Tuesday, October 01, 2013



Two campaigns that need funds – Please donate!

Cartoon by Anthonty Mata for CCSF Guardsman

We are working to ensure that the ACCJC’s authority is not renewed by the Department of Education this December when they are up for their 5-year renewal. Our campaign made it possible for over 50 Third Party Comments to be sent to the DOE re: the ACCJC. Our next step in this campaign is to send a delegation from CCSF to Washington, D.C. to give oral comments at the hearing on December 12th. We expect to have an array of forces aligned on the other side who have much more money and resources than we do.
So please support this effort to get ACCJC authority revoked!

Save CCSF members have been meeting with Attorney Dan Siegel since last May to explore legal avenues to fight the ACCJC. After much consideration, and consultation with AFT 2121’s attorney as well as the SF City Attorney’s office, Dan has come up with a legal strategy that is complimentary to what is already being pursued. In fact, AFT 2121’s attorney is encouraging us to go forward.
The total costs of pursuing this (depositions, etc.) will be substantially more than $15,000. However, Dan is willing to do it for a fixed fee of $15,000. He will not expect a retainer, i.e. payment in advance, but we should start payments ASAP. If we win the ACCJC will have to pay our costs.

Checks can be made out to Save CCSF Coalition with “legal” in the memo line and sent to:
Save CCSF Coalition
2132 Prince St.
Berkeley, CA 94705
Or you may donate online:  http://www.gofundme.com/4841ns




Petition the Obama Administration to:

Restore the United States’ human rights record and grant clemency to Pvt. Bradley Manning!

Created: Aug 20, 2013

Pvt Manning needs you to write a letter in support of clemency bid

PVT Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning’s 35-year sentence is an outrage to the idea of American justice, and creates serious concerns for democracy advocates around the world. It's been condemned by public figures as wide ranging as Cornel West, Ron Paul, and American Civil Liberties Union 'Speech, Privacy, and Technology' Project Director Ben Wizner, who stated,
[A] legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability.
However, there's something you can do right now. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Convening Authorities are granted the power to reduce or eliminate a convicted soldier’s sentence. They use this power when they feel the court martial failed to deliver justice. As Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan is the only other individual besides President Obama with the power to lessen WikiLeaks whistleblower PVT Manning’s sentence in the immediate future.
We are now requesting letters from professors, law experts, human rights advocates, politicians, artists, veterans, and concerned citizens urging Maj. Gen. Buchanan to reduce PVT Manning’s sentence. These letters will be submitted as part of an application for clemency from PVT Manning’s legal defense. We are collecting these letters at nathan@bradleymanning.org
So what are you waiting for? Write a letter yourself, then encourage any professors, lawyers or community leaders you know to do the same.
There are a few important guidelines to keep in mind as you compose your letter:
  • Your letter should be approximately 1 page long.
  • It should be composed on personalized letterhead -you can create this yourself (here are templates and some tips for doing that).
  • Pvt Manning’s recently announced that her preferred name is Chelsea, and that folks should use female pronouns. However, she also understands that for efforts such as these, it is most effective for supporters to use her legal name and military rank, “Pvt. Bradley E. Manning”, along with male pronouns.
  • The letter should focus on your support for PVT Manning, and especially why you believe justice will be served if PVT Manning’s sentence is reduced. The letter should NOT be anti-military and/or anti-Buchanan, as this will be unlikely to help.
  • A suggested message: “Pvt. Manning has been punished enough for violating military regulations in the course of being true to his conscience. I urge you to use your authority as Convening Authority to reduce Pvt. Manning's sentence to time served.” Beyond that general message, feel free to personalize the details as to why you believe PVT Manning deserves clemency.
  • Please print and sign the letter, then scan it and send it to nathan@bradleymanning.org by November 1, 2013, and sooner if possible. If you cannot scan the letter, please mail it to Pvt Manning Support Network, c/o Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610. We will review these letters prior to forwarding them to PVT Manning’s legal defense, and may request that you make changes if necessary.
  • Convening Authorities have reduced the sentences of soldiers who broke military law for conscientious reasons in the past. We think PVT Manning deserves clemency as much as anyone -thank you for helping us show the Convening Authority that the public agrees!
  • Here is an example letter written by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Project Director. Note these letters will be submitted by Pvt. Manning's attorney as part of the formal clemency packet.

  • Help us continue to cover 100%
    of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today:



484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610
For more info about Bradley Manning:http://bradleymanning.org

Write to Pvt. Manning:

PVT Bradley E Manning
1300 N Warehouse Rd
Ft Leavenworth KS 66027-2304



Speak Out for Lynne Stewart on her Birthday, October 8, 5:00 P.M., Montgomery and Market Streets outside Senator Feinstein's Office

Share the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/526274347460012/

Carlos Villarreal
Executive Director

A Cri de Coeur from Lynne Stewart:
From Deep in the Belly of the Beast ... that is, Texas.
Now another month has passed and I am getting increasingly irritable that these jokers are so cavalier with my life and what time I have left. (I also am getting weaker.)
My application for compassionate release is moving but glacially (Are there any glaciers left? Only in the bureaucracy...). We learned that the request has left the General Counsel's office of the Bureau of Prisons in Washington and is now being considered by an "Independent Committee" (whatever that means).  From there it will ostensibly go to the Director, Mr. Samuels, for the final recommendation and request for a motion to the Judge. 
As you can appreciate there is still plenty of room for slips between cup and lip.  I truly understand that I, with the strong and consistent support of all 30,000+ of you, do constitute a "threat" in their small universe.  That is to say that, the will of the People cannot be ignored forever. With that in mind, I want to urge everyone to come on out on
If you can do this please notify Ralph of your location by sending an email to my web site or to this site. We hope this will be nationwide and we can spread the word of the senseless cruelty in the way the Bureau of Prisons administers a program that is supposed to be compassionate. I may be the "poster child" but this is done on behalf of all the prisoners who are languishing, in pain or worse, trying to go home.
Be out there on October 8.  It is already an historic day.  Let's make it More So!!! Let's Win.
Lynne Stewart
Please sign the NEW petition for Lynne Stewart . Your signature will send a letter to Bureau of Prisons Director Samuels and to Attorney General Holder requesting that they expedite Lynne Stewart’s current application for compassionate release. The NEW petition is at https://www.change.org/petitions/new-petition-to-free-lynne-stewart-support-compassionate-release

Free Lynne Stewart: Support Compassionate Release

Free Lynne Stewart: Support Compassionate Release

By Ralph Poynter, Brooklyn, NY  
Renowned defense attorney Lynne Stewart, unjustly charged and convicted for the “crime” of providing her client with a fearless defense, is dying of cancer while imprisoned in the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, Texas.

Your action now can lead to her freedom so that she may live out her remaining days with the comfort and joy of her family and those closest to her, including her devoted husband Ralph Poynter, many children, grandchildren, a great grandchild and lifelong friends.

The conservative medical prognosis by the oncologist contracted by the prison is that Lynne Stewart has but 16-months to live. Breast cancer, in remission prior to her imprisonment, reached Stage Four more than a year ago, emerging in her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs.

Despite repeated courses of chemotherapy, cancer advances in her lungs, resistant to treatment. Compounding her dire condition, Lynne Stewart’s white blood cell count dropped so low that she has been isolated in a prison hospital room since April 2013 to reduce risk of generalized infection.

Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, upon a prisoner’s request, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the Court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons,” life threatening illness foremost among these.

Lynne Stewart’s recent re-application for compassionate release meets all the criteria specified in guidelines issued by the Bureau of Prisons in August 2013.

These “new guidelines” followed a searing report and testimony before Congress by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz. His findings corroborated a definitive report by Human Rights Watch. Inspector General Horowitz excoriated the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the restrictive crippling of the compassionate release program. In a 20-year period, the Bureau had released a scant 492 persons – an average of 24 a year out of a population that exceeds 220,000.

Over 30,000 people of conscience from all walks of life in the United States and internationally took action to free Lynne Stewart following her first application for compassionate release in April of this year.

Among those who raised their voices are former Attorney General Ramsey Clark – who was co-counsel in the case that led to Lynne Stewart’s imprisonment, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President of the United Nations General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Ed Asner, Daniel Berrigan, Liz McAllister Berrigan, Richard Falk, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Cornell West, Dick Gregory, Alice Walker and Bianca Jagger.

They along with thousands of individuals and organizations, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild and Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, directed letters, phone calls and public declarations to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. and to Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Dick Gregory has refused all solid food since April 4 and his remarkable moral witness will not end until Lynne Stewart is released.

We call upon all to amplify this outpouring of support. We ask all within our reach to convey to Bureau of Prisons Director Samuels his obligation to approve Lynne Stewart’s application and instruct the federal attorney to file the requisite motion for Lynne Stewart’s compassionate release.

Please sign this new petition and reach out to others to sign. The letter below will be sent on your behalf via email to Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and to Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. Telephone calls also can be made to the Bureau of Prisons:
(202) 307-3250/3262.

Write to Lynne Stewart at:
Lynne Stewart #53504-054Unit 2N
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX  76127

or via:

What you can do:
Demand Compassionate Release for Lynne Now!

Write and call:

President Obama
The White House
Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1111

Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
(202) 353-1555

Charles E. Samuels, Jr.
Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534
(202) 307-3250/3262

Write to Lynne Stewart:
Lynne Stewart #53504-054
Unit 2N, Federal Medical Center, Carswell
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX  76127

Write to Lynne Stewart Defense Committee at:
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
1070 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York 11216
For further information: 718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759


New PA State and Federal Legal Challenges Filed to Overturn the Conviction of Lorenzo Johnson—An Innocent Man!


Lorenzo “Cat” Johnson filed new legal challenges to his frame-up conviction in both the Pennsylvania state and federal courts. A new Post-Conviction Relief petition, filed August 5, 2013 and a Second Federal Habeas Corpus petition filed September 9, 2013 rips to shreds the falsified and coerced witness testimony that resulted in his 1997 conviction for a murder he did not commit. Lorenzo Johnson is serving a sentence of life without parole. In a recent statement to his supporters Johnson announced: “I’m proud to say today my Legal Team filed an “Actual Innocence” appeal on my behalf. In this appeal is all the Evidence/Witnesses that was withheld from my Legal Team and me for eighteen years that out-right clears me!”

The legal filings unambiguously assert, “Lorenzo Johnson now demonstrates not only that he is factually innocent of the murder of Tarajay Williams, but that he was prevented from proving this at trial because the trial prosecutor withheld material exculpatory evidence … This exculpatory information, when viewed in combination with the newly discovered evidence offered herein, and with the prior suppressed evidence, proves that Petitioner was not simply ‘not guilty.’ This evidence proves he is innocent of the crimes with which he was charged, and that the Commonwealth had reason to know he was innocent but prosecuted him for murder nonetheless. His conviction also resulted from constitutionally ineffective counsel at trial and during his initial PCRA proceedings.”

These legal challenges follow the outrageous action of the U.S. Supreme Court last year reversing a previous successful federal challenge to his conviction. Johnson unceasing fought his conviction on the grounds of his innocence. After sixteen and a half years of court battles, in October 2011 the Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Johnson’s conviction on grounds of insufficiency of evidence--in effect, a judicial acquittal. In January 2012 he left prison freed on bond granted by the federal district court judge after a hearing in which family, friends and four corrections officers testified to his good character. But the state would not stop its vendetta and appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Without allowing the standard legal briefing or oral argument, the Supreme Court issued a per curiam decision, in May 2012 and reversed the Third Circuit Appeals court that had overturned Johnson’s conviction. His conviction and life sentence were reinstated. Johnson voluntarily turned himself in and over the past year has been serving his life sentence at SCI Mahanoy, in Frackville, PA, while continuing his legal fight.

The new evidence submitted in state and federal court comes from affidavits from both lay witnesses and from a Harrisburg police detective assigned to investigate Tarajay Williams’ shooting. They make clear that the Commonwealth withheld from Mr. Johnson exculpatory evidence that would have demonstrated his innocence, corroborating his alibi (that he was out of the state when the shooting took place) and would have shattered the credibility of Carla Brown, the primary witness against him.

The linchpin to the prosecution’s case was always Carla Brown, a confirmed crack addict – who acknowledged she was very high on cocaine the night of this shooting. At trial, Brown gave testimony riddled with inconsistencies. Brown was the only person to testify that Lorenzo Johnson was at the bar before the shooting, while two witnesses from the bar who knew him said they had not seen him at the bar that night. Brown was the only person who claimed to have seen Mr. Johnson near the alley where the shooting took place.

The new evidence includes Brown’s admission, screamed out while telling counsel never to come looking for her again, that she was not in the Midnight Special bar the night of the shooting. The statement from the detective establishes that Brown was aggressively questioned by the Harrisburg police who “had to work on her over the course of a few months to get her to tell the truth.”

The witness the prosecution used to establish a motive for the shooting, Victoria Doubs, had been given a plea deal by the prosecution, but that deal was kept from Johnson during the trial. Two friends of the victim have provided affidavits confirming that the prosecution’s evidence against Lorenzo Johnson was false in all regards: (1) the motive for the shooting was a fabrication—the events never happened; (2) Brown was lying when she testified that Johnson was in the bar that night or in the bar doorway or alley at the time of the shooting.

Three people confirm that Johnson was not in Harrisburg, but on a trip to NYC on the night the shooting occurred.
Additionally, two witnesses point to the identities of the two men who participated in the shooting and affirm that Lorenzo Johnson was not one of them. Carla Brown is identified in new witness affidavits as being outside the bar with those men and the victim.  As the new affidavits show, numerous witnesses were threatened by police into remaining silent or falsifying their trial testimony. Some were threatened with being charged themselves with the shooting death of Tarajay Williams.

As Mumia Abu-Jamal said in his September 8, 2013 commentary, “CAT Back (In Court)”:

“In fact, Cat’s entire case is predicated on police intimidation and prosecutorial deals of witnesses –those who could’ve proved not only that he was innocent – but innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt.
That’s because on the night Tarajay Williams was killed, Cat wasn’t in Harrisburg.  He wasn’t even in Pennsylvania.

But cops and prosecutors have the tools of intimidation in their hands – prison. And using such tools, they can twist witnesses like pretzels. They can, literally, make them say anything. And they did.

But now, the case is fast unraveling, like wet toilet paper.

Cat is back in court –stronger than ever.”

To help Lorenzo “Cat” Johnson win this fight for his freedom please read more about his case and help by protesting his frame-up conviction and demand his release.  www.FreeLorenzoJohnson.org. Sign the Johnson’s petition to the prosecution, PA Attorney General. As the legal battle continues, Lorenzo and his family need to see each other as much as possible. Please made a financial contribution here to help defray the costs of travel to SCI Mahanoy as well as phone calls and other work the family is doing in the fight for his freedom.

Lorenzo “CAT” Johnson

Lorenzo’s new PCRA (Post-Conviction Relief Act) petition was filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, PA by his attorney Michael Wiseman of Philadelphia, representing him pro bono. The new federal filings, the Second Habeas Corpus Petition and Memorandum of Law and Motion to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, were filed by attorney Amy Gershenfeld Donnella, of the Federal Community Defenders Office and Michael Wiseman, both of Philadelphia, PA. The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation is co-counsel and assisted in the investigation, and in overall support to Lorenzo.



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:













(Unless otherwise noted)













1) No Retrial in ’95 Bronx Killing for 3 Freed From Prison
September 20, 2013

2) Witness for the Prosecution
September 20, 2013

3) Once Suicidal and Shipped Off, Now Battling Nevada Over Care
September 21, 2013

4) The Death and Afterlife of Thalidomide
September 23, 2013

5) Egypt Bans Muslim Brotherhood Group
September 23, 2013 

6) Bodies Pile Up in Texas as Immigrants Adopt New Routes Over Border
September 22, 2013

7) In the Shadow of ‘Old Smokey,’ a Toxic Legacy
September 22, 2013

8) Struggling, San Jose Tests a Way to Cut Benefits
By and
September 23, 2013

9) Freebies for the Rich
September 24, 2013

10) Bangladesh: Protests Over Wages
September 23, 2013

11) Hundreds of Storm Evacuees in Hotels Face Evictions
September 24, 2013

12) Officials Detail Premium Costs of Health Plan
By and
September 25, 2013 

13) Turkish Protesters Are Still Said to Be Ailing From Tear Gas
September 25, 2013

14) This Is Only a Test
 By Jonathan Kozol
New York Times, September 26, 2013

15) N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens
September 28, 2013

16) A Wave of Sewing Jobs as Orders Pile Up at U.S. Factories
September 29, 2013

17) Poll Shows Major Shift in Identity of U.S. Jews
October 1, 2013

18) Coming Soon? An Occupy Wall Street Debit Card
September 30, 2013

19) City Unveils Campaign to Improve Girls’ Self-Esteem
September 30, 2013










1) No Retrial in ’95 Bronx Killing for 3 Freed From Prison
September 20, 2013

Three men convicted of murdering a Federal Express executive in 1995 have been free since January, when a judge in the Bronx ordered them released from prison after vacating their sentences. But it was not until Friday, when a prosecutor said her office would not seek to retry them in the case, that they learned that they were truly rid of the charge.

The three, Devon Ayers, Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez, had been convicted of murdering the executive, Denise Raymond, in her apartment in the Soundview neighborhood. Along with two other people, the three were also convicted of killing a Senegalese cabdriver, Baithe Diop, days later in the same neighborhood.

The convictions in the cabby’s killing fell apart in 2012 after an investigator for the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan revealed that two former gang members, who had become federal informants, had confessed to the crime. Because prosecutors had linked the two murders, the convictions in the Raymond case were also thrown into doubt.

In January, at the request of prosecutors, Justice Denis J. Boyle of State Supreme Court in the Bronx vacated the convictions of Mr. Ayers, Mr. Cosme and Mr. Perez and ordered them released from prison without bail.

But he also agreed to give prosecutors a chance to see if they could come up with new evidence for a second trial.

On Friday, a prosecutor, Nicole Keary, said such evidence had not surfaced.

“The district attorney’s office has determined that we will not prosecute the defendants for the murder of Denise Raymond,” she told Justice Patricia DiMango.

Justice DiMango then dismissed the case and sealed the record, taking the last steps to end the three men’s involvement in the matter.

Ms. Keary said investigators had looked at a bloodstain on a piece of glass that had been found in Mr. Cosme’s home, fingernail clippings from the body of Ms. Raymond, and handcuffs and duct tape that had been used to bind the victim before she was shot in the head.

She said that the blood on the glass had come from a man, not Ms. Raymond, and that the fingernail clippings had not yielded a DNA match to the men.

The duct tape, Ms. Keary said, contained so much of Ms. Raymond’s DNA that any other biological material would be masked.

And three sets of handcuffs recovered from the crime scene were contaminated when a surge of water caused by Hurricane Sandy flooded into a storage facility.

In addition, Ms. Keary said, one witness in the original trial had died and the testimony of a second had been “substantially compromised.”

She told Justice DiMango that the decision to vacate the indictment did not mean the men were exonerated, but defense lawyers strenuously disagreed, with one describing the original case as “dubious from its inception.”

As he left the courthouse, Mr. Cosme, 38, called the decision to vacate the indictment “a huge weight off my shoulders.”

A few minutes later, Mr. Perez said he was grateful to the judge and to his lawyers. “I lost so much in those 18 years in prison for a homicide that I didn’t do,” he said. “I’m glad the truth came out.”




