Wednesday, January 16, 2019

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2019


 Women's March, Teacher's Strike, and Trans Liberation




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



Mumia Abu-Jamal

BREAKING NEWS! SHARE WIDELY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


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

phone:
215-686-8000

tweet:
@philaDAO

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

Save the date: 
January 26, 2019, 9:00 P.M. broadcast of 48 Hours on CBS
for a two-hour television interview with Kevin Cooper and others about his case.

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Statement: Academic Institutions Must Defend Free Speech

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

Academic Institutions Must Defend Free Speech
Cartoon by Carlos Latuff (a signatory of this statement)


Petition Text


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


Don't turn them away

The migrants in the Central American caravan are not our enemies

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


New "Refuse War" Shirts


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

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

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

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

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

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Abu-Jamal Wins New Right to Appeal

By Rachel Wolkenstein



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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To: Indiana Department of Corrections

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

Petition Text

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

Why is this important?

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

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


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

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

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

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Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg


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

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

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

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


Phone zap on Tuesday, November 13

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

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

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

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

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Background on Malik's Situation

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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

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

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

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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


Major Tillery and family

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

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

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




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    Free Leonard Peltier!


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

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



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

    INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

    December 29, 2018

    Dear Comrades and Friends Across the Globe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    In solidarity and toward Mumia's freedom,

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

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    1)  'A Watershed Moment': 31,000 Los Angeles Teachers Prepare to Strike
    By Andrew Gumbel, January 11, 2019
    https://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/54393-a-watershed-moment-31000-los-angeles-teachers-prepare-to-strike

    Manuela Panjoj, 42-year-old mother of five children, holds a sign during a news conference outside the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters. (photo: Jae C Hong/AP)


    The fight in Los Angeles is, essentially, a bitter family squabble over dizzying challenges and dismally inadequate resources

     nationwide teachers' revolt that last year saw walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma and other largely Republican-run states has now spread to California, where teachers and support staff in the vast, sprawling, predominantly low-income Los Angeles Unified School District are on the verge of striking.
    About 31,000 members of the local teachers' union are threatening to walk off the job on Monday to demand better pay, lower class sizes and improved student access to nurses, psychological counselors and other key services.
    Their union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has been fighting with the school district – America's second largest – for more than a year. Both sides agree that schools are underfunded and teachers underpaid, but that has not prevented trust between the two sides from eroding to a vanishing point.
    In contrast to the disputes in Oklahoma and other red states, where the fight has been seen as one pitting teachers and administrators against tight-fisted conservative legislators, the fight in Los Angeles is, essentially, a bitter family squabble over dizzying challenges and dismally inadequate resources.
    The district has proposed a 6% pay rise over the first two years of a new three-year contract. The union wants a 6.5% raise right away as well as a flurry of new hiring and other school resources.
    "We are at a watershed moment in defending public education in Los Angeles," the union told its members late last month, describing the moment as one of existential crisis.
    The difference between the two sides, which shows no sign of being resolved, is likely to lead to major disruptions across the city if the threatened strike becomes a reality. The district wants students to come to school even if teachers are not there, but has hired just 400 extra support staff to take the place of 31,000 unionized workers. Nobody knows what largely unsupervised schools are going to look like, especially if the walkout stretches out over days or weeks.
    Some parents have said they will keep their children home in solidarity with the striking teachers, but many others have to work and cannot afford extra childcare. More than 80% of district students are poor enough to qualify for free breakfast and lunch. If they don't come to school for those meals, it's unclear if they can afford to eat at all.
    The crisis is piling pressure on the Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, who has no direct control over the school district but knows the optics are bad for a possible presidential bid. He has offered to act as a mediator, but the union has rebuffed his offer.
    It is piling pressure, too, on California's newly inaugurated governor, Gavin Newsom, who has ambitious plans to expand access to early-childhood education and community college but has not so far proposed a significant increase in school funding.
    The district claims its hands are tied in the contract negotiations because it relies on the state for funding and revenues have been dropping over the past decade. That's partly because of the 2008 recession but also because funding depends on enrollment and parents have been shifting their children out of struggling district schools in growing numbers.
    The union, for its part, points to a $1.8bn reserve fund – a fund the district says it needs to meet a growing shortfall in pension and health benefit obligations – and fears that the district is more interested in promoting charter schools and dismembering public education than it is in making sure teachers have what they need to excel in the classroom.
    One lightning rod of criticism is the district's relatively new superintendent, Austin Beutner, a former Wall Street investment banker who has proposed breaking up the district into 32 mini-fiefdoms. UTLA describes Beutner as an "out-of-touch billionaire" and a "corporate downsizer" at odds with the core mission of public schools.
    Another lightning rod is the school board, which over the past couple of election cycles has filled with ever more champions of charter schools, which now educate almost one-third of Los Angeles schoolchildren district and in some cases share space with the public schools whose students they are luring away.
    All the bad blood has a long history, however, stemming in particular back to a watershed referendum in 1978 that capped California's property taxes and slowly turned one of America's best-funded state education systems into one of its worst. "We've seen a national momentum in favor of teachers … and California has a historically underfunded system," said Robin Lake of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization based in Washington state.
    In Los Angeles, the problems have only been magnified because of the city's size and because of the large number of lower-income children who fail to graduate high school at a shocking 50% clip. Lake argued that while the district's financial struggles are genuine, it has also managed to alienate students and parents by expanding the size of its central office and making ever more demands of its employees without providing extra resources.
    "Teachers have a general sense that they are not being respected," Lake added. "A lot of them see the push for education reform as a bit of a slap in the face."
    Most observers agree the best solution would lie in all the parties – locally and in state government – coming together and figuring out a common approach. Instead, however, Beutner's office and UTLA are exchanging daily stink bombs in the form of press releases, public statements and – increasingly, as the prospect of a strike has drawn nearer – in dueling filings in court. The strike was, in fact, due to start on Thursday, but the district sued for a delay on a procedural technicality and won.
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    2)  'Shameful Day for Canada': First Nations Encampment Violently Raided, Land Protectors Arrested
    By Jessica Corbett, January 8, 2019
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/01/08/shameful-day-canada-first-nations-encampment-violently-raided-land-protectors?cd-

