Tuesday, August 22, 2017

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017







ILWU Local 10 
March to Stop Fascism in San Francisco
Saturday, August 26, 10:00 A.M.
400 North Point St, San Francisco, CA

Port shutdown and march to 
Crissy Field by Local 10 ILWU. 

Motion to Stop the Fascists in San Francisco
[ILWU Local 10.  August 2017]
Whereas, the fascists, the KKK, Nazis and other white supremacists rallied and marched by
 torchlight in Charlottesville, whipping up lynch mob terror with racist, anti-immigrant 
and anti-Semitic slogans, and

Whereas, that attack resulted in one anti-racist counter demonstrator murdered 
and many others injured when one of the fascist bullies ran them down with a car, and

Whereas, President Trump's whitewashing this violent, deadly fascist and racist attack 
saying "both sides are to blame", and his attacking anti-racists for opposing Confederate 
statues that honor slavery adds fuel to the fire of racist violence, and

Whereas, the Klan, Nazis and other racist terrorists represent a deadly threat to 
African Americans, Latinos and immigrants, as well as Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ people 
among many others, and directly to members of our union and the labor movement 
as a whole, and 

Whereas, the fascist "Patriot Prayer" group that staged violent racist provocations in 
Portland, Oregon and elsewhere, attracting Nazi and other violent white supremacists, 
has announced it will rally on Crissy Field on Saturday August 26, and 

Whereas, far from a matter of "free speech", the racist and fascist provocations are 
a deadly menace as shown in Portland on May 26 when a Nazi murdered two men
 and almost killed a third for defending two young African American women he was 
menacing; and our sisters and brothers in the Portland labor movement answered 
racist terror with the power of workers solidarity, mobilizing members of 14 unions 
against the fascist/racist rally there on June 4, and

Whereas, ILWU Local 10 has a long and proud history of standing up against racism, 
fascism and bigotry and using our union power to do so; on May Day 2015 we shut 
down Bay Area ports and marched followed by thousands to Oscar Grant Plaza demanding 
an end to police terror against African Americans and others; the San Francisco Bay Area
 is a union stronghold and we will not allow labor-hating white supremacists to bring their 
lynch mob terror here,

Therefore, ILWU Local 10 in the best tradition of our union that fought these rightwingers 
in the Big Strike of 1934, will not work on that day and instead march to Crissy Field to stop 
the racist, fascist intimidation in our hometown and invite all unions and antiracist and 
antifascist organizations to join us defending unions, racial minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ 
people, women and all the oppressed.


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Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?


Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? (City Lights Open Media)
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
A Book Review by Robert Fantina

With the recent acquittal of two more police officers in the deaths of unarmed Black men, the question posed by the title of this book is as relevant as it ever was. Through a series of concise, clear essays, Mumia Abu-Jamal details the racism against Blacks, comparing today's behaviors with the lynchings that were common in the south prior to the decade of the sixties. He points out the obvious: The passage of Civil Rights legislation hasn't changed much; it simply changed the way racism operates.

The ways in which the white establishment has worked to oppress Blacks is astounding. After the Civil War, when slavery was no longer legal, "whites realized that the combination of trumped-up legal charges and forced labor as punishment created both a desirable business proposition and an incredibly effective tool for intimidating rank-and-file emancipated African Americans and doing away with their most effective leaders."

Abu-Jamal states that, today, "where once whites killed and terrorized from beneath a KKK hood, now they now did so openly from behind a little badge." He details the killing of Black men and women in the U.S. with almost complete impunity.

There are two related issues Abu-Jamal discusses. The first is the rampant racism that enables the police to kill unarmed Blacks, as young as 12 years old, for no reason, and the second is the "justice" system that allows them to get away with it.

One shocking crime, amid countless others, occurred in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2012; a police officer was acquitted in the deaths of two, unarmed Blacks, after leaping onto the hood of their car and firing 15 rounds from his semi-automatic rifle into the car's occupants. That is 137 shots, at point blank range, into the bodies of two unarmed people.

If this were an anomaly, it would be barbaric, but it is not: it is common practice for the police to kill unarmed Blacks, and, on the rare occasions that they are charged with a crime, for the judges and juries to acquit them.

In the U.S., Black citizens are disproportionally imprisoned. With for-profit prisons on the rise, this injustice will only increase.

Abu-Jamal relates story after story with the same plot, and only the names are different. An unarmed Black man is stopped by the police for any of a variety of reasons ranging from trivial (broken tail light), to more significant (suspect in a robbery). But too often, the outcome is the same: the Black man is dead and the police officer who killed him, more often than not white, is either not charged, or acquitted after being charged.

The Black Lives Matter movement formed to combat this blatant injustice, but it will be an uphill battle. As Abu-Jamal says, "Police serve the ownership and wealth classes of their societies, not the middling or impoverished people. For the latter, it is quite the reverse." As a result, people of color suffer disproportionately, too often winding up on the wrong side of a gun.

What is to be done? Abu-Jamal refers to the writings of Dr. Huey P. Newton, who calls not for community policing, but for community control of the police. Abu-Jamal argues forcefully for a new movement, "driven by commitment, ethics, intelligence, solidarity, and passions; for without passion, the embers may dim and die."

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? is powerful, disturbing, well-written, and an important book for our day.

Robert Fantina is the author of Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy. His articles on foreign policy, most frequently concerning Israel and Palestine, have appeared in such venues as Counterpunch and WarIsaCrime.org.
New York Journal of Books, July 2017

http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/Black-lives

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Haiti: Stop the Repression. 
No impunity. NO NEW ARMY
 The people of Haiti need our solidarity in the face of the increasing violence of the fraudulently imposed government of Jovenel Moise

Thursday July 14, 2017, in Petionville, Haiti, near Port-au-Prince, a young book vendor was shot to death by a police officer in front of horrified witnesses. The police used tear gas and batons against a crowd outraged by the murder and the quick, forcible removal of the body in a perceived attempt at a cover up. This is the latest of recent extra-judicial killings by the Haitian police and paramilitary forces.

The brutal killing occurred as the occupation government of Jovenel Moise, installed in the fraudulent elections of November 2016, is pushing to restore the brutal and corrupt Haitian military, which was disbanded by then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1995. Moise has stated that he wants the Army back within two years. Haitians remember the US-supported bloody rampage by former members of this army that claimed thousands of lives during the period of the 2004 coup d'etat against the elected government. The US/UN forces and occupation governments subsequently integrated many of these killers into the Haitian police and government paramilitary units.  

This announcement takes place at a volatile moment in Haitian society. The Haitian police and other government paramilitary forces, accompanied by UN occupation forces, have carried out criminal attacks against protesting teachers, students, factory workers, market women, street vendors and others who are victims of government extortion, theft of land, money and merchandise.

On July 10 - 12, 2017, during three days of peaceful protest for an increase in the minimum wage, Haitian police attacked the workers from the industrial park in Port-au-Prince with tear gas, batons and cannons shooting a liquid skin irritant. One of the beaten workers is a woman who had recently returned to work from giving birth.

·      On June 12, the government-appointed rector of the Haitian State University used his car to hit and run over a protesting university student. The government prosecutor has ignored the complaint filed by the students against the rector and is instead pursuing the victim's colleagues in a blatant attempt to harass and intimidate them. 

·      In May 2017, units of the Haitian police and paramilitary forces again attacked the people of Arcahaie protesting the government's plan to remove the main revenue-generating district from the community, located about 30 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince.

·      In May 2017, a food vendor in Petionville was killed after he was deliberately hit and run over by a car of the municipal paramilitary forces according to outraged witnesses.

 ·      On March 20th, 2017, police officers were videotaped shooting at the car carrying President Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas presidential candidate Dr. Maryse Narcisse as they returned from court. The police officers were reportedly observed returning to the national palace; there was no condemnation of this blatant assassination attempt by the government.

Adding a newly organized Haitian Army to this mix is a sign that the Haitian government is planning on more repression. The Haitian military's purpose was to protect Haitian dictatorships and to attack any challenges by the Haitian people.  Whether under the Duvalier dictatorships from 1957-1986 or when the military overthrew the democratically elected Aristide government in 1991, leading to the killing of over 5000 people, the military has been a central anti-democratic institution in Haitian society. When then-President Aristide disbanded the narco-trafficking Haitian military in 1995, the Army was eating up 40% of the national budget in a country with fewer than two doctors per 10,000 people.

Now this infamous military is being restored just as the United Nations is said to begin a staged withdrawal of its troops. This is similar to what happened following the U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934, a period in which 20,000 Haitians were killed. As the U.S. forces withdrew, they left in place a neo-colonial army with Haitian faces to do their bidding and continue the repression of popular discontent.

Haitians are saying NO to the restoration of an additional repressive military force.  They are demanding an end to police terror and an end to impunity.  We join their call.

E-mail and phone-in campaign to:

·       Say No to the Restoration of the brutal Haitian military
·       Hold the US and UN occupation accountable for the terror campaign by the Haitian    police and security forces they train and supervise.
·       Say No to impunity for police terror in Haiti

Contact:
-  US State Department: HaitiSpecialCoordinator@state.gov
-  Your Member of Congress: 202-224 3121
- UN Mission in Haiti: minustah-info@un.org

Sent by Haiti Action Committee
@HaitiAction1 and on FACEBOOK

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Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:


A) EVENTS, ACTIONS 
AND ONGOING STRUGGLES

B) ARTICLES IN FULL


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A) EVENTS, ACTIONS AND ONGOING STRUGGLES


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CODEPINK Fall Action at Creech:  
Oct. 5 to Oct. 12    (All welcome!)
(Oct. 7 is the 16th Anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan)

SHUT DOWN CREECH: Spring 2018: Apr. 8-14.  (National Mass Mobilization to Resist Killer Drones)


(Thanks to Sandy Turner, from Ukiah, CA, for sharing this link!)

The Pentagon and CIA now have Brett Velicovich, their own drone veteran and CEO of an "online drone retail store" (Dronepire, Inc. and Expert Drones) , to glorify drone killing. Shameful that NPR couldn't ask the very difficult and important questions.  Lots of public education is needed to help people separate fact from fiction!

Would love for someone to do research on this guy!

Please listen to this interview (filled with misinformation), and consider joining us at Creech in the fall and/or spring to be a voice against the slaughter.  
(Dates below).

Life As A 'Drone Warrior'


NPR interview "with Brett Velicovich about his memoir, Drone Warrior, which details his time hunting and killing alleged terrorists using drones in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places."


http://www.cbsnews.com/news/drone-warrior-author-brett-velicovich-hunting-terrorists/


PS:  We should have a massive letter writing and phone calling to NPR for this totally biased and dangerous misrepresentation!


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SIGN THE PETITION: DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST REALITY WINNER

https://couragetoresist.org/drop-charges-reality-winner/

Jun 8, 2017
Department of Justice:
Drop the changes against Ms. Reality L. Winner, the defense contractor who allegedly shared with the media evidence of attacks against US election systems by foreign agents. This information should not have been classified. Ms. Winner's prosecution appears politically motivated.
Courage to Resist will attempt to keep signers of the Reality Winners petition up-to-date with periodic news and alerts from her family and attorney. You will be able to opt out at any time.

WHY ALLEGED WHISTLE-BLOWER REALITY WINNER DESERVES SUPPORT

BY JEFF PATERSON, COURAGE TO RESIST. JUNE 8, 2017

Reality Winner is a 25-year-old Air Force veteran who was arrested in Augusta, Georgia on June 3rd. She allegedly released classified NSA documents to The Intercept, which were the basis for a story about Russian hacking efforts against US election systems leading up to last year's presidential election. Reality is currently in the Lincoln County Jail in Georgia, and faces up to ten years in prison.
Reality Winner—yes, that is her given legal name—did the right thing, and she should be defended.
Reality allegedly leaked information regarding attempted interference in an election, tampering that many believe assisted in Donald Trump's presidential win—despite earning nearly four million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. The documents published by The Interceptonly confirm earlier accounts of US election hacking attempts and, given the current administration's extreme antagonisms against facts, the release of these documents was clearly in the public interest. Like the vast majority of government documents that are hidden from public view, these reports should have been declassified by now anyway.
Now Trump's own Department of Justice has targeted Reality. It's a sinister move, but on the other hand, simply a continuation Obama's unprecedented zeal in prosecuting whistle-blowers. Trump inherited an atrocious War on Leaks, and Reality is the latest victim of that war. Her arrest is a signal to the world, and the four million other Americans with access to classified information: Only sanctioned leaks benefiting the government will be tolerated.
There's a striking hypocrisy to Trump's crackdown. Less than a month ago the President was criticized for carelessly leaking classified information to Russian officials during a White House meeting. We now know this information concerned a bomb that is being developed by ISIS. This is standard operating procedure: lawmakers have no issue leaking classified information if it somehow furthers their interest, but they aggressively prosecute citizens who expose actual wrongdoing.
I believe that Reality Winner's possible actions should be understood within the context of recent heroic whistleblowing. Shortly before leaving office, Barack Obama commuted the remaining sentence of US Army soldier Chelsea Manning, who was facing 27 more years in prison for exposing war crimes and corruption. Edward Snowden, who leaked information about our government's massive spying program, was granted asylum in Russia but faces espionage charges back home. Just like Manning, it seems that Reality was able to see the inner workings of the United States' war machine.
She served in the Air Force from 2013 until early this year, working as a linguist. Like Snowden, she would have had a better view than most as to how our security state works. Up until last week, she was a military defense contractor with the Pluribus International Corporation in the suburbs outside of Augusta, Georgia, and had Top Secret security clearance.
The US government has spent tens of millions of dollars in better auditing capabilities since the disclosures by Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Those that would rather keep the public in the dark as to what their government is doing with their tax dollars and in their name, have redoubled their efforts to identify whistle-blowers much more quickly. Winner's arrest was facilitated by the government's increased ability to more easily identify the relatively small number of people that recently accessed documents in question as well as the yellow-colored, nearly-invisible micro dots that most color printers today use to include a printer's serial number and time stamp on each printed page. This appears to have contributed to the focus on Reality Winner.
Reality is expected to plead not guilty to charges against her today. We don't know exactly why she allegedly released the NSA documents to the press, but we do have some insight into her views about the world. Her social media accounts show a woman who, like a clear majority of Americans, is critical of Donald Trump. She has also voiced support for Edward Snowden, and opposition to the US fabricating a reason to attack Iran.
According to The Intercept, [Winner's leak] "ratchets up the stakes of the ongoing investigations into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives . . . If collusion can ultimately be demonstrated – a big if at this point – then the assistance on Russia's part went beyond allegedly hacking email to serve a propaganda campaign, and bled into an attack on U.S. election infrastructure itself."
We are talking about a potentially monumental story that might require prosecutions, but Reality Winner shouldn't be the one who ends up in jail. While the details of the story continue to unfold, by all indications she deserves our support, and the release of these documents should be celebrated.

