Wednesday, April 25, 2018

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2018


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Rally and March to Free Mumia
Saturday, April 28, 2018, 12:00 Noon
Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland, CA

Other Regional and International Actions to Free Mumia
Detroit, Michigan: National Conference to Defeat Austerity, Saturday, March 24. 10:00 A.M.—5:00 P.M.  St. Matthew's—St. Joseph's Church, 8850 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202. For more information: www.moratorium-mi.org
Houston, Texas: Banner Drop for Mumia, Monday, March 26, 5:30 P.M.—6:30 P.M.  Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement will do a banner drop over Houston's busiest freeway for Mumia, on Dunlavy Bridge, over Highway 59.
New York City: Break Down Walls and Prison Plantation: Mumia, Migrants and Movements for Liberation, Friday, March 23. 6:00 P.M. Community Supper 7:30 PM, Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 179th Street, New York, NY 10033
Jericho Amnesty Movement 20th Anniversary, Saturday, March 24. Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 W. 179th St, New York, NY, Dinner from 5:00 P.M.—6:00 P.M. Downstairs Program from 6:30 P.M.—9:00 P.M. in Sanctuary.
Sunday, March 25: March and Rally, Gather 12:00 P.M., U.S. Mission (799 UN Plaza: 1st Ave. and 45th St.), March 1:00 P.M., to Times Square for 2:00 P.M. Rally, Buses to Philadelphia: Leaving NYC March 27, 5:30 A.M. from 147 West 24 St. For information email info@freemumia.com or call 212-330-8029.
Vallejo, CA, Saturday, March 24: 1:00 P.M.—4:00 P.M., Vallejo JFK Library, 505 Santa Clara Street, Vallejo, CA 94590, Contact Info: New Jim Crow Movement (Vallejo), 707-652-8367, withjusticepeace@gmail.com
Toronto, Canada, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!, Saturday, March 24, 1:00 P.M., Across the street from the U.S. Consulate
360 University Avenue, march24freemumia@gmail.com 
Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, March 25, Freedom Park RDD, Poetry. Hip Hop. Kwaito. Drama. Local Organizer: Pastor Rev, Contact Info: +27 649 240514


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It is so beautiful to see young people in this country rising up to demand an end to gun violence. But what is Donald Trump's response? Instead of banning assault weapons, he wants to give guns to teachers and militarize our schools. But one of the reasons for mass school shootings is precisely because our schools are already militarized. Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was trained by U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program while he was in high school.
Yesterday, Divest from the War Machine coalition member, Pat Elder, was featured on Democracy Now discussing his recent article about the JROTC in our schools. The JROTC teaches children how to shoot weapons. It is often taught by retired soldiers who have no background in teaching. They are allowed to teach classes that are given at least equal weight as classes taught by certified and trained teachers. We are pulling our children away from classes that expand their minds and putting them in classes that teach them how to be killing machines. The JROTC program costs our schools money. It sends equipment. But, the instructors and facilities must be constructed and paid for by the school.
The JROTC puts our children's futures at risk. Children who participate in JROTC shooting programs are exposed to lead bullets from guns. They are at an increased risk when the shooting ranges are inside. The JROTC program is designed to "put a jump start on your military career." Children are funneled into JROTC to make them compliant and to feed the military with young bodies which are prepared to be assimilated into the war machine. Instead of funneling children into the military, we should be channeling them into jobs that support peace and sustainable development. 
Tell Senator McCain and Representative Thornberry to take the war machine out of our schools! The JROTC program must end immediately. The money should be directed back into classrooms that educate our children.
The Divest from the War Machine campaign is working to remove our money from the hands of companies that make a killing on killing. We must take on the systems that keep fueling war, death, and destruction around the globe. AND, we must take on the systems that are creating an endless cycle of children who are being indoctrinated at vulnerable ages to become the next killing machine.  Don't forget to post this message on Facebook and Twitter.
Onward in divestment,
Ann, Ariel, Brienne, Jodie, Kelly, Kirsten, Mark, Medea, Nancy, Natasha, Paki, Sarah, Sophia and Tighe
P.S. Do you want to do more? Start a campaign to get the JROTC out of your school district or state. Email divest@codepink.org and we'll get you started!

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October 20-21, 2018

Cindy Sheehan and the Women's March on the Pentagon

A movement not just a protest

By Whitney Webb
WASHINGTON—In the last few years, arguably the most visible and well-publicized march on the U.S. capital has been the "Women's March," a movement aimed at advocating for legislation and policies promoting women's rights as well as a protest against the misogynistic actions and statements of high-profile U.S. politicians. The second Women's March, which took place this past year, attracted over a million protesters nationwide, with 500,000 estimated to have participated in Los Angeles alone.
However, absent from this women's movement has been a public antiwar voice, as its stated goal of "ending violence" does not include violence produced by the state. The absence of this voice seemed both odd and troubling to legendary peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose iconic protest against the invasion and occupation of Iraq made her a household name for many.
Sheehan was taken aback by how some prominent organizers of this year's Women's March were unwilling to express antiwar positions and argued for excluding the issue of peace entirely from the event and movement as a whole. In an interview with MintPress, Sheehan recounted how a prominent leader of the march had told her, "I appreciate that war is your issue Cindy, but the Women's March will never address the war issue as long as women aren't free."
War is indeed Sheehan's issue and she has been fighting against the U.S.' penchant for war for nearly 13 years. After her son Casey was killed in action while serving in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan drew international media attention for her extended protest in front of the Bush residence in Crawford, Texas, which later served as the launching point for many protests against U.S. military action in Iraq.
Sheehan rejected the notion that women could be "free" without addressing war and empire. She countered the dismissive comment of the march organizer by stating that divorcing peace activism from women's issues "ignored the voices of the women of the world who are being bombed and oppressed by U.S. military occupation."
Indeed, women are directly impacted by war—whether through displacement, the destruction of their homes, kidnapping, or torture. Women also suffer uniquely and differently from men in war as armed conflicts often result in an increase in sexual violence against women.
For example, of the estimated half-a-million civilians killed in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, many of them were women and children. In the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the number of female casualties has been rising on average over 20 percent every year since 2015. In 2014 alone when Israel attacked Gaza in "Operation Protective Edge," Israeli forces, which receives $10 million in U.S. military aid every day, killed over two thousand Palestinians—half of them were women and children. Many of the casualties were pregnant women, who had been deliberately targeted.
Given the Women's March's apparent rejection of peace activism in its official platform, Sheehan was inspired to organize another Women's March that would address what many women's rights advocates, including Sheehan, believe to be an issue central to promoting women's rights.
Dubbed the "Women's March on the Pentagon," the event is scheduled to take place on October 21—the same date as an iconic antiwar march of the Vietnam era—with a mission aimed at countering the "bipartisan war machine." Though men, women and children are encouraged to attend, the march seeks to highlight women's issues as they relate to the disastrous consequences of war.
The effort of women in confronting the "war machine" will be highlighted at the event, as Sheehan remarked that "women have always tried to confront the war-makers," as the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives of the men and women in the military, as well as those innocent civilians killed in the U.S.' foreign wars. As a result, the push for change needs to come from women, according to Sheehan, because "we [women] are the only ones that can affect [the situation] in a positive way." All that's missing is an organized, antiwar women's movement.
Sheehan noted the march will seek to highlight the direct relationship between peace activism and women's rights, since "no woman is free until all women are free" and such "freedom also includes the freedom from U.S. imperial plunder, murder and aggression"that is part of the daily lives of women living both within and beyond the United States. Raising awareness of how the military-industrial complex negatively affects women everywhere is key, says Sheehan, as "unless there is a sense of international solidarity and a broader base for feminism, then there aren't going to be any solutions to any problems, [certainly not] if we don't stop giving trillions of dollars to the Pentagon."
Sheehan also urged that, even though U.S. military adventurism has long been an issue and the subject of protests, a march to confront the military-industrial complex is more important now than ever: "I'm not alarmist by nature but I feel like the threat of nuclear annihilation is much closer than it has been for a long time," adding that, despite the assertion of some in the current administration and U.S. military, "there is no such thing as 'limited' nuclear war." This makes "the need to get out in massive numbers" and march against this more imperative than ever.
Sheehan also noted that Trump's presidency has helped to make the Pentagon's influence on U.S. politics more obvious by bringing it to the forefront: "Even though militarism had been under wraps [under previous presidents], Trump has made very obvious the fact that he has given control of foreign policy to the 'generals.'"
Indeed, as MintPress has reported on several occasions, the Pentagon—beginning in March of last year—has been given the freedom to "engage the enemy" at will, without the oversight of the executive branch or Congress. As a result, the deaths of innocent civilians abroad as a consequence of U.S. military action has spiked. While opposing Trump is not the focus of the march, Sheehan opined that Trump's war-powers giveaway to the Pentagon, as well as his unpopularity, have helped to spark widespread interest in the event.

Different wings of the same warbird

Sheehan has rejected accusations that the march is partisan, as it is, by nature, focused on confronting the bipartisan nature of the military-industrial complex. She told MintPress that she has recently come under pressure owing to the march's proximity to the 2018 midterm elections—as some have ironically accused the march's bipartisan focus as "trying to harm the chances of the Democrats" in the ensuing electoral contest.
In response, Sheehan stated that: 
"Democrats and Republicans are different wings of the same warbird. We are protesting militarism and imperialism. The march is nonpartisan in nature because both parties are equally complicit. We have to end wars for the planet and for the future. I could really care less who wins in November."
She also noted that even when the Democrats were in power under Obama, nothing was done to change the government's militarism nor to address the host of issues that events like the Women's March have claimed to champion.
"We just got finished with eight years of a Democratic regime," Sheehan told MintPress. "For two of those years, they had complete control of Congress and the presidency and a [filibuster-proof] majority in the Senate and they did nothing" productive except to help "expand the war machine." She also emphasized that this march is in no way a "get out the vote" march for any political party.
Even though planning began less than a month ago, support has been pouring in for the march since it was first announced on Sheehan's website, Cindy Sheehan Soapbox. Encouraged by the amount of interest already received, Sheehan is busy working with activists to organize the events and will be taking her first organizing trip to the east coast in April of this year. 
In addition, those who are unable to travel to Washington are encouraged to participate in any number of solidarity protests that will be planned to take place around the world or to plan and attend rallies in front of U.S. embassies, military installations, and the corporate headquarters of war profiteers.
Early endorsers of the event include journalists Abby Martin, Mnar Muhawesh and Margaret Kimberley; Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly; FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley; and U.S. politicians like former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Activist groups that have pledged their support include CodePink, United National Antiwar Coalition, Answer Coalition, Women's EcoPeace and World Beyond War.
Though October is eight months away, Sheehan has high hopes for the march. More than anything else, though, she hopes that the event will give birth to a "real revolutionary women's movement that recognizes the emancipation and liberation of all peoples—and that means [freeing] all people from war and empire, which is the biggest crime against humanity and against this planet." By building "a movement and not just a protest," the event's impact will not only be long-lasting, but grow into a force that could meaningfully challenge the U.S. military-industrial complex that threatens us all. God knows the world needs it.
For those eager to help the march, you can help spread the word through social media by joining the march's Facebook page or following the march'sTwitter account, as well as by word of mouth. In addition, supporting independent media outlets—such as MintPress, which will be reporting on the march—can help keep you and others informed as October approaches.
Whitney Webb is a staff writer forMintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, theAnti-Media, and21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.
MPN News, February 20, 2018
https://www.mintpressnews.com/cindy-sheehan-and-the-womens-march-on-the-pentagon-a-movement-not-just-a-protest/237835/

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Support Herman Bell


Last week the New York State Board of Parole granted Herman Bell release. Since the Board's decision, there has been significant backlash from the Police Benevolent Association, other unions, Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo. They are demanding that Herman be held indefinitely, the Parole Commissioners who voted for his release be fired, and that people convicted of killing police be left to die in prison.
We want the Governor, policymakers, and public to know that we strongly support the Parole Board's lawful, just and merciful decision. We also want to show support for the recent changes to the Board, including the appointment of new Commissioners and the direction of the new parole regulations, which base release decisions more on who a person is today and their accomplishments while in prison than on the nature of their crime.
Herman has a community of friends, family and loved ones eagerly awaiting his return. At 70 years old and after 45 years inside, it is time for Herman to come home.
Here are four things you can do RIGHT NOW to support Herman Bell:
1- CALL New York State Governor Cuomo's Office NOW
518-474-8390
2-EMAIL New York State Governor Cuomo's Office
https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form
3- TWEET at Governor Cuomo: use the following sample tweet:
"@NYGovCuomo: stand by the Parole Board's lawful & just decision to release Herman Bell. At 70 years old and after more than 40 years of incarceration, his release is overdue. #BringHermanHome."
4- Participate in a CBS poll and vote YES on the Parole Board's decision
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/…/herman-bell-parole-police-ou…/
The poll ends on March 21st. Please do this ASAP!
Script for phone calls and emails:
"Governor Cuomo, my name is __________and I am a resident of . I support the Parole Board's decision to release Herman Bell and urge you and the Board to stand by the decision. I also support the recent appointment of new Parole Board Commissioners, and the direction of the new parole regulations, which base release decisions more on who a person is today than on the nature of their crime committed years ago. Returning Herman to his friends and family will help the heal the many harms caused by crime and decades of incarceration. The Board's decision was just, merciful and lawful, and it will benefit our communities and New York State as a whole."
Thank you for your support and contributions.
With gratitude,
Supporters of Herman Bell and Parole Justice New York

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After almost 14 years of tireless work, we are changing our name to About Face: Veterans Against the War! This has been a long time coming, and we want to celebrate this member-led decision to grow our identity and our work with you.



Member vote at Convention in favor of changing the name
Why change our name? It's a different world since our founding in 2004 by 8 veterans returning from the invasion of Iraq. The Bush Administration's decision to start two wars significantly altered the political landscape in the US, and even more so in the Middle East and Central Asia. For all of us, that decision changed our lives. Our membership has grown to reflect the diversity of experiences of service members and vets serving in the so-called "Global War on Terror," whether it be deploying to Afghanistan, special operations in Africa, or drone operations on US soil. We will continue to be a home for post-9/11 veterans, and we've seen more members join us since the name-change process began.

Over the past 15 years, our political understanding has also grown and changed. As a community, we have learned how militarism is not only the root cause of conflicts overseas, but how its technology, tactics, and values have landed directly on communities of color, indigenous people, and poor people here at home.

So why this name? About Face is a drill command all of us were taught in the military. It signifies an abrupt 180 degree turn. A turn away. That drill movement represents the transformation that has led us to where we find ourselves today: working to dismantle the militarism we took part in and building solidarity with people who bear the weight of militarism in its many forms.

We are keeping Veterans Against the War as our tag line because it describes our members, our continued cause, and because we are proud to be a part of the anti-war veteran legacy. Our name has changed and our work has deepened, but our vision -- building a world free of militarism -- is stronger than ever. 