2) Witness for the Prosecution
September 20, 2013

After hours of harsh questioning from a defense lawyer, the psychologist testifying for prosecutors twisted ever so slightly in the witness stand.

How could it be, the defense lawyer had asked, that 20 other doctors examined the defendant, a Portuguese fashion model, and concluded he was in the throes of a manic episode at the time he killed his companion — and only you determined that he was faking it?

How could it be that the rule book for your profession says a manic episode can come on rapidly — and yet you insist that the book is wrong on that point?

And how could you conclude that the defendant, who has a degree in physical education from a college in Portugal, learned how to invent an insanity defense in a college psychology class, without having any idea whether he even took such a class?

With that, William B. Barr shifted a bit in the witness chair. He tilted his head to one side, but he did not lose his cool.

“It’s my assumption that getting a general degree from a university, that chances are that someone has studied psychology,” he answered calmly.

As an expert witness, Dr. Barr is among a select group of mental health professionals in New York City who regularly play a central role in criminal proceedings, and he has become something of the go-to man for prosecutors when the mental health of a defendant is at issue. There is no record of exactly how often an expert appears for either side, but since 2000, Dr. Barr has been hired by prosecutors as a consultant in more than 100 such cases, he testified last year.

Because they are hired largely by word of mouth among like-minded lawyers, it is all but inevitable that the same experts will be repeatedly called. Yet most try to avoid testifying more frequently for one side to avoid the appearance that they are tailoring their conclusions to the needs of the lawyers who most often hire them.

Dr. Barr’s role is often to tell jurors that defendants who might seem mentally ill did not meet the legal definition of insanity at the moment they are said to have committed their crimes. And his testimony follows an almost predictable pattern: defendants are exaggerating a mental impairment and acted out of rage.

His first major case was the 1999 trial of Andrew Goldstein, who pushed a young woman to her death in front of a subway train. Dr. Barr testified that Mr. Goldstein was exaggerating his mental illnesses and might actually have attention-deficit disorder. Yet under cross-examination, Dr. Barr acknowledged that he had not read Mr. Goldstein’s 3,500-page medical history, which included repeated diagnoses of schizophrenia.

He gave similar testimony in the 2007 trial of Peter Braunstein, a former magazine writer convicted of sexually assaulting a former colleague after dressing as a firefighter to get into her apartment. Dr. Barr testified that Mr. Braunstein exaggerated symptoms of schizophrenia during testing, giving answers that were so “off the chart” that “if it was valid, it would be one of the most severe forms of schizophrenia ever observed in the world.”

Dr. Barr’s methods, and even his mere presence in court, have become an increasing focus of trials in which he participates.

In the trial last fall of the Portuguese fashion model, Renato Seabra, a defense lawyer, Rubin Sinins, asked Dr. Barr if he simply “cut and paste” into his report that Mr. Seabra acted out of rage.

An expert for the defense, Dr. Roger Martin Harris, the former director of psychiatric units at several local hospitals who now teaches forensic psychiatry at New York Medical College, testified that Dr. Barr was “creating his own diagnostic system” in ignoring definitions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, sometimes referred to as the bible of mental disorders.

“I respectfully think that Dr. Barr is going out of his way trying to make Mr. Seabra responsible for the crime,” Dr. Harris said.

Asked to respond to criticism of Dr. Barr’s testimony, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment, but said that in general the office hired experts it believed to be impartial. Dr. Barr declined to be interviewed for this article.

Dr. Barr grew up in the Detroit area, graduated from the University of Michigan, and moved to New York to pursue his master’s and doctoral degrees at the New School for Social Research. He was an accomplished neuropsychologist before he began working on criminal cases.

For many years, he specialized in the study of epilepsy and of head injuries. Since 2000, he has been director of neuropsychology at the New York University School of Medicine. From the mid-1990s until 2004, he served as a consultant to the New York Jets and the New York Islanders. He has written several journal articles on concussions in sports and posts frequently to Twitter on the topic.

Dr. Barr, 56, regularly posts about being at sporting events in New York and appears on his Facebook page wearing a Detroit Tigers baseball cap.

He testified in a few cases, mostly civil suits, beginning in 1996, according to a list he filed in court last year. Then came Mr. Goldstein’s case, in which the jury could not reach a verdict (Mr. Goldstein pleaded guilty on the eve of what would have been his third trial). After that, Dr. Barr’s work for prosecutors accelerated.

He explained his attraction to courtroom work in a chapter he contributed to a book, “Forensic Neuropsychology Casebook.” He wrote that he considered himself “rather lucky to have worked with the Manhattan district attorney’s office on a number of murder cases, including some that have received coverage in the local newspapers.”

“I would not label myself as a true ‘crime buff,’ ” he wrote, “but I do admit to becoming rather intrigued by the range of behaviors reported in news accounts of murders and other crimes committed daily in New York City.”

When testifying, he speaks casually. He typically does not respond in kind to harsh criticism. During breaks in trials, he sometimes has prosecutors or his aides laughing in the halls outside of the courtroom.

Presentation matters on the stand, experts say.

“If you know how to schmooze, and you know how to address a jury, and you’re somewhat amusing, that goes a long way,” said N. G. Berrill, a psychologist and the executive director of the New York Center for Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science. “I tell my students that I think there’s less science in there than there is showmanship.”

Dr. Barr has testified that he is paid $175 to $200 an hour for his forensic work, and that 80 percent of his forensic consultations are done for prosecutors. An assistant district attorney in Manhattan last year said in court that on three consultations for that office, Dr. Barr had found that defendants met the legal definition of insane — that they did not understand the consequences or wrongfulness of their actions — and those cases did not go to trial.

In one case, a man with a long history of mental illness drove from his home in Minneapolis to New York City, setting trash-can fires along the way and at a performance of “Mary Poppins” in Manhattan. He told the police that God had directed him to alert New Yorkers to their depravity.

In another, a Florida psychiatrist who stopped taking his antidepressant medication drove to New York because, he said, he believed God was directing him to save children. On a pier in Manhattan, he tried to take a 2-year-old boy from his mother because he believed she was from outer space. When she tried to stop him, he choked her until she lost consciousness.

It is a widely held position among mental health experts working in courts that it is best to spread consultations between defense lawyers and prosecutors to avoid what is known as “the allegiance effect.”

Christopher Slobogin, a professor of law and psychiatry at Vanderbilt Law School, said mental health practitioners could easily get caught up in the desire to win cases and take stronger positions than they would in clinical practice.

“It’s very hard to resist the lure of adversarialism,” said Mr. Slobogin, who has written extensively about mental health expert testimony. “Once you are slotted in one side or the other, it’s natural to support that position.”

But during a trial last year, Dr. Barr explained that working for both prosecutors and defense lawyers was not always possible because “one side simply won’t hire you, particularly if you have certain methodology where you get to the bottom of things and call a spade a spade.”

Dr. Barr would not be the first expert criticized for testifying more frequently for one side or the other. But he has faced stronger criticism at times not so much for the position he has taken as for the underlying reasoning.

Told of some of Dr. Barr’s explanations in recent cases, Mr. Slobogin said: “He seems quite willing to challenge accepted wisdom, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the challenge should be accompanied by a good explanation of why so many are so wrong.”

Last December, Dr. Barr made a rare criminal court appearance for the defense. But he offered a familiar line of reasoning: that a defendant was not as ill as the other side claimed.

The state attorney general’s office was seeking to keep a convicted pedophile with a history of mental illness in a secure mental facility beyond the expiration of his prison sentence.

The defendant, Dennis Jon, had pleaded guilty in 2002 to sexual activity with a child younger than 11. Just four months after his release from prison in 2007, he was rearrested after he grabbed the buttocks of an 8-year-old girl walking with her father in Times Square.

Dr. Barr was hired by Mental Hygiene Legal Services, a unit within the state court system that represents the interests of sex offenders in such cases. Dr. Barr testified that Mr. Jon, 52, was compliant with a medication regimen, albeit for the first time and while incarcerated, so his schizoaffective disorder was in remission.

“My opinion is that he can be around children, but I think it’s his inclination to avoid those situations when possible,” Dr. Barr said.

Doctors working with the attorney general’s office disagreed, saying Mr. Jon met the definition in state law of having a “mental abnormality” that made him quite likely to offend again. They said Mr. Jon had “borderline intellectual functioning” because his I.Q. of 80 fell within the range for that condition set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Dr. Barr testified that he did not believe that Mr. Jon’s intelligence had a “functional impact” on his life.

In her closing remarks to the jury, Breda Huvane, an assistant attorney general, said the distinction was important because it affected Mr. Jon’s ability to understand and control his pedophilia and mental illness.

“Dr. Barr wasn’t testifying openly and forthright to you,” Ms. Huvane told jurors.

The jurors ruled that Mr. Jon had a mental abnormality — a rare case of jurors not siding with Dr. Barr’s findings.

In July, Justice Laura A. Ward ruled that Mr. Jon should remain in a secure facility because “his ability to contain his behavior presents an unacceptable risk of danger to the community.”

In the spring of 2012, Dr. Barr testified for prosecutors in Manhattan in the murder trial of Julian Kurita, who came home from work one evening in 2010, walked up behind his father at the dinner table, and nearly decapitated him with a kitchen knife. The son then sliced his own wrist to the tendons.

Mr. Kurita, then 33, had been hospitalized 11 times for treatment of mental illness. He said that his parents had sexually abused him as a child and that he was being unfairly excluded from “Star Wars porn” orgies somewhere below Madison Square Garden. Other mental health experts said both were delusions.

Both Dr. Barr and the defense expert agreed that Mr. Kurita was schizophrenic. But Dr. Barr said Mr. Kurita was “embellishing” tales of his hallucinations.

“By the time he got to me, I believe that he had increased the story he was telling to have new details that were never shared before, and that he was essentially adding on to the foundation of some basic psychiatric symptoms,” Dr. Barr testified, according to a transcript.

Dr. Barr said claims of delusions that present themselves quickly are a “classic sign” that “someone, likely, is making up the symptoms.” He said he believed Mr. Kurita was narcissistic and acting out of “rage.” He discounted the suicide attempt as a “gesture.”

The defense’s expert, Dr. Kathy Yates, called Dr. Barr’s interpretations “inaccurate.”

“I disagree with all of those things,” she testified.

The jury rejected the insanity defense. At Mr. Kurita’s sentencing in July, his mother, Valerie Kurita, said her son and their two other children loved their father, Fumitaka, a Japanese-born choreographer. Without naming Dr. Barr, she criticized his conclusions.

“Is it common sense to conclude that after 12 years of hospitalizations, recoveries, and relapses, hearing voices and having delusions, that he suddenly experienced a burst of clear thinking, fully knowing right from wrong, and in that moment killed his father?” she asked.

The judge also seemed to see the case differently from Dr. Barr. In explaining why he was sentencing Mr. Kurita to the minimum allowed by law, 15 years in prison, Justice Charles H. Solomon repeatedly said mental illness had caused Mr. Kurita’s actions.

“I strongly believe, as I’ve always believed, that the act that the defendant committed on July 19 of 2010 was the direct result of mental illness, well-documented mental illness, over the years,” Justice Solomon said. “I don’t think anyone who knows this case can ever dispute that.”

Last fall, Dr. Barr testified for prosecutors in the case of Mr. Seabra, who admitted to killing his older companion, Carlos Castro, in a Times Square hotel.

Mr. Seabra, 21 at the time of the killing in 2011, told Dr. Barr and others that he had cut off Mr. Castro’s testicles with a wine opener and placed them on his wrists to inhale their power to rid the world of homosexuality.

The other doctors who examined Mr. Seabra saw that act and explanation as evidence that Mr. Seabra’s thoughts were disordered. But Dr. Barr said Mr. Seabra castrated his victim to humiliate him. He said he came to that opinion after finding mentions on the Internet that Mexican drug cartels castrated people for that purpose.

Dr. Barr also said Mr. Seabra claimed to have sunk into psychosis too quickly. When a defense lawyer pointed out that the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders said a “prodromal period” of early symptoms does not always occur, Dr. Barr said the manual was wrong and suggested a new edition might reflect the change.

The jury found Mr. Seabra responsible for the crime.

The new edition of the manual, published in May, contained no such change.




3) Once Suicidal and Shipped Off, Now Battling Nevada Over Care
September 21, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — David Theisen keeps his legal papers in a frayed yellow envelope in his tiny transients’ hotel room, a toilet down the hall, the covers of his beloved comic books, with titles like “Dark Mysteries” and “Vault of Horror,” lining the drab walls.

A lot has changed in the year and a half since Mr. Theisen, 52 and homeless, threatened to kill himself with a butcher knife and ended up in a Las Vegas psychiatric center. After one night, Mr. Theisen found himself on a bus to San Francisco, several sack lunches and a day’s worth of medication clutched in his lap.

“Technically, they shouldn’t have been allowed to send me anywhere,” Mr. Theisen said. “They should have put me in a little room until I got better.”

Now, Mr. Theisen is at the center of a class-action lawsuit brought this month by San Francisco’s city attorney, Dennis Herrera, against the State of Nevada on behalf of 24 mentally ill and homeless people. They were all, like Mr. Theisen, bused out of Nevada and left on the streets of San Francisco with little or no medication.

But that is just a small sampling, Mr. Herrera says, of the estimated 1,500 people who were bused all over the country in recent years from the state-operated Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Center in Las Vegas and other Nevada institutions, 500 of them to California.

“It’s horrifying,” Mr. Herrera said. “I think we can all agree that our most vulnerable and at-risk people don’t deserve this sort of treatment: no meds, no medical care, a destination where they have no contacts and know no one.”

But what makes it “even more tragic,” Mr. Herrera said, “is that on top of the inhumane treatment, the State of Nevada was trying to have another jurisdiction shoulder the financial responsibility for caring for these people.”

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who has several weeks to respond to Mr. Herrera’s lawsuit, has declined to comment in the meantime.

Mary Woods, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, laid out the state’s position in an e-mail. Outside a handful of instances, the state believes that its Client Transportation Back to Home Communities program was operated properly and that it is not dissimilar from programs in other jurisdictions, including San Francisco.

Hospitals in several cities have programs intended to reunite discharged psychiatric patients with their families and hometowns. Where abuses occur, Mr. Herrera and others say, is when patients are shipped off with little or no oversight about where they are going and what will happen once they get there.

Nevada officials say that besides a single, well-documented case, they believe that the Rawson-Neal staff followed proper release procedures in almost all of the remaining cases they have investigated.

That single case, involving a man named James F. Brown who was sent by bus to Sacramento, a city where he knew no one, from the Vegas hospital in February, was the subject of an article in The Sacramento Bee.

That newspaper article not only prompted the San Francisco city attorney’s office to look into the Nevada policy, but it also led to a federal investigation.

“This has certainly elevated attention of a practice that, frankly, has probably gone on for many years in a number of states,” said Ronald S. Honberg, legal director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Washington. “We’ve never done a study, and I’ve never seen one anybody else did, but we have certainly heard over the years a number of stories that this sort of practice goes on. It’s something we refer to, euphemistically, as Greyhound therapy.”

Mr. Theisen’s experience began when he and another homeless man tried to hitchhike across the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas to San Diego. They made it about 45 miles to the small town of Primm, little more than a cluster of casinos.

The two men, desperate and hungry, ordered a meal and then ran before the bill arrived. They did not make it. His friend was arrested, but Mr. Theisen went to a pay phone and called the authorities. “I told them I had a knife and was going to kill myself,” he said. “After the dine-and-dash, I just gave up.”

He begged not to be sent back onto the streets of Las Vegas, he said, and did not care where they shipped him. “They asked me what kind of work I had done, and I said I was a cook,” he said. “So some young woman said, ‘Well, there are a lot of restaurants in San Francisco.’ ”

Mr. Theisen said he eventually wound up at the Rawson-Neal facility, where he spent the night. The next morning, he said, his doctors sent him to a Greyhound station with seven sack lunches and a day’s medication for the 14-hour ride. He arrived with three lunches left and $30 on a food stamps card, and bounced from shelter to shelter until he managed to get a room in a downtown transients’ hotel.

Rumors of such journeys had become part of California homeless lore.

“In San Francisco, it’s been urban myth for decades that this sort of practice was going on,” Mr. Herrera said. “But this is the first instance that I am aware of where we have been able to document a state-supported and state-sanctioned effort.”

Ms. Woods, the spokeswoman for Nevada’s health agency, said that from July 1, 2008, to March 31, the state bought out-of-state bus tickets for 4.7 percent of the patients it discharged, an estimated 1,473 people. “The findings show there were 10 instances in the course of five years where there was not enough documentation to know for certain if staff confirmed there was housing/shelter and supportive services at the destination,” she said.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, however, said last month that its inquiry showed a more widespread problem. About 40 percent of the mental patients discharged by the hospital went into local homeless shelters or were shipped elsewhere, the federal investigators said, and most of those were sent directly to a Greyhound bus station with a ticket but without proper documentation or instructions on what they should do when they arrive.

Some medical staff members at Rawson-Neal were fired after the furor following the Bee report, Ms. Woods said, and the hospital strengthened its discharge protocols. Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada pushed the Legislature to approve, which it did, $30.4 million in additional mental health spending, including $2.1 million for Rawson-Neal.

Mr. Herrera is not satisfied. He wants proof that the new protocols are in place, as well as compensation for all the city has spent to care for the patients from Nevada. He is also talking to other California cities about joining him in the lawsuit.

“I am hopeful that shining a light on this will also shine a light on other jurisdictions around the country to make the point that this is not going to be tolerated,” he said.

It has been a tough year for Rawson-Neal. In July, it lost its accreditation, a decision that it did not fight. Of greater concern is a move by federal officials to possibly end Rawson-Neal’s eligibility for Medicare financing.

Mr. Theisen now subsists on $100 in assistance from the city every month, which with his free room, is just enough if he is careful. He gets the medication he needs for his depression and spends his days at the public library or roaming the city looking for work as a cook. The important thing is that now, for the first time, he can see a way forward. “I guess they shouldn’t have done what they did in Nevada, but I cannot say enough about what this city has done for me,” he said. “It’s awesome, really. I have to struggle, yes, but otherwise life is good. I don’t wake up sad anymore.”



4) The Death and Afterlife of Thalidomide
September 23, 2013

The story of thalidomide, told in this week’s Retro Report video, is one of the most shameful in the history of the modern pharmaceutical industry.

In the 1950s, a German company, Chemie Grünenthal, developed thalidomide, which was marketed in Europe as the first safe sleeping pill and was seen as a highly effective treatment for pregnant women with morning sickness.

The drug enjoyed such widespread success that in some European countries it became almost as popular as aspirin.

But thalidomide was far from safe. Although the cause was not realized until later, the first known victim of thalidomide was a girl born with no ears on Christmas Day in 1956 — a daughter of a Grünenthal employee.

In time, thousands of children around the world whose mothers took the drug while pregnant were born with severe physical disabilities, including flipper-like arms and legs. The archival footage of these children in the Retro video is both horrifying and heartbreaking, as are the stories of the many families who were devastated and unable to cope.

Thalidomide-affected children were in some instances rejected by their parents and institutionalized. Others had their flippers amputated to accommodate prostheses for arms and legs. In one extreme case, a young mother and her doctor were charged with the mercy killing of her deformed infant.