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Solidarity Statement from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners

Friends,

CCWP sent the solidarity statement below expressing support with the hunger strikers at the Northwest County Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma Washington, one of the largest immigration prisons in the country.  People at NWDC, including many women, undertook the hunger strike starting at the beginning of April 2017 to protest the horrendous conditions they are facing.  Although the peak of the hunger strike was a few weeks ago, the strikers set a courageous example of resistance for people in detention centers and prisons around the country. 

Here is a link to a Democracy Now! interview with Maru Villalpando of Northwest Detention Center Resistance (http://www.nwdcresistance.org/) and Alexis Erickson, partner of one of the hunger strikers, Cristian Lopez.
For live updates, visit: 

California Coalition for Women Prisoners Statement

California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) stands in solidarity with the hunger strikers, many of them women, detained by ICE at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), a private prison operated by the GEO group contracted by ICE in Washington state.  We applaud the detainees at NORCOR, a county jail in rural Oregon, who recently won their demands after sustaining six days without meals. 

Since April 10th, those detained in NWDC have refused meals to demand changes to the abhorrent conditions of their detention, including poor quality food, insufficient medical care, little to no access to family visits, legal counsel or legal documents, and lack of timely court proceedings. Hunger strikes are a powerful method of resistance within prisons that require commitment and courage from prisoners and their families. We have seen this historically in California when tens-of-thousands of prisoners refused meals to protest solitary confinement in 2011 and 2013, and also currently in Palestine where over 1,500 prisoners are on hunger strike against the brutal conditions of Israeli prisons. 

As the Trump administration continues to escalate its attacks on Latinx/Chicanx and Arab/Muslim communities, deportations and detentions serve as strategies to control, remove, and erase people—a violence made possible in a context of inflamed xenophobia and increasingly visible and virulent racism. We stand with the families of those detained as well as organizations and collectives on the ground in Washington State struggling to expose the situation inside these facilities as well as confront the escalating strategies of the Trump administration.

CCWP recognizes the common struggle for basic human dignity and against unconstitutional cruel and inhumane treatment that people of color and immigrants face in detention centers, jails, and prisons across the United States. We also sadly recognize from our work with people in women's prisons the retaliatory tactics such as prison transfers and solitary confinement that those who fight oppression face. Similar abuses continue to occur across California at all of its prisons and  detention centers, including the GEO-run women's prison in McFarland, California.. CCWP sends love and solidarity to the hunger strikers in the Northwest. Together we can break down the walls that tear our families and communities apart. ¡ya basta! #Ni1Más #Not1More

    Northwest Detention Center Press Release May 4, 2017

Despite threats and retaliation, hunger strikers continue protest 

ICE ignores demands for improved conditions 

Tacoma, Washington/The Dalles, Oregon—Immigrants held at ICE facilities in two states—the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), run by GEO Group, and NORCOR, a rural public jail—continued their hunger strike today, despite growing weakness from lack of food. The exponential growth of immigration detention has led ICE to contract the function of detaining immigrants out to both private prison companies and to county governments, with both treating immigrants as a source of profit. ICE has been using NORCOR as "overflow" detention space for immigrants held at NWDC, and is regularly transferring people back and forth from the NWDC to NORCOR. People held at NORCOR have limited access to lawyers and to the legal documents they need to fight and win their deportation cases. They are often transferred back to NWDC only for their hearings, then shipped back to NORCOR, where they face terrible conditions. Jessica Campbell of the Rural Organizing Project affirmed, "No one deserves to endure the conditions at NORCOR—neither the immigrants ICE is paying to house there, nor the people of Oregon who end up there as part of criminal processes. It's unsafe for everyone."

The strike began on April 10th, when 750 people at the NWDC began refusing meals. The protest spread to NORCOR this past weekend. Maru Mora Villalpando of NWDC Resistance confirmed, "It's very clear from our contact with people inside the facilities and with family members of those detained that the hunger strike continues in both Oregon and Washington State." She continued, "The question for us is, how will ICE assure that the abuses that these whistle-blowing hunger strikers have brought to light are addressed?"

From the beginning of the protest, instead of using the strike as an opportunity to look into the serious concerns raised by the hunger strikers, ICE and GEO have both denied the strike is occurring and retaliated against strikers. Hunger strikers have been transferred to NORCOR in retaliation for their participation. One person who refused transfer to NORCOR was put in solitary confinement. Just this week, hunger striking women have been threatened with forced feeding—a practice that is recognized under international law to be torture. In an attempt to break their spirit, hunger strikers have been told the strike has been ineffective and that the public is ignoring it.

Hunger striker demands terrible conditions inside detention center be addressed—including the poor quality of the food, the dollar-a-day pay, and the lack of medical care. They also call for more expedited court proceedings and the end of transfers between detention facilities.   Hunger strikers consistently communicate, "We are doing this for our families." Despite their incredibly oppressive conditions, locked away and facing deportation in an immigration prison in the middle of an industrial zone and in a rural county jail, hunger strikers have acted collectively and brought national attention to the terrible conditions they face and to the ongoing crisis of deportations, conditions the U.S. government must address.Latino Advocacy

Maru Mora Villalpando
For live updates, visit: 
News mailing list: News@womenprisoners.org

Activist Goes on Hunger Strike Outside the Northwest Detention Center
Maru Mora Villalpando Joins the Tacoma 12 and Adelanto 9 in Calling for an End to Human Rights Abuses in Immigrant Detention

Tacoma, WA - On Monday, June 19th, Maru Mora Villalpando, member of the NWDC Resistance, will begin  a hunger strike to call attention to the plight of up to 1,600 immigrants held in detention suffering human rights abuses at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). On June 15, 2017, at least a dozen detainees went on hunger strike to call attention to inhumane detention conditions, refusing to eat for multiple days. By June 18, NWDC Resistance organizers received reports that more than 25 hunger strikers are calling on GEO Group to provide edible, nutritious food, on ICE to provide fair and timely hearings, and on civil society to step up and take action for the injustices in our communities. In response, Maru Mora Villalpando is going on hunger strike, and is joined by other members of civil society who are stepping up their solidarity.

As hunger strikers on the inside are discussing ceasing their strike on the inside, Maru will keep the hunger strike continuous by holding space on the outside. A female hunger striker in detention said: "I feel more deteriorated every day, more bad, more worse, because of what we are living through and what we are seeing inside. What we are suffering is horrible, horrible. Here they don't care what conditions we are living in… they don't care about anything." To listen to her story, go to: http://bit.ly/2sIyXzZ

GEO Group's human rights abuses are not a case of "bad apples." Just this week, GEO employees have refused to complete basic maintenance, such as repairing a broken air conditioner when projected temperatures are expected to reach 78 degrees. Likewise, people in detention have noted repeated problems with incorrect medications resulting in hospital visits, suicide attempts, and inadequate access to medical treatment -- even in diagnosed cases of malignant cancers.

There are also 9 asylum seekers on hunger strike at the GEO-owned Adelanto Detention Facility in Southern California. Rather than releasing asylum seekers pending their hearing, they were subjected to further trauma -- pepper spray, beating and solitary confinement. The #Adelanto9 continue on hunger strike to call attention to these blatant human rights abuses, meaning that people inside and outside detention centers are on hunger strike throughout the West Coast.

Call to Action: Hunger strikers and solidarity supporters are holding down a 24-7 encampment outside the Northwest Detention Center. Please join them to show people held in detention that they are not alone, and the state of Washington will no longer tolerate human rights abuses!

For live updates on the #Tacoma12 and solidarity hunger strikes, visithttps://www.facebook.com/ NWDCResistance/.

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NWDC Resistance is a volunteer community group that emerged to fight deportations in 2014 at the now-infamous Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA. NWDC Resistance is part of the #Not1More campaign and supported people detained who organized hunger strikes asking for a halt to all deportations and better treatment and conditions.

Contact: Maru Mora Villalpando, (206) 251 6658, maru@latinoadvocacy.org


#Tacoma12     #Adelanto9     #Not1More      #NoEstánSolos

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Labor Studies and Radical History

4444 Geary Blvd., Suite 207, San Francisco, CA 94118

415.387.5700

http://www.holtlaborlibrary.org/mayday.html

Hours

(call 415.387.5700 to be sure the library is open for the hours you are interested in. We close the library sometimes to go on errands or have close early) suggested)

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed on all major holidays and May Day 
We can arrange, by request, to keep the library open longer during the day or open it on weekends. Just ask.

Services

  • Reference Librarian On-site
  • Email and Telephone Reference
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Online Public Access Catalog 
  • Microfilm Reader/Printer
  • DVD and VCR players
  • Photocopier
  • Quiet well-lighted place for study and research 
For an appointment or further information, please email: david [at] holtlaborlibrary.org 

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Support:




CONTRIBUTE 
Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director
Facebook
Twitter
Website
To give by check: 
PO Box 411074
San Francisco, CA
94141

Stock or legacy gifts:
Noelle Hanrahan
(415) 706 - 5222

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MEDIA ADVISORYMedia contact: Morgan McLeod, (202) 628-0871
mmcleod@sentencingproject.org
NEW REPORT FINDS RECORD NUMBER OF PEOPLE SERVING
LIFE SENTENCES IN U.S. PRISONS
Washington, D.C.— Despite recent political support for criminal justice reform in most states, the number of people serving life sentences has nearly quintupled since 1984. 

A new report by The Sentencing Project finds a record number of people serving life with parole, life without parole, and virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, equaling one of every seven people behind bars. 


Eight states  Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Utah  have at least one of every five prisoners serving a life or de facto life sentence in prison. 
The Sentencing Project will host an online press conference to discuss its report Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences, on Wednesday, May 3rd at 11:00 a.m. EDT.   
Press Conference Details
WHAT: Online press conference hosted by The Sentencing Project regarding the release of its new report examining life and long-term sentences in the United States. REGISTER HERE to participate. The call-in information and conference link will be sent via email.  
WHEN: 
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. EDT 
WHO: 
  • Ashley Nellis, The Sentencing Project's senior research analyst and author of Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences
  • Evans Ray, whose life without parole sentence was commuted in 2016 by President Obama
  • Steve Zeidman, City University of New York law professor and counsel for Judith Clark—a New York prisoner who received a 75 year to life sentence in 1983
The full report will be available to press on Wednesday morning via email.

Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.

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When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression

BAY AREA ANTI-REPRESSION COMMITTEE

When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression
 BY 

Mothers Message to the NY/NJ Activist Community 

In order to effectively combat the existing opportunism, hidden agendas and to better provide ALL genuinely good willed social justice organizations and individuals who work inside of the New York and New Jersey metropolitan areas... with more concrete guidelines; 

The following "10 Point Platform and Justice Wish List" was adopted on Saturday, May 13, 2017    during the "Motherhood: Standing Strong 4 Justice" pre-mothers day gathering which was held     at Hostos Community College - Bronx, New York.......

"What We Want, What We Need" 

May, 2017 - NY/NJ Parents 10 Point Justice Platform and Wish List 

Point #1 - Lawyers and Legal Assistance:  Due to both the overwhelming case loads and impersonal nature of most public defenders, the Mothers believe that their families are receiving limited options, inadequate legal advise and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in gaining access to experienced "pro-bono" and/or activist attorneys as well as the free resources provided by non-profit social justice and legal advocacy groups.

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Point #2 - First Response Teams: The Mothers felt that when their loved ones were either killed or captured by the police that they were left in the hands of the enemy and without any support, information or direction on how to best move forward and therefore; WE WANT and NEED community activists to help us develop independently community controlled & trained first response teams in every borough or county that can confirm and be on the ground within 24 hours of any future incident.

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Point #3 - Security and Support At Court Appearances: The Mothers all feel that because community activist support eventually becomes selective and minimal, that they are disrespected by both the courthouse authorities, mainstream media and therefore;   WE WANT and NEED community activists to collectively promote and make a strong presence felt at all court appearances and; To always provide trained security & legal observers... when the families are traveling to, inside and from the court house.

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Point #4 - Emotional/Spiritual Healing and Grief and Loss Counseling: After the protest rallies, demonstrations, justice marches and television cameras are gone the Mothers all feel alone and abandoned and therefore;                                                                             WE WANT and NEED for community activists to refer/help provide the families with clergy, professional therapy & cultural outlets needed in order to gain strength to move forward. 

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Point #5 -  Parents Internal Communication Network: The Mothers agreed as actual victims, that they are the very best qualified in regards to providing the needed empathy and trust for an independent hotline & contact resource for all of the parents and families who want to reach out to someone they can mutually trust that is able understand what they are going through and therefore;           WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in providing a Parents Internal Communication Network to reach that objective.

