Friday, May 26, 2017

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2017




What was Done
The Film They Tried to Suppress!
By Mike Small, May 13, 2017
The film treads the line between dark satire, social vision and playful dystopia.The Canary compared it to Armando Iannucci's Time Trumpet..
This is fake news with a purpose. These are bad dudes.
The film's now had over 200,000 views across all mediums despite being ignored by most of the Scottish media and blogosphere and kicked-off You Tube (it's back now).
"Brilliant futuristic reminiscence of the Corbyn story by @nonideefixe"- The Agitator
"The finest political art to come out of Scotland ever." – Kevin Williamson
"Best political satire Ive ever watched. Brilliant 33 mins" – Rob Gray
"What an amazing piece and makes me so grateful to be able to call Scotland my home. #Resistance at its best. I'm posting on FB and sharing as much as possible." – Rachel Du Bois
"It is absolutely brilliant, hopefully it will be available on June 9th for the world to see."  – Josephine Williams
"Absolutely stunning work and infinitely superior to anything our state-broadcaster could produce. Under the horror and scalpel-sharp humour this is a love letter to what remains of Labour's soul. Scotland is leaving but there's still time for England. Let's hope they're watching. Share it and back this major talent's future projects." – Phantom Power
"So **Loved** this .. brilliantly done .. but FB censor ship has begun .. must have terrified some at the top ..more power to ya elbow..!" – Eileen Murtha Brown
If you haven't seen it already, go watch and share…
For the mobile-friendly link go to the Daily Motion site  here: http://dai.ly/x5khzvv 
For the desktop desktop/laptop-friendly link go to You Tube  here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAnWfgyQlms
Donate below to support this great film-making here. Thanks.




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Cuban Documentary "Between Changes"

May 19, 2017 

HAVANA TIMES — "Entre cambios" (Between changes) is a documentary dedicated to a specific generation of Cubans: the one who had to live through the fragile limbo when the Soviet Union collapsed. We concentrated particularly on speaking to those who experienced these changes there, in the places where the events took place.
One of the most recurring testimonies that this documentary provides – and the research we did to carry it out – is that of people who went to COMECON (The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) countries under the sugarcoated notion that there they had a more advanced version of socialism that the Cuban version, and instead it turned out that they would be the witnesses of its downfall.
This is where the irony lies: surely, a lot of things used to be better off there than they were in Cuba, even under the centralized State system that the Kremlin imposed on the majority of the territories under its control, but everything "went downhill" between 1988 and 1991.
In the documentary, we can hear accounts from those who were in countries such as Hungary, and in several Republics of what used to be the USSR. We tried our best for these opinions to be diverse and critical.
There wasn't always enough space for all of the material we had collected for the documentary – and we have faith that the extensive research we did will have the opportunity to be covered in other media platforms, or maybe there will even be sequels to this documentary.
However, we tried to maintain a respectful, friendly and proactive dialogue that prevails throughout the film, in order to anchor the diversity of social coexistence today.
Cuba's "post-Soviet" generation – the one which lived in situ with the geopolitical collapse that led to the Special Period disaster here, to the capitalist reforms in Europe and the "excessive '90s" in Russia and its surroundings, with quite a few localized conflicts where a lot of today's jihadist terrorism was born and awful government administrations who justified well-established authoritarian run countries today – is a very active generation nowadays.
Both inside and outside of our archipelago, it has given rise to artists, intellectuals, engineers, bloggers, doctors, scientists and social activists from all kinds of political movements.
It's no coincidence that it was a generation that experienced a great shock (whether in Eurasia, or here in Cuba, where we also experienced a great time of change – but in a different way). We believe that their experiences – which haven't been published widely in explicit terms, which are what we have tried to collect – can contribute to preventing a lot of the negativity that is taking place in Cuba today.
We have to learn our lessons from history, something which clearly wasn't done in the post-1959 period, when existing critique of the then "USSR" was dismissed in Cuba.
This documentary is the result of a co-production between the independent production company "CreActivo" and the research team "Post Soviet Cuba" which is a member of one of the teams from the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLASCO).
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=125323

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Solidarity Statement from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners

Friends,

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

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

California Coalition for Women Prisoners Statement

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

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

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

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

    Northwest Detention Center Press Release May 4, 2017

Despite threats and retaliation, hunger strikers continue protest 

ICE ignores demands for improved conditions 

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

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

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

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

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


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Labor Studies and Radical History

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

415.387.5700

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

Hours

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

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

Services

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

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SUPPORT PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKERS!

FREEDOM AND DIGNITY PROTEST

Thursday May 25, 2017, 4:30-6PM




May 25th is an International call to action: Day of global one-day hunger strikes for Palestinian prisoners. We invite you to join us for a protest and press conference at the Israeli Consulate in support of the Day of global one-day hunger strikes for Palestinian prisoners.
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/event s/289463528131951/?active_tab= about
WHERE: Israeli Consulate 456 Montgomery St, San Francisco
WHEN: 4:30PM-6PM
WHAT: Join a coalition of Palestinian groups and solidarity activists, including JVP and Norcal Sabeel to demand that Israel meet the just demands of the strikers to be treated according to internationally recognized human rights standards.
In April of 2017, over 1000 Palestinian prisoners launched the largest collective hunger strike in years, on the occasion of marking 50 years of military occupation & nearly 70 years of Israel's displacement & imprisonment of Palestinians.
Their demands are simple including: reinstating visitation rights, installing phones, improving medical care, and ending solitary confinement and administrative detention (the practice of holding prisoners for indefinite periods without charge or trial).

--
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977www.freedomarchives.org
Questions and comments may be sent to claude@freedomarchives.org

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Sun, May 28, 2017:  ISM Olive Oil Party to Benefit Palestinian Farmers and Nonviolent Resistance

Where:   Grassroots house, 2022 Blake St., Berkeley, CA (between Ashby and Berkeley BART)
When:    10AM to 5:00PM
Info:        510-236-4250, www.ism-norcal.org

We'll have FAIR TRADE ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN Palestinian olive oil, zaatar (thyme), kufiyas, and much more.  Please join us to benefit Palestinian farmers and nonviolent resistance in Palestine.  If you only want to buy, that's OK, too.  We have Palestinian soap, books, flags, stickers and the jewelry of Katie Miranda.  The fun, fellowship and aroma of olive oil are hard to beat. The oil and other items will be sold to raise money and awareness for the work of the ISM.

Stopping nonviolent resistance volunteers from entering Palestinian communities is a major priority for the Israeli regime, but we continue to send them and to provide training.  Meet our volunteers and listen to their stories as you bottle oil.

You are welcome to bring food, but we will have some typical Palestinian dishes to offer as well, for those who are not fasting. Bring family, friends, etc. Our products make great gifts with a human rights message.  It all helps Palestinian farmers and businesses as well as nonviolent resistance in Palestine.

This year we sent $12,000 worth of cameras to Palestinian organizations that are documenting human rights violations on the ground.  One of our cameras was the second of Emad Burnat's Five Broken Cameras, nominated for an Academy Award.  Another captured the murder of Abdul-Fattah Al-Sharif, shot in the head by Israeli soldier Elor Azaria as Al-Sharif lay wounded on the ground.

Thanks for your support and we hope to see you there.

ISM-Northern California
510-236-4250

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Lesson from the past:

A Strategy to Fight Racist and Fascist Attacks

By Farrell Dobbs 

Political Report to the June 1961 Socialist Workers Party Convention (excerpt)

The current outbreak of rightist movements—Youth for Goldwater, John Birch Society, the extremist American Nazis, etc.—requires close attention and it also poses some tactical questions that need clarification. Implicit in this trend is the ultimate danger of repressive fascist attacks on labor and its allies, against which the labor movement will have to wage a showdown struggle in the streets. But it would be a serious mistake to raise a hue and cry against incipient fascism, as though the ultimate danger were already upon us, and attempt to substitute ourselves for the masses in taking the issue to the streets here and now. National politics still remains class collaborationist in mass character, despite the growing restiveness of labor and its allies. While this class political equilibrium remains operative, fascism can't make significant headway. When the present equilibrium does become upset through a labor breakaway from capitalist politics, it does not necessarily follow that capitalism will resort forthwith to fascist measures. An attempt might be made, as class political antagonism sharpen, to establish Bonapartist rule, perhaps through a military dictatorship based on the present vast interlocking alliance between the officer corps and the monopoly capitalists. Fascist trends would receive strong new impulses at such a conjuncture, but the ultimate showdown with fascism would still not be at hand. Therefore our propaganda, in addition to explaining the meaning of fascism and educating the masses in the need to be on guard against it, must also analyze the complex interim questions of the power struggles which could be next on the agenda.

At the present time, given the class collaborationist character of national politics, the existing rightist formations simply represent vanguard polarizations on the right, which play the counterpart of our vanguard role on the left. They can do little more than conduct propaganda, resorting only to isolated, small-scale acts of hooliganism, which often backfire against them. Since the incipient fascists are not strong enough to carry through antidemocratic actions at present, a call for mobilization against them would give the general impression of an attempt on our part to suppress freedom of speech and assembly for others. We would not only be inviting comparable attacks, both legal and extra-legal, against our own democratic rights, but we would appear to have given them justification. The truth is that we stand for freedom of speech and assembly in principle—not just for us, but for everybody. Therefore, we do not demand that the rightist movements be denied these freedoms.

Concerning the question of civil liberties, we should keep in mind that our growing reputation as a serious revolutionary tendency with a meaningful program is drawing attention not only from people becoming radicalized. The witch hunters are taking notice as well. We are beginning to draw their fire to a new degree in connection with the Cuban defense movement and there could be other new attacks. More than ever we must be on guard against any undermining of civil liberties for all, if we hope to defend our own democratic rights. To act otherwise would be to repeat the costly mistake of the Stalinists in refusing to recognize the democratic rights of their political opponents.

Let me call to your attention an article Trotsky wrote on this subject in December 1939 in the Socialist Appeal under the title, "Why I Consented to Appear Before The Dies Committee." I don't have the time to give you the background but it's worth your while to go back and do a little research on the circumstances surrounding the question of Trotsky possibly testifying before the Dies Committee, intending to use the occasion for propaganda purposes.

The questions of Stalinist dictatorship, of democratic rights under capitalism and the policy of revolutionists on civil liberties in a capitalist country like ours came up in this discussion. Trotsky wrote in the article cited, "Being an irreconcilable opponent not only of fascism but also of the present-day Comintern, I am at the same time decidedly against the suppression of either of them." He pointed out that the suppression of fascists by the capitalist government always proves fictitious. He also took note of the fact that to defend the rights of the Stalinists could help to refurbish the Comintern. "However," he said, "the question is not exhausted by this consideration. Under the conditions of the bourgeois regime, all suppression of political rights and freedom, no matter whom they are directed against in the beginning, in the end inevitably bear down upon the working class, particularly its most advanced elements. That is a law of history." 

