely separated thousands more children from their parents at the Southern border than was previously believed, according to a report by government inspectors released on Thursday.
    The federal government has reported that nearly 3,000 children were forcibly separated from their parents under last year's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, under which nearly all adults entering the country illegally were prosecuted, and any children accompanying them were put into shelters or foster care.
    But even before the administration officially unveiled the zero-tolerance policy in the spring of 2018, staff of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that oversees the care of children in federal custody, had noted a "sharp increase" in the number of children separated from a parent or guardian, according to the report from the agency's Office of Inspector General.

    As of December, the department had identified 2,737 children who were separated from their parents under the policy and required to be reunified by a federal court order issued in June 2018.

    But that number does not represent the full scope of family separations. Thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the court, the report said.
    Thus, the total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is "unknown," because of the lack of a coordinated formal tracking system between the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the arm of Health and Human Services that takes in the children, and the Department of Homeland Security, which separated them from their parents.
    "This report confirms what we suspected: This cruel family separation practice was way bigger than the administration let on," said Lee Gelernt, who challenged the policy in court on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union. "We will be back in court and ask the judge to order the government to explain these numbers," he said.
    The family separations were a key part of the Trump administration's effort to deter migrant families from trying to enter the country at the Southwest border, where they have been arriving in large numbers, most of them fleeing violence and deep poverty in Central America.
    While the policy was framed as a decision to prosecute those who entered the United States illegally, it resulted in thousands of migrant parents spending months in agonized uncertainty, unable to communicate with their children and in many cases not knowing even where the children were.

    Infants and toddlers were among the children who were put into foster homes or migrant children shelters, often hundreds or thousands of miles away from where their parents were detained. Under separate policies, the administration also made it difficult for relatives other than the children's parents to take the children into their own homes.
    After a review of internal government tallies, The New York Times found last year that more than 700 migrant children had been separated from their families in the months before the government officially announced the zero-tolerance policy.
    On June 26, 2018, a federal judge in San Diego, in response to the A.C.L.U. lawsuit, directed the federal government to halt the separations at the border and to reunite children with their parents. President Trump rescinded the policy that same month.
    However, the federal inspectors found that separations have continued to occur: As of November, the report found, Health and Human Services had received at least 118 children who had been separated from their families since the court order.
    Officials at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversaw the family separations at the border, have said they have separated families only when necessary, such as when a parent is facing a serious criminal prosecution, or when authorities have reason to believe that the adult accompanying the child is not an appropriate guardian.
    "The report vindicates what D.H.S. has long been saying," said Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the department. "For more than a decade it was, and continues to be, standard for apprehended minors to be separated when the adult is not the parent or legal guardian, the child's safety is at risk, or serious criminal activity by the adult. We are required under the law that Congress passed to send all unaccompanied alien children to H.H.S."
    Ann Maxwell, the Health and Human Services Department's assistant inspector general for evaluation and inspections, said the separations appeared to have been occurring for a full year before the court issued its order.

    "Thousands of children were separated from parents and guardians, referred to H.H.S. and released from H.H.S. care before the court order," Ms. Maxwell said in a conference call with reporters.
    "The total number is unknown," she said. "It is certainly more than 2,737, but how many more, precisely, is unknown." Moreover, that number may never be known: Department officials, she said, had told her office that there were "no efforts underway to identify that. It would take away resources from children already in care."
    In an email after the call, Ms. Maxwell's spokesman confirmed that inspectors believed the number of separated children may be "thousands" more than the 2,737 reported to the court.
    The inspectors provided no precise data to support that estimate, though Ms. Maxwell said that Health and Human Services had noted a "spike" in the frequency of children being separated from their families, from 0.3 percent of all apprehended families in 2016 to 3.8 percent in 2017.
    Family separations have occurred for years, but they had previously been "fairly rare," Ms. Maxwell said, occurring only in cases where there were concerns about child welfare. That changed in 2017, she said.
    Ms. Maxwell said that most of the families on the list of separated families had been reunited, pursuant to the court order. But she said the figures continued to evolve, for several reasons. The absence of an integrated data system to track separated families through the two federal agencies that oversee them was one problem, she said.
    Also complicating the issue, she said, was the complex problem of determining which children should be considered officially "separated" from their families. That meant that the list of families entitled to reunification was still being revised as late as December 2018, more than five months after the court order took effect.

