Wednesday, July 19, 2017

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, TUESDAY, JULY 18, 2017

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:


A) EVENTS, ACTIONS 
AND ONGOING STRUGGLES

B) ARTICLES IN FULL


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A) EVENTS, ACTIONS AND ONGOING STRUGGLES


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

Hello

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Mission Statement of our Brothers and Sisters of the Millions for Prisoners March, with whom Amend The 13th cooperates: 
We seek to unite Activists, Advocates, Prisoners, Ex-Prisoners, their Family and Friends, as well as all others committed to the fight to drastically reduce or eliminate prisons and the prison system, and replace them with more humane and effective systems. Our aim is to expose the Prison Industrial Complex for the Human Rights Violation that it truly is. We want to challenge the idea that caging and controlling people keeps communities safe. We believe that for too long our nation has relied upon incarceration as a way to solve broader social problems to its detriment.
On August 19th, 2017 we will March On Washington to bring world attention to the continued slavery and involuntary servitude in America, enabled by the 13th Amendment and to highlight the ever increasing Movement against the Prison Industrial Complex.
The New Abolitionist Movement!
A) We DEMAND the 13th amendment ENSLAVEMENT CLAUSE of the United States Constitution be amended to abolish LEGALIZED slavery in America.
B) We DEMAND a Congressional hearing on the 13th Amendment ENSLAVEMENT CLAUSE being recognized as in violation of international law, the general principles of human rights and its direct links to:
  • Private entities exploiting prison labor
  • Companies overcharging prisoners for goods and services
  • Private entities contracted by states/federal government to build and operate prisons. This would also include immigration detentions
  • Racial disparities in America's prison population and sentencing
  • Policing: the disproportionate (unaccountable) killings by police in the black and brown communities
  • Felony Disenfranchisement laws
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement 34,000 detention quotas
  • Producing the world largest prison population
LOC's (Local Organizing Committees) are being established in cities all throughout the country to bring awareness and promote the March on Washington!
Additional Support is need in the following areas:
– Lawyers – Legal Observer – Lobbyist – Public Relations – Event Planners – Fundraisers
Please contact us if you want to support us in these or other areas:
Email: millionsforprisonersmarch@gmail.com
Tel.: 803-220-4553
Website: www.iamweubuntu.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/groups/MillionsforPrisonersMarch/
Twitter: Twitter.com/milli4prisoners
Address:
iamWE
P.O Box 58201
Raleigh NC 27658​

Update 6-24-2017:
More details here.
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CODEPINK Fall Action at Creech:  
Oct. 5 to Oct. 12    (All welcome!)
(Oct. 7 is the 16th Anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan)

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


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

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

Would love for someone to do research on this guy!

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

Life As A 'Drone Warrior'


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


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


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


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SIGN THE PETITION: DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST REALITY WINNER

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

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

WHY ALLEGED WHISTLE-BLOWER REALITY WINNER DESERVES SUPPORT

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

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

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Solidarity Statement from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners

Friends,

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

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

California Coalition for Women Prisoners Statement

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

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

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

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

    Northwest Detention Center Press Release May 4, 2017

Despite threats and retaliation, hunger strikers continue protest 

ICE ignores demands for improved conditions 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


#Tacoma12     #Adelanto9     #Not1More      #NoEstánSolos

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Labor Studies and Radical History

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

415.387.5700

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

Hours

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

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

Services

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

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Support:




CONTRIBUTE 
Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression

BAY AREA ANTI-REPRESSION COMMITTEE

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

Mothers Message to the NY/NJ Activist Community 

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

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

"What We Want, What We Need" 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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100,000 protest in San Francisco, CA

Pictures From Women's
Marches on Every Continent



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My Heartfelt "Thank You!"

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Prison Nation,
This is Mumia Abu-Jamal

Prison Radio, May 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a critical and essential step forward!

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Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for being a part of this work!

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Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Packed Off to Florida!

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

July 14, 2017

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

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

Packed off to Florida

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

The Welcoming Committee

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

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

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

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

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

Barbaric housing

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

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

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

Solitary confinement for publicizing abuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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      Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

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


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

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

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

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

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

      Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

      In solidarity,

      James Clark
      Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
      Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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        LORENZO JOHNSON IS FREE!