    Reacting to footage of the "invasion" by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Monday, author and activist Naomi Klein said it was "a shameful day for Canada, which has marketed itself as a progressive leader on climate and Indigenous rights." (Photo: Michael Toledano/@M_Tol)

    More than 50 protests have been planned for across the globe on Tuesday in solidarity with a First Nations group fighting against the construction of TransCanada's Coastal GasLink through unceded Wet'suwet'en territory, with the number of protests rising overnight after Canadian police broke down a checkpoint gate erected by Indigenous land protectors and arrested more than a dozen people.


    Reacting to footage of the "invasion" by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), author and activist Naomi Klein said it was "a shameful day for Canada, which has marketed itself as a progressive leader on climate and Indigenous rights."
    Klein condemned the government's raid on unceded Wet'suwet'en territory and the arrest of First Nations land defenders, "all for a gas pipeline that is entirely incompatible with a safe climate."

    People at the Gidimt'en camp have been anticipating the arrival of the RCMP, who are enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction that came last month in response to another camp on the territory formed by another Wet'suwet'en clan, the Unist'ot'en, in opposition to the fossil fuel company's proposed route for the fracked gas pipeline.

    "Camp members faced both uniformed RCMP and camouflage-wearing Emergency Response Team tactical unit officers through the barbed wire," according to the Toronto Star. "Police climbed a ladder over the top of the gate, circumventing a secondary blockade formed by the bodies of the camp members themselves. Then they began to arrest people."

    The Mounties established a "temporary exclusion zone," and said in a statement that "there are both privacy and safety concerns in keeping the public and the media at the perimeter, which should be as small as possible and as brief as possible in the circumstances, based on security and safety needs." The statement noted that "during the arrests, the RCMP observed a number of fires being lit along the roadway by unknown persons, and large trees felled across the roadway."

    Journalists and supporters of the land defenders posted updates from the scene to social media and called out Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the clear contrast between his claims that he wants to build a legacy of "reconciliation" with First Nations and how his government has responded to objections from the Wet'suwet'en people over the pipeline.

    As Common Dreams reported Monday, although TransCanada claims it has signed agreements with First Nations leaders along the pipeline routes, Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs were not consulted, and say that those who signed off on the pipeline, which is set to cut through traditional lands, were not authorized to do so under Indigenous laws.

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    3) The real border crisis: medical neglect of migrants in detention centers
    By Chanelle Diaz, January 10, 2019
    https://www.statnews.com/2019/01/10/medical-neglect-migrants-detention/

    An immigrant child looks out from a U.S. Border Patrol bus in McAllen, Texas, in June 2018.