    The Department of Health and Human Services, in its official response, said it had accounted publicly for all children separated from relatives at the border and then delivered to the agency for care.
    "H.H.S. faced challenges in identifying separated children," the agency said. "The effort undertaken by H.H.S. was complex, fast-moving and resource-intensive."
    The inspector general's report, the department said, "provides a window into the herculean work of the H.H.S. career staff to rapidly identify children in O.R.R. care who had been separated from their parents and reunify them." O.R.R. refers to the resettlement office.
    The department emphasized that the inspector general found "no evidence whatsoever" that it had lost track of children in its care. Though there were delays in linking children to parents, partly as a result of the Department of Homeland Security's tracking system.When immigration agents separated families at the border, records that could have been used to connect parents and children were automatically deleted because the computer system had not been modified to account for separated families.
    In its response on Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services said that the inspector general's report "corroborates what H.H.S. has said all along: H.H.S. can determine the location and status of any child in O.R.R. care at any time by accessing the case management records for the child, or the O.R.R. online portal."

    Glenn Thrush contributed reporting from Washington.

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    12) 3 Officers Acquitted of Covering Up for Colleague in Laquan McDonald Killing
    By Julie Bosman and Monica Davey, January 17, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/us/laquan-mcdonald-officers-acquitted.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    CHICAGO — Three Chicago police officers were acquitted on Thursday of charges that they had conspired and lied to protect a white police officer who fired 16 deadly shots into a black teenager, a contentious verdict in a case over what many viewed as a "code of silence" in the Police Department.
    The judgment, rendered in a tense, cramped courtroom overflowing with spectators, was delivered by a judge and not a jury. Speaking from the bench for close to an hour, Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson rejected the prosecutors' arguments that the officers had shooed away witnesses and then created a narrative to justify the 2014 shooting, which prompted citywide protests, the firing of the police chief and a wide-ranging federal investigation into the police force.
    The ruling came more than three months after Officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted in October of the second-degree murder of Laquan McDonald, and on the afternoon before he was scheduled to be sentenced for a killing that was captured on an infamous police dashboard camera video.
    The three police officers — David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney — contradicted what the video showed. In it, Mr. Van Dyke fires repeatedly at Laquan, who is wielding a knife, as he moves slightly away from the officers and even as he lies crumpled on the ground. Prosecutors cited that footage repeatedly as they built a case against the officers, who are white, on charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice.

    Judge Stephenson said that even though the officers' accounts of the shooting differed from the video, that did not amount to proof that they were lying. "Two people with two different vantage points can witness the same event," she said, and still describe it differently.
    The judge suggested that key witnesses for the prosecution had offered conflicting testimony, and said there was nothing presented at trial that showed that the officers had failed to preserve evidence, as the prosecutors had argued. Challenging the point that officers had shooed away a witness as part of a cover-up, the judge said it was not obvious that the police had known the witness had seen the shooting.
    The officers, who were brought to trial in November, were accused of writing in official reports that Laquan had tried to stab three other officers, saying they saw him trying to get up from the ground even after a barrage of shots.
    Mr. March, Mr. Walsh and Mr. Gaffney each denied that they had conspired to come up with a narrative that might justify Mr. Van Dyke's decision to shoot Laquan. None of them fired any shots that night. Other officers, too, had witnessed the shooting and had given questionable accounts, but were not on trial; grand jurors indicted the three officers but declined to indict any others.
    [Read More: Was the Laquan McDonald case a turning point or an aberration?]
    It was "undisputed and undeniable," Judge Stephenson said, that Laquan had ignored officers' commands to drop his knife. While she spoke, the three officers sat silently, sometimes staring down at the carpet or nervously jiggling a leg. After she read the verdict, several people broke into applause.