In the article Trotsky was speaking of a specific stage, the one we're in now, where we're struggling under adverse conditions against a repressive ruling class in a capitalist country. He pointed out that when the struggle intensifies into a class showdown a new factor arises, the rules of civil war, which are something else again. But concerning a situation such as ours, he stated unambiguously "the working class in the capitalist countries, threatened with their own enslavement must stand in defense of freedom for all political tendencies including their own irreconcilable enemies."

Under circumstances where the foregoing policy will be maintained, we may at times find it useful propagandistically to organize counter-demonstrations against incipient fascists. In any situation where they resort to rightist hooliganism we will take the initiative in organizing defense guards to oppose them. But our central task at this stage concerning the rightist formations is to explain the true nature of fascism in our propaganda, seeking to educate and alert the masses against it. In doing so we must keep a sense of proportion as to the immediate nature of the fascist issue, being careful to direct major attention to the primary questions of the day.

Reprinted from Socialist Workers Party Discussion Bulletin, Vol. 22, No. 19, September 1961
Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line
https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/swp-us/education/counter/dobbs.htm

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Support:




CONTRIBUTE 
Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

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

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

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Former Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera who recently received a commutation of his sentence  from President Obama will be coming to the Bay Area on Wednesday, May 31st.  This will be a memorable event, not to be missed!



Welcome Oscar Lopez Rivera 

  Oscar is Free and Coming to the Bay Area May 31st
Event Venue Changed To:  

First Presbyterian Church
2407 Dana Avenue
Berkeley, CA
(Wheelchair Accessible)
           Oscar Lopez Rivera is coming to the Bay Area after 36 years in prison for his struggle in support for independence and sovereignty for Puerto Rican Independence. Help us support Oscar as he continues his work by making a financial commitment as he begins his new life.

            He will be visiting the Bay Area for a unique one time only public appearance on May 31st. For many of us, this is a welcome opportunity to celebrate his release and our shared victory. Let us show our support for Oscar in his new endeavors.

Please make a generous donation now: https://www.gofundme.com/welcomeoscar

Let us show Oscar that the SF Bay Area community supports him as he continues to advocate for sovereignty and independence for Puerto Rico. We look forward to seeing you in May.

Save the date: Wed. May 31, 2017  
                                 Recepcion 5:30 P.M. ($75-250)
                                 Program 7:00 P.M. ($20-50)
No one will be turned away for lack of funds.For more information: freeoscarnow@gmail.com www.facebook.com/WelcomeOscartotheBayArea

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Juneteenth 2017 (Monday, June 19, 2017)

Land is Power. Land is Liberation. Land is the Commons

On Juneteenth 2017 (Monday, June 19th) Black people across the country will take back land and reclaim space, from vacant lots to empty school buildings. We are taking back land that should be used for the good of the people; land that has historically been denied to Black people. Through these actions we will confront the institutions and individuals that have been built off the extracted wealth of Black people and Black land.

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

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


Eight states  Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Utah  have at least one of every five prisoners serving a life or de facto life sentence in prison. 
The Sentencing Project will host an online press conference to discuss its report Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences, on Wednesday, May 3rd at 11:00 a.m. EDT.   
Press Conference Details
WHAT: Online press conference hosted by The Sentencing Project regarding the release of its new report examining life and long-term sentences in the United States. REGISTER HERE to participate. The call-in information and conference link will be sent via email.  
WHEN: 
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. EDT 
WHO: 

  • Ashley Nellis, The Sentencing Project's senior research analyst and author of Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences
  • Evans Ray, whose life without parole sentence was commuted in 2016 by President Obama
  • Steve Zeidman, City University of New York law professor and counsel for Judith Clark—a New York prisoner who received a 75 year to life sentence in 1983
The full report will be available to press on Wednesday morning via email.

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

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Solidarity with the Jacksonville Five! Donate for bail and defense
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Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net)

Solidarity with the Jacksonville Five!
Donate for bail and defense!

Please donate to the Jacksonville Five bail and defense fund!


Call State Attorney Melissa Nelson at
904-255-2500 and say, "Drop the charges against the Jacksonville Five!"


April 13, 2017 - The Jacksonville Five are a group of anti-war protesters in Florida beaten and arrested by police at a "No War in Syria" rally held on Friday April 7, 2017. A right-wing provocateur appeared with a Trump flag, and then harassed and shoved anti-war activists, while police did nothing to him. Then the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office (JSO) physically attacked the anti-war protesters who did nothing wrong.

The police descended upon Connell Crooms, a deaf African American man, who had been leading chants. The police savagely beat, kicked and tased Crooms until he was unconscious and had to be taken to the hospital. Crooms is a well-known Teamster and a Black Lives Matter leader.

The police also punched Vietnam veteran Willie Wilder in the face and arrested the 74-year-old peace activist. Christina Kittle, the leader of the Jacksonville Coalition for Consent was thrown to the ground and arrested. Transgender activist Toma Beckwith was also tackled and arrested.

As protesters were leaving the park to do jail support, the police arrested union activist and anti-war speaker Dave Schneider, charging him with "felony inciting a riot" for organizing the anti-war protest. Police never arrested the right-wing provocateur. In fact, there are many photos on social media of him posing with JSO police, including Sheriff Mike Williams.

Jacksonville quickly rallied to the defense of the Jacksonville Five. The next day, April 8, over 200 people rallied to demand all charges be dropped. Leaders of the labor, African American, and progressive movements chanted, "Drop the charges!" The mother of Connell Crooms gave a tearful testament to her son's good character and denounced the police attack on her son, "JSO should not be allowed to get away with this type of behavior."

The rally demanded a full independent investigation into the police misconduct of April 7. Protesters are also demanding an independent investigation into a police spying program. Just weeks earlier the Florida Times Union newspaper reported the Sheriff's Office was spying on activists, including the Jacksonville Five, with photos of Dave Schneider, Connell Crooms and Christina Kittle appearing.

Jacksonville Sheriffs are lying and denying, claiming the protesters "incited a riot." Fortunately, dozens of people took video of the police brutality. The social media pages of the provocateur contain ties to white supremacist groups and to Sheriff Mike Williams who denies he knows him, despite their photo together at a Trump rally.

To add insult to injury, the total bail amount issued by the court for all five arrestees came out to over $157,000. They are outrageously charging the people who were beaten and arrested by the police with serious felony charges. We need to mobilize national support and raise enough money to cover this and pay for the defense.

There is a continuing campaign to drop the trumped-up charges and investigate the abuses by the JSO.

Please call the State Attorney for the Florida 4th Circuit, Melissa Nelson at 904-255-2500, and demand she drop the charges against the Jax5.

Please share this link to donate to the Jacksonville Five legal defense fund:


http://tinyurl.com/DefendJax5


Copyright © 2017 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights reserved.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in the fight against FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!
Our mailing address is:
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
PO Box 14183
MinneapolisMN  55414

Add us to your address book

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100,000 protest in San Francisco, CA

Pictures From Women's
Marches on Every Continent



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Good News for Mumia Abu-Jamal
May 1, 2017: News sent today from Rachel Wolkenstein:

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

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

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

This is a critical and essential step forward!

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Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for being a part of this work!

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Protect Kevin "Rashid" Johnson from Prison Repression!

PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY

WHEN: Anytime
WHAT: Protect imprisoned activist-journalist Kevin "Rashid" Johnson
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1794902884117144/


On December 21, 2016, Kevin "Rashid" Johnson was the victim of an
assault by guards at the Clements Unit where he is currently being held,
just outside Amarillo, Texas. Rashid was sprayed with OC pepper gas
while handcuffed in his cell, and then left in the contaminated cell for
hours with no possibility to shower and no access to fresh air. It was
in fact days before he was supplied with new sheets or clothes (his bed
was covered with the toxic OC residue), and to this day his cell has not
been properly decontaminated.

This assault came on the heels of another serious move against Rashid,
as guards followed up on threats to confiscate all of his property – not
only files required for legal matters, but also art supplies, cups to
drink water out of, and food he had recently purchased from the
commissary. The guards in question were working under the direction of
Captain Patricia Flowers, who had previously told Rashid that she
intended to seize all of his personal belongings as retaliation for his
writings about mistreatment of prisoners, up to and including assaults
and purposeful medical negligence that have led to numerous deaths in
custody. Specifically, Rashid's writings have called attention to the
deaths of Christopher Woolverton, Joseph Comeaux, and Alton Rodgers, and
he has been contacted by lawyers litigating on behalf of the families of
at least two of these men.

As a journalist and activist literally embedded within the bowels of the
world's largest prison system, Rashid relies on his files and notes for
correspondence, legal matters, and his various news reports.
Furthermore, Rashid is a self-taught artist of considerable talent (his
work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and books);
needless to say, the guards were also instructed to seize his art
materials and the drawings he was working on.

(For a more complete description of Rashid's ordeal on and following
December 21, see his recent article "Bound and Gassed: My Reward for
Exposing Abuses and Killings of Texas Prisoners" at
http://rashidmod.com/?p=2321)

Particularly worrisome, is the fact that the abuse currently directed
against Rashid is almost a carbon-copy of what was directed against
Joseph Comeaux in 2013, who was eventually even denied urgently needed
medical care. Comeaux died shortly thereafter.

This is the time to step up and take action to protect Rashid; and the
only protection we can provide, from the outside, is to make sure prison
authorities know that we are watching. Whether you have read his
articles about prison conditions, his political or philosophical
polemics (and whether you agreed with him or not!), or just appreciate
his artwork – even if this is the first you are hearing about Rashid –
we need you to step up and make a few phone calls and send some emails.
When doing so, let officials know you are contacting them about Kevin
Johnson, ID #1859887, and the incident in which he was gassed and his
property confiscated on December 21, 2016. The officials to contact are:

Warden Kevin Foley
Clements Unit
telephone: (806) 381-7080 (you will reach the general switchboard; ask
to speak to the warden's office)

Tell Warden Foley that you have heard of the gas attack on Rashid.
Specific demands you can make:

* That Kevin Johnson's property be returned to him

* That Kevin Johnson's cell be thoroughly decontaminated

* That Captain Patricia Flowers, Lieutenant Crystal Turner, Lieutenant
Arleen Waak, and Corrections Officer Andrew Leonard be sanctioned for
targeting Kevin Johnson for retaliation for his writings

* That measures be taken to ensure that whistleblowers amongst staff and
the prisoner population not be targeted for any reprisals from guards or
other authorities. (This is important because at least one guard and
several prisoners have signed statements asserting that Rashid was left
in his gassed cell for hours, and that his property should not have been
seized.)

Try to be polite, while expressing how concerned you are for Kevin
Johnson's safety. You will almost certainly be told that because other
people have already called and there is an ongoing investigation – or
else, because you are not a member of his family -- that you cannot be
given any information. Say that you understand, but that you still wish
to have your concerns noted, and that you want the prison to know that
you will be keeping track of what happens to Mr Johnson.