    In his Oval Office address on Tuesday, President Trump called the situation at the border a "growing humanitarian and security crisis." His declaration failed to acknowledge the real crisis at hand — the medical neglect at border facilities and the more than 200 immigration jails across the country that has led to more than 20 deaths since 2010.
    Among them were three children. Eight-year-old Felipe Alonso-Gomez and 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died in Customs and Border Protection custody this past December. In May of 2018, 19-month-old Mariee Juarez died after being released from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility where she had been detained with her mother for three weeks. Their deaths could have been prevented with timely access to appropriate care.
    As a physician who has evaluated adults held in immigration jails, I have witnessed conditions in detention facilities that are unsafe for adults and deadly for children. Advocates have called attention to overcrowding, insufficient food and water, and abusive conditions at border processing facilities. Across the country, immigration jails are plagued by human and civil rights abuses and dangerously subpar access to medical care.
    More children — almost 15,000 of them — are now in immigration detention facilities than ever before. Sadly, there is money to be made from jailing migrants, including children. Southwest Key, whose facilities include a converted Walmart Supercenter, has collected $1.7 billion in federal grants for warehousing migrant children. While making record profits, these facilities have been cited by the Office of Inspector General for providing inadequate medical care.


    Contractors have failed to protect the vulnerable children under their charge. Reports have surfaced of their failure to complete adequate background checks of employees. There have also been widespread reports of child abuse occurring in detention facilities, including forced medication and sexual assault.
    Even as pediatricians strongly oppose the detention of children, which causes long-term psychological trauma and health harms, Trump has asked Congress to terminate the Flores settlement agreement, which gives children the right to reasonably prompt release, potentially allowing for their indefinite detention. Children whose parents are seeking asylum could instead be released to sponsors and spared from this psychological damage. Yet the Trump administration has slowed this process almost to a halt, while Immigration and Customs Enforcement has targeted more than 170 potential sponsors for deportation.
    The preventable deaths of adults in immigration detention facilities are no less a crime than the deaths of children. According to an NBC analysis, there have been 22 deaths in ICE detention since Trump took office (not including Felipe, Jakelin, and Mariee). Roxsana Rodriguez, a transgender woman and asylum seeker from Honduras, died in ICE custody in May. An autopsy showed that she had been physically abused before her death.
    Jose Azurdia, a refugee from Guatemala, died in a California detention facility after falling ill and vomiting. According to Human Rights Watch, a nurse did not want to treat him because "she did not want to get sick." It turned out that Azurdia was having a heart attack.
    All Americans should be outraged by the preventable deaths of children and adults who were needlessly detained. A $5.7 billion border wall will not address the root cause of migration and displacement.
    It is time to end the inhumane detention of children and families seeking asylum. Justice for these families will entail increased oversight of detention facilities, better access to quality medical care, and an independent investigation into all of the deaths at detention facilities.
    The agencies responsible for jailing children, lobbing tear gas canisters at migrant mothers and their toddlers, and separating families need to be reined in before more people are harmed.
    Chanelle Diaz, M.D., is a resident physician in Bronx, N.Y.; a National Physicians Alliance Copello Health Advocacy Fellow; and a volunteer for the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest Medical Provider Network.
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    4)  Amnesty International Statement in Response to Closure of Tornillo Tent City


    For Immediate Release

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    5)  A New Migrant Caravan Is Forming in Central America, With Plans to Leave Next Week
    By Sarah Kinosian and Kevin Sieff, January 12, 2019
    https://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/54413-a-new-migrant-caravan-is-forming-in-central-america-with-plans-to-leave-next-week
    A caravan of migrants moving north after crossing the border from Honduras into Guatemala. (photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