But in the United States things were different, thanks to one of those little known heroes who simply did her job well, and in the process, prevented the drug from being approved.

In September 1960, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, a young pharmacologist who had just started working at the Food and Drug Administration, was asked to review the drug for approval but became alarmed by what she saw as the lack of rigorous scientific research supporting the drug’s safety done by Grünenthal and William S. Merrell, the United States distributor.

Once she examined the research carefully, the case for thalidomide quickly unraveled. She kept asking the company for more data, delaying approval. In late November 1961, long-ignored evidence became public in Germany linking thalidomide to birth defects. Grünenthal, which in a court case years later blamed causes like nuclear fallout or botched home abortions for the children’s deformities, did not apologize to the victims and their families until last year.

Because of Dr. Kelsey’s perseverance, the drug never received F.D.A. approval and in 1962, the drug was banned worldwide. But almost as important, it marked the beginning of a new era for the F.D.A.

Major regulatory reforms were finally forced on the pharmaceutical industry, many of the same federal guidelines that we live under today.

Thalidomide is one principal reason United States drug laws are so strict.

But this was not the end of thalidomide. In the early 1990s, researchers discovered that the same properties of the drug that restrict blood vessel growth and resulted in the stunted limbs, were useful in treating a number of medical disorders, including some cancerous tumors, like multiple myeloma, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

While the medication now carries a strict warning that it is not to be taken by pregnant women, in Brazil, where it is used extensively to treat leprosy, a group of researchers report that as many as 100 children have been disabled by thalidomide since 2005.

This week’s Retro Report is the 12th in a documentary series and the one I find the most affecting, a case where the video footage of these children is worth tens of thousands of words. The video project was started with a grant from Christopher Buck. Retro Report has a staff of 13 journalists and 10 contributors led by Kyra Darnton, a former “60 Minutes” producer. It is a nonprofit video news organization that aims to provide a thoughtful counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle. The videos are typically 10 to 12 minutes long.

Previous Retro Report videos can be found here.

Visit the Retro Report Web site here.

Previous Retro Report videos can be found here.

Visit the Retro Report Web site here.

Booming: Living Through the Middle Ages offers news and commentary about baby boomers, anchored by Michael Winerip. Sign up for our weekly newsletter here. You may also follow Booming via RSS here or visit nytimes.com/booming. Our e-mail is booming@nytimes.com.




5) Egypt Bans Muslim Brotherhood Group
September 23, 2013 

CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the Muslim Brotherhood to be banned and its assets confiscated in a dramatic escalation of a crackdown by the military-backed government against supporters of the ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

The ruling opens the door for a wider crackdown on the vast network of the Brotherhood, which includes social organizations that have been key for building the group's grassroots support and helping its election victories. The verdict banned the group itself — including the official association it registered earlier this year — as well as "any institution branching out of it or ... receiving financial support from it," according to the court ruling, made public on Egypt's state official news agency MENA.

The judge at the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters also ordered the "confiscation of all the group's money, assets, and buildings" and said that an independent committee should be formed by the Cabinet to manage the money until final court orders are issued. The verdict can be appealed.

The Brotherhood was outlawed for most of its 85 years in existence. After the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, it emerged to work openly, opening a formal headquarters and forming a political party for the first time, and rose to power in a string of post-Mubarak elections. Still, its legal status remained hazy. In March, it registered as a non-governmental organization, but its entire network was not brought under the association's aegis.

"This is totalitarian decision," a leading Brotherhood member, Ibrahim Moneir, said in an interview with Qatari-based Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr TV. "You are losers, and it (the Brotherhood) will remain with God's help, not by the orders by the judiciary of el-Sissi," he added, referring to military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the overthrow of Morsi on July 3.

The military removed Morsi after mass protests by millions demanding he step down, accusing him of power abuse and allowing the Brotherhood and other Islamists to monopolize rule.

Since Morsi's ouster, security forces have arrested some 2,000 of the group's members, including many of its senior figures and a large swath of its middle ranks. Morsi, held in secret military detention, faces trial on charges of inciting the killing of protesters during his year in office. The Brotherhood's top leader and his deputies are also on trial, and figures are expected to be referred to courts soon, and already assets of many senior figures' assets have been ordered frozen. Officials and sympathetic media accuse the group of fomenting a wave of violence in retaliation for the coup.

The Brotherhood and its Islamist allies have continued protests demanding Morsi's reinstatement — but the rallies have grown weaker under the heavy crackdown. The group insists its protests are non-violent. However, dozens of churches and police stations came under attack by suspected supporters of Morsi and armed Morsi supporters exchanged gunfire and clashed with security forces in two Islamists' strongholds.

"This time, the group will return to darkness but much weaker than before after losing popular support," said Abdullah el-Moghazi, a former lawmaker who sat on a consultative body that advised the military generals who ruled Egypt for more than a year after Mubarak's fall and before Morsi's election.

He said that after Mubarak's ouster, the Brotherhood was not formally unbanned, but that the military leaders "turned a blind eye" allowing it to create a political party without formalizing its legal status.

Essam el-Islambouli, a legal expert, said the ruling would likely mean the disbanding of the Brotherhood's political party, Freedom and Justice, banning its official mouthpiece though the verdict did not specifically mention the party. Already the group's television network Misr 25 has been closed the day Morsi was ousted along with ultraconservative newtworks.

Perhaps most importantly, the ruling — if upheld in later stages — would give authorities a legal basis for moving against the Brotherhood's network of businesses, school, hospitals and charities that have been the foundation of its political power. That network provided it with financing and recruiting and built popular grassroots support. Built while the group was underground, the links throughout the network are often unclear, with individual Brotherhood members holding ownership.

Explaining its verdict, the court issued a broad denunciation of the group. It said that since its founding, the Brotherhood group used Islam as "a cover to activities that violate Islam and its rulings. It violated the rights of citizens." It said that while Morsi was in power, "citizens lost their basic rights for social justice and security" and that under it "Egyptians found only repression and arrogance."

The ruling came in a suit raised by lawyers from the leftist party Tagammu party, accusing the Brotherhood of being a "terrorist" and "exploiting religion in political slogans." The court did not address the terrorism accusation, beyond calling on al-Azhar, the Sunni world's premier religious authority, to confront "extremist thought that supports terrorism."

Several other courts are looking into similar suits. Egypt's Administrative Court is looking into legality of the group's registered non-governmental organization. A non-binding panel of judges recommended the NGO be dissolved and that the Brotherhood headquarters be closed on the grounds that it is operating outside law. The court is holding its next session on Nov. 12.

In the past, all orders to disband the group have been issued by executive authorities. In 1948, it was outlawed under the monarchy, then once again in 1954 by President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who imprisoned and executed several of its top leaders.

Still, the group was able to build up its organization, working in semi-shadow. Under Mubarak, the group won nearly 20 percent of parliament seats in mid. 2000s.

"The group exists either with state ban or without," said former Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki, who served under Morsi. "It is like Israel for some Arab countries. It exists though some Arabs don't recognize it. Does this affect Israel? The answer is no."

He said that successive regimes have tried uprooting the group, "but none worked."

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has warned against driving the Brotherhood completely underground, saying monitoring of political parties is a more reasonable alternative.

Ahmed Darrag, leader of liberal al-Dustour party, said the group's network was already largely underground. He argued that court rulings are not the way to confront the group.

"You can only confront ideas by ideas," he said.



6) Bodies Pile Up in Texas as Immigrants Adopt New Routes Over Border
September 22, 2013

FALFURRIAS, Tex. — By the time the woman perished, she had probably slogged 25 miles through dry ranch lands in her quest to enter the United States. She was found just feet from a highway where she might have been picked up and taken to Houston with other migrants making the same journey.

Not long ago, her body would have been taken to a funeral home for a cursory attempt at identification, then buried in this town an hour north of the Mexico border under a sign reading “unknown female.”

Her death, probably from hypothermia, is part of a mounting body count that has overwhelmed the sparsely populated Brooks County, providing further evidence that immigrants are shifting their migration routes away from the well-worn paths into Arizona and instead crossing into deep southern Texas. The changing patterns have put an extra burden on local governments with limited experience in such matters and even fewer financial resources.

“There are some counties that have the economic wherewithal to take on these issues, and there are other counties that just don’t have any money, so that puts them into a real bad bind,” said Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, coordinator of the Binational Migration Institute at the University of Arizona, which researches immigration issues.

But Brooks County is trying to step up to the challenge. Now, all newly recovered bodies and skeletal remains of people suspected of being immigrants will travel 90 miles to nearby Webb County for autopsies, DNA sampling and more intense efforts at identification.

It is a big step for Brooks County, which has a population of just over 7,100 and where on a recent morning the chief deputy mopped the floors of the sheriff’s office himself. He will also be making the weekly trips to deliver corpses to the medical examiner in Laredo.

The county handled 129 bodies last year, which Judge Raul Ramirez, the county’s top administrator, says blew a hole in the budget. And even though he and most other local officials see illegal immigration as a federal problem, federal money has not followed.

Last year, Brooks County trailed only Pima County, Ariz., in the number of immigrant bodies recovered, and it already has 76 this year. Nearly a million people live in Pima County, and the 171 bodies found in 2012 were consistent with annual totals dating back to 2004, according to a report by the migration institute. Brooks County, on the other hand, averaged 50 to 60 dead before last year.

Border Patrol apprehensions in the area have soared. The number of immigrants detained in Rio Grande Valley border sector in South Texas outpaced the historic leader, the Tucson sector, by more than 30,000. Those numbers are an imperfect measure of the overall flow of migrants, but most of the growth has involved Central American immigrants, who often take the more direct route to the United States through Texas.

Immigrants typically die in Brooks County trying to circumvent a Border Patrol checkpoint. They are usually dropped off with guides south of the checkpoint and forced to hike for two or three days to a pickup spot north of the checkpoint.

Dr. Corinne Stern, the Webb County medical examiner, puts her office’s identification rate on nonskeletal remains at 65 to 70 percent. But the woman from the ranch remains a Jane Doe for now. Found on Aug. 26, her body was already in an advanced stage of decomposition.

There are clues, though. She was wearing earrings and a ring on the middle finger of her left hand. She wore a Gold’s Gym T-shirt and pink Converse sneakers with pink laces. She carried several phone numbers, which have not turned up anything yet.

Tucked into one pocket of her shorts was a photograph of a boy about 5 years old. He is wearing a suit and what appears to be a graduation cap.

In the past, unidentified immigrants were crammed into the local cemetery without DNA samples being taken. The cemetery did not even have accurate records for the dead. In May, Lori Baker, a Baylor University anthropologist, led a team to Falfurrias to exhume unidentified immigrants’ graves.

Ms. Baker identified 54 marked graves but found 63 burials. In some cases, the team opened a body bag expecting to find one person and found four other bags of remains. Some of the remains carried tags indicating that they came from a neighboring county.

She plans to return for more exhumations next year, and she is encouraged by the county’s progress, noting that the short-staffed sheriff’s office is going to start taking DNA samples from family members who come looking for missing loved ones.

Three days before the woman was found on El Tule Ranch, the ranch manager, Lavoyger Durham, proudly showed off his personal contribution to addressing the problem: a 55-gallon blue plastic drum holding one-gallon water jugs. The water station is topped with a 30-foot pole and a large blue flag.

Mr. Durham, 68, said it was the first water station in Brooks County, and he has plans for several more. He would prefer for the government to erect a double-layer border fence. But in the meantime, he does not want to see people continue to die on the ranch. He estimates he has found 25 bodies on the property in the last 23 years.

“I’m trying to expose the killing fields of Brooks County,” Mr. Durham said. “If dead human beings don’t catch your attention, what the hell else is going to? We’re just trying to be human about it.”




7) In the Shadow of ‘Old Smokey,’ a Toxic Legacy
September 22, 2013

MIAMI — When she was little, Elaine Taylor remembers rushing home whenever Old Smokey fired up. Clouds of ash from the towering trash incinerator would fill the air and settle on the ramshackle houses and the yards of the West Grove neighborhood.

Her mother, who took in laundry, would be whipping sheets and shirts off the clotheslines. Often, the soot would force Elaine and her mother to wash everything again, by hand.

Old Smokey was shut down in 1970, after 45 years of belching ash, but its legacy might be more ominous than mere memories of soiled laundry. Residents of the neighborhood, established by Bahamian immigrants in the 1880s, have become alarmed by recent revelations that soil samples there show contamination from carcinogens like arsenic and heavy metals, including lead, cadmium and barium.

Ash from the old incinerator is being blamed, and residents are asking why none of this came to light sooner.

“They didn’t want to let it be known, so they kept it hush-hush,” said Delphine Sweatman, who has lived in the same house for 40 years and has stopped taking her three grandchildren to local parks. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Miami officials discovered contamination two years ago at the site of Old Smokey, now a training center for firefighters, but they did not alert residents of the area. A report on the findings remained under wraps until a city employee revealed its existence this year to a University of Miami law professor, Anthony V. Alfieri, who directs the law school’s Environmental Justice Project.

Once the presence of toxins was made public, officials scrambled to commission tests of soil samples in the immediate area. They later expanded the investigation to include 7 parks, 17 private properties, 4 churches and 12 green spaces in the West Grove and in adjoining Coconut Grove, as well as in Coral Gables, a separate municipality.

At a briefing for residents last week, Wilbur Mayorga, a Miami-Dade County environmental official, said testing results suggested that the amount of toxins in the West Grove sites was “unlikely to cause illness,” and that arsenic, for instance, can occur naturally in the area’s soil and limestone. Marc Sarnoff, a Miami commissioner, said the West Grove had received “a clean bill of health.”

“Everything is testing to be residential standard,” Mr. Sarnoff said, referring to contaminant levels permitted under environmental regulations.

That may not be the final word. A cancer researcher at the University of Miami said that she and several colleagues discovered a cluster of pancreatic cancer cases in the West Grove several years ago.

“That’s the little region that lights up,” said the researcher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the issue. Although she found the discovery “puzzling,” she said she did not pursue it because of a lack of funds. But when she read a newspaper article this year about Old Smokey that said its ash had spewed arsenic and heavy metals into the neighborhood, she said “everything started making sense.”

The researcher noted that no correlation could be established between the cancer cluster and the old incinerator without more research.

In any event, some longtime residents now have at least a clue as to what might have made them sick. “I’m dying of cancer,” said Vernon Clark, 77, who once ran for a city commission seat. “My brother has cancer,” said Mr. Clark, who walks slowly, using a golf club as a cane. “My mother died of it.”

Residents recall that red-hot ash from Old Smokey, which could pulverize and burn 300 tons of trash a day, sometimes sparked fires on nearby roofs and in trees. In the 1950s, according to The Miami Herald, pilots descending toward Miami International Airport resorted to instrument landings when the smoke became too dense.

“There were a lot of people living around that thing — they were not protected,” said Marion Culmer Wright, 86, who remains in the dusty frame house where her parents married in 1917. She remembers the soot on the eight Australian pines her father had planted, one for each of his children, that were later taken down when the city widened the road.

Across the street from Old Smokey’s former site lies Esther Mae Armbrister Park and its playground. Down the block is George Washington Carver Elementary School, a once all-black institution that traces its history to 1899. Former students recall ash blowing in through the school’s open windows.

Professor Alfieri said that the construction of Old Smokey “in the middle of a Jim Crow community” in 1925 exemplified the city’s pattern of neglecting the West Grove, an area that has never experienced the prosperity so evident in its neighboring communities. In a 1950 article in Ladies’ Home Journal, Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote that when the city installed a water and sewage system in Coconut Grove, its western neighbor was left out of the project, and for years residents continued to use wells and outhouses.

Paradoxically, the worst toxin levels found in the recent testing were not in the West Grove but in Coconut Grove’s Blanche Park, the site of a popular playground and a dog park. Workers removed lead-contaminated soil this month and paved over a parking lot, and officials declared the problem contained.

“My daughter learned to crawl in that sand,” said Dawn McCarthy, the mother of two girls who frequented Blanche Park. “We’re all praying there’s nothing wrong, but we’re terrified. None of us go to that park anymore.”




8) Struggling, San Jose Tests a Way to Cut Benefits
By and
September 23, 2013

SAN JOSE, Calif. — This metropolis of nearly a million residents is the third-largest city in California, home to tens of thousands of technology industry workers, as well as many thousands more struggling to get by. Yet even here, in the city that bills itself as the capital of Silicon Valley, the economic tidal wave that has swamped Detroit and other cities is lapping at the sea walls.

San Jose now spends one-fifth of its $1.1 billion general fund on pensions and retiree health care, and the amount keeps rising. To free up the money, services have been cut, libraries and community centers closed, the number of city workers trimmed, salaries reduced, and new facilities left unused for lack of staff. From potholes to home burglaries, the city’s problems are growing.

“We’re Silicon Valley, we’re not Detroit,” said Xavier Campos, a Democratic city councilman representing San Jose’s poor East Side. “It shouldn’t be happening here. We’re not the Rust Belt.”

The situation in San Jose is not anywhere near as dire as it is in Detroit or two other California cities, Stockton and San Bernardino, already in bankruptcy. But government officials and municipal bankruptcy experts across the country are watching San Jose closely because of a plan to reduce benefits — drafted by Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, and passed by 70 percent of voters in a referendum last year.

The plan is being opposed in court by unions that represent city workers and say it is illegal under state law. It would introduce a second tier for new city employees involving much lower pension and health benefits. It would also alter pension benefits for existing workers, allowing them to choose either a similar, second-tier benefits plan or to pay significantly more out of their own pockets for the benefits they had come to expect.

The outcome of the case is expected to have a major impact on municipal budgets around the state and, perhaps, the country. If a state court rules later this year or early next year that the referendum allows San Jose to alter pension plans for existing workers, and it survives appeals, similar measures are expected to pop up elsewhere.

By pushing the cuts, Mr. Reed joins a small but growing group of Democratic officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and the Rhode Island treasurer, Gina Raimondo, who are talking about altering municipal pension plans in ways that unions do not like, and that Democratic officials have avoided because of their traditional alliance with labor. “I think it needs to be led by Democrats,” Mr. Reed said. “It can’t become something Republicans are doing to unions.”

City unions, led by the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, say that by California law, the pension deal in effect when government workers are hired cannot be lowered for the rest of their career. Mr. Reed and his supporters believe that state law, backed by the referendum, allows the city to cut future pensions as long as it does not touch the benefits that workers have already accrued. The mayor has gone forward with the lesser benefits for new employees.

Mr. Reed said he was also contemplating a campaign with other California mayors to mount a statewide ballot initiative for November 2014 that would grant city officials even greater power over pension and health care benefits.

A decision on whether to go ahead with the initiative must be made by early next month, Mr. Reed said.

Even some supporters of Mr. Reed’s plan do not blame the workers or the unions.

“These employees did nothing wrong, and their unions did nothing wrong for pushing for these benefits,” said David Crane, a lecturer at Stanford University and special adviser to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on pensions and other issues. “Nobody forced government officials to make these promises and not fund them. And now you have some really brutal things happening to people who had counted on a certain level of retirement.”

Staff cuts, lower salaries, uncertainty about their pensions and the threat of having to pay higher contributions for lower benefits are causing hundreds of San Jose officers to try to move to less troubled police departments, union officials say.