As we make this shift, we deeply appreciate your commitment to us over the years and your ongoing support as we build this new phase together. We know that dismantling militarism is long haul work, and we are dedicated to being a part of it with you for as long as it takes.
Until we celebrate the last veteran,

Matt Howard
Co-Director
About Face: Veterans Against the War
(formerly IVAW)





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

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Tell the Feds: End Draft Registration

Courage to Resist Podcast: The Future of Draft Registration in the United States

We had draft registration resister Edward Hasbrouck on the Courage to Resistpodcast this week to explain what's going on. Edward talks about his own history of going to prison for refusing to register for the draft in 1983, the background on this new federal commission, and he addresses liberal arguments in favor of involuntary service. Edward explains: 
When you say, "I'm not willing to be drafted", you're saying, "I'm going to make my own choices about which wars we should be fighting", and when you say, "You should submit to the draft", you're saying, "You should let the politicians decide for you."
What's happening right now is that a National Commission … has been appointed to study the question of whether draft registration should be continued, whether it should be expanded to make women, as well as men register for the draft, whether a draft itself should be started, whether there should be some other kind of Compulsory National Service enacted.
The Pentagon would say, and it's true, they don't want a draft. It's not plan A, but it's always been plan B, and it's always been the assumption that if we can't get enough volunteers, if we get in over our head, if we pick a larger fight than we can pursue, we always have that option in our back pocket that, "If not enough people volunteer, we're just going to go go to the draft, go to the benches, and dragoon enough people to fight these wars."
[This] is the first real meaningful opportunity for a national debate about the draft in decades.

COURAGE TO RESIST ~ SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHO REFUSE TO FIGHT!
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

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Major George Tillery
A Case of Gross Prosecutorial Misconduct and Police Corruption
Sexual Favors and Hotel Rooms Provided by Police to Prosecution Fact Witness for Fabricated Testimony During Trial
By Nancy Lockhart, M.J.
August 24, 2016

Corruption in The State of Pennsylvania is being exposed with a multitude of public officials indicted by the US Attorney's office in 2015 and 2016.  A lengthy list of extortion, theft, and corruption in public service includes a former Solicitor, Treasurer and Veteran Police Officer  U.S. Department of Justice Corruption Prosecutions.  On Monday August 15, 2016 Pennsylvania State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane was found guilty of all nine counts in a perjury and obstruction case related to a grand jury leak.  Pennsylvania's Attorney General Convicted On All Counts - New York Times
Although this is a small sampling of decades long corruption throughout the state of Pennsylvania, Major George Tillery has languished in prison over 31 years because of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption. Tillery was tried and convicted in 1985 in a trial where prosecutors and police created a textbook criminal story for bogus convictions. William Franklin was charged as a co-conspirator in the shootings, he was tried and convicted in December of 1980, because he refused to lie on Tillery.  Franklin is 69 years old according to the PADOC website and has been in prison 36 years. 

Major Tillery Is Not Represented by an Attorney and Needs Your Assistance to Retain One. Donate to Major Tillery's Legal Defense FundMajor Tillery, PA DOC# AM9786, will turn 66-years-old on September 9, 2016 and has spent over three decades in prison for crimes he did not commit. Twenty of those 31 plus years were spent in solitary confinement. Tillery has endured many very serious medical issues and medical neglect.  Currently, he is plagued with serious illnesses that include hepatitis C, stubborn skin rashes, dangerous intestinal disorders and a degenerative hip. His orthopedic shoes were taken by prison administrators and never returned.

Tillery, was convicted of homicide, assault, weapons and conspiracy charges in 1985, for the poolroom shootings which left one man dead and another wounded. William Franklin was the pool room operator at the time. The shooting occurred on October 22, 1976.  
Falsified testimony was the only evidence presented during trial. No other evidence linked Tillery to the 1976 shootings, except for the testimony of two jailhouse informants. Both men swore that they had received no promises, agreements, or deals in exchange for their testimony. Barbra Christie, the trial prosecutor, insisted to the Court and Jury that these witnesses were not given any plea agreements or sentencing promises. That was untrue.

Newly discovered evidence is the sole basis for Tillery's latest Pro Se filing. According to the  Post Conviction Relief Petition Filed June 15, 2016, evidence proves that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania committed fraud on the Court and Jury which undermined the fundamentals of due process. The newly discovered evidence in sworn declarations is from two prosecution fact witnesses. Those two witnesses provided the entirety of trial evidence against Major Tillery. The declarations explain false testimonies manufactured by the prosecution with the assistance of police detectives/investigators. On August 19, 2016 Judge Leon Tucker filed a Notice of Intent to Dismiss Major's PCRA petition.  Notice to Dismiss

Emanuel Claitt Has Come Forth to Declare His Testimony as Manufactured and Fabricated by Police and Prosecutors. Claitt states that his testimony during trial was fabricated and coerced by Assistant District Attorney Barbara Christie, Detectives John Cimino and James McNeshy.  Claitt swore that he was promised a very favorable plea agreement and treatment in his pending criminal cases.  Claitt was granted sexual favors in exchange for his false testimony. Claitt states that he was allowed to have sex with four different women in the homicide interview rooms and in hotel rooms in exchange for his cooperation. 

Prosecution fact witness Emanuel Claitt states in his  Declaration of Emanuel Claitt, and Emanuel Claitt Supplemental Declaration that testimony against Major Tillery was fabricated, coerced and coached by Assistant District Attorney's Leonard Ross, Barbara Christie, and Roger King with the assistance of Detectives Larry Gerrad, Ernest Gilbert, and Lt. Bill Shelton.  Claitt was threatened with false murder charges as well as, given promises and agreements of favorable plea deals and sentencing. In exchange for his false testimony, many of Claitt's cases were not prosecuted. He received probation. Additionally, he was sentenced to a mere 18 months for fire bombing and was protected after his arrest between the time of Franklin's and Tillery's trials.  

Trial Lawyer Operated Under Actual Conflict of Interest. Tillery discovered that his trial lawyer, Joseph Santaguida, also represented the victim. In other words, the victim in this case was represented by trial lawyer Santaguida and Santaguida also represented Major Tillery.  The Commonwealth has concealed newly discovered evidence as well as, evidence which would have been favorable to Major Tillery in the criminal trial. That evidence would have exonerated him. In light of the new Declarations which prove manufactured testimony by prosecutors and police, Major Tillery needs legal representation. He is not currently represented by an attorney. 
Donate: Major Tillery's Legal Defense FundClick Here & Donate

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Free Leonard Peltier!

On my 43rd year in prison I yearn to hug my grandchildren.

By Leonard Peltier


Art by Leonard Peltier

I am overwhelmed that today, February 6, is the start of my 43rd year in prison. I have had such high hopes over the years that I might be getting out and returning to my family in North Dakota. And yet here I am in 2018 still struggling for my FREEDOM at 73.
I don't want to sound ungrateful to all my supporters who have stood by me through all these years. I dearly love and respect you and thank you for the love and respect you have given me.
But the truth is I am tired, and often my ailments cause me pain with little relief for days at a time. I just had heart surgery and I have other medical issues that need to be addressed: my aortic aneurysm that could burst at any time, my prostate, and arthritis in my hip and knees.
I do not think I have another ten years, and what I do have I would like to spend with my family. Nothing would bring me more happiness than being able to hug my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I did not come to prison to become a political prisoner. I've been part of Native resistance since I was nine years of age. My sister, cousin and I were kidnapped and taken to boarding school. This incident and how it affected my cousin Pauline, had an enormous effect on me.
This same feeling haunts me as I reflect upon my past 42 years of false imprisonment. This false imprisonment has the same feeling as when I heard the false affidavit the FBI manufactured about Myrtle Poor Bear being at Oglala on the day of the fire-fight—a fabricated document used to extradite me illegally from Canada in 1976.
I know you know that the FBI files are full of information that proves my innocence. Yet many of those files are still withheld from my legal team. During my appeal before the 8th Circuit, former Prosecuting Attorney Lynn Crooks said to Judge Heaney: "Your honor, we do not know who killed those agents. Further, we don't know what participation, if any, Mr. Peltier had in it."
That statement exonerates me, and I should have been released. But here I sit, 43 years later still struggling for my freedom. I have pleaded my innocence for so long now, in so many courts of law, in so many public statements issued through the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, that I will not argue it here. But I will say again, I DID NOT KILL THOSE AGENTS!
Right now, I need my supporters here in the U.S. and throughout the world helping me. We need donations large or small to help pay my legal team to do the research that will get me back into court or get me moved closer to home or a compassionate release based on my poor health and age. Please help me to go home, help me win my freedom!
There is a new petition my Canadian brothers and sisters are circulating internationally that will be attached to my letter. Please sign it and download it so you can take it to your work, school or place of worship. Get as many signatures as you can, a MILLION would be great!
I have been a warrior since age nine. At 73, I remain a warrior. I have been here too long. The beginning of my 43rd year plus over 20 years of good time credit, that makes 60-plus years behind bars.
I need your help. I need your help today! A day in prison for me is a lifetime for those outside because I am isolated from the world.
I remain strong only because of your support, prayers, activism and your donations that keep my legal hope alive.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
Doksha,
Leonard Peltier
If you would like a paper petition, please email contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info.
—San Francisco Bay View, February 6, 2018
Write to:
Leonard Peltier 89637-132 
USP Coleman I 
P.O. Box 1033 
Coleman, FL 33521

Donations can be made on Leonard's behalf to the ILPD national office, 116 W. Osborne Ave, Tampa, FL 33603

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Artwork by Kevin Cooper



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Reality's trial
is postponed 
until October 15th.


That's 500 Days in Jail,
Without Bail!

   

Whistleblower Reality Winner's trial has (again) been postponed.
Her new trial date is October 15, 2018, based on the new official proceedings schedule (fifth version). She will have spent 500 days jailed without bail by then. Today is day #301.
And her trial may likely be pushed back even further into the Spring of 2019.

We urge you to remain informed and engaged with our campaign until she is free! 




One supporter's excellent report
on the details of Winner's imprisonment

~Check out these highlights & then go read the full article here~
"*Guilty Until Proven Innocent*

Winner is also not allowed to change from her orange jumpsuit for her court dates, even though she is "innocent until proven guilty."  Not only that, but during any court proceedings, only her wrists are unshackled, her ankles stay.  And a US Marshal sits in front of her, face to face, during the proceedings.  Winner is not allowed to turn around and look into the courtroom at all . . .
Upon checking the inmate registry, it starts to become clear how hush hush the government wants this case against Winner to be.  Whether pre-whistleblowing, or in her orange jumpsuit, photos of Winner have surfaced on the web.  That's why it was so interesting that there's no photo of her next to her name on the inmate registry . . .
For the past hundred years, the Espionage Act has been debated and amended, and used to charge whistleblowers that are seeking to help the country they love, not harm it.  Sometimes we have to learn when past amendments no longer do anything to justify the treatment of an American truth teller as a political prisoner. The act is outdated and amending it needs to be seriously looked at, or else we need to develop laws that protect our whistleblowers.
The Espionage Act is widely agreed by many experts to be unconstitutionally vague and a violation of the First Amendment of Free Speech.  Even though a Supreme Court had ruled that the Espionage Act does not infringe upon the 1st Amendment back in 1919, it's constitutionality has been back and forth in court ever sense.

Because of being charged under the Espionage Act, Winner's defense's hands are tied.  No one is allowed to mention the classified document, even though the public already knows that the information in it is true, that Russia hacked into our election support companies." 
 Want to take action in support of Reality?

Step up to defend our whistleblower of conscience ► DONATE NOW


FRIENDS OF REALITY WINNER ~ PATRIOT & ALLEGED WHISTLEBLOWER
c/o Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

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@standbyreality (Twitter)

 Friends of Reality Winner (Facebook)



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SOLIDARITY with SERVERS — PLEASE CIRCULATE!
From Clifford Conner

Dear friends and relatives

Every day the scoundrels who have latched onto Trump to push through their rightwing soak-the-poor agenda inflict a new indignity on the human race.  Today they are conspiring to steal the tips we give servers in restaurants.  The New York Times editorial appended below explains what they're trying to get away with now.

People like you and me cannot compete with the Koch brothers' donors network when it comes to money power.  But at least we can try to avoid putting our pittance directly into their hands.  Here is a modest proposal:  Whenever you are in a restaurant where servers depend on tips for their livelihoods, let's try to make sure they get what we give them.

Instead of doing the easy thing and adding the tip into your credit card payment, GIVE CASH TIPS and HAND THEM DIRECTLY TO YOUR SERVER. If you want to add a creative flourish such as including a preprinted note that explains why you are doing this, by all means do so.  You could reproduce the editorial below for their edification.

If you want to do this, be sure to check your wallet before entering a restaurant to make sure you have cash in appropriate denominations.

This is a small act of solidarity with some of the most exploited members of the workforce in America.  Perhaps its symbolic value could outweigh its material impact.  But to paraphrase the familiar song: What the world needs now is solidarity, sweet solidarity.

If this idea should catch on, be prepared for news stories about restaurant owners demanding that servers empty their pockets before leaving the premises at the end of their shifts.  The fight never ends!

Yours in struggle and solidarity,

Cliff

Most Americans assume that when they leave a tip for waiters and bartenders, those workers pocket the money. That could become wishful thinking under a Trump administration proposal that would give restaurants and other businesses complete control over the tips earned by their employees.
The Department of Labor recently proposed allowing employers to pool tips and use them as they see fit as long as all of their workers are paid at least the minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour nationally and higher in some states and cities. Officials argue that this will free restaurants to use some of the tip money to reward lowly dishwashers, line cooks and other workers who toil in the less glamorous quarters and presumably make less than servers who get tips. Using tips to compensate all employees sounds like a worthy cause, but a simple reading of the government's proposal makes clear that business owners would have no obligation to use the money in this way. They would be free to pocket some or all of that cash, spend it to spiff up the dining room or use it to underwrite $2 margaritas at happy hour. And that's what makes this proposal so disturbing.
The 3.2 million Americans who work as waiters, waitresses and bartenders include some of the lowest-compensated working people in the country. The median hourly wage for waiters and waitresses was $9.61 an hour last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further, there is a sordid history of restaurant owners who steal tips, and of settlements in which they have agreed to repay workers millions of dollars.
Not to worry, says the Labor Department, which argues, oddly and unconvincingly, that workers will be better off no matter how owners spend the money. Enlarging dining rooms, reducing menu prices or offering paid time off should be seen as "potential benefits to employees and the economy over all." The department also assures us that owners will funnel tip money to employees because workers would quit otherwise.
t is hard to know how much time President Trump's appointees have spent with single mothers raising two children on a salary from a workaday restaurant in suburban America, seeing how hard it is to make ends meet without tips. What we do know is that the administration has produced no empirical cost-benefit analysis to support its proposal, which is customary when the government seeks to make an important change to federal regulations.
The Trump administration appears to be rushing this rule through — it has offered the public just 30 days to comment on it — in part to pre-empt the Supreme Court from ruling on a 2011 Obama-era tipping rule. The department's new proposal would do away with the 2011 rule. The restaurant industry has filed several legal challenges to that regulation, which prohibits businesses from pooling tips and sharing them with dishwashers and other back-of-the-house workers. Different federal circuit appeals courts have issued contradictory rulings on those cases, so the industry has asked the Supreme Court to resolve those differences; the top court has not decided whether to take that case.
Mr. Trump, of course, owns restaurants as part of his hospitality empire and stands to benefit from this rule change, as do many of his friends and campaign donors. But what the restaurant business might not fully appreciate is that their stealth attempt to gain control over tips could alienate and antagonize customers. Diners who are no longer certain that their tips will end up in the hands of the server they intended to reward might leave no tip whatsoever. Others might seek to covertly slip cash to their server. More high-minded restaurateurs would be tempted to follow the lead of the New York restaurateur Danny Meyer and get rid of tipping by raising prices and bumping up salaries.