    nother migrant caravan is forming in Honduras, with plans to set out next week on a journey that will once again test the immigration policies of Mexico and the United States. 
    In much the way last year's Central American caravan originated, a flier is circulating on Honduran social media. "We're looking for refuge," it says. "In Honduras, we are being killed." It advertises a 5 a.m. departure on Jan. 15 from the northern city of San Pedro Sula.
    The Mexican government says it is preparing for the group's arrival.
    "We have information that a new caravan is forming to enter our country in mid-January," Olga Sánchez Cordero, the interior minister, said at a news conference Monday. "We are already taking the necessary steps to ensure the caravan enters in a safe and orderly way."
    When the previous caravan reached Mexico in October, Mexican authorities closed one of the main border crossings but allowed thousands of migrants to swim across the river separating the country from Guatemala. The migrants then continued north through Mexico, most of them traveling without documents.
    This time, Sánchez Cordero said, the government will place guards at 370 illegal crossing points, and the border will be "controlled to prevent the entry of undocumented people." But she suggested that members of the caravan could be allowed into the country legally if they apply for visas.
    "We don't know how many people this will be, but it's a lot," said Walter Coello, a taxi driver from Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, who helped organize the last caravan and is playing a similar role once again. "With this caravan, the goal is to give them a chance to work and have a better life, be it in Mexico or the United States."
    Last year's group, with about 7,000 people, was dwarfed by the roughly 400,000 people who were apprehended at the U.S. border in 2018, as well as the more than 100,000 who applied for asylum in that period. But it became a major focus for President Trump, who attempted to use the specter of an invading caravan to rally his supporters.
    On Thursday, Trump deployed similar rhetoric about the new group.
    "There is another major caravan forming right now in Honduras, and so far we're trying to break it up, and so far it's bigger than anything we've ever seen, and a drone isn't going to stop it, and a sensor isn't going to stop it, but you know what's going to stop it in its tracks?" he said. "A nice, powerful wall."
    For Central Americans, who typically depend on expensive and unreliable smugglers to travel to the United States, caravans offer a cheaper, safer way to migrate. So, despite Trump's opposition, experts say it is likely that they will continue to form.
    "The caravans are an opening for people," said Karen Valladares, executive director of the National Forum for Migration in Honduras. "Every day, people leave, but this way they feel more secure. There is more solidarity in going with groups. They don't have the fear that they are going to be the victims of organized crime."
    Thousands of members of the previous caravan are still waiting in Tijuana to begin their asylum applications. A U.S. policy shift in November requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims are being processed has not yet been implemented, but it could delay their entrance into the United States even further.
    Yet in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where pockets of extreme violence persist and economic opportunities are limited in many places, there is a widespread perception that the earlier group succeeded.
    "Many people see the last caravan as a success in that people were able to travel safely, and they were well taken care of," Valladares said.
    Glen Muños, 18, from the Honduran city of Choloma, plans to travel with the next group this month.
    "It's not just employment or that Honduras is dangerous," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm young, and I want to know another place."
    Muños's brother, 36, traveled with last year's caravan but split off from it in northern Mexico and crossed the border illegally in Texas.
    "Honduras is dangerous and I'm not having him stay there. I want him next to me working, not there," he said of his younger brother in a text message. He spoke on the condition of anonymity now that he is living illegally in the United States.
    Karla Riviera is also considering traveling with the caravan. She traveled with the last one from Honduras to the Guatemala-Mexico border. But in southern Mexico, immigration officials took her to a makeshift detention center, she said, first claiming they were offering her shelter and later returning her by plane to Honduras.
    "They treated us like criminals. They tricked us, jailed us and deported us," she said, speaking by phone.
    Back in Honduras, she said she continues to receive rape and death threats — from the father of her niece, whom she reported for sexually abusing the child, from "macho men" who insult her because she is gay, and from the father of her partner's children.
    "Right now, I don't leave my house much. I have to hide. I'm still worried about my life," she said.
    She saw news about the coming caravan on WhatsApp and asked her partner whether she was interested in going.
    "We are talking it out," she said. "I guess my alternative is to live and hide."




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    6) Yellow Vests Continue Protests Despite Government Threats
    By teleSUR, January 12, 2019
    https://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/54411-yellow-vests-continue-protests-despite-government-threats
    French protesters clad in high-visibility yellow vests. (photo: AFP)


    Thousands of French citizens launch protests against President Emmanuel Macron policies for the ninth weekend in a row.

    ellow Vests protesters congregated at different points in France, for the ninth Saturday of demonstrations, against the austerity policies of President Emmanuel Macron.
    After last week's riots, Interior Minister Laurent Nunez elected to deploy a large group of police personnel, with some 80,000 agents mobilized across the country; 5,000 of them in Paris.
    In the early hours of Saturday, the Avenue des Champs Elysees, in Paris, had already been separated by a fence which ran from one side of the roadway to the next. The authorities have been forced to divert traffic to streets around the Republic Square and the North Station.
    Several demonstrators were acosted by the riot police in front of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
    The Yellow Vests also arranged a meeting in Bourges, a small town in the center of France, to facilitate the participation of protesters coming from lesser populated provinces.
    Minister Nunez, through his Twitter account, warned that there would be "zero tolerance" for rioters. "If there are excesses, either in Paris or anywhere in France, we will give them an extremely firm response," the minister said.
    In addition, President Macron made controversial statements Friday night, lamenting that "too many French people" lack "sense of effort", which prevents the country from regaining strength and cohesion.
    After the Yellow Vest's last protest on Jan. 6, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that the government would legislate sanctions against demonstrators as well as create a registry for agitators; a measure, he affirms, will allow authorities to restrict such persons from attending future protests.
    The police, after the announced push-back measures, have remained cognizant that there could be retaliation during the protests, especially since more than 50,000 Yellow Vests are expected at the demonstrations.
    The Yellow Vests movement is a citizen's protest that started in France in Oct. 2018. The model have since spread to other countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Greece, Italy, Israel, Portugal and Spain.
    Initially, the movement were focused on rejecting fuel tax increases, however, their demands evolved to include addressing the purchasing power of the middle and lower classes, as well as the resignation of President Macron.
    Since inception, the Yellow Vests involve organized street blockades, the comandeering of public sites in addition to planning other events across the country.