“They’re kind of encouraging us to leave,” said Officer Pete Urrutia.

Officer Steve Gibson said he intends to join the exodus of experienced San Jose officers. “I’m leaving as soon as I get my 25 years in,” he said. That will happen in a few months.

Officer Gibson and three others had pulled their patrol cars into the center of St. James Park, on the edge of downtown, following complaints of a fight among homeless people living there.

“What they’re doing is destroying what had been a great police department,” said Officer Deborah Manion as she oversaw the scene of the dispute.

The impact has been hard on families hit by both lower salaries and possible benefit cuts.

“I have to sell my house,” Officer Steve Brownlee said as he directed city workers toward a pile of debris. The only alternative, he said, was to work endless overtime to make up the difference. “I’d rather lose my house than do that,” he said.

Cities in California are under particular pressure because it is so difficult to raise property taxes in the state, and because in 1999, at the height of the tech bubble, the Legislature voted for a huge benefit increase allowing, for instance, police officers to retire at age 50 with 90 percent of their salaries.

“We have this all over the state of California,” said Karol K. Denniston, a bankruptcy lawyer with the firm of Schiff Hardin in San Francisco, who is advising a number of local taxpayer groups. “There is growing recognition that there is not enough money to keep doing what they’re doing, and something’s got to change.”

Picturesque, prosperous Sonoma County has cut road maintenance to just $4.2 million a year to make way for the growing cost of its workers’ pensions.

The seaside city of Pacific Grove is considering whether to form a combined fire service with other municipalities nearby.

San Diego, which has been in pension-related turmoil for a decade, has fallen hundreds of millions of dollars behind on its program of fixing roads, sidewalks and storm sewers. Last year, voters there approved their own ballot measure requiring all new city employees, except police officers, to be given 401(k)-style retirement plans instead of defined benefit pensions.

As in San Jose, public employees’ unions sued. In March, a state administrative labor-law judge found that the city had failed to bargain as required with its workers. The city went ahead with the ballot-measure change, but the administrative finding portends further litigation.

Mr. Crane blames the political leadership in Sacramento, San Jose and all similarly struggling cities for failing to deal with the pension problem while it was still manageable. Mr. Reed agreed. “I have to accept my share of the responsibility,” he said. “There’s plenty of blame to go around.”

Now, he said, city workers must understand that the 10 percent pay cut they accepted a few years ago, in a previous attempt to right the city’s imbalance, was not sufficient to solve the problem and that deep, painful pension and retiree health care changes were needed.

Already, the city payroll has dropped by thousands of workers in recent years — a decline that in the case of the police has been exacerbated by the departure of veteran officers.

“It was pension layoffs,” said Sharon W. Erickson, the city auditor. “We had to lay off employees because pensions were going up. The park department alone was cut 47 percent.”

Joe Nieto, president of the Plata Arroyo Neighborhood Association in the heart of the city’s East Side, said he has definitely noticed the service cutbacks. Vandalism in the neighborhood’s park has gotten so bad that he said he has stopped trying to keep ahead of the graffiti that festoons its sprawling skateboard ramps.

“What’s the point in cleaning it up?” he said. “It’ll look just the same in two weeks’ time. The bottom line is that we don’t feel as safe as we used to feel here.”

No one wants to cut workers’ wages and benefits, Ms. Erickson said, least of all Democrats. Providing city services was the reason most Democrats went into government, she said.

“But for every one of us, there was a tipping point,” she said. “For me, it was when they announced that swimming pools wouldn’t open in the summer. Then you drive around the city, and roads are in abysmal shape.”

Police response times for Priority 1 calls, meaning a violent crime that is still under way, have stayed steady, at about seven minutes, Ms. Erickson said. But response times for Priority 2 calls, involving violent but not active crimes, have crept up, and lower priority calls are taking hours and sometimes more than a day to generate a response.

“We have a huge opportunity here to get it right,” Ms. Erickson said. “And if we can’t get it right here in San Jose, where can we get it right?”




9) Freebies for the Rich
September 24, 2013

Max Russell had always been a conscientious student, but when his father died during his junior year of high school, he had to take on a 25-hour-per-week job to help his family pay the bills. The gig inevitably ate into the time he spent on homework, and Russell’s G.P.A. plummeted from 3.5 to 2.5, which complicated his ability to get the aid he needed to attend a four-year college. So he ended up at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis. Last year, after finally qualifying for student loans and cobbling together some grant money, he transferred to Purdue University, one of the state’s top public schools.

At Purdue, Russell reconnected with Christopher Bosma, a friend from high school. Bosma’s family was considerably wealthier, but his entire tuition was free — as will be medical-school costs. An outstanding high-school student, he received a prestigious merit scholarship that covered both. Russell told me that he believed the two friends are about “equivalent in intelligence” but acknowledged that Bosma studied much harder in high school. He was unusually driven, he said, but it probably didn’t hurt that Bosma had the luxury of not having to help support his family.

Over the years, many state-university systems — and even states themselves — have shifted more of their financial aid away from students who need it toward those whose résumés merit it. The share of state aid that’s not based on need has nearly tripled in the last two decades, to 29 percent per full-time student in 2010-11. The stated rationale, of course, is that merit scholarships motivate high-school achievement and keep talented students in state. The consequence, however, is that more aid is helping kids who need it less. Merit metrics like SAT scores tend to closely correlate with family income; about 1 in 5 students from households with income over $250,000 receives merit aid from his or her school. For families making less than $30,000, it’s 1 in 10.

Schools don’t seem to mind. After years of state-funding cuts, many recognize that wealthy students can bring in more money even after getting a discount. Raising the tuition and then offering a 25 percent scholarship to four wealthier kids who might otherwise have gone to private school generates more revenue than giving a free ride to one who truly needs it. Incidentally, enticing these students also helps boost a school’s rankings. “The U.S. News rankings are based largely on the student inputs,” said Donald Heller, dean of Michigan State University’s College of Education. “The public universities in general, and the land grants in particular, are moving away from their historical mission to serve a broad swath of families across the state.”

This is obviously troubling for the students who need help, but it is also bad for the state economies that public colleges are supported by and are supposed to help advance. While merit aid sounds like an effective way to combat brain drain, there is no conclusive evidence that it works. One recent study by economists at Cornell and the University of Chicago found that “nearly all” of the spending on state merit-based scholarships had little effect on keeping students in state after they graduated. Merit aid may not even be a good deal for those who earn it. A recent study by researchers at Harvard Kennedy School looked at a scholarship program in Massachusetts in which high-scoring students get tuition waivers at in-state public colleges. It found that taking the scholarship actually reduced a student’s likelihood of graduating because they ended up at a school with a completion rate lower than one of the other schools they could have gone to. Peer effects matter, it turns out. The long-term costs of going to school among those who are more likely to drop out could outweigh the upfront benefits of a cheap education.

Financial aid, however, has a hugely positive impact on whether low-income students graduate. Among needier kids, the six-year graduation rate is 45 percent when grants cover under a quarter of college costs versus 68 percent when they cover more than three-quarters, according to Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher at Edvisors.com, a network of college-planning Web sites. If you look at comparable stats for high-income students, the amount of aid makes almost no difference. Their graduation rates are around 78 percent either way.

The share of Americans with college degrees has risen significantly in the last few decades, but almost all of the growth has been among children of wealthier families. The share of 24-year-olds from families in the top-income quartile who hold college degrees rose from about 40 percent in 1970 to 70 percent in 2011. The share from the bottom quartile, however, remained pretty flat, edging up to 10 percent from 6 percent, according to Tom Mortenson, a higher-education policy analyst with Postsecondary Education Opportunity. These graduation rates also matter. Not only is the gap between the earnings (and employability) of college grads versus high-school grads widening, but an increasing amount of research shows that having a higher density of college-educated workers boosts wages of even those around them without college degrees. Economists refer to the ripple effect as the “positive externalities” of higher education.

By devoting more aid dollars to the likely college students rather than to more marginal ones, states are limiting the overall pool of residents who will be able to obtain college-level skills. Perhaps just as important, they are also limiting the economic prospects of their entire populations. The institutions that try to maintain their commitment to needy students like Russell, even in the face of state-budget cuts, recognize that extending access to college isn’t just about altruism. It’s about investing in your future tax base. And that’s thinking outside the box.

Catherine Rampell is an economics reporter at The Times. Adam Davidson is off this week.



10) Bangladesh: Protests Over Wages
September 23, 2013

More than 100 Bangladeshi garment factories were forced to shut on Monday as thousands of protesting workers demanded a $100-a-month minimum wage. About 50 people were injured in clashes between the police and protesters, the police and witnesses said. Bangladesh’s apparel industry, which supplies many Western brands, has been under a spotlight after several deadly episodes, including the collapse of a building housing factories in April that killed more than 1,130 people. The monthly minimum wage in Bangladesh is currently $38. On Monday, workers took to the streets for a third day, blocking major roads and smashing some vehicles in the Gazipur and Savar industrial zones, on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.



11) Hundreds of Storm Evacuees in Hotels Face Evictions
September 24, 2013

Almost a year after Hurricane Sandy, hundreds of displaced New Yorkers living in hotels face eviction.

Many of them have or are applying for federal rental subsidies, but finding affordable apartments has proved daunting. A few of those still in hotels are homeowners whose houses have not yet been repaired.

But saying there is no longer money for hotel stays, lawyers for the city went to court on Tuesday trying to evict the approximately 350 remaining evacuees by Oct. 1 and steer them into homeless shelters. The lawyers said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would end reimbursements to the city for the hotel program on Monday and that the city did not have the money to put up the last evacuees while they look for housing.

The hotels in the city program have cost the federal government more than $73 million so far.

The prospect of moving to a shelter is unthinkable to evacuees like Nicole Neal, 39, a guest at a Holiday Inn in Brooklyn who said she and her teenage son had been homeless for two and a half years before moving to an apartment in Far Rockaway, Queens, that was left uninhabitable by the storm.

“I’m not going to no more shelters — I’ve been there and done that,” she said, breaking down in sobs during an interview. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to think about it.”

That hundreds of evacuees remain without permanent housing underscores the slow pace of recovery for many low-income New Yorkers after the storm, from homeowners coping with a lack of flood insurance or inadequate insurance, to renters who were not able to return to their homes and have not been able to find suitable housing.

Some housing experts say the long hotel stays point to the need for better federal and local disaster planning so that rental aid is available more quickly and cheaper temporary apartment rentals are an alternative to hotels.

A more effective system for connecting people in crisis to housing is also needed, said Rosanne Haggerty, president of Community Solutions, a nonprofit organization working to end homelessness in New York.

“It begs the question of how information and that entire process could be improved,” she said.

The city tried to end the hotel program in May after most of the more than 3,000 people in hotels had returned to repaired homes, secured public housing or found other permanent accommodations. City officials attributed the decision to budgetary concerns as well as the declining number of evacuees. The hotel program, officials said at the time, helped avoid the “severe strain” on the city’s shelter system from a sudden influx of evacuees.

By now, city lawyers argued in court documents, “it makes no sense for the city to continue to house evacuees in hotels when they can be housed within the city shelter system for a fraction of the cost and can continue to receive the same support, services and access to programs they are provided while in the hotel program.”

But lawyers with the Legal Aid Society sued to prevent the hotel evictions and Justice Margaret A. Chan of State Supreme Court in Manhattan sided with them. In her decision last May, Justice Chan said it did not seem reasonable to end the hotel accommodations just as New York was getting the first $2 billion in federal storm recovery aid, including money for rental subsidies.

That rental aid was not available until the summer, though, and most of the evacuees in hotels are still applying for rental vouchers, city officials said.

And even with a rental voucher for a one-bedroom apartment in the $1,300 range in hand, Ms. Neal said that she had found apartments scarce and landlords unwilling to rent to her because they did not want to wait for aid disbursements for background checks, deposits and other typical charges.

“I told them I was a Sandy victim,” she said. “They say they’re sorry to hear, but they want their money up front.”

At the hearing on Tuesday, one of the city’s lawyers, Andrew Rauchberg, pressed for ending the hotel program because “we can’t know when households will leave.”

The city estimated that each of about 165 households that were scattered in 29 hotels last week cost about $16,300 a month in hotel room charges and city social services.

FEMA had its own hotel programs in the New York region; they ended April 30 in New Jersey and Sept. 16 in New York State. They cost $103 million in addition to $73 million for the city program.

As they await the next court decision, advocates for storm victims say that the evacuees have been through enough.

“It is not like they’re saying ‘We’ll just transfer these people to the shelter system, here’s a room for you,’“ said Judith Goldiner, a lawyer at the Legal Aid Society. “What they’re saying is you can go apply,” she said. “These families have been traumatized,” she said. “What they went through during the storm really impacted their ability to function.”

Hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Sandy came from households with incomes of less than $30,000 a year, applications for government aid showed, and they were left with no home to return to and not enough income to qualify for available apartments.

Some lived in informal arrangements without leases and had difficulties proving their pre-storm addresses. City officials said a small number of people were uncooperative or hard to place because of criminal records and other problems that made them ineligible for whatever housing was available. Some are homeowners unable to move back home.

When FEMA’s program in New York State ended last week, one aid recipient, Thomas Reddington, 65, had struck out trying to line up a temporary apartment to be paid for with federal aid. He decided to move into his 2002 VW station wagon with his wife and their dog and to stay close to his neighborhood in Queens.

A United States Navy veteran, Mr. Reddington said he was not aware that his homeowner’s insurance had been canceled while he served as a helmsman in the Persian Gulf; he returned a month before Hurricane Sandy. He is now seeking city help repairing the roof of his two-story house in Far Rockaway, Queens, and replacing lost windows and appliances.

His plan, he said, is to head south to rent an apartment in a cheaper state and wait out the winter if his house is still not habitable. The couple will stick it out in their car at least until November, he said. “The weather is good,” he said, “so it’s all right.”



12) Officials Detail Premium Costs of Health Plan
By and
September 25, 2013 

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday provided the first detailed look at premiums to be charged to consumers for health insurance in 36 states where the federal government will run new insurance markets starting next week, highlighting costs it said were generally lower than previous estimates.

Administration officials released the information, central to their campaign to persuade millions of uninsured Americans to sign up for coverage, even as Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, waged a fierce fight on the Senate floor, risking a government shutdown if necessary to eliminate financing for the expansion of coverage under President Obama’s health care law.

The White House sought to focus attention on what it portrayed as the financial advantages of the health insurance program, which is set to start accepting customers on Oct. 1.

“I can tell you right now that in many states across the country, if you’re, say, a 27-year-old young woman, don’t have health insurance, you get on that exchange, you’re going to be able to purchase high-quality health insurance for less than the cost of your cellphone bill,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday, speaking at a health care forum in New York City with former President Bill Clinton.

For a benchmark plan — the second-lowest-cost “silver plan,” covering 70 percent of projected medical costs for a typical consumer — the average premium nationally will be $328 a month for individuals, the administration said in a new report.

For a family of four with an annual income of $50,000, the administration said, monthly premiums for the second-cheapest plan will vary widely, averaging $600 in Arizona, $800 in Georgia, $961 in Indiana, $1,069 in Mississippi, $859 in New Hampshire, $943 in New Jersey and $656 in Utah.

However, the data provided only a partial picture of the reality that consumers will face. The government did not identify the insurance companies offering policies in the federal marketplaces, also known as exchanges. Nor did it provide any information about the many policies that will cost more than the amounts cited in its report. Such information will not be available until the exchanges open, federal health officials said. Republicans and other critics of the health program were likely to take issue with the financial picture painted by the administration as the new premium information became more widely known.

The figures, almost by definition, provide a favorable view of costs, highlighting the least expensive coverage in each state.

Consumer advocates said that people shopping for health insurance should consider not only price, but also other factors like the list of covered drugs and the doctors and hospitals available in a health plan.

Under the 2010 health law, most people buying insurance in the exchanges will be eligible for federal subsidies in the form of tax credits. Taking account of these subsidies, the administration said, a family of four with income of $50,000 will generally be able to buy a silver-level plan for $282 a month, while a 27-year-old with income of $25,000 will be able to get such coverage for $145 a month.

“We are excited to see that rates in the marketplace are even lower than originally projected,” said Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services. Insurance, she said, will be affordable even to low- and moderate-income people.

Gary M. Cohen, the director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said that premiums were generally lower in states with vigorous competition in their insurance markets and robust programs to review rates.

In the 36 states where the federal government has primary responsibility for the exchanges, Mr. Cohen said, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans. In most states, health plans will be offered by two or more insurance companies — a high of 13 companies in Wisconsin, but just one apiece in New Hampshire and West Virginia.

“About one in four of these insurance companies is offering health plans in the individual market for the first time in 2014, a sign of healthy competition,” Mr. Cohen said.

Insurance experts said the prices reported on Tuesday should be viewed with caution for several reasons. In many cases, the statewide figures are averages. The rates may be available only in parts of a state, and premiums can vary as much within a state as among states.

Peter V. Lee, executive director of the state-run exchange in California, said that his state had 19 rating regions and that the variation in prices among regions was “quite significant.” For example, he said, a 40-year-old buying the least expensive silver plan would pay $240 a month in Los Angeles, but $330 in Sacramento, about 38 percent more.

In New York, a premium charged in New York City might be more than 80 percent higher than the charge in Rochester — $611 a month against $337, for the same level of coverage offered by the same insurer. Even within Rochester, prices for the same level of coverage might range from $218 to $366 a month.

Consumers will be able to sign up in the six months starting Oct. 1. For those who enroll by mid-December, coverage will begin Jan. 1. New policies are not directly comparable to those now covering individuals and families who buy insurance on their own.

In many states, insurers now can turn down people with illnesses and disabilities, or charge them higher premiums, based on their medical history or pre-existing conditions. That will generally not be allowed next year.

Under the 2010 law, health benefits are supposed to be similar to those currently provided under a typical employer-sponsored plan. But the new policies will be more comprehensive than many now sold in the individual insurance market. They will, for example, have to cover certain services like maternity care that may now be sold separately, for an extra premium, under a rider to a basic or standard policy.

The figures released by the administration include some curiosities, related to the way premiums and subsidies are calculated. For example, the administration said, in West Palm Beach, Fla., the least generous, least expensive plan available to a family of four with income of $50,000 will cost less than the comparable plan available to a 27-year-old with income of $25,000, after taking account of subsidies in both cases.

And in some places, the administration said, the subsidies will completely offset the cost of the least expensive plan, so consumers will not have to pay any premiums.



13) Turkish Protesters Are Still Said to Be Ailing From Tear Gas
September 25, 2013

ISTANBUL — Almost 40 percent of protesters surveyed by a Turkish medical group complained of continuing repercussions from their exposure to the tear gas that security forces used to quell last spring’s antigovernment demonstrations, the group says.

In a report released last week, the Turkish Medical Association, based in Ankara, the capital, said it had questioned more than 11,000 protesters nationwide who were exposed to tear gas for up to eight hours a day over multiple days during the protests, which convulsed Turkey for weeks in June. It said 39 percent complained about continuing effects from the exposure, with 14 percent saying they suffered skin irritations and 10 percent reporting dizziness and balance problems.
The government has strongly criticized the medical association, saying it is biased because its members — doctors, nurses and medical students — treated the wounded. During the protests, riot police officers detained dozens of doctors and other medical workers on charges of violating the public order.