        'I had to end their pain:' Lorenzo Johnson says he took plea deal for his family

        In the end, Lorenzo Johnson said he did it for his family because, "I had to end their pain."
        That pain had throbbed for nearly 22 years, ever since Johnson received a life prison sentence for a 1995 Harrisburg murder he insists he didn't commit.
        That deal did come with a catch, however, in that it still saddles him with a murder conviction.
        The New York man's freedom came when Senior Judge Lawrence F. Clark Jr. accepted his no contest pleas to third-degree murder and conspiracy charges for the December 1995 slaying of Tarajay Williams.
        Clark promptly sentenced the 47-year-old Johnson to 10 to 20 years in prison, then ordered his immediate parole. Clark also ordered Johnson to serve 5 years of probation, and allowed him to do so at his home in Westchester County, New York.
        Moments later, a visibly emotional Johnson left the Dauphin County Courthouse surrounded by dozens of his relieved and joyful family, friends and attorneys.
        Even as he headed for the exit, Johnson paused for a moment and once again insisted he had nothing to do with Williams' murder in an alley off the 1400 block of Market Street.
        "This decision was for my family. It wasn't for me," he said when asked why he took the plea deal. "I've been innocent from Day One. I still stand on that."
        "I should have been walking out fully exonerated," he added.
        Johnson has argued that he wasn't even near the scene when Williams was killed. He has insisted that prosecution witnesses lied and that he was prepared to keep pressing an appeal in which he claimed the prosecution wrongly withheld evidence from the defense that would have resulted in an acquittal during his three-day trial in 1996.
        His decades-long legal battle was brought to Tuesday's finish line by his lawyer, Michael Wiseman, working in tandem with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.
        Yet Senior Deputy Attorney General William Stoycos did not concede that Johnson is innocent of Williams' murder. That much was clear in the statement he read into the court record as part of Johnson's plea agreement.
        Stoycos said prosecutors were prepared to present evidence that Johnson was an accomplice to Williams' murder and that witnesses placed him at the scene.
        Stoycos said Johnson was present when Corey Walker killed Williams with a shotgun blast to the chest because Williams was refusing to pay money he owed. The three men had argued and Williams had previously beaten Walker with a broomstick, the prosecutor said.
        He said witnesses placed Williams, Walker and Johnson together in the 4-foot-wide alley when Williams was killed and that Walker and Johnson were seen nearby right after the slaying. A defense witness lied in exchange for bail money to try to give Johnson an alibi, Stoycos said.
        None of that is true, Johnson insisted as he gave an impromptu statement on his way to the courthouse exit. He said Walker, who is serving a life prison sentence for the slaying, is innocent as well.
        "Obviously we challenge these facts," Wiseman said after Stoycos read his statement during the sentencing hearing. Johnson only admits that Stoycos outlined what the prosecution would present had a new trial been ordered, Wiseman said.
        Johnson said nothing when Clark gave him the chance right before imposing the new liberating sentence. "It is the court's understanding that you have discussed this agreement up, down, sideways, every way possible with your counsel," the judge observed.
        Wiseman told Clark that Johnson "is a gentle person of the highest order. He has shown strength and integrity...He is an inspiration to me. This is the happiest day of my professional career."
        Johnson displayed persistence through years of appeals and kept fighting even after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered him back to prison in 2012 after a federal appeals court ruling briefly freed him, Wiseman said.
        "Mr. Johnson, you have been a very fortunate man in that you have been blessed by having extraordinary counsel represent you," Clark said.
        The judge then announced, "You are a free man," prompting applause from the dozens of people in the gallery.
        Johnson was just steps from the courthouse exit when he was asked how it felt to finally taste freedom after so many years.
        "You get numb after a while. I've been fighting this for 22 years," he replied. "I'm moving on from here."
        Johnson was on his way home when Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a statement on the outcome of the case.
        "Mr. Johnson was not the principal actor in the murder. He served 22 years in prison without any significant misconduct. During his brief release from prison in 2012 he conducted himself responsibly, and voluntarily returned to prison when directed to do so by the court," the AG wrote.
        "I believe the agreement approved today serves the cause of justice and the best interests of the people of our Commonwealth," Shapiro said. 
        Williams family declined to comment on Johnson's release.
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        B. ARTICLES IN FULL


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        1)  In Poland, a Battle for the Fate of Europe's Last Ancient Forest
         JULY 11, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/world/europe/poland-bialowieza-forest-logging.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=rank&module=
        package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