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Point #6 -  Community Offices and Meeting Spaces: The Mothers agreed that there is an extreme need for safe office spaces where community members and family victims are able to go to for both confidential crisis intervention and holding organizing meetings and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                                 WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in securing those safe spaces inside of our own neighborhoods.   

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Point #7 - Political Education Classes and Workshop Training: The Mothers agreed in implementing the "each one, teach one"   strategy and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                         WE WANT and NEEDfor community activists to help us in being trained as educators and organizers in Know Your Rights, Cop Watch, First Response, Emergency Preparedness & Community Control over all areas of public safety & the police in their respective neighborhoods.

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Point #8 - Support From Politicians and Elected Officials: The Mothers believe that most political candidates and incumbent elected officials selectively & unfairly represent only those cases which they think to be politically advantageous to their own selfish personal success on election day and therefore;                                                                                                                                WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in either publicly exposing or endorsing these aforementioned political candidates and/or elected officials to their constituents solely based upon the uncompromising principles of serving the people.

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Point #9 - Research and Documentation: The Mothers believe that research/case studies, surveys, petitions, historical archives, investigative news reporting and events should be documented and made readily available in order to counter the self-serving  police misinformation promoted by the system and therefore;                                                                                                                          WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us by securing college/university students, law firms, film makers, authors, journalists and professional research firms to find, document & tell the people the truth about police terror & the pipeline to prison.

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Point #10 - Grassroots Community Outreach and Information: The Mothers believe that far too much attention is being geared towards TV camera sensationalism with the constant organizing of marches & rallies "downtown"  and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to provide a fair balance by helping us to build in the schools, projects, churches and inside of the subway trains and stations of our Black, brown and oppressed communities where the majority of the police terror is actually taking place. 



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My Heartfelt "Thank You!"

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Several days ago I received a message from both of our lawyers, Bob Boyle and Bret Grote, informing me that the latest lab tests came in from the Discovery Requests.  

And they told me that the Hepatitis C infection level is at zero and as of today I'm Hepatitis C free. 

This is in part due to some fine lawyering by Bret and Bob who—remember—filed the suit while I was in the throes of a diabetic coma, unconscious and thus unable to file for myself.  
But it's also due to you, the people.  Brothers and sisters who supported our efforts, who contributed to this fight with money, time, protests and cramming court rooms on our behalf, who sent cards, who prayed, who loved deeply.  

I can't thank you all individually but if you hear my voice or read my words know that I am thanking you, all of you. And I'm thanking you for showing once again the Power of the People. 

This battle ain't over, for the State's cruelest gift is my recent diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver. With your love we shall prevail again.  I thank you all. Our noble Dr.'s Corey Weinstein, who told us what to look for, and Joseph Harris who gave me my first diagnosis and who became the star of the courtroom by making the mysteries of Hep C understandable to all.  An internist working up in Harlem, Dr. Harris found few thrills better than telling his many Hep C patients that they're cured.  

This struggle ain't just for me y'all. 

Because of your efforts thousands of Pennsylvania prisoners now have hope of healing from the ravages of Hepatitis C. [singing] "Let us march on 'til victory is won." So goes the old Negro Spiritual, "The Black National Anthem." 

We are making it a reality. I love you all.

From Prison Nation,
This is Mumia Abu-Jamal

Prison Radio, May 27, 2017

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Court order to disclose DA files in Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case [video]

This 9-minute video gives background on new revelations about conflict of interest -- an appeals judge who had previously been part of the prosecution team -- in upholding the 1982 conviction of journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal on charges of killing a police officer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17Tp5NlllLU

A ruling to implement a judge's recent order for "discovery" could be made on May 30.

Judge Tucker granted discovery to Mumia Abu-Jamal pursuant to his claims brought under Williams v Pennsylvania that he was denied due process because his PA Supreme Court appeals from 1998-2008 were decided by Ronald Castille, who had previously been the District Attorney during Mumia's 1988 appeal from his conviction and death sentence, as well as having been a senior assistant district attorney during Mumia's trial.

The DA is given 30 days—until May 30, 2017—to produce all records and memos regarding Mumia's case, pre-trial, trial, post-trial and direct appeal proceedings between Castille and his staff and any public statement he made about it. Then Mumia has 15 days after receiving this discovery to file amendments to his PCRA petition.

This date of this order is April 28, but it was docketed today, May 1, 2017.

This is a critical and essential step forward!

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Dear Friend,

For the first time- a court has ordered the Philadelphia DA to turn over evidence and open their files in Mumia's appeal.   In a complacency shattering blow, the District Attorney's office is finally being held to account.  Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court ordered the DA to produce all of the documents relevant to former PA Supreme Court Justice's role in the case. Castille was first a supervisory ADA during Mumia's trial, then District Attorney, and finally as a judge he sat on Mumia's appeals to the PA Supreme Court. 

This broad discovery order follows just days after the arguments in court by Christina Swarns, Esq. of the NAACP LDF, and Judith Ritter, Esq. of Widner Univ.

During that hearing, Swarns made it clear that the District Attorney's practice of lying to the appellate courts would not be tolerated and had been specifically exposed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the Terrence Williams case, which highlights Ronald Castile's conflict, the Supreme Court in no uncertain terms excoriated the office for failing to disclose crucial evidence.  Evidence the office hid for years.  This is an opportunity to begin to unravel the decades long police and prosecutorial corruption that has plagued Mumia's quest for justice.  

In prison for over thirty six years Mumia Abu-Jamal has maintained his innocence in the death of Philadelphia Police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9th 1981.  

"The Commonwealth  must  produce  any  and  all  documents  or  records  in  the  possession  or  control  of  the Philadelphia  District  Attorney's  Office   showing   former   District   Attorney   Ronald   Castille's   personal   involvement   in the  above-captioned  case  ... and public statements during and after his tenure as District Attorney of Philadelphia."

It is important to note that the history of the District Attorney's office in delaying and appealing to prevent exposure of prosecutorial misconduct and the resulting justice.  At every turn, there will be attempts to limit Mumia's access to the courts and release.   it is past time for justice in this case.  
Noelle Hanrahan, P.I.

Prison Radio is a 501c3 project of the Redwood Justice Fund. We record and broadcast the voices of prisoners, centering their analyses and experiences in the movements against mass incarceration and state repression. If you support our work, please join us.

www.prisonradio.org   |   info@prisonradio.org   |   415-706-5222

Thank you for being a part of this work!

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Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Packed Off to Florida!

Rashid: I'm off to Florida and a new phase of reprisals for publicizing abuses in US prisons

July 14, 2017

Readers are urged to share this story widely and write to Rashid right away; mail equals support, and the more he gets, the safer he'll be: Kevin Johnson, O-158039, RMC, P.O. Box 628, Lake Butler FL 32054

by Kevin 'Rashid' Johnson
http://sfbayview.com/2017/07/rashid-im-off-to-florida-and-a-new-phase-of-reprisals-for-publicizing-abuses-in-us-prisons/

Packed off to Florida

Following Texas prison officials planting a weapon in my cell on March 26, 2017, then stealing most of my personal property on April 6, 2017, in an ongoing pattern of retaliation for and attempts to repress my writing and involvement in litigation exposing and challenging abuses in Texas prisons, including their killing prisoners, I was unceremoniously packed off to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) on June 22, 2017.
This transfer came as outside protests mounted against the abuses, and Texas officials became more and more entangled in a growing web of their own lies invented in their efforts to cover up and deny their reprisals against me, and also while a contempt investigation was imminent upon a motion I filed in a federal lawsuit brought by relatives of one of the prisoners they'd killed – a killing I'd witnessed and publicized.
Florida, notorious for its own extremely abusive prisons, readily signed on to take up Texas's slack. And being an openly corrupt system unaccustomed to concealing its dirt, FDC officials shot straight from the hip in expressing and carrying on efforts to repress and act out reprisals for my exposing and challenging prison abuses.

The Welcoming Committee

Following a four-hour flight from Texas to Florida, I was driven in a sweltering prison van from an airport just outside Jacksonville, Florida, to the FDC's Reception and Medical Center (RMC) in Lake Butler, Florida. I was forced to leave most all my personal property behind in Texas.
Upon reaching RMC, I was brought from the van, manacled hand and foot into an enclosed vehicle port, where I was met by a mob of white guards of all ranks. I was ordered to stand in a pair of painted yellow footprints on a concrete platform as the guards crowded around me.

I was ordered to stand in a pair of painted yellow footprints on a concrete platform as the guards crowded around me. "This is Florida, and we'll beat your ass! We'll kill you!" said the spokesman.

Their "chosen" spokesman, a tall goofy guard, R. Knight, stepped forward and launched into a speech consisting of threats and insults. He emphasized that I was "not in Virginia or wherever else" I'd been. That "this is Florida, and we'll beat your ass! We'll kill you!" He assured my "Black ass" that my tendency to protest "won't be tolerated here."
He went on and on, like an overseer explaining the plantation's code of decorum and the "place" to a newly arrived Black slave. The analogy is apt. "You will answer us only as 'no sir' and 'yes sir,' 'no ma'am' and 'yes ma'am.' You forget this and we'll kick your fucking teeth out," he barked.
I was then taken through the various stages of being "processed" in: fingerprinted, examined and questioned by medical staff etc. Knight took possession of my property and stole a number of documents and all my writing supplies (five writing tablets, four ink pens, 19 envelopes, stamps), all my hygiene supplies (deodorant, shampoo, two bars of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers) and so on.
All these items that I brought with me from Texas were inventoried and logged by Texas officials. Knight logged and inventoried me as receiving from him only my watch, some legal papers, 15 envelopes and my eyeglasses.
Next, I was taken into an office and sat before a Sgt. L. Colon, RMC's "gang (or STG, Security Threat Group) investigator." He proceeded in the same hostile terms. He explained that he knew all about me and his displeasure with my published articles about prison abuses, and he assured that FDC would put an end to it. He admitted his purpose was to put an STG profile on me, refer it to FDC's central office in Tallahassee to be upheld, and I would then be put on STG file, which in turn would be used to stop my writings.
He proceeded to ask about me being a "Black Panther leader" and, using a thoroughly amateur interrogation method, attempted to have me characterize myself and my party as a gang. When his efforts failed, he charged me with being a "bullshitter." I told him only that I am a member of a constitutionally protected, non-violent communist party and whatever false stigma he wanted to try and invent against me and us was typical of fascist governments and we'd address it publicly and in court. Our "interview" was terminated.

Another nurse did my medical history check, remarking that my blood pressure reading was extremely high, 145/103. Although she had all my medications sitting there in front of her, and I told her I had not received my dose that day, she refused to provide them and did nothing.

Upon arriving in Florida, I had not received my hypertension medications since the prior morning. The sweltering heat was aggravating my condition. During the intake process a routine blood pressure check was done and my reading was around 145/103. The nurse who did the reading passed me on to another nurse who did my medical history check, remarking that my reading was extremely high. Although she had all my medications sitting there in front of her, and I told her I had not received my dose that day, she refused to provide them and did nothing.

Barbaric housing

Following completing the intake process, I was walked a substantial distance across the prison yard carrying my bag of property in handcuffs and the sweltering midday heat, dizzy from my elevated blood pressure.
I was led to K-building, the solitary confinement unit, where I was put into a cell, K-3-102, which had no bunk in it and had a commode that had to be flushed by guards from outside the cell – often they would not flush it when it needed to be and I asked them to. The commode had otherwise been obviously left unflushed for long periods, because inside the bowl was and is a thick, yellowed layer of calcium and waste residue and it reeked of fermented urine and feces.
Just before I entered the cell, it was wet-mopped, not to sanitize it, but to cover the entire floor with water that would not, and did not, dry for over a day afterward due to the extreme humidity and lack of air circulation in the cells. There is no air conditioning in the cell blocks and, unlike in Texas, FDC prisoners may not have in-cell fans.
My cell was infested with ants which would find their way into my bed as I slept on the floor. I received numerous bites from them and I believe also roaches that frequently crawled into the cell. At night, in the pitch black cells – and even when the lights were on – mice and huge, two-inch-long cockroaches, along with the "regular" smaller breed of roaches, ran into and explored the cell.

My cell was infested with ants which would find their way into my bed as I slept on the floor. I received numerous bites from them. At night, even when the lights were on, mice and huge, two-inch-long cockroaches, along with the "regular" smaller breed of roaches, ran into and explored the cell.

The K-building lieutenant, Jason Livingston, posted a special note outside my cell door stating I was on a heightened security status, that I and the cell were to be specially searched any time I exited or entered the cell, that I was to be specially restrained and the ranking guards had to accompany me to and from any destination outside the cell. The pretense was that I was an extreme physical threat.
I was denied my hypertension medications until I briefly fell unconscious on the evening of June 24, 2017.
Following sending word out to an attorney and others about my conditions and experiences, who apparently raised complaints on my behalf, I was moved to a "regular" cell, K-1-204, on June 30, 2017, with a bunk and a commode I can flush. I was repeatedly confronted by various guards who've commented that I'm no dangerous person and they don't understand why I've been profiled or treated as though I am.
A week later FDC officials would come clean, exposing on the record their actual motives for my mistreatment, and "special" security status.

Solitary confinement for publicizing abuses

My readers and others will recall when, in January 2017, I was given a disciplinary infraction by Texas officials for a statement I wrote about suffering their abuses that was published online. When confronted about such retaliatory acts by a PBS reporter, Ms. Kamala Kelkar, TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark initially lied, denying that I received any such infractions, until Ms. Kelkar emailed him a copy of the charge I'd received. He then suddenly changed his story, lying yet again to claim the infraction had been overturned, then declined to answer any further questions.[i]
Clark knew enough to deny and try to cover up such acts of retaliation against a prisoner exercising his right to freedom of speech. Florida officials, however, have come right out admitting and exposing such actions.[ii]
On July 6, 2017, I was confronted by RMC classification officer Jeremy Brown, who notified me that I am to be formally reviewed for placement on Close Management I status, which is the FDC's name for solitary confinement. The reason he gave for this review was the exact STG pretext Sgt. L. Colon told me on my first day was going to be created to justify suppressing my writings about prison abuses.
Brown served me written notification stating my CMI review was based upon my alleged "documented leadership in a Security Threat Group that is certified by the Threat Assessment Review Committee in Central Office." Remember, this is the very same illegal basis upon which California prison officials were indefinitely throwing prisoners in solitary confinement which prompted three historic mass prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 and was abolished upon the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the practice in 2015.