The following other authorities should also be contacted. These bodies
may claim they are unable to directly intervene, however we know that by
creating a situation where they are receiving complaints, they will
eventually contact other authorities who can intervene to see what the
fuss is all about. So it's important to get on their cases too:

TDCJ Ombudsman: ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov

The Inspector General:  512-671-2480

Let these "watchdogs" know you are concerned that Kevin Johnson #1859887
was the victim of a gas attack in Clements Unit on December 21, 2016.
Numerous witnesses have signed statements confirming that he was
handcuffed, in his cell, and not threatening anyone at the time he was
gassed. Furthermore, he was not allowed to shower for hours, and his
cell was never properly decontaminated, so that he was still suffering
the effects of the gas days later. It is also essential to mention that
his property was improperly confiscated, and that he had previously been
threatened with having this happen as retaliation for his writing about
prison conditions. Kevin Johnson's property must be returned!

Finally, complaints should also be directed to the director of the VA
DOC Harold Clarke and the VA DOC's Interstate Compact Supervisor, Terry
Glenn. This is because Rashid is in fact a Virginia prisoner, who has
been exiled from Virginia under something called the Interstate Compact,
which is used by some states as a way to be rid of activist prisoners,
while at the same time separating them from their families and
supporters. Please contact:

VADOC Director, Harold Clarke
804-887-8081
Director.Clarke@vadoc.virginia.gov

Interstate Compact director, Terry Glenn
804-887-7866

Let them know that you are phoning about Kevin Johnson, a Virginia
prisoner who has been sent to Texas under the Interstate Compact. His
Texas ID # is 1859887 however his Virginia ID # is 1007485. Inform them
that Mr Johnson has been gassed by guards and has had his property
seized as retaliation for his writing about prison conditions. These are
serious legal and human rights violations, and even though they occurred
in Texas, the Virginia Department of Corrections is responsible as Mr
Johnson is a Virginia prisoner. Despite the fact that they may ask you
who you are, and how you know about this, and for your contact
information, they will likely simply conclude by saying that they will
not be getting back to you. Nonetheless, it is worth urging them to
contact Texas officials about this matter.

It is good to call whenever you are able. However, in order to maximize
our impact, for those who can, we are suggesting that people make their
phone calls on Thursday, January 5.

And at the same time, please take a moment to sign the online petition
to support Rashid, up at the Roots Action website:
https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/prison-activist-gassed-in-clements-unit-prison-texas-law-enforcement-is-violently-out-of-control

Rashid has taken considerable risks in reporting on the abuse he
witnesses at the Clements Unit, just as he has at other prisons. Indeed,
he has continued to report on the violence and medical neglect to which
prisoners are subjected, despite threats from prison staff. If we, as a
movement, are serious about working to resist and eventually abolish the
U.S. prison system, we must do all we can to assist and protect those
like Rashid who take it upon themselves to stand up and speak out. As
Ojore Lutalo once put it, "Any movement that does not support their
political internees ... is a sham movement."

**********************

To learn more about Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, the abuses in the Texas
prison system, as well as his work in founding and leading the New
Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, see his website
athttp://www.rashidmod.com


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Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:

A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS

B. ARTICLES IN FULL



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A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS

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

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

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013RU5M4S

May 20, 2017

Progress in Rev. Pinkney's Appeal!




At last, there is some forward motion in Rev. Pinkney's appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. Last September, Rev. Pinkney's legal team filed an application for leave to appeal his case to the staet supreme court. On Wednesday, the court issued an order granting oral arguments to be made in support of that application.

The court also requested additional briefings on two of the major topics in Rev. Pinkney's appeal. These issues are known as the 404(b) issue and the 168.937 issue. The first issue relates to the misuse of Rev. Pinkney's constitutionally protected political and community activities to influence the verdict, and the second issues relates to the question of whether he was prosecuted under a statute that is actually only a penalty provision, that is, it can't be used to prosecute anyone.

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but this is at least a step in the right direction. Rev. Pinkney's attorney said that most applications for leave to appeal to the supreme court are simply denied. This order indicates that they are interested in hearing more about some of the important issues at stake.

It may be months before the oral arguments are heard, but as soon as they are scheduled, word will go out to pack the courtroom that day!

You can read the order here: http://publicdocs.courts.mi.gov/sct/public/orders/154374_147_01.pdf
FREE REV. PINKNEY NOW.

Please send letters to:
Marquette Branch Prison
Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671
1960 US Hwy 41 South
Marquette, MI 49855

Please donate at http://bhbanco.org (Donate button) or send checks to BANCO:
c/o Dorothy Pinkney
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Contributions for Rev. Pinkney's defense can be sent to BANCO at Mrs Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Or you can donate on-line at bhbanco.org.


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

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

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

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





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      Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

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


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

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

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

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

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

      Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

      In solidarity,

      James Clark
      Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
      Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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        CANCEL ALL STUDENT DEBT!

        Sign the Petition:

        http://cancelallstudentdebt.com/?code=kos



        Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:


        Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families.

        I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.

        American Federation of Teachers
        Campaign for America's Future
        Courage Campaign
        Daily Kos
        Democracy for America
        LeftAction
        Project Springboard
        RH Reality Check
        RootsAction
        Student Debt Crisis
        The Nation
        Working Families


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        Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson


        Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

        Dear Supporters and Friends,


        Show your support for Lorenzo by wearing one of our beautiful new campaign t-shirts! If you donate $20 (or more!) to the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson, we will send you a t-shirt, while supplies last. Make sure to note your size and shipping address in the comment section on PayPal, or to include this information with a check.



        Here is a message from Lorenzo's wife, Tazza Salvatto:


        My husband is innocent, FREE HIM NOW!
        Lorenzo Johnson is a son, husband, father and brother. His injustice has been a continued nightmare for our family. Words cant explain our constant pain, I wish it on no one. Not even the people responsible for his injustice. 
        This is about an innocent man who has spent 20 years and counting in prison. The sad thing is Lorenzo's prosecution knew he was innocent from day one. These are the same people society relies on to protect us.

        Not only have these prosecutors withheld evidence of my husbands innocence by NEVER turning over crucial evidence to his defense prior to trial. Now that Lorenzo's innocence has been revealed, the prosecution refuses to do the right thing. Instead they are "slow walking" his appeal and continuing their malicious prosecution.
        When my husband or our family speak out about his injustice, he's labeled by his prosecutor as defaming a career cop and prosecutor. If they are responsible for Lorenzo's wrongful conviction, why keep it a secret??? This type of corruption and bullying of families of innocent prisoners to remain silent will not be tolerated.
        Our family is not looking for any form of leniency. Lorenzo is innocent, we want what is owed to him. JUSTICE AND HIS IMMEDIATE FREEDOM!!! 

                                  Lorenzo's wife,
                                   Tazza Salvatto

        Lorenzo is continuing to fight for his freedom with the support of his lead counsel, Michael Wiseman, The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, and the Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson.
        Thank you all for reading this message and please take the time to visit our website and contribute to Lorenzo's campaign for freedom!
        Write: Lorenzo Johnson
                    DF 1036
                    SCI Mahanoy
                    301 Morea Rd.
                    Frackville, PA 17932
         Email: Through JPay using the code:
                      Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC
                                              or
                      Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com
                                             or
                      Directly on ConnectNetwork -- instructions here

        Have a wonderful day!
        - The Team to Free Lorenzo Johnson

        Write: Lorenzo Johnson
                    DF 1036
                    SCI Mahanoy
                    301 Morea Rd.
                    Frackville, PA 17932

         Email: Through JPay using the code:
                      Lorenzo Johnson DF 1036 PA DOC
                                             or
                      Directly at LorenzoJohnson17932@gmail.com

        freelorenzojohnson.org

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        B. ARTICLES IN FULL


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        1)  Inside the Air War Over Syria: A High Altitude 'Poker Game'
        "A reporter for The New York Times was given access to the command center, offering a rare glimpse into how the military plans and orchestrates the complex ballet of strike, surveillance and refueling aircraft that keeps the war going around the clock."
         MAY 23, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/us/politics/air-war-syria.html?hp&action=
        click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=
        top-news&WT.nav=top-news

        AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar — The salvo of American cruise missiles launched at a Syrian airfield last month was intended as a one-time message to dissuade President Bashar al-Assad from mounting another chemical weapons attack.
        But at the high-tech command center here, the challenges for Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, who oversees air operations in the Middle East, were just beginning.
        General Harrigian had to protect American and allied troops from possible retaliation by Syrian warplanes as well as keep up airstrikes in and around the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. All the while, Syrian and Russian air defenses were on heightened alert, raising the risk to American and coalition aircrews in their campaign against the militants, also known as ISIS.
        "If the Syrians were going to make a run at our guys, we were going to be in a position to defend them ourselves," General Harrigian said in an interview. "The intent was to be in position to support our guys and get back into fighting ISIS."

        Some of the military's most important operations have taken place thousands of feet in the air over Syria, all but invisible to the American public. A reporter for The New York Times was given access to the command center, offering a rare glimpse into how the military plans and orchestrates the complex ballet of strike, surveillance and refueling aircraft that keeps the war going around the clock.

        A Base in the Desert

        An outsize illustration of the principle "if you build it, they will come," Al Udeid was constructed in a baking stretch of desert 20 miles south of Doha when Qatar had little air force of its own but was prepared to spend billions to build an airfield that a friendly superpower could use in a crisis. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration began basing American warplanes here to carry out airstrikes in Afghanistan, though their deployment was initially kept secret.
        Al Udeid continued to grow in importance thanks in part to Saudi Arabia, which became uneasy about hosting the American military, including its regional air operations center. It was moved here in 2003from Prince Sultan Air Base south of Riyadh soon after the American-led invasion of Iraq.
        Today, the American-led command center at this heavily secured base oversees air operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other potential hot spots in the Middle East. The cavernous operations center is crammed with liaison officers from countries in the American-led coalition, the American military services, intelligence experts and officers who plan and direct the missions.
        The challenge in operating in Syria's crowded airspace is clear from a glance at a large video screen inside the center that tracks aircraft across the region. Russian and Syrian planes are marked with yellow and orange icons; American and allied planes are delineated in green while civilian aircraft are blue.
        Regular phone calls from Al Udeid to the Russian base at Latakia, Syria, are used to avoid conflicting operations. (An unclassified Gmail account is used as a backup.)
        But as American destroyers in the Mediterranean prepared to launch dozens of cruise missiles on April 7 at the Syrian airfield used to mount a nerve-gas attack, it was clear that General Harrigian's mission was about to become more complicated.