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    7)  The Backstory to the Migrant Caravan Is Repression of Democracy and Labor in Honduras
    By Judy Angel and Dana Frank, January 13, 2019
    https://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/54428-the-backstory-to-the-migrant-caravan-is-repression-of-democracy-and-labor-in-honduras
    Honduras exploded in demonstrations following a coup by a general and the country's oligarchs in 2009 that ousted President Manuel Zelaya. The post-coup regime, propped up by the U.S. government, has waged a war on workers and democracy, a crucial backstory to the migrant caravans arriving at the border. (photo: Francesco Michele/CC BY-NC 2.0)


    or anyone who cares to know why thousands are fleeing Central America alone and in caravans, what role the U.S. has played in creating the crisis there, and how unions, workers, and popular organizations are fighting back, historian Dana Frank's new book is a must-read.
    I took my first trip to Honduras in 2009, less than two months after a general and Honduran oligarchs had staged a coup d'etat. They removed the elected president, Manuel Zelaya, in the middle of the night, shooting up his back door and packing him off to Costa Rica in his pajamas. They made a brief stop to grab a plane at the local U.S. Air Force base.
    Honduras exploded in demonstrations, repression, and the killing of innocents. There was widespread outrage in most of the Americas, except the U.S.
    When I got there, the resistance was already well organized and major leadership was coming from the labor movement. I attended resistance meetings at the Bottlers Union (STIBYS), which represented workers at InBev (Budweiser) and many soft drink companies.
    I marched miles along with tens of thousands of Hondurans, many of whom were destitute but still picked themselves up and walked across their beautiful and mountainous country to get to Tegucigalpa or to San Pedro Sula to protest. It was truly inspiring.
    Today Honduras is a dictatorship propped up by the U.S. Democracy was never restored. Despite all the protests, things are worse—it's become a narco-state.
    Dana Frank is a professor, recently retired from the University of California-Santa Cruz. She's my kind of professor—an activist and a labor historian. Her book Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism is one of my favorites; I've been touting it for years to all who think that "Buy American" campaigns are pro-worker. She also wrote Bananeras, about the women's banana unions in Central America.
    Her new book is called The Long Honduran Night: Resistance, Terror, and the United States in the Aftermath of the CoupI spoke with her for our local radio show, the Heartland Labor Forum. –Judy Ancel
    Judy Ancel: Let's start with the fact that Honduras was called the first "banana republic." What does that mean? And are bananas and banana workers still important to the economy?
    Dana Frank: Hondurans today think that "banana republic" is an insulting term. It has been called that for many years, because it was under the control of the United Fruit Company and the United States for decades and decades.
    Honduras did have as many as 60,000 or 70,000 banana workers in the '60s and '70s. There are fewer now. They had the strongest labor movement in Central America for decades.
    Bananas still matter today—the banana companies, Chiquita and Dole are still down there, though they don't have the political power or dominance that they used to.
    But the banana workers are one of the two backbones of the private sector labor movement, along with the bottling plant workers.
    Tell us about the coup—why did it happen, and why did the Obama administration endorse it?
    The president who was deposed in the coup, Manuel Zelaya, came from one of the two right-wing parties that had ruled Honduras for decades. But he was moving to the center, even the center-left.
    He had doubled the minimum wage. He was starting to align himself with the democratically elected left and center-left governments that had come to power in South America and Central America in the previous 15 years.
    Those governments were a threat to U.S. domination of the region, and Zelaya was the weakest link. He didn't have a mass base. He didn't come out from the opposition party himself. So the U.S. was sending a message to all those governments that we are going to overthrow you.
    We don't have a smoking gun that the U.S. actually greenlighted the coup ahead of time. But we do know that afterwards the U.S. made it very clear they wanted the coup to stabilize.
    Talk about the resistance. To me it was just overwhelming, the diversity of the resistance movement, and you cover that very well in this book. While the resistance has had its ups and downs, it still exists almost a decade later.
    Initially the resistance was this huge coalition, with the labor movement, but also the women's movement, the Afro-indigenous people's organizations, the campesinos [small farmers], the women's movement, the LGBT movement, and also the people from the traditional Liberal Party and even the other ruling party, the National Party, who were committed to the rule of law and constitutional order.
    After about two years, through complicated machinations, certain elements of the resistance turned it into a political party. That party, Libre, has been extremely important ever since—but it also widened a divide between those who thought electoral action was the most important priority and those who wanted to keep building the social movements from the base. Labor movement people span both camps.
    The labor movement is still struggling, but sometimes it can actually achieve important victories. People don't know that the maquiladora export processing sector has unions. They don't have a lot of gains because of those unions, but in some cases they do. And many of the banana workers have good, solid union contracts, and bottling plant workers, too.