    Todd Pugh, a lawyer for Mr. Walsh, said afterward that the judge had acted with courage in rendering her verdict, despite what he called public pressure to find the officers guilty. "There never ever was a case," he told reporters, adding that the grand jury had proved the axiom that it would indict a ham sandwich if given the opportunity.
    Mr. Walsh, who was Mr. Van Dyke's partner on the night of the shooting and who has resigned from the department, said little. The experience has been "heartbreaking for my family," he said. "A year and a half."
    But many others were outraged.
    "The verdict says to police officers that you can lie, cheat, steal, rape, rob and pillage, and it's O.K.," said the Rev. Marvin Hunter, who is Laquan's great-uncle.
    A group of ministers who gathered at the courthouse denounced the outcome. The Rev. Leon Finney, a pastor on Chicago's South Side, called it a "travesty."
    "There was clearly evidence from the video that Laquan McDonald was not attacking or seeking to attack any of the law enforcement officers," Mr. Finney said. "How could they all three make up a story indicating that Laquan was threatening their lives?"
    Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County Board president who is a candidate for mayor, called the decision "a devastating step backward."
    "Laquan's murder has become a part of the fabric of our city," she said. "The verdict today does not serve justice in the wake of the senseless loss of a young life."

    Speaking to reporters at the courthouse, Patricia Brown Holmes, the special prosecutor, said that while she disagreed with the judge's ruling, she hoped that the trial had sent a message.
    Ms. Holmes said she hoped that "others will think twice before engaging in conduct that might land them in an investigation such as this."
    "Hopefully one day there won't be a code of silence," she said.
    Along with the officers, the broad concept of a police code of silence was on trial in Chicago, where officers have been accused for decades of covering up their colleagues' misconduct.
    As in other cities, residents have long complained that police officers stuck together when it came to accounting for their actions, and the issue has come up in cases involving drunken driving, the beating of a bartender and a lawsuit by two officers who said they faced retaliation after breaking the code. Even the city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has acknowledged it.
    In a speech in 2015, Mr. Emanuel condemned what he said was a tendency of some officers to ignore, deny and in "some cases cover up the bad actions of a colleague or colleagues."
    Mr. March, who also resigned, had been assigned to investigate the shooting. He merely wrote down what the witnesses told him had happened, a lawyer for Mr. March told the court during trial. Mr. Gaffney was one of the officers who first confronted Laquan on the evening of the shooting, after the police got a report of a man breaking into trucks on the city's Southwest Side. He and other officers had followed the teenager, who was carrying a knife and ignoring orders to stop, for several blocks.
    In a statement, Mr. Emanuel and Eddie Johnson, the superintendent of the Chicago Police, vowed that their work to improve the department would not stop.

    "We will continue to take concrete steps to restore trust with communities across Chicago," the statement said, "because trust is the best public safety tool we have."
    There were no protests after the verdicts were read, and William Calloway, a prominent Chicago activist who is running for City Council, urged Chicagoans to refrain. "To the black community, I know this hurts," he said on Twitter. "We know this was a cover-up. I'm not saying take to the streets anymore. It's time for us to take to the polls."
    "That blue code of silence is just not with the Chicago Police Department: It expands to the judicial system," Mr. Calloway said at a news conference.
    On Friday morning, the courts are scheduled for the final chapter in the Laquan case — a killing that came amid national protests and a spate of police shootings of black people. A Facebook group implored a "call to action": "In room 500 at 9 a.m., show up to stand in solidarity with organizers and the family of Laquan McDonald as we demand, again, #Justice4Laquan."

    Mitch Smith contributed reporting.

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    13) The Insulin Wars
    By Danielle Ofri, January 18, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/18/opinion/cost-insurance-diabetes-insulin.html



    "Doctor, could you please redo my insulin prescription? The one you gave me is wrong." My patient's frustration was obvious over the phone. She was standing at the pharmacy, unable to get her diabetes medication. 
    We had gone through this just the week before. I'd prescribed her the insulin she'd been on, at the correct dosage, but when she showed up at her pharmacy she learned that her insurance company no longer covered that brand. After a series of phone messages back and forth, I'd redone the prescription with what I'd thought was the correct insulin, but I was apparently wrong. Again.
    Between 2002 and 2013, prices tripled for some insulins. Many cost around $300 a vial, without any viable generic alternative. Most patients use two or three vials a month, but others need the equivalent of four. Self-rationing has become common as patients struggle to keep up. In the short term, fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to confusion, dehydration, coma, even death. In the long term, poorly controlled diabetes is associated with heart attacks, strokes, blindness, amputation and the need for dialysis.
    The exorbitant prices confound patients and doctors alike since insulin is nearly a century old now. The pricing is all the more infuriating when one considers that the discoverers of insulin sold the patent for $1 eachto ensure that the medication would be affordable. Today the three main manufacturers of insulin are facing a lawsuit accusing them of deceptive pricing schemes, but it could be years before this yields any changes.