        Testing and Assessing

        One big concern was that the stack of American warplanes providing close air support for Syrian fighters clashing with Islamic State fighters near Raqqa, their self-proclaimed capital, and the Tabqa Dam about 30 miles away. The aircraft were vulnerable to Syrian surface-to-air missiles that the United States could no longer ignore.
        "In Raqqa, you are kind of right in the heart of the integrated air defense," said General Harrigian, who likes to climb into the cockpit of an F-22 to get a firsthand look at operations in Syria and at the American-supported Iraqi offensive in Mosul.
        Another danger was that the Syrian Air Force might try to retaliate by mounting an airstrike against American or allied forces — or the Syrian fighters they advise.
        To deal with the potential fallout, General Harrigian developed a step-by-step plan intended to "test and assess" the Syrian and Russian reactions. In a situation in which the small measure of trust between the rival forces was gone, American aircraft would pull back, then gradually start edging back into Syrian airspace.
        "What I told the guys was, 'I want a deliberate approach to regain our ability to operate in here. We've got to do it over time,'" General Harrigian recalled.
        To keep up the pressure on the Islamic State, armed drones were positioned in and around Raqqa.
        And, to give the United States a means of intercepting any Syrian aircraft that tried to strike American and allied forces, F-22s were ordered to fly around the clock in northeast Syria.
        Though the F-22 is primarily an air-to-air fighter, it can also carry 250-pound bombs, which gave it the capability to conduct airstrikes against ISIS as it ventured south. F-22s are also equipped with an advanced electronic system to detect emissions from enemy radars and surface-to-air missiles.
        Also adding to the American ability to monitor Syrian airspace, an American Awacs radar surveillance plane was positioned on the Iraqi-Syrian border, just outside the range of the SA-23 air defense system the Russians have deployed.
        Neither the Syrians nor the Russians challenged the F-22s. General Harrigian next sent F-15Es into Syria, though he noted that he was careful to position them "a little farther to the east." Though not stealthy, the F-15E's could carry larger bombs along with their air-to-air missiles and could quickly maneuver east if they were threatened by Syria's surface-to-air missiles.
        "I wanted to make sure I had airplanes that could defend themselves against an integrated air defense missile getting shot at them, a SAM," General Harrigian said, referring to the missiles.
        All the while, General Harrigian met daily with key aides to review intelligence and feedback from aircrews that had just conducted missions before deciding where to insert other aircraft.
        "It was a poker game," he recalled. "I put down a card; they put down a card. And I'm sitting at the head of the table deciding every day when I was going to put the next captain to go a little bit deeper in."

        An Hourslong Battle

        But few plans survive contact with the enemy — in this case, the Islamic State.
        As a precaution against Syrian or Russian retaliation, the United States and its allies had withdrawn their Special Operations Forces who were training and advising local Syrian fighters near al-Tanf, a Syrian town close to the intersection of the Syrian, Iraq and Jordanian borders.
        The day after the cruise missile attack, more than two dozen Islamic State militants, donning uniforms similar to those worn by the Syrian fighters, attacked the garrison, using suicide bombers to breach its defenses.
        With Islamic State fighters inside the perimeter, caution was put aside. F-18s, F-15Es and a B-52 bomber raced to the scene.
        "We were there in minutes over the top of them," General Harrigian said. "My intent was, 'Hey, we are going to be deliberate about this, but if we've got to go support troops in contact, we are going to get after it.'"
        After an hourslong firefight, the militants were routed. Several Syrian fighters were wounded, but there were no American or allied casualties.

        Quieting the Enemy

        In the weeks after, the Syrians, Russians and Americans have kept an uneasy watch on each other.
        "My assessment is that they were worried about another strike occurring," General Harrigian said of the Syrian military. "They used their radars basically to gain an understanding of where we were at."
        With neither the Syrians nor the Russians making obvious threatening moves, General Harrigian gave the go-ahead to insert other aircraft into Syria, including A-10s attack planes and B-52s. But the commander was still wary.
        "We're not back to normal," he said. "I still watch it every day."
        Those words turned out to be prophetic. On Thursday, Iranian-backed fighters that have supported Mr. Assad headed toward al-Tanf. Coalition planes fired warning shots at their convoy but failed to get it to turn around. Finally, the aircraft struck, destroying several tanks. That same day, a Syrian SU-22 aircraft that flew into the area was turned away by American F-22 pilots who did not fire a shot.
        The situation near al-Tanf has been quiet since then, but no one is sure for how long.

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        2)  Alabama Inmate Hopes to Dodge Death for an Eighth Time
         MAY 24, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/us/alabama-inmate-hopes-to-dodge-death-for-an-eighth-time.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=rank&module=
        package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

        Tommy Arthur, who was first sentenced to death in 1983, has long imagined what could be his end: time in a so-called death cell, a choice of a last meal, the final telephone calls and then a lethal injection.
        That end could come Thursday, his eighth execution date in a case that has spanned the tenures of eight Alabama governors, starting with George Wallace. If it does, it will conclude a legal odyssey that quietly became, for death penalty supporters and critics alike, a symbol of the troubles of the capital punishment system in the United States.
        "It's one of those cases in which nobody is happy," said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a research group that has voiced concerns about the application of capital punishment.

        "People who simply want the execution are unhappy because of the passage of time," he said. "People who oppose the death penalty are unhappy because they don't want Tommy Arthur executed. People who want fairness are unhappy because, despite the length of time this case has been in the courts, the process has never been fair."
        In Alabama, where 58 people have been put to death since Mr. Arthur was sentenced for the 1982 murder of Troy Wicker, the most pressing issue these days seems to be how long it takes to carry out capital sentences. If Mr. Arthur, 75, is executed on Thursday, his death will come one week after the Legislature gave final approval to a plan to reduce the length of appeals in capital cases.
        "Men don't cry, but I have," Mr. Arthur, whose case was unaffected by the measure, said in a telephone interview from the prison that houses Alabama's execution chamber. "I'm scared to death right now."
        Mr. Arthur confessed to one murder but was given a death sentence for a second that he insists he did not commit. In regards to the latter, the state authorities contend that Mr. Wicker's wife, Judy, hired Mr. Arthur, her lover, to carry out the killing so she could collect an insurance payout. Ms. Wicker, who was found guilty and spent about a decade in prison before being released on parole, ultimately testified against Mr. Arthur, who was on work release from a life sentence for another killing when Mr. Wicker was murdered. (A woman who answered the phone at a number connected to Ms. Wicker hung up on a reporter.)
        Near the end of a trial in the early 1990s, Mr. Arthur proclaimed his innocence but asked for a death sentence that he said would allow him greater opportunities for appeal.
        "I will not be executed," Mr. Arthur said, according to a transcript of the proceedings. "I'm totally positive of that. I wouldn't dare ask you for it if I thought for a minute that I would be executed."
        He had already won two new trials by then. In the years that followed, Mr. Arthur's case began to stand out to some scholars and lawyers because he so frequently staved off scheduled executions.
        Mr. Arthur, whose lawyers have not raised intellectual disability or mental health claims, maintained his innocence and sought new forensic testing of evidence. He argued his sentence was unconstitutional and that his claims of ineffective counsel were never fully considered. He raised questions about Alabama's execution methods, including a challenge to a lethal injection drug, midazolam.
        Another prisoner once admitted to Mr. Wicker's murder, but a judge found that Mr. Arthur and the inmate had "engaged in an attempt to defraud" the court with a false confession.
        A defense lawyer for Mr. Arthur, Suhana S. Han, said that litigation had still not led to a full airing of the facts and rulings on the merits of Mr. Arthur's claims of innocence. Instead, Mr. Arthur's supporters see a government increasingly desperate to put a man to death.
        "I think we should all be very concerned that a state is willing to exact the ultimate punishment of death without affording an inmate every fair opportunity to prove his innocence," said Ms. Han, a partner with the New York firm Sullivan & Cromwell, which is representing Mr. Arthur pro bono. "They have fought us every which way while we've tried to get at the truth."
        State officials regard Mr. Arthur as someone who will do anything to avoid his death sentence.
        "I think there's just an attitude by the other side to basically file anything that they can whether it has any merit or not," said Clay Crenshaw, chief deputy attorney general and a former leader of his office's capital litigation division. "I think he and his lawyers have successfully manipulated the system."
        Mr. Crenshaw said Mr. Arthur had received more stays of execution than any other Alabama prisoner in memory.
        The matter of whether seemingly ceaseless capital cases are constitutionally problematic has never been settled by the United States Supreme Court, but justices have sometimes betrayed fears about the length of time that can pass between sentencing and execution. In a 2011 case from Florida involving a man who had been awaiting execution for 33 years, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that he had "little doubt about the cruelty of so long a period of incarceration under sentence of death."
        But Justice Breyer has sometimes been a solitary voice on matters of capital punishment.
        Alabama has moved to limit the risk of protracted cases in the future, and on Friday, Gov. Kay Ivey is scheduled to sign a measure requiring capital defendants to pursue their direct and post-conviction appeals simultaneously in the state's courts. Under existing law, defendants have been allowed to bring a new appeal after an earlier effort failed.
        The Alabama attorney general, Steven T. Marshall, said the proposed changes, similar to provisions already in force in at least four other states, would benefit people affected by capital crimes without trampling on constitutional rights.
        "This is victim-driven for us," Mr. Marshall said. "We've heard the stories. We've seen the anguish. Victims do not sense, in a capital setting, that their voices are heard fully. This is an opportunity for us as a state to be able to say that we're going to allow defendants to have their fair opportunity to be heard in court for their claims to be evaluated, but we're going to do it in a timely way."
        But Mr. Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center, who noted that 60 percent of death row exonerations since 2012 involved cases at least 20 years old, suggested that quickening the pace to the death chamber would very likely lead to more executions of innocent people. In 2015, Alabama released an innocent man, Anthony Ray Hinton, after he spent almost 30 years on death row; the state had spent years resisting demands that investigators conduct new tests on an alleged murder weapon.
        "This is not about having more efficient judicial review," Mr. Dunham said. "This is about expediting executions at the expense of fairness and accuracy."
        The Arthur case only lurked in the background of the legislative debate, but Mr. Marshall, a local prosecutor until February, acknowledged that Mr. Arthur's history had long attracted attention.
        "It's the example of how the system has failed victims, and how he's manipulated, through various filings, the court system to delay what should have occurred long ago," Mr. Marshall said.
        Mr. Arthur is unbothered by his reputation. Yet days before his scheduled execution, he allowed that his case might be near its end.
        "Am I afraid?" Mr. Arthur said. "Well, I'm terrified, but there's nothing I can do about it. All I can do is just hope, and I think my attorneys have some things working, and I hope some of them get some traction."

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        3)  Trump Praises Duterte for Philippine Drug Crackdown in Call Transcript
         MAY 23, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/us/politics/trump-duterte-phone-transcript-philippine-drug-crackdown.html?rref=
        ollection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=
        stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront

        WASHINGTON — President Trump praised President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines in a phone call last month for doing an "unbelievable job on the drug problem" in the island nation where the government has sanctioned gunning down suspects in the streets. Mr. Trump also boasted that the United States has "two nuclear submarines" off the coast of North Korea but said he does not want to use them.
        The comments were part of a Philippine transcript of the April 29 call that was circulated on Tuesday, under a "confidential" cover sheet, by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. In Washington, a senior administration official confirmed that the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two iconoclastic leaders. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and confirmed it on the condition of anonymity.
        The White House also keeps transcripts of such calls, but they are routinely kept secret. The Philippine rendering of the call offers a rare insight into how Mr. Trump talks to fellow leaders: He sounds much the way he sounds in public, casing issues in largely black-and-white terms, often praising authoritarian leaders, largely unconcerned about human rights violations and genuinely uncertain about the nature of his adversary in North Korea.
        Mr. Trump placed the call and began it by congratulating Mr. Duterte for the government-sanctioned attacks on drug suspects. The program has been widely condemned by human rights groups around the world because extrajudicial killings have taken thousands of lives without arrest or trial. In March, the program was criticized in the State Department's annual human rights report, which referred to "apparent governmental disregard for human rights and due process."

