Thursday, July 27, 2017

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, THURSDAY, JULY 27, 2017



Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E-mail and phone-in campaign to:

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

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

Sent by Haiti Action Committee
@HaitiAction1 and on FACEBOOK

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Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:


A) EVENTS, ACTIONS 
AND ONGOING STRUGGLES

B) ARTICLES IN FULL


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A) EVENTS, ACTIONS AND ONGOING STRUGGLES


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Stand with Rasmea at her sentencing 

August 17


All out for Detroit!
Thursday, August 17, at 1:30 EDT

(rally at 1:30 PM, hearing starts at 3 PM)

U.S. District Court, 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., downtown Detroit, Michigan

 
The Rasmea Defense Committee, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, and U.S. Palestinian Community Network are urging everyone to join us in Detroit, August 17, to show our love and support for Rasmea at her sentencing in federal court. The will be her last court appearance and Rasmea is planning to make a statement.
 
The plea agreement that has already been reached states that Rasmea will not get additional jail time – but she will have to leave the U.S.
 
Given the near daily attacks on Rasmea in the right-wing and pro-Israeli media, we expect that a fair amount of attention will be focused on the sentencing. It is critical that the courtroom be filled with her supporters.
 


A Farewell to Rasmea Odeh Aug. 12

with Angela Davis

Saturday, August 12
7:00 pm

at the International Union of Operating Engineers hall
2260 S. Grove Street, Chicago, IL  60616

Join us for an evening of music, culture, and struggle to honor Palestinian icon Rasmea Odeh. Keynote address by former political prisoner Angela Davis.


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California Alliance for Retired Americans
600 Grand Ave, Rm 410
Oakland CA 94610
510-663-4086,  californiaalliance.org

Hello

Please join CARA on August 14 to celebrate Social Security's 82nd birthday, and to re-dedicate ourselves to defend Social Security and preserve, improve, and expand it.  Our confirmed speakers so far are Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works and Norman Solomon, author, columnist and activist. 

Monday, August 14, Noon, in Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza
Broadway and 14th St, 12th St BART Station.
Rally and Two-Block March to Federal Building

More program details to be announced.
Please contact 
Michael Lyon, 415-215-7575, mlyon01@comcast.net, or
Jodi Reid, 415-550-0828,  jreid.cara@gmail.com

CARA is sponsoring events across California in July and August to defend and expand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, in the face of attacks from Washington.  Our Oakland event will draw people from all around the San Francisco Bay Area.  We are hoping you can publicize this event among your members, and bring them on August 14.   We are attaching a copy of our leaflet and a petition your members can sign and return.  Anyone can sign the petition, it is not official, but will be used to show support for these programs.

Over its 82 years, Social Security has provided income and dignity to hundreds of millions of retirees and people with disabilities, their spouses and children, and to deceased workers' spouses and children.  For two thirds of seniors, it's been over half their income.  Half of women and people with disabilities would be in poverty without Social Security. Almost 10% of children get it.  We will NOT go back to the days of workhouses!

Social Security is the nation's most effective anti-poverty program, yet it is entirely funded by us, we who work for a living, through FICA deductions from our paychecks, and by our employers.  Not a cent comes from the government; in fact our $2.4 Trillion Social Security Trust Fund is invested in loans to help the government run. Those loans must, and will, be repaid to Social Security.  It's our program, our money!  Our past, our future!

Forces for austerity want to destroy or undermine Social Security by increasing the retirement age, decreasing the benefits and cost-of-living increases, and converting Social Security from a unified government program of collectively-guaranteed economic security for everyone, to a hodge-podge of private individual accounts for each recipient, invested in the stock market, and managed by expensive Wall Street money managers.  

Now, the Trump administration wants to eliminate the payroll tax that is the financial foundation of Social Security and cut $64 Billion over ten years from Social Security Disability Insurance, an integral part of Social Security, by reducing future enrollment with work requirements.

Given this adversity, it's important we remember that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents won Social Security in the mid-1930s, the depths of the Great Depression, when everything looked stacked against us.  Social Security must be preserved, improved, and expanded.  In the 1930s, Roosevelt said "Make me do it!"  We did. We can do it again!

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MILLIONS FOR PRISONERS HUMAN RIGHTS MARCH ON WASHINGTON - AUGUST 19, 2017






Millions For Prisoners Human Rights march and rally, Washington, DC, August 19, 2017
 
March participants are asked to meet at Freedom Plaza, located at the corner of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW at 11:00 am, but may arrive as early as 9 am. The March will begin promptly at 11:30 am from Freedom Plaza to Lafayette Park where the Rally will begin at 12 noon and will continue until 5. Individuals who are unable to participate in the Marching demonstration can go straight to Lafayette Square, directly north of the White House on H Street, Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 16th Street NW. 
 
 
Millions for Prisoners Human Rights core demands for Action:

A) We DEMAND the 13th amendment ENSLAVEMENT CLAUSE of the United States Constitution be amended to abolish LEGALIZED slavery in America.

B) We DEMAND a Congressional hearing on the 13th Amendment ENSLAVEMENT CLAUSE being recognized as in violation of international law, the general principles of human rights and its direct links to:
  1. Private entities exploiting prison labor
  2. Companies overcharging prisoners for goods and services
  3. Private entities contracted by states/federal government to build and operate prisons. This would also include immigration detentions
  4. Racial disparities in America’s prison population and sentencing
  5. Policing: the disproportionate (unaccountable) killings by police in the black and brown communities
  6. Felony Disenfranchisement laws
  7. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 34,000 detention quotas
  8. Producing the world largest prison population

There are multiple ways to get from Union Station to Freedom Plaza and Lafayette Park. The easiest way might be to walk or take a metrobus or train. Please visit WMATA to find the best option. Cars and other vehicles can utilize Union Station Parking Garage, 30 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002. Buses can utilize Union Station – Bus & RV, 1st St NE, Washington, DC 20002. For specific parking fee information and to make reservations please visit https://www.ecolonial.com/

Supporters across the nation are planning solidarity events to coincide with the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on August 19th in Washington. Thus far events are being held in Riverside CA, San Jose CA, Asheville NC, Montgomery AL, Carrabelle FL, Kansas City MO, St Louis MO, Albuquerque NM, Duluth MN and Omaha NE. 

Visit iamweubuntu.com to stay connected or get involved.

LOC's (Local Organizing Committees) are being established in cities all throughout the country to bring awareness and promote the March on Washington!
Additional Support is need in the following areas:
– Lawyers – Legal Observer – Lobbyist – Public Relations – Event Planners – Fundraisers
Please contact us if you want to support us in these or other areas:
Email: millionsforprisonersmarch@gmail.com
Tel.: 803-220-4553
Website: www.iamweubuntu.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/groups/MillionsforPrisonersMarch/
Twitter: Twitter.com/milli4prisoners
Address:
iamWE
P.O Box 58201
Raleigh NC 27658​

Update 6-24-2017:
More details here.


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

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


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

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

Would love for someone to do research on this guy!

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

Life As A 'Drone Warrior'


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


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


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


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SIGN THE PETITION: DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST REALITY WINNER

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

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

WHY ALLEGED WHISTLE-BLOWER REALITY WINNER DESERVES SUPPORT

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

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

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Solidarity Statement from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners

Friends,

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

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

California Coalition for Women Prisoners Statement

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

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

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

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

    Northwest Detention Center Press Release May 4, 2017

Despite threats and retaliation, hunger strikers continue protest 

ICE ignores demands for improved conditions 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


#Tacoma12     #Adelanto9     #Not1More      #NoEstánSolos

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Labor Studies and Radical History

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

415.387.5700

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

Hours

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

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

Services

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

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Support:




CONTRIBUTE 
Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression

BAY AREA ANTI-REPRESSION COMMITTEE

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

Mothers Message to the NY/NJ Activist Community 

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

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

"What We Want, What We Need" 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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My Heartfelt "Thank You!"

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Prison Nation,
This is Mumia Abu-Jamal

Prison Radio, May 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a critical and essential step forward!

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Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for being a part of this work!

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Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Packed Off to Florida!

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

July 14, 2017

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

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

Packed off to Florida

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

The Welcoming Committee

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

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

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

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

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

Barbaric housing

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

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

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

Solitary confinement for publicizing abuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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      Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

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


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

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

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

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

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

      Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

      In solidarity,

      James Clark
      Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
      Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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        B. ARTICLES IN FULL


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        1)  A Drug Maker Spends Big in Washington to Make Itself Heard
        "Lawmakers in both the House and Senate collected $44,000 from Mallinckrodt in 2017's first quarter, nearly nine times what they got from the company in the same period two years ago. Mallinckrodt also spent $610,000 lobbying Congress, triple the amount of 2015's first quarter."
         JULY 21, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/21/business/a-drug-maker-spends-big-in-washington-to-make-itself-heard.html?ref=business

        Two federal investigations — one examining opioid sales, another about a multiple sclerosis drug whose price had soared to $34,000 a vial — were only part of the troubles Mallinckrodt faced as the year began.
        The stock of the drug maker, whose United States headquarters are in St. Louis, was tanking. Wall Street worried that Medicare might reduce the half-billion dollars it was spending yearly on a Mallinckrodt drug with limited evidence of effectiveness.
        This year, the company left the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, after the group threatened to kick out companies that did not spend enough on research.
        Mallinckrodt, however, has been increasing its spending in another area: It has been writing checks to politicians.