My assignment to solitary confinement is for "documented leadership in a Security Threat Group" … This is the very same illegal basis upon which California prison officials were indefinitely throwing prisoners in solitary confinement which prompted three historic mass prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 and was abolished upon the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the practice in 2015.

But FDC officials went much further in supporting "comments" to state their true motives for devising to put me in solitary and for my mistreatment up to that point.
As Colon had threatened, an STG label was invented against the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, a party about which Colon admitted he and the FDC had no prior knowledge. The reason the party was designated an STG and gang was because (get this!) I'd written articles while in Oregon and Texas prison systems that were published online about abuses in the prisons which generated concern and perfectly legal protests from the public, which was characterized as my gang following that "caused disruption in the orderly operations" of the prisons.
The notice went on to admit, as I've long contended in my writings, that these writings are the actual reason I've been transferred from state to state – illegal retaliatory transfers – which was characterized as STG activities.
Passing mention was made that I'd received disciplinary infractions while in Oregon and Texas, but no attempt was made to show those infractions bore any connection to my party affiliation. In fact, those who have followed my writings and the series of official reprisals – which is now being admitted by FDC officials – know those infractions were fabricated retaliations, many of which I was prevented from contesting.
So, according to FDC officials, I am a confirmed gang leader because I publicize prison abuses through articles that are posted online and my gang members and followers are members of the public who read my articles and make complaints and inquiries of officials, which acts are characterized as presenting disruptions to prison operations – or in other words throwing a monkey wrench in their business-as-usual abuses.

According to FDC officials, I am a confirmed gang leader because I publicize prison abuses through articles that are posted online and my gang members and followers are members of the public who read my articles and make complaints and inquiries of officials, which acts are characterized as presenting disruptions to prison operations.

For this I am to be thrown into solitary, which means any future posting and publishing of writings by me about prison abuses will be characterized as my continuing to engage in STG or gang activities, and any legal public protests as my gang members threatening prison security.
I didn't make this up, it's all in writing; read it HERE (scroll down to "SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS"). This is where taxpayers' monies are going in financing these ubiquitous gang busting units. And should you protest, you will be labelled a gangster yourself. I won't belabor the point.
Dare to struggle, Dare to win!
All Power to the People!
[i] Kamala Kelkar, "Resistence Builds Against Social Media Ban in Texas Prisons," PBS NewsHour Weekend, Jan. 29, 2017, 5:23 p.m. EST
Send our brother some love and light – and share this urgent story widely. The more people who write to him now, the safer he'll be: Kevin Johnson, O-158039, RMC, 7765 S. Cr. 231, P.O. Box 628, Lake Butler FL 32054.

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Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition

by Kevin Rashid Johnson (Author), Tom Big Warrior (Introduction), Russell Maroon Shoatz(Introduction)

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Major Battles On
For over 31 years, Major Tillery has been a prisoner of the State.
Despite that extraordinary fact, he continues his battles, both in the prison for his health, and in the courts for his freedom.
Several weeks ago, Tillery filed a direct challenge to his criminal conviction, by arguing that a so-called "secret witness" was, in fact, a paid police informant who was given a get-out-of-jail-free card if he testified against Tillery.
Remember I mentioned, "paid?"
Well, yes--the witness was 'paid'--but not in dollars. He was paid in sex!
In the spring of 1984, Robert Mickens was facing decades in prison on rape and robbery charges. After he testified against Tillery, however, his 25-year sentence became 5 years: probation!
And before he testified he was given an hour and a ½ private visit with his girlfriend--at the Homicide Squad room at the Police Roundhouse. (Another such witness was given another sweetheart deal--lie on Major, and get off!)
To a prisoner, some things are more important than money. Like sex!
In a verified document written in April, 2016, Mickens declares that he lied at trial, after being coached by the DAs and detectives on the case.
He lied to get out of jail--and because he could get with his girl.
Other men have done more for less.
Major's 58-page Petition is a time machine back into a practice that was once common in Philadelphia.
In the 1980s and '90s, the Police Roundhouse had become a whorehouse.
Major, now facing serious health challenges from his hepatitis C infection, stubborn skin rashes, and dangerous intestinal disorders, is still battling.
And the fight ain't over.
[©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]
Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support
Major Tillery is an innocent man. There was no evidence against Major Tillery for the 1976 poolroom shootings that left one man dead and another wounded. The surviving victim gave a statement to homicide detectives naming others—not Tillery or his co-defendant—as the shooters. Major wasn't charged until 1980, he was tried in 1985.
The only evidence at trial came from these jailhouse informants who were given sexual favors and plea deals for dozens of pending felonies for lying against Major Tillery. Both witnesses now declare their testimony was manufactured by the police and prosecution. Neither witness had personal knowledge of the shooting.
This is a case of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption that goes to the deepest levels of rot in the Philadelphia criminal injustice system. Major Tillery deserves not just a new trial, but dismissal of the charges against him and his freedom from prison.
It cost a lot of money for Major Tillery to be able to file his new pro se PCRA petition and continue investigation to get more evidence of the state misconduct. He needs help to get lawyers to make sure this case is not ignored. Please contribute, now.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
    Financial Support: Tillery's investigation is ongoing, to get this case filed has been costly and he needs funds for a legal team to fight this to his freedom!
    Go to JPay.com;
    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC
    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney
    Seth Williams:
    Free Major Tillery! He is an innocent man, framed by police and and prosecution.
    Call: 215-686-8711 or

    Write to:
    Major Tillery AM9786
    SCI Frackville
    1111 Altamont Blvd.
    Frackville, PA 17931

      For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot
      Call/Write:
      Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com





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      Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

      Sign the Petition:
      http://www.savekevincooper.org/pages/petition.php


      Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.

      "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case

      Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.

      In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.

      Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.

      Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

      Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."

      Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.

      Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.

      In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.

      In solidarity,

      James Clark
      Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
      Amnesty International USA

        Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up - from the Fact Sheet at: www.freekevincooper.org

        Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the gruesome murders of a white family in Chino Hills, California: Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter Jessica and their house- guest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8 year old son Josh, also attacked, was left for dead but survived.

        Convicted in an atmosphere of racial hatred in San Bernardino County CA, Kevin Cooper remains under a threat of imminent execution in San Quentin.  He has never received a fair hearing on his claim of innocence.  In a dissenting opinion in 2009, five federal judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals signed a 82 page dissenting opinion that begins: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." 565 F.3d 581.

        There is significant evidence that exonerates Mr. Cooper and points toward other suspects:

          The coroner who investigated the Ryen murders concluded that the murders took four minutes at most and that the murder weapons were a hatchet, a long knife, an ice pick and perhaps a second knife. How could a single person, in four or fewer minutes, wield three or four weapons, and inflict over 140 wounds on five people, two of whom were adults (including a 200 pound ex-marine) who had loaded weapons near their bedsides?

          The sole surviving victim of the murders, Josh Ryen, told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the culprits were "three white men." Josh Ryen repeated this statement in the days following the crimes. When he twice saw Mr. Cooper's picture on TV as the suspected attacker, Josh Ryen said "that's not the man who did it."

          Josh Ryen's description of the killers was corroborated by two witnesses who were driving near the Ryens' home the night of the murders. They reported seeing three white men in a station wagon matching the description of the Ryens' car speeding away from the direction of the Ryens' home.

          These descriptions were corroborated by testimony of several employees and patrons of a bar close to the Ryens' home, who saw three white men enter the bar around midnight the night of the murders, two of whom were covered in blood, and one of whom was wearing coveralls.

          The identity of the real killers was further corroborated by a woman who, shortly after the murders were discovered, alerted the sheriff's department that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer, left blood-spattered coveralls at her home the night of the murders. She also reported that her boyfriend had been wearing a tan t-shirt matching a tan t-shirt with Doug Ryen's blood on it recovered near the bar. She also reported that her boyfriend owned a hatchet matching the one recovered near the scene of the crime, which she noted was missing in the days following the murders; it never reappeared; further, her sister saw that boyfriend and two other white men in a vehicle that could have been the Ryens' car on the night of the murders.

        Lacking a motive to ascribe to Mr. Cooper for the crimes, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Cooper, who had earlier walked away from custody at a minimum security prison, stole the Ryens' car to escape to Mexico. But the Ryens had left the keys in both their cars (which were parked in the driveway), so there was no need to kill them to steal their car. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Cooper needed money, but money and credit cards were found untouched and in plain sight at the murder scene.

        The jury in 1985 deliberated for seven days before finding Mr. Cooper guilty. One juror later said that if there had been one less piece of evidence, the jury would not have voted to convict.

        The evidence the prosecution presented at trial tying Mr. Cooper to the crime scene has all been discredited…         (Continue reading this document at: http://www.savekevincooper.org/_new_freekevincooperdotorg/TEST/Scripts/DataLibraries/upload/KC_FactSheet_2014.pdf)

             This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015


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        B. ARTICLES IN FULL


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        1)  Counterprotesters Surge Into Boston, Overshadowing Rally
         AUG. 18, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/18/us/demonstration-race-free-speech-boston-charlottesville.html?&hp&action=
        click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=nytmm_FadingSlideShow_item&module=photo-spot-region&region=
        top-news&WT.nav=top-news



        BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators, emboldened and unnerved by the fatal eruption of violence in Virginia last weekend, surged into the nation's streets and parks on Saturday to denounce white supremacy and Nazism.
        The demonstrations were loud but broadly peaceful, even as tensions and worries coursed through protests that unfolded from Boston Common, the nation's oldest public park, to Hot Springs, Ark., and the bridges that cross the Willamette River in Portland, Ore. Other protests were expected on Saturday in Chicago, Dallas and Houston.
        Boston faced dueling demonstrations, but a rally to promote "free speech" was brief and unamplified. It was undercut by police planning and starved by an enormous buffer zone between protesters and their opponents, many of whom had feared that the rally would become a haven for neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
        "This city has a history of fighting back against oppression, whether it's dumping tea in the harbor or a bunch of dudes standing around with bandannas screaming at neo-Nazis," said a 21-year-old protester in Boston who would identify himself only as "Frosty" and wore an American flag to obscure much of his face.
        Saturday's demonstrations, one week after a 32-year-old woman died amid clashes between white nationalists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., occurred as the nation was again confronting questions about race, violence and the standing of Confederate symbols.
        President Trump, who has faced unyielding, and bipartisan, criticism after he said there was "blame on both sides" in Charlottesville, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that it appeared there were "many anti-police agitators in Boston."
        "Police are looking tough and smart!" he continued. "Thank you."
        Law enforcement officials were on alert, wary of being seen as irresolute and ineffective after the protests in Virginia turned fatal when someone drove a car through a crowd of protesters. Officers patrolled on bicycles, on foot and from helicopters. In some instances, officers in riot gear faced off with demonstrators and tried to maintain order. There were some scuffles and arrests.
        The epicenter of the weekend's demonstrations appeared to be here in Boston, where the Common had been the expected setting for a pair of protests, including one that the Boston Free Speech Coalition organized before the Charlottesville violence. Organizers said they were appealing to "libertarians, conservatives, traditionalists, classical liberals, Trump supporters or anyone else who enjoys their right to free speech."
        But supporters of the free speech rally, scheduled for noon, faced thousands of counterprotesters, many of whom marched toward the Common from the Roxbury neighborhood.
        As the minutes ticked by on a day that began with fog but became hot and sticky, counterdemonstrators on the Common shouted, "Scum! Scum!"
        Earlier, the counterprotesters had shouted down their opponents — "No Nazis! No K.K.K.! No fascist U.S.A.!" — as Massachusetts state troopers used their bikes to keep rival demonstrators apart. City officials had said they would enforce a policy of zero tolerance for violence.
        "If anything gets out of hand," Mayor Martin J. Walsh said on Friday, "we will shut it down."
        The rally, which could have lasted until 2 p.m., concluded by about 12:50 p.m. The bandstand emptied, officials removed flags tied to the free speech rally and the crowd of counterprotesters sang, "Hey, hey, hey, goodbye."
        A spokesman for the Boston police, Lt. Detective Mike McCarthy, said the free speech demonstrators had "decided they were done, and they left the Common." The police escorted them as chants of "Shame!" rained down from the crowd.
        Rondre Brooks, 36, who said he had traveled from Detroit for the counterdemonstration, said he was pleased to see the apparent early end of the free speech rally. "It's a very good look for America as a whole," he said.
        But another man, who said he supported the speech rally and gave his name, after some hesitation, as Matt Staley, interjected to ask if those demonstrating in support of free speech were not Americans, too.
        "I think it's awful that people can't speak out to express opinions," Mr. Staley said.
        The counterprotesters descended on the Common for hours before the planned rally, and they found fliers showing symbols of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. The leaflet, which protesters appeared to have prepared, urged people to "learn to identify these symbols and let anyone displaying them know that they are not welcome in our city!"
        "Boston is an anti-fascist zone!" it added.
        "Charlottesville is what forced me out here," said Rose Fowler, 68, a retired teacher who is black and was among the people who had gathered to march from Roxbury toward the Common, about two miles away. "Somebody killed for fighting for me. What is wrong with me if I can't fight for myself and others?"
        Although the protests in Boston were expected to be among the weekend's largest, several hundred people gathered on Friday evening in Portland for an "Eclipse Hate" rally. The protest soon swelled to more than 1,000 people, many of whom used chants that demonstrators used in Boston on Saturday.
        The demonstrators swarmed two of Portland's bridges, halting traffic in both directions and chanting, "Whose bridge? Our bridge!"
        In Arkansas on Saturday morning, a small demonstration supporting Confederate symbols drew about 50 people in Hot Springs. A small group of opponents walked by occasionally, denouncing Mr. Trump and racial hatred.
        Along a side street in Charlottesville, the mood was somber at about 1:30 p.m. as people marked the time when, a week earlier, a man drove his car into a crowd, killing Heather D. Heyer.
        Ms. Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, stood before a memorial of flowers and candles, weeping as she leaned into her husband, Kim Bro. Hundreds of people gathered around and watched silently as someone wrote with purple chalk — Ms. Heyer's favorite color — on the pavement, "I miss you baby girl, love mom."
        After a few minutes, Ms. Bro turned to address the crowd.
        "Thank you guys for coming," she said. "I know she's gone on, but this is the spot where I lost my baby."
        She encouraged people to come closer to her, and the crowd came in, some people laid hands on her, and they sang "This Little Light of Mine."
        Ms. Bro said she hoped that some good could come out of her daughter's death. And for those who might take joy in seeing her grieve, she said, "Karma's a you know what."
        Law enforcement officials made extensive plans for the demonstrations in the wake of the Virginia bloodshed.
        In Dallas, where a gunman killed five police officers who were protecting a protest in July 2016, the authorities planned to form a barricade around Saturday's demonstration site with buses and heavy equipment to "lock down" the area and keep any cars from drawing too close to the crowd.
        The Boston authorities cleared the Common of vendors and their carts, and they shut down the Swan Boats, a major tourist attraction in the nearby Public Garden.
        Marchers were banned from bringing weapons, bats, sticks, flagpoles or anything that might be used as a weapon or a projectile, and backpacks were subject to search.
        Boston's approach to the day's protests represented something of a balancing act. Mr. Walsh, the mayor, said the city had consulted the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group based in Montgomery, Ala., that monitors extremist behavior, on how to handle hate groups.
        He said the center warned that "interacting with them gives them a platform to spread their message of hate" and that it recommended that people "not confront" them.
        "So we're urging everyone to stay away from the Common," Mr. Walsh said. "At the same time, we can't look away."
        The mayor had begun the week by telling hate groups that they were not welcome in Boston. By Friday, he acknowledged their right to assemble and express their views.
        "The courts have made it abundantly clear they have the right to gather, no matter how repugnant their views are, but they don't have the right to create unsafe conditions," Mr. Walsh said. "So we're going to respect their right of free speech, and in return they must respect our city."
        Still, tensions here had been rising all week. On Monday night, a teenager threw a rock at the New England Holocaust Memorial, shattering the glass; passers-by quickly tackled the youth before the police arrived.
        And with the national spotlight on the debate over Confederate monuments in the South, John W. Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, said he was "haunted" by the racist legacy of his predecessor, Tom Yawkey, who resisted integrating the ball club long after every other club in Major League Baseball had hired black players.
        Mr. Henry said he wanted to lead an effort to rename Yawkey Way, a public street outside Fenway Park, "in light of the country's current leadership stance with regard to intolerance."
        Duke University announced early Saturday that it had removed a recently vandalized statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from the entrance to its campus chapel in Durham, N.C.
        "I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university," Vincent E. Price, the university's president, said in an email to students, employees and alumni.
        Dr. Price said the statue would be "preserved so that students can study Duke's complex past and take part in a more inclusive future."