        Mr. Trump had no such reservations. "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem," he said. "Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that."
        Mr. Duterte responded that drugs were "the scourge of my nation now, and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation." Mr. Trump responded that "we had a previous president who did not understand that," an apparent reference to President Barack Obama, "but I understand that."
        But Mr. Duterte had another subject he wanted to discuss: North Korea. He told Mr. Trump that "as long as those rockets and warheads are in the hands of Kim Jong-un we will never be safe as there's not telling what will happen next."
        That led Mr. Trump to inquire whether Mr. Kim, the 33-year-old North Korean leader, is "someone who is stable or not stable." Mr. Duterte offered up the opinion that Mr. Kim was unstable, noting that he is always seen laughing in pictures of missile and nuclear tests.
        Mr. Trump seemed to try to reassure Mr. Duterte. Mr. Kim, he said, "has got the powder, but he doesn't have the delivery system — all his rockets are crashing." The president said nothing of the American-led program to sabotage the launches, though in some tests both before and after the call, the North has conducted several successful launches.
        "We have a lot of firepower over there," Mr. Trump noted. "We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all."
        The two men talked about China's potential influence and Mr. Duterte promised to call President Xi Jinping. Mr. Trump noted that the two men had met at his Florida resort, and he called Mr. Xi "a good guy."
        The transcript was widely circulated on Tuesday, and The Washington Post and The Intercept both published articles based on the same document.
        The end of the conversation centered on a first meeting between the two men, perhaps when Mr. Trump is in Manila later this year. But Mr. Trump twice invited Mr. Duterte to "come to the Oval Office."
        "I will love to have you in the Oval Office, anytime you want to come," Mr. Trump said.
        "Take care of yourself, Rodrigo," he concluded. "God bless you."

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        4)  U.S. Airstrike in Mosul Kills Over 100 Civilians
        By Courtney Kube and the Associated Press
        NBC News, May 25, 2017
        http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/pentagon-officials-say-u-s-airstrike-killed-over-100-civilians-n764541

        A Pentagon investigation has found that more than 100 civilians were killed after the U.S. dropped a bomb on a building in Mosul, Iraq, in March. 
        The probe found that the U.S. bomb triggered secondary explosions from devices clandestinely planted there by ISIS fighters. And the military says the secondary blasts caused the concrete building to collapse. 
        Air Force Brigadier General Matthew Isler, the lead investigator, said 101 civilians in the building were killed, and another four died in a nearby building. He says 36 civilians remain unaccounted for. 
        The deaths represent about a quarter of all civilian deaths since the U.S. air campaign began. 
        “Our condolences go out to all those that were affected,” said Major General Joe Martin, commander of ground forces for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS. “The Coalition takes every feasible measure to protect civilians from harm. The best way to protect civilians is to defeat ISIS.”
        After initially denying that the U.S. conducted any airstrikes in the Mosul al-Jadida neighborhood, about one week later CENTCOM put out a statement acknowledging that they had struck ISIS fighters and equipment in the area at the request of Iraqi forces. The U.S. military then initiated a formal investigation. 
        Local residents reported that upwards of 200 people were killed in the strike, but the U.S. military has confirmed that between 137 and 140 civilians were likely present at the time of the strike. Even the lower estimates of civilian deaths will likely make this the deadliest U.S. airstrike against civilians since they began flying in Iraq again in 2014—possibly even since 2003. 
        The investigation has been complete for days now, according to three U.S. military officials. 
        The officials said the findings include: 
        ·       Iraqi Counter Terror Services troops were watching the building for two days prior to the airstrike but overhead surveillance drones were unable to gather useful full-motion video because the weather was bad and clouds obstructed views. The Iraqis did not see any civilians coming and going for the 48 hours prior to the strike, but they were only watching from one vantage point and couldn’t see all entrances to the building.
        ·       The U.S. responded to a request for air support from the Iraqis who were taking fire from two snipers in the building. The request for an airstrike was vetted through the proper channels and the U.S. struck the snipers with a GBU-38 joint direct attack munition with a delayed fuse (a 500-pound bomb). The bomb took out the exact area the snipers were firing from on the second floor in the front side of the structure. It was not powerful enough to bring down the reinforced concrete structure.
        ·       There was a secondary explosion in the backside of the building that caused the building to collapse. Expert analysis and modeling found that the explosives needed to bring down the building would be more than four-times what was delivered by the GBU-38.
        ·       The U.S. did strike the building and civilians were among the dead. The building was leveled because of explosives that ISIS had put inside. The investigation could not determine whether the civilians were being held hostage in the building nor could it determine definitively whether the building was a storage facility for ISIS explosives or whether it was specifically rigged to collapse.
        The building was in a densely populated area in western Mosul.
        A few weeks after the strike, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria said that the U.S. probably had a hand in the civilian casualties, but added that ISIS may have gathered civilians there and planted explosives to cause the building to collapse. Lieutenant General Townsend added that the munition used to strike the building was not designed to level it, and that secondary explosions must have been involved. 
        The U.S. military will make “solatia” or condolence payments if claims from next of kin can be substantiated, one official said. These claims have rarely been substantiated in Iraq or Syria during this current conflict.
        NBC News, May 25, 2017
        http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/pentagon-officials-say-u-s-airstrike-killed-over-100-civilians-n764541

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        5)  Tommy Arthur, Inmate Who Escaped Death 7 Times, Is Executed
        Tommy Arthur, a convicted hitman nicknamed "Houdini" by a victims' group because he escaped execution seven times, was put to death early Friday morning in Alabama after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to give him an eighth reprieve. 
        Arthur, 75, was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. from a lethal injection at Holman Correctional Facility. Media witnesses reported that he mouthed "I love you" to his daughter and gave her a thumb's up. 
        The execution capped 11th hour legal drama that is common in capital cases.
        Just 30 minutes before the scheduled injection, the U.S. Supreme Court issued temporary stay of execution in response to last-minute appeals. The justices later lifted the stay, just an hour before the death warrant was set to expire, allowing the state to go ahead with the execution. 
        Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, saying that Alabama's use of the sedative midazolam as the first drug in the execution cocktail may be unconstitutional because there's evidence it does not protect inmates from the pain of the other chemicals. She also criticized the state for blocking Arthur's attorney from bringing a cellphone to the execution to call the courts if the procedure went awry. 
        "When Thomas Arthur enters the execution chamber tonight, he will leave his constitutional rights at the door," Sotomayor wrote. 
        Last week, Arthur told NBC News that he believed he attorneys would figure out a way to keep him alive. 
        "Until I take my last breath I'll have hope," he said in a phone interview from death row. "I don't know how to quit. I don't know how to give up."
        Arthur was sentenced to death for the 1982 contract killing of Troy Wicker. 
        Prosecutors say that Arthur, who was serving life at the time for fatally shooting his sister-in-law, had an affair with Wicker's wife, Judy, while in a work-release program and that she paid him $10,000 to kill her husband. 
        The defense contends that Judy Wicker fingered Arthur as the killer, after initially denying he was involved, so she would be paroled from a life sentence for arranging the hit. Arthur insisted that new DNA testing of a wig worn by a killer will clear him, but the state said no significant genetic material was found and Gov. Kay Ivey rejected his request for retesting. 
        Arthur did not make an application for clemency, saying it would be tantamount to an admission of guilt. 
        "Honest to goodness," he said. "I did not commit this crime." 
        His daughter, Sherrie Stone, said that while she hoped the execution would bring closure to the Wicker family, she will have none. 
        "I have never known for certain whether my father killed Troy Wicker - at times I was convinced he was the killer, and at other times I believed he was innocent. Now I will never know the truth because the evidence that could prove if my father was innocent or guilty has not been tested for DNA using the latest technology," she said in a statement released by her father's legal team. 
        "Governor Ivey denied my father's request for DNA testing and I do not understand why, when the stakes were so high."

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        6)  Journalist’s Footage Shows Iraqi Forces Torturing Civilians, ABC Report Says



        Video smuggled out of Iraq by an Iraqi journalist and broadcast by ABC News on Thursday appears to show members of an Iraqi special forces unit — one that has been praised by the United States — torturing and executing civilians in Mosul during a campaign against the Islamic State last year.
        On Friday, a spokesman for the U.S. military coalition in Iraq and Syria said that it was aware of the journalist’s claims and had raised them with the Iraqi government.
        “We take all allegations of human rights abuses very seriously and we immediately, as we did with this particular case, flag that and present it and give it to the government of Iraq for their action,” the spokesman, Col. Ryan S. Dillon, said at a news conference in London on Friday.

        The disturbing footage appears to show uniformed Iraqi soldiers beating Iraqi civilians and hanging one man from the ceiling by his wrists while demanding they confess to working with the Islamic State. Iraqi officials have called for an investigation into the violence.
        The journalist who took the video, Ali Arkady, was embedded with the unit for several months last year as it battled the Islamic State. ABC News said on Thursday that Mr. Arkady had received death threats from the soldiers implicated in the footage and had fled Iraq to seek asylum in Europe.
        Mr. Arkady told ABC he originally had intended to do a story on how Sunni and Shiite soldiers worked together in the unit, the Emergency Response Division of Iraq’s Ministry of Interior, to fight ISIS. He previously embedded with the unit when it helped push the Islamic State out of Falluja and made a video at that time, “Happy Baghdad,” that portrayed the division positively.
        Mr. Arkady told ABC News that the unit’s commanding officers believed he would make another favorable video. But after the commanders grew to trust him, they invited him to take footage as they tortured civilians and coerced them into confessing to working with the Islamic State, confessions that Mr. Arkady believed to be false.
        He also told ABC that he twice obeyed commands from the division’s leaders to strike detainees, because he felt he had no choice.
        Capt. Omar Nazar, one of the commanders of the special forces unit, declined to dispute the authenticity of the tapes in a phone interview with ABC News last week. He said the brutal tactics caught on video were justified because the victims had connections to the Islamic State.
        “We do not want war prisoners in our fight against ISIS,” he told ABC News. “We don’t take prisoners.”
        The United States has praised the Emergency Response Division as recently as last January. In a briefing with reporters at that time, United States Army Col. Brett Sylvia, the commander of Task Force Strike in Baghdad, said the unit was “a very effective fighting force” and had recently been advised by American officers.
        “This is the first time that we have advised them,” Colonel Sylvia said at the time, according to ABC News. “And it has been really a fruitful partnership in all regards.”
        But accusations of sectarian abuses have long plagued Iraqi forces and have caused concern as the battle for Mosul, a predominantly Sunni city, has dragged on.
        No American military advisers appear on the video. But ABC News said that one of the men shown torturing two civilians — who Mr. Arkady said were half brothers — claimed to be a United States military interpreter and contractor.
        ABC News said the American embassy and American commanders in Baghdad declined requests to appear on camera, but told the network they had no knowledge of the abuses captured on tape.
        “The U.S. has not provided military aid, arms or assistance to the Emergency Response Division,” Kim Dubois, a United States embassy spokeswoman in Baghdad, told ABC News in a statement.
        Colonel Dillon said on Friday that U.S. forces were not involved with the Iraqi unit with which Mr. Arkady had worked.
        “We did not have U.S. advisers with this particular unit at this time,” he said.