By changing the fundamental underpinnings of tipping, the government might well end up destroying this practice. But in doing so it would hurt many working-class Americans, including people who believed that Mr. Trump would fight for them.

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

GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 of America's Largest Corporations a $236B Tax Cut: Report

By Jake Johnson, December 18, 2017



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Puerto Rico Still Without Power

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Addicted to War:

And this does not include "…spending $1.25 trillion dollars to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and $566 billion to build the Navy a 308-ship fleet…"


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Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:


Love this guy!


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B) ARTICLES IN FULL

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1) Alabama Executes Mail Bomber, 83, the Oldest Inmate Put to Death in Modern Era
By Alan Blinder, April 19, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/us/alabama-execution-walter-leroy-moody.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

Walter Leroy Moody Jr., 83, was executed Thursday night in Alabama. His reign of terror raised fears of racial violence and unsettled the federal judiciary.CreditAlabama Department of Corrections, via Associated Press


ATLANTA — Walter Leroy Moody Jr., who used mail bombs to assassinate a federal appeals court judge and a civil rights lawyer in 1989, was executed Thursday night at the Alabama prison where he spent decades denying his guilt.
With his execution by lethal injection, Mr. Moody, 83, became the oldest prisoner put to death in the modern era of American capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a research group.
Mr. Moody's reign of terror — deadly bombings and thwarted attacks in three Southern states, as well as menacing letters to judges and the media — raised fears of racial violence and unsettled the federal judiciary. His complex case drew in people who would become household names of American law enforcement: Louis J. Freeh, a future F.B.I. director; Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; and Jeff Sessions, now the United States attorney general.

Though Mr. Moody was found guilty on scores of federal charges, his execution was punishment for a 1996 state court conviction for the murder of Judge Robert S. Vance Sr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Judge Vance's son, Robert S. Vance Jr., himself a judge in Alabama, said Thursday that he had not forgiven Mr. Moody because "he has not acknowledged any remorse or any acknowledgment that he was guilty."
"I'm not a psychiatrist, but if you're talking about using labels like psychopath, this seems to be the kind of person that would fit that description because of absolute lack of empathy or concern for others," Judge Vance said.
Mr. Moody was pronounced dead at 8:42 p.m. on Thursday inside a South Alabama prison, ending a generations-long legal drama that began in 1972, when he planned a bombing against an automobile dealer who had repossessed his car.
His unsuccessful efforts to have his conviction overturned in that case stirred a protracted rage against the 11th Circuit, which has jurisdiction in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, Mr. Moody's home state. After the 11th Circuit rejected Mr. Moody's appeal in August 1989, the court noted in a subsequent ruling, he began trying to develop "war gases" and prepared what he termed a "Declaration of War" against the appellate court.
In December 1989, Mr. Moody mailed a parcel with a bomb — steel pipe, smokeless powder and 80 finishing nails — to the suburban Birmingham home of Robert Vance Sr., who had only considered Mr. Moody's appeal when it was before the full court. The bomb exploded when Judge Vance opened the package, killing him and gravely injuring his wife.

Another bomb two days later killed Robert E. Robinson, an African-American lawyer in Savannah, Ga. Officials also intercepted a device that was sent to the 11th Circuit's offices in Atlanta, as well as a bomb that was mailed to a Florida office of the N.A.A.C.P.
Prosecutors believed Mr. Moody disguised his motive by using the name of a fictitious group when he vowed to kill judges and railed against African-Americans and the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit's treatment of them.
Federal officials began to focus on Mr. Moody after an investigator described one of the bombs to a chemist with what was then known as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who sketched the device on a napkin and noticed its similarity to one Mr. Moody had built in 1972.
"That's Moody's bomb," the chemist said in an episode Mr. Freeh described in his memoir, which noted that Mr. Moody's companion ultimately cooperated with investigators and provided crucial information.
Mr. Moody, who attended law school and apparently resented that he could not practice, has maintained his innocence. In a recent letter to Judge Vance, he wrote, "Had my Dad been murdered, I would want to know who had done it."
Yet federal officials long pointed to a recording, partly transcribed in a court ruling, of Mr. Moody talking to himself in jail after the killings: "Now you've killed two. … Now you can't pull another bombin'."
"I never came across someone like him: very brilliant, very determined, very skillful," Mr. Freeh recalled on Thursday, adding, "He made it a campaign to declare war against the courts and kill these innocent people, but I've never seen a defendant like that."

Legal questions that often surface in capital cases were not at issue on Thursday as Mr. Moody's execution neared. There were not, for example, last-minute questions about his competency or Alabama's reliance on a lethal injection protocol that includes midazolam, a sedative whose use in executions has been bitterly disputed.
Instead, Mr. Moody's final efforts to avoid execution, which the United States Supreme Court rejected, were largely procedural, including whether the federal government could turn him over to Alabama — and its execution chamber — while Mr. Moody served his federal sentence of seven life terms, plus 400 years. (The federal case included charges connected to the bombs sent to Judge Vance and Mr. Robinson. Mr. Freeh, who prosecuted the federal case at Mr. Mueller's behest, said he believed Mr. Robinson's killing was intended "to create a diversion" to distract investigators.)
The Justice Department said Mr. Sessions, Alabama's attorney general when Mr. Moody was tried in state court, had determined that the federal government did not object to Mr. Moody being in Alabama's custody "for purposes of carrying out the capital sentence."
In a plea for clemency to Gov. Kay Ivey, one of Mr. Moody's lawyers noted that Judge Vance was "by all accounts, an opponent of capital punishment." On Thursday, the judge's son acknowledged that his father had expressed reservations about executions.
"But he also made clear that as a judge, he has to follow what the law dictates and put aside his personal views, and he had to do that several times sitting as a judge," Judge Vance said of his father.
"Moody was tried, convicted by a jury of his peers twice, the final time with the recommendation of the death penalty," he said. "I think the legal system worked well in getting those convictions."
Prompted at the prison near the Florida border on Thursday night, Mr. Moody offered no last words.

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2) The highest salute to the late Black Panther veteran Kiilu Nyasha!
by the People's Minister of Information JR ValreyApril 12, 2018

Our beloved Kiilu, 78, passed peacefully into the welcoming arms of the ancestors in the early morning of April 10, 2018. Celebrate her life on Friday, May 4, 6 p.m., at the African American Art & Culture Complex (AAACC), 762 Fulton, Fillmore District, San Francisco

http://sfbayview.com/2018/04/the-highest-salute-to-the-late-black-panther-veteran-kiilu-nyasha/
I met Black Panther veteran Kiilu Nyasha in 1996, through my affiliation with the young Black revolutionary Oakland-based collective the Young Comrades and through my work with the Pan Afrikan Student Union at San Francisco State University, while I was a student there. I had heard her speak before I got to really know her.

Comrade Kiilu Nyasha


I remember my initial thoughts the first few times that I heard her speak at SF State and at anti-war rallies in downtown San Francisco and Oakland. When she took the mic, and got into her groove, spitting her politics, the wheelchair melted away and she was 100 feet tall standing over us basically telling us to get with the program or get back.
She used to consistently kill the political apathy and timidity in people with her vocal passion and her tireless work ethic. I remember being at Free Mumia organizing meetings where sometimes Kiilu would be her happy self, exhibiting that beautiful smile, and sometimes she expressed a ferociousness that was always aimed at the state and its hold over the person that she was getting at.
Her love for political prisoners was immeasurable. She always stressed that we could never forget the souljahs who sacrificed their freedom for our movement. She is one of the people who implanted in my consciousness, early on, that the freedom of political prisoners and prisoners in general had to be heavily included in any serious political, not just revolutionary, agenda.
Kiilu was a serious political animal. She didn't just debate or go to meetings; she was on the frontlines of political struggle from her spaceship on a daily basis until her health started slipping. If Kiilu could be on point, with not having a car and being disabled, and still show up at the Stop U.S. Imperialism in Haiti rallies and presentations, as well as the Give the Palestinians Their Land Back rallies, anti-police terror rallies, and many other causes, what excuse did I have?
I personally remember her teaching me about her close comrades who were former political prisoners as well as current political prisoners Ruchell Magee, the late Hugo Pinell, Chip Fitzgerald, Sundiata Acoli, Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Dylcia Pagan, Ramona Africa and so many more – bringing real life to icons. She always encouraged me to write the people we were representing so we could get to know them on a human level.

Her love for political prisoners was immeasurable. She always stressed that we could never forget the souljahs who sacrificed their freedom for our movement. 

She often told me about her love for the guerrilla George Jackson, field marshall of the Black Panther Party, and that she injured her body trying to be like the man she regarded as a perfect personification of a revolutionary. She also had a profound love for former Haitian President Aristide of Haiti. She admired his courage and the initiatives that he implemented to help the most impoverished in his society.
I remember that she would always quote "The Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse Tung aka the Red Book" and George Jackson's "Blood in My Eye" the way Christians would quote the Bible and Muslims the Quran. Kiilu is one of the people who inspired me to not half-step, to be religious about my political principles and search for a truthful understanding as to what is always happening in the world.
We didn't always agree. She was a Panther mother whose adopted cub grew into his own politics and understanding of the ever-changing world. She would hold a grudge as long as I didn't see her or call her. If we happened to talk, in any way, she would forget about whatever her issue was with me and proceed to get my help on whatever particular campaigns she was engaged in at the time.
Kiilu was also a brilliant journalist, whose work I encountered in the SF Bay View, on KPOO radio station, through her email blast and on local cable in Frisco. She kept me aware of activists who were working on campaigns in my area that I could be a part of.
The first time that I remember organizing with her was with the Young Comrades. She was a part of the large delegation of Panthers and guerrillas who worked with the Young Comrades to organize a huge event in Lowell Park in West Oakland to greet our souljah and former political prisoner Geronimo Ji Jaga home and back to the Bay. That was one of the biggest events that I am proud to have been a part of in my life.

I remember that she would always quote "The Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse Tung aka the Red Book" and George Jackson's "Blood in My Eye" the way Christians would quote the Bible and Muslims the Quran.

Four years ago, my youngest daughter, who was 2 years old at the time, went to meet Kiilu at a park that she was hanging at by her house. When she met my daughter, she was shocked to learn her name, because it was the same as her late granddaughter's. That day, she and my daughter were all over that park riding around – inseparable – and oblivious to the crowds of people enjoying the sunshine. She was definitely one of the Movement grandmas my children and I are honored and privileged to have known and spent time with.
She lived on the I floor of a giant highrise in Chinatown, at the end of the hall. I remember she would grow her weed plants in her giant windows that faced the sun for most of the day. I remember one time at KPFA, while I was working there, she was a guest on someone's show, and I told her that I had half a blunt.
My friend was so embarrassed, because she thought that I was being disrespectful. Kiilu didn't say nothing to what I said, she went on with the conversation, and we proceeded to go outside. When we got to my car, she put the wheelchair in a tilted position and started blazing away.
It took about a minute for my friend to realize that the Black Panther guerrilla Kiilu self-medicated. When it was time to hang out, she would roll up a joint as well as when she was at home in peace. She was a medical marijuana activist and she was not a fan of pharmaceutical drugs.
Kiilu personified the spirit of a Black Panther and a dragon breaking free from a dungeon rolled into one, with the resiliency of a Haitian freedom fighter in their revolution and the resolve of a Palestinian resisting the settler colonial Zionist. The highest salute goes to one of my family's sheroes and a major inspiration – and let me not forget: a major Minister of Information.
Kiilu Nyasha, we love you, and we will never forget what you gave. All Power to the People! And Long Live the Guerrilla!
The People's Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportRadio.com.
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Raymond Nat Turner, BAR poet-in-residence

19 Apr 2018

https://blackagendareport.com/sistar-kiilu-nyasha-freedom-constant-struggle

Never thought I'd see
the day that I'd pray
for: Fake News;
Never thought I'd see
the day that I'd pray
for: Alternative Facts
from Boss Tweet— pray that
scribblers screwed up tenses
scribbling 'bout a constant struggler—
3-time loser in capitalist Amerikkka:
Disabled; Black and Woman— Panther to the core,
Ida B-child soldier speaking, writing in real time—
Mentoring men and women for battlefront lives
worth living…
Flying warrior woman kites coded in humanity
through concertina censorship; smuggling
Love and hope between bars, amplifying voices…
Maybe I'm selfish and don't wanna let go—
don't wanna lose the grace, the smile
Sweetly staunch as principles behind it?
Maybe I'm lazy and don't wanna lift her
Load, clicking, guiding, electric silence…
whizzing down steep hills, in swift traffic like
little cablecars that climb half way to the stars?
Maybe her meeting after meeting, march after march,
demonstration after demonstration, decade after decade
Shamed my temporarily-abled body to another level?
Or, maybe I'm afraid of losing the constant struggler—
the long distance runner— reminding me: WE WILL WIN?
© 2018. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.
Our poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner is an acclaimed performing artist. You can find much more of his work at http://upsurgejazz.com .
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3)  Gaza Protest Draws Fewer People but Remains Deadly
By Isabel Kershner and Iyad Abuheweila, April 20, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/20/world/middleeast/gaza-protest-deaths.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

A Palestinian protester during clashes with Israeli security forces near the border east of Gaza City on Friday.CreditMohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock


JERUSALEM — They came in smaller numbers. But the outcome was still deadly, and the victims this time included a 15-year-old boy.
Palestinians protested for a fourth Friday along the security fence dividing Gaza from Israel, some of them burning tires, hurling rocks or flying kites with flaming tails in the hope of setting ablaze the fields of Israeli rural communities on the other side. The Israeli military distributed a photograph of one kite with a scrawled swastika.
The military estimated the number of participants at about 3,000 in five locations along the Gaza border, down from at least 30,000 on March 30, when the protest campaign started.

But by evening the Gaza Health Ministry reported four killed by Israeli sniper fire. One was identified as Muhammad Ayoub, 15. Amateur video taken on the Gaza side of the fence purported to show him shot while running with other youths, apparently empty-handed. Graphic photographs showed the teenager lying on the rocky ground, bleeding from the head, and later on a hospital gurney.

His father, Ibrahim Ayoub, told a local Gaza-based news site: "I thank Allah for taking him as a martyr. This is better than the humiliating life and tragedy we live."
The Friday toll brought the total number of fatalities from the start of the campaign to at least 37. Hundreds more protesters have been wounded by Israeli fire.
Israel has drawn international censure for using live fire against the mostly unarmed protesters who did not appear to present any immediately life-threatening danger to the soldiers.

On Friday, Nickolay E. Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, denounced the shooting of the 15-year-old as "outrageous," writing on Twitter: "How does the killing of a child in #Gaza today help #peace? It doesn't! It fuels anger and breeds more killing." He called for an investigation into the killing.
Even as the numbers of protesters waned, the international campaign supporting the Palestinians received a boost this week when Natalie Portman, the Oscar-winning actress, backed out of a major award ceremonymeant to honor her in Jerusalem. Representatives initially cited her distress over "recent events" in Israel. On Friday, Ms. Portman issued a statement explaining her absence, saying, "I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu."