        After making meager donations in 2015, the company's political action committee began raising its contributions for congressional campaigns last year. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate collected $44,000 from Mallinckrodt in 2017's first quarter, nearly nine times what they got from the company in the same period two years ago.
        Mallinckrodt also spent $610,000 lobbying Congress, triple the amount of 2015's first quarter. The company, which makes pain-control drugs as well as H. P. Acthar, an injectable gel prescribed for multiple sclerosis and other diseases, has lobbied on issues related to opioids, patents, Medicare and other matters, regulatory filings show.
        Mallinckrodt is far from unique. This year, a critical and risky one for drug companies, the industry as a whole is ratcheting up campaign donations and its presence on Capitol Hill, a new database compiled by Kaiser Health News shows.
        (Did your representative receive money from a pharmaceutical political action committee? Look your representative up here »)
        "The stakes are really high right now," said David Maris, who follows pharmaceutical stocks for Wells Fargo, given that President Trump has joined Democrats to demand action on drug costs.
        Mallinckrodt acknowledges that it has increased its political spending to help its particular causes. "We actively participate in the political process on issues that matter to us and our patients," Rhonda Sciarra, a Mallinckrodt spokeswoman, said by email. "Our PAC's absolute spend remains small in relation to other companies in our industry."
        Congressional donations from pharmaceutical PACs rose 11 percent in this year's first quarter, compared with the first three months of 2015 (the comparable point in the previous election cycle), according to a Kaiser Health News analysis. The increase accompanied a spike in pharma lobbying for the period.
        Contributions to powerful committee members who handle health policy matters also increased in the face of public anger over the opioid crisis as well as anticipated renewal of legislation that determines the "user fees" companies pay for regulatory drug approval.
        A dozen Republican committee heads and ranking Democrats on health-related panels collected $281,600 from pharma-related PACs in the first quarter, up 80 percent from what people in the same positions collected in the first quarter of 2015, the data shows. Such initial donations often set the pace for a two-year election cycle, and suggest whom corporate interests are trying to cultivate in a new Congress, with implied promises of more to come, analysts say.
        For pharma companies, "now would be the time to give out the money, ahead of a piece of legislation that may come down the road," said Kent Cooper, a former Federal Election Commission official who has tracked political money for decades.
        "You want to get your name out there and make a connection with these members' legislative assistants — so you are known to them and you can get in their door," Mr. Cooper said.
        Other drug makers increasing their congressional donations include AbbVie — whose blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis injection, Humira, faces threats from competition — and Alexion Pharmaceuticals. A six-figure price tag for Soliris, Alexion's treatment for a rare blood disorder, makes it one of the world's most expensive drugs.
        Pfizer, the No. 2 pharma donor in the first quarter after Sanofi, gave $130,900 to congressional campaigns, three times its contribution for the same period two years ago. So far this year, the company has raised the price of dozens of drugs by an average of 20 percent, The Financial Times reported.
        PhRMA, a big giver in the past, has not yet joined individual companies in increasing donations for this election cycle. Congressional campaigns collected $7,000 in the first quarter from PhRMA, which Politico reported had raised member dues to prepare for the drug-price fight. They got $31,500 two years ago.
        The totals do not include contributions from individual executives and lobbyists, or donations to leadership PACs. Leadership PACs associated with a particular member of Congress often spend money on other members' campaigns, as well as on things that a campaign committee cannot finance. Details on contributions to leadership PACs take longer to become available.
        Outrage was still bubbling last year over moves by Turing Pharmaceuticals and Mylan to raise prices of cheap-to-make, lifesaving drugs to hundreds of dollars a dose, when the country elected a Republican president who vowed: "I'm going to bring down drug prices." Nearly eight Americans in 10 said in a September poll they believed prescription drug prices were unreasonable.
        Evidence has grown that pharma companies helped fuel the nation's addiction and overdose crisis with sales of powerful painkillers, prompting calls for an overhaul. Drug developers are also preparing for renewal of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which generates revenue to pay for government review and approval of drugs.
        At the same time, drug companies anticipated Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which finances billions in drug sales. That process has stalled in the Senate. All of this gives drug makers the most powerful incentives in years to cultivate policy makers, analysts say.
        Tense politics may also be prompting members of Congress to be energetic about soliciting donations.
        "My sense is that Republicans are nervous in the House — especially given the long-term record of the presidential party losing seats in the midterm," said David Magleby, a political scientist at Brigham Young University who studies campaign finance. "I would be surprised if Republican incumbents across the board aren't more aggressive in raising money in the first and second quarters."
        In the last six months, Mallinckrodt has come under pressure for both painkiller sales and price increases for nonnarcotic drugs. Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced the company would pay $35 million to resolve an investigation into whether it ignored enormous volumes of its oxycodone moving through distributors and pharmacies. Over several years, The Washington Post reported, Mallinckrodt was responsible for two-thirds of all the oxycodone sold in Florida.
        Mallinckrodt denied it violated the law and said the settlement was not an acknowledgment of liability.
        In January, it agreed to pay $100 million to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that a company it bought three years ago had illegally quashed competition, enabling it to raise the price of Acthar, the multiple sclerosis drug, which the F.T.C. said cost only $40 per vial in 2001, to $34,000. Mallinckrodt disputed the agency's complaint but said it settled to put the matter to rest.
        The drug is prescribed to treat a rare form of epilepsy as well asmultiple sclerosis and other ailments. Even Mallinckrodt acknowledgesthat "clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy for Acthar are limited."
        But in part because of price increases, global sales of the drug soared from $123 million in the 2014 fiscal year to $1.2 billion in the 2016 fiscal year. It was Medicare's most expensive drug per patient in 2015 — $162,371 for the year — and now makes up a third of the company's revenue.
        Company shareholders have worried that Medicare will crack down on sales of Acthar. Mallinckrodt has pledged to keep future price increases for all drugs to single-digit percentages per year, though that could still be well above the current inflation rate of less than 3 percent.
        Mallinckrodt's biggest donations on Capitol Hill, of $5,000 each, went to Ann Wagner, a House member from its home state, Missouri, and Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. That amount is the maximum a PAC can give to a campaign committee for each primary and general election.
        Ever since it was spun off as an independent company in 2013, Mallinckrodt has made its legal home in Ireland, which allows it to take advantage of lower income tax rates. Mr. Hatch favors cutting United States corporate taxes to eliminate incentives to make such moves.
        Mallinckrodt gave lesser amounts to 16 other congressional campaigns, including that of Paul D. Ryan, the House speaker. Mr. Ryan, who has played down Mr. Trump's attacks on the pharmaceutical industry, was the top recipient of industry money in the first quarter, with $82,750 collected, the data shows.
        The White House has made no proposals on drug costs. Mr. Trump has said little about the issue since January, when he said drug sellers were "getting away with murder."
        Drug companies are hedging their bets, writing checks to individual Democrats and Republicans. With Mr. Trump breaking ranks with Republicans to favor reform, "You can't tell who's your friend and who's not," said Mr. Maris, the Wells Fargo analyst. "So you have to go to a ground game — a more one-on-one legislator basis."




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        2)  Cecil the Lion's Son Xanda Killed by a Trophy Hunter
         JULY 20, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/world/africa/cecil-lion-son-xanda.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fafrica

        Two years after Cecil the Lion was killed in a national park in Zimbabwe, sparking international outrage, his son Xanda was killed in a trophy hunt.
        The lion was shot on July 7 in a hunting area just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, according to Andrew Loveridge, an Oxford University researcher who had studied both Cecil and his son. Xanda, who was 6 years old, was wearing an electronic collar that was put on by researchers to monitor his movements.
        "As researchers we are saddened at the death of a well-known study animal we have monitored since birth," Mr. Loveridge said in an email.
        The Telegraph reported that Richard Cooke, of the company RC Safaris, had led the hunt, though it was not immediately clear who killed the lion.

        "Richard Cooke is one of the 'good' guys," Mr. Loveridge told The Telegraph. "He is ethical and he returned the collar and communicated what had happened. His hunt was legal and Xanda was over 6 years old so it is all within the stipulated regulations."
        Mr. Cooke could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
        The pride spent "considerable time outside the protection of the park," Mr. Loveridge said. Xanda was shot about two kilometers from its edge in Ngamo Forest, in an area where hunting is legal.
        The lion, who was part of a pride of three females and seven cubs, was first collared for study in July 2015, with a GPS satellite collar added in October 2016, Mr. Loveridge said. The researchers traced his whereabouts until his death.
        Cecil was 13 when he was killed by Dr. Walter J. Palmer, an American dentist, in July 2015. Like Xanda, he had wandered outside of his sanctuary in Hwange National Park. Dr. Palmer apologized for the killing but became the target of threats and harassment.
        "The killing of Xanda just goes to show that trophy hunters have learned nothing from the international outcry that followed Cecil's death," said Masha Kalinina, an international trade policy specialist for Humane Society International.
        "Xanda was a well-studied lion like this father and critical to conservation efforts in Zimbabwe," she said. "To stop lions slipping into extinction, it is critical that countries like Zimbabwe keep as many lions alive as possible and shift away from the trophy hunting industry."
        The Humane Society said that fewer than 30,000 African lions remain.
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        3)  Exclusive-U.S. Weighs Financial Sanctions to Hit Venezuela's Oil Revenue: Sources
        "Sanctions on dollar transactions could be more punitive than an import ban because they would make it much more difficult for any refiner or trader to buy Venezuelan oil - not just customers in the United States."
         JULY 21, 2017, 8:39 P.M. E.D.T
        https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/07/21/business/21reuters-venezuela-sanctions-exclusive.html?src=busln

        HOUSTON/WASHINGTON — The United States is considering financial sanctions on Venezuela that would halt dollar payments for the country's oil, according to a senior White House official and an adviser with direct knowledge of the discussions.
        The move could severely restrict the OPEC nation's crude exports and starve its socialist government of hard currency.
        Sanctions prohibiting any transaction in U.S. currency by Venezuela's state-run oil firm, PDVSA, are among the toughest of various oil-related measures under discussion at the White House, the two sources told Reuters.
        The administration aims to pressure socialist President Nicolas Maduro into aborting plans for a controversial new congress that critics say would cement him as a dictator.