    There are several reasons that insulin is so expensive. It is a biologic drug, meaning that it's produced in living cells, which is a difficult manufacturing process. The bigger issue, however, is that companies tweak their formulations so they can get new patents, instead of working to create cheaper generic versions. This keeps insulin firmly in brand-name territory, with prices to match.
    But the real ignominy (and the meat of the lawsuit) is the dealings between the drug manufacturers and the insurance companies. Insurers use pharmacy benefit managers, called P.B.M.s, to negotiate prices with manufacturers. Insurance programs represent huge markets, so manufacturers compete to offer good deals. How to offer a good deal? Jack up the list price, and then offer the P.B.M.s a "discount."
    This pricing is, of course, hidden from most patients, except those without insurance, who have to pay full freight. Patients with insurance live with the repercussions of constantly changing coverage as P.B.M.s chase better discounts from different manufacturers.
    All insurance companies periodically change which medications they cover, but insulin is in a whirlwind class by itself because of the staggering sums of money involved. "Short-acting" is supposed to be a category of insulin, but now it appears to be its category of insurance coverage. My patient's "preferred insulin" changed three times in a year, so each time she went to the pharmacy, her prescription was rejected.
    On the doctor's end, it's an endless game of catch-up. Lantus was covered, but now it's Basaglar: rewrite all the prescriptions for all your patients. Oops, now it's Levemir: rewrite them all again. NovoLog was covered, then it was Humalog, but now it's Admelog. If it's Tuesday, it must be Tresiba.

    It's a colossal time-waster, as patients, pharmacists and doctors log hours upon hours calling, faxing, texting and emailing to keep up with whichever insulin is trending. It's also dangerous, as patients can end up without a critical medication for days, sometimes weeks, waiting for these bureaucratic kinks to get ironed out.
    Lost in this communal migraine is that this whole process is corrosive to the doctor-patient relationship. I knew that my patient wasn't angry at me personally, but her ire came readily through the phone. No doubt this reflected desperation — she'd run out of insulin before and didn't want to end in the emergency room on IV fluids, as she had the last time. Frankly, I was pretty peeved myself. By this point I'd already written enough insulin prescriptions on her account to fill a sixth Book of Moses. I'd already called her insurance company and gotten tangled in phone trees of biblical proportions.
    This time I called her pharmacy. A sympathetic pharmacist was willing to work with me, and I stayed on the phone with her as we painstakingly submitted one insulin prescription after another. The first wasn't covered. The second wasn't covered. The third was. But before we could sing the requisite hosannas, the pharmacist informed me that while the insulin was indeed covered, it was not a "preferred" medication. That meant there was a $72-per-month co-payment, something that my patient would struggle to afford on her fixed income.
    "So just tell me which is the preferred insulin," I told the pharmacist briskly.
    There was a pause before she replied. "There isn't one."
    This was a new low — an insurance company now had no insulins on its top tier. Breaking the news to my patient was devastating. We had a painful conversation about how she would have to reconfigure her life in order to afford this critical medication.
    It suddenly struck me that insurance companies and drug manufacturers had come upon an ingenious business plan: They could farm out their dirty work to the doctors and the patients. Let the doctors be the ones to navigate the bureaucratic hoops and then deliver the disappointing news to our patients. Let patients be the ones to figure out how to ration their medications or do without.
    Congress and the Food and Drug Administration need to tame the Wild West of drug pricing. When there's an E. coli outbreak that causes illness and death, we rightly expect our regulatory bodies to step in. The outbreak of insulin greed is no different.