Israel's military says it is acting to prevent any mass crossing of the fence and to prevent attacks against Israeli soldiers and nearby communities. The military said it was looking into the reports of the fatalities.
On Friday, the Israeli military said in a statement that people participating in what it described as riots were "attempting to approach the security infrastructures," burning tires and trying to fly kites over the border with burning items attached to them. Several crossed into Israel, the statement said, and "were extinguished when required."
The military added that it would "not allow any harm to security infrastructure that protects Israeli civilians, and will act against the violent rioters and terrorists who threaten either." The troops responded with tear gas and live fire.
As in previous weeks, no injuries were reported on the Israeli side.
The protests began as a grass-roots campaign but were quickly adopted by Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza. They are meant to draw international attention to the 11-year blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the isolated, impoverished coastal territory. The protests also are meant to punctuate Palestinian demands for the return to lands in what is now Israel.
The organizers of the protests, named the Great Return March, originally said the idea had been for a peaceful, family-style six-week sit-in at tent encampments erected about 700 yards from the fence, with weekly marches building up to a peak on May 15. That is when Palestinians mark the Nakba, or the catastrophe, of the foundation of Israel and the war surrounding its creation in 1948, during which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in what is now Israel. Many of the refugees ended up in Gaza.
Israel says the campaign has been taken over by Hamas, which Israel, like much of the Western world, classifies as a terrorist organization.

In leaflets dropped from the air on Friday the military warned protesters, in Arabic, to stay away from the fence, and told them to ignore instructions from Hamas, which Israel says is exploiting the protesters for its own political interests. While a few confronted the troops, most of the protesters stood by, watching.

One protester, Abdallah Daoud, 16, explained why he was participating. With his face black with soot from the burning tires and slingshot in hand, he said: "There is no money, there is nothing. I want to be a martyr because of the siege," a reference to the blockade. "I cannot get out of Gaza. There is no income."
In a new tactic, protesters including whole families in the Shejaiya area of eastern Gaza moved tents forward to about 300 yards from the fence, considered the edge of the danger zone.
Some Shejaiya protesters built a cage, like a mock prison cell, containing effigies of two Israeli soldiers whose bodies are being held by Hamas in Gaza, and two Israeli citizens also believed held by Hamas there. The entrance to the Shejaiya protest site included a large poster with pictures and names of those killed during the first three Fridays.
During a visit to the protest area, Ismail Haniya, the political leader of the Hamas organization, said: "Be ready and prepared for the human flood on all the borders of Palestine inside and outside the occupied lands on the anniversary of the Nakba."
Islamic Jihad, an extremist group that often rivals Hamas in Gaza, went further, releasing a video on Thursday showing Israeli officers, including a senior general, in its sights as they toured the Israeli side of the fence.
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's hard-line defense minister, visited the Gaza border area on Friday. "What we have seen in these four weeks is that every week there are less and less people on the one hand," he said, "and on the other hand, there is much more terror activity."
He warned, "Whoever makes threats will lose in the end."

Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza.

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4) Charges Sought in Eric Garner's Death, but Justice Officials Have Doubts
By Matt Apuzzo, April 20, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/20/us/politics/eric-garner-charges-recommended.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Gwen Carr held a photo of her son, Eric Garner, who died on a Staten Island street in 2014 after a police officer used a chokehold to subdue him.CreditMark Kauzlarich/The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Federal civil rights prosecutors have recommended charges against a New York police officer in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, three current and former officials said, but top Justice Department officials have expressed strong reservations about whether to move forward with a case they say may not be winnable.
Mr. Garner died on a Staten Island street after the police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, used a chokehold to subdue him. Officers had confronted Mr. Garner, who was unarmed, over accusations of selling untaxed cigarettes. His final gasps of "I can't breathe," captured on a cellphone video, became a rallying cry for protesters around the country.
In recent weeks, career prosecutors recommended civil rights charges against Officer Pantaleo and sought approval from the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to seek an indictment, according to the officials. Mr. Rosenstein has convened several meetings that revealed divisions within the Justice Department over whether to move forward. No decision has been made, but one law enforcement official said that, based on the discussions so far, it appeared unlikely that Mr. Rosenstein would approve charges.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also been briefed on the case and could weigh in after Mr. Rosenstein makes his own recommendation, officials said.

The death of Mr. Garner, along with the shooting death a month later of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and several other high-profile police encounters ignited the most significant debate over the use of force by police officers since the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991.
The federal inquiry into Mr. Garner's death dragged on for years and has divided the Justice Department investigative team since the Obama administration. Prosecutors in New York argued against bringing charges, while civil rights prosecutors in Washington said it represented a clear case of excessive force. In the final months of the administration, the attorney general at the time, Loretta E. Lynch, sided with her civil rights chief, Vanita Gupta, and authorized prosecutors to build a case for indictment.
Mr. Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said on Friday that Justice Department officials had promised to tell her when a decision was made. "I haven't heard anything," she said. "I'm hopeful. But we'll never know until there's a decision."
The fate of the investigation has been uncertain under the Trump administration. Mr. Sessions has rolled back efforts to use his civil rights team to investigate unconstitutional police practices and force changes on entire departments. He said that approach, favored by the Obama administration, unfairly tarnished good police officers and contributed to racial unrest.

But Mr. Sessions has also promised to hold officers accountable for abuses. "Just as I am committed to defending law enforcement who use deadly force while lawfully engaged in their work, I will also hold any officer responsible breaking the law," he told the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives last year.

Mr. Trump's pick to lead the civil rights unit, Eric S. Dreiband, has been awaiting a vote in the Senate for months. John M. Gore, a deputy chief and a Trump appointee, is temporarily overseeing the division. Career prosecutors specializing in police abuse have been running the Garner investigation.
Devin O'Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, had no comment.
"It's been a long road for Officer Pantaleo and a very frustrating one," said Stuart London, Mr. Pantaleo's lawyer. "He has always been confident that he never violated Eric Garner's civil rights. He's also always denied he used a chokehold."
"Any time there is a loss of life, it's a tragedy," he said, adding, "It's been a long road for the Garner family, too."
It is rare for civil rights prosecutors to recommend criminal charges against officers in excessive force cases. Declining to indict would be certain to ignite fresh criticism that the Justice Department under Mr. Sessions is indifferent to allegations of police abuse.
But law enforcement officials, including some on both sides of this case, acknowledge serious challenges with the case. When he was attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr. said the evidence clearly justified indictment, but he acknowledged prosecutors might lose at trial.
Ms. Lynch was less certain and deliberated for months before allowing it to move forward. Even some of the civil rights prosecutors who argued in favor of charging Officer Pantaleo acknowledged that the case had weaknesses. For instance, some former officials said the initial F.B.I. team believed early on that Officer Pantaleo had done nothing wrong and skewed their investigation accordingly.
A state grand jury previously declined to bring charges in the case.
Police abuse cases are among the most difficult courtroom challenges that prosecutors face. Juries frequently give great deference to police officers for actions carried out under pressure. That is important because, before bringing charges, federal prosecutors must consider whether they are likely to win at trial — a rule that some civil rights advocates say gives officers an advantage before charges are even filed.

Officer Pantaleo has said he did not mean to put Mr. Garner in a chokehold. The officer said he tried to use a "seatbelt maneuver," which involved hooking an arm underneath one of Mr. Garner's arms while wrapping the other around his torso. During the struggle, Officer Pantaleo said he feared he would be pushed through a storefront window behind him.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn were convinced by that argument, but the civil rights specialists were not. They said the video, captured by a bystander, showed clear evidence of willful wrongdoing. In particular, they have singled out the moments after Officer Pantaleo was clear of the storefront window and appeared to keep putting pressure on Mr. Garner's neck.
The spate of high-profile deaths at the hands of police officers spurred angry, sometimes violent protests around the country, inspiring changes in policing strategies in many cities and a federal push to collect better data on the use of force.
Officer Pantaleo has been on desk duty since shortly after Mr. Garner's death. While the police department's internal inquiry of him has been completed, the results are unknown and police officials are waiting to mete out any potential discipline — up to and including termination — until the federal government resolves its own case.

Alan Feuer contributed reporting from New York and Katie Benner from Washington.

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5)  Nicaragua Roiled by Protests Over Social Security Benefits
By Kirk Semple, April 20, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/20/world/americas/nicaragua-protests-ortega.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront

Protesters clashed with the police in Managua, Nicaragua, this week during demonstrations against changes to the country's social security program.CreditOswaldo Rivas/Reuters


MEXICO CITY — Extraordinary protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua extended into a third day on Friday as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Managua, the capital, and other cities, clashing with government security forces and barricading neighborhoods in opposition to newly announced changes in the social security program.
At least three people, including a police officer, have been killed in the protests since they began on Wednesday, according to the authorities, and dozens of people have been wounded.
The demonstrations have been partly driven by students from the country's public universities, which historically have been a faithful base of support for Mr. Ortega. They have been joined by a variety of groups, including retirees. The protests are among the largest and most violent in Nicaragua's recent history.

They were set off by changes to the social security system approved by the Ortega administration this week, but they also tapped growing discontent with the government, protesters and analysts said.

"The protests are a consequence of years of unsatisfied demands and growing repression and censorship to dissident groups," said Manuel Orozco, senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank in Washington.
The political situation in Nicaragua had been deteriorating since the re-election of Mr. Ortega in 2016 to a third consecutive term amid charges of electoral fraud. "Since then, there's been an open wound in society," Mr. Orozco said.
The Ortega administration further alienated more constituents by raising the possibility of censoring social media sites and by its widely criticized handling of a major wildfire that burned out of control for days, destroying parts of a protected tropical forest, Mr. Orozco said.
Among the modifications to the pension system, both employees and employers must contribute more to the social security system, and retirees will see a reduction in their pensions, as more money will be taken out to cover medical expenses.
Demonstrations initially erupted in Managua and León but soon spread to at least 10 other cities, including Granada, Masaya and Matagalpa.

Videos circulating on social media sites have shown protesters, wearing motorcycle helmets for protection, throwing rocks and homemade fire bombs at armed riot police officers, who have responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets.
Waves of counterprotesters have also spilled into the streets in support of the government. In Masaya, a bastion of support for Mr. Ortega's Sandinista movement, government supporters attacked protesters with sticks, Reuters reported.
A 29-year-old man was killed on Thursday night near the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua in Managua, the scene of clashes between protesters and the police, according to the university's employees union. Family members told union representatives that the man had died after being hit in the neck by a rubber bullet.
Also on Thursday, clashes with groups that the police described as vandals at the Polytechnic University left one police officer dead. A counterprotester was shot and killed in Tipitapa, a municipality near the capital, by "groups of vandals" who were trying to storm the mayor's offices, the police said. Protesters claimed that the victim had been a member of the opposition movement.
The government ordered cable television providers to cut the signal to several stations not under state control.
"They are threatening us!" Miguel Mora, the director of one of the stations, 100% Noticias, declared Friday on Facebook. "We are not scared!" The station has continued to broadcast via social media.
Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the United Nations Human Rights Office, called on the Ortega administration "to ensure that people are able to freely exercise their right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly and association."

"We also urge those demonstrating to do so peacefully," Ms. Throssell added.
The protests seemed likely to get bigger despite the crackdown. On Friday, a leader of a peasants' movement vowed to mobilize her constituents, potentially numbering in the thousands, and march on Managua.
President Ortega has remained silent, issuing no public declarations. But Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is also the first lady, issued statements that were broadcast on state-controlled media on Thursday saying that the protesters were being manipulated for political purposes.
Ms. Murillo said the protests were organized by "those tiny groups that inflame and destabilize to destroy Nicaragua."
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6) Sheriff's Deputy Is Fired After Fatally Shooting Unarmed Man in Houston
By Jacey Fortin, April 21, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/21/us/texas-police-shooting-fired.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

Danny Ray Thomas walking toward Cameron Brewer, then a Harris County Sheriff's deputy, moments before Mr. Thomas was shot and killed in March. He was unarmed.Creditvia Reuters


A sheriff's deputy who shot and killed an unarmed black man who was acting erratically at a Houston intersection last month has been fired, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said on Friday.
The deputy, Cameron Brewer, who is also black, did not adhere to the department's policy on use of force when he fatally shot Danny Ray Thomas, 34, on March 22, the agency said in a statement.

A video camera inside Mr. Brewer's car captured part of the encounter: Mr. Thomas can be seen at an intersection with his pants around his ankles and in an altercation with another man as the deputy's car pulls up. He can then be seen walking toward Deputy Brewer, who is yelling: "Get down, man! Get on the ground."

The deputy was not wearing his newly issued body camera, so what happened next was not captured in the video released by the sheriff's office. But the sound of a single gunshot could be heard, and Mr. Thomas was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Deputy Brewer, who joined the sheriff's department in 2016, was placed on administrative duty after the shooting, pending an internal affairs investigation. In its statement on Friday, the department said that Mr. Thomas was "behaving erratically" but that he was unarmed. Although Deputy Brewer was carrying a Taser, he did not use it before shooting Mr. Thomas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has said.
"The brave men and women of the Harris County Sheriff's Office are called upon to make life-or-death decisions on a daily basis, and we take that responsibility very seriously," Sheriff Gonzalez said in the statement. "We hold the community's trust as sacred, and we will continue to support our deputies with clear policies and the valuable training they need to protect the lives of all our residents."
Deputy Brewer did not respond to a phone call seeking comment on Friday. A spokeswoman for the Houston Police Department said on Friday that the department was still investigating the shooting.
The Harris County Deputies' Organization expressed condolences to Mr. Thomas's family but said in a statement that it stood behind Deputy Brewer. "Sheriff Gonzalez has second-guessed Deputy Brewer's split-second decision," it said. "We do not agree with the decision of Sheriff Gonzalez to terminate Deputy Brewer."
The shooting happened at a time of heightened scrutiny over the use of force by the police. Another unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, 22, had recently been shot by officers in his backyard in Sacramento, and protests over his death were taking place on the same day Mr. Thomas was killed.
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7) A Shadowy War's Newest Front: A Drone Base Rising From Saharan Dust
 APRIL 22, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/22/us/politics/drone-base-niger.html?hp&action=
click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=
top-news&WT.nav=top-news


An American Special Forces soldier training Nigerien troops during an exercise on the Air Base 201 compound. CreditTara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times

 "The base, and the more frequent flights that its opening will allow, will give us far more situational awareness and intelligence on a region that has been a hub of illicit and extremist activity," said P.W. Singer, a strategist at New America in Washington who has written extensively about drones. "But it will also further involve us in yet more operations and fights that few Americans are even aware our military is in."
Questions about whether the American military, under the Trump administration, is seeking to obscure the expanding scope of operations in Africa surfaced last month when it was revealed that the United States had carried out four airstrikes in Libya between September and January that the military's Africa Command had failed to disclose at the time.
Soon after, the military acknowledged for the first time that Green Berets working with Nigerien forces had killed 11 Islamic State militants in a multiday firefight in December. No American or Nigerien forces were harmed in the December gun battle.
But the combat — along with at least 10 other previously unreported attacks on American troops in West Africa between 2015 and 2017 — underscored the fact that the deadly ambush in Niger was not an isolated episode. Nigerien forces and their American advisers are preparing other major operations to clear out militants, military officials say.
"It's essential that the American public is aware of, engaged in, and decides whether or not to support American military operations in countries around the world, including Niger," said Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, who visited Niger with four other senators this month.
Six months after the fatal attack, which took place outside the village of Tongo Tongo near the Mali border, the Trump administration stands at a critical crossroad in the military's global counterterrorism campaign.
One path would push ahead with President Trump's campaign vow to defeat the Islamic State and other violent extremist organizations, not just in Iraq and Syria, but worldwide. The other would be to pull out and leave more of the fighting to allies, as Mr. Trump said he wants to do in Syria, possibly ceding hard-fought ground to militants.