The large protests grew out of more modest demonstrations in late May over the government’s plans to raze Gezi Park in Istanbul to build a shopping mall, and left five people dead and thousands injured. The riot police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons liberally, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was widely criticized for the harshness of the crackdown.

Separately, Physicians for Human Rights, a New York-based organization, released a report Wednesday that said Turkish security forces used tear gas on a large scale and targeted medical facilities during the demonstrations.

“The level and type of force used by Turkish authorities against peaceful protesters during the Gezi Park demonstrations, as well as the targeting of doctors who courageously treated them, was unnecessary and inexcusable,” Dr. Vincent Iacopino, the senior medical adviser to Physicians for Human Rights and the report’s co-author, said in a statement. “The use of all tear gas in Turkey must be banned, and government authorities must ensure these rampant abuses are never repeated.”

The report said 11 lost their eyes after tear-gas canisters were fired directly at their faces.

The protests, which spread to more than 60 cities, moved beyond civil unrest to become an unprecedented outcry against the more than 10-year leadership of Mr. Erdogan and his pro-Islamic government, which demonstrators said had adopted authoritarian tactics. Mr. Erdogan dismissed the criticisms and said the protests were the work of extremists and international interest groups, whom he would not identify, that are trying to overthrow the government.

President Abdullah Gul, in a speech on Tuesday in New York, where he attended the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, praised environmental concerns that set off the protests but said the New York police would have responded the same way had protesters shut down the city center.

The Ministry of Health submitted a draft bill in July that seeks to criminalize certain provisions of emergency medical care, levying severe penalties on any medical worker who assists the wounded without official authorization, said Ali Cerkezoglu, the general secretary of the Istanbul Medical Association.

“By this draft law, the government treats any ad hoc clinic or medical assistance as a crime to be penalized by imprisonment and heavy fines,” Mr. Cerkezoglu said. “If it becomes law, medical service, even an emergency situation in the street, would be controlled by the government.” The proposal is expected to be debated when Parliament reconvenes next month.

Health Ministry inspectors interrogated several members of the Istanbul Medical Association about the care they provided during the Gezi Park protests, Mr. Cerkezoglu said.

The Physicians for Human Rights report, based on reviews of physical and psychological data on 169 victims, concluded that almost all were exposed to tear gas and experienced multiple symptoms, including respiratory problems, skin rashes, hearing loss, high blood pressure and allergic reactions. The report also included interviews with 53 victims and witnesses that members of the group conducted in Istanbul and Ankara from June 25 to July 2.

Turkish security forces reportedly used 130,000 cartridges of tear gas in just 20 days following the outbreak of the protests, nearly draining the country’s entire yearly supply. Some news reports said the army’s stocks were used as replenishment.



14) This Is Only a Test
 By Jonathan Kozol
New York Times, September 26, 2013

Reign of Error
The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools
By Diane Ravitch
396 pp. Alfred A. Knopf

Over the past 20 years, a rising tide of voices in the world of public policy has been telling us that public education has fallen into an abyss of mediocrity. Our schools are “broken,” the mantra goes. Principals and teachers—their lack of “rigor” and “low expectations” for their students—are the primary offenders. The problem can be “fixed” only if schools are held to strict accountability. “No excuses” are to be permitted.

The pressure intensified in 2002 with the enactment of the federal testing law No Child Left Behind, which mandated high-stakes standardized exams that were supposed to bring every child to “proficiency” by the year 2014. When it grew apparent that this goal would not be reached, privatizing leaders pounced, offering business-modeled interventions as, perhaps, the only viable solution. Prominent figures in financial circles and at large foundations became interested in charter schools, encouraged their expansion and provided grant support to some of them. Others, with less philanthropic motives, saw a market opportunity and started running charter schools for profit. What had been a slowly growing movement now became a juggernaut.

Diane Ravitch was for many years one of the strongest advocates for the testing-and-accountability agenda. Because of her impeccable credentials as a scholar and historian of education, she was a commanding presence among critics of our schools. Some years ago, however, she reconsidered her long-held beliefs and, in an influential book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, parted ways with her former allies and joined the highly vocal opposition.

In her new book, Reign of Error, she arrows in more directly, and polemically, on the privatization movement, which she calls a “hoax” and a “danger” that has fed on the myth that schools are failing. Scores go up and down from year to year—usually, as she explains, because the testing instruments are changed and vary in their difficulty. But, pointing to the National Assessment of Education Progress, which has sampled math and reading scores every two years since 1992 and, in an alternate version, every four years since the early 1970s, Ravitch demonstrates that levels of achievement have been rising, incrementally but steadily, from one decade to the next. And—surprise!—those scores are now “at their highest point ever recorded.” Graduation rates are also at their highest level, with more young people entering college than at any time before.

Black and Hispanic children, nonetheless, continue to lag behind. The Black-white gap, as Ravitch documents, narrowed greatly in the era of desegregation, but progress has slowed as the hyper-segregation of our schools and neighborhoods along both racial and economic lines has come to be accepted once again as the normal order of the day. Market competition has not reduced the gap. Charter schools—Ravitch says we ought to ban those that operate for profit—have an uneven record. They “run the gamut from excellent to awful” and, on average, do no better than their public counterparts. Those that claim impressive gains are often openly or subtly selective in the children they enroll. Most do not serve children with severe disabilities. Others are known to counsel out or expel problematic students whose performance might depress the scores.

What passes for reform today, Ravitch writes, is “a deliberate effort” to replace public schools with a market system. The “unnatural focus on testing” has produced “perverse but predictable results.” It has narrowed curriculums to testable subjects, to the exclusion of the arts and the full capaciousness of culture. And it has encouraged the manipulation of scores on state exams. “Teaching to the test, once considered unprofessional and unethical,” is now “common.”

All of this, she says, has continued unrelentingly under the administration of President Obama, who has given “full-throated Democratic endorsement” to “the longstanding Republican agenda.” The president’s signature education package, Race to the Top, is “only marginally different from No Child Left Behind.” In fact, it compounds the damage by requiring that states evaluate teachers, partially at least, on the basis of yearly gains in students’ scores—no matter if the teacher has a different group of children from year to year, which is usually the case, and no matter whether a teacher has more troubled children, or more with disabilities, than another teacher who comes up with higher scores.

In its funding practices, the White House has “abandoned equity as the driving principle of federal aid,” offering new funds on condition that states expand the scope of competition by opening more charter schools and outsourcing normal functions of public schools to private agencies. This, Ravitch says, is “the first time in history” the government has “designed programs with the intent of stimulating private-sector investors to create for-profit ventures in American education.”

Ravitch has her own ideas about how to elevate the quality of education. Among her proposals: vastly expanded prekindergarten programs introducing children to “the joyful pursuit of play and learning;” more comprehensive medical and mental-health provisions (“every school should have a nurse, a psychologist, a guidance counselor”); smaller classes (like those in costly private schools); and diagnostic testing that, unlike a standardized exam, shows us where a child needs specific help—but, because it’s not judgmental, casts no cloud of anxiety over learning.

In the long run, she puts her faith in teachers but wants to strengthen the profession with higher entry standards. We can’t rely on “enthusiastic amateurs” who teach short term, any more than we’d rely on amateur physicians. She rejects stick-and-carrot incentives like merit pay—“the idea that never works and never dies,” and that undermines the spirit of collaboration by pitting teacher against teacher. She also deplores humiliating practices like publishing teachers’ names beside students’ test scores, as has been done in California and New York.

If we are to cast about for international comparisons, Ravitch urges us—this is not a new suggestion but is, I think, a useful one—to take a good, hard look at Finland, which operates one of the most successful education systems in the world. Teachers there, after competing for admission to schools of education and then receiving a superb course of instruction, are “held in high regard” and “exercise broad autonomy.” They are not judged by students’ test scores, because “there are no scores.” The country has no charter schools and no “Teach for Finland.” But, as Ravitch reminds us, there is one other, crucial difference: “Less than five percent of children in Finland are growing up in poverty.” In the United States, 23 percent do.

Again and again, she returns to this: “Our urban schools are in trouble because of concentrated poverty and racial segregation,” which make for a “toxic mix.” Public schooling in itself, she emphasizes, is “in a crisis only so far as society is and only so far as this new narrative of crisis has destabilized it.”

In her zeal to deconstruct that narrative, Ravitch takes on almost all the well-known private-sector leaders and political officials—among them Arne Duncan, Joel Klein, Bill Gates, Wendy Kopp and Michelle Rhee—who have given their encouragement, or barrels of their money, to the privatizing drive. It isn’t likely they’ll be sending her bouquets. Those, on the other hand, who have grown increasingly alarmed at seeing public education bartered off piece by piece, and seeing schools and teachers thrown into a state of siege, will be grateful for this cri de coeur—a fearless book, a manifesto and a call to battle.

Jonathan Kozol is a former fourth-grade teacher and the author of Savage Inequalities, The Shame of the Nation and, most recently, Fire in the Ashes.



15) N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens
September 28, 2013

WASHINGTON — Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and e-mails in a “contact chain” tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest.

The new disclosures add to the growing body of knowledge in recent months about the N.S.A.’s access to and use of private information concerning Americans, prompting lawmakers in Washington to call for reining in the agency and President Obama to order an examination of its surveillance policies. Almost everything about the agency’s operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation’s intelligence court or any public debate. As far back as 2006, a Justice Department memo warned of the potential for the “misuse” of such information without adequate safeguards.

An agency spokeswoman, asked about the analyses of Americans’ data, said, “All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period.”

“All of N.S.A.’s work has a foreign intelligence purpose,” the spokeswoman added. “Our activities are centered on counterterrorism, counterproliferation and cybersecurity.”

The legal underpinning of the policy change, she said, was a 1979 Supreme Court ruling that Americans could have no expectation of privacy about what numbers they had called. Based on that ruling, the Justice Department and the Pentagon decided that it was permissible to create contact chains using Americans’ “metadata,” which includes the timing, location and other details of calls and e-mails, but not their content. The agency is not required to seek warrants for the analyses from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

N.S.A. officials declined to identify which phone and e-mail databases are used to create the social network diagrams, and the documents provided by Mr. Snowden do not specify them. The agency did say that the large database of Americans’ domestic phone call records, which was revealed by Mr. Snowden in June and caused bipartisan alarm in Washington, was excluded. (N.S.A. officials have previously acknowledged that the agency has done limited analysis in that database, collected under provisions of the Patriot Act, exclusively for people who might be linked to terrorism suspects.)

But the agency has multiple collection programs and databases, the former officials said, adding that the social networking analyses relied on both domestic and international metadata. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the information was classified.

The concerns in the United States since Mr. Snowden’s revelations have largely focused on the scope of the agency’s collection of the private data of Americans and the potential for abuse. But the new documents provide a rare window into what the N.S.A. actually does with the information it gathers.

A series of agency PowerPoint presentations and memos describe how the N.S.A. has been able to develop software and other tools — one document cited a new generation of programs that “revolutionize” data collection and analysis — to unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible.

The spy agency, led by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, an unabashed advocate for more weapons in the hunt for information about the nation’s adversaries, clearly views its collections of metadata as one of its most powerful resources. N.S.A. analysts can exploit that information to develop a portrait of an individual, one that is perhaps more complete and predictive of behavior than could be obtained by listening to phone conversations or reading e-mails, experts say.

Phone and e-mail logs, for example, allow analysts to identify people’s friends and associates, detect where they were at a certain time, acquire clues to religious or political affiliations, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or exchanges with a fellow plotter.

“Metadata can be very revealing,” said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. “Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person’s cellphone is going to allow them to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It’s the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect.”

The N.S.A. had been pushing for more than a decade to obtain the rule change allowing the analysis of Americans’ phone and e-mail data. Intelligence officials had been frustrated that they had to stop when a contact chain hit a telephone number or e-mail address believed to be used by an American, even though it might yield valuable intelligence primarily concerning a foreigner who was overseas, according to documents previously disclosed by Mr. Snowden. N.S.A. officials also wanted to employ the agency’s advanced computer analysis tools to sift through its huge databases with much greater efficiency.

The agency had asked for the new power as early as 1999, the documents show, but had been initially rebuffed because it was not permitted under rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that were intended to protect the privacy of Americans.

A 2009 draft of an N.S.A. inspector general’s report suggests that contact chaining and analysis may have been done on Americans’ communications data under the Bush administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants, which began after the Sept. 11 attacks to detect terrorist activities and skirted the existing laws governing electronic surveillance.

In 2006, months after the wiretapping program was disclosed by The New York Times, the N.S.A.’s acting general counsel wrote a letter to a senior Justice Department official, which was also leaked by Mr. Snowden, formally asking for permission to perform the analysis on American phone and e-mail data. A Justice Department memo to the attorney general noted that the “misuse” of such information “could raise serious concerns,” and said the N.S.A. promised to impose safeguards, including regular audits, on the metadata program. In 2008, the Bush administration gave its approval.

A new policy that year, detailed in “Defense Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis,” authorized by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, said that since the Supreme Court had ruled that metadata was not constitutionally protected, N.S.A. analysts could use such information “without regard to the nationality or location of the communicants,” according to an internal N.S.A. description of the policy.

After that decision, which was previously reported by The Guardian, the N.S.A. performed the social network graphing in a pilot project for 1 ½ years “to great benefit,” according to the 2011 memo. It was put in place in November 2010 in “Sigint Management Directive 424” (sigint refers to signals intelligence).

In the 2011 memo explaining the shift, N.S.A. analysts were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists.

Analysts were warned to follow existing “minimization rules,” which prohibit the N.S.A. from sharing with other agencies names and other details of Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a “U.S. person” — a citizen or legal resident — for actual eavesdropping.

The N.S.A. documents show that one of the main tools used for chaining phone numbers and e-mail addresses has the code name Mainway. It is a repository into which vast amounts of data flow daily from the agency’s fiber-optic cables, corporate partners and foreign computer networks that have been hacked.

The documents show that significant amounts of information from the United States go into Mainway. An internal N.S.A. bulletin, for example, noted that in 2011 Mainway was taking in 700 million phone records per day. In August 2011, it began receiving an additional 1.1 billion cellphone records daily from an unnamed American service provider under Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which allows for the collection of the data of Americans if at least one end of the communication is believed to be foreign.

The overall volume of metadata collected by the N.S.A. is reflected in the agency’s secret 2013 budget request to Congress. The budget document, disclosed by Mr. Snowden, shows that the agency is pouring money and manpower into creating a metadata repository capable of taking in 20 billion “record events” daily and making them available to N.S.A. analysts within 60 minutes.

The spending includes support for the “Enterprise Knowledge System,” which has a $394 million multiyear budget and is designed to “rapidly discover and correlate complex relationships and patterns across diverse data sources on a massive scale,” according to a 2008 document. The data is automatically computed to speed queries and discover new targets for surveillance.

A top-secret document titled “Better Person Centric Analysis” describes how the agency looks for 94 “entity types,” including phone numbers, e-mail addresses and IP addresses. In addition, the N.S.A. correlates 164 “relationship types” to build social networks and what the agency calls “community of interest” profiles, using queries like “travelsWith, hasFather, sentForumMessage, employs.”

A 2009 PowerPoint presentation provided more examples of data sources available in the “enrichment” process, including location-based services like GPS and TomTom, online social networks, billing records and bank codes for transactions in the United States and overseas.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday, General Alexander was asked if the agency ever collected or planned to collect bulk records about Americans’ locations based on cellphone tower data. He replied that it was not doing so as part of the call log program authorized by the Patriot Act, but said a fuller response would be classified.

If the N.S.A. does not immediately use the phone and e-mail logging data of an American, it can be stored for later use, at least under certain circumstances, according to several documents.

One 2011 memo, for example, said that after a court ruling narrowed the scope of the agency’s collection, the data in question was “being buffered for possible ingest” later. A year earlier, an internal briefing paper from the N.S.A. Office of Legal Counsel showed that the agency was allowed to collect and retain raw traffic, which includes both metadata and content, about “U.S. persons” for up to five years online and for an additional 10 years offline for “historical searches.”

James Risen reported from Washington and New York. Laura Poitras, a freelance journalist, reported from Berlin.



16) A Wave of Sewing Jobs as Orders Pile Up at U.S. Factories
September 29, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — It was past quitting time at a new textile factory here, but that was not the only reason the work floor looked so desolate. Under the high ceilings, the fluorescent lights still bright, there were just 15 or so industrial sewing machines in a sprawling space meant for triple that amount.

The issue wasn’t poor demand for the curtains, pillows and other textiles being produced at the factory. Quite the opposite. The owner, the Airtex Design Group, had shifted an increasing amount of its production here from China because customers had been asking for more American-made goods.

The issue was finding workers.

“The sad truth is, we put ads in the paper and not many people show up,” said Mike Miller, Airtex’s chief executive.

The American textile and apparel industries, like manufacturing as a whole, are experiencing a nascent turnaround as apparel and textile companies demand higher quality, more reliable scheduling and fewer safety problems than they encounter overseas. Accidents like the factory collapse in Bangladesh earlier this year, which killed more than 1,000 workers, have reinforced the push for domestic production.

But because the industries were decimated over the last two decades — 77 percent of the American work force has been lost since 1990 as companies moved jobs abroad — manufacturers are now scrambling to find workers to fill the specialized jobs that have not been taken over by machines.

Wages for cut-and-sew jobs, the core of the apparel industry’s remaining work force, have been rising fast — increasing 13.2 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis from 2007 to 2012, while overall private sector pay rose just 1.4 percent. Companies here in Minnesota are so hungry for workers that they posted five job openings for every student in a new training program in industrial sewing, a full month before the training was even completed.

“It withered away and nobody noticed,” Jen Guarino, a former chief executive of the leather-goods maker J. W. Hulme, said of the skilled sewing work force. “Businesses stopped investing in training; they stopped investing in equipment.”

Like manufacturers in many parts of the country, those in Minnesota are wrestling with how to attract a new generation of factory workers while also protecting their bottom lines in an industry where pennies per garment can make or break a business. The backbone of the new wave of manufacturing in the United States has been automation, but some tasks still require human hands.

Nationally, manufacturers have created recruitment centers that use touch screens and other interactive technology to promote the benefits of textile and apparel work.

Here, they are recruiting at high schools, papering churches and community centers with job postings, and running ads in Hmong, Somali and Spanish-language newspapers. And in a moment of near desperation last year — after several companies worried about turning down orders because they did not have the manpower to handle them — Minnesota manufacturers hatched their grandest rescue effort of all: a program to create a skilled work force from scratch.

Run by a coalition of manufacturers, a nonprofit organization and a technical college, the program runs for six months, two or three nights a week, and teaches novices how to be industrial sewers, from handling a sewing machine to working with vinyl and canvas.

Eighteen students, ranging from a 22-year-old taking a break from college to a 60-year-old former janitor who had been out of work for three months, enrolled in the inaugural session that ended in June. The $3,695 tuition was covered by charities and the city of Minneapolis, though students will largely be expected to pay for future courses themselves.

After the course, the companies, which pay to belong to the coalition, sponsored students for a three-week rotation on their factory floors and a two-week internship at minimum wage. Then the free-for-all began as the members competed to hire those graduates who decide to pursue a career in industrial sewing.

“We need to think practically about getting skilled labor,” said Ms. Guarino, a founder of the training effort, known as the Makers Coalition. “The growth is there but we’re going to be in trouble if we don’t have a pool to draw from.”