        Venezuela's oil-based economy is in the grip of a brutal recession and a local currency crash, and Maduro has faced months of anti-government unrest that has claimed the lives of about 100 people. Sanctions on dollar transactions would make it even harder for Maduro's government to secure cash for debt payments and finance imports of basic goods.
        The White House declined to comment on the sanctions under consideration. PDVSA and Venezuela's Oil Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
        The U.S. measures under discussion are similar to those that were imposed against Iran over its nuclear program - which halved Iran's oil exports and prevented top crude buyers from paying for Iranian oil.
        The measures were seen as among the most effective economic sanctions ever imposed and paved the way for a deal that curbed Tehran's nuclear activity.
        Measures on financial transactions would give President Donald Trump's administration the power to escalate pressure on Venezuela by threatening punishment of any U.S. firm doing business with PDVSA or U.S. banks processing any of its transactions in dollars.
        The financial restrictions have been "raised repeatedly" in recent discussions about options for actions against Maduro's government, said the senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
        The administration is also discussing a ban on U.S. oil imports from Venezuela, but no final decisions have been reached, the official said.
        Sanctions on dollar transactions could be more punitive than an import ban because they would make it much more difficult for any refiner or trader to buy Venezuelan oil - not just customers in the United States.
        The impact of sanctions on PDVSA would ripple across oil markets, forcing refiners to buy alternative supplies. The U.S. could use crude from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to blunt the impact of any short-term supply shortage, the policy adviser told Reuters.
        The United States bought 780,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Venezuelan crude and refined products in the first four months of 2017, according to the Energy Information Administration, nearly 8 percent of total imports. PDVSA is a major supplier to Valero Energy, Phillips 66, Chevron Corp and PBF Energy.
        PDVSA's refining unit in the United States, Citgo Petroleum, last month was the second largest recipient of Venezuelan crude.
        It is unclear how Citgo, being wholly owned by Venezuela, would be impacted by U.S. sanctions. Citgo operates three refineries, pipelines and a fuel distribution network in the United States.
        The threat of sanctions against Venezuela was a key reason for talks this week between PDVSA and Rosneft, Russia's leading state-owned oil firm, which is already under U.S. sanctions. The negotiations in Moscow, reported by Reuters earlier this week, focused on a proposed swap of Rosneft's collateral stake in Citgo for a host of other Venezuelan oil assets - a move to avoid legal complications.
        BARTER DEALS CREATE CASH CRUNCH
        The White House said earlier this week that Trump's administration could take what it called "strong and swift economic actions" against Venezuela as soon as July 30.
        Other options under consideration by Washington include putting more Venezuelan officials and PDVSA executives on its sanctions list, the two sources told Reuters.
        Maduro intends to create a superbody called the constituent assembly this year that would have the power to rewrite the country's constitution. It would supersede other institutions and replace the democratically elected National Assembly.
        Maduro has decried what he calls "imperialist meddling" by U.S. officials.
        Several governments in Latin America also have called on Maduro to abandon the assembly plan.
        But officials in neighbouring countries also expressed concern that U.S. economic sanctions would trigger famine in Venezuela, which is already reeling from shortages of food and medicine.
        PDVSA's cash flow has plummeted in recent years, in part due to the Venezuelan government's deals to barter its oil to other nations in exchange for fuels, services and loans.
        Chinese and Russian entities currently take about 40 percent of all PDVSA's exports as repayment for more than $50 billion in loans to Venezuela and its oil company in the last decade, according to a Reuters analysis of its sales.
        PDVSA also barters with Caribbean nations, Indian refiner Reliance and its unit Citgo.
        Almost all of PDVSA's cash-paying customers are in the United States and India, and the preferred currency for oil transactions worldwide is the U.S. dollar.
        PDVSA currently collects most payments from oil exports using China's Citic Bank, but customers making dollar transfers require a correspondent bank in the United States to guarantee the money arrives in China.
        The Venezuelan oil firm has been struggling to find correspondent banks in the United States since Citibank a year ago suspended providing that service. It would have even fewer options to collect dollars if the sanctions are levied.
        The company could seek payment in euros through European bank accounts, or use other non-dollar denominated transactions. But the European Union could also take similar measures to prevent transactions in euros, following the lead of the United States.
        SANCTION THREAT RATTLES U.S. REFINERS
        The crude import ban has been strongly opposed by oil companies and crude processors because of the impact it could have on the refining sector, especially on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
        Administration officials have heard from U.S. refiners on the hardships an import ban could have on their businesses and "are now measuring its potential impact on prices, market movement, [and] inventories," the policy adviser to the White House told Reuters.
        Phillips 66 - the third largest buyer of Venezuelan crude in the United States this year - said on Thursday that the administration should "carefully consider" sanctions that would affect U.S. refiners and not prevent the sale of Venezuelan crude elsewhere.
        Valero did not respond to a request for comment. Chevron declined to comment.
        Chet Thompson, chief executive of trade group American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), has been calling and writing White House officials, urging they consider something other than an Venezuelan oil import ban.
        Some refineries get up to half their supply from Venezuela, he said in an interview Friday.
        "It's not easily replaced," he said, adding that the sanctions also may not have their intended effect.
        "Venezuela," he said, "will just sell it to someone else."
        (Additional reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston and Nidhi Verma in New Delhi; Writing by by Gary McWilliams and Marianna Parraga; Editing by Simon Webb and Brian Thevenot)

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        4)  At Least 8 Are Found Dead in Truck at Walmart Parking Lot in San Antonio
         JULY 23, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/23/us/san-antonio-truck-walmart-trafficking.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=
        rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

        HOUSTON — The San Antonio authorities discovered at least eight bodies in an overheated tractor-trailer in a Walmart parking lot on Sunday morning in what the police chief called a "horrific" human trafficking crime.
        The chief, William McManus, said at a predawn news conference that a store employee making the rounds late Saturday night was approached by someone from the truck "asking for water." The employee returned with the water and called the police, who found the bodies at the back of the truck.
        The chief had indicated that "juveniles" were among the group in the truck, but later said on CNN that eight men had died. A spokesman for the San Antonio Police Department said by email that they were believed to have died as a result of heat exposure and asphyxiation. The bodies were taken to the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office to determine the cause of death.
        At least 38 people were in the trailer, the fire chief, Charles Hood, said at the news conference. About 20 were taken to seven hospitals, in "extremely severe" or critical condition, he said. Eight others had injuries that were not life-threatening.
        Among those found were two "school-age children" and others in their 20s and 30s, the chief said. The spokesman later said that the two youngest known of those injured were 15.
        "The truck was loaded with people," Chief Hood said.
        The driver, who was not immediately identified, was in custody and will be charged, the top federal prosecutor in the San Antonio area said in a statement on Sunday.
        "The South Texas heat is punishing this time of year," said the prosecutor, Richard L. Durbin Jr., the United States attorney for the Western District of Texas. "These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters. Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer in 100-plus-degree heat."
        Chief McManus said that surveillance video showed that several vehicles had approached the trailer to pick up survivors.
        "We're looking at a human trafficking crime here this evening," he said.
        Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were involved in the investigation, and they will work with the police "to determine the origin of this horrific tragedy," he said.
        There were no further details about how long the truck had been in the Walmart parking lot, which is on the southwestern side of the city, or where it had come from.
        Chief Hood said paramedics and emergency service workers arrived around 12:30 a.m. at the Walmart on the south side of Interstate 35. Police officers were already at the scene, and the air-conditioning in the truck was not working, he said.
        Of the survivors, he said, "our paramedics and firefighters found that each one of them had heart rates over about 130 beats per minute."
        "They were very hot to the touch," the fire chief added. "So these people were in that trailer without any signs of any type of water, so you're looking at a lot of heatstroke, a lot of dehydration."
        The truck may have held others. Some occupants fled into the woods nearby, and the police chief said officers would search on foot and by helicopter when the sun came up.
        Asked what residents in the area should do if they found people in distress from the truck, the chief said, "They need to call 911 right away."
        He added: "This is not an isolated incident; this happens quite frequently. Fortunately, we came across this one. Fortunately, you know, there are people who survived."
        A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, said Sunday that the people in the truck were probably migrants who had crossed the border with Mexico on foot and taken to a stash house before being put into the tractor-trailer to be transported farther north.
        The spokesman said that holding migrants in the backs of trucks was a common form of human smuggling in the region, and that the agency had had a number of similar cases in recent months.
        In April, George L. Stewart of Wheeler, Mich., was sentenced to nearly six years in prison after being stopped in Freer, Tex., at a Border Patrol checkpoint. He was trying to smuggle 10 people into the United States in the back of a Penske rental truck.
        This month in Houston, about a dozen immigrants being smuggled in a cargo truck were rescued after being left in the locked vehicle for roughly 12 hours in a strip-mall parking lot. A police officer heard the immigrants, including a 16-year-old girl, banging on the walls.
        "Thirty more minutes, and this could have been a dozen homicide cases," Tom Berg, the first assistant district attorney in Harris County, told reporters about that case.
        All of those immigrants were undocumented, and many of them were from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, the authorities said. Three people were arrested on human trafficking charges.

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        5) Chuck Schumer: A Better Deal for American Workers
        By CHUCK SCHUMERJULY 24, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/opinion/chuck-schumer-employment-democrats.html?action=
        click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=
        opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

        Americans are clamoring for bold changes to our politics and our economy. They feel, rightfully, that both systems are rigged against them, and they made that clear in last year's election. American families deserve a better deal so that this country works for everyone again, not just the elites and special interests. Today, Democrats will start presenting that better deal to the American people.
        There used to be a basic bargain in this country that if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could own a home, afford a car, put your kids through college and take a modest vacation every year while putting enough away for a comfortable retirement. In the second half of the 20th century, millions of Americans achieved this solid middle-class lifestyle. I should know — I grew up in that America.
        But things have changed.
        Today's working Americans and the young are justified in having greater doubts about the future than any generation since the Depression. Americans believe they're getting a raw deal from both the economic and political systems in our country. And they are right. The wealthiest special interests can spend an unlimited, undisclosed amount of money to influence elections and protect their special deals in Washington. As a result, our system favors short-term gains for shareholders instead of long-term benefits for workers.
        And for far too long, government has gone along, tilting the economic playing field in favor of the wealthy and powerful while putting new burdens on the backs of hard-working Americans.
        Democrats have too often hesitated from taking on those misguided policies directly and unflinchingly — so much so that many Americans don't know what we stand for. Not after today. Democrats will show the country that we're the party on the side of working people — and that we stand for three simple things.
        First, we're going to increase people's pay. Second, we're going to reduce their everyday expenses. And third, we're going to provide workers with the tools they need for the 21st-century economy.
        Over the next several months, Democrats will lay out a series of policies that, if enacted, will make these three things a reality. We've already proposed creating jobs with a $1 trillion infrastructure plan; increasing workers' incomes by lifting the minimum wage to $15; and lowering household costs by providing paid family and sick leave.
        On Monday we are announcing three new policies to advance our goals.
        Right now, there is nothing to stop vulture capitalists from egregiously raising the price of lifesaving drugs without justification. We're going to fight for rules to stop prescription drug price gouging and demand that drug companies justify price increases to the public. And we're going to push for empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for older Americans.
        Right now our antitrust laws are designed to allow huge corporations to merge, padding the pockets of investors but sending costs skyrocketing for everything from cable bills and airline tickets to food and health care. We are going to fight to allow regulators to break up big companies if they're hurting consumers and to make it harder for companies to merge if it reduces competition.
        Right now millions of unemployed or underemployed people, particularly those without a college degree, could be brought back into the labor force or retrained to secure full-time, higher-paying work. We propose giving employers, particularly small businesses, a large tax credit to train workers for unfilled jobs. This will have particular resonance in smaller cities and rural areas, which have experienced an exodus of young people who aren't trained for the jobs in those areas.
        In the coming months, we'll offer additional ideas, from rebuilding rural America to fundamentally changing our trade laws to benefit workers, not multinational corporations.
        We are in the minority in both houses of Congress; we cannot promise anyone that this Congress will begin passing our priorities tomorrow. But we have to start raising our voices to present our vision for the country's future. We will seek the support of any Republicans willing to work with us, but more important, we must start rallying the American people to support our ideas.
        In the last two elections, Democrats, including in the Senate, failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there. We also failed to communicate our values to show that we were on the side of working people, not the special interests. We will not repeat the same mistake. This is the start of a new vision for the party, one strongly supported by House and Senate Democrats.
        Our better deal is not about expanding the government, or moving our party in one direction or another along the political spectrum. Nor is it about tearing down government agencies that work, that effectively protect consumers and promote the health and well-being of the country. It's about reorienting government to work on behalf of people and families.
        Americans from every corner of this country know that the economy isn't working for them the way that it should, and they wonder if it ever will again. One party says the answer is that special interests should continue to write the rules and that government ought to make things easier for an already-favored few.
        Democrats will offer a better deal.
        Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, is the Senate minority leader.