    It is hard to know where to direct my rage. Should I be furious at the drug manufacturers that refuse to develop generics? Should I be angry at the P.B.M.s and insurance companies that juggle prices and formularies to maximize profits, passing along huge co-payments if they don't get a good enough deal? Should I be indignant at our elected officials who seem content to let our health care system be run by for-profit entities that will always put money before patients?
    The answer is all of the above. But what's most enraging is that drug manufacturers, P.B.M.s and insurance companies don't have to pick up the pieces from the real-world consequences of their policies. That falls to the patients.
    Danielle Ofri is a physician at Bellevue Hospital and the author of "What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear."
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    14) The L.A. Teachers' Strike Is About So Much More Than Wages
    By Sonali Kolhatkar, January 18, 2019
    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/01/18/la-teachers-strike-about-so-much-more-wages?cd-

    Strike on: Demonstrators shout slogans on Tuesday, the second day of the L.A. teachers' strike, during a rally in downtown Los Angeles. (Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)


    Los Angeles public school teachers began a historic strike on Monday, for the first time in 30 years. Members of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) walked out of contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that had dragged on for nearly two years. The specific battle is being fought over LAUSD's refusal to tap into its record $1.86 billion reserve in order to reduce class sizes, hire more support staff, including counselors and nurses, improve infrastructure and more. But more broadly speaking, the L.A. teachers' fight is symbolic of a bigger struggle to maintain and expand quality public education for all Americans and to secure the rights that the critical stakeholders—teachers, students, parents—have within that system.
    The L.A. teachers' strike comes after several high-profile fights last spring in states like West VirginiaOklahoma and Kentucky, where educators tired of poverty-level wages fought for raises and won. But the L.A. strike is broader than those others, not just in terms of the sheer size of the district and the union, but in the demands the union is making. Although LAUSD has offered a 6 percent raise over two years (not nearly enough of what teachers deserve), teachers want an overall better experience for their 600,000 overwhelmingly nonwhite students. They want more nurses and counselors, smaller class sizes and a halt to the expansion of charter schools.
    In usually sunny Southern California, the 2019 teachers strike was launched during a week dominated by cold, windy, rainy weather, 30 years after the last such strike. In spite of the wintry conditions, tens of thousands of teachers, counselors, nurses, union organizers, and even some parents and students, marched and rallied in downtown Los Angeles and picketed in front of their schools across the sprawling district. I spoke with several teachers who told me about their large class sizes, aging books, leaking roofs and, most of all, paucity of support staff.

    Students needing regular medical attention are attending schools where nurses are on staff for only one or two days a week. School counselors and psychologists are forced to work at numerous schools at once, handling emergencies whenever they can. Students who want to use the library have to wait for the brief weekly window during which the school librarian is on call. Meanwhile, charter schools are expanding across the district, drawing from the very pool of limited resources that the public school system relies on, but without being held to the same level of transparency and accountability. L.A.'s teachers are angry about how the district is treating their students—and they have good reason to be.
    As first-grade teacher Louise McLorn explained to me, "It's absolutely not about teacher salaries. That is the last thing that we are looking at." News reports have cited the fact that the strike may have already cost the district millions of dollars because a majority of students did not attend school on the first day or two of the strike (the district's funding depends on attendance rates). But what is missed in much of the coverage is the fact that each day educators are on the picket line, they lose pay. Union members turned down the modest pay raise they were offered, holding out instead for concessions centered on student welfare.
    McLorn rattled off a list of her concerns, saying, "There is a hole in the roof of my classroom, so that needs to get fixed. We have students that need much more counseling than they're getting, but psychologists have to go from school to school to school." She added, "It's less expensive to educate than incarcerate." Over and over, the teachers I spoke with repeated some version of McLorn's sentiments and echoed her struggles in the classroom.
    Some teachers were pointedly critical of Los Angeles School Superintendent Austin Beutner, a man media outlets describe as "A former investment banker with no history working as an educator." Andy Dowdell, from Fleming Middle School, said, "He's kind of like some of those people that Trump's hired to dismember, to take apart these bureaucracies, and he's trying to do that to our district." Dowdell suspects that Beutner's real agenda is to privatize the school district.
    In fact, LAUSD insists on keeping more than 25 percent of the budget as surplus instead of the required 1 percent, raising suspicions about its agenda (what would be enough of a reserve, one wonders?). Mike Fahy, a special education teacher at Le Conte Middle School, explained to me that the broken computers he needs to teach dyslexic students to read need to be replaced. But the district won't fund the needed upgrade. "There's simply no money for supplies for my school, so I end up buying the supplies myself, because I don't want to run a 'poverty program,' " he said.
    Fahy has a theory. "We're being set up to fail by the decisions of the district and the school board," he told me. Le Conte shares its campus with a charter elementary school. "In my school the students come in and they're 90 percent brown. At the charter school on our campus, the students are 90 percent white. So the white kids go over there and the brown kids come over to my school." According to Fahy, "The other school is being run like a private school on the public dime." In the long run, he fears that unregulated charter school growth will result in LAUSD becoming "a special-ed district for the 'problem kids.' " He has good reason to issue such a dire warning. Examples abound in places like New Orleans, where public school systems embraced charter schools only to end up an even more segregated system that fails students and teachers.