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        2)  M.T.A. to Modify Subway Station Design Resembling Confederate Flag
         AUG. 18, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/18/nyregion/mta-confederate-flag-tiles.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion&action=
        click&contentCollection=nyregion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=
        latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront



        To busy New Yorkers walking briskly by, the mosaic inside a Times Square subway station might look like a Confederate flag.
        It is not, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority assured riders on Friday. But less than a week after violence broke out at a Virginia rally, ostensibly over the planned removal of a statue of a Confederate general, officials are not taking any chances.
        So in order to "avoid absolutely any confusion," the M.T.A. said in a statement that it would modify the design to make it "absolutely crystal clear" that it does not depict a symbol of Southern defiance.
        The design, which is essentially a red square covered by a blue-and-white "X," is actually "based on geometric forms that represent the 'Crossroads of the World,'" officials said.
        It appears inside at least one subway entrance on 40th Street near the corner Seventh Avenue; there, a ribbon of green, blue and yellow tiles stretches across the top of an otherwise white wall. The square design, which has apparently been mistaken for a Confederate flag, stamps the ribbon every few feet — repeating over and over.
        In their brief statement, M.T.A. officials did not make clear where exactly the design appears, whether it appears at other subway stations, or how frequently it appears.
        Officials also did not say when work to modify the design would begin or specify how much the work would cost.
        The M.T.A. announcement came less than a week after a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., that was ostensibly meant to protest a plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy's top general, from the city's Emancipation Park.
        Following the demonstration, which resulted in the death of a 32-year-old woman and dozens of injuries, leaders in New York — like those across the country — have sprung into action, announcing a flurry of moves that take aim at Confederate memorials.
        On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York asked the acting secretary of the Army to change the names of two streets at the Fort Hamilton Army base in Brooklyn that are named after Southern generals.
        Also on Wednesday, the president of the Bronx Community College said the school would remove the bronze busts of those two Southern generals, Lee and Stonewall Jackson, from its Hall of Fame for Great Americans.
        The same day, a Brooklyn church removed two plaques that honored Lee from a churchyard tree.

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        3)  Dick Gregory, 84, Dies; Found Humor in the Civil Rights Struggle
         AUG. 19, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/19/arts/dick-gregory-dies-at-84.html



        Dick Gregory, the pioneering black satirist who transformed cool humor into a barbed force for civil rights in the 1960s, then veered from his craft for a life devoted to protest and fasting in the name of assorted social causes, health regimens and conspiracy theories, died Saturday in Washington. He was 84.
        Mr. Gregory's son, Christian Gregory, who announced his death on social media, said more details would be released in the coming days. Mr. Gregory had been admitted to a hospital on Aug. 12, his son said in an earlier Facebook post.
        Early in his career Mr. Gregory insisted in interviews that his first order of business onstage was to get laughs, not to change how white America treated Negroes (the accepted word for African-Americans at the time). "Humor can no more find the solution to race problems than it can cure cancer," he said. Nonetheless, as the civil rights movement was kicking into high gear, whites who caught his club act or listened to his routines on records came away with a deeper feel for the nation's shameful racial history.
        Mr. Gregory was a breakthrough performer in his appeal to whites — a crossover star, in contrast to veteran black comedians like Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley and Slappy White, whose earthy, pungent humor was mainly confined to black clubs on the so-called chitlin circuit.
        Though he clearly seethed over the repression of blacks, he resorted to neither scoldings nor lectures when playing big-time rooms like the hungry i in San Francisco or the Village Gate in New York. Rather, he won audiences over with wry observations about the country's racial chasm.
        He would plant himself on a stool, the picture of insouciance in a three-button suit and dark tie, dragging slowly on a cigarette, which he used as a punctuation mark. From that perch he would bid America to look in the mirror, and to laugh at itself.
        "Segregation is not all bad," he would say. "Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?" Or: "You know the definition of a Southern moderate? That's a cat that'll lynch you from a low tree." Or: "I heard we've got lots of black astronauts. Saving them for the first spaceflight to the sun."
        Some lines became classics, like the one about a restaurant waitress in the segregated South who told him, "We don't serve colored people here," to which Mr. Gregory replied: "That's all right, I don't eat colored people. Just bring me a whole fried chicken." Lunch-counter sit-ins, central to the early civil rights protests, did not always work out as planned. "I sat in at a lunch counter for nine months," he said. "When they finally integrated, they didn't have what I wanted."
        Mr. Gregory was a national sensation in the early 1960s, earning thousands of dollars a week from club dates and from records like "In Living Black and White" and "Dick Gregory Talks Turkey." He wrote the first of his dozen books. Time magazine, enormously powerful then, ran a profile of him. Jack Paar, that era's "Tonight Show" host, had him on as a guest — after Mr. Gregory demanded that he be invited to sit for a chat. Until then, black performers did their numbers, then had to leave. Time on Paar's sofa was a sign of having arrived.
        Newspapers in those days routinely put Mr. Gregory on a par with two white performers, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce, anointing them a troika of modern satire. Just as routinely, he was later credited with paving the way for a new wave of black comedians who would make it big in the white world, notably two talents of thoroughly different sensibilities: the reflective Bill Cosby and the trenchant Richard Pryor.
        It was Mr. Gregory's conviction that within a well-delivered joke lies power. He learned that lesson growing up in St. Louis, achingly poor and fatherless and often picked on by other children in his neighborhood.
        "They were going to laugh anyway, but if I made the jokes they'd laugh with me instead of at me," he said in a 1964 autobiography, written with Robert Lipsyte. "After a while," he wrote, "I could say anything I wanted. I got a reputation as a funny man. And then I started to turn the jokes on them."
        He titled that book "nigger," lowercase N. The word — typically reduced these days to "the N-word" — figured prominently in his routines, even as he shunned the obscenities that casually littered the acts of other comedians.
        "I said, let's pull it out of the closet, let's lay it out there, let's deal with it, let's dissect it," he said in a 2000 interview with NPR. "It should never be called 'the N-word.' "
        In 1962, Mr. Gregory joined a demonstration for black voting rights in Mississippi. That was a beginning. He threw himself into social activism body and soul, viewing it as a higher calling.
        Arrests came by the dozens. In a Birmingham, Ala., jail in 1963, he wrote, he endured "the first really good beating I ever had in my life."
        He added: "It was just body pain, though. The Negro has a callus growing on his soul, and it's getting harder and harder to hurt him there."
        In 1965, he was shot in the leg (the wound was not grave) by a rioter as he tried to be a peacemaker during the Watts riots in Los Angeles.
        Increasingly, he skipped club dates to march or to perform at benefits for civil rights groups. Club owners became reluctant to book him: Who knew if he might fly off to Alabama on a moment's notice? As the '60s wore on, the college lecture circuit became his principal forum.
        Mr. Gregory, then a candidate for president, before speaking in Norfolk, Va., in October 1968.
        "Against the advice of almost everyone, he decided to risk his career for civil rights," Gerald Nachman wrote in "Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s" (2003). Some pillars of the movement, like Whitney M. Young Jr., executive director of the National Urban League, who died in 1971, believed that Mr. Gregory was more valuable to their cause onstage than in the streets. To which Mr. Gregory replied, "When America goes to war, she don't send her comedians."
        In 1967, his head now ringed with a full beard and bushy hair — no more the thin mustache of earlier years — he ran for mayor of Chicago, more or less as a stunt. The next year he ran for president on the Freedom and Peace Party ticket, getting by his count 1.5 million write-in votes. The official figure was 47,133.
        There seemed few causes he would not embrace. He took to fasting for weeks on end, his once-robust body shrinking at times to 95 pounds. Across the decades he went on dozens of hunger strikes, over issues including the Vietnam War, the failed Equal Rights Amendment, police brutality, South African apartheid, nuclear power, prison reform, drug abuse and American Indian rights.
        And he reveled in conspiracy theories, elaborating on them in language that could be enigmatic and circuitous. Hidden hands, Mr. Gregory insisted, were behind everything from a crack cocaine epidemic to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; from the murders of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon to the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr. Whom to blame? "Whoever the people are who control the system," he told The Washington Post in 2000.
        His fasting led to a keen interest in nutrition. Working in the 1980s with a Swedish health food company, Mr. Gregory developed a weight-reduction powder called Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet. The partners had a falling-out, and the business swooned.
        Still, Mr. Gregory remained a fervent health-food advocate. In late 1999, he learned he had lymphoma but rejected chemotherapy, relying instead on vitamins, herbs and exercise. The cancer went into remission.
        His activism came at a price, however. For one thing, the cascade of cash that he had once enjoyed turned into a trickle. His family paid, too.
        Mr. Gregory moved to Chicago to build a comedy career in the late 1950s. There he met Lillian Smith, a secretary at the University of Chicago, and they were married in 1959. They had 11 children, one of whom, Richard Jr., died in infancy.
        In 1973, when cash was still rolling in, they bought a 400-acre farm near Plymouth, Mass. (Why Plymouth? "I think the white folks is coming back, and I'm going to get a handful of Indians and stop 'em there this time," Mr. Gregory said.) But by the early 1990s, the strapped Gregorys had lost the farm and moved into an apartment in Plymouth.
        Over more than five decades of marriage, Lillian Gregory said, she understood her husband's need — some called it an obsession — to wander off on behalf of this or that cause, typically earning nothing except attention, and sometimes not even that. But Christian Gregory, a chiropractor in Washington, said to The Washington Post in 2000: "He told his 10 children that the movement came before the family. It was a hard pill to swallow."
        Father absenteeism was a familiar phenomenon for the man born Richard Claxton Gregory in St. Louis on Oct. 12, 1932. He was the second of six children. His father, Presley, disappeared after the birth of each child, and finally left for good. The Gregory children were reared by their mother, Lucille, who scraped by on welfare and a meager income as a maid.
        "Kids didn't eat off the floor," Mr. Gregory said of their Depression-era poverty. "When I was a kid, you dropped something off the table, it never reached the floor."
        Information about Mr. Gregory's survivors was not immediately available.
        Mr. Gregory graduated from Sumner High School in St. Louis, then attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. At both schools he was a track star and enjoyed local fame.
        Not that the acclaim was free of complications. In 1961, by then a national figure, he received the key to the city from the mayor of St. Louis. Yet in his hometown he was denied a room at a leading hotel. "They gave me the key to the city," Mr. Gregory said, "and then they changed all the locks."
        He left college in 1954 and joined the Army, where he was able to work on comedy routines while attached to Special Services. He then returned to college, only to give it up again without graduating.
        In 1956 he headed to Chicago, where he worked in small-time clubs at night and at odd jobs by day. He even tried running a club of his own, but that venture failed.
        In one part-time job Mr. Gregory sorted mail in a post office. His pattern, he later said, was to toss letters destined for Mississippi into a slot marked "overseas." That job did not last long.
        His real break came in January 1961, when he was asked to fill in for the comedian Irwin Corey, who had canceled a gig at the flagship Playboy Club in Chicago. On the big night, club managers had misgivings; the house was packed with businessmen from the Deep South. No matter, Mr. Gregory said. He insisted on performing.
        "I understand there are a great many Southerners in the room tonight," he began his act. "I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night." He so won over the crowd that Playboy's Hugh Hefner signed him for three more weeks, then extended the contract.
        Despite having sworn off nightclubs in 1973, saying he could no longer work in places where liquor was served, Mr. Gregory returned to them on occasion in later years, a thin presence wreathed in white hair and beard. Though his best days were well behind him, his approach never seemed to waver from principles that he set for himself when starting out. He put it this way in his autobiography:
        "I've got to go up there as an individual first, a Negro second. I've got to be a colored funny man, not a funny colored man."