Last year, there were about 142,000 people employed as sewing machine operators in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, which had almost 1.75 million workers last year — and where the unemployment rate as of July was 4.9 percent — only 860 were employed in 2012 as machine sewers..

Airtex had room for 50 of them. “We are looking for new sewers every day,” said Mr. Miller, the Airtex executive.

Wooing Immigrant Workers

Airtex’s roots in Minneapolis date to 1918, when Mr. Miller’s grandfather started the Sam Miller Bag Company, specializing in potato and feed bags. In the 1980s, Susan Shields founded a baggage company, and the two combined in 2000 as the Airtex Design Group, producing home textiles for companies like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.

Soon after the merger, the company began producing in China, first in the Dongguan area, then Wuxi and Shanghai. Today, it still employs about 100 Chinese workers through a partner factory in Dongguan, but production there is no longer the bargain it once was, said Ms. Shields, Airtex’s president.

Initially Airtex paid $3 an hour on average for its Chinese workers; now, it pays about $11.80 an hour, including benefits and housing.

Its American factory-floor workers make about $9 to $17 an hour, though Airtex estimates benefits add another 30 percent to those figures.

As costs were rising in China, Airtex was also getting a new message from some of its clients: They wanted more American-made products.

Health care clients wanted medical slings and other sensitive medical products made domestically to ensure quality. Retailers did not want to pay overseas freight costs to import bulky items like pillows, and they wanted more flexibility in turning around designs quickly. As Airtex considered production in Vietnam and elsewhere, it became concerned about safety and quality issues — and increasingly interested in the American alternative.

“The opportunity for domestic business right now is unbelievable,” Ms. Shields said. “Either we start to bring it back here, more of it, or we start going to places that are marginally unsafe.”

But the lack of workers here in Minnesota made shifting business back home frustrating.

It had gotten to the point where new business sometimes felt like a headache, not an opportunity. As Mr. Miller was headed to Chicago for a sales pitch in February, for instance, he was more worried than excited about landing a new contract.

“What concerns me is, if I get it,” he said, “where are we going to find the people?”

In the various waves of American textile production, dating to the 1800s, the problem of an available and willing work force solved itself.

Little capital was required — the boss just needed sewing equipment and people willing to work. That made it an attractive business for newly arrived immigrants with a few dollars to their name and, often, some background in garment work. Typically, the mostly male factory owners would recruit female workers from their old countries for the grunt work.

From the 1840s until the Civil War, it was new arrivals from Ireland and Germany. From the 1880s through the 1920s, it was Russian Jews and Italians, who would buy newly mass-produced Singer sewing machines and often set up shops in their tenement apartments with wives, daughters and tenants making up the initial work force, said Daniel Katz, provost of the National Labor College and author of a book about the garment industry.

Puerto Ricans, who were given citizenship on the eve of American entry into World War I, and black migrants from the South rounded out the work force until the 1960s, when Chinese and Dominican laborers took over, Mr. Katz said.

In San Francisco and New York, a small number of Chinese women came to the United States despite the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 barring Chinese laborers, making up a base of garment workers. After 1965, when immigration restrictions eased and Chinese were allowed to join family members, greater numbers of women came and that pool of workers grew.

“It was pretty well known that basically the day after you landed, you’d be taken to a factory by a relative to learn how to use an industrial sewing machine,” said Katie Quan, associate chair of the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley. In Los Angeles, Latinos made up much of the work force. And in the Carolinas, Hmong immigrants filled textile manufacturing jobs well into the 1990s, halting — or at least delaying — the migration of jobs overseas, said Rachel Willis, an American studies professor at the University of North Carolina.

Now, here in Minnesota, immigrants are once again being seen as the new hope.

Wanted: English and Math

Last fall, Lifetrack, a nonprofit group in St. Paul that helps immigrants, people on welfare and those with disabilities, began screening clients for possible admission to the sewing training program. Inside a gray-green room in a building on the edge of a four-lane road, people gathered around three tables: Burmese women at one of them, Ethiopian men at another, and at the back of the room an African-American woman, then 61, and a white man, 60, both born in America.

The first task was for students to test their English and math proficiency. Language skills are essential so workers can communicate with their bosses, but math skills are just as important in textile work because sewing requires precise measurements. As the students worked on the proficiency tests, Tatjana Hutnyak, Lifetrack’s director of business development, went over the basics.

Starting wages: $12 and $16 an hour. Transportation: The college, Dunwoody College of Technology, is on a bus line, but if students interview with a company not on a bus line, Lifetrack will help them get there. After passing career-readiness tests, students could qualify for the course, which would give them a certificate in industrial sewing — and, ideally, a job.

“They want to have a career rather than packaging, assembling, cleaning jobs,” said a Lifetrack manager, Dagim Gemeda, explaining why clients were interested in the sewing certification.

The Burmese women had come to Minnesota after spending time in refugee camps in Thailand. Paw Done had done piece work, sewing at home while she watched her children. The others had little sewing experience.

The Ethiopian men, who ranged in age from 21 to 42, had been in this country several years. A couple were students, one was a former custodian who had moved from another state to be close to his college-bound son, and a fourth, Abdulhakim Tahiro, had been laid off from his job at an airport car rental kiosk.

“It’s good, for my level it’s good,” Mr. Tahiro said of the starting wages.

Mr. Tahiro and Ms. Done enrolled in the course that started last January, when about half of the class were immigrants. Another student in the course, Patricia Ramon, 56, was an entrepreneur in Mexico with sewing experience. Ms. Ramon already had a job as a sewer at J. W. Hulme, but quit to take the course with the goal of obtaining certification. She wanted proof, she said, that she had technical skills.

“I am not like an old-time seamstress,” Ms. Ramon said. She expects to sew as a career, and said that making $16 an hour with health insurance would be enough to live on.

The students who were not immigrants often had difficult work histories or other problems. One of them was Lawrence Corbesia, the man sitting at the back table during the screening session. He was a former machine operator and custodial worker who had been looking for work for three months.

Another was Edward Johnson, 44, who was homeless when the course started. After food service and call-center jobs, he went to prison for felony assault, and had a tough time finding a job when he got out in 2009. He moved to Wisconsin to pick fruit, moved back to Minneapolis because he hated picking fruit, and was living on the streets and selling watercolor paintings when a homeless-center counselor hooked him up with the sewing program.

Until now, the only sewing experience Mr. Johnson had was sewing on buttons — a punishment meted out by his mother when he misbehaved. To save money, Mr. Johnson walked the 45 minutes to and from the college.

The program was overwhelming at first, he said, “so frustrating that sometimes I’d go home crying.” But he spent days at the library, watching YouTube videos on sewing techniques and studying terms used by the industry. By the end, it had gotten easier, he said, making pajamas, tote bags and aprons.

So many people are on government assistance, he said. “I’d rather learn a trade and go to work — and work,” he said.

A Long-Term Solution

Manufacturers elsewhere are also trying to build a new labor pool.

In a former glove factory in Conover, N.C., the Manufacturing Solutions Center has touch screens showing the technologies that textile manufacturers use today, while new machines spool out printed fabric. In Pennsylvania, a work force investment board has started a program with plant tours, YouTube videos of workers and a Web site promising that “contrary to popular opinion, many good jobs in manufacturing are still available.”

Other industry groups have created a curriculum for high schools on manufacturing, including Manufacturing Day, with factory tours for school groups.

Still the difficulty attracting young people frustrates Debra Kerrigan, a dean at Dunwoody overseeing the Minnesota program.

“I think it’s just the idea of, ‘Oh, I’m a sewer,’ that doesn’t thrill the average young individual today,” she said. “Skills for a lot of different industries are coming back now, machinists and automotive workers and sewers. I think if you have a skill when the economy gets bad, you’re more likely to succeed than someone who doesn’t.”

Compared with the other courses Dunwoody offers — graphic design, Web programming, robotics — sewing can seem a little old school, students say. But Elizabeth Huber, 22, who took a break from the University of Minnesota to take the sewing course, said that can also be a selling point.

“I like getting back to making things, to touching and manipulating materials rather than just pushing buttons or tweeting all day,” she said.

As the sewing course drew to a close, members of the Makers Coalition were jostling for the 18 graduates. Don Boothroyd at Kellé, a firm that makes dance costumes, hoped to snag 10 of them. J. W. Hulme wanted five, and was considering covering a student’s tuition for another course exchange for a contract promising that the student would work at Hulme for one year. Airtex hoped for five to 10 students.

But only nine students completed the course — many dropped out for personal reasons, or decided they just weren’t interested in the work — and eight got jobs. The coalition is now revamping the curriculum to focus more on hands-on work and machine maintenance.

Airtex decided it could not afford to wait for the coalition’s training program to work out its kinks. So, as the course proceeded, Airtex redoubled its efforts to find people who had some background in sewing. Mr. Miller and Ms. Shields offered a bonus to existing employees who brought in friends. They hosted an open house for prospective workers, and tried to think of groups they had not approached before — like a nonprofit that works with people with disabilities.

“I had a guy driving me to the airport the other day,” Mr. Miller said, “and he mentioned he knows a lot of people in the Cambodian community and I should call his pastor.”

Finally, Airtex decided it had to pay for training itself, even if that meant the company was less profitable for a while. It trains workers for a few hours a week, with a technical-college instructor and existing employees instructing new ones on topics like ergonomics and handling tricky materials. Airtex has since made 10 new hires for floor jobs, none of whom were highly experienced.

“The reality is, if we want good workers we know we have to train them and bring them in ourselves,” Ms. Shields said.

The factory floor now seems less barren because there are 25 sewing stations (there is still room for another 25). And most significantly, the additional workers mean the company can take on new work: Airtex has tripled its capacity, and is now making about 70 percent of its products in the United States.



17) Poll Shows Major Shift in Identity of U.S. Jews
October 1, 2013

The first major survey of American Jews in more than 10 years finds a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish — resulting in rapid assimilation that is sweeping through every branch of Judaism except the Orthodox.

The intermarriage rate, a bellwether statistic, has reached a high of 58 percent for all Jews, and 71 percent for non-Orthodox Jews — a huge change from before 1970 when only 17 percent of Jews married outside the faith. Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year.

“It’s a very grim portrait of the health of the American Jewish population in terms of their Jewish identification,” said Jack Wertheimer, a professor of American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in New York.

The survey, by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, found that despite the declines in religious identity and participation, American Jews say they are proud to be Jewish and have a “strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people.”

While 69 percent say they feel an emotional attachment to Israel, and 40 percent believe that the land that is now Israel was “given to the Jewish people by God,” only 17 percent think that the continued building of settlements in the West Bank is helpful to Israel’s security.

Jews make up 2.2 percent of the American population, a percentage that has held steady for the past two decades. The survey estimates there are 5.3 million Jewish adults as well as 1.3 million children being raised at least partly Jewish.

The survey uses a wide definition of who is a Jew, a much-debated topic. The researchers included the 22 percent of Jews who describe themselves as having “no religion,” but who identify as Jewish because they have a Jewish parent or were raised Jewish, and feel Jewish by culture or ethnicity.

However, the percentage of “Jews of no religion” has grown with each successive generation, peaking with the millennials (those born after 1980), of whom 32 percent say they have no religion.

“It’s very stark,” Alan Cooperman, deputy director of the Pew religion project, said in an interview. “Older Jews are Jews by religion. Younger Jews are Jews of no religion.”

The trend toward secularism is also happening in the American population in general, with increasing proportions of each generation claiming no religious affiliation.

But Jews without religion tend not to raise their children Jewish, so this secular trend has serious consequences for what Jewish leaders call “Jewish continuity.” Of the “Jews of no religion” who have children at home, two-thirds are not raising their children Jewish in any way. This is in contrast to the “Jews with religion,” of whom 93 percent said they are raising their children to have a Jewish identity.

Reform Judaism remains the largest American Jewish movement, at 35 percent. Conservative Jews are 18 percent, Orthodox 10 percent, and groups such as Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal make up 6 percent combined. Thirty percent of Jews do not identify with any denomination.

In a surprising finding, 34 percent said you could still be Jewish if you believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

When Jews leave the movements they grew up in, they tend to shift in the direction of less tradition, with Orthodox Jews becoming Conservative or Reform, and Conservative Jews becoming Reform. Most Reform Jews who leave become nonreligious. (Two percent of Jews are converts, the survey found.)

Jews from the former Soviet Union and their offspring make up about 10 percent of the American Jewish population.

While earlier generations of Orthodox Jews defected in large numbers, those in the younger generation are being retained. Several scholars attributed this to the Orthodox marrying young, having large families and sending their children to Jewish schools.

Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist of American Jewry at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York, and a paid consultant on the poll, said the report foretold “a sharply declining non-Orthodox population in the second half of the 21st century, and a rising fraction of Jews who are Orthodox.”

The survey also portends “growing polarization” between religious and nonreligious Jews, said Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, senior director of research and analysis at the Jewish Federations of North America.

The Jewish Federations has conducted major surveys of American Jews over many decades, but the last one in 2000 was mired in controversy over methodology. When the federations decided not to undertake another survey in 2010, Jane Eisner, editor in chief of The Jewish Daily Forward, urged the Pew researchers to jump in.

It was a multimillion-dollar effort to cull 3,475 respondents from a pool of 70,000. They were interviewed in English and Russian, on landlines and cellphones from Feb. 20 to June 13, 2013. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus three percentage points.

Ms. Eisner found the results “devastating” because, she said in an interview, “I thought there would be more American Jews who cared about religion.”

“This should serve as a wake-up call for all of us as Jews,” she said, “to think about what kind of community we’re going to be able to sustain if we have so much assimilation.”




18) Coming Soon? An Occupy Wall Street Debit Card
September 30, 2013

To mark the second anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement last month, an assortment of protests, marches and rallies were held, to support or oppose mostly predictable causes.

At the same time, a far more surprising undertaking began with far less fanfare: creating a prepaid Occupy debit card.

The idea, led by a group that includes a Cornell law professor, a former director of Deutsche Bank and a former British diplomat, is meant to serve people who do not have bank accounts, but it also aims to make Occupy a recognized financial services brand.

On Sept. 17, the day of the anniversary, the group, known as the Occupy Money Cooperative, began raising money to pay for initial operating expenses. The group’s Web site invites visitors to “join the revolution,” suggesting that using the card might represent a “protest with every purchase.” That language evokes the spirit of the sprawling encampment of tents and tarps that briefly took over Zuccotti Park in 2011, and several people who were familiar figures there have endorsed the mission of the card, which its founders have described as “low-cost, transparent, high-quality financial services to the 99 percent.”

But not everyone associated with the Occupy movement likes the idea; the notion of the Occupy name emblazoned on a financial product, even one made by people with some connection to the movement, has prompted questions about who controls the name and message.

“Too much blood, sweat and tears have been going into Occupy to have that turned into a piece of plastic,” said Bill Dobbs, a longtime Occupy participant. “This is a very odd fit, and for the project’s sake and Occupy’s sake, they ought to go on separate paths.”

From its beginning, Occupy’s participants were protective of the group’s name and image, rejecting association with political parties. Protesters invaded the set of a “Law & Order: S.V.U.” episode that was based on the movement, and lashed out at Jay-Z when he sold Occupy-themed T-shirts.

The idea for a debit card sprouted more than a year ago, said Carne Ross, a cooperative member who resigned from the British foreign service in 2004 to protest the Iraq war. Mr. Ross was also a member of the alternative banking working group established by Occupy’s General Assembly.

“There is no profit here,” said Mr. Ross, adding that once the cooperative raised about $900,000, it would make the cards available to anyone who signed up on the group’s Web site. “The only revenue we want is to make the thing sustainable and eventually expand our range of services.”

There will be no upfront cost for the card, Mr. Ross said, but there will be fees, including $1.95 for A.T.M. withdrawals and 99 cents for balance inquiries.

The card appears to intentionally avoid high fees that other debit cards have imposed, said Dean Baker, an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “In general terms they are trying to have a very low-cost card,” he said.

But when Mr. Ross participated in an “ask me anything” forum on the social media Web site Reddit in August, he was peppered with skeptical questions. Some of the most pointed criticism came in an article printed in Tidal, a magazine that examines the theories and tactics that formed Occupy and similar movements, which was headlined “Help Support Better Stronger Neo-Liberalism With the Occupy Money Cooperative.”

The cooperative has also drawn criticism over its plan to establish a relationship with Visa, which some activists condemn because the company declined to process donations to WikiLeaks, the international organization known for publishing leaked information, much of it classified.

Mr. Ross said he respected the objection to Visa. But he said his group had no choice but to do business with that company or a similar one in order to produce a debit card that could be widely accepted.

Eventually, Mr. Ross said, the cooperative hopes to offer loans and other services that would benefit millions of people who do not use traditional banks, often because they cannot afford the fees.

While some organizers acknowledged that the debit cards could be put to good use, they said the term “Occupy Card” wrongly implied that the project had been vetted and approved by the movement as a whole. And several organizers framed their reservations as a question of legacy, saying they were disturbed by the possibility that a debit card could end up being the most lasting artifact of the movement. “Occupy has always been a consensus-based movement,” said Patrick Bruner, an organizer who was present on the first day of the protests. “And there’s no consensus on this issue.”



19) City Unveils Campaign to Improve Girls’ Self-Esteem
September 30, 2013

The fashion industry and Madison Avenue are not anathema to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in the same way that soda companies and big tobacco are. But they are, in a sense, the impetus for City Hall’s latest public health campaign.

Mr. Bloomberg is taking on the popular, unattainable notions of beauty promoted by professional image-makers with a campaign that tells girls that they are beautiful the way they are.

Mainly through bus and subway ads, the campaign aims to reach girls from about 7 to 12 years old, who are at risk of negative body images that can lead to eating disorders, drinking, acting out sexually, suicide and bullying. But unlike Mr. Bloomberg’s ads to combat teenage pregnancy, smoking and soda-drinking, which are often ugly, revolting or sad, these ads are uniformly upbeat and positive.

“I’m a girl. I’m funny, playful, daring, strong, curious, smart, brave, healthy, friendly and caring,” one ad, featuring DeVoray Wigfall, a robust, laughing 12-year-old from University Heights in the Bronx, says. The ads show girls of different races and sizes, some playing sports and one in a wheelchair. Each one ends with the campaign’s overall slogan: “I’m beautiful the way I am.”

City officials and experts in adolescent health said it was the first campaign aimed at female body image that they knew of to be carried out by a major city. Ads began going up on buses and in subways on Monday.

The $330,000 campaign, called NYC Girls Project, will also offer physical fitness classes for girls through the parks department, a pilot program addressing self-esteem issues for girls at 75 after-school programs, and a Twitter campaign, #ImAGirl.

A 30-second video will be shown in taxis, on YouTube and on the campaign’s Web site, which will offer resources for parents and girls.

The Paley Center for Media, in partnership with the city and Spark Movement, which works against the sexualization of women in media, has developed related programs that look at the representation of girls on television.

Christopher Ochner, a researcher of obesity, eating disorders and nutrition at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in Manhattan, said the ads could be effective because they offered a more realistic picture than “the media’s portrayal of ideal beauty, which is still this stick-thin, crazy-thin” standard. Average girls, he added, look at fashion models and say, “ ‘If I’m not like that, then nobody’s going to need me or love me.’ ”

City officials cited evidence in The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing and elsewhere that more than 80 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat, that girls’ self-esteem drops at age 12 and does not improve until 20, and that that is tied to negative body image.