    But corporate-minded elites across the U.S. are hellbent on viewing education as a business, and they see teachers as ungrateful moochers who are looking for easy paychecks funded by taxpayers. The Wall Street Journal published a sneering editorial on the first day of the Los Angeles teachers strike, fixating on the increasing costs of teacher salaries and pensions as requiring new tax programs every few years. The paper's editors did not even acknowledge the third-world conditions that L.A. schools struggle with—schools situated in the world's fifth largest economy and within the world's richest nation. They defended charter school expansion and laughably described such schools as a "refuge for low-income and minority students." In contrast, New York Times contributing writer Erin Aubrey Kaplan explained last year that "[i]t's partly because diversity can be managed—or minimized—that charters have become the public schools that liberal whites here can get behind."
    Fahy's colleague, Helen Allen Jackson, who is also a special education teacher at La Conte Middle School, shared with me the daily trials and travails and she and other teachers struggle with. "Our students come with a lot of baggage, and they really need more help. We are counselors, we are nurses, we are everything [to our students], and it is overwhelming," she said. When I asked if her workday ended when she got home, she exclaimed, "Absolutely not!" Other teachers who had gathered around us nodded their heads vigorously in agreement. "It never ends," Jackson said, laughing slightly hysterically at the idea that her job was a "9-to-5" position.
    Los Angeles teachers are telling the district and the world that their public schools have been deeply damaged by years of austerity. They are offering clear solutions to fix the damage and pointing to the money that the district already has in hand. They have the power of collective action through a union to make their demands, and ultimately, the district needs them more than it cares to admit. Thirty years ago, it took nine days for the district to acquiesce to the legitimate concerns of union members. How long will it take this time?

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    15) Time to Break the Silence on Palestine
    By Michelle Alexander, January 19, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/19/opinion/sunday/martin-luther-king-palestine-israel.html
    “We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared at Riverside Church in Manhattan in 1967.CreditCreditJohn C. Goodwin

    On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stepped up to the lectern at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. The United States had been in active combat in Vietnam for two years and tens of thousands of people had been killed, including some 10,000 American troops. The political establishment — from left to right — backed the war, and more than 400,000 American service members were in Vietnam, their lives on the line. 
    Many of King’s strongest allies urged him to remain silent about the war or at least to soft-pedal any criticism. They knew that if he told the whole truth about the unjust and disastrous war he would be falsely labeled a Communist, suffer retaliation and severe backlash, alienate supporters and threaten the fragile progress of the civil rights movement.
    King rejected all the well-meaning advice and said, “I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.” Quoting a statement by the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, he said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal” and added, “that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.”
    It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.

    I have not been alone. Until very recently, the entire Congress has remained mostly silent on the human rights nightmare that has unfolded in the occupied territories. Our elected representatives, who operate in a political environment where Israel's political lobby holds well-documented power, have consistently minimized and deflected criticism of the State of Israel, even as it has grown more emboldened in its occupation of Palestinian territory and adopted some practices reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States.
    Many civil rights activists and organizations have remained silent as well, not because they lack concern or sympathy for the Palestinian people, but because they fear loss of funding from foundations, and false charges of anti-Semitism. They worry, as I once did, that their important social justice work will be compromised or discredited by smear campaigns. 
    Similarly, many students are fearful of expressing support for Palestinian rights because of the McCarthyite tactics of secret organizations like Canary Mission, which blacklists those who publicly dare to support boycotts against Israel, jeopardizing their employment prospects and future careers.
    Reading King’s speech at Riverside more than 50 years later, I am left with little doubt that his teachings and message require us to speak out passionately against the human rights crisis in Israel-Palestine, despite the risks and despite the complexity of the issues. King argued, when speaking of Vietnam, that even “when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict,” we must not be mesmerized by uncertainty. “We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”
    And so, if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions: unrelenting violations of international law, continued occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations. We must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the routine searches of their homes and restrictions on their movements, and the severely limited access to decent housing, schools, food, hospitals and water that many of them face.