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        6) 'Make It So': 'Star Trek' and Its Debt to Revolutionary Socialism

        By A.M. GITTLITZJULY 24, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/opinion/make-it-so-star-trek-and-its-debt-to-revolutionary-socialism.html?action=
        click&pgtype=Homepage&version=Moth-Visible&moduleDetail=inside-nyt-region-1&module=inside-nyt-region&region=
        inside-nyt-region&WT.nav=inside-nyt-region

        H. G. Wells's foundational work of political science fiction, "The Time Machine," predicted a future in which a small utopia of sprightly elites is kept running by a subclass that lives below the ground and is reduced to bestial violence. This prediction, carried to a horrifically logical extent, represented the intense wealth disparity of the Victorian England in which Wells wrote the novel. Judging from the major political narratives of the fictions of our era, films like "The Hunger Games," "Elysium" and "Snowpiercer," the certainty of a future rendered increasingly barbarous by class division remains essentially the same.

        But this was not always the case. In 1920, Wells met Vladimir Lenin, a fellow world-building visionary who planned "the inauguration of an age of limitless experiment" to rebuild and industrialize his country from ruination by years of war, abolishing class society in the process. Wells was impressed by the pragmatic revolutionary and his planned "utopia of electricians."

        If Wells had been less skeptical of Communism and joined the party, he wouldn't have been the first sci-fi or futurist thinker to do so. Alexander Bogdanov, an early political rival of Lenin's, wrote "Red Star," a utopian novel about a Communist colony on Mars where everything was held in common and life spans were greatly extended through the use of parabiosis, the mutual sharing of blood. Along with Anatoly Lunacharsky and Maxim Gorky, Bogdanov proposed a program of "God Building," which would replace the rituals and myths of the Orthodox Church through creation of an atheistic religion.

        For his part, Gorky was a fan of the Cosmism of Nikolai Fyodorov and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a scientific and mystical philosophy proposing space exploration and human immortality. When Lenin died four years after meeting with Wells, the futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky's line "Lenin Lived, Lenin Lives, Lenin Will Live Forever!" became not only a state slogan, but also a scientific goal. These Biocosmist-Immortalists, as they were known, believed that socialist scientists, freed from the constraints of the capitalist profit motive, would discover how to abolish death and bring back their comrades. Lenin's corpse remains preserved for the occasion.

        Bogdanov died in the course of his blood-sharing experiments, and other futurist dreams were sidelined by the industrial and militarist priorities that led up to World War II. In the postwar period, however, scientists inspired by Cosmism launched Sputnik. The satellite's faint blinking in the night sky signaled an era of immense human potential to escape all limitations natural and political, with the equal probability of destroying everything in a matter of hours.

        Feeding on this tension, science fiction and futurism entered their "golden age" by the 1950s and '60s, both predicting the bright future that would replace the Cold War. Technological advances would automate society; the necessity of work would fade away. Industrial wealth would be distributed as a universal basic income, and an age of leisure and vitality would follow. Humans would continue to voyage into space, creating off-Earth colonies and perhaps making new, extraterrestrial friends in the process. In a rare 1966 collaboration across the Iron Curtain, the astronomer Carl Sagan co-wrote "Intelligent Life in the Universe" with Iosif Shklovosky. This work of astrobiological optimism proposed that humans attempt to contact their galactic neighbors.

        Interest in alien life was not just the domain of scientists and fiction writers. U.F.O. flaps worldwide captured pop cultural attention, and many believed that flying saucers were here to warn us, or even save us, from the danger of nuclear weapons. In the midst of the worldwide worker and student uprisings in 1968, the Argentine Trotsykist leader known as J. Posadas wrote an essay proposing solidarity between the working class and the alien visitors. He argued that their technological advancement indicated they would be socialists and could deliver us the technology to free Earth from the grip of Yankee imperialism and the bureaucratic workers' states.

        Such views were less fringe and more influential than you might think. Beginning in 1966, the plot of "Star Trek" closely followed Posadas's propositions. After a nuclear third world war (which Posadas also believed would lead to socialist revolution), Vulcan aliens visit Earth, welcoming them into a galactic federation and delivering replicator technology that would abolish scarcity. Humans soon unify as a species, formally abolishing money and all hierarchies of race, gender and class.

        "A lot has changed in the past 300 years," Captain Picard explains to a cryogenically unfrozen businessman from the 20th century in an episode of a later "Star Trek" franchise, "The Next Generation." "People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We've eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We've grown out of our infancy."
        For all its continued popularity, such optimism was unusual in the genre. The new wave of sci-fi in the late '60s, typified by J. G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick in the United States and by the Strugatsky brothers and Stanislaw Lem in the East, presented narratives that undercut this theme of humans' saving themselves through their own rationality.

        The grand proposals of the '60s futurists also faded away, as the Fordist period of postwar economic growth abruptly about-faced. Instead of automation and guaranteed income, workers got austerity and deregulation. The Marxist theorist Franco Berardi described this period as one in which an inherent optimism for the future, implied by socialism and progressivism, faded into the "no future" nihilism of neoliberalism and Thatcherite economics, which insisted that "there is no alternative."

        The fall of the Soviet Union cemented this "end of history," in Francis Fukuyama's phrase, and signaled a return to late-capitalist dystopian narratives of the future, like that of "The Time Machine." Two of the most popular sci-fi films of the '90s were "Terminator 2" and "The Matrix," which both showcased a world in which capital had triumphed and its machinery would not liberate mankind, but govern it. The recent success of "The Road," "The Handmaid's Tale" and "The Walking Dead" similarly predict violent futures where only small underground resistance movements struggle to keep the dying flame of humanity alight.

        Released the same year as "Star Trek: First Contact" — and grossing three times as much — "Independence Day" told a story directly opposed to Posadism, in which those who gather to greet the aliens and protest military engagement with them are the first to be incinerated by the extraterrestrials' directed-energy weapons. (In Wells's 1897 vision of alien invasion, "The War of the Worlds," the white flag-waving welcoming party of humans is similarly dispatched.)

        The grotesque work of 1970s white supremacist speculative fiction, "The Camp of the Saints" by Jean Raspail — recently referenced by the White House strategist Steve Bannon — has a similar story line. A fleet of refugee ships appears off the coast of France, asking for safe harbor, but it soon becomes apparent that the ship is a Trojan horse. Its admission triggers an invasion of Europe and the United States.

        The recent rise of right-wing populism indicates a widening crack in the neoliberal consensus of ideological centrism. From this breach, past visions of the future are once again pouring out. Peter Thiel, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg feel empowered to propose science fiction premises, like space colonization and post-scarcity economics, as solutions to actual social problems. Absent, however, are the mass social movements of the 20th century calling for the democratization of social wealth and politics. While rapid changes in the social order that are the dream of Silicon Valley's disruptors are acquiring an aura of inevitability, a world absent of intense poverty and bigoted hostility feels unimaginable.

        Shortly after World War II, Wells became so convinced of humanity's doom, without a world revolution, that he revised the last chapter of "A Short History of the World" to include the extinction of mankind. Today we are left with a similar fatalism, allowing the eliminiationist suggestions of the far right to argue, in effect, for a walling-off of the world along lines of class, nationality and race, even if this might condemn millions to death.

        If humanity in the 21st century is to be rescued from its tailspin descent into the abyss, we must recall the choice offered by the alien visitor from the 1951 sci-fi film classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still."

        "Join us and live in peace," Klaatu said, "or pursue your present course and face obliteration."

        I think of it as science fiction's useful paraphrasing of Rosa Luxemburg's revolutionary ultimatum: "socialism or barbarism."

        A. M. Gittlitz is a writer from Brooklyn who specializes in counterculture and radical politics.
        This is an essay in the series Red Century, about the history and legacy of Communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution.

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        7)  Scientists Report a Rare Case of H.I.V. Remission
         JULY 24, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/health/aids-virus-free.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=
        story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

        For the third time in recent years, a child born with H.I.V. has been found free of the virus for a long period after a high dose of treatment early in life.
        The discovery has raised anew the hope that early treatment, in some cases, may allow an infected person's immune system to defeat the virus. But proof has remained elusive, and there have been more disappointments than triumphs.
        The child — a 9-year-old South African girl — has been in remission for over eight years, according to research presented Monday at an International AIDS Society conference in Paris.
        The case "strengthens our hope that by treating HIV-infected children for a brief period beginning in infancy, we may be able to spare them the burden of lifelong therapy," Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a description of the case released by the institute, which sponsored a clinical trial in which the child was enrolled.
        More research was still needed, he added.
        The girl, born infected with H.I.V. in 2007, was put on antiretroviral treatment at nine weeks of age; then, as part of the trial, she was one of 143 children whose treatment was temporarily stopped at 40 weeks.
        While other children saw their viral loads rebound, the girl still has no detectable H.I.V. in her blood, researchers said. But a reservoir of virus was found in a few immune cells, although none of it was deemed capable of replicating, they said.
        Hope that early treatment could suppress H.I.V. indefinitely was first raised in 2013 in what became known as the "Mississippi baby" case, in which a young girl was apparently virus-free for two years after early aggressive treatment.
        The girl, born prematurely to an H.I.V.-infected mother in 2010, was put on antiretroviral triple-therapy shortly after birth and stayed on it for 18 months, until her mother abruptly stopped taking her to doctors.
        Months later, when the child was back in medical care, no virus could be found. Doctors speculated that it had been killed before it could establish a reservoir and made plans for a clinical trial by putting 450 babies on similar early treatment.
        In 2014, however, the child's viral load shot up, and treatment had to be restarted.
        Another case was described at an AIDS conference in Vancouver in 2015. A French girl born in 1996 was quickly treated for six weeks with a drug meant to stop the infection from taking hold.
        That failed, but she was then put a four-drug antiretroviral regimen for six years. At age 6, treatment was stopped, and researchers said she was still virus-free 11 years later.
        Doctors do not know if the three children had any unusual genetic factors.
        None had the rare mutation, known as delta 32, that produces immune system cells lacking the receptors to which H.I.V. attaches. People with the mutation can be repeatedly exposed to H.I.V. without getting infected.
        The only person apparently cured of H.I.V. is Timothy Ray Brown, the "Berlin patient."
        In 2007, after he developed leukemia in addition to his H.I.V., doctors destroyed Brown's immune system with radiation and chemotherapyand replaced it through a bone-marrow transplant from an elite controller. His H.I.V. infection has not returned.