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        7)  Big Payoff After Blackstone Courted a Saudi Prince



        A little over a year ago, the private equity titan Stephen A. Schwarzmansat down with Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia and chairman of the kingdom’s largest sovereign wealth fund, in hopes of expanding their relationship.
        Mr. Schwarzman’s company, the Blackstone Group, already counted Prince bin Salman’s Public Investment Fund as a major client. But the American financier now had a bold new idea: Court Saudi money to invest in projects like tunnels, bridges, airports and other sorely needed infrastructure improvements, predominantly in the United States.
        It was a prescient notion. Thirteen months and one election upset later, Mr. Schwarzman, who leads an elite committee of business executives advising President Trump, has announced a $20 billion cornerstone investment by the Saudi entity in a soon-to-be-created Blackstone infrastructure fund.

        That investment vehicle, which Blackstone plans to double in size, represents a new focus for the firm. More important, the fund — announced during Mr. Trump’s visit to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and a summit meeting of global chief executives that Mr. Schwarzman attended — dovetails with a $1 trillion infrastructure initiative the Trump administration has promised, to be fueled by government partnerships with the private sector.
        “No one else is in all the categories of infrastructure, in all the regions of the world and all the different classes of infrastructure,” Hamilton E. James, Blackstone’s president, said in an interview after the deal was announced on Saturday. “So I think we have an opportunity to establish overnight a leadership position.”
        Indeed, less than a week after the Public Investment Fund’s contribution was revealed, Blackstone’s marketing to other investors has already begun.
        But its pitch will be made in a crowded field. The low interest rates that led to richly valued stock and bond markets have made infrastructure investing increasingly attractive, and others are seeking similar opportunities.
        There may also be political hurdles. Blackstone’s $40 billion push and others like it appear to be a bet that the Trump administration, while troubled by its own brand of volatility, will be able to unleash a wave of spending on roads, bridges and other public projects.
        Investments in projects like bridges and roads — either by taking stakes in existing infrastructure or by putting up money to build something new — are, by nature, often longer-term than the corporate buyouts and real estate deals that are typically associated with private equity firms.
        Yet they also have the benefit of being less volatile investments that produce steady returns.
        Infrastructure investments average returns of 10 percent a year, according to the data provider Preqin: less than an investment in a basket of stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index would have generated for much of the past decade, but without the wrenching ups and downs of the public market.
        “The appetite for infrastructure investing is really strong, and investors are currently looking to increase their exposure right now,” said Tom Carr, an expert in infrastructure investing at Preqin. “The returns have been very stable, and because these are long-term investments, they sit very well in the portfolios of pension funds and insurance companies.”
        In North America, the territory where much of the infrastructure money is raised, fund-raising activity has been on a tear in recent years, with infrastructure investors now overseeing $376 billion, Preqin calculates.
        Still, there is a long road ahead. Private-sector investing in infrastructure is a nascent business in the United States, compared with countries like Canada and Australia.
        And while Mr. Trump has vowed to streamline the permitting process for construction projects and has proposed a budget earmarking $200 billion for infrastructure over the next 10 years, his handling of an F.B.I. investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia has raised doubts about what he can accomplish in Washington.
        Private equity experts also cautioned that the commitment of such a large sum to one fund by a single investor, as in Saudi Arabia’s case, is highly unusual. While Blackstone will be making the investment decisions, navigating the merits of various deals with such a large and influential partner will add complexities that more diversified funds do not face.
        Some of those are practical, and others optical.
        “If I’m driving from here to New York, do the tolls I pay contribute to the improvement of the roads I’m on? Or is it returned to the Public Investment Fund?” asked Simon Henderson, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who has written extensively about the Saudi royal family and its economic plans. “In domestic political terms, that doesn’t work.”
        Blackstone executives say they are undaunted by the political opposition Mr. Trump’s efforts may face, and note that their infrastructure fund plans began when Hillary Clinton was generally regarded as the most likely next president.
        “I don’t think we can wait or expect Washington to fundamentally change its ways,” said Mr. James, who raised money for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. “So we try to set up our business to thrive regardless of what happens down there.”
        He added that, despite his boss’s advisory role in the Trump administration, the White House was not involved in Blackstone’s deal with the Saudis.
        Farther from the presidential limelight, Blackstone’s competitors have managed to profit and grow in an environment that is widely regarded as cumbersome for infrastructure projects, which often require dozens of legal permits and years of waiting.
        Attractive infrastructure investments can vary. Some deals involve existing assets, like taking stakes in airports or major shipping ports with the aim of building up value and then locking in profits with a sale.
        Other projects, such as gas pipelines and power generation plants, have longer life cycles, with a fund — often with a partner in tow — backing investments at the start-up phase.
        Private equity firms like Global Infrastructure Partners have carved out highly lucrative niches by buying and selling airports in London and pipelines that pump gas from Wyoming to California.
        That firm, founded by Adebayo O. Ogunlesi, a former top banker at Credit Suisse, is the second-largest player in the private equity infrastructure sector, according to Infrastructure Investor, a trade publication. Founded in 2006, the company now manages $40 billion and, like Blackstone, recently announced its own record capital raising, with a new $15.8 billion fund.
        Mr. Ogunlesi is well connected, too. A member of the president’s advisory council led by Mr. Schwarzman, he is also the lead director on the board of Goldman Sachs, where a number of the president’s top aides once worked.
        He declined, through a spokesman, to comment for this article. But in a recent interview with Infrastructure Investor, Mr. Ogunlesi was measured in his assessment of the White House.
        “If there’s anything encouraging about the direction of the Trump administration, it’s that they want to streamline the regulatory approval process in the U.S., which I think is necessary, and I don’t think they need to be less concerned about the environment,” he said, in a nod to the regulatory hurdles that have thwarted a number of infrastructure projects.
        Blackstone first sought to do infrastructure investing in 2008, when it raised about $1 billion and hired executives from Macquarie, the Australian bank that pioneered modern infrastructure investing, to start a new fund.
        But then the financial crisis hit, investor appetite dried up, and the recently hired infrastructure specialists left and started their own fund, Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, in 2011, leaving Blackstone without a dedicated infrastructure fund for years.
        This week, Blackstone named Sean Klimczak, a senior managing director from the firm’s private equity group who had been involved in corporate infrastructure projects as part of that job, to lead its new effort. With the $20 billion from the Saudis, an expected $20 billion from other outside investors, and the possibility of borrowed capital to finance individual projects, Blackstone hopes to generate up to $100 billion in total spending power.
        Blackstone executives say they are in the early stages of identifying potential infrastructure investments and most likely will not pin down specific projects for weeks to come.
        “We’ll probably focus on large projects that are complex and have longer lead times, just because that’s where the competition will be less,” Mr. James said.
        Those could range from schools and hospitals to highways, airports and bridges, depending on where the need and the potential returns are.

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        8)  Brazil’s President Deploys Federal Troops to Quell Protests
        Leer en español 

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        9)  Brooklyn Prison Supervisors Charged With Sexually Assaulting Inmates




        As prison officials and reformers have stepped up efforts to reduce rape behind bars, they have looked to the supervisors who keep watch over prisoners — and prison guards — to help curb the scourge of sexual abuse.
        On Thursday, federal prosecutors charged two of those supervisors, lieutenants at a federal jail in Brooklyn, and another guard with sexually abusing female inmates.
        The prison where the three worked, the Metropolitan Detention Center, has long been regarded as a troubled institution in the federal Bureau of Prisons. Last year, a federal judge expressed reluctance about sending women there because the stories she had heard about the living conditions there made it sound like it was in “some third-world country.”

        In the case announced on Thursday, prosecutors say one lieutenant repeatedly raped an inmate shortly before she was scheduled to be turned over to immigration authorities and deported. Another lieutenant is accused of repeatedly sexually abusing inmates assigned to clean his office, or the hallway nearby. A third man, a rank-and-file corrections officer, who was also charged on Thursday, is accused of receiving oral sex from three inmates.
        In all, court filings by prosecutors mention nine victims, all female inmates. In one case, prosecutors wrote, “the defendant warned Jane Doe not to tell anyone what had happened, telling her that she could receive additional time in prison if anyone found out.”
        In court filings, prosecutors noted that the two lieutenants, Carlos Richard Martinez and Eugenio Perez, were responsible for educating their subordinates about their duties under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, a 2003 law. Prosecutors said that one of the lieutenants made light of the law, known as P.R.E.A., in a posting on Facebook.
        “Notwithstanding these responsibilities,” prosecutors wrote, Lieutenant Martinez posted a photograph of two men, most likely prison officials, “hugging each other at a bar with the caption ‘It’s only P.R.E.A. when you don’t like it.’”
        Bringing criminal sex crime charges against corrections officers is rare and difficult. Inmates, fearful of retaliation, often wait weeks, months or longer to make an allegation, if they do so at all. When an inmate delays reporting, physical evidence has often disappeared, making the allegation a matter of the inmate’s word against the guard’s.
        For example, inmates at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex made 131 allegations of sexual abuse against staff members in 2015, the last year for which data are available. Only one allegation was substantiated.
        This month, New York City agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by two female inmates who accused a guard at Rikers Island of repeatedly sexually abusing them. That guard was never criminally charged and remains employed by the city Correction Department.
        In the past 15 years, there have been a few cases alleging sexual misconduct among staff at the Metropolitan Detention Center. The most prominent case involved a female correctional officer who was impregnated by Ronell Wilson, who received the first federal death sentence in New York City in more than a half-century for murdering two undercover police officers.
        The Metropolitan Detention Center holds some 1,800 federal inmates, many of whom are awaiting trial. Only about 3 percent of the inmates are women.
        Earlier this year, there were 58 women at the jail, according to prison officials. But in 2015 and 2016, there were twice or nearly three times that number. The women were held in two dormitory-style rooms with little access to fresh air, outdoor recreation or work opportunities. An article in The New York Times earlier this year examined the troubling treatment of three inmates who were pregnant while incarcerated.
        F.B.I. agents and investigators with the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General have been investigating sexual assault allegations by staff at the Metropolitan Detention Center for nearly a year.
        “By using their authority and power to prey upon and abuse female inmates in their care, these defendants violated their oaths of public service as well as numerous criminal laws,” the acting United States attorney in Brooklyn, Bridget M. Rohde, said in a statement.
        The three defendants were arraigned Thursday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn and entered not guilty pleas through their lawyers. Lieutenant Martinez was held without bail and a bail hearing was pending for Lieutenant Perez. The other guard was also held without bail.
        Prosecutors have accused Lieutenant Martinez, who served in the Marines, of “using physical force and fear to repeatedly rape” a female prisoner between December 2015 and April 2016, according to court papers. Prosecutors suggested that Lieutenant Martinez, 47, may have selected his victim in part because she was a foreign national who would be deported at the conclusion of her sentence, just five months after the sexual abuse began. “The defendant chose as his victim a sentenced prisoner who spoke minimal English, who he knew had virtually no visitors, and would be sent to I.C.E. custody following her release from B.O.P. custody,” prosecutors wrote.
        In court on Thursday, the prosecutor, Nadia Shihata, said that Lieutenant Martinez’s criminal behavior was not confined to the Metropolitan Detention Center. In April 2016, she recounted a “road rage incident,” in which, she said, Lieutenant Martinez had gotten out of his vehicle on Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and punched a female driver twice before fleeing. Lieutenant Martinez was ultimately convicted of a minor violation, disorderly conduct, for that episode, according to prosecutors.
        As deputy marshals led Lieutenant Martinez from the courtroom after he was ordered held without bail, he could be seen blowing a kiss to family members and silently mouthing a reassuring message.