The campaign was conceived by an aide to Mr. Bloomberg, Samantha Levine, 38, the mayor’s deputy press secretary, who is serving as project director. Ms. Levine said she had been moved by stories of little girls wearing body-shaping undergarments and getting plastic surgery to improve their appearance. She said she had also been galvanized by reading the advice columnist Cheryl Strayed, who said a failure of feminism was that women still worried about what their buttocks looked like in jeans.

“I think being a woman in this society, it’s sort of impossible to not be aware of the pressures there are around appearance, around weight, around trying to always look a certain way,” Ms. Levine said.

The idea so resonated among her colleagues that all 21 girls pictured in the campaign are the daughters of city workers, friends and friends of friends, who believed it was important to participate. None are professional models. All but one, who lives on Long Island, live in New York City, she said.

DeVoray, the girl in one of the ads, who aspires to be either police commissioner or the first black female president, said in an interview on Monday that some of her friends asked her if they were pretty. “I say you’re beautiful even if somebody tells you you’re not,” she said. “You have to keep your head up, don’t let anybody bring you down.” Her mother, Twanna Cameron, a project coordinator for NYC Service, the agency that promotes volunteering, said she had eagerly stepped forward for the campaign. “I think every mom has those worries,” she said. “We can’t all be models, we can’t all be superthin.”














Speak Out for Lynne Stewart on her Birthday, October 8, 5:00 P.M., Montgomery and Market Streets outside Senator Feinstein's Office

Share the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/526274347460012/

Carlos Villarreal
Executive Director




'Facing Urban Shield' is a network of (currently) 62 community
activists and 40 Bay Area organizations (now including the Labor
Committee for Peace and Justice) protesting the militarization of
police and fire services.

'Urban Shield' is a trade show and training exercise for SWAT teams
and police agencies, to be held Oct 24-28 at the Marriott Hotel in
Oakland, CA, which will bring domestic and international law
enforcement agencies including those with known human rights abuses
such as Israel, Bahrain, and Qatar - together with "defense industry
contractors" to "train," and introduce new weapons to police and
security companies.

The Alameda County Sheriff, Gregory Ahern, and his office is
coordinating the 2013 Urban Shield exercise.  The sheriff's office
is being paid $75,000,000 with federal grant money to coordinate
the whole show, according to Alameda County records.

Urban Shield exploits an economic opportunity for weapons manufacturers
as overseas military adventures have lessened some by designating
our population as the new enemy.  Urban Shield is hosted by the Bay
Area Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).  Nearly all of its
funding comes from the federal Department of Homeland Security which
began pouring millions into the training effort in 2011.  A fact
sheet about Urban Shield is attached.

Upcoming protests and educational events:

October 1st - Oakland City Council Meeting. Protestors will educate the Council members about Urban Shield.

October 3rd - Facing Urban Shield presentation at La Pena, in Berkeley.  7-8:30 PM

October 14-18 - Flyering at BART. Contact beitconvivencia@gmail.com to choose a station and time to pass out flyers to BART passengers.

October 25th - A Walking-Witness picket line and 5 PM rally in front of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Oakland.

A opportune time and place to confront the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is also being researched.






Saturday, October 19, 3 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
The New Parkway Theater
474 24th Street in Oakland

The National Lawyers Guild and Prison Radio present two films on repression and resistance:

THE BATTLE FOR OSCAR GRANT PLAZA is a short documentary by Jacob Crawford about how the City of Oakland and its Police tried to shut down the budding "Occupy Wall Street" movement, turning downtown Oakland into a teargas filled war zone and injuring numerous people. Police video obtained in discovery in the National Lawyers Guild's successful lawsuit and interviews with activists and journalists about their experiences, tell the real story of the disastrous Fall, 2011, police actions that pushed the troubled OPD to the brink of federal receivership. Co-produced by Dave Id, Indybay.org.

MANUFACTURING GUILT is a short film that appears as a Bonus Feature on our dvd MUMIA: LONG DISTANCE REVOLUTIONARY (www.firstrunfeatures.com/mumiadvd.html). The short takes on the colossus of Abu-Jamal's contentious case, distilling a mountain of evidence and years of oft-repeated falsehoods to the most fundamental elements of police and prosecutorial misconduct that illustrate a clear and conscious effort to frame Mumia Abu-Jamal for the murder of patrolman Daniel Faulkner.

Based on the actual record of investigations and court filings from 1995 to 2003 - evidence denied by the courts and ignored in the press - MANUFACTURING GUILT cuts through the years of absurdities and overt racism to produce a clear picture of how Abu-Jamal's guilt was manufactured and his innocence suppressed beginning only moments after he and Faulkner were found shot in the early morning hours of December 9th, 1981. This historic and courageous film is the perfect companion to Long Distance Revolutionary - a film that is unequivocal in its force regarding Abu-Jamal's innocence.

"A chilling and vital inside view."--Jamal Hart (Mumia's eldest son)

"Terrific! Focuses on the actual crime, with lots of specific information, going point by point over everything that is known, including a journalist's photos of the crime scene (those are amazing, by the way)... all of the questions I had (about the case) are answered in the short. So be sure to watch."--Pop Culture Beast


TICKETS $10 at the door or at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/475501. Film showing benefits the National Lawyers Guild, S.F. Bay Area Chapter, and Prison Radio.

THE NEW PARKWAY THEATER is a community-centered cinema and pub located in Oakland's Uptown district. Sit back and relax in our cozy couches while watching our new releases, cult classics, and fabulous special programming. Plus, enjoy yummy food and local beer and wine in our café or even delivered right to your theater seat all at affordable prices!

















We need to save City College of San Francisco. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
(ACCJC) should be disbanded.
Sign the petition:

That's why we started a petition to the Department of Education, which says:

Reverse the ACCJC's unjust decision to cancel City College of San Francisco's accreditation. The Department of Education must immediately rescind its recognition of the ACCJC. The ACCJC has violated state and federal laws as well as their own policies. Their agenda to downsize and privatize public education has tremendously harmed the diverse communities of the San Francisco Bay Area.

We call on the Department of Education to save CCSF by revoking its recognition of the ACCJC and replacing it with a transparent and publicly-accountable accreditation body.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

–Save City College of SF Coalition

This petition was created on MoveOn's online petition site, where anyone can start their own online petitions. Save City College of SF Coalition didn't pay us to send this email—we never rent or sell the MoveOn.org list.

Want to support our work? MoveOn Civic Action is entirely funded by our 8 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way.


16 Years in Solitary Confinement Is Like a "Living Tomb"
American Civil Liberties Union petition to end long-term solitary confinement:
California Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard: We stand with the prisoners on hunger strike. We urge you to comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement.
Sign the petition:
In California, hundreds of prisoners have been held in solitary for more than a decade – some for infractions as trivial as reading Machiavelli's "The Prince."

Gabriel Reyes describes the pain of being isolated for at least 22 hours a day for the last 16 years:

“Unless you have lived it, you cannot imagine what it feels like to be by yourself, between four cold walls, with little concept of time…. It is a living tomb …’ I have not been allowed physical contact with any of my loved ones since 1995…I feel helpless and hopeless. In short, I am being psychologically tortured.”

That’s why over 30,000 prisoners in California began a hunger strike – the biggest the state has ever seen. They’re refusing food to protest prisoners being held for decades in solitary and to push for other changes to improve their basic conditions.

California Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard has tried to dismiss the strikers and refuses to negotiate, but the media pressure is building through the strike. If tens of thousands of us take action, we can help keep this issue in the spotlight so that Secretary Beard can’t ignore the inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Sign the petition urging Corrections Secretary Beard to end the use of long-term solitary confinement.

Solitary is such an extreme form of punishment that a United Nations torture rapporteur called for an international ban on the practice except in rare occasions. Here’s why:

The majority of the 80,000 people held in solitary in this country are severely mentally ill or because of a minor infraction (it’s a myth that it’s only for violent prisoners)
Even for people with stable mental health, solitary causes severe psychological reactions, often leading people to attempt suicide
It jeopardizes public safety because prisoners held in solitary have a harder time reintegrating into society.

And to add insult to injury, the hunger strikers are now facing retaliation – their lawyers are being restricted from visiting and the strikers are being punished. But the media continues to write about the hunger strike and we can help keep the pressure on Secretary Beard by signing this petition.

Sign the petition urging Corrections Secretary Beard to end the use of long-term solitary confinement.

Our criminal justice system should keep communities safe and treat people fairly. The use of solitary confinement undermines both of these goals – but little by little, we can help put a stop to such cruelty.

Thank you,
Anthony for the ACLU Action team
P.S. The hunger strikers have developed five core demands to address their basic conditions, the main one being an end to long-term solitary confinement. They are:

-End group punishment – prisoners say that officials often punish groups to address individual rule violations

-Abolish the debriefing policy, which is often demanded in return for better food or release from solitary

-End long-term solitary confinement

-Provide adequate and nutritious food

-Expand or provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates

“Solitary - and anger - in California's prisons.” Los Angeles Times July 13, 2013
“Pelican Bay Prison Hunger-Strikers' Stories: Gabriel Reyes.” TruthOut July 9, 2013
“Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases, UN expert says.” UN News October 18, 2011
"Stop Solitary - Two Pager" ACLU.org

What you Didn't know about NYPD's Stop & Frisk program !


Egypt: The Next President -- a little Egyptian boy speaks his remarkable mind!


Wealth Inequality in America

[This is a must see to believe video...bw]




Read the transcription of hero Bradley Manning's 35-page statement explaining why he leaked "state secrets" to WikiLeaks.

March 1, 2013


The statement was read by Pfc. Bradley Manning at a providence inquiry for his formal plea of guilty to one specification as charged and nine specifications for lesser included offenses. He pled not guilty to 12 other specifications. This rush transcript was taken by journalist Alexa O'Brien at Thursday's pretrial hearing and first appeared on Salon.com.




Call for a Compassionate Release for Lynne Stewart:
Attorney General Eric Holder: 202-514-2001
White House President Obama: 202-456-1414
Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels: 202-307-3198 ext 3

Urgent: Please sign the petition for compassionate release for Lynne Stewart

For more information, go to http://www.lynnestewart.org

Write to Lynne Stewart at:

Lynne Stewart #53504-054
??Federal Medical Center, Carswell
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127



You Have the Right to Remain Silent: NLG Guide to Law Enforcement Encounters

Posted 1 day ago on July 27, 2012, 10:28 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Occupy Wall Street is a nonviolent movement for social and economic justice, but in recent days disturbing reports have emerged of Occupy-affiliated activists being targeted by US law enforcement, including agents from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. To help ensure Occupiers and allied activists know their rights when encountering law enforcement, we are publishing in full the National Lawyers Guild's booklet: You Have the Right to Remain Silent. The NLG provides invaluable support to the Occupy movement and other activists – please click here to support the NLG.

We strongly encourage all Occupiers to read and share the information provided below. We also recommend you enter the NLG's national hotline number (888-654-3265) into your cellphone (if you have one) and keep a copy handy. This information is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact the NLG or a criminal defense attorney immediately if you have been visited by the FBI or other law enforcement officials. You should also alert your relatives, friends, co-workers and others so that they will be prepared if they are contacted as well.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Law Enforcement Encounters

What Rights Do I Have?

Whether or not you're a citizen, you have rights under the United States Constitution. The Fifth Amendment gives every person the right to remain silent: not to answer questions asked by a police officer or government agent. The Fourth Amendment restricts the government's power to enter and search your home or workplace, although there are many exceptions and new laws have expanded the government's power to conduct surveillance. The First Amendment protects your right to speak freely and to advocate for social change. However, if you are a non-citizen, the Department of Homeland Security may target you based on your political activities.

Standing Up For Free Speech

The government's crusade against politically-active individuals is intended to disrupt and suppress the exercise of time-honored free speech activities, such as boycotts, protests, grassroots organizing and solidarity work. Remember that you have the right to stand up to the intimidation tactics of FBI agents and other law enforcement officials who, with political motives, are targeting organizing and free speech activities. Informed resistance to these tactics and steadfast defense of your and others' rights can bring positive results. Each person who takes a courageous stand makes future resistance to government oppression easier for all. The National Lawyers Guild has a long tradition of standing up to government repression. The organization itself was labeled a "subversive" group during the McCarthy Era and was subject to FBI surveillance and infiltration for many years. Guild attorneys have defended FBI-targeted members of the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, and the Puerto Rican independence movement. The NLG exposed FBI surveillance, infiltration and disruption tactics that were detailed during the 1975-76 COINTELPRO hearings. In 1989 the NLG prevailed in a lawsuit on behalf of several activist organizations, including the Guild, that forced the FBI to expose the extent to which it had been spying on activist movements. Under the settlement, the FBI turned over roughly 400,000 pages of its files on the Guild, which are now available at the Tamiment Library at New York University.

What if FBI Agents or Police Contact Me?

What if an agent or police officer comes to the door?

Do not invite the agents or police into your home. Do not answer any questions. Tell the agent that you do not wish to talk with him or her. You can state that your lawyer will contact them on your behalf. You can do this by stepping outside and pulling the door behind you so that the interior of your home or office is not visible, getting their contact information or business cards and then returning inside. They should cease questioning after this. If the agent or officer gives a reason for contacting you, take notes and give the information to your attorney. Anything you say, no matter how seemingly harmless or insignificant, may be used against you or others in the future. Lying to or misleading a federal agent is a crime. The more you speak, the more opportunity for federal law enforcement to find something you said (even if not intentionally) false and assert that you lied to a federal officer.

Do I have to answer questions?

You have the constitutional right to remain silent. It is not a crime to refuse to answer questions. You do not have to talk to anyone, even if you have been arrested or are in jail. You should affirmatively and unambiguously state that you wish to remain silent and that you wish to consult an attorney. Once you make the request to speak to a lawyer, do not say anything else. The Supreme Court recently ruled that answering law enforcement questions may be taken as a waiver of your right to remain silent, so it is important that you assert your rights and maintain them. Only a judge can order you to answer questions. There is one exception: some states have "stop and identify" statutes which require you to provide identity information or your name if you have been detained on reasonable suspicion that you may have committed a crime. A lawyer in your state can advise you of the status of these requirements where you reside.

Do I have to give my name?

As above, in some states you can be detained or arrested for merely refusing to give your name. And in any state, police do not always follow the law, and refusing to give your name may make them suspicious or more hostile and lead to your arrest, even without just cause, so use your judgment. Giving a false name could in some circumstances be a crime.

Do I need a lawyer?

You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you decide whether to answer questions from law enforcement. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer if you are considering answering any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer present during any interview. The lawyer's job is to protect your rights. Once you tell the agent that you want to talk to a lawyer, he or she should stop trying to question you and should make any further contact through your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, you can still tell the officer you want to speak to one before answering questions. Remember to get the name, agency and telephone number of any investigator who visits you, and give that information to your lawyer. The government does not have to provide you with a free lawyer unless you are charged with a crime, but the NLG or another organization may be able to help you find a lawyer for free or at a reduced rate.

If I refuse to answer questions or say I want a lawyer, won't it seem like I have something to hide?

Anything you say to law enforcement can be used against you and others. You can never tell how a seemingly harmless bit of information might be used or manipulated to hurt you or someone else. That is why the right not to talk is a fundamental right under the Constitution. Keep in mind that although law enforcement agents are allowed to lie to you, lying to a government agent is a crime. Remaining silent is not. The safest things to say are "I am going to remain silent," "I want to speak to my lawyer," and "I do not consent to a search." It is a common practice for law enforcement agents to try to get you to waive your rights by telling you that if you have nothing to hide you would talk or that talking would "just clear things up." The fact is, if they are questioning you, they are looking to incriminate you or someone you may know, or they are engaged in political intelligence gathering. You should feel comfortable standing firm in protection and defense of your rights and refusing to answer questions.

Can agents search my home or office?

You do not have to let police or agents into your home or office unless they have and produce a valid search warrant. A search warrant is a written court order that allows the police to conduct a specified search. Interfering with a warrantless search probably will not stop it and you might get arrested. But you should say "I do not consent to a search," and call a criminal defense lawyer or the NLG. You should be aware that a roommate or guest can legally consent to a search of your house if the police believe that person has the authority to give consent, and your employer can consent to a search of your workspace without your permission.

What if agents have a search warrant?

If you are present when agents come for the search, you can ask to see the warrant. The warrant must specify in detail the places to be searched and the people or things to be taken away. Tell the agents you do not consent to the search so that they cannot go beyond what the warrant authorizes. Ask if you are allowed to watch the search; if you are allowed to, you should. Take notes, including names, badge numbers, what agency each officer is from, where they searched and what they took. If others are present, have them act as witnesses to watch carefully what is happening. If the agents ask you to give them documents, your computer, or anything else, look to see if the item is listed in the warrant. If it is not, do not consent to them taking it without talking to a lawyer. You do not have to answer questions. Talk to a lawyer first. (Note: If agents present an arrest warrant, they may only perform a cursory visual search of the premises to see if the person named in the arrest warrant is present.)

Do I have to answer questions if I have been arrested?

No. If you are arrested, you do not have to answer any questions. You should affirmatively and unambiguously state that you wish to assert your right to remain silent. Ask for a lawyer right away. Do not say anything else. Repeat to every officer who tries to talk to or question you that you wish to remain silent and that you wish to speak to a lawyer. You should always talk to a lawyer before you decide to answer any questions.

What if I speak to government agents anyway?

Even if you have already answered some questions, you can refuse to answer other questions until you have a lawyer. If you find yourself talking, stop. Assert that you wish to remain silent and that you wish to speak to a lawyer.

What if the police stop me on the street?

Ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, consider just walking away. If the police say you are not under arrest, but are not free to go, then you are being detained. The police can pat down the outside of your clothing if they have reason to suspect you might be armed and dangerous. If they search any more than this, say clearly, "I do not consent to a search." They may keep searching anyway. If this happens, do not resist because you can be charged with assault or resisting arrest. You do not have to answer any questions. You do not have to open bags or any closed container. Tell the officers you do not consent to a search of your bags or other property.

What if police or agents stop me in my car?

Keep your hands where the police can see them. If you are driving a vehicle, you must show your license, registration and, in some states, proof of insurance. You do not have to consent to a search. But the police may have legal grounds to search your car anyway. Clearly state that you do not consent. Officers may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them, but no one has to answer any questions.

What if I am treated badly by the police or the FBI?

Write down the officer's badge number, name or other identifying information. You have a right to ask the officer for this information. Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers. If you are injured, seek medical attention and take pictures of the injuries as soon as you can. Call a lawyer as soon as possible.

What if the police or FBI threaten me with a grand jury subpoena if I don't answer their questions?

A grand jury subpoena is a written order for you to go to court and testify about information you may have. It is common for the FBI to threaten you with a subpoena to get you to talk to them. If they are going to subpoena you, they will do so anyway. You should not volunteer to speak just because you are threatened with a subpoena. You should consult a lawyer.

What if I receive a grand jury subpoena?