    We must not tolerate Israel’s refusal even to discuss the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as prescribed by United Nations resolutions, and we ought to question the U.S. government funds that have supported multiple hostilities and thousands of civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as the $38 billion the U.S. government has pledged in military support to Israel.
    And finally, we must, with as much courage and conviction as we can muster, speak out against the system of legal discrimination that exists inside Israel, a system complete with, according to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, more than 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians — such as the new nation-state lawthat says explicitly that only Jewish Israelis have the right of self-determination in Israel, ignoring the rights of the Arab minority that makes up 21 percent of the population.
    Of course, there will be those who say that we can’t know for sure what King would do or think regarding Israel-Palestine today. That is true. The evidence regarding King’s views on Israel is complicated and contradictory
    Although the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee denouncedIsrael’s actions against Palestinians, King found himself conflicted. Like many black leaders of the time, he recognized European Jewry as a persecuted, oppressed and homeless people striving to build a nation of their own, and he wanted to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which had been a critically important ally in the civil rights movement.
    Ultimately, King canceled a pilgrimage to Israel in 1967 after Israel captured the West Bank. During a phone call about the visit with his advisers, he said, “I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt.” 
    He continued to support Israel’s right to exist but also said on national television that it would be necessary for Israel to return parts of its conquered territory to achieve true peace and security and to avoid exacerbating the conflict. There was no way King could publicly reconcile his commitment to nonviolence and justice for all people, everywhere, with what had transpired after the 1967 war.
    Today, we can only speculate about where King would stand. Yet I find myself in agreement with the historian Robin D.G. Kelley, whoconcluded that, if King had the opportunity to study the current situation in the same way he had studied Vietnam, “his unequivocal opposition to violence, colonialism, racism and militarism would have made him an incisive critic of Israel’s current policies.”

    Indeed, King’s views may have evolved alongside many other spiritually grounded thinkers, like Rabbi Brian Walt, who has spoken publicly about the reasons that he abandoned his faith in what he viewed as political Zionism. To him, he recently explained to me, liberal Zionism meant that he believed in the creation of a Jewish state that would be a desperately needed safe haven and cultural center for Jewish people around the world, "a state that would reflect as well as honor the highest ideals of the Jewish tradition.” He said he grew up in South Africa in a family that shared those views and identified as a liberal Zionist, until his experiences in the occupied territories forever changed him.
    During more than 20 visits to the West Bank and Gaza, he saw horrific human rights abuses, including Palestinian homes being bulldozed while people cried — children's toys strewn over one demolished site — and saw Palestinian lands being confiscated to make way for new illegal settlements subsidized by the Israeli government. He was forced to reckon with the reality that these demolitions, settlements and acts of violent dispossession were not rogue moves, but fully supported and enabled by the Israeli military. For him, the turning point was witnessing legalized discrimination against Palestinians — including streets for Jews only — which, he said, was worse in some ways than what he had witnessed as a boy in South Africa.
    Not so long ago, it was fairly rare to hear this perspective. That is no longer the case.
    Jewish Voice for Peace, for example, aims to educate the American public about “the forced displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment and that continues to this day.” Growing numbers of people of all faiths and backgrounds have spoken out with more boldness and courage. American organizations such as If Not Now support young American Jews as they struggle to break the deadly silence that still exists among too many people regarding the occupation, and hundreds of secular and faith-based groups have joined the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights
    In view of these developments, it seems the days when critiques of Zionism and the actions of the State of Israel can be written off as anti-Semitism are coming to an end. There seems to be increased understanding that criticism of the policies and practices of the Israeli government is not, in itself, anti-Semitic.
    This is not to say that anti-Semitism is not real. Neo-Nazism isresurging in Germany within a growing anti-immigrant movement. Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose 57 percent in 2017, and many of us are still mourning what is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jewish people in American history. We must be mindful in this climate that, while criticism of Israel is not inherently anti-Semitic, it can slide there.
    Fortunately, people like the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II are leading by example, pledging allegiance to the fight against anti-Semitism while also demonstrating unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people struggling to survive under Israeli occupation. 
    He declared in a riveting speech last year that we cannot talk about justice without addressing the displacement of native peoples, the systemic racism of colonialism and the injustice of government repression. In the same breath he said: “I want to say, as clearly as I know how, that the humanity and the dignity of any person or people cannot in any way diminish the humanity and dignity of another person or another people. To hold fast to the image of God in every person is to insist that the Palestinian child is as precious as the Jewish child.”