During a counterterrorism exercise this past week in north-central Niger that drew nearly 2,000 military personnel from 20 African and Western countries, many officers voiced concerns that America's commitment in West Africa could fall victim to the latter impulse.
"It's important to still have support from the U.S. to help train my men, to help with our shortfalls," said Col. Maj. Moussa Salaou Barmou, commander of Niger's 2,000 Special Operations forces, who trained at Fort Benning, Ga., and the National Defense University in Washington.
In an interview on the sidelines of the exercise, Maj. Gen. J. Marcus Hicks, the head of American Special Operations forces in Africa, put it this way: "This is an insurance policy that's very inexpensive, and I think we need to keep paying into it."
Building a new base in this remote, landlocked country nearly twice the size of Texas marks the latest chapter in the military's contentious history of drone operations around the world.
It comes as American drone strikes are on the rise again, after tapering off somewhat in places like Pakistan. The number of American strikes against Islamist militants last year tripled in Yemen and doubled in Somalia from the figure a year before.
Last month, an armed drone flown from a second base in Niger killed a Qaeda leader in southern Libya for the first time, signaling a possible expansion of strikes there.
Where American and Nigerien officials see enhanced security in drone operations — for surveillance, strikes or protecting Special Forces patrols — others fear a potentially destabilizing impact that could hand valuable recruiting propaganda to an array of groups aligned with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and that could increase the militants' menace.
"Eliminating jihadi military leaders through drone operations could temporarily disorganize insurgent groups," said Jean-Hervé Jezequel, deputy director of the International Crisis Group's West Africa project in Dakar, Senegal. "But eventually the void could also lead to the rise of new and younger leaders who are likely to engage into more violent and spectacular operations to assert their leadership."
A rare visit this month to Air Base 201, the largest construction project that Air Force engineers have ever undertaken alone, revealed several challenges.
Commanders grapple with swirling dust storms, scorching temperatures and lengthy spare-part deliveries to fix broken equipment. All have conspired to put the project more than a year behind schedule and $22 million over its original budget.
American officials have sought to allay fears of local residents that the base, just two miles outside the city of Agadez, could be a target for terrorist attacks — not a guardian against them. Rumors circulated that the dozens of dump trucks rumbling in and out of the heavily defended front gates each day were secretly stealing valuable uranium, for which the region is renowned.
"We had to overcome some suspicion and distrust," said Lt. Col. Brad Harbaugh, commander of the 724th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, the senior officer here.
For centuries, Agadez has been an important way-stop for smugglers, migrants and camel caravans traversing the Sahara. The city of 125,000 people is more than 450 miles from Tongo Tongo, where the American soldiers and Nigerien troops were attacked last fall, but militants have also targeted this region in recent years.
In May 2013, Islamist militants staged coordinated attacks, using suicide car bombs to strike a Nigerien military compound in Agadez and a French-operated uranium company in the nearby town of Arlit. Two groups claimed credit for the bombings, which Nigerien authorities said killed at least 24 soldiers and one civilian, as well as 11 militants.
President Barack Obama ordered the first 100 American troops to Niger in February 2013 to help set up unarmed surveillance drone operations in Niamey, Niger's capital, to support a French-led operation combating Qaeda and affiliated fighters in neighboring Mali.
Even as those troops deployed, military officials said then that they ultimately wanted to move the drone operations to outside Agadez, closer to Saharan smuggling routes that Islamist militants use to transport arms and fighters from Libya to northern Mali. Runway construction broke ground in the summer of 2016.
Niger's government approved Air Base 201 in 2014. Last November, a month after the deadly ambush, the government of Niger gave the Defense Department permission to fly armed drones out of Niamey, a major expansion of the American military's firepower in Africa. American and Nigerien officers here refused to discuss armed operations. But a Defense Department official acknowledged that the military in January started flying armed missions from Niamey, 500 miles southwest of the base, including the deadly strike in southern Libya last month.
MQ-9 Reaper drones, made by General Atomics, will be moved to Air Base 201 once its runway and hangars are completed by early next year, as will several hundred American troops. Roughly half of the 800 American forces in Niger — the second-largest American troop presence in Africa, second only to the 4,000 military personnel at a permanent base in Djibouti — work here now.
Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal, a website run by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that tracks military strikes against militant groups, said that moving the drone operations to Agadez had two main advantages.
First, he said, the base will be more centrally located to conduct operations throughout the Sahel, a vast area on the southern flank of the Sahara that stretches from Senegal to Sudan and has been seized by a growing wave of terrorism and armed conflict.
Second, Agadez is more isolated than Niamey. That will help keep the operations more low-key and away from prying eyes.
"The Agadez base has the potential to become the most active counterterrorism hub in Africa," Mr. Roggio said.
The Niger deployment is only the second time that armed drones have been stationed and used in Africa.
Drones now based in Djibouti are used in Yemen and Somalia, where there were about 30 strikes last year against Shabab and Islamic State targets — twice the number in 2016. Drones used against targets in Libya have flown from Sicily, but with a range of about 1,100 miles, the Reapers could not reach militant hide-outs in southern Libya.
The United States also flies unarmed surveillance drones from bases in Tunisia and Cameroon.
At Air Base 201, building a runway more than 6,800 feet long and 150 feet wide poses severe logistical hurdles. Rock from local quarries is crushed into gravel for the runway's underlying support. But the rock crushers have broken down, forcing workers at least once to use couriers to hand-deliver spare parts from Paris to avoid weekslong shipping delays.
"There's no Home Depot downtown here," said Colonel Harbaugh, 40, an Afghanistan war veteran from Pittsburgh.
Runway construction also requires choreographed precision.
Dump trucks disgorge piles of wet gravel. A giant grader equipped with a GPS-controlled blade spreads the rock to an exact depth. Steamrollers pace back and forth behind the grader to compact the gravel. To settle properly, the moistened rocks must not dry too quickly, so much of this work is done at night to avoid daytime temperatures that this past week soared to 107 degrees.
Later this summer, workers will lay five inches of asphalt atop the rock bed. In all, commanders say they will pave some 39 acres of airfield. While built mainly for the Reaper drones, the runway and adjoining taxiways and ramps must be able to handle much heavier C-17 cargo planes. Three huge hangars capped in a tan fabric covering sprout-like giant mushrooms, visible from miles away. Each can fit one or more drones.
Eventually, the plan is to turn Air Base 201 completely over to the Nigerien military. American and Nigerien security forces now jointly patrol the 2,200-acre site. The base cafeteria employs 80 local workers, and the Americans have spent tens of millions of dollars on local rock, concrete, steel, wood and other supplies. Civic leaders and local journalists were recently invited to tour the base.
A four-man civil affairs team led by Capt. Andrew Dacey, a former Army infantry platoon leader in Iraq, has worked closely with civic, religious and educational leaders in Agadez to help address the high unemployment and ill-equipped schools — shortcomings that Islamist extremists can exploit.
The team is helping local schools start a metal and wood craftsman apprenticeship that teaches teenage students new skills and supplies classrooms with refurbished desks.
"The base has been very helpful for our security and our economy," said Mahaman Ali, an inspector for primary schools in the area, pointing to piles of broken desks that will be repaired.
And yet doubts still linger about the base's enduring legacy.
"The deployment of armed drones is not going to make a strategic difference," said E.J. Hogendoorn, the International Crisis Group's deputy Africa program director in Washington, "and may even increase local hostility to the U.S. and the central government in distant Niamey."
Helene Cooper and Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Washington.
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8) Public Servants Are Losing Their Foothold in the Middle Class
By Patricia Cohen and Robert Gebeloff, April 22, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/22/business/economy/public-employees.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Shala Marshall has taught for 17 years, has a master's degree and has been a finalist for Oklahoma teacher of the year. Her adjusted gross income is $28,000, she said, and "I can't support a family on that."CreditBrandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times


OKLAHOMA CITY — The anxiety and seething anger that followed the disappearance of middle-income jobs in factory towns has helped reshape the American political map and topple longstanding policies on tariffs and immigration.
But globalization and automation aren't the only forces responsible for the loss of those reliable paychecks. So is the steady erosion of the public sector.
For generations of Americans, working for a state or local government — as a teacher, firefighter, bus driver or nurse — provided a comfortable nook in the middle class. No less than automobile assembly lines and steel plants, the public sector ensured that even workers without a college education could afford a home, a minivan, movie nights and a family vacation.

In recent years, though, the ranks of state and local employees have languished even as the populations they serve have grown. They now account for the smallest share of the American civilian work force since 1967.

The 19.5 million workers who remain are finding themselves financially downgraded. Teachers who have been protesting low wages and sparse resources in OklahomaWest Virginia and Kentucky — and those in Arizona who say they plan to walk out on Thursday — are just one thread in that larger skein.
"I was surprised to realize along the way I was no longer middle class," said Teresa Moore, who has spent 30 years investigating complaints of abused or neglected children, veterans and seniors in Oklahoma.
She raised two daughters in Alex, a rural dot southwest of the capital, on her salary. But when she applied for a mortgage nine years ago, the loan officer casually described her as "low income."
At 57, Ms. Moore now earns just over $43,000, which she supplements with a part-time job as a computer technician.

The private sector has been more welcoming. During 97 consecutive months of job growth, it created 18.6 million positions, a 17 percent increase.

But that impressive streak comes with an asterisk. Many of the jobs created — most in service industries — lack stability and security. They pay little more than the minimum wage and lack predictable hours, insurance, sick days or parental leave.
The result is that the foundation of the middle class continues to be gnawed away even as help-wanted ads multiply.
Reducing state and local payrolls, of course, is a goal that has champions and detractors. Anti-tax crusaders, concerned about cost and overreach, have longed for a smaller government that delivers only the most limited services. Public-sector defenders worry that shortages of restaurant inspectors, rat exterminators, mental health counselors and the like will hurt neighborhoods. Pothole-studded roads and unreliable garbage pickup don't entice businesses, either.
Yet whether one views a diminished public sector as vital to economic growth or a threat to health and safety, it is undeniable that it has led to a significant decline in middle-class employment opportunities.
"It's a tough time to be working in government," said Neil Reichenberg, executive director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources. Once there were several attractions to public employment in addition to the mission of making a difference in your community, he added, but incentives like good health insurance and retirement benefits have disappeared. "There's been a lot of cutbacks that have made government a less competitive employer," he said.
From the late 1950s through 1980, the United States added 350,000 new state and local workers a year. The rate slowed in the mid-1980s through the early 2000s, but payrolls still grew annually by 300,000 workers.

Government hiring failed to bounce back after the recession in both Republican- and Democratic-led states, and states continued to shed workers through 2013. The recovery's slow pace held down revenues at the same time as baby boomers began retiring and generous pension and benefit commitments made in fatter years came due.

"They couldn't pay their obligations," said Edwin Benton, a political scientist at the University of South Florida and the managing editor of an academic journal, State and Local Government Review. "The epidemic has grown to almost every city and state."
"We're in uncharted waters," he added.
In the past 12 months, local and state payrolls grew by 31,000, a fraction of the historical rate. There are now fewer such workers per capita than there were three decades ago. 
Nonetheless, those combined payrolls dwarf those of the federal government, which employs about 2.8 million civilians, including postal workers. That number has shrunk slightly in recent years.

Short of money, many states have also privatized services like managing public water systems, road repair, emergency services or prisons, transferring jobs from the public sector to private companies that have reduced salaries and benefits to increase their profits.
The government employment pinch especially hurts in small and rural counties, where President Trump and other Republicans are popular. These areas tend to lack the number and diversity of private employers found in larger cities, and are therefore more dependent on government jobs.
Oklahoma is one of several Republican-led states where persistent anti-tax sentiment and severe budget cuts have guided policymaking, particularly since 2010, when many candidates supported by Tea Party voters won local offices.
Then, the newly elected governor, Mary Fallin, led the charge to reduce the state's top income-tax rate and shrink the tax on oil and gas production to 2 percent from 7 percent for new wells. But a sharp drop in oil and gas prices in 2014 delivered an unexpected wallop. Tax revenue evaporated, leaving huge budget shortfalls since then.

Justin Fortney, 41, was one of 200 employees laid off by the state health department this year. "It's getting more difficult to be a public employee — whether that's a teacher or public health officer — and see yourself as part of a thriving middle class," he said.
Mr. Fortney, who lives with his wife and son in Guthrie, 30 miles north of the capital, was forced to start job hunting. "We always made it work," said Mr. Fortney, who was employed by the state for 12 years and earned about $50,000 annually. "But if you're going to choose to be a public servant, you have to have in mind that you will live in a small home and drive a sometimes unreliable vehicle."
He said he worried that talented workers will opt for the private sector. Staffing shortages are common in states across the country.
In Houston, pinched by a property tax cap, the police chief has said his department is short 1,500 to 2,000 officers. In North Carolina, a federal report blamed a 25 percent job vacancy rate at a state prison in Elizabeth City for four deaths that occurred during a breakout attempt.
Back in Oklahoma, state prisons are at 153 percent capacity, while the corrections department has lost a tenth of its staff since 2009. "Our folks are only armed with their self-defense training, a can of pepper spray, and a wing and a prayer that someone will come and help them if they get in trouble," Joe Allbaugh, the director of the corrections department, has said publicly.
Since 2009, staffing at the state mental health department in Oklahoma is down more than 20 percent, and at the Office of Juvenile Affairs by nearly a quarter. The state Office of Fire Marshal once employed 30 workers, but now has 18.
report on 2017 state compensation in Oklahoma found that average salaries were 27 percent lower than for comparable jobs in the private sector.

Many government workers take a second job to make ends meet. Eldon Johnson, 40, who cares for children with cerebral palsy and autism at a group home in Norman, works from 2:45 to 10:45 p.m., earning $12.50 an hour, less than some clerks at 7-Eleven. He then drives directly to his better-paying second job at a private mental health center, where he works until 8 a.m.

"There's no way I could make it without a second job, unless I lived in a box, and maybe had a moped," said Mr. Johnson, who has worked for the state for 10 years.
Advocates for disadvantaged groups like foster children or the disabled have trouble rallying broad support for budget and tax increases, but public school teachers have been able to recruit additional allies among families with school-age children.
Parents from affluent Republican suburbs like Bixby and Jenks outside Tulsa, for instance, car-pooled for a 100-mile trip to the State Capitol last month to lobby lawmakers for more education funding and raises for teachers.
"My adjusted gross income is $28,000," said Shala Marshall, a Spanish teacher at Jenks High School. A 17-year veteran with a master's degree and a finalist for Oklahoma teacher of the year, Ms. Marshall has two children. "I can't support a family on that," she said.
So she puts in another 30 hours or so a week tutoring students and selling online the luminescent pink LipSense gloss she wears. That pays for soccer cleats, camp and school pictures, as well as her children's health insurance.

On April 3, Governor Fallin signed a bill to increase taxes for the first time in 28 years to pay for teacher raises of roughly $6,000 and additional funding for schools. Dozens of Republican lawmakers voted for the measures.