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        4)  Charlottesville and Thuringia
         
        The sirens and shouted curses from Charlottesville resounded all too audibly even here in far-off Germany. Little imagination was required; how well we know such brutal faces, twisted with hatred, the racist epithets and threats! Sometimes we even heard the ugly words in German: Sieg Heil!
        Scenarios like that, not only as echoes from the past, have become a part of life in today’s Germany. Almost every weekend, in some town or city, we see the racists and neo-Nazis march, with their hard boots, their flags and fearsome banners, so much like those in Virginia. Sometimes just a small, hard core or private gathering with nationalist songs escalating to texts about gas and Jewish blood. But also big crowds; four weeks ago, in Themar, a hitherto unknown little town in Thuringia, 6000 gathered for a “rock concert”. One sponsor, who runs a Nazi restaurant nearby, sold T–shirts marked “HTLR”. The full name is officially taboo but, he explains with a twisted grin, it means only “Homeland-Tradition-Loyalty-Respect”. Who can object to that? Or to prices of 8.80 euro – when everyone knows that 8 is letter H in the alphabet, and 88 is code for Heil Hitler! Or ”1933” – the year the Nazis seized power. It’s all legal, OK’d by the court. Even a big parking lot was reserved for them.
        Even very decent-looking citizens may join the marching, like in Dresden every Monday for two years. “Who us? Racists? We only want to defend ‘German culture’ against the inroads of those ‘Islamists!’” With slogans, songs, only now and again with torches and weapons. They called themselves PEGIDA – “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”. Then a party was founded by an attractive young entrepreneur and an elderly, respectable professor; AfD – Alternative for Germany. It is already treated oh so fairly by some in the media – just short of favorably – and will soon have several dozen seats in the national Bundestag; it is already represented in many local and state legislatures. Like the booted men or the T-shirt singers, its main voters, its basic program is “Hate the enemies”! In Charlottesville the enemies are sometimes Jewish, but mostly Black or Muslim, but always if possible weaker, poorer – and somehow different – in color, clothing, faith. And in Germany the same: sometimes Jewish but mostly Turkish or, with the recent refugees, Arab, African, Afghani. A hijab head-covering is sufficient: “A Muslim, an Islamic enemy!”
        While the rabble of Charlottesville finds traditions like those of Robert E. Lee or Gen. Nathan Forrest to defend, some Germans have more recent models. This Saturday in Berlin marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Hitler deputy Rudolf Hess, who “Stuck to his principles till the end” as one T-shirt proclaims. The Nazi march is to recall the (demolished) site where he was imprisoned. He is honored every year, but this time, very big, in Berlin. How many are arriving for the march? The police, who will protect them, have estimated 1000, and stress their strict rules: only one flag for every 50 marchers, only one drum for every hundred. No loud listing of the names of anti-fascists! And no explicit praise for Hess. But there is little doubt as to their intentions, for now or the future!
        How many will be there to oppose them? The anti-fascists usually outnumber the Nazis! But in that out-of-the-way little town in Thuringia only 1000 were there to oppose the 6000. As ever the police try to keep the two groups apart, but somehow often seem to protect the right of way of the disciplined, orderly marching Nazis while swiftly arresting unruly antifascists trying to block their path.
        Compared with Charlottesville, there are differences but too many similarities. No prominent German official risks praising the pro-Nazis; Hitler, Hess and the swastika are legally taboo, and there are hardly any “beautiful statues and monuments” to be rescued.
        But here, too, not on Twitter but in very respectable media, there are statesmen who denounce not only pro-Nazis but ”extremists on the left and the right”. Those “Antifas” are also a bad bunch. They sometimes break windows and set cars on fire.
        Indeed, such things occur now and then, and represent a genuine problem, especially because there is a suspicion, occasionally backed up by facts, that behind the masks and balaclavas are not only angry anti-nazis but some who love wreckage, some who love alcohol and perhaps, throwing the first stones or torches, some agents provocateurs granting the media what they require while ignoring or smearing a great majority marching to oppose racism and fascism – and who may even, very peacefully, tear down a racist flag or statue here and there.
        Behind carefully-worded denunciations of “both the left and the right” some elderly German survivors hear fearsome echoes, recall Germany’s past with dread and look forward with anxiety, not only for Germany. They know where such boots, straight-arm salutes – and “neutrality” can lead.
        In the German elections on September 24th our smiling, sensible and good-natured Angela, so long friendly to refugees and motherly to all good Germans, seems very likely to help her party win again. She is very much an opposite to Trump; she even disagrees openly with him.
        But oh, her lieutenants! While Transportation Minister Alexander Dobrindt bows low to his friends in a pollution-friendly auto industry, Finance Minister Schäuble continues squeezing every last euro from the poorer countries of southern Europe and breaking all resistance. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen calls for more billions for defense, sends troops to the deserts of Mali, the mountains of Afghanistan and, more dangerously by far, to the borders of Russia within earshot of Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg. With every new scandal about Nazi-era traditions in her Bundeswehr she calls for renewed cleansing – which somehow never succeeds. And Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, after false, distorted reports on the “riots” in Hamburg, denounces demonstrators, stresses only the few violent ones and proposes that “we should require them to report to the police at regular intervals and if, need be, wear electronic ankle monitors” while he moves toward the extension of lasting monitoring of everyone – to the last telephone call, Email or visit to a public place. Recent leaks indicated mysterious ties between police or FBI-equivalents with anti-foreigner murders. Who in the end would be defined as “leftist extremists”? Also those who demonstrate on climate, for peace and solidarity?
        No, Germany has no exact equivalent of the White House cabal; its leaders are highly educated and circumspect in their speeches. But growing threats in both countries are far too similar. The dangers, especially if some great crisis should hit again, are cause for alarm.
        In both countries – and elsewhere – there is courageous opposition to such threats. Many organizations resist racism, repression, massive armament build-ups and provocations – and the suffering of those hit by deprivation at home or abroad. There are many heroic models in the past – in Germany and the USA. Growing unity – in their spirit – is perhaps the only key to locking the door on the forces of hatred and bloodshed, from Charlottesville to Thuringia, from Washington to Berlin.
        POSTSCRIPT:
        The Nazis came to memorialize the Nazi leader Hess, far fewer than expected. The anti-fascists – LINKE (Left), Greens, SPD, church and anti-fascist groups – failed to gather the hoped-for huge crowd in this spot on the city outskirts, but did achieve a clear majority, big enough to stymy the plans of the Nazis, who marched less than 500 yards and had to stop, call off their meeting at the Hess site and retreat to the station. Except for a minor few fist fights there was no violence. The day was a genuine defeat for the Nazis.
        More articles by:
        Victor Grossman writes the Berlin Bulletin, which you can subscribe to for free by sending an email to: wechsler_grossman@yahoo.de.

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        5)  Sawant to Help Launch New National People’s Party
        Not to be confused with the Seattle Peoples Party, organizers nonetheless are encouraged by Nikkita Oliver’s success.
        • http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/not-to-be-confused-with-the-seattle-peoples-party-organizers-nonetheless-are-encouraged-by-nikkita-olivers-success/
        Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant will be in Washington, D.C., early next month to help launch a new national political party.
        Its name may sound familiar to Seattle: The People’s Party.
        However, while Sawant was an early supporter of the newly founded Seattle Peoples Party and its mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver, the two groups with similar names have no formal relationship with each other, though they are feeding off the same populist fervor. And just as the Seattle Peoples Party upended local political dynamics during the mayoral primary, the national party has simliar ambitions.
        “I think Nikkita Oliver’s campaign is a symptom and actually an example of what’s happening politically in this country,” says Dr. Bill Kildall, Washington State coordinator. “The two party system no longer represents our working people and [her] campaign obviously was directed at gaining support from working people.”
        A town hall will be hosted in Washington D.C. on Sept. 9 to discuss the formation of the new People’s Party. It will be livestreamed across the country to similar gatherings. The event in D.C. will be headlined by Sawant, Dr. Cornel West, and Nick Brana, founder of Draft Bernie for a People’s Party (that orginization was what gave rise to the national party’s name).
        “What we will be doing,” Kildall says, “is establishing what I would call chapters in each place where the sister townhalls are going to be held. There will be follow up meetings where we will actually form these chapters of the People’s Party and elect officers and make by-laws.”
        The idea of making a national party was popularized by the Draft Bernie movement. This campaign, started during the 2016 election, is aimed at creating an official third party led by Bernie Sanders. The petition for this third party currently has 43,000 signatures.
        The time is right, Kildall says, citing the discussion surrounding the progressive movement and where it’s headed as a force in this country, and the fact that the establishment parties seem to have fallen out of grace with many voters. Oliver’s performance, Kildall says, shows there is an appetite for people who break political norms.
        Oliver was enthusiastically embraced by many corners of Seattle. She received 16.9 percent of the vote with strong showings in Beacon Hill, the Central District, and the University District. The results were especially impressive given that Oliver had never run for office before and still out-performed a former mayor and two state lawmakers.
        “I think, had there been fewer candidates running for the mayor’s office in Seattle,” Kildall says, “she would’ve been successful.”
        We’ve reached out to the Oliver campaign for comment about the national movement; we haven’t heard back yet.
        The party will be speaking about the needs of the people that haven’t been met, Kildall says. These are issues that range from income and wage equality to universal health care with a host of familiar qualms in between.
        The event’s headliners are prominent progressives. They, however, have their own political affiliations different from the People’s Party (like Sawant, who is a member of Socialist Alternative). This isn’t a problem, according to Kildall, because they all care about the same issues.
        “I think what we’re going to have is a coalition of progress organizations that are going to come together in 2018 to primary those that no longer represent us in congress,” Kildall says.
        This progressive coalition has long term goals, too.
        “I think also we will have these organizations moving in 2020 for a national party that will be able to prevail in the presidential election,” Kildall says.
        Presidential aspirations aside, the crux of this new party is for people to come together. With the People’s Party on a national level, people won’t feel isolated or unable to evoke change.
        “I think this is really an exciting time,” Kildall says, “even though there’s such chaos nationally with the present administration.”
        news@seattleweekly.com


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        6)  Justice Department’s Dreamhost Subpoena Ramps Up the Police State
        If the U.S. Department of Justice prevails in a case against web-hosting provider Dreamhost, you can become the subject of a criminal investigation by visiting a website.
        You don’t have to re-read that. The problem is not with your eyes; it’s with your government. If the courts uphold this Justice Department action, the erosion of your privacy rights on the Internet, a process that began with the Patriot Act and picked up full-steam under the Obama administration, will have been completed under President Donald Trump.
        A major pillar of a police state will now be in place.
        The sorry saga starts last January when the Justice Department began investigating people who had been organizing protests at Trump’s inauguration. In this unsavory combination of the federal government’s increasingly intrusive actions and Trump’s megamania, Justice lawyers presented Dreamhost with a search warrant on a website — Disruptj20.org [1] — which was being used to organize those actions.
        Did you click on that link? Oh fudge! I should have warned you. You’re now a target of the Justice Department’s search warrant. To explain…
        First thing to understand: the search warrant that is at the center of this case is public but the affidavit that is presented to the court to obtain the warrant isn’t. So we don’t know what the government is actually investigating and why the data it requests is relevant to that investigation. In short, it’s tough to challenge because you don’t know what to challenge about it.
        The communication with the target of this type of search warrant is accompanied by a series of “requests”: demands for very specific information which emanates from the warrant (which is usually not very specific at all).
        After its initial “request” to Dreamhost for the names, addresses and other information of the site’s owners and managers, the DoJ upgraded its legal orders to acquire a lot of more information about the site including the database records of everyone who signed up for email notifications and particular actions and the IP addresses of all its visitors. The IP address is a number that is randomly assigned to you by your Internet connection provider when you go on-line. It follows you for your entire session on-line and can be used to identify you, where you log in from and what websites you’ve visited. So people who click on the link and are delivered to the site (like you if you clicked it) have their IP address logged by the server the site is on. You don’t have to do anything else.
        At last count, over 1.3 million IP addresses have been logged at that site. That’s the information the government wants and it’s information the government has never before requested from a hosting provider.
        Dreamhost, one of the world’s largest web-hosting companies, is hardly a model of political courage or resistance to government intrusion. In fact, it cooperates with government investigations all the time and will routinely give up your site information with nothing more than a legal order from a government lawyer or investigator. This isn’t a political choice by Dreamhost; it doesn’t make those. It’s probably more an attempt to avoid a costly legal battle.
        So, until the order was expanded to include those IPs, Dreamhost gave up information about the distruptj20 website. In its statement on the controversy [2] it almost boasts that it’s been “working with the Department of Justice to comply with legal process”.
        The problem with that compliance strategy has now become clear. It set the precedent the government needed to go after what constitutes an entire movement by simply expanding the legal demands Dreamhost had already obeyed.
        But the corporate giant stopped cold at the expansion. Even Dreamhost understood what such a thing meant: if you can get this kind of information from a website, you can track everyone getting involved in a campaign and take action against them. You can, literally, demobilize a movement and make involvement in it illegal. You have a police state.
        The parties are going to court this Friday because Dreamhost is making a legal challenge to the order. We will report on that when it happens.
        What’s interesting here, for the moment, is how much light it shines on a major contradiction in the strategy of on-line repression. While large corporations (and the rest of the country’s ruling class) have no problem with the government seizing data and monitoring on-line activities as it’s been doing for over a decade now, there’s a line the corporations don’t want to cross.
        The wholesale gathering of data clearly affects movement websites but, if it continues, it will start to affect people’s patterns of use of the Internet and companies don’t want that. Such “hesitation” in the fast clicking world of the Web would affect commerce and profits in all kinds of ways.
        For those of us who care about freedom, though, the more important issue is what this means for a movement that has become almost fully dependent on the Internet for its communications. In fact, its successes (and there have been many recently) can be traced to the rapid response and wide-ranging communications possible with the Net.
        If the government can make you a target of an investigation because you visit a website, it can do a lot of things to prevent you from exercising your right to organize and protest. And that, at this point in our tortured history, isn’t something we should be willing to give up.
        More articles by:
        Alfredo Lopez writes about technology issues for This Can’t Be Happening!