    Guided by this kind of moral clarity, faith groups are taking action. In 2016, the pension board of the United Methodist Church excluded fromits multibillion-dollar pension fund Israeli banks whose loans for settlement construction violate international law. Similarly, the United Church of Christ the year before passed a resolution calling for divestments and boycotts of companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
    Even in Congress, change is on the horizon. For the first time, two sitting members, Representatives Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, publicly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. In 2017, Representative Betty McCollum, Democrat of Minnesota, introduced a resolution to ensure that no U.S. military aid went to support Israel’s juvenile military detention system. Israel regularly prosecutes Palestinian children detainees in the occupied territories in military court.

    Relatives of a Palestinian nurse, Razan al-Najjar, 21, mourning in June after she was shot dead in Gaza by Israeli soldiers.CreditHosam Salem for The New York Times

    None of this is to say that the tide has turned entirely or that retaliation has ceased against those who express strong support for Palestinian rights. To the contrary, just as King received fierce, overwhelming criticism for his speech condemning the Vietnam War — 168 major newspapers, including The Times, denounced the address the following day — those who speak publicly in support of the liberation of the Palestinian people still risk condemnation and backlash. 
    Bahia Amawi, an American speech pathologist of Palestinian descent, was recently terminated for refusing to sign a contract that contains an anti-boycott pledge stating that she does not, and will not, participate in boycotting the State of Israel. In November, Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN for giving a speech in support of Palestinian rights that was grossly misinterpreted as expressing support for violenceCanary Mission continues to pose a serious threat to student activists. 
    And just over a week ago, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, apparently under pressure mainly from segments of the Jewish community and others, rescinded an honor it bestowed upon the civil rights icon Angela Davis, who has been a vocal critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and supports B.D.S.
    But that attack backfired. Within 48 hours, academics and activists had mobilized in response. The mayor of Birmingham, Randall Woodfin, as well as the Birmingham School Board and the City Council, expressed outrage at the institute’s decision. The council unanimously passed aresolution in Davis’ honor, and an alternative event is being organized to celebrate her decades-long commitment to liberation for all.
    I cannot say for certain that King would applaud Birmingham for its zealous defense of Angela Davis’s solidarity with Palestinian people. But I do. In this new year, I aim to speak with greater courage and conviction about injustices beyond our borders, particularly those that are funded by our government, and stand in solidarity with struggles for democracy and freedom. My conscience leaves me no other choice.

    The Said al-Mis'hal cultural center in Gaza was hit by an Israeli airstrike in August.CreditKhalil Hamra/Associated Press

    Michelle Alexander became a New York Times columnist in 2018. She is a civil rights lawyer and advocate, legal scholar and author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” 

    My NYT Comment: 
    Thank you, Michelle Alexander, for this courageous Opinion/Editorial. There is, in my mind as a person of Jewish descent, no reason whatsoever that a Jewish state can't include, on equal and democratic terms, the people of Palestine, or anyone else who lives there. We must also delve into the role a non-secular Zionist Israel plays in support of U.S. interests in the Middle East. As former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jesse Helms, said in 1995, in an article entitled, "Jesse Helms: Setting the Record Straight," “I have long believed that if the United States is going to give money to Israel, it should be paid out of the Department of Defense budget. My question is this: If Israel did not exist, what would U.S. defense costs in the Middle East be? Israel is at least the equivalent of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East." This is the role it was designed to play and it’s the role it continues to play today on a much larger scale. U.S. out of the Middle East! No more war! Democracy, justice and equality for all, everywhere!


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