"No one wants to raise taxes, but we've got to pay the bills," said Josh West, a freshman Republican from Grove, where his four children attend public school.
He was one of several lawmakers to meet with Bixby and Jenks parents over box lunches from Chick-fil-A. An Army veteran, Mr. West said he had been criticized by conservative groups for refusing to sign a pledge to never to raise taxes.
"My district just wants to fix the problem," Mr. West said. "They don't care if you're Republican or Democrat."
Several Republicans in the administration and Legislature now concede that tax cutting got out of hand. "I was rather vocal last year as the appropriations chair that even as a Republican, we had gone too far and it was time to start investing again in Oklahoma," said Leslie Osborn, a representative from Mustang.
The recent budget also includes small pay raises for other state workers. Ms. Moore, for instance, who watches over vulnerable adults, is slated to get an additional $750 a year.
But the Department of Human Services, where she works, won't be able to restore any of the 1,200 jobs eliminated over the past three years, leaving the agency with 6,109 full-time employees. Those figures don't include 800 vacancies that cannot be filled because the budget is overstretched.
So Ms. Moore will still be responsible for roughly a third of the state, covering 25 counties, 19,000 square miles, and more than 100 long-term care institutions that care for older or disabled residents as well as those with dementia.

"That's a lot of windshield time," she said.
Because of the cuts, the agency extended the deadline for maltreatment investigations at nursing homes. Rather than beginning within seven days of a complaint, they must now start within 30 days.
Ms. Moore's friends and neighbors hold conflicting views of her taxpayer-funded job. "The minute they have someone in the nursing home they perceive to be mistreated, we're the first people they come to," she said. "They want us when they need us. And when they no longer need us again, they don't want us."
Some are resentful that they are being asked to pay for benefits that they themselves struggle to afford.
"I asked my brother, 'How do you feel about this pay raise?'" Ms. Moore recalled. "He said: 'I want you to have it. You deserve it. But we don't feel like we should pay for it.'"
"Well," she said, "who do you want to pay for it?"

Patricia Cohen reported from Oklahoma City and Robert Gebeloff from New York.
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9) 'I'm Not a Hero,' Says Unarmed Man Who Wrested Rifle From Waffle House Gunman
By Alan Blinder and Matthew Haag, April 23, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/23/us/waffle-house-hero-james-shaw.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

James Shaw Jr., right, embraced Waffle House's chief executive, Walter G. Ehmer, during a news conference in Nashville on Sunday.CreditWade Payne/The Tennessean, via Associated Press


For the latest on the Waffle House shooting, read Monday's live updates.
NASHVILLE — The young woman, bandaged and shrouded in bedsheets, began to cry when James Shaw Jr. walked into Trauma Room No. 26 on Monday morning. Then, as the woman's father drew near, one of Vanderbilt University Medical Center's surgeons spoke up: "Have you met James? James saved a lot of lives."
The men embraced, crying, the woman's father clapping James Shaw Jr. on the back.
"Thank you," the older man whispered to Mr. Shaw, who a day earlier wrested an assault rifle from a man who opened fire at a Waffle House restaurant just southeast of downtown Nashville early Sunday. The rampage left four people dead.
The police, as well as other customers in the Waffle House, quickly praised Mr. Shaw as a hero for preventing even more bloodshed.

"I'm not a hero. I'm just a regular person," Mr. Shaw said a few hours after the shooting, a sentiment he repeated in talk show appearances Monday morning.

Later on Monday, he slipped into Vanderbilt's trauma unit, visiting two women who survived the shooting. He spoke to them softly and stayed perhaps two or three minutes in each room, deflecting any talk of his bravery.
"How you doing, mom and dad?" he asked in one room before he talked about donating money raised through a GoFundMe page to the injured and the families of the dead.
"Hey girl," he asked in the second. "How you doing?"
Through their quiet tears, it seemed, the patients could only whisper back. But for Mr. Shaw, 29, the most striking moment was his exchange with the young's woman father.
"I'm a father, and we had a father moment when we saw each other," Mr. Shaw said afterward in the lobby, where one woman approached him for a selfie. "If you can imagine, actually, your child being there and meeting the person who saved their child, it was very touching."
He was encouraged by the progress of the patients.
"I'm glad that they're still alive, but what I really want to see is when they're back on their feet and their normal lives and everything," he said.

On Monday, Mr. Shaw, who suffered a graze wound from a gunshot and a second-degree burn on his hand when he grabbed the barrel of the rifle, took his own incremental steps toward recovery. During his visit to Vanderbilt, a burn specialist treated the large blister that had formed beneath the gauze on his right hand.
Before Dr. Callie M. Thompson cleaned the wound, Mr. Shaw's best friend, Brennan McMurry, who moved people to safety during the rampage, offered a quick admonition.
"You're gonna have to man up right now," Mr. McMurry told his friend since middle school. "It's going to sting. I'm just letting you know."
Mr. Shaw grimaced and then said, "I've done enough manning up."
"You ain't done yet," Mr. McMurry replied.
Mr. Shaw and Mr. McMurry had just sat down in the restaurant early Sunday when a loud crashing sound rang out. At first, Mr. Shaw said Monday, he thought a dishwasher had knocked over some plates.
It quickly became clear what was happening. Bullets pierced the restaurant's windows. A man collapsed onto the floor. Waiters ran.
Mr. Shaw and Mr. McMurry raced to the hallway outside the restrooms, taking cover behind a swinging door. As the gunman entered the Waffle House to continue shooting, Mr. Shaw recounted in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," he looked for a moment to fight back.
"There is kind of no running from this," Mr. Shaw said. He recalled thinking to himself, "I'm going to have to try to find some kind of flaw or a point in time where I could make it work for myself."
During a sudden break in the firing, Mr. Shaw sprinted through the door as fast as he could, slamming into the gunman and knocking him to the ground. He grabbed the rifle and tossed it over the restaurant counter.
The gunman, Travis Reinking, 29, then ran away, the authorities said, but not before he had killed four people and injured four others. The police identified the dead as a Waffle House employee, Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, and three customers: Joe R. Perez, 20, of Nashville; DeEbony Groves, 21, of Gallatin; and Akilah Dasilva, 23, of Antioch.
Mr. Shaw, a Nashville native, said he and Mr. McMurry had gone to a club and left around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday. They first went to a Waffle House restaurant near Antioch, a suburb, and, finding it too crowded, went to a different one nearby.
They sat down about three minutes before Mr. Reinking, who was naked except for a green jacket, walked up and fired his AR-15 rifle into the restaurant. The authorities were still looking for Mr. Reinking on Monday.

After Mr. Shaw wrested the weapon away, he said, the gunman left on foot at a jogging pace. Officials said the gunman shed his green jacket shortly thereafter. It was found with two loaded magazines in the pockets.
Mr. Shaw said Sunday that he eventually learned that the pause in the gunman's firing came when he was trying to reload the rifle. It was a brief enough break, Mr. Shaw said, for him to make a move.

Alan Blinder reported from Nashville, Tenn., and Matthew Haag from New York. Jacey Fortin contributed reporting from New York.

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10) By Stifling Migration, Sudan's Feared Secret Police Aid Europe
By Patrick Kingsley, April 23, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/22/world/africa/migration-european-union-sudan.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Undocumented immigrants arrested last year by Sudan's Rapid Support Forces. The European Union has made the country a nerve center for an effort to counter human smuggling, but many migration advocates say the moral cost is high.CreditMohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters


ABU JAMAL, Sudan — At Sudan's eastern border, Lt. Samih Omar led two patrol cars slowly over the rutted desert, past a cow's carcass, before halting on the unmarked 2,000-mile route that thousands of East Africans follow each year in trying to reach the Mediterranean, and then onward to Europe.
His patrols along this border with Eritrea are helping Sudan crack down on one of the busiest passages on the European migration trail. Yet Lieutenant Omar is no simple border agent. He works for Sudan's feared secret police, whose leaders are accused of war crimes — and, more recently, whose officers have been accused of torturing migrants.
Indirectly, he is also working for the interests of the European Union.
"Sometimes," Lieutenant Omar said, "I feel this is Europe's southern border."

Three years ago, when a historic tide of migrants poured into Europe, many leaders there reacted with open arms and high-minded idealism. But with the migration crisis having fueled angry populism and political upheaval across the Continent, the European Union is quietly getting its hands dirty, stanching the human flow, in part, by outsourcing border management to countries with dubious human rights records.

In practical terms, the approach is working: The number of migrants arriving in Europe has more than halved since 2016. But many migration advocates say the moral cost is high.
To shut off the sea route to Greece, the European Union is paying billions of euros to a Turkish government that is dismantling its democracy. In Libya, Italy is accused of bribing some of the same militiamen who have long profited from the European smuggling trade — many of whom are also accused of war crimes.
In Sudan, crossed by migrants trying to reach Libya, the relationship is more opaque but rooted in mutual need: The Europeans want closed borders and the Sudanese want to end years of isolation from the West. Europe continues to enforce an arms embargo against Sudan, and many Sudanese leaders are international pariahs, accused of committing war crimes during a civil war in Darfur, a region in western Sudan.

But the relationship is unmistakably deepening. A recent dialogue, named the Khartoum Process (in honor of Sudan's capital) has become a platform for at least 20 international migration conferences between European Union officials and their counterparts from several African countries, including Sudan. The European Union has also agreed that Khartoum will act as a nerve center for countersmuggling collaboration.
While no European money has been given directly to any Sudanese government body, the bloc has funneled 106 million euros — or about $131 million — into the country through independent charities and aid agencies, mainly for food, health and sanitation programs for migrants, and for training programs for local officials.

"While we engage on some areas for the sake of the Sudanese people, we still have a sanction regime in place," said Catherine Ray, a spokeswoman for the European Union, referring to an embargo on arms and related material.
"We are not encouraging Sudan to curb migration, but to manage migration in a safe and dignified way," Ms. Ray added.
Ahmed Salim, the director of one of the nongovernmental groups that receives European funding, said the bloc was motivated by both self-interest and a desire to improve the situation in Sudan.
"They don't want migrants to cross the Mediterranean to Europe," said Mr. Salim, who heads the European and African Center for Research, Training and Development.
But, he said, the money his organization receives means better services for asylum seekers in Sudan. "You have to admit that the European countries want to do something to protect migrants here," he said.
Critics argue the evolving relationship means that European leaders are implicitly reliant on — and complicit in the reputational rehabilitation of — a Sudanese security apparatus whose leaders have been accused by the United Nations of committing war crimes in Darfur.

"There is no direct money exchanging hands," said Suliman Baldo, the author of a research paper about Europe's migration partnership with Sudan. "But the E.U. basically legitimizes an abusive force."

On the border near Abu Jamal, Lieutenant Omar and several members of his patrol are from the wing of the Sudanese security forces headed by Salah Abdallah Gosh, one of several Sudanese officials accused of orchestrating attacks on civilians in Darfur.
Elsewhere, the border is protected by the Rapid Support Forces, a division of the Sudanese military that was formed from the janjaweed militias who led attacks on civilians in the Darfur conflict. The focus of the group, known as R.S.F., is not counter-smuggling — but roughly a quarter of the people-smugglers caught in January and February this year on the Eritrean border were apprehended by the R.S.F., Lieutenant Omar said.
European officials have direct contact only with the Sudanese immigration police, and not with the R.S.F., or the security forces that Lieutenant Omar works for, known as N.I.S.S. But their operations are not that far removed.
The planned countertrafficking coordination center in Khartoum — staffed jointly by police officers from Sudan and several European countries, including Britain, France and Italy — will partly rely on information sourced by N.I.S.S., according to the head of the immigration police department, Gen. Awad Elneil Dhia. The regular police also get occasional support from the R.S.F. on countertrafficking operations in border areas, General Dhia said.
"They have their presence there and they can help," General Dhia said. "The police is not everywhere, and we cannot cover everywhere."
Yet the Sudanese police are operating in one unexpected place: Europe.
In a bid to deter future migrants, at least three European countries — Belgium, France and Italy — have allowed in Sudanese police officers to hasten the deportation of Sudanese asylum seekers, General Dhia said.

Nominally, their official role is simply to identify their citizens. But the officers have been allowed to interrogate some deportation candidates without being monitored by European officials with the language skills to understand what was being said.

More than 50 Sudanese seeking asylum in Europe have been deported in the past 18 months from Belgium, France and Italy; The New York Times interviewed seven of them on a recent visit to Sudan.
Four said they had been tortured on their return to Sudan — allegations denied by General Dhia. One man was a Darfuri political dissident deported in late 2017 from France to Khartoum, where he said he was detained on arrival by N.I.S.S. agents.
Over the next 10 days, he said he was given electric shocks, punched and beaten with metal pipes. At one point the dissident, who asked that his name be withheld for his safety, lost consciousness and had to be taken to the hospital. He was later released on a form of parole.
The dissident said that, before his deportation from France, Sudanese police officers had threatened him as French officers stood nearby. "I said to the French police: 'They are going to kill us,'" he said. "But they didn't understand."
European officials argue that establishing Khartoum as a base for collaboration on fighting human smuggling can only improve the Sudanese security forces. The Regional Operational Center in Khartoum, set to open this year, will enable delegates from several European and African countries to share intelligence and coordinate operations against smugglers across North Africa.
But potential pitfalls are evident from past collaborations. In 2016, the British and Italian police, crediting a joint operation with their Sudanese counterparts, announced the arrest of "one of the world's most wanted people smugglers." They said he was an Eritrean called Medhanie Yehdego Mered, who had been captured in Sudan and extradited to Italy.
The case is now privately acknowledged by Western diplomats to have been one of mistaken identity. The prisoner turned out to be Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, an Eritrean refugee with the same first name as the actual smuggler. Mr. Mered remains at large.

Even General Dhia now admits that Sudan extradited the wrong man — albeit one who, he says, admitted while in Sudanese custody to involvement in smuggling.

"There were two people, actually — two people with the same name," General Dhia said.
Mr. Berhe nevertheless remains on trial in Italy, accused of being Mr. Mered — and of being a smuggler.
Beyond that, the Sudanese security services have long been accused of profiting from the smuggling trade. Following European pressure, the Sudanese Parliament adopted a raft of anti-smuggling legislation in 2014, and the rules have since led to the prosecution of some officials over alleged involvement in the smuggling business.
But according to four smugglers whom I interviewed clandestinely during my trip to Sudan, the security services remain closely involved in the trade, with both N.I.S.S and R.S.F. officials receiving part of the smuggling profits on most trips to southern Libya.
The head of the R.S.F., Brig. Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, has claimed in the past that his forces play a major role in impeding the route to Libya. But each smuggler — interviewed separately — said that the R.S.F. was often the main organizer of the trips, often supplying camouflaged vehicles to ferry migrants through the desert.
After being handed over to Libyan militias in Kufra and Sabha, in southern Libya, many migrants are then systematically tortured and held for ransom — money that is later shared with the R.S.F., each smuggler said.
Rights activists have previously accused Sudanese officials of complicity in trafficking. In a 2014 report, Human Rights Watch said that senior Sudanese police officials had colluded in the smuggling of Eritreans.

A British journalist captured by the R.S.F. in Darfur in 2016 said that he had been told by his captors that they were involved in smuggling people to Libya. "I asked specifically about how it works," said the journalist, Phil Cox, a freelance filmmaker for Channel 4. "And they said we make sure the routes are open, and we talk with whoever's commanding the next area."
General Dhia said that the problem did not extend beyond a few bad apples. Sudan, he said, remains an effective partner for Europe in the battle against irregular migration.
"We are not," he said, "very far from your standards."