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        10)  As C.E.O. Pay PackagesGrow, Top Executives Have the President’s Ear
        "Mr. Rutledge...made 2,617 times the average American worker’s salary of $37,632, according to figures maintained by the A.F.L.-C.I.O....Some 50 years ago, the typical chief executive made just 20 times what an employee did, according to the A.F.L.-C.I.O. By comparison, it calculated that the average C.E.O. today made 347 times the average salary of an American laborer, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: $37,632."


        Pay packages for America’s top executives once again climbed in 2016 after slipping the year before.
        Perhaps the pay surge reflects the times: Stocks are coming off a strong run. Unemployment is low. The economy is percolating.
        And President Trump is not only promising to roll back what he calls excessive business regulations but also listening keenly to what corporate America has to say. Since taking office on Jan. 20, the businessman-turned-politician has met with hundreds of executives, including at least 41 of last year’s 200 best-paid C.E.O.s, a New York Times analysis shows.

        The biggest winner last year was Thomas M. Rutledge of Charter Communications, who pulled down a $98 million pay package, according to the Equilar 200 highest-paid chief executive rankings, conducted for The New York Times.
        Mr. Rutledge, 63, stormed to the front of the pack after closing his company’s mega-merger, a $65 billion takeover of Time Warner and a smaller competitor.
        For that, he got a big bump in pay. The year before, his compensation totaled $16.4 million.
        This past March, Mr. Rutledge met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office. The president lavished him with praise for a plan to add 20,000 jobs, although the broad outlines of that initiative had been laid out nearly two years earlier, when the merger was first announced.
        This combination — the gains in pay for chief executives, the president’s pledge to deregulate and cut corporate tax rates — sets the stage for perhaps the most consequential moment for corporate governance since the financial crisis of 2008. Rising executive compensation only widens the gap between top executives and most American workers. Mr. Rutledge, for instance, made 2,617 times the average American worker’s salary of $37,632, according to figures maintained by the A.F.L.-C.I.O.
        Discrepancies like that helped fuel the populist frustration that led to Mr. Trump’s election and, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, led to the passage of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul act.
        Yet the president’s team is considering rolling back a Dodd-Frank rule that, starting next year, would make it much easier for employees at a publicly traded company to compare their own pay to the chief executive’s.
        In the meantime, pay for top executives is reaching staggering levels. Mr. Rutledge’s compensation swelled to $98 million largely thanks to a stock options award valued at roughly $78 million. The Charter board awarded Mr. Rutledge that grant, which runs through 2020, about a month before completion of its big merger in May 2016.
        Over all, technology company chief executives are well represented on the list of 200 best-paid C.E.O.s, along with executives from financial services companies and media companies. The best paid female chief executive is Oracle’s Safra A. Catz, whose total package was valued at $40.9 million, making her the eighth-highest-paid C.E.O. in 2016.

        Meeting the Nation’s C.E.O.

        Executives in the top 200 who have met with Mr. Trump since his inauguration include Virginia M. Rometty of IBM, Stephen A. Wynn of Wynn Resorts and Marillyn A. Hewson of Lockheed Martin. (The Times recently reported that Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, made a telephone call to Ms. Hewson to help seal the deal on a $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia).
        Mr. Trump, who sees himself as the nation’s C.E.O., is hardly the first president to savor the company of corporate executives. But he’s made the pageantry of meetings with C.E.O.s at the White House or at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which he has dubbed the southern White House, a priority during his first few months in office. The visits have become an opportunity for the president to trumpet the progress he says his administration is making in creating jobs and reducing regulations.
        But Mr. Trump may be getting a one-sided perspective on policy recommendations by spending so much time with a large swath of highly paid executives — at least 307 since Inauguration Day — whose views on taxes and economic inequality tend to differ from those of average Americans.
        “If you hang around with executives, you adopt a certain view of the world, and it’s a view of the world that seems to be informing his policies,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning advocacy group in Washington. “It takes a lot to think cutting corporate taxes is central to tax policy when corporate profits are near historic highs.”
        Unleashing business by reducing regulations was the subtext of Mr. Rutledge’s meeting on March 24 with Mr. Trump.
        At the Oval Office ceremony, Mr. Trump, seated behind a mahogany desk with Mr. Rutledge standing to the side, said the Charter chief executive had shown “truly great leadership” in creating the “fastest growing television, internet and voice company.” Mr. Trump praised the decision by Mr. Rutledge and Charter to move 20,000 call-center jobs from overseas to United States facilities, most of them in Texas.
        Justin Venech, a Charter spokesman, said Mr. Trump’s promise of a lighter regulatory environment had enabled the company to commit to locating those new jobs in the United States over the next four years, and to spend billions on broadband infrastructure.
        What is clear from the Equilar study is that many C.E.O.s were doing quite well even before Mr. Trump took office. Average compensation for the 200 highest-paid executives list — which changes from year to year — rose about 2 percent, to $19.7 million, from 2015. For the 200 specific individuals on this year’s list, 2016 was especially kind. Those executives saw an average gain of 16 percent over what they received in 2015.
        On a percentage basis, Ronald D. Croatti at UniFirst, one of the nation’s largest uniform manufacturers and distributors, had the biggest bump in pay last year. Mr. Croatti, 74, died on Tuesday from complications associated with pneumonia, the company said. His pay package in 2016 rose 740 percent, to $17.69 million, according to Equilar.
        Steven Sintros, chief financial officer for UniFirst, said Mr. Croatti’s large compensation package merely reflected the way companies are required to report the valuation of stock grants.
        In all, Equilar reports that the median salary for chief executives at all publicly traded companies with annual revenues of at least $1 billion came in at $6.14 million, down slightly from $6.19 million in 2015.
        For the large companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, a separate survey by the A.F.L.-C.I.O. said, total compensation for chief executives rose about 6 percent, to $13.1 million.

        Many Ways of Assessing Compensation

        Putting together a list of the best-paid C.E.O.s calls for both science and art, and different methodologies can produce widely different results. (Read how the Equilar figures were calculated.)
        Mr. Rutledge of Charter, for instance, came in 13th place in a recent study of the 200 best-paid chief executives by Bloomberg News. That’s largely because Bloomberg, by spreading his stock option grant over a five-year period, reduced the value of his pay package to $62.6 million.
        Elon Musk, the brash inventor and chief executive of Tesla Inc., clocked in with a $99.7 million pay package in the Bloomberg survey. But Mr. Musk did not appear in the Equilar survey because Equilar valued stock grants, even ones spread out over several years, at the time they were awarded, as the Securities and Exchange Commission requires.
        And Dara Khosrowshahi of Expedia, the champion in last year’s Equilar ranking with a pay package worth $94.6 million, dropped off this year’s list entirely. Why? The answer involves not performance but Mr. Khosrowshahi’s compensation two years ago, when the board rewarded him with a large multiyear stock option grant. Equilar included the entire grant in his 2015 compensation. Last year, his total pay dropped to about $2.5 million, purely in salary, bonuses and other compensation, but with no stock grant, the company’s stock proxyshows. Mr. Khosrowshahi is also a director of The New York Times Company.
        The total compensation for Jeffrey R. Immelt of General Electric slid 33 percent in 2016, to $17.7 million, according to Equilar. His payout under the company’s long-term compensation plan fell by about $6 million, and his annual bonus shrank by $1 million to $4.3 million, according to the company’s proxy. In 2016, G.E. shares rose just 4 percent compared with 12 percent for the S.& P. 500.
        Mr. Immelt remained on the list, however. Notable extremely wealthy chief executives who did not appear include Tim Cook of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Both own enormous quantities of their companies’ stock, but their compensation in 2016 was not high enough to qualify.
        The list also excludes executives who run big divisions but not entire public companies, even when they make more than the corporate boss.
        Digging deeper, Equilar found that Marc Lore, president and chief executive of Walmart’s online operation, had the biggest payout of all executives at publicly traded companies, earning an eye-popping $243.9 million in total compensation.
        His total pay was roughly 11 times greater than the $21.8 million pay package awarded to C. Douglas McMillon, Walmart’s chief executive.
        Another big winner was Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google at Alphabet. Mr. Pichai got a compensation package worth just under $200 million. Like Mr. Lore, Mr. Pichai gets a small base salary and most of his compensation is in stock grants. Last year, Alphabet’s board awarded Mr. Pichai stock valued at $198.7 million.
        By comparison, Larry Page, chief executive of Alphabet, draws an annual salary of $1 a year. He hardly needs the salary: Forbes estimates the net worth of the co-founder of Google at $45 billion.
        The Equilar ranking also does not include billionaire hedge fund managers like Paul Singer of Elliott Management, who earned $590 million last year, according to Institutional Investors Alpha magazine. Mr. Singer visited Mr. Trump at the White House on Feb. 16, and gave $1 million to his inaugural committee.