    There are also public sector union people who are very strong in the opposition. The government has been going after them and eliminating whole government departments that were unionized over the last five or six years.
    And the social movements of indigenous people to protect their lands against hydroelectric dams and mining projects go on as we speak. People have probably heard of Berta Cáceres, who was central to one of those struggles and was assassinated in 2016. The campesinos' struggle to reclaim lands that elites had taken away from them in the Aguán Valley also continues.
    Most people in the United States know very little about Honduras. In the reporting on the caravan, nobody is asking why these people are pouring out of Honduras. The media never connects the dots. What did you learn about the media as you researched this book?
    After some initial reporting about the coup, some of which was good and much of which just ignored the human rights violations, there was complete silence for two years.
    In 2012, when it became clear that things were going south fast, there was some coverage about how terrible things were. The next moment was in 2014, the so-called "crisis" created by Breitbart News of 57,000 unaccompanied, undocumented minors arriving at the U.S. border.
    Then the coverage was: "Things are really terrible down there. Everyone's powerless." My classic is the powerless mother sobbing over her son's dead body in the morgue. The Washington Post, for example, covered that kind of story.
    You would have never have known that there was the biggest opposition political party in Honduran history thriving, that there were strong unions, a strong women's movement.
    We've really seen this with the caravan. It's as if Honduras is a natural disaster. You just have a country that can't govern itself somehow, or that's just naturally poor.
    U.S. support for the regime, and the dictatorship's repression, and the post-coup regime's destruction of the rule of law, which opened the door for the gangs and the extortionists, and the fact that they're deeply embedded with drug traffickers themselves at the top of the government—that narrative disappears.
    And of course they don't point out that the Trump administration has cut all development aid and is just giving them bullets and tear gas.
    It's actually more complicated than that. Trump said we should cut everything, but the State Department hasn't done that.
    The position of the opposition, and of the solidarity movement in the U.S., is to cut the security aid to the police and Honduran military who are killing people with impunity, and also to look at the economic development aid and who it's really going to.
    There's a great line from a friend of mine's book—he says the U.S. has historically trained people to think that the only solution to problems caused by U.S. intervention is more U.S. intervention.
    Hondurans will say, "Please leave us alone. Let us have our own democratic processes."
    The Honduran opposition, and many groups from the center as well, are calling for a new election. It's very clear that current president Juan Orlando Hernandez stole the election a year ago.
    We need to be listening to what the Honduran people are saying. Let them have their own government, not one imposed by the United States.
    We're going to reintroduce the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act at the beginning of the year, which calls for a suspension of U.S. security funding in Honduras. We had 71 members of the House on it in the last two years. We need to get all those people back on.
    Our local Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver has signed on to the Berta Cáceres law, and has been very cooperative. Now that we have a new Congressperson from the Kansas 3rd District, we're hoping that she also will become supportive of human rights in Honduras.
    We have so many Congressmembers on there because of grassroots support. They don't just randomly support these things. They do it because if they're good, they listen to what their constituents want.
    Talk about the current president, Juan Orlando Hernandez. Hondurans call him "Juan Robando" ["Juan the Robber"], or they just refer to him as his initials. "Fuera JOH" ["Out with JOH"] is all over the walls in Honduras—they can't seem to white it out fast enough, because it reappears. Can you talk about his policies, especially toward workers?
    He himself is a criminal who supported the coup and overthrew the Supreme Court in 2012.
    Honduran labor law isn't so bad, but it's not getting enforced—even in really famous cases, like the melon workers, or banana workers, or maquiladora workers, that gain international attention. In terms of the public sector workers, they're getting laid off. Forget bargaining—they're having their whole jobs eliminated.
    It's definitely a war on the workers, but that is possible because of this larger context of repression.
    For example, a year ago when people were protesting the stolen elections, the military and the police used live bullets against peaceful protesters and bystanders. That's the first time they'd used live bullets, even since the coup.
    Live bullets were used again against Chiquita workers on strike in the spring—and that's the first time, probably back to the '30s, that live bullets were used against strikers or their supporters in Honduras.
    So this general escalation of repression of civil liberties is part of the repression of the labor movement. 
    This is an edited and abridged transcript of an interview that Judy Ancel did with Dana Frank on the Heartland Labor Forum on December 27, 2018. Listen to the interview at heartlandlaborforum.org.