Zeinab Mohammed Salih contributed reporting from Khartoum.
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11)  More Black Officials in Power in Cuba as Leadership Changes
By Frances Robles and Azam Ahmed, April 22, 2018
"Alejandro de la Fuente, a Harvard University Cuba studies professor who has written extensively on Afro-Cubans, said inequality diminished in several ways. His research showed, for example, that in the 1980s, the life expectancy gap between black and white people was better in Cuba than in Brazil or the United States.
Also, the proportion of black Cubans with college degrees was close to the proportion of white Cubans, he found, whereas in the United States, the proportion of white college degree holders was twice as large as among African-Americans."
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/22/world/americas/cuba-leaders-black-officials-raul-castro.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=8&pgtype=sectionfront

Paying homage to Fidel Castro at Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana in 2016.CreditTomas Munita for The New York Times


As the departing Cuban president, Raúl Castro, tells it, even too many of the radio and television newscasters in Cuba are white.
It "was not easy" getting the few black broadcasters now on the air hired, Mr. Castro said in his retirement speech Thursday, a remarkable admission considering the state controls all the stations.
So it was all the more extraordinary to see last week how many women and Afro-Cubans were chosen for positions in the highest echelon of Cuban politics in the new government: Half of the six vice presidents of the ruling Council of State are black, including the first vice president, and three are also women.

The new council will serve under the new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, who took over on Thursday.

That the first administration in 60 years without a single Castro would include so many women and black officials was notable in Cuba, where increasing business opportunities have only swelled economic racial disparities. The move also signaled the growing significance of the Afro-Cuban movement, marked in the past 20 years by artists, hip-hop musicians and intellectuals who are more willing to speak out about the problems affecting black people on the island, experts said.
While official statistics reflect that less than 10 percent of the population is black, in reality, most estimates put the number far higher.
The Cuban government under the Castros has historically been viewed as one made up mainly of white men, especially those of advanced age. Although it has generally had at least one Afro-Cuban in a high-ranking position, cynics dismissed them as symbolic figures.

Although skeptics doubt that too much will change to address the disparities faced by many black people in Cuba, even some of the government's harshest critics acknowledged that the diversity shift was an important development.
"Yes, it has great significance," said Ramón Colas, a black anti-Castro activist who sought political asylum in 2001 and now lives in Mississippi. "The Cuban revolution has historically been white, and seen from the outside as a revolution by white men, where black people were part of the crowd, spectators who were silent or applauded, but never participated."

Mr. Colas said the election, a process in which Mr. Castro and the Communist Party had full control, showed that the former Cuban leader has "big ears" and was willing to listen to the outcry from black civic and arts organizations. But he noted it would be even more noteworthy if the three black people on the council used their positions to push for racial equality.
"Wouldn't it be great if they used those positions to say, 'As a black Cuban, I am against injustice against black people in Cuba?' " he said. "I doubt that they can do that. They are not allowed. Fidel declared that racism is a problem that ended."
If anything, Raúl Castro's move to shift high-ranking positions to black leaders was an acknowledgment that racism and discrimination had not, in fact, been solved by the revolution.
In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Castro said the struggle to move beyond percentages continued.
"We still have the battle of proportions, not just in numerical aspects, but qualitative — in decision-making slots," he said. "Three women were elected vice president of the Council of State, two of them black — not only for being black, but for their virtues and qualities."
While inequality persists in the country, the Castro revolution did make important strides for black people.
Before the revolution, social stratification was profound, with black Cubans open to far less opportunity and enduring far more discrimination than their lighter-skinned fellow citizens. When Fidel Castro came to power after the revolution, one of his early edicts essentially sought an end to racism.

The result was that systemic racism as it exists in the Americas is far less present in Cuba, and social and educational opportunities generally more present for black Cubans — even those living far from the capital. For many of the revolution's proponents, it was one of the major achievements at a time when some parts of the United States were still requiring black people to drink from separate water fountains.

Alejandro de la Fuente, a Harvard University Cuba studies professor who has written extensively on Afro-Cubans, said inequality diminished in several ways. His research showed, for example, that in the 1980s, the life expectancy gap between black and white people was better in Cuba than in Brazil or the United States.
Also, the proportion of black Cubans with college degrees was close to the proportion of white Cubans, he found, whereas in the United States, the proportion of white college degree holders was twice as large as among African-Americans.
But the improvements, brought on by socialized education, were offset by the economic nose-dive Afro-Cubans faced after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. More Cubans started living on cash remittances sent from the United States. And almost all the Cubans sending money from the United States were white.
Mr. de la Fuente noted that both of the black women named to the council, Inés María Chapman Waugh and Beatriz Jhonson Urrutia, are engineers from eastern Cuba, which makes them an example of the kind of educational mobility possible for black women in the country. Mr. de la Fuente said their promotions were largely symbolic, but still important.
"Even if this was window-dressing, it would mean they feel the need to dress the window in a certain color, and that is something one would not have said 30 years ago," Mr. de la Fuente said.
Only 9 percent of Cubans identified themselves as black in the 2012 census, a sign that most Cubans don't see benefits to self-identifying as Afro-Cuban, he said. Most estimates have the number of black people in Cuba much higher.

"If you go by the one-drop rule, like you have in the United States, Cuba is like 90 percent black," Mr. Colas said with a laugh.
Katrin Hansing, a professor at Baruch College in New York who is studying racial inequality in Cuba, said the presence of more black people on the council was likely to be met with a collective shrug on the island. The economic disparities have grown so stark, she said, that more shantytowns are popping up on the outskirts of big cities, and people of color largely populate them.
"It won't change their socioeconomically difficult lives," Ms. Hansing said. "The Communist Party will not change because there are three more black people at the top."
In Cuba, many people interviewed agreed, and some did not even know the changes had been made.
In the neighborhood of La Corea, marooned on the outskirts of Havana, most people had more pressing concerns to ponder than the racial balance of the nation's top officials. Heaps of trash were piled on street corners, covered in thick swarms of flies. A water leak from a pipe beneath the sidewalk flowed unchecked, leaving pools and summoning mosquitoes.
The neighborhood contrasts sharply with the proud, if battered, colonial structures of Old Havana or the resplendent mansions of Vedado or Miramar. Homes are slapped together with rusty shards of corrugated metal or raw cinder block and cement. The streets are so worn in parts they are simply dirt.
In the largely black neighborhood, residents were somewhat divided on the meaning of the new racial composition of the government. Manuel Garro Gómez, 65, seemed to take the official line on the matter. "Cuba says there is no discrimination and that's largely how it is," he said. "Before the revolution, there was absolutely no relation between black people and whites. Today we mix easily."
Down the street, Yasmani Santo, 30, once informed about the change, said it was a decent move.
"This reflects the population a bit more, which I appreciate," he said. "But I'm not sure it will change anything." Referring to the neighborhood's dilapidation, he said: "People come and make promises to fix these things and nothing happens. Let's see if this new president does anything."
Abraham Jiménez Enoa, a writer and director at El Estornudo magazine in Havana, said racism was a part of daily life for black Cubans, no matter what the state says. When he has dated white women, his friends offered snide remarks that he was "trying to get ahead."

He said the police were more likely to stop a black person, especially one who is carrying things like towels or sheets, which are items often pilfered from hotels by Cubans without money to buy their own.
In Old Havana on Thursday, Josué Soto del Sol, 10, smiled and then shrugged when he heard about the appointments of the three black leaders. "It's good," he said. "We are all black in Cuba."

Ed Agustin contributed reporting from Havana. Azam Ahmed reported from Havana, and Frances Robles from Miami.
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12) Do Taxpayers Know They Are Handing Out Billions to Corporations?
By Nathan M. Jensen, April 24, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/opinion/amazon-hq2-incentives-taxes.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

A rendering of Eightfold Development's proposed Amazon HQ2 in Austin, Tex.CreditEightfold Developement


Every year, states and local governments give economic-development incentives to companies to the tune of between $45 billion and $80 billion. Why such a wide range? It's not sloppy research; it's because many of these subsidies are not public.
For the known subsidies, such as Maryland's recent $8.5 billion incentive bid for Amazon's second headquarters, the support includes cash grants for company relocations, subsidized land, forgiving company taxes on everything from property taxes to sales taxes and investments in infrastructure for the company. Maryland is even offering to give 5.75 percent of each worker's salary back to the company, which is the maximum state income tax rate for individuals. Employees will pay taxes that will be routed back to Amazon.
To be clear, Maryland isn't a model of transparency. Its offer is known not because the state made its bid public, but because these extreme incentives required special legislation. The legislature didn't call it the Amazon Bill. They called it the Prime Act, which is a tortured acronym from "Promoting ext-Raordinary Innovation in Maryland's Economy Program." The bill was revealed only after an initial offer was made to the company.

Economic development all across the country is getting less open — and both Democrats and Republicans are doing it. In fact, in many cases, the politicians themselves aren't even the ones negotiating for the public.

How do communities balance the tremendous opportunity of attracting a world-class company against the taxpayer costs, the pressures on our infrastructure and our struggles of providing affordable housing?
My city — Austin, Tex. — is a well-governed place that has taken a sensible path with tax abatement offers or other business subsidies. But its Amazon bid wasn't even submitted by the local government; the Chamber of Commerce did it instead. That happened in several states, including Wisconsin. That means it isn't subject to public-record laws. The offer was so secret that the members of our City Council — i.e., the people elected to govern the city — have complained that they don't know what is being offered on our city's behalf.
Yet this is bigger than a single Amazon headquarters investment. In Texas, we are notorious for our exceptions to public-record requests when we talk about economic development. Governments can be exempted from requestsif they put companies or governments at a competitive disadvantage (with other states, for example).
This idea of economic development secrecy can be stretched to any end. The city of McAllen, Tex., shielded the amount it paid Enrique Iglesias for a concert using the argument that this would put the city at a competitive disadvantage. According to The Texas Observer, the legal precedent for this competitiveness argument has been cited in over 1,850 public records cases in Texas.
I recently made a request for details on companies that applied to the Texas Enterprise Fund, a program that provides corporate cash incentives. It was not only sent to the attorney general's office, but it was also forwarded to the companies participating in the program. Forty-five companies challenged my request for their applications through in-house lawyers as well as law firms with expertise in challenging public records requests.

Many of these companies want to hide their proposed jobs and wages on the initial application — it's an extremely effective way of making it impossible to evaluate if these companies kept their promises to create high-paying jobs in exchange for taxpayer dollars.
Other states are also secretive about economic development. Amazon's brazen public call for proposals for its second headquarters reveals how far governments will go to keep these secrets. Some cities and states revealed their bids, including New Jersey's $7 billion taxpayer-funded incentive. But the majority didn't. In January, when Amazon cut down this list down to 20 locations, the finalists signed nondisclosure agreements to keep the rest of the process secret.
Even the cities that were eliminated by Amazon have refused to make their bids public. Minnesota and Washington both have reputations for transparency and received "leading" rankings from the Pew Charitable Trusts in their evaluation of economic incentives. But Minneapolis and Tacoma, Wash., submitted their bids through nongovernment entities and claim they don't even have access to the cities' pitches to Amazon.
Another strategy to avoid transparency in a competition like this is through complexity. The idea is to make economic development so twisted that it's nearly impossible to figure out who is responsible for it. If governments aren't submitting these bids, with taxpayers' money, who is responsible for economic development?
In many states, companies are wooed by getting a break on paying local taxes. In some of these cases, local interests get overlooked — in particular, schools. There are school districts where economic developers were empowered to give away the tax revenues without the input of educators. The California Teachers' Association supported a law to help stop giving away their tax dollars. Louisiana just allowed school districts to modify or decline these incentives.
In Texas, rather than cutting school districts out of the process, the rules were written to make sure districts always say yes to company incentive requests. Our program, called Chapter 313, allows a school district to forgive a company's taxes, but the state pays the taxes to the school district. Even better, schools can request "supplemental payments" from companies, which in some cases exceed 40 percent of the company's incentive benefits. Ironically, school districts make more money from companies that accept a tax incentive than a company that comes with no government support. As you can guess, in these cases, school districts say yes to every request, companies receive tax incentives, and Texas taxpayers are on the hook for billions of dollars.
Many activists hoped that the true costs of these programs would be revealed this year. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board, a private-sector group that sets generally accepted standards for governments, issued a rule that state and local governments must now reveal how much communities lose in tax revenues through business tax abatements. Unfortunately, half of local governments are simply not complying with this rule. In complex programs — like the Chapter 313 Texas tax limitation that is authorized by the school districts but paid for by the state — nobody seems to be reporting it.

The recent bidding war for Amazon and failure of communities to live up to the Standards Board reporting rule reveals that weak transparency laws can be further thwarted by using the complexity of these programs.
Maybe people are getting fed up with hypercompetitive incentives. In a new Elon University poll, only 14 percent of respondents felt that cities should offer as much as possible to lure HQ2 to their city. Rather than revealing the relationship between business and politics, elected officials have used the participation of private interests to shield economic development from their own citizens.

Nathan M. Jensen is a professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin, and a co-author of "Incentives to Pander: How Politicians Use Corporate Welfare for Political Gain."


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13) A Lynching Memorial Is Opening. The Country Has Never Seen Anything Like It.
By Campbell Robertson, April 25, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/us/lynching-memorial-alabama.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opening Thursday in Montgomery, Ala., remembers the thousands of victims of lynchings.CreditAudra Melton for The New York Times


MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In a plain brown building sits an office run by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, a place for people who have been held accountable for their crimes and duly expressed remorse.
Just a few yards up the street lies a different kind of rehabilitation center, for a country that has not been held to nearly the same standard.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opens Thursday on a six-acre site overlooking the Alabama state capital, is dedicated to the victims of American white supremacy. And it demands a reckoning with one of the nation’s least recognized atrocities: the lynching of thousands of black people in a decades-long campaign of racist terror.

At the center is a grim cloister, a walkway with 800 weathered steel columns, all hanging from a roof. Etched on each column is the name of an American county and the people who were lynched there, most listed by name, many simply as “unknown.” The columns meet you first at eye level, like the headstones that lynching victims were rarely given. But as you walk, the floor steadily descends; by the end, the columns are all dangling above, leaving you in the position of the callous spectators in old photographs of public lynchings.

The magnitude of the killing is harrowing, all the more so when paired with the circumstances of individual lynchings, some described in brief summaries along the walk: Parks Banks, lynched in Mississippi in 1922 for carrying a photograph of a white woman; Caleb Gadly, hanged in Kentucky in 1894 for “walking behind the wife of his white employer”; Mary Turner, who after denouncing her husband’s lynching by a rampaging white mob, was hung upside down, burned and then sliced open so that her unborn child fell to the ground.

There is nothing like it in the country. Which is the point.
“Just seeing the names of all these people,” said Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, the nonprofit organization behind the memorial. Many of them, he said, “have never been named in public.”

Mr. Stevenson and a small group of lawyers spent years immersing themselves in archives and county libraries to document the thousands of racial terror lynchings across the South. They have cataloged nearly 4,400 in total.
Inspired by the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, Mr. Stevenson decided that a single memorial was the most powerful way to give a sense of the scale of the bloodshed. But also at the site are duplicates of each steel column, lined up in rows like coffins, intended to be disseminated around the country to the counties where lynchings were carried out. People in these counties can request them — dozens of such requests have already been made — but they must show that they have made efforts locally to “address racial and economic injustice.”