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        8)  Anti-Chinese Posters at Melbourne Universities Are Tied to White Supremacists
         JULY 25, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/world/australia/anti-chinese-posters-melbourne-universities.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=rank&module=
        package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

        SYDNEY, Australia — Students at two Melbourne-area universities returned on Monday for the first day of a new semester to find racist, anti-Chinese posters plastered on building signs and walls.
        The posters, found at the University of Melbourne and Monash University, were in awkwardly worded Chinese, and read: "Attention! This is a place that prohibits Chinese people to enter. Any offense is subject to prosecution or possible deportation."
        The discovery of the posters comes as Australian schools have been absorbing an influx of students from mainland China and as the country is confronting concerns about Chinese interference in its political system and influence over its economy.
        The posters found at the two universities included logos from the National Union of Students, the Chinese Student and Scholars Association at the University of Melbourne, and the Monash Chinese Student Association.
        The posters were quickly removed, and organizations at both universities whose logos were used issued a joint statement confirming they did not produce the posters.
        "Our society has been maliciously slandered by these notices put up around the university campus and it has created a harmful and poisonous atmosphere for all students," the statement said.
        The Antipodean Resistance, a white supremacist group that identifies itself as pro-Nazi, claimed responsibility for the posters on Twitter. The group's website contains anti-Chinese slurs and Nazi imagery.
        Both universities said that they had contacted the police and were starting investigations using closed-circuit television footage to try to determine who put up the posters.
        "We are committed to maintaining and strengthening a vibrant, inclusive and respectful campus community in which diversity is recognized, valued and celebrated," the University of Melbourne said in a statement. Monash University confirmed on Facebook that 23 posters had been found on their Clayton campus and called "any instance of racism abhorrent."
        On Chinese social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo, news of the posters garnered significant attention. The Chinese state news media reported on the posters while highlighting a history of other anti-Chinese incidents in Australia.
        An article on Australian Red Scarf, a popular website among young Chinese people in Australia, called on the Australian government to get involved in the matter. The article was viewed more than 17,000 times.
        "We could have just laughed at these posters insulting China," it said. "But this has happened in the first week of the semester, and has brought shame on our student union — will you be able to put up with this?"
        Sophie Johnston, president of the National Union of Students, said the group had been in contact with student body presidents at universities across Australia to warn them in case similar episodes occurred.
        "Those kinds of comments don't have any place on university campuses," she said, adding that most Australian students did not share such sentiment toward Chinese students.
        It is not the first time the Antipodean Resistance has left racist material on campuses. In December, posters urging "Keep Australia White" were also found on buildings at the University of Melbourne.
        The latest posters alarmed Chinese students studying at the University of Melbourne.
        Melinda Mengying Li, 23, who arrived in Melbourne two weeks ago to begin a master's degree in art curatorship, said the posters fed into a pattern of discrimination that Chinese people face worldwide.
        "I felt enraged, thinking of how Chinese overseas communities have always been isolated, unjustly labeled and even attacked," she said. "I hoped on campus there could be an atmosphere of equality, mutual respect and mutual improvement."
        Other students dismissed the posters as little more than the work of isolated amateurs.
        Ruiqi Liu, the president of the University of Melbourne branch of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association, called the posters "laughable" and "childish."

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        9)  Economy Needs Workers, but Drug Tests Take a Toll
         JULY 24, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/business/economy/drug-test-labor-hiring.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=rank&module=
        package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

        YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Just a few miles from where President Trump will address his blue-collar base here Tuesday night, exactly the kind of middle-class factory jobs he has vowed to bring back from overseas are going begging.
        It's not that local workers lack the skills for these positions, many of which do not even require a high school diploma but pay $15 to $25 an hour and offer full benefits. Rather, the problem is that too many applicants — nearly half, in some cases — fail a drug test.
        The fallout is not limited to the workers or their immediate families. Each quarter, Columbiana Boiler, a local company, forgoes roughly $200,000 worth of orders for its galvanized containers and kettles because of the manpower shortage, it says, with foreign rivals picking up the slack.
        "Our main competitor in Germany can get things done more quickly because they have a better labor pool," said Michael J. Sherwin, chief executive of the 123-year-old manufacturer. "We are always looking for people and have standard ads at all times, but at least 25 percent fail the drug tests."
        The economic impact of drug use on the work force is being felt across the country, and perhaps nowhere more than in this region, which is struggling to overcome decades of deindustrialization.
        Indeed, the opioid epidemic and, to some extent, wider marijuana use are hitting businesses and the economy in ways that are beginning to be acknowledged by policy makers and other experts.
        A federal study estimated that prescription opioid abuse cost the economy $78.5 billion in 2013, but that does not capture the broader effect on businesses from factors like lost productivity, according to Curtis S. Florence, who led the research for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
        "That's definitely a conservative estimate," Mr. Florence said. "It's very hard to measure how it affects employers, but if we could, it would be in addition to what we see here."
        The effect is seen not just in the applicants eliminated based on drug screening, but in those deterred from even applying. In congressional testimony this month, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen, linked increased opioid abuse to declining participation in the labor force among prime-age workers.
        The Fed's regular Beige Book surveys of economic activity across the country in April, May and July all noted the inability of employers to find workers able to pass drug screenings.
        "It's not just a matter of labor participation; there is also a lot of collateral economic damage," said Alan B. Krueger, a Princeton economist who wrote a widely discussed paper on the subject last year.
        Were it not for the drug issue, said Mr. Krueger, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, workers trapped in low-wage jobs might be able to secure better-paying, skilled blue-collar positions and a toehold in the middle class.
        "This hasn't gotten as much attention as the participation issue, but we could potentially match perhaps 10 percent of the population in better jobs," he said. "That could have a positive, cascading effect on wages."
        Plants like Mr. Sherwin's can help provide that ladder. But workplace considerations — not social conservatism or imposition of traditional mores — make employee drug use an issue.
        "The lightest product we make is 1,500 pounds, and they go up to 250,000 pounds," Mr. Sherwin said as workers pulled a barrel-shaped steel container from a glowing forge amid a shower of sparks. "If something goes wrong, it won't hurt our workers. It'll kill them — and that's why we can't take any risks with drugs."
        Even as many states decriminalize recreational marijuana use, or allow access by prescription for medical use, "relaxing drug policies isn't an option for manufacturers in terms of insurance and liability," said Edmond C. O'Neal of Northeast Indiana Works, a nonprofit group that provides education and skills training.
        "We are talking to employers every day, and they tell us they are having more and more trouble finding people who can pass a drug test," he said. "I've heard kids say pot isn't a drug. It may not be, but pot will prevent you from getting a job."
        At Warren Fabricating & Machining in Hubbard, Ohio, where at least four out of 10 applicants test positive for drug use, Regina Mitchell, a co-owner, has a workaround. She set up an apprentice program, enlarging her hiring pool by de-emphasizing experience or existing skills.
        "It takes more time and money to train and evaluate someone, but I can have confidence the person is drug-free, comes to work on time and won't call in sick," Ms. Mitchell said.
        For smaller businesses like hers, the financial cost of the opioid epidemic in particular goes well beyond the inability to fill open positions.
        It has long been a point of pride for Ms. Mitchell that her company covers the cost of health insurance for its 150 workers and their families. But over the last three years, the company has paid for five dependents of employees to go through drug treatment, costing a quarter of a million dollars.
        Last year, when a member of an employee's family gave birth to a baby found to be addicted to opiates, the company paid $300,000 for three months of treatment in a neonatal intensive-care unit.
        "Imagine the money we could save or invest as a company if I were able to hire drug-free workers on the spot," Ms. Mitchell said. "But that's just not the environment we are in."
        Of the applicants who test positive at her company, Ms. Mitchell said, half fail because of marijuana use, with opiates and other harder drugs accounting for the remainder. Because tests for marijuana pick up the drug for up to a month after exposure, many local manufacturers are anxious about Ohio's plan to permit medical marijuana use in the near future.
        "I don't know if you smoked it this weekend or this morning," Ms. Mitchell said. "I can't take that chance."
        The biggest employers face similar challenges in their search for suitable hires, especially with the national unemployment rate now at 4.4 percent, down from 8.2 percent five years ago.
        "We're definitely seeing an increase in the percentage of failures," said Patrick Bass, chief executive of Thyssenkrupp North America. The company, whose regional headquarters are in Chicago, employs 15,000 people in the United States and makes elevators and construction equipment as well as specialized systems and materials for the automotive industry.
        With 120 positions open for more than three months, Mr. Bass said, "it puts a strain on the organization," including increased overtime costs and longer waits to fulfill orders from customers.
        To fill jobs, Mr. Bass said, his company is relying more on outside placement agencies that prescreen applicants. "We are literally recruiting for production line jobs, which we didn't have to do in the past," he said.
        Back in Youngstown, Chris Cruciger and his father, Bill, are taking a similar approach at their roofing firm, Roof Rite. But instead of reaching out to recruiters, they are working with a local nonprofit group, Flying High, which provides job training and drug treatment and sends candidates only if they have completed a screening process and four months of skills development.
        "We could take on twice as many projects if we had more suitable workers," Chris Cruciger said. "There are people who can barely read and write, but if they can do a good job as a roofer, they can earn $20 an hour or more and have a career."
        It's a slow process, Bill Cruciger said, but it beats having to interview dozens of otherwise promising applicants who clam up when a drug test is mentioned.
        "You hit that moment of silence, and they just put their head down," he said. "We leave the door open and tell them they are eligible to come back once they're clean. But we've yet to have anybody return."


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        9)  Ohio Carries Out Its First Execution Since 2014




        An Ohio prisoner convicted of raping and murdering a toddler in Akron in 1993 was put to death on Wednesday morning, the state’s first execution in more than three years.
        The execution of Ronald Phillips, who was 19 when he killed Sheila Marie Evans, his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, came amid a legal dispute about the constitutionality of Ohio’s execution method. After previous delays, a federal appeals court allowed the execution to proceed, and the United States Supreme Court declined to intervene.
        Mr. Phillips was pronounced dead at 10:43 a.m. at the state penitentiary near Lucasville, a prison spokeswoman said.
        Mr. Phillips and two other death row inmates facing executions had challenged Ohio’s three-drug execution method, arguing that the inclusion of midazolam, which is intended to render prisoners unconscious and insensate to pain, was cruel and unusual punishment.