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    8)  Los Angeles Teachers' Strike Updates: Demands for More Pay and More Help
    By The New York Times, January 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/us/lausd-teachers-strike.html

    Members of United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers' union, prepared earlier this month for a strike in the nation's second-largest school district.


    LOS ANGELES — More than 30,000 Los Angeles public-school teachers began a long-planned strike on Monday, pressing demands for higher pay, smaller classes and more support staff in the schools.
    The strike affects roughly 500,000 students at 900 schools in the district, the second-largest in the nation. The schools will remain open, staffed by substitutes hired by the city, but many parents have said they will not send their children across picket lines.
    The impact of the walkout is likely to ripple across California and the rest of the country. Teachers mounted large-scale strikes in six other states last year to protest low pay and demand more money for public education.
    The decision to walk off the job came after months of negotiations between the teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Although educators on all sides agree California should spend more money on education, the union and the district are locked in a bitter feud about how Los Angeles should use the money it already gets.

    Reporters will be covering the strike throughout the day. We also want to hear from readers who will be striking or whose family will be affected. Email us at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
    Here's what you need to know:
    Union leaders have complained about large classes, which have grown to more than 40 students in some of the district's middle and high schools, and have said the system needs many more nurses, counselors, librarians and other support staff as well as teachers.
    Although district officials have agreed to come closer to meeting some of the union's demands, they say fulfilling all of them would bankrupt the system, which is already strained by rising health care and pension costs.
    District officials have tried for weeks to avert the strike, putting political and legal pressure on the union to stop teachers from walking off the job. Instead of encouraging a walkout, district officials argued, the union should direct its energy and its frustrations at the state government in Sacramento, which determines the district's annual budget. — JENNIFER MEDINA
    At Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, a large campus in Koreatown, hundreds of teachers and supporters held signs declaring "We demand respect" and "Striking for our students." The picket line was a sea of umbrellas, with many covering their signs in plastic wrap to protect them from rain.

    The teachers' union has urged parents to walk the picket line in support of the strike, and it was unclear how many of the 500,000 students would show up at schools, which will have only a skeletal staff on campuses.
    By 8 a.m., dozens of students and parents had gathered along the sidewalk to support the teachers, but there was also a steady stream of students entering R.F.K., which houses several small schools on its campus.
    Once the students entered, they were shuffled inside to the campus library, cafeteria or another large gathering area. It was unclear whether any instruction would be given.
    Sophie Chiang, a 10th-grade student, arrived well before the 8:20 a.m. first bell. "Oh God, it's really happening," she said as she approached the line of teachers in red ponchos shouting "Whose schools? Our schools!" She was momentarily worried that she would stopped from entering, but nobody on the picket line stopped her. And the campus security guard who is usually at the entrance was not as his post. — JENNIFER MEDINA
    At first glance, Monday's massive strike in Los Angeles looks like a continuation of the teacher protests we saw across the country in 2018. While some of the issues — stagnant salaries and low classroom funding — are similar, this urban strike is far different from the statewide walkouts we've recently seen in conservative and swing states. Here's why:
    1. These teachers are picketing their bosses, not politicians. The six state walkouts in 2018 featured teachers traveling to state capitols to lobby legislators and governors for higher taxes and more school funding. In contrast, the Los Angeles action is a traditional strike in which teachers are protesting against their bosses: the district's superintendent and Board of Education.
    2. The Los Angeles union is strong. In the six walkout states, teachers' unions were weak and the majority of teachers in many districts were not members. That's not the case in California, a strong labor state where public employee strikes are legal. The president of United Teachers Los Angeles, Alex Caputo-Pearl, is part of a group of more strident local union leaders who have, for years, been critiquing school-reform priorities such as the expansion of the charter school sector — a major issue in Los Angeles — and the growth of standardized testing. These issues were simmering in the nation's second-largest city for years before the West Virginia walkout that began in February 2018.
    3. Los Angeles is trying to keep schools open. It's unusual for a district to keep all schools open during a strike in which all teachers are expected to participate, but that's what Los Angeles Unified is trying. This allows the district to continue serving meals and providing child care to its high-needs student population, 82 percent of whom come from low-income families. But with far fewer adults than usual, there probably won't be much traditional instruction going on. Students may be grouped together in cafeterias and auditoriums, perhaps watching movies or playing games. — DANA GOLDSTEIN