For Mr. Stevenson, the plans for the memorial and an accompanying museum were rooted in decades spent in Alabama courtrooms, witnessing a criminal justice system that treats African-Americans with particular cruelty, or indifference.

Since 1989, the Equal Justice Initiative has offered legal services to poor people in prison, toiling away in a city awash in Confederate commemorations (Monday was Confederate Memorial Day in Alabama), in a state with the nation’s highest per capita death sentencing rate. Nearly every staff member is a lawyer with clients in the prison system, and they have continued to work a full schedule of legal defense work even as they painstakingly compiled the names of the lynched and planned the memorial.
Mr. Stevenson, whose great-grandparents were slaves in Virginia, has written about “just mercy,” the belief that those who have committed serious wrongs should be allowed a chance at redemption. It is a conviction he has spent a career arguing for on behalf of clients, and he believes it is true even for the white America whose brutality is chronicled by the memorial.

“If I believe that each of us is more than the worst thing he’s ever done,” he said, “I have to believe that for everybody.”
But the history has to be acknowledged and its destructive legacy faced, he said. And this is particularly hard in “the most punitive society on the planet.”
People do not want to admit wrongdoing in America, Mr. Stevenson said, because they expect only punishment.
“I’m not interested in talking about America’s history because I want to punish America,” Mr. Stevenson continued. “I want to liberate America. And I think it’s important for us to do this as an organization that has created an identity that is as disassociated from punishment as possible.”
The initiative’s headquarters are a few blocks away in a building that was once a warehouse in Montgomery’s sprawling slave market. It is now the site of the Legacy Museum, a companion piece to the memorial.

It is not a conventional museum, heavy on artifacts and detached commentary. It is perhaps better described as the presentation of an argument, supported by firsthand accounts and contemporary documents, that the slavery system did not end but evolved: from the family-shattering domestic slave trade to the decades of lynching terror, to the suffocating segregation of Jim Crow to the age of mass incarceration in which we now live.
The museum ends with a nod toward the future. By the exit is a section with a voter registration kiosk, information on volunteer opportunities and suggestions on how to discuss all of this with students. Given what has come before, it seems a jarring expression of confidence in the possibility of change. But there are good reasons for it.

Among the accounts given at the museum is that of Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 28 years on Alabama’s death row after being wrongly convictedof two murders by an all-white jury. The case for his innocence seemed straightforward, but lawyers at the Equal Justice Initiative spent 16 years working for his freedom, appealing the case all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Hinton knows firsthand how stubborn injustice can be, but he is blunt: If people just gave up in despair, he would be dead.
“I refuse to believe that it’s hopeless because I am a product of what can happen when you fight,” he said. “If we don’t fight, who’s going to fight?”
A grassy hillock rises in the middle of the memorial. From here you can see the Montgomery skyline through the thicket of hanging columns, the river where the enslaved were sold and the State Capitol building that once housed the Confederacy, whose monuments the current Alabama governor has vowed to protect. It is a striking view. But Mr. Stevenson pointed out that when standing here, you are on view as well, faced on all sides by the names of the thousands who were run down, instantly judged and viciously put to death.
“You might feel judged yourself,” he said. “What are you going to do?”
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14) Five Black Women Were Told to Golf Faster. Then the Club Called the Police.
By Christina Caron, April 25, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/us/black-women-golfers-york.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=sectionfront

From left, Carolyn Dow, Sandra Harrison, Karen Crosby, Sandra Thompson and Myneca Ojo. The five women were golfing at Grandview Golf Club in York County, Pa., when they were asked to leave.CreditMyneca Ojo, via Facebook


What started out as a relaxing day at a Pennsylvania golf course turned into an ugly confrontation between the white men who run the club and five black women who were playing there.
It had echoes of other recent incidents, at a Starbucks in Philadelphia and a Waffle House in Alabama, in which black customers found themselves in racially charged disputes. Once again, the police were summoned. Once again, a video spread widely on social media and drew national attention.
On Saturday in a largely white suburban community in Dover Township, York County, the women began playing at Grandview Golf Club before being told that they were moving too slowly, said one of the women, Sandra Thompson, 50, a lawyer and the president of the York chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.

“Many of us were having great drive days. We were slamming that ball,” she said on Tuesday. “So when they were trying to say ‘too slow of a pace,’ that was just false.”

Their day started out with a hiccup: Frost on the course delayed their tee time by an hour, Ms. Thompson said, so they weren’t able to start playing until 11 a.m. Though a foursome is the norm, the club permitted a group of five, she said.
Then, as they teed off on the second hole, she explained, they were approached by a former county commissioner who, according to The York Daily Record, serves in an advisory role for the golf course. He asked them twice to leave and threatened to cancel their memberships over their pace of play, she said.
Later, after the group finished playing nine holes, three of the women left. The remaining two, Myneca Ojo, 56, and Ms. Thompson, had just finished a break and were going to start the second nine holes, when they were approached by one of the club’s owners and other employees, who said that their break took too long and that they had called the police.
Ms. Ojo, a director of diversity and inclusion at a state agency, on Tuesday described their interactions with the club officials as “demeaning” and “hostile.” Ms. Thompson recorded video showing part of the confrontation and later posted it on YouTube and Facebook.

Officers arrived and “quickly determined that this was not a police issue,” Mark L. Bentzel, chief of the Northern York County Regional Police Department, said. After speaking with both of the parties involved, he said, “there was no need for us to be there and we left.”

No charges were filed, Chief Bentzel added.
Everyone disbanded, and the women left the golf course. 
“The police were respectful, so it is not about the police,” Ms. Thompson said in her Facebook post.
That contrasted with other episodes involving black customers that have fueled fury online this month. At the Starbucks in Philadelphia and the Waffle House in Alabama, the police made arrests.
The former county commissioner, Steve Chronister, and the club’s co-owner, his son, Jordan Chronister, could not be reached for comment. Calls to the Grandview Golf Club went to voice mail, and the recorder was too full to accept messages.
Jordan and J.J. Chronister, co-owners of the golf club, said in a statement to the television station Fox 43, “While our intention was to ensure all teams on the course were moving through in a timely manner, the interaction between our members and our ownership progressed in a manner that was not reflective of our company’s values or expectations for our own professionalism.”
Ms. Thompson said that it was the first time the women had used their memberships at the golf club, which recently came under new ownership, but that they had played at the course multiple times.
They all belong to a golfing club, Sisters in the Fairway, and have played at courses “all over the world,” Ms. Ojo said, so they knew how to keep pace. Even so, the women said, they skipped the third hole after Steve Chronister approached them.
“The only other difference between us and the other players was our race and our gender,” Ms. Thompson said.

York, a county of small towns, suburbs and farmland in southern Pennsylvania about 50 miles north of Baltimore, is predominantly white, said Ms. Ojo, who lives there. Black and latino people are concentrated in the largest municipality, the city of York.
“This ain’t Baltimore,” she added. Throughout the episode, Ms. Ojo said, she and her fellow golfers “were treated less than human beings.”
In Ms. Thompson’s video, Jordan Chronister can be seen saying, “Congratulations, you’re a real winner,” adding, “Remove yourself from our premises within the next five minutes, please.”
“The authorities have been called,” another man said.
“Back off,” Steve Chronister told his son on camera. “This is what she wants. This is what she does for a living.”
Ms. Thompson said that the group had completed nine holes in two hours. Not only were they playing on pace, the sole group playing behind them had also not been impeded, she said. That group can be seen on the video, taking a break before teeing off.
“They were not rushing,” she said. “They were out, just like we were, out having a good day. They were leisurely.”
Both Ms. Thompson and Ms. Ojo said that the group behind them had not complained. In fact, Ms. Thompson added, one of the men from that group “came to us and told us how outraged he was at our treatment.”

Ms. Thompson said that after her Facebook post, J.J. Chronister, who identified herself as Jordan Chronister’s wife, called and apologized. But, Ms. Thompson said, none of the women have heard directly from the two men.
“We’re going to pursue all remedies that are available” to change how the golf club treats women of color, Ms. Thompson said, though no formal complaint has been filed. “Whatever needs to be done for them to take this seriously,” she said.
The altercation continues to draw anger from around the country, some of it misdirected. The similarly named but unrelated Grand View Golf Club near Pittsburgh had to put a notice on its website after being inundated with complaints. “We pride ourselves on treating all our golfers with kindness, respect, and courtesy,” that club wrote. “Please do not attack us on Facebook, Twitter, Google, or any other platform as we are NOT that course.”

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15)  Lawsuit Challenges Police Use of Sealed Arrest Records
By Ashley Southall, April 25, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/nyregion/sealed-arrest-records-nypd-lawsuit.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion&action=click&contentCollection=nyregion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

A class-action suit charges that the New York Police Department routinely uses the contents of sealed arrest records without necessary court approval.CreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images


When criminal charges against an adult who has been arrested in New York are dismissed, state law generally requires the case to be sealed, strictly limiting access, use and disclosure of its details.
The state sealing statutes — which also apply when a person is acquitted, prosecutors decline to bring charges or charges are downgraded to an infraction or violation — are intended to protect people who have not been convicted of a crime from the stigma of an arrest.
But a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan accuses the police in New York City of routinely violating the statutes by keeping and sharing the contents of sealed arrest records — including charges, fingerprints, photos, Social Security numbers and who people called while in custody.

The lawsuit, brought by the Bronx Defenders, a criminal-defense nonprofit, and the firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, seeks class-action status to challenge practices in the Police Department that the complaint says infringe on the due-process rights of mostly black and Latino people with unproven, mostly low-level accusations.

Its main plaintiffs, three black men identified in the complaint by their initials, are seeking a declaration that it is illegal for the Police Department, without court approval, to access data from sealed arrest records, use them in investigations or share them with other law enforcement agencies and the media.
Jenn Rolnick Borchetta, the deputy director of impact litigation for the Bronx Defenders, said that allowing the police to handle sealed records unchecked undermines efforts in New York City to promote fairness and limit unnecessary harm in the criminal justice system. A court ruling, she said, is needed to remind the Police Department of its obligation under state law.
“There’s such a push in New York to get people disentangled from the criminal justice system for crimes of poverty like jumping a turnstile,” she said, “and the N.Y.P.D. is overriding it based on sealed arrests that, under longstanding privacy rules, are supposed to not be used in any way, particularly in ways that continue to harm people when they’ve already had their cases dismissed.”
The sealing statutes curtail access to official records of sealed cases — except for published court decisions or opinions, or records and briefs on appeal — for people other than the accused and for public and private agencies. The laws also require fingerprints and photos in the files to be destroyed or returned to the accused.
But the statutes do not conceal the records completely and forever: Lawmakers carved out several exceptions for access, including for law enforcement agencies to get permission from a court.

Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city Law Department, said the agency would “review the lawsuit and respond in the litigation.” The city has 60 days to do so.
The Police Department declined to comment. But the case cites a memorandum from a federal lawsuit over dismissed summonses that the city settled for $75 million last year. In it, city lawyers said the Police Department uses sealed arrest data for a variety of reasons, including to solve crimes and apprehend suspects.
Jeffrey A. Fagan, a professor at Columbia Law School who testified against the city in litigation over its stop-and-frisk tactics, said that claim appears to never have been challenged. “Absent some showing of some statutory authorization to contravene the statute, then the plaintiffs seem to have a pretty strong claim,” he said.
The outcome of the lawsuit could affect millions of case files. Just between 2014 and 2016, as the police scaled back stop-and-frisk, over 400,000 cases were supposed to be sealed, according to the complaint. Almost 83 percent, or 330,000 cases, involved black and Latino defendants, who are more likely to live in communities where police activity is highest and for whom being arrested can have a detrimental impact on their employment, housing, immigration status and eligibility for public benefits.
Most of the sealed cases involved minor offenses — such as fare evasion — which made up 750,000 of the 1.1 million arrests effected by the Police Department between 2014 and 2017.
A court ruling could resonate across the country at a time when police departments are increasingly amassing data and using it to drive investigations and to make enforcement and policy decisions. Most states have laws requiring some criminal cases to be expunged or sealed, but compliance varies, observers say.
“They’re sharing data across their networks, and this introduces just a more vast and fast dissemination of personal information than existed 10 years ago or before that,” Ms. Borchetta said. “These technologies represent great advancements in law enforcement but they also create new privacy concerns.”

Eugene O’Donnell, a former city police officer who now teaches at John Jay College, said the information contained in arrest reports is indispensable to investigators because it can help them track patterns, determine affiliations and examine particular crime spikes.
“It’s a treasure trove of information for investigators, whether you’re talking about street crime, terrorism or more sophisticated investigations,” said Professor O’Donnell, who was also a prosecutor in Brooklyn and Queens. “It’s not something you want to put out of your reach.”
Even though a sealed case did not result in a conviction, he said, that does not always mean a person did not commit a crime or other egregious act.
“If you want to hire someone for a position of trust, do you want to be blind to that or see what was on file?” he said. “There are very clear cases where someone got away with a very serious crime for whatever reason.”
Narrow exceptions in the sealing statutes allow access to someone’s sealed case records for prosecutors, parole and corrections agencies, gun licensing authorities, and employers that hire peace officers and police officers. For instance, prosecutors may see the sealed records of someone to whom they are considering offering a deal to dismiss a subsequent case if the person stays out of trouble for a certain period of time. In another example, police departments are permitted to access the sealed arrest records of people who apply to become officers.
But the process for the police to obtain a court order for individuals’ records can be burdensome, Professor O’Donnell said, and the lawsuit could spur the Legislature to amend the statutes, which lawmakers expanded last year to include nonviolent criminal convictions more than 10 years old. Or, he said, it might prompt a streamlining of the process to obtain court approval for sealed records, much as the process for getting warrants has been simplified.
The Police Department’s use of sealed records has attracted a legal challenge before, and it agreed to scrub that kind of information from a database of street stops as part of a settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union in 2013.

The Police Department handbook for detectives details how to request a court order to unseal photos and court records, but it also outlines a process for investigators to obtain an authorization code to access sealed arrest records without court approval. And, according to the lawsuit, the sealed arrests also appear on the rap sheets that patrol officers consult during street stops to decide whether to make an arrest or issue a violation for minor infractions.
Police officials often anonymously reveal information about sealed arrests to the media in big cases like fatal police shootings. But defense lawyers say the practice is also common in everyday cases that do not capture the spotlight.
In interviews, public defenders said they often found sealed records in police documents turned over by prosecutors, or evidence suggesting they have been used, such as a phone number from a sealed file or video of detectives interrogating their clients about sealed cases.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, identified as R.C., was living and working in Wappinger Falls, N.Y., when he was arrested in connection with an April 2015 robbery in the Bronx. R.C.’s picture had been used in three photo arrays shown to the victim, who finally chose it two weeks after the incident. But the image the police used was from a 2011 arrest that was sealed, and therefore required to be destroyed or returned to R.C., according to the complaint.
Friends told investigators that R.C. had stayed in Danbury, Conn., on the night of the robbery, and prosecutors ultimately dropped the case in November 2016. But, the complaint said, commuting for his 10 court appearances cost R.C. his job and the experience left him scarred.
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