        As supplies of execution drugs have grown more scarce, at least seven states have turned to midazolam, a powerful sedative that is widely available, but controversial when used in lethal injections.
        In Oklahoma, the drug was used in an execution that state officials said was botched because of an improperly placed intravenous line. Death row defendants have challenged midazolam’s use in Arkansas and Alabama, but have had limited success in the courts. Arkansas used the drug to carry out four executions in April, just before its midazolam supply expired.
        The drug’s use in Ohio has been particularly troubled. In January 2014, an Ohio inmate took an unusually long time to die, and some witnesses said the condemned man visibly struggled and gasped after the drug was administered.
        Ohio has altered its execution protocol since then, but lawyers for Mr. Phillips and the other condemned men have argued that the procedure remains dangerous. A federal magistrate judge and a panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati entered rulings this year delaying the executions, but were overruled by the full Sixth Circuit, which said the executions could proceed.
        Mr. Phillips, who was convicted of aggravated murder, felonious sexual penetration and rape, has had three other execution dates since the state announced its drug protocol in October.
        His lawyers have also argued that his age when he committed the crimes, 19, should preclude him from being executed. The lawyers, Timothy F. Sweeney and Lisa M. Lagos, said in a statement after the execution that Mr. Phillips was remorseful and that “we should thoughtfully reconsider our laws that permit the harshest punishment for those who committed their crimes as teenagers.”
        Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who set the execution date, previously denied Mr. Phillips’s bid for clemency.
        “Given the extremely brutal nature of the offense committed against an innocent 3-year-old child,” Mr. Kasich said in a statement last year, “I agree with the Ohio Parole Board’s recommendation that clemency is not warranted in this case.”
        Mr. Phillips, 43, arrived at the so-called death house at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility on Tuesday morning, about 24 hours before the scheduled execution.
        He was allowed to visit with clergy, family, friends and lawyers. For his final dinner, Mr. Phillips requested a large pizza with bell peppers and mushrooms, as well as strawberry cheesecake, Pepsi, grape juice and unleavened bread.


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        10)  Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals




        WASHINGTON — President Trump, searching for a reason to keep the United States in Afghanistan after 16 years of war, has latched on to a prospect that tantalized previous administrations: Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth, which his advisers and Afghan officials have told him could be profitably extracted by Western companies.
        Mr. Trump has discussed the country’s mineral deposits with President Ashraf Ghani, who promoted mining as an economic opportunity in one of their first conversations. Mr. Trump, who is deeply skeptical about sending more American troops to Afghanistan, has suggested that this could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in the country.
        To explore the possibilities, the White House is considering sending an envoy to Afghanistan to meet with mining officials. Last week, as the White House fell into an increasingly fractious debate over Afghanistan policy, three of Mr. Trump’s senior aides met with a chemical executive, Michael N. Silver, to discuss the potential for extracting rare-earth minerals. Mr. Silver’s firm, American Elements, specializes in these minerals, which are used in a range of high-tech products.
        Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire financier who is informally advising Mr. Trump on Afghanistan, is also looking into ways to exploit the country’s minerals, according to a person who has briefed him. Mr. Feinberg owns a large military contracting firm, DynCorp International, which could play a role in guarding mines — a major concern, given that some of Afghanistan’s richest deposits are in areas controlled by the Taliban.

        In 2010, American officials estimated that Afghanistan had untapped mineral deposits worth nearly $1 trillion, an estimate that was widely disputed at the time and has certainly fallen since, given the eroding price of commodities. But the $1 trillion figure is circulating again inside the White House, according to officials, who said it had caught the attention of Mr. Trump.
        The lure of Afghanistan as a war-torn Klondike is well established: In 2006, the George W. Bush administration conducted aerial surveys of the country to map its mineral resources. Under President Barack Obama, the Pentagon set up a task force to try to build a mining industry in Afghanistan — a challenge that was stymied by rampant corruption, as well as security problems and the lack of roads, bridges or railroads.
        None of these hurdles has been removed in the last eight years, according to former officials, and some have worsened. They warn that the Trump administration is fooling itself if it believes that extracting minerals is a panacea for Afghanistan’s myriad ills.
        “It would be dangerous to use the potential for resource exploitation as a selling point for military engagement,” said Laurel Miller, a senior analyst at RAND who served until last month as the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “The barriers to entry are really quite considerable, and that kind of argument could fuel suspicion about America’s real intentions in Afghanistan.”
        But for Mr. Trump, as a businessman, it is arguably the only appealing thing about Afghanistan. Officials said he viewed mining as a “win-win” that could boost that country’s economy, generate jobs for Americans and give the United States a valuable new beachhead in the market for rare-earth minerals, which has been all but monopolized by China.
        China already has a $3 billion contract to develop a copper mine about 25 miles southeast of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Officials said Mr. Trump was determined not to spend American lives and treasure in Afghanistan only to watch China lock up its rare-earth deposits, which are used to make products from wind turbines to computer chips.
        Mr. Silver, the chemical executive, may head an effort to maximize the rights for American companies to extract these minerals, according to a senior official.
        Mr. Trump’s interest also reflects how his military advisers have struggled to present him with other persuasive reasons to send troops to the country, where the United States has been at war since 2001.
        The White House’s review of Afghanistan policy — led by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster — was supposed to be finished by the middle of July. Instead, it bogged down after Mr. Trump expressed displeasure with a proposal from General McMaster for a modest troop increase and a multiyear commitment to the country.
        Policy meetings have become increasingly heated, officials said, as Mr. Trump and his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, have squared off against General McMaster. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson is also said to be unhappy with the current proposals.
        Vice President Mike Pence, not General McMaster, will lead a meeting Wednesday of National Security Council principals on Afghanistan. Some officials said that reflected General McMaster’s isolation; others said that the general welcomed Mr. Pence’s involvement and that the two were closely aligned on the policy.
        But Mr. Trump, it is clear, is not. In June, he grudgingly agreed to give Mr. Mattis the authority to send additional troops — a number believed to be about 4,000 — as a stopgap measure to stabilize security in Afghanistan. But Mr. Mattis has not yet used his authority, perhaps reflecting his recognition that the commander in chief is uncomfortable with it.
        When reporters last week asked Mr. Trump at a meeting at the Pentagon whether he planned to send more troops, he answered, “We’ll see,” and added, “ISIS is falling fast,” suggesting he viewed the counterterrorism threat in Afghanistan as declining.
        Worried that Mr. Trump will be locked into policies that did not work for the last two presidents, Mr. Bannon and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have brought in outside voices, including Mr. Feinberg and Erik D. Prince, a founder of the private security firm Blackwater International. Both have urged using more private contractors and giving the C.I.A. an oversight role in the conflict.
        In addition, Mr. Feinberg has reached out to people involved in the Obama administration’s effort to build Afghanistan’s mining industry. Some warned him that the prospects for a profitable business are worse now than in 2009, given the decline in commodities prices and the deteriorating security in areas where the deposits are believed to lie.
        Afghanistan’s deposits of copper and iron ore are trading at about a third of their 2010 prices. Most of the undiscovered deposits of rare-earth minerals are believed to be in Helmand Province, large parts of which are controlled by the Taliban.
        “There are undoubtedly minerals to be exploited in Afghanistan, which could help provide economic stability to the country in the future,” said Daniel F. Feldman, a former special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “But given all the obstacles, it could be many years before mining yields dividends for the Afghan people.”
        One advantage is that the Trump administration would have a willing partner in the Afghan government. During the Obama administration, President Ghani resisted the rapid development of the mining industry, largely because he worried about the threat of widespread corruption that would come with it.
        But as soon as Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Ghani reversed his position, contacting the Trump team and promoting Afghanistan’s mineral wealth. He realized that Mr. Trump would be intrigued by the commercial possibilities, officials said.
        Mr. Trump has said little publicly about Afghanistan since being elected. But his thinking about what the United States should reap for its military efforts was made clear in another context soon after his inauguration. Speaking to employees of the C.I.A., the president said the United States had erred in withdrawing troops from Iraq without holding on to its oil.
        “The old expression ‘To the victor belong the spoils,’” Mr. Trump declared. “You remember?”

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        11)  Let Black Kids Just Be Kids
        "It’s time to create language that values justice over innocence. The most important question we can ask about children may not be whether they are inherently innocent. Instead: Are they are hungry? Do they have adequate health care? Are they free from police brutality? Are they threatened by a poisoned and volatile environment? Are they growing up in a securely democratic nation?"




        George Zimmerman admitted at his 2012 bail hearing that he misjudged Trayvon Martin’s age when he killed him. “I thought he was a little bit younger than I am,” he said, meaning just under 28. But Trayvon was only 17.
        What may be most tragic about Mr. Zimmerman’s miscalculation is that it’s widespread. To many people, black boys seem older than they are: In one study, people overestimated their ages by 4.5 years. This contributes to a false perception that black boys are less childlike than white boys.
        Black girls are subject to similar beliefs, according to a recent study by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality. A group of 325 adults viewed black girls as needing less nurturing, support and protection than white girls, and as knowing more about sex and other adult topics.