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    9)  PGandE Plans Bankruptcy Filing Over Deadly California Fires
    By Amie Tsang, January 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/business/energy-environment/pge-bankruptcy-california.html

    Pacific Gas and Electric crews restoring power lines in Paradise, Calif., in November. The utility company said it faced an estimated $30 billion liability for damages from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires in Northern California.


    Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which has been struggling with a financial crisis stemming from California's historic wildfires, intends to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by the end of the month, according to a regulatory filing.
    The company, which is the largest investor-owned utility in California, said it faced an estimated $30 billion liability for damages from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires that killed scores in Northern California, a sum that would exceed its insurance and assets.
    The company on Sunday announced the departure of its chief executive, Geisha Williams, who had been in the job since 2017. John Simon, the company's general counsel, will serve as interim chief executive.
    The company's shares were down more than 40 percent in early trading on Monday. They had already lost almost two-thirds of their value since early November, when the company's equipment was linked to the Camp Fire, which destroyed thousands of homes in Paradise, Calif., and killed at least 86 people.

    PG&E's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said the company planned to file for bankruptcy "on or about Jan. 29," saying the move was "ultimately the only viable option to restore PG&E's financial stability to fund ongoing operations and provide safe service to customers."
    The filing noted that the company was required to give employees 15 days' notice of such a move, under a recently passed California law.
    One possibility is that another utility company will take over all of PG&E, or parts of its business. It is the primary gas and electricity supplier to the northern half of California, serving about 16 million customers over 70,000 square miles.
    Fire investigators determined that PG&E equipment was responsible for at least 18 of 21 major fires in 2017 as well as blazes in 2018. Some of the fires have been attributed to power lines coming into contact with trees, which critics have said is a result of the utility's failure to trim the trees.
    The billions in potential costs have prompted a series of downgrades in PG&E's ratings, including decisions last week by Moody's Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings to downgrade the utility's bonds to junk.
    The "action is driven entirely by the further weakening of Pacific Gas and Electric Company's credit quality," Moody's stated in its decision.
    Gov. Gavin Newsom, who took office last week, has said that responding to the utility and wildfire issues is among his top priorities. Officials have said that a bankruptcy filing would not jeopardize the provision of gas and electricity.
    After intense lobbying, the state's investor-owned utilities, which include Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric, won a legislative shield last year from having to bear the cost of 2017 fires. The law allows them to pass the cost of wildfires to their customers in the form of higher electricity rates.
    Now they are seeking the same for last year's fires. State law requires utilities to compensate property owners for fire damage caused by their equipment, regardless of whether negligence is proved.
    In its filing Monday, PG&E said it was aware of 50 complaints on behalf of at least 2,000 plaintiffs in connection with the Camp Fire, including six seeking to be litigated as a class action. It also cited 700 complaints on behalf of at least 3,600 plaintiffs related to 2017 wildfires, including five seeking to be certified as class actions.
    The utility companies acknowledge that they may bear some responsibility for wildfires but say it is not entirely their fault, because climate change and development in remote areas have made wildfires more destructive.
    PG&E has filed for bankruptcy once before, after a botched deregulation move by the state in 2000 and 2001 resulted in blackouts and soaring electricity rates.
    The company's safety culture has also been under scrutiny since it was found at fault in a natural-gas explosion in 2010 that devastated the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno and killed eight people. PG&E was fined a record $1.6 billion by the state for failing to maintain its pipeline system properly, and it paid $900 million to resolve lawsuits related to the explosion.

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


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

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

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

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

    A December rally of teachers in Los Angeles.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    14) Nicholas Heyward Sr., 61, Dies; Spoke Out Against Police Brutality
    By Daniel E. Slotnik, January 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/obituaries/nicholas-heyward-dead.html

    Nicholas Heyward Sr., whose son was killed by a police officer in 1994 in Brooklyn, took part in a protest against police brutality at City Hall Park in New York in 2016.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Jack Begg contributed research.

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