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        7)  The Human Carnage From Billionaires Trying to Carve Up the Planet to Build Their Empires Is Astounding
        From Yemen to Haiti and everywhere in between, the poorest citizens are punished for unknown crimes.
        , August 16, 2017


        Raoul Peck, the Haitian filmmaker, opens his new film – Der Junge Karl Marx (2017) – in the forests of Prussia. Peasants gather fallen wood. They look cold and hungry. We hear horses in the distance. The guards and the aristocrats are near. They have come to claim the right to everything in the forest. The peasants run. But they have no energy. They fall. The whips and lances of the aristocrats and the guards strike them. Some of the peasants die. Even fallen wood is not allowed to them.
        Young Karl Marx, sitting in Cologne in 1842, is dismayed at the violence against the German peasants. The peasants, he wrote, know the punishment. They are being beaten, even killed. But what they do not know is the crime. For what crime are they being punished?
        Peck is clever to open his film with this dilemma, for it is the question that every sensitive person should ask today. What is the crime for which the world’s poor are being punished? Poverty and war produce refugees of hunger and bombardment, but they are denied mobility, denied any exit from their predicament. They know the punishment that they face: starvation, death and indignity. This they know. What they do not know is their crime. What have they done to deserve this?
        The Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz visited Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010. In a memorable essay titled ‘Apocalypse’, Junot Diaz noted that Haiti warned us of the new ‘zombie stage of capitalism, where entire nations are being rendered through economic alchemy into not-quite alive. In the old days, a zombie was a figure whose life and work had been captured by magical means. Old zombies were expected to work around the clock with no relief. The new zombie cannot expect work of any kind – the new zombie just waits around to die’.
        And the new zombie cannot be allowed to forage for food or to seek shelter or medicine. The new zombie, truly, must just wait to die. This is the punishment. But what is the crime?
        **
        Last week, off the coast of war-torn Yemen, smugglers pushed a boat into the turbulent sea and ‘deliberately drowned’ fifty people. The phrase ‘deliberately drowned’ comes from the staff of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), the UN’s migration relief agency. IOM teams that walked the beaches of Shabwa (Yemen) found a shallow grave that held 29 of these people - 12 Ethiopian men, 12 Ethiopian women and 5 Somali men. Others were lost at sea. The boat originally carried 180 people. The rest reached the shore by great fortune. What was striking about the IOM’s investigation is that the average age of the migrants on this boat was 16 - young people from Somalia and Ethiopia whose countries have been destroyed by economic collapse and warlordism, by the War on Terror and capitalist overfishing.
        Silent catastrophe driven by drought, climate change and economic insecurity wracks Somalia. The situation is so dire that the UN’s humanitarian relief agency - OCHA - notes that there are currently 3.2 million on the verge of famine. There is little emergency food assistance available. Already 102,263 people have been treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) - a fifty per cent increase since 2016. Exit for the people is simply not available inside Somalia, where political conflict has been unending since the 1990s when the famine of 1991 took the lives of 200,000 people.
        The UN Refugees Agency points out that from November 2016 to the end of May 2017, about 739,000 people have been displaced by the drought inside Somalia. More than 480,000 of these drought refugees are under the age of 18. No wonder the average age on the boat to Yemen was 16. Stunningly, 195,000 of these drought refugees are under the age of 5.
        The flow of refugees from the Horn of Africa into Yemen is unabated. Last year - despite Saudi Arabia’s brutal war on Yemen that has destroyed that country - 111,500 people crossed from Africa to Yemen’s shores. Many of them are young, desperate to come to the Gulf states in search of miserable employment. Many do not make it, including 42 Somali migrants whose boat was scuttled by a Saudi jet last March.
        **
        Emblematic in the current war against migrants is the Wall that the US President Donald Trump pledges to build on the US-Mexico border. Data from the US Customs and Border Protection as well as the IOM show that there has been a drastic drop in migration over this border between 2000 and the present. In 2000, 1.6 million migrants were stopped by the US agencies, who only stopped 400,000 people in 2016. But, during this period, deaths on the border remain static: 380 in 2000 to 322 in 2016. Already in the first few months of 2017, the IOM found 239 migrants died in the crossing.  Last month, at least ten people suffocated to death in a truck that was parked in a San Antonio (Texas) parking lot.
        The people who attempt to cross the US-Mexico border are not - typically - Mexican but from Central America. The three countries that dispatch a large number of migrants northwards are Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The most common public explanation for the refugee migration is that these countries are torn by gang warfare fueled by the illegal drug trade. This is of course the case, but it is not the root of the crisis. The causes should be found in the collapse of agriculture in these countries - driven largely by climate change induced drought and flash floods, extreme heat and forest fires.
        Raoul Peck, the Haitian filmmaker, opens his new film – Der Junge Karl Marx (2017) – in the forests of Prussia. Peasants gather fallen wood. They look cold and hungry. We hear horses in the distance. The guards and the aristocrats are near. They have come to claim the right to everything in the forest. The peasants run. But they have no energy. They fall. The whips and lances of the aristocrats and the guards strike them. Some of the peasants die. Even fallen wood is not allowed to them.
        Young Karl Marx, sitting in Cologne in 1842, is dismayed at the violence against the German peasants. The peasants, he wrote, know the punishment. They are being beaten, even killed. But what they do not know is the crime. For what crime are they being punished?
        Peck is clever to open his film with this dilemma, for it is the question that every sensitive person should ask today. What is the crime for which the world’s poor are being punished? Poverty and war produce refugees of hunger and bombardment, but they are denied mobility, denied any exit from their predicament. They know the punishment that they face: starvation, death and indignity. This they know. What they do not know is their crime. What have they done to deserve this?
        The Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz visited Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010. In a memorable essay titled ‘Apocalypse’, Junot Diaz noted that Haiti warned us of the new ‘zombie stage of capitalism, where entire nations are being rendered through economic alchemy into not-quite alive. In the old days, a zombie was a figure whose life and work had been captured by magical means. Old zombies were expected to work around the clock with no relief. The new zombie cannot expect work of any kind – the new zombie just waits around to die’.
        And the new zombie cannot be allowed to forage for food or to seek shelter or medicine. The new zombie, truly, must just wait to die. This is the punishment. But what is the crime?
        **
        Last week, off the coast of war-torn Yemen, smugglers pushed a boat into the turbulent sea and ‘deliberately drowned’ fifty people. The phrase ‘deliberately drowned’ comes from the staff of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), the UN’s migration relief agency. IOM teams that walked the beaches of Shabwa (Yemen) found a shallow grave that held 29 of these people - 12 Ethiopian men, 12 Ethiopian women and 5 Somali men. Others were lost at sea. The boat originally carried 180 people. The rest reached the shore by great fortune. What was striking about the IOM’s investigation is that the average age of the migrants on this boat was 16 - young people from Somalia and Ethiopia whose countries have been destroyed by economic collapse and warlordism, by the War on Terror and capitalist overfishing.
        Silent catastrophe driven by drought, climate change and economic insecurity wracks Somalia. The situation is so dire that the UN’s humanitarian relief agency - OCHA - notes that there are currently 3.2 million on the verge of famine. There is little emergency food assistance available. Already 102,263 people have been treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) - a fifty per cent increase since 2016. Exit for the people is simply not available inside Somalia, where political conflict has been unending since the 1990s when the famine of 1991 took the lives of 200,000 people.
        The UN Refugees Agency points out that from November 2016 to the end of May 2017, about 739,000 people have been displaced by the drought inside Somalia. More than 480,000 of these drought refugees are under the age of 18. No wonder the average age on the boat to Yemen was 16. Stunningly, 195,000 of these drought refugees are under the age of 5.
        The flow of refugees from the Horn of Africa into Yemen is unabated. Last year - despite Saudi Arabia’s brutal war on Yemen that has destroyed that country - 111,500 people crossed from Africa to Yemen’s shores. Many of them are young, desperate to come to the Gulf states in search of miserable employment. Many do not make it, including 42 Somali migrants whose boat was scuttled by a Saudi jet last March.
        **
        Emblematic in the current war against migrants is the Wall that the US President Donald Trump pledges to build on the US-Mexico border. Data from the US Customs and Border Protection as well as the IOM show that there has been a drastic drop in migration over this border between 2000 and the present. In 2000, 1.6 million migrants were stopped by the US agencies, who only stopped 400,000 people in 2016. But, during this period, deaths on the border remain static: 380 in 2000 to 322 in 2016. Already in the first few months of 2017, the IOM found 239 migrants died in the crossing.  Last month, at least ten people suffocated to death in a truck that was parked in a San Antonio (Texas) parking lot.
        The people who attempt to cross the US-Mexico border are not - typically - Mexican but from Central America. The three countries that dispatch a large number of migrants northwards are Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The most common public explanation for the refugee migration is that these countries are torn by gang warfare fueled by the illegal drug trade. This is of course the case, but it is not the root of the crisis. The causes should be found in the collapse of agriculture in these countries - driven largely by climate change induced drought and flash floods, extreme heat and forest fires.
        The UN humanitarian agency finds that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, there are millions of people at risk of food insecurity. In Honduras alone there are two million people in this situation. They are, in other words, starving. The World Food Program points out that in Guatemala nearly half the children under five suffer from malnutrition - the highest rate in the world. As drought and climate disruption threaten agriculture, farmers shift their crops from rice and beans to biofuels and coffee - cash crops that bring income for some farmers, but that reduce the availability of food for the country. Trump’s Wall will not stop the flow of climate change refugees. It will only make their transit harder. This is why deaths at the border remain static.
        **
        Thirty million people are currently on the threshold of famine. They would like to flee towards food and away from drought, forest fires and war.
        In 2003, in Brazil, the government led by Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva of the Worker’s Party (PT) initiated the Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) program. Fome Hunger provided food for children in low-income areas, pushed for the creation of sustainable irrigation systems in food farming, educated the citizenry about nutrition and provided input support for family farms. Local family farms supplied enriching food to local schools. Fome Hunger not only improved nutrition, it also encouraged small farmers. Within a decade, Brazil’s child mortality rate dropped by 13 per cent, while twenty million people saw their income levels rise above the poverty line.
        What Lula’s government did was not replicated around the world - as even the World Bank had felt should be done. The policies of the PT have been slowly reversed by the new government. No-one is talking about Zero Hunger on a global scale. Why feed zombies when they are merely waiting around to die?
        Squeezed between the end of livelihood and the refusal to allow migration, the world’s poor experience punishment for a crime that is unknown. What did they do to deserve their fate? Why are they being punished when they have not committed a crime?
        Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter(AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South(Verso, 2013) and The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution(University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.
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        8) Two white players join Cleveland Browns in NFL's largest anthem protest
        More than a dozen Browns kneel ahead of team’s Monday night game Seth DeValve, Britton Colquitt become first white players to kneel Cleveland players who protested released statement at half-time
        Associated Press, August 21, 2017
        https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/21/cleveland-browns-national-anthem-protest-giants

        Kneeling and bowing their heads, the Cleveland Browns bonded over something bigger than football.
        More than a dozen players, including the first two white NFL players to join the movement since it was launched by quarterback Colin Kaepernick a year ago, huddled together on the team’s bench Monday night to protest during the national anthem.
        Kneeling and bowing their heads, the Cleveland Browns bonded over something bigger than football.
        More than a dozen players, including the first two white NFL players to join the movement since it was launched by quarterback Colin Kaepernick a year ago, huddled together on the team’s bench Monday night to protest during the national anthem.
        The demonstration was the largest so far in a movement started last season by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is currently out of the NFL. In recent days, Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Philadelphia defensive back Malcolm Jenkins also have called attention to what they feel is racial injustice in the country.
        Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch also has sat during the national anthem in the preseason, but hasn’t elaborated on his reasoning.
        At half-time, the Browns released a statement.
        “As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country’s national anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad,” the team said through a spokesperson. “We feel it’s important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression.”
        Browns coach Hue Jackson drew criticism last week when he seemed to indicate he didn’t want his players to protest. However, Jackson clarified his remarks to say he respected any player who wanted to demonstrate.
        “The intent of my comments was not to discourage individual expression from our players in light of a cause that moves them to personal expression,” Jackson said. “I’m disheartened that I gave anyone that impression because I did not speak with enough clarity. However, my words did reflect my concern – that I would express to any player – about protesting during the anthem. There are many effective ways athletes can utilize their platform if they so desire, but I would respect any individual decision, as ultimately, it would be the player’s choice after much thoughtful dialogue.”