        People of all races see black children as less innocent, more adultlike and more responsible for their actions than their white peers. In turn, normal childhood behavior, like disobedience, tantrums and back talk, is seen as a criminal threat when black kids do it. Social scientists have found that this misperception causes black children to be “pushed out, overpoliced and underprotected,” according to a report by the legal scholar Kimberlé W. Crenshaw.
        That’s why we must create a future in which children of color are not disproportionately caught up in the criminal justice system, a world in which a black 17-year-old can wear a hoodie without being assumed to be a criminal.
        Creating that social change, however, has proved difficult. And that’s partly because the concept of childhood innocence itself has a deep and disturbing racial history.
        By understanding this history, we can learn why anti-racist strategies have hit some surprising limits, and devise tactics to confront or even avoid those roadblocks in the future.
        The association between childhood and innocence did not always exist. Before the Enlightenment, children in the West were widely regarded as immodest beings who needed to be taught to restrain themselves. “The devil has been with them already,” the Puritan minister Cotton Mather wrote of babies in 1689. They “go astray as soon as they are born.”
        In some religious traditions, children, as much as adults, were understood to bear original sin. Benjamin Wadsworth, a powerful Colonial-era minister, described children in 1720 as “sharers in the guilt of Adam” who have a “naturally sinful and guilty state.”
        Enlightenment thinkers had different ideas: John Locke suggested that children were blank slates, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau portrayed them as connected to nature. The poet William Wordsworth imagined children as holy innocents who could lead adults to God. Rising forms of Christianity de-emphasized the idea of original sin.
        While earlier generations had viewed children as miniature adults, 19th-century sentimentalists increasingly identified innocence as the single most important quality that distinguished children from their elders. By the mid-19th century, the ideas of childhood and innocence had merged. From then on, innocence defined American childhood.
        But only white kids were allowed to be innocent. The more that popular writers, playwrights, actors and visual artists created images of innocent white children, the more they depicted children of color, especially black children, as unconstrained imps. Over time, this resulted in them being defined as nonchildren.
        “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” one of the most influential books of the 19th century, was pivotal to this process. When Harriet Beecher Stowe published her novel in 1852, she created the angelic white Eva, who contrasted with Topsy, the mischievous black girl.
        Stowe carefully showed, however, that Topsy was at heart an innocent child who misbehaved because she had been traumatized, “hardened,” by slavery’s violence. Topsy’s bad behavior implicated slavery, not her or black children in general.
        The novel’s success prompted theatrical troupes across the country to adapt “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” into what became one of the most popular stage shows of all time. But to attract the biggest audiences, these productions combined Stowe’s story with the era’s other hugely popular entertainment: minstrelsy.
        Topsys onstage, often played by white women in blackface, were adultlike, cartoonish characters who laughed as they were beaten, and who invited audiences to laugh, too. In these shows, Topsy’s innocence and vulnerability vanished. The violence that Stowe condemned became a source of delight for white theater audiences.
        This minstrel version of Topsy turned into the pickaninny, one of the most damaging racist images ever created. This dehumanized black juvenile character was comically impervious to pain and never needed protection or tenderness.
        The racist caricature of the pickaninny often appeared alongside cherubic white children. For example, advertisements run in the early 1900s by the Fairbank Company, which sold cleaning and cooking products, featured the “Gold Dust Twins,” who were seminude, ungendered, ink-black juveniles. The advertising copy read, “Let the Gold Dust Twins do your work.”
        Fairbank ran that ad alongside one for Fairy Soap, whose mascot was a serene white child dressed in fancy clothes. Fairy Soap, the advertisement declared, “soothes and softens the tenderest skin.” In these paired advertisements, which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies’ Home Journal and many other magazines, black nonchildren toil while white darlings receive tender caresses.
        These images weaponized childhood innocence, transforming it into a tool of racial domination.
        But black activists did not acquiesce to this power play. From the first moments when Topsy devolved into the pickaninny, African-Americans worked to counter the libel that their kids were not vulnerable and not really children.
        In 1855, Frederick Douglass made exactly this point in “My Bondage and My Freedom” when he asserted, “Slave children are children.”
        In the next century, key players in the civil rights movement made childhood innocence central to anti-racist causes. In 1939, the psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark introduced the “doll test,” in which black children, when confronted with their own preference for white dolls, burst into tears.
        The Clarks’ findings hit a nerve in part because they used symbols of innocence, dolls and sobbing children, to display the effects of racism. The Supreme Court leaned on these doll tests in its Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which outlawed segregation in public schools in 1954.
        The next year, Mamie Till juxtaposed the bloated, pulverized body of her murdered son Emmett with a photograph of him as a smiling schoolboy. The lynchers had defined Emmett as a sexual threat, but his mother made America see him as a kid.
        In these cases, black activists captured the political power of childhood innocence, which had previously supported white supremacy, and repurposed it for a civil rights agenda.
        But there’s a catch. As the poet and feminist theorist Audre Lorde wrote: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” This is exactly the case with anti-racist uses of childhood innocence.
        The Clarks, Mamie Till and others used childhood innocence to make important political gains, but their use of the “master’s tools” ultimately could not erase the racial connotations of childhood innocence itself. And so studies continue to show that black children are seen as less innocent and more adultlike than their white peers.
        As long as white children are constructed as innocent, we must continue to demand that children of color are as well. Because the idea of childhood innocence carries so much political force, we can’t allow it to be a whites-only club.
        The problem, however, is that every time we insist that the gates of innocence open to children of color, we limit ourselves by language, a “frame,” as the linguist George Lakoff would say, that is embedded in racism. When we argue that black and brown children are as innocent as white children, and we must, we assume that childhood innocence is purely positive. But the idea of childhood innocence itself is not innocent: It’s part of a 200-year-old history of white supremacy.
        It’s time to create language that values justice over innocence. The most important question we can ask about children may not be whether they are inherently innocent. Instead: Are they are hungry? Do they have adequate health care? Are they free from police brutality? Are they threatened by a poisoned and volatile environment? Are they growing up in a securely democratic nation?
        All children deserve equal protection under the law not because they’re innocent, but because they’re people. By understanding children’s rights as human rights, we can begin to undermine the political power of childhood innocence, a cultural formation that has proved, over and over, to be one of white supremacy’s most potent weapons.



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        12)  Trump Says Transgender People Will Not Be Allowed in the Military




        WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States will no longer “accept or allow” transgender people in the United States military, saying American forces “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory” and could not afford to accommodate them.
        Mr. Trump made the surprise declaration in a series of posts on Twitter, saying he had come to the decision after talking to generals and military experts, whom he did not name.
        “After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” Mr. Trump wrote.
        “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” he added.

        The sweeping policy decision was met with surprise at the Pentagon and outrage from advocacy groups. It reverses the gradual transformation of the military under President Barack Obama, whose administration announced last year that transgender people could serve openly in the military. Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, also opened all combat roles to women and appointed the first openly gay Army secretary.
        It was not clear what prompted Mr. Trump’s decision. The Pentagon referred questions about the policy change to the White House, where several officials did not immediately respond to questions about the reasoning and timing behind Mr. Trump’s decision.
        But the announcement came amid a debate on Capitol Hill over the Obama-era practice of requiring the Pentagon to pay for medical treatment related to gender transition. The dispute has unfolded as Congress considers a nearly $700 billion spending bill to fund the Pentagon. Representative Vicky Hartzler, Republican of Missouri, has proposed an amendment that would bar the Pentagon from spending money on transition surgery or related hormone therapy, and other Republicans have pressed for similar provisions.
        Ms. Hartzler’s version narrowly failed this month in the House, with some Republicans joining Democrats to reject it. But some members of the conservative Freedom Caucus have indicated they would not support the military spending measure without the language banning money for gender transition.
        The policy would affect only a small portion of the approximately 1.3 million active-duty members of the military. About 2,450 are transgender, according to a study last year by the RAND Corporation, though the estimated number of transgender service members has varied.
        The study found that allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military would “have minimal impact on readiness and health care costs” for the Pentagon. It estimated that health care costs would rise $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year, representing an infinitesimal 0.04- to 0.13 percent increase in spending for active-duty service members. Citing research into other countries that allow transgender people to serve, the study projected “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness” in the United States.
        Officials at the Pentagon were caught off guard. They had been studying, per the orders of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, how transgender troops in the military affect other service members, but not with a view toward removing transgender people from the military, several defense officials said.
        In June, the administration delayed a decision on whether to allow transgender recruits to join the military. At the time, Mr. Mattis said an extra six months would give military leaders a chance to review its potential impact. Mr. Mattis’s decision to delay accepting transgender recruits for six months had been seen as a pause to “finesse” the issue, one official said, not a prelude to an outright ban.
        What’s more, Mr. Mattis loathes wading into politically divisive social policy, the official said, noting that the defense secretary, who is on vacation this week, has taken pains to steer clear of Mr. Trump’s more partisan moves, and views the American military as a unifier of a divided country.
        Gay and transgender rights groups and research organizations that have worked to craft policies around the military service of transgender individuals expressed outrage at the move.
        “The president is creating a worse version of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” said Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, referring to the Clinton-era policy in which gay and lesbian people could not openly serve in the military.
        Mr. Belkin said that “discredited” policy had harmed readiness, and Mr. Trump’s new one would have similar effects.
        “This is a shocking and ignorant attack on our military and on transgender troops who have been serving honorably and effectively for the past year,” he added.
        Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, called the move “an outrageous and desperate action,” and asked transgender military service members to get in touch with the organization, saying it was “examining all our options on how to fight this.”
        “The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander in chief who rejects their basic humanity,” Mr. Block said.
        Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision will likely end up in court; a nonprofit group that represents gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the military immediately vowed to sue.
        “We are committed to transgender service member,” the group, OutServe-SLDN, said in a statement. “We are going to fight for them as hard as they are fighting for the country. And we’re going to start by taking the fight to Donald Trump in the federal court.”
        Matthew F. Thorn, executive director of OutServe, said Mr. Trump’s decision was a slap in the face of transgender service members.
        “We have transgender individuals who serve in elite SEAL teams, who are working in a time of war to defend our country, and now you’re going to kick them out?” Mr. Thorn said in an interview.
        Mr. Carter issued a statement objecting to the decision, both for its effect on the military and on those considering joining.
        “To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications is social policy and has no place in our military,” Mr. Carter said. “There are already transgender individuals who are serving capably and honorably. This action would also send the wrong signal to a younger generation thinking about military service.”
        And Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, condemned Mr. Trump’s sudden announcement, saying it muddied policy and that anyone who is fit to serve should be allowed to do so.
        “The president’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter,” said Mr. McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
        Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, noted that Mr. Trump made his decision public on the anniversary of Harry Truman’s order desegregating the United States military. “President Trump is choosing to retreat in the march toward equality,” Mr. Reed said in a statement.
        “This was a divisive political move that exposes the president’s lack of faith in the professionalism of our armed forces,” Mr. Reed said, calling on Mr. Trump to review the facts and reverse his decision. “In the land of the free and the home of the brave, every American who is brave enough to serve their country should be free to do so.”