        Stock Grants on the Rise

        The Equilar study points up a trend in compensation: Companies are increasingly moving away from cash bonuses and toward stock grants to reward top executives.
        Many large investors favor them because they give corporate executives an additional incentive to produce results that increase a company’s share prices. Some critics, however, contend that stock grants and stock options can encourage executives to cut costs and take other short-term steps that don’t invest in a company’s long-term prospects.
        Supporters of stock grants are winning. Over the past five years, the median cash bonus awarded to the 200 best-compensated C.E.O.s declined to just under $3 million, from $3.37 million, according to Equilar. Meanwhile, the median value of stock awarded to those chief executives last year was $9.2 million.
        “The issue with cash bonuses is that they have become a given for most executives,” said Aeisha Mastagni, an investment officer with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or Calstrs. “There are still companies where they award the same bonus year after year, and the stock price doesn’t reflect any value added.”
        Ms. Mastagni said a cash bonus “is not money at risk,” as is a grant of stock.
        The board at AMC Networks — which has produced hit television shows like “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” — has decided to phase out the long-term cash award for its chief executive and other top executives. AMC’s compensation committee decided that a stock award “better aligns the interests of its senior officers with those of stockholders.”
        But in 2016, Joshua W. Sapan, AMC’s chief executive, hit the daily double of sorts. Mr. Sapan got a big cash award of $15.1 million, which will become much smaller in 2018 under the board’s policy. But he also got a big stock award, valued at $13.2 million, consistent with the board’s new directive on corporate pay. In all, Mr. Sapan’s total $30.5 million pay package soared 72 percent over 2015, even as the company’s stock dropped nearly 30 percent last year.
        The largest stock award on the list, valued at $47.3 million, went to David O’Connor, the C.E.O. of Madison Square Garden. The company’s proxy indicated that the majority of the stock was a “one-time equity award,” which increased his total compensation to $54 million. It provided Mr. O’Connor with a far better year than the New York Knicks, the professional basketball team that Madison Square Garden owns.

        The Pay Gap Widens

        No matter how you look at it, the pay gap between corporate executives and most everyone else in America keeps getting bigger.
        Some 50 years ago, the typical chief executive made just 20 times what an employee did, according to the A.F.L.-C.I.O. By comparison, it calculated that the average C.E.O. today made 347 times the average salary of an American laborer, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: $37,632.
        Reversing this ever-widening pay gap is a union rallying cry, especially at companies that have been shedding jobs in the United States.
        Take Mondelez, the global snack company. Outside the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 17 in Chicago, union members protested its decision to eliminate 600 jobs at a local factory that makes Oreo cookies, and shift some operations to Mexico.
        “Mondelez is emblematic of everything that is wrong with our economy, which works for C.E.O.s, but not for working Americans,” said Brandon Rees, who works in the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s Office of Investment.
        Irene B. Rosenfeld, the company’s chief executive, received a 2016 pay package valued at $15.8 million, according to Equilar, a decline of 13 percent. Michael Mitchell, a Mondelez spokesman, said the company’s compensation program is “well aligned with shareholders’ long-term interests.”
        But Mr. Rees said the company’s failure to hit certain performance targets, and a 13 percent decline in Mondelez revenue last year, accounted for the decline in her compensation, adding that her pay package was still too high. He said she had focused too much on cutting costs and share buybacks, and not enough on investments that would keep jobs in the United States.
        Amid populist anger over income inequality, the S.E.C. in 2015 required publicly traded corporations to begin providing standard information in 2018 on the disparities between pay for chief executives and rank-and-file workers. That so-called pay-ratio rule would give investors and employees another metric for evaluating C.E.O. pay.
        Unions strongly supported the measure, which the S.E.C. was directed to formulate under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul rules. Most corporations bitterly opposed it. And in February, with Mr. Trump in the White House, corporations won a victory; the S.E.C. said it would seek a new round of public comments, and might reconsider the measure. The acting chairman, Michael S. Piwowar, who had voted against the pay rule in 2015, announced the change.
        Jay Clayton, the newly sworn-in chairman, has not taken a position on the pay-ratio rule. When asked during his confirmation hearing whether he agreed with Mr. Piwowar’s decision, Mr. Clayton said, “I do not know enough about the issue.” But Republicans in Congress have generally voiced support for rolling back much of Dodd-Frank, and Mr. Trump has said he intends to “do a big number” on the law.
        Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives of leading United States companies, sent a letter to the S.E.C. on March 23 saying it “has significant concerns” with the pay-ratio rule and recommended that it be “reformulated in a more constructive and less burdensome manner.” The association went on to say the rule “will cause internal discord among employees” and “serves no material, valid or helpful purpose for investors.”
        The chairman of Business Roundtable is Jamie Dimon, the C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase and the 25th-best-compensated chief executive in the Equilar survey. His pay package rose 49 percent last year, to $27.2 million. Mr. Dimon, a member of Mr. Trump’s C.E.O. advisory group, visited the White House on Feb. 3 and has praised the president for awakening “animal spirits” in the economy.
        Alan Johnson, managing director of the pay consulting firm Johnson Associates, said he supports the opposition to the pay-ratio rule because it “is a cooked-up thing to embarrass firms with a lot of part-time workers.” He added that focusing on compensation leads to “pay envy” and does not do anything to address a fundamental problem, which is that average workers need better job training and job assistance programs.
        But Susan R. Holmberg, a fellow with the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal public policy group, said that if the pay-ratio rule encourages employees to join unions, it is a good thing for workers, since it could lead to future wage gains.
        “It magnifies the unequal pay practices,” Holmberg said. “It shows what a company’s priority is, and it triggers people’s sense of fairness.”
        Mr. Trump “ran on this populist message,” she said, and it is odd that the administration would be taking another look at the pay-ratio rule, because "C.E.O. pay is the No. 1 populist issue.”

        Investing in Human Capital

        Still, there is some progress on the pay inequality front.
        This year, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Equity Index Fund and the New York State Common Retirement Fund reached an agreement with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company, to include new language on executive and employee compensation in its proxy statement. It says the company is taking a “non-elitist” approach by awarding stock options to all of its 5,500 employees, not just to executives. The change has helped lead the union and the New York pension system to withdraw a proposed shareholder amendment on the issue of pay.
        Alexandra Bowie, a Regeneron spokeswoman, said the revised language in the company’s filings did not reflect a change in policy but a “broader effort to include more detailed and accessible language.”
        As for Leonard S. Schleifer, the chief executive of Regeneron, his total compensation for 2016 was $28.2 million, almost 40 percent less than the year before, and nearly matching the 32 percent slide in the company’s share price.
        Anne Sheehan, director of corporate governance at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, said company boards need to be sensitive to issues of income inequality. “I have no problem with someone doing well, who creates value,” she said, “but I do think a company and a board as they look at compensation need to make sure everyone down the chain is also benefiting from the performance of the company.”
        Boards need to consider not only how much top executives are getting paid, she said, but also whether rank-and-file workers are being compensated fairly too. The crucial question is this, Ms. Sheehan said: “Are they investing enough in the human capital in the company?”
        Correction: May 26, 2017 
        An earlier version of this article misstated the age of Ronald D. Croatti, the chief executive of UniFirst, who died on Tuesday from complications associated with pneumonia. He was 74, not 73.

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        11)   Student Loans from Education Department to Treasury
        By Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Stacy Cowley and Patricia Cohen, May 25, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/25/business/dealbook/trump-administration-considers-moving-student-loans-from-education-department-to-treasury.html?ref=business

        The Trump administration is considering moving responsibility for overseeing more than $1 trillion in student debt from the Education Department to the Treasury Department, a switch that would radically change the system that helps 43 million students finance higher education.
        The potential change surfaced in a scathing resignation memo sent late Tuesday night by James Runcie, the head of the Education Department’s federal student aid program. Mr. Runcie, an Obama-era holdover, was appointed in 2011 and reappointed in 2015. He cut short his term, which was slated to run until 2020, after clashing with the Trump administration and Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, over this proposal and other issues.
        Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, declined to comment on his departure or on talks with Treasury.
        “The secretary is looking forward to identifying a qualified candidate to lead and restore trust in F.S.A.,” Ms. Hill said, referring to federal student aid.
        A shift in handling federal student aid is being weighed as the Trump administration and Ms. DeVos consider overhauling the Department of Education. Mr. Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 slashes funding for the department by nearly 50 percent. Moving one of its core functions to Treasury would significantly diminish the agency’s power. It could also alter the mission of the student loan program.
        “The reason the federal student aid programs live within the Education Department is because that’s the agency that has as its goal increasing educational opportunities within the United States,” said David Bergeron, who left the Education Department in 2013 after 35 years. “That is not the Treasury Department’s goal. Its job is to pay for the business of the government.”
        Scrapping or shrinking the Education Department has long been a popular Republican goal, dating from the Reagan administration. President Trump embraced the idea, saying in his book “Crippled America” that the department should either be eliminated or have “its power and reach” cut. In February, a House Republican introduced a bill to terminate the agency.
        In his resignation memo, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Runcie said that senior members of his department had met that day with Treasury officials and discussed “holding numerous meetings and retreats” to outline a process for “transferring all or a portion” of the student aid office’s functions to the Treasury Department.
        “This is just another example of a project that may provide some value but will certainly divert critical resources and increase operational risk in an increasingly challenging environment,” Mr. Runcie wrote.
        Moving the federal student aid unit probably would require congressional action. But even in a fractured Congress, it could win bipartisan support.
        The federal student aid office has been a lightning rod for criticism over the effectiveness and expense of its debt collection programs. Several government audits took issue with the department’s handling of its student aid programs. In 2015, for example, the Government Accountability Office faulted the agency for not doing enough to make students aware of all their repayment options. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has also pressed for changes in how the department manages its loan servicers.
        The Education Department backs and originates $1.4 trillion in student loans. Since 2010, the government has directly funded the loans, cutting out the private lenders that previously doled out government-backed aid. But the agency outsources the work of collecting payments on the loans, and the companies it works with have a troubled record.
        During the Obama administration, the idea of shifting responsibility for the student loan program to the Treasury Department had some supporters. As the number and dollar amount of student loans grew, the Education Department found itself managing more than a trillion dollars in assets, a portfolio bigger than most banks.
        “The Education Department is a policy shop with a trillion-dollar bank on the side,” said Rohit Chopra, a former student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who also briefly worked for the Education Department.
        For students, the move under consideration could simplify the convoluted process of applying for federal student aid and repaying loans. A growing number of borrowers are using income-based repayment plans, which require students to submit information on their earnings. Putting federal student aid in the same department as the Internal Revenue Service could make that easier. (A tool intended to help students automatically import their tax information has been disabled for months because of a security problem.)
        “I think it’s a good idea,” said James Kvaal, a former deputy under secretary of education in the Obama administration. “Because the Education Department and the I.R.S. are separated, we’ve built these clunky systems that get in the way of achieving the goals of the income-based program. Linking the two would be much easier for students, and have stronger integrity for taxpayers.”
        But critics, including a high level official from Mr. Obama’s Treasury Department, warned that the move could hurt students.
        “Moving the agency that is supposed to provide stewardship for student loan borrowers to an agency that is working on a shoestring with a skeletal crew strikes me as a recipe for a policy disaster,” said Sarah Bloom Raskin, who was the deputy Treasury Secretary under President Obama.
        Others worry about how students would fare under the Treasury Department.
        The Treasury Department recently conducted a pilot project in which its employees tried to collect on defaulted loans, a job the Education Department contracts out to private companies.
        The experiment, which began in mid-2015, did not end well.
        The Treasury Department hoped to increase collection rates and help borrowers better understand their repayment options. It failed on both goals. A control group of private collectors recovered more money and got more borrowers out of default.
        For now, even without the shift, some at the federal student aid office are rattled, according to one person who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. After Mr. Runcie resigned, at least one employee was in tears, the person said.

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        Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com

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        Have you tried the highest rated email app?
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