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        9)  “People’s” Party or a Working Class Party?
        Oakland Socialist, August 22, 2017
        https://oaklandsocialist.com/2017/08/22/a-peoples-party-or-a-working-class-party/

          Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, left academic Dr. Cornel West and Nick Brana, founder of “Draft Bernie” will be hosting a “Town Hall” meeting in Washington, D.C. on September 9, 2017 to inaugurate a new political party, The “People’s Party.” Their plans seem to be getting some press coverage.[1]
          Key to understanding the U.S. political situation is the necessity for clarifying the class question. It is the confusion around this issue that allowed millions of disgruntled U.S. workers to vote for the reactionary racist bigot, Donald Trump. This situation within the working class is defined by the absence of a mass working class party.

        All political parties have class basis

          All parties are based on one class or another. The Democratic and Republican Parties are based on the class that lives off of its ownership of capital—the capitalist class—although they play somewhat different roles. The Republicans are used to more aggressively drive forward the attacks on the working class, people of color, etc. While the Democrats also carry out such attacks (to a lesser degree,) their main role is to blunt any serious working class opposition to these attacks. They do that by enticing the opposition into their party, where it dies a slow death. In carrying out this role, the “progressive (liberal) wing” of the Democrats performs yeoman service. The party as a whole could not play that role without the “progressive” wing.
          The alternative to these two parties is a party of, by and for the working class.

          Mass working class party

        A mass working class party would be an organizing center for the working class. It would bring workers together to fight around all the issues that confront us. It would organize the fight in the streets, the communities and schools, the work places and, yes, in the unions also. It would pose all issues as issues to be resolved by and in the interests of the working class. It would help workers and young people draw lessons from the struggles. By its mere existence, it would enormously raise the class awareness, the class-consciousness of tens-of-millions of workers and youth.
          While it would serve as an organizing center for the struggles of millions of workers and their allies, in the end, it would not be able to avoid the issue of elections. Either it would put its own candidates up for office, or it would end up supporting the “progressive” Democrats. In doing so, it would be dragged ever deeper into Democratic Party internal politics, seeking to strengthen the “progressive” wing of the Democrats. It would then have to drop its open class appeal, and it certainly would not be able to have an explicitly socialist program or policy.
          The formation and existence of a true mass working class political party would also lead to a struggle inside the unions. That’s because the union leadership is locked into the pretense that the workers and the employers have common interests, both on the job and politically, where they represent the Democratic Party. 

        “People’s Party?”

        And this People’s Party to be? The very fact of its name does not bode well. Nor does some of the history of Kshama Sawant. She has repeatedly supported liberal Democrats, most famously but not only Bernie Sanders. In several local city council races she implicitly supported local liberal Democrats. Nor does she and her group, Socialist Alternative, show any willingness to oppose the union leadership. She repeatedly attacks “the Democratic Party establishment” but not the Democratic Party as a whole. And how could she? How could she explain the class nature of this party, when she supports representatives of its “progressive” wing?
          As for Dr. Cornel West, while he makes some good speeches and thoughtful comments, he seems pretty much cut off from the working class, so how would he be able to provide a clear class perspective?
          Finally, there is Nick Brana of “Draft Bernie.” Before being the National Political Outreach Coordinator for the 2016 Sanders Democratic presidential campaign, Brana was a high official in the gubernatorial campaign of Terry McAuliffe when McAuliffe ran for governor of Virginia. 
        After Clinton won the nomination, Brana supported Jill Stein, based on the assumption that Clinton was assured a victory. He argued that if Stein won five percent of the vote, it would put “progressive” pressure on a President Clinton. Recently, Brana seems to have given up on reforming the Democrats, but from his Draft Bernie for a People’s Party, he seems to be trying to build a progressive Democratic Party, Mark 2.

          Electoralism

        It’s clear that the call for a “People’s Party” is seen purely as an electoral plan. Just as a true working class alternative to the Democratic Party cannot be independent of that party without running its own candidates, so likewise running candidates cannot really build working class consciousness and power if it is not linked with the struggle of workers of, by and for themselves.
          It is hard to see how this “People’s Party” would be very different from the Green Party, in fact.

          Bernie Sanders

        It is also a mistake to keep focusing on Sanders. In the first place, he seems to have no inclination whatsoever to do anything but trying to strengthen the progressive/liberal wing of the Democratic Party. More importantly, socialists should be calling on the working class to look to its own strength and its own organizations for a way forward, not count on liberal capitalist politicians like Sanders. By continuing to call on him to lead a new party, they are continuing to draw people’s attention in his direction, meaning in actuality continuing to strengthen him (to the extent that this call has any influence.)

          Sawant and Socialist Alternative

        It’s easy to see why Brana and West would have a political position that doesn’t stress the class nature of politics.
          But how about Sawant? Her group (Socialist Alternative) and its predecessor (Labor Militant) had a long tradition of calling for a mass working class party and opposing any support for any Democrats as well as opposing the union bureaucracy. Unfortunately, when Sawant was elected to City Council, she moved closer and closer to both the Democrats and the union bureaucrats. Then she made a decisive step in directly supporting Sanders. Doing so made her incapable of explaining the class nature of political parties, and that has driven her and her group even further into the classless “progressive/liberal” swamp.

          Working class alternative

        The alternative to this confusion is to openly explain that the Republicans and Democrats are irreversibly parties of the capitalist class and that the working class needs a party of its own, as described above. A serious start in that direction could be made by different forces such as Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) running local candidates for offices like city council or board of education. These would campaign by explaining the link between the local issues and the necessity of building a mass working class party as a step towards resolving those issues. They would run as representatives of the working class, not “the people,” and as open socialists. They would also explain that if elected, they cannot resolve the issues for workers; what they can do is use their office to help workers organize to fight to solve their common problems together.
          That is the way forward as opposed to these confused appeals for a “People’s Party” which claims it will solve problems for workers by simply participating in elections around progressive/liberal causes.
        Oakland Socialist, August 22, 2017
        https://oaklandsocialist.com/2017/08/22/a-peoples-party-or-a-working-class-party/

        [1] “Effort to Launch National People’s Party Has Local Ties, Inspirations,” By Nathalie Graham, August 18, 2017
        http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/not-to-be-confused-with-the-seattle-peoples-party-organizers-nonetheless-are-encouraged-by-nikkita-olivers-success/

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        10)  Live in a Poor Neighborhood? Better Be a Perfect Parent.




        Eline’s children feared going to sleep in the closet of their studio apartment, but it was the only place they would be safe from the rats. Covered in blankets from neck to toe, Eline would keep an eye on the kitchen entrance and followed the sounds of the rodents rummaging in the cupboards.
        I represented Eline (I can’t disclose her real name), a mother of two, in Bronx Family Court when she was charged with neglect. Her younger son had been deemed undernourished because of faltering weight. Eline had struggled to keep up the feeding regimen prescribed by the kids’ pediatrician. Doctors are required by law to report suspected neglect, so the pediatrician reported her to the Administration for Children’s Services. The agency filed a case in family court, and the children went into foster care for three years.
        When I met Eline, she described how the rats made it impossible to store fresh food in the apartment. She was a single mother with no family members who could help her. She struggled with depression and a chronic health condition that often required her to go to the hospital. She needed assistance. Instead, the city tore her children away from her and provided more than $1,000 each month to a foster family. After this, she turned to alcohol.
        For more than a decade, my colleagues at the Bronx Defenders and I have represented thousands of parents like Eline in child-protection proceedings. A majority of them have never abused a child. Yet child services charges them with “parental neglect,” something of a catchall term that seems to cover poverty, substance abuse and untreated mental illness.

        There is a misconception that the child-protection system is broken because child services fails to protect children from dangerous homes. That’s because the media exhaustively covers child deaths, but not the everyday tragedy of unnecessary child removals.
        The problem is not that child services fails to remove enough children. It’s that the agency has not been equipped to address the daily manifestations of economic and racial inequality. Instead, it is designed to treat structural failings as the personal flaws of low-income parents.
        In that framework, the answer is not affordable housing or transportation, meaningful employment, health care or access to healthy foods, as it should be. Why is the focus always on removing children to foster care and imposing parenting classes? This never-ending cycle traps generations of low-income families in a punitive system of state surveillance and foster care. Worse, it makes parents fear contacting child services when they need help caring for their children.
        “Neglect” cases are often not what they look like on paper. Our clients are trying to raise their kids under tremendous economic and psychological pressures. Often they have faced significant challenges, like homelessness or incarceration. They love their children and cherish their identity as parents. But in court, they face the loss of what is most precious to them: their children.
        Any parent would agree that raising a child is hard work. But our clients in the Bronx do the difficult job of parenting in circumstances that would reduce most of us to utter despair.
        The Bronx has the highest percentage of homeless schoolchildren in the city, the largest unemployment rate in the state and the highest rate of food insecurity in the country. Some parents we represent live in areas where the median household income is under $9,000 and nearly 90 percent of children live in poverty.
        And yet parents of color in the Bronx are held to a standard that few white parents in more privileged neighborhoods are expected to meet. A parent in Park Slope, where I live, can deal with depression or anxiety privately. A parent in the South Bronx cannot. A parent in Park Slope can smoke marijuana or lose her temper and still be considered a good parent. A parent in the South Bronx would lose her kids for months, if not years, and have to go to drug-treatment and parenting classes to get custody back.
        In the end, Eline reunited with her children after she completed the court-mandated parenting classes and found a rodent-free apartment. Her family is doing well, but what they had to endure is unacceptable.
        Eline did not need parenting classes; she already loved and cared for her children. She needed a home that wasn’t infested with rats. The city should have helped her find one. She needed support to care for her son’s medical needs, as well as her own. The city should have provided her with a visiting nurse service. And it should have given her the financial assistance that went to the foster parents. The trauma of this approach cannot be underestimated: studies show that foster care, even for short periods of time, can carry risks to children and diminish outcomes.
        Policy makers must help families get jobs and permanent homes. Substantially increasing the monthly $300 housing subsidy for families involved with the child wefare system would go a long way.
        The city also must work more closely with local health and child-care providers to make services easily accessible. It ought to hire highly trained social workers to support families instead of relying on police officers to investigate them.
        Mayor Bill de Blasio has spoken about the need to bridge “two cities,” but he has not taken a hard look at how the child welfare system exacerbates the disparities. Until we identify the real problems, our solutions will fall short.

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        11)  Chaos Breaks Out at Charlottesville City Council Meeting
        "'I’m outraged!' said Tracy Saxon, 41. 'I watched my people get beat and murdered. They let Nazis in here have freedom of speech, and they protect them? And we can’t have freedom of speech?'”




        CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — They shouted down the mayor and City Council members, took over the Council chambers for about a half-hour, and gave more than four hours of impassioned testimony about how city officials had botched the response to the deadly white supremacist rally here this month.
        In the end, the angry residents who spoke at the Charlottesville City Council meeting on Monday got some measure of action as officials said they would have a third-party review the city’s planning and reaction to the rally. The Council also voted unanimously to take the first administrative steps to remove a statue of the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson in the city.
        That move was significant, as it was the Council’s decision earlier this year to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee that prompted the white nationalists to rally in the city earlier this month.

        Monday’s meeting was the Council’s first since the rallies on Aug. 11 and 12 that brought hundreds of white supremacists to Charlottesville. White and black residents alike were furious with the police response to the demonstrations, and they faulted officers for not engaging during repeated scuffles. A woman, Heather D. Heyer, was killed when a man drove into counterprotesters.
        The meeting started out without incident, but as soon as the rally was mentioned, several residents began shouting down city officials for allowing the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally to take place. The chamber erupted, and when police officers forcibly removed three people, the 100 or so at the meeting broke out into furious chants of “Shame” and “Shut it down!” The three people were issued summonses charging them with disorderly conduct. No injuries were reported.
        “I’m outraged!” said Tracy Saxon, 41. “I watched my people get beat and murdered. They let Nazis in here have freedom of speech, and they protect them? And we can’t have freedom of speech?”
        At one point, two people stood on the dais and unfurled a banner with the words “Blood on your hands!” as council members and the mayor left the room. The residents refused to cede control of the room until the authorities promised to release the residents who had been taken away and let people have their say.
        Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, the only African-American on the Council, was the sole member who remained. He negotiated with residents to restore order in exchange for scrapping the meeting’s regular agenda and giving each person one minute to speak.
        It took about a half-hour for order to be restored, and the meeting stretched for several hours, as speaker after speaker spoke about their anguish over what the community had experienced. Several people wept and said they had been unable to sleep since witnessing violence against their neighbors.
        “I’m not the same person I was that day,” said Paul Hurdle, who shook as he described the mayhem on Aug. 12.
        Gail Weatherall, who said she had lived in Charlottesville for 35 years, called for a citizen-led review of the events and the city’s response.
        Several speakers criticized the Council members for not having heeded warnings to avoid the protest, and promised to vote them out of office. But city officials stressed that they had tried to deny the white supremacist rally a permit, but that a federal court had ruled in favor of the protest organizers.
        “We tried really hard,” Mayor Mike Signer said. “A federal judge forced us to have that rally downtown.”
        His account was met with jeers, and the shouting continued.
        Mr. Signer took the brunt of the community’s ire, as many people demanded his resignation.
        Responding to residents’ concerns, Maurice Jones, the city manager, said Charlottesville would have a third party review the city’s response to the white supremacists’ gathering. He urged residents to submit specific complaints of serious incidents to the police chief.
        Afterward, the City Council voted unanimously to drape the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in black in mourning.

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