Grand jury proceedings are not the same as testifying at an open court trial. You are not allowed to have a lawyer present (although one may wait in the hallway and you may ask to consult with him or her after each question) and you may be asked to answer questions about your activities and associations. Because of the witness's limited rights in this situation, the government has frequently used grand jury subpoenas to gather information about activists and political organizations. It is common for the FBI to threaten activists with a subpoena in order to elicit information about their political views and activities and those of their associates. There are legal grounds for stopping ("quashing") subpoenas, and receiving one does not necessarily mean that you are suspected of a crime. If you do receive a subpoena, call the NLG National Hotline at 888-NLG-ECOL (888-654-3265) or call a criminal defense attorney immediately.

The government regularly uses grand jury subpoena power to investigate and seek evidence related to politically-active individuals and social movements. This practice is aimed at prosecuting activists and, through intimidation and disruption, discouraging continued activism.

Federal grand jury subpoenas are served in person. If you receive one, it is critically important that you retain the services of an attorney, preferably one who understands your goals and, if applicable, understands the nature of your political work, and has experience with these issues. Most lawyers are trained to provide the best legal defense for their client, often at the expense of others. Beware lawyers who summarily advise you to cooperate with grand juries, testify against friends, or cut off contact with your friends and political activists. Cooperation usually leads to others being subpoenaed and investigated. You also run the risk of being charged with perjury, a felony, should you omit any pertinent information or should there be inconsistencies in your testimony.

Frequently prosecutors will offer "use immunity," meaning that the prosecutor is prohibited from using your testimony or any leads from it to bring charges against you. If a subsequent prosecution is brought, the prosecutor bears the burden of proving that all of its evidence was obtained independent of the immunized testimony. You should be aware, however, that they will use anything you say to manipulate associates into sharing more information about you by suggesting that you have betrayed confidences.

In front of a grand jury you can "take the Fifth" (exercise your right to remain silent). However, the prosecutor may impose immunity on you, which strips you of Fifth Amendment protection and subjects you to the possibility of being cited for contempt and jailed if you refuse to answer further. In front of a grand jury you have no Sixth Amendment right to counsel, although you can consult with a lawyer outside the grand jury room after each question.

What if I don't cooperate with the grand jury?

If you receive a grand jury subpoena and elect to not cooperate, you may be held in civil contempt. There is a chance that you may be jailed or imprisoned for the length of the grand jury in an effort to coerce you to cooperate. Regular grand juries sit for a basic term of 18 months, which can be extended up to a total of 24 months. It is lawful to hold you in order to coerce your cooperation, but unlawful to hold you as a means of punishment. In rare instances you may face criminal contempt charges.

What If I Am Not a Citizen and the DHS Contacts Me?

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has been renamed and reorganized into: 1. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS); 2. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and 3. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). All three bureaus will be referred to as DHS for the purposes of this pamphlet.

? Assert your rights. If you do not demand your rights or if you sign papers waiving your rights, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may deport you before you see a lawyer or an immigration judge. Never sign anything without reading, understanding and knowing the consequences of signing it.

? Talk to a lawyer. If possible, carry with you the name and telephone number of an immigration lawyer who will take your calls. The immigration laws are hard to understand and there have been many recent changes. DHS will not explain your options to you. As soon as you encounter a DHS agent, call your attorney. If you can't do it right away, keep trying. Always talk to an immigration lawyer before leaving the U.S. Even some legal permanent residents can be barred from returning.

Based on today's laws, regulations and DHS guidelines, non-citizens usually have the following rights, no matter what their immigration status. This information may change, so it is important to contact a lawyer. The following rights apply to non-citizens who are inside the U.S. Non-citizens at the border who are trying to enter the U.S. do not have all the same rights.

Do I have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any DHS questions or signing any DHS papers?

Yes. You have the right to call a lawyer or your family if you are detained, and you have the right to be visited by a lawyer in detention. You have the right to have your attorney with you at any hearing before an immigration judge. You do not have the right to a government-appointed attorney for immigration proceedings, but if you have been arrested, immigration officials must show you a list of free or low cost legal service providers.

Should I carry my green card or other immigration papers with me?

If you have documents authorizing you to stay in the U.S., you must carry them with you. Presenting false or expired papers to DHS may lead to deportation or criminal prosecution. An unexpired green card, I-94, Employment Authorization Card, Border Crossing Card or other papers that prove you are in legal status will satisfy this requirement. If you do not carry these papers with you, you could be charged with a crime. Always keep a copy of your immigration papers with a trusted family member or friend who can fax them to you, if need be. Check with your immigration lawyer about your specific case.

Am I required to talk to government officers about my immigration history?

If you are undocumented, out of status, a legal permanent resident (green card holder), or a citizen, you do not have to answer any questions about your immigration history. (You may want to consider giving your name; see above for more information about this.) If you are not in any of these categories, and you are being questioned by a DHS or FBI agent, then you may create problems with your immigration status if you refuse to provide information requested by the agent. If you have a lawyer, you can tell the agent that your lawyer will answer questions on your behalf. If answering questions could lead the agent to information that connects you with criminal activity, you should consider refusing to talk to the agent at all.

If I am arrested for immigration violations, do I have the right to a hearing before an immigration judge to defend myself against deportation charges?

Yes. In most cases only an immigration judge can order you deported. But if you waive your rights or take "voluntary departure," agreeing to leave the country, you could be deported without a hearing. If you have criminal convictions, were arrested at the border, came to the U.S. through the visa waiver program or have been ordered deported in the past, you could be deported without a hearing. Contact a lawyer immediately to see if there is any relief for you.

Can I call my consulate if I am arrested?

Yes. Non-citizens arrested in the U.S. have the right to call their consulate or to have the police tell the consulate of your arrest. The police must let your consulate visit or speak with you if consular officials decide to do so. Your consulate might help you find a lawyer or offer other help. You also have the right to refuse help from your consulate.

What happens if I give up my right to a hearing or leave the U.S. before the hearing is over?

You could lose your eligibility for certain immigration benefits, and you could be barred from returning to the U.S. for a number of years. You should always talk to an immigration lawyer before you decide to give up your right to a hearing.

What should I do if I want to contact DHS?

Always talk to a lawyer before contacting DHS, even on the phone. Many DHS officers view "enforcement" as their primary job and will not explain all of your options to you.

What Are My Rights at Airports?

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is illegal for law enforcement to perform any stops, searches, detentions or removals based solely on your race, national origin, religion, sex or ethnicity.

If I am entering the U.S. with valid travel papers can a U.S. customs agent stop and search me?

Yes. Customs agents have the right to stop, detain and search every person and item.

Can my bags or I be searched after going through metal detectors with no problem or after security sees that my bags do not contain a weapon?

Yes. Even if the initial screen of your bags reveals nothing suspicious, the screeners have the authority to conduct a further search of you or your bags.

If I am on an airplane, can an airline employee interrogate me or ask me to get off the plane?

The pilot of an airplane has the right to refuse to fly a passenger if he or she believes the passenger is a threat to the safety of the flight. The pilot's decision must be reasonable and based on observations of you, not stereotypes.

What If I Am Under 18?

Do I have to answer questions?

No. Minors too have the right to remain silent. You cannot be arrested for refusing to talk to the police, probation officers, or school officials, except in some states you may have to give your name if you have been detained.

What if I am detained?

If you are detained at a community detention facility or Juvenile Hall, you normally must be released to a parent or guardian. If charges are filed against you, in most states you are entitled to counsel (just like an adult) at no cost.

Do I have the right to express political views at school?

Public school students generally have a First Amendment right to politically organize at school by passing out leaflets, holding meetings, etc., as long as those activities are not disruptive and do not violate legitimate school rules. You may not be singled out based on your politics, ethnicity or religion.

Can my backpack or locker be searched?

School officials can search students' backpacks and lockers without a warrant if they reasonably suspect that you are involved in criminal activity or carrying drugs or weapons. Do not consent to the police or school officials searching your property, but do not physically resist or you may face criminal charges.


This booklet is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact an attorney if you have been visited by the FBI or other law enforcement officials. You should also alert your relatives, friends, co-workers and others so that they will be prepared if they are contacted as well.

NLG National Hotline for Activists Contacted by the FBI





Free Mumia NOW!


Write to Mumia:

Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335

SCI Mahanoy

301 Morea Road

Frackville, PA 17932

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Rachel Wolkenstein

August 21, 2011 (917) 689-4009








"A Child's View from Gaza: Palestinian Children's Art and the Fight Against

Censorship" book




Justice for Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace: Decades of isolation in Louisiana

state prisons must end

Take Action -- Sign Petition Here:









Write to Bradley


View the new 90 second "I am Bradley Manning" video:

I am Bradley Manning


Courage to Resist

484 Lake Park Ave. #41

Oakland, CA 94610



"A Fort Leavenworth mailing address has been released for Bradley Manning:

Bradley Manning 89289

830 Sabalu Road

Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027

The receptionist at the military barracks confirmed that if someone sends

Bradley Manning a letter to that address, it will be delivered to him."


This is also a Facebook event



Courage to Resist needs your support

Please donate today:


"Soldiers sworn oath is to defend and support the Constitution. Bradley Manning

has been defending and supporting our Constitution." --Dan Ellsberg, Pentagon

Papers whistle-blower

Jeff Paterson

Project Director, Courage to Resist

First US military service member to refuse to fight in Iraq

Please donate today.


P.S. I'm asking that you consider a contribution of $50 or more, or possibly

becoming a sustainer at $15 a month. Of course, now is also a perfect time to

make a end of year tax-deductible donation. Thanks again for your support!

Please click here to forward this to a friend who might also be interested in

supporting GI resisters.




The Battle Is Still On To


The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610





Reasonable doubts about executing Kevin Cooper

Chronicle Editorial

Monday, December 13, 2010


Death penalty -- Kevin Cooper is Innocent! Help save his life from San Quentin's

death row!




- From Amnesty International USA

17 December 2010

Click here to take action online:



To learn about recent Urgent Action successes and updates, go to


For a print-friendly version of this Urgent Action (PDF):




Short Video About Al-Awda's Work

The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's

work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown

on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l

Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected

over the past nine years.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTiAkbB5uC0&eurl

Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial

support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to


and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!











[Some of these videos are embeded on the BAUAW website:

http://bauaw.blogspot.com/ or bauaw.org ...bw]












On Gun Control, Martin Luther King, the Deacons of Defense and the history of Black Liberation



Fukushima Never Again


"Fukushima, Never Again" tells the story of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns in north east Japan in March of 2011 and exposes the cover-up by Tepco and the Japanese government.

This is the first film that interviews the Mothers Of Fukushima, nuclear power experts and trade unionists who are fighting for justice and the protection of the children and the people of Japan and the world. The residents and citizens were forced to buy their own geiger counters and radiation dosimeters in order to test their communities to find out if they were in danger.

The government said contaminated soil in children's school grounds was safe and then

when the people found out it was contaminated and removed the top soil, the government and TEPCO refused to remove it from the school grounds.

It also relays how the nuclear energy program for "peaceful atoms" was brought to Japan under the auspices of the US military occupation and also the criminal cover-up of the safety dangers of the plant by TEPCO and GE management which built the plant in Fukushima. It also interviews Kei Sugaoka, the GE nulcear plant inspector from the bay area who exposed cover-ups in the safety at the Fukushima plant and was retaliated against by GE. This documentary allows the voices of the people and workers to speak out about the reality of the disaster and what this means not only for the people of Japan but the people of the world as the US government and nuclear industry continue to push for more new plants and government subsidies. This film breaks

the information blockade story line of the corporate media in Japan, the US and around the world that Fukushima is over.

Production Of Labor Video Project

P.O. Box 720027

San Francisco, CA 94172



For information on obtaining the video go to:




1000 year of war through the world



Anatomy of a Massacre - Afganistan


Afghans accuse multiple soldiers of pre-meditated murder

To see more go to http://www.youtube.com/user/journeymanpictures

Follow us on Facebook (http://goo.gl/YRw42) or Twitter


The recent massacre of 17 civilians by a rogue US soldier has been shrouded in

mystery. But through unprecedented access to those involved, this report

confronts the accusations that Bales didn't act alone.

"They came into my room and they killed my family". Stories like this are common

amongst the survivors in Aklozai and Najiban. As are the shocking accusations

that Sergeant Bales was not acting alone. Even President Karzai has announced

"one man can not do that". Chief investigator, General Karimi, is suspicious

that despite being fully armed, Bales freely left his base without raising

alarm. "How come he leaves at night and nobody is aware? Every time we have

weapon accountability and personal accountability." These are just a few of the

questions the American army and government are yet to answer. One thing however

is very clear, the massacre has unleashed a wave of grief and outrage which

means relations in Kandahar will be tense for years to come: "If I could lay my

hands on those infidels, I would rip them apart with my bare hands."

A Film By SBS

Distributed By Journeyman Pictures

April 2012


Photo of George Zimmerman, in 2005 photo, left, and in a more recent photo.



SPD Security Cams.wmv



Kids being put on buses and transported from school to "alternate locations" in

Terror Drills



Private prisons,

a recession resistant investment opportunity



Attack Dogs used on a High School Walkout in MD, Four Students Charged With

"Thought Crimes"



Common forms of misconduct by Law Enforcement Officials and Prosecutors



Organizing and Instigating: OCCUPY - Ronnie Goodman



Rep News 12: Yes We Kony



The New Black by The Mavrix - Official Music Video



Japan One Year Later



The CIA's Heart Attack Gun




The Invisible American Workforce



Labor Beat: NATO vs The 1st Amendment


For more detailed information, send us a request at mail@laborbeat.org.


The Battle of Oakland

by brandon jourdan plus



Officers Pulled Off Street After Tape of Beating Surfaces


February 1, 2012, 10:56 am




This is excellent! Michelle Alexander pulls no punches!

Michelle Alexander, Author of The New Jim Crow, speaks about the political


behind the War on Drugs and its connection to the mass incarceration of Black

and Brown people in the United States.


If you think Bill Clinton was "the first black President" you need to watch this

video and see how much damage his administration caused for the black community

as a result of his get tough attitude on crime that appealed to white swing


This speech took place at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on January 12,





I received the following reply from the White House November 18, 2011 regarding

the Bradley Manning petition I signed:

"Why We Can't Comment on Bradley Manning

"Thank you for signing the petition 'Free PFC Bradley Manning, the accused

WikiLeaks whistleblower.' We appreciate your participation in the We the People

platform on WhiteHouse.gov.

The We the People Terms of Participation explain that 'the White House may

decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or

similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or

agencies, federal courts, or state and local government.' The military justice

system is charged with enforcing the Uniform Code of

Military Justice. Accordingly, the White House declines to comment on the

specific case raised in this petition...

That's funny! I guess Obama didn't get this memo. Here's what Obama said about



"He broke the law!" says Obama about Bradley Manning who has yet to even be

charged, let alone, gone to trial and found guilty. How horrendous is it for the

President to declare someone guilty before going to trial or being charged with

a crime! Justice in the U.S.A.!

Obama on FREE BRADLEY MANNING protest... San Francisco, CA. April 21, 2011-

Presidential remarks on interrupt/interaction/performance art happening at

fundraiser. Logan Price queries Barack after org. FRESH JUICE PARTY political



Release Bradley Manning

Almost Gone (The Ballad Of Bradley Manning)

Written by Graham Nash and James Raymond (son of David Crosby)



Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks



School police increasingly arresting American students?




Nuclear Detonation Timeline "1945-1998"

The 2053 nuclear tests and explosions that took place between 1945 and 1998 are

plotted visually and audibly on a world map.



We Are the 99 Percent

We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to

choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are

suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay

and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1

percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

Brought to you by the people who occupy wall street. Why will YOU occupy?






We Are The People Who Will Save Our Schools




In honor of the 75th Anniversary of the 44-Day Flint Michigan sit-down strike at

GM that began December 30, 1936:

According to Michael Moore, (Although he has done some good things, this clip

isn't one of them) in this clip from his film, "Capitalism a Love Story," it was

Roosevelt who saved the day!):

"After a bloody battle one evening, the Governor of Michigan, with the support

of the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, sent in the National

Guard. But the guns and the soldiers weren't used on the workers; they were

pointed at the police and the hired goons warning them to leave these workers

alone. For Mr. Roosevelt believed that the men inside had a right to a redress

of their grievances." -Michael Moore's 'Capitalism: A Love Story'

- Flint Sit-Down Strike http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8x1_q9wg58

But those cannons were not aimed at the goons and cops! They were aimed straight

at the factory filled with strikers! Watch what REALLY happened and how the

strike was really won!

'With babies & banners' -- 75 years since the 44-day Flint sit-down strike




HALLELUJAH CORPORATIONS (revised edition).mov






ILWU Local 10 Longshore Workers Speak-Out At Oakland Port Shutdown


Uploaded by laborvideo on Dec 13, 2011

ILWU Local 10 longshore workers speak out during a blockade of the Port of

Oakland called for by Occupy Oakland. Anthony Levieges and Clarence Thomas rank

and file members of the union. The action took place on December 12, 2011 and

the interview took place at Pier 30 on the Oakland docks.

For more information on the ILWU Local 21 Longview EGT struggle go to


For further info on the action and the press conferernce go to:


Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org


UC Davis Police Violence Adds Fuel to Fire

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

19 November 11



UC Davis Protestors Pepper Sprayed




Police pepper spraying and arresting students at UC Davis



UC Davis Chancellor Katehi walks to her car


Occupy Seattle - 84 Year Old Woman Dorli Rainey Pepper Sprayed






Shot by police with rubber bullet at Occupy Oakland



Copwatch@Occupy Oakland: Beware of Police Infiltrators and Provocateurs



Occupy Oakland 11-2 Strike: Police Tear Gas, Black Bloc, War in the Streets



Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest

were actually undercover Quebec police officers:

POLICE STATE Criminal Cops EXPOSED As Agent Provocateurs @ SPP Protest



Quebec police admit going undercover at montebello protests


G20: Epic Undercover Police Fail




Occupy Oakland Protest


Cops make mass arrests at occupy Oakland


Raw Video: Protesters Clash With Oakland Police


Occupy Oakland - Flashbangs USED on protesters OPD LIES


KTVU TV Video of Police violence


Marine Vet wounded, tear gas & flash-bang grenades thrown in downtown



Tear Gas billowing through 14th & Broadway in Downtown Oakland


Arrests at Occupy Atlanta -- This is what a police state looks like



Labor Beat: Hey You Billionaire, Pay Your Fair Share



Voices of Occupy Boston 2011 - Kwame Somburu (Paul Boutelle) Part I


Voices of Occupy Boston 2011 - Kwame Somburu (Paul Boutelle) Part II



#Occupy Wall Street In Washington Square: Mohammed Ezzeldin, former occupier of

Egypt's Tahrir Square Speaks at Washington Square!



#OccupyTheHood, Occupy Wall Street

By adele pham



Live arrest at brooklyn bridge #occupywallstreet by We are Change







One World One Revolution -- MUST SEE VIDEO -- Powerful and beautiful...bw


"When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty." Thomas Jefferson


Japan: angry Fukushima citizens confront government (video)

Posted by Xeni Jardin on Monday, Jul 25th at 11:36am



Labor Beat: Labor Stands with Subpoenaed Activists Against FBI Raids and Grand

Jury Investigation of antiwar and social justice activists.

"If trouble is not at your door. It's on it's way, or it just left."

"Investigate the Billionaires...Full investigation into Wall Street..." Jesse

Sharkey, Vice

President, Chicago Teachers Union



Coal Ash: One Valley's Tale