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        13) In Chicago and Beyond, Bail Reformers Win Big in Fight to End Money Bail
        Tuesday, July 25, 2017 By Sharlyn Grace, Truthout | Op-Edhttp://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/41381-in-chicago-and-beyond-bail-reformers-win-big-in-fight-to-end-money-bail
        As of July 17, 2017, Cook County, which includes Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, is poised to become the largest jurisdiction in the country to stop incarcerating people pretrial, solely because they cannot post money bail. Thanks in large part to a sustained push by activists over the past several years, the Cook County Circuit Court's Chief Judge has announced a new order that instructs judges making bail decisions to impose monetary bail only in amounts that people can pay. If judges follow the order, it could lead to the end of money bail in Cook County, setting a historic precedent on an issue that impacts hundreds of thousands of people around the country.
        Right now, more than 4,000 people are incarcerated in Chicago's Cook County Jail because they cannot post monetary bail. They have been granted release by a judge, but remain in cages because they cannot pay a certain amount of money to secure their freedom. This is the pretrial justice system wrought by money bail, and it is mirrored across the country: 443,000 people are incarcerated before trial in the US, 90 percent of them because they cannot afford to post a monetary bail. In fact, there are more people in US jails pretrial than there are total incarcerated people in most other countries.
        Like the number of people in prisons, the number of people in local jails has more than tripled since the 1980s. In the last 15 years, 99 percent of that jail population growth has come from locking up people who are awaiting trial.
        In theory, monetary bail is supposed to be used as an incentive to encourage people to return to court. If people show up to their court dates in Cook County, they will, in most cases, eventually get back almost all of the money that they paid for bail. Despite the idea that people are more likely to appear in court if they have money on the line, no study has ever found monetary bail to be more effective than other forms of bail. In fact, charitable bail funds in others places have shown that their clients come back to court at higher rates than people who posted their own bonds. Moreover, the idea that the likelihood a person will show up in court should be valued over their freedom should be challenged on its face. There are many reasons people do not show up for court, including lack of transportation or childcare, inability to take off work, fear, or instability resulting from other unmet needs like access to mental health care. Court systems seeking to increase court appearance rates should do so by addressing these needs rather than caging and punishing people pretrial.
        We must also consider who is being denied their freedom. Not everyone is impacted equally by pretrial incarceration: Black, Latino and Native American people are detained at higher rates than people of other ethnicities, and Black people are hit the hardest. Nationally, they are incarcerated pretrial at five times the rate of white people and three times the rate of Latino people. Black women and women of color are much more likely to be incarcerated than white women, making up two-thirds of all women in local jails. For example, in 2011, 81 percent of the women who entered Cook County Jail were women of color, and 68 percent were Black women. Today, roughly 73 percent of all people in Cook County Jail are Black, though Cook County is only 25 percent Black.
        Money bail exacerbates racial disparities at each step of the pretrial justice system. First, Black people accused of crimes are the least likely to be released without having to post any amount of money at all. If given a money bail, Black people received "significantly higher bail amounts than all other ethnic and racial groups." Finally, Black and Latino defendants are less likely to be able to post a money bail if required to. Thus, our system's reliance on money bail guarantees that white supremacy and unconstitutional disparate treatment remain central parts of our criminal legal system.
        It is in this context that bail reform has become a national demand of the Movement for Black Lives and various other advocates for racial justice and opponents of mass incarceration. In December 2015, a group of more than 30 Chicago organizations, many falling under the Black Lives Matter umbrella, declared "Ending Money Bail" one of their shared policy-change goals for 2016. At the time, the newly formed Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) -- the only entity in Illinois dedicated solely to the issues of monetary bail and pretrial incarceration -- had just posted bond for our first person as an organization. CCBF began to bail people out of Cook County Jailshare their stories and advocate for the end of money bond in its entirety.
        Subsequently, a coalition of community-based groups and policy organizations in Chicago began organizing around the goal of ending monetary bond. Together, they formed the Coalition to End Money Bond. In the last year, the Coalition has testified at a Cook County Board hearing on money bail, drafted Principles for Bail Reform in Cook County that have been endorsed by more than 30 organizations, and introduced the most progressive and comprehensive bail reform bill during the 2017 legislative session. 
        At the same time, in a number of other states, civil rights attorneys were using litigation to address money bond's role in rampant pretrial incarceration. Alec Karakatsanis of Civil Rights Corps was bringing dozens of lawsuits around the country challenging pretrial incarceration practices, including the use of money bail. The Obama Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division even filed a Statement of Interest in one of their cases, stating that it was unconstitutional to "Incarcerat[e] individuals solely because of their inability to pay for their release." Last month in Houston, Texas, Civil Rights Corps' lawsuit resulted in the release of more than 600 people accused of misdemeanors who were jailed solely because they couldn't afford bail.
        In October 2016, local law firms partnered with Civil Rights Corps to challenge Cook County's massive pretrial detention scheme, which effectively uses unpayable money bonds as a way to skirt both the limitations on pretrial incarceration in the Illinois constitution and the due process requirements of the US Constitution. The lawsuit also alleges that incarcerating people solely because they cannot pay bail is unconstitutional because of its disproportionate impact on African Americans accused of crimes. The Coalition to End Money Bond rallied around the lawsuit as a way to force policy change and is currently organizing a public presence at court dates.
        On July 10, 2017, two days before the court was to hear both sides' arguments about whether this lawsuit should be dismissed, lawyers representing Cook County asked the judge to delay the hearing in anticipation of a new Circuit Court Order that would change the procedures for setting bail in Cook County. A week later, Chief Judge Timothy Evans unveiled General Order 18.8A, a new rule that should drastically reduce the population of Cook County Jail by preventing pretrial incarceration based only on inability to afford bond.
        In essence, the order instructs judges making bail decisions to first determine whether someone is "bailable," meaning eligible for pretrial release. Luckily, under the Illinois Constitution, almost everyone is entitled to release before their trial. Then, judges must set the conditions of release, including whether to impose electronic monitoring (in effect, a form of house arrest in Cook County), curfews, pretrial services reporting or other special requirements beyond showing up for court dates. If a judge wants to require payment of money before release, they must first hold a hearing in which the accused person's ability to pay is explored on the record in open court. The judge is then required to make a finding that the person before them "has the present ability to pay" any monetary amount required for their release. Under a newly enacted state law, any conditions imposed must be the least restrictive possible to meet the court's objectives.
        The thrust of the court's order is that Cook County can no longer use unpayable money bail as a tool to incarcerate people pretrial. Though Cook County is the largest municipal jurisdiction yet to announce such a rule change, it is not unprecedented in the US. Limiting money bail to amounts that people can pay has been the law in Washington, DC, for decades, and recently became the policy in MarylandNew Mexico and Arizona through court rule changes. Likewise, it is a key part of New Jersey's complete overhaul of its bail system, which has resulted in a 36 percent decrease in jail population this year compared to 2015. In fact, between January 1 and May 31, 2017, judges in New Jersey imposed monetary bail only nine times.
        Moreover, though Cook County's specific process for determining that any money bails imposed must be affordable is new, the authority that it relies on has been the law in Illinois for decades. If followed, the new procedures will also increase protections for people accused of crimes by forcing judges to slow down and make more individualized decisions.
        The Chief Judge's order takes effect September 18, 2017, for people charged with felonies (more than 90 percent of people currently in Cook County Jail) and January 1, 2018, for people charged with misdemeanors. Under the new process, everyone who is currently in Cook County Jail because they cannot pay a money bail should have their bail decisions reevaluated. They should have three new options under General Order 18.8A: 1) Release without having to pay money at all; 2) Imposition of a new money bail set in a lower amount that they can pay and be released; and 3) Be given a full detention hearing with all the due process protections and immediate appeal rights that accompany an honest, transparent decision to incarcerate someone pretrial.
        If implemented well and followed by judges, the rule could dramatically decrease the number of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail, eventually forcing release of a majority of prisoners. Currently, 62 percent of people in Cook County Jail pretrial are there only because they cannot post a money bail. Advocates, however, are concerned about enforcement and adherence by judges. In order to monitor the Order's effect, the Coalition to End Money Bond is undertaking a community court-watching initiative that will gather data through volunteers and release reports as bond court outcomes change.
        Even if money bond is completely eliminated for those who cannot afford it, it will not end pretrial incarceration: More than 30 percent of people incarcerated pretrial in Cook County Jail right now are being held without bail. Going forward, vigilant oversight will be needed to ensure people who were previously incarcerated via money bail are not simply held without bail instead. Money bail became a target of Chicago Community Bond Fund and other activists because it is the primary cause of pretrial incarceration; for reform to eliminate money bail and keep the same astronomical rates of incarceration would be disastrous.
        A final concern relates to the conditions that will be imposed on people released pretrial. As fewer people are incarcerated while awaiting trial, there is a possibility that more pretrial supervision measures will be implemented, including onerous conditions of surveillance and control, such as house arrest, electronic monitoring, drug testing and pretrial curfews. We anticipate an increase in the use of these harmful conditions, which may lead to increased jail admissions based on alleged "violations." As public defenders in New York have pointed out, the use of mandatory programming and other conditions of pretrial release can mimic or even exceed the sentences that people would receive after trial, such as probation, and may constitute unconstitutional deprivations of liberty.
        While the fanfare over bail reform in Cook County is still fresh, the Coalition to End Money Bond is gearing up to train dozens of community court-watchers this week in preparation for monitoring implementation of General Order 18.8A and other new policies. The litigation team is reworking their briefs to argue that their case should continue -- after all, the next Chief Judge could revoke and replace General Order 18.8A with a different procedure regarding bail hearings. Securing lasting change and impacting the 101 other counties in Illinois still requires either state legislation or an Illinois Supreme Court Rule limiting the use of monetary bail and pretrial incarceration.
        The fight against money bail continues here and across the country. As new jurisdictions reject monetary bond in favor of more compassionate (and constitutional) treatment of people accused of crimes, reformers and policymakers alike are looking for successful models. For example, in New Jersey, successful bail reform required amendment of the state constitution and two years of planning for implementation. If Cook County can provide a model for a swift and effective reform through court rule changes, it will be a model for large urban jurisdictions around the country that want to act more quickly than their state legislatures.
        Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

        SHARLYN GRACE

        Sharlyn Grace is a co-founder of the Chicago Community Bond Fund. She is also the senior criminal justice policy analyst at Chicago Appleseed, where she works on bail reform, the right to counsel and decarceration.

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        14)  Chelsea Manning: President Trump, Trans People in the Military Are Here to Stay


        With three tweets, the leader of the largest employer in the country just tried to lay off all trans people in the military. Many service members who were just told “we want you” are suddenly being told “go away.” The sudden reversal by the administration, from allowing trans people to serve openly in the military to outright banning us, is a devastating blow to our livelihoods, our basic humanity, our survival. It is also a devastating blow to the entire credibility of the United States military for years to come.
        This is all painfully familiar. Once upon a time, I was denied the ability to even exist as who I am. I had to hide. I had to be in the closet. I had to lie to people I stood next to. I had to virtually eradicate my own existence from myself. I served as a gay person under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and also as a trans person under the ban on open transgender service. I came out as trans only during my years working as an analyst in the Army.

        So, here we are again. After years of advocacy, research, experts’ weighing-in, lives lost, we made progress. And now, again, we are hurtling backward. We are risking our credibility, our legitimacy as a nation and, again, risking the lives of so many people who are listening and watching, and who are already serving.
        There is a lot of hurt. There is a lot of fear. Trans people even outside the military are terrified about what this means for the rest of us. Terrible discriminatory laws targeting trans people are proposedall across the country, and now the commander in chief of the armed forces is propagating lies about us, dehumanizing us and taking away our health care and employment.
        What does this mean? Well, for now we don’t exactly know, since it is clear that the president’s tweets were not exactly well thought out. But it could mean that trans people will have to pack up and go home for pretty much no reason other than “you can’t stay here.” For no other reason than, we feel like using you as political pawns today, or we don’t understand you, or you simply are not welcome here.
        Money is the excuse today. It was supposed to be expensive to provide trans people with adequate health care. The reality is that the costs are negligible. Military spending wastes billions of dollars on projects that are canceled or don’t work, every day.
        Medicine was the old excuse. The old military regulations were laced with medical terms to justify discrimination. They psychopathologized us trans people as having “manifestations” of “paraphilias,” and “psychosexual conditions, transsexual, gender identity disorder to include major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia such as change of sex or a current attempt to change sex,” that would “render an individual administratively unfit” to serve.
        These old regulations could come back. The rhetoric about trans people having “mental disorders” could come back, too. It’s the same thing we see in state houses across the country. Trans people are “mentally ill.” We are “predators.” We are the ethereal enemy of the moment. Even though there is a medical consensus, a legal consensus, a military consensus that none of this is true.
        This is about bias and prejudice. This is about systemic discrimination. Like the integration of people of color and women in the past, this was a sign of progress that threatens the social order, and the president is reacting against that progress.
        But we will move forward. We will make sure that all trans people in the military, and all people outside the military after serving, receive the medical care they need. We will not back down. Our progress will continue. Our organizing and activism will grow stronger.
        We are neither disruptive nor expensive. We are human beings, and we will not be erased or ignored.

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