        POSTOLOWO, Poland — In June, some 30 protesters assembled at dawn in Postolowo, a tiny village in northeast Poland. At the edge of a woodland, they chained themselves to a red forest harvester that can cut up to 200 trees a day, making a statement against large-scale logging in the last primeval forest in Europe.
        "This is a sacred ground, and we need to protect it," said Klaudia Wojciechowicz, a 41-year-old artist who had driven half the night to get to Postolowo.
        The Bialowieza Forest, a United Nations World Heritage site, has been a battleground for more than a year between Poland's conservative government and dozens of scientists and environmental advocates. Polish officials argue that logging protects the forest from a violent infestation of bark beetles. Logging is also an important source of jobs for local residents.
        "They want to destroy the forest," said Mariusz Agiejczyk, a deputy forest district manager here, watching the protesters from afar in the early morning mist. He said the infestation had killed 10,000 acres of forest. "If it weren't for those so-called ecologists, we could have saved it."
        But the protesters, backed by environmentalists, say all invasive operations in the primeval forest endanger its ecosystem. They are supported by the European Union, whose executive branch has warned the government that if it does not stop the logging, it will be sued by the European Court of Justice on accusations of violating the bloc's rules on environmental protection.
        The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or Unesco, is on their side, too. Last week, during a meeting in Krakow, the delegates adopted a decision in which they urged Polish government to halt logging in the forest, especially in old-growth tree stands. Unesco is also considering adding the forest to the List of World Heritage in Danger, a move usually reserved for land and properties threatened by armed conflicts and natural disasters.
        "It's a unique biological laboratory, in which we can observe how natural processes worked 10,000 years ago," said Tomasz Wesolowski, a forest biologist at the University of Wroclaw. "To move anything within it is a barbarity."
        The protest staged in Postolowo was just one in a series of civil disobedience acts organized here recently by environmentalists to block the logging.
        "We already tried everything else — negotiating with the ministry, alerting international institutions," said Katarzyna Jagiello, an official from the Polish branch of Greenpeace. "The time has come for desperate measures."
        The Bialowieza Forest sits in the middle of the European lowlands at the border between Poland and Belarus. As a relic of ancient forests, it has some of the oldest and largest trees on the Continent, as well as species that are rare or extinct elsewhere. It is also home to the largest colony of bison in Europe.
        The biodiversity of the forest is immense and comparable to that of rain forests, said Mr. Wesolowski, who has been visiting Bialowieza to conduct fieldwork every spring for the past 43 years.
        Still, government officials say Bialowieza is not a so-called virgin forest, which is usually defined as having spontaneously generated itself with a variety of tree species, sizes and age classes and with minimal interference from humans.
        "There is not a single part of this forest that hasn't been touched by a human hand," Grzegorz Bielecki, one of the managers of the forest, said in an interview.
        That doesn't matter, environmentalists say. "Hardly any place on earth carries no signs of human activity," said Jerzy Szwagrzyk of the University of Agriculture in Krakow, an ecology and forestry expert. "But in no way does this change the significance of this forest. There is no other place like this on the Continent."
        Poland's environment minister, Jan Szyszko, an avid hunter and former forester, recently told Parliament that Unesco had "illegally" listed the Bialowieza Forest as a World Heritage site in 2014 and asked prosecutors to investigate the designation.
        Mr. Szyszko, who did not respond to an interview request, complained in a panel presented by a right-wing news organization that the Bialowieza Forest had become "some kind of a flagship for the left-wing-libertine movement of Western Europe."
        Officials with State Forests, a governmental organization that manages Polish forests, which are all state owned, say the infestation of a European spruce bark beetle broke out in 2012, after the previous center-right government significantly lowered how much logging could occur. As a result, they say, over 10 percent of all spruces have been attacked.
        The government tripled the logging limits in 2016. In February, it repealed the protection of tree stands that are over a century old.
        Since 2012, the foresters have logged almost 180,000 infected trees. Of those logged this year, 25 percent were at least 100 years old.
        Mr. Szwagrzyk of the University of Agriculture said that since the logging could take place only in certain areas in the forest — excluding the nature reserves and national park — the infestation may continue to spread from the areas that are off limits even if infected trees were removed.
        The woodland's complicated legal status has added to the difficulties in protecting it. Poland and Belarus have been managing their portions separately for decades.
        The Polish side has more than 20 nature reserves, a national park and a commercial forest. Borders of some of the reserves are unclear, leading to disputes over how deep into the forest harvesters can go.
        The best solution, experts agree, would be to turn the entire forest into a national park, but the regional government has torpedoed all the efforts to do so.
        The fate of trees already killed by the beetle is another disputed point. The foresters say dead wood must be clear-cut for safety reasons. But environmentalists say decaying wood is an indispensable ingredient of a primeval woodland. About 40 percent of all organisms living in it, including insects, fungi and birds, are critically dependent on dead or dying spruces.
        They say State Forests is cutting the dead trees because it needs the money. The institution is required to be financially self-sufficient, and nearly 90 percent of its revenue — 7 billion Polish zloty (close to $2 billion) in 2015 — comes from selling wood.
        The forest district office said it did not keep records of dead trees removed, but Mr. Bielecki, one of the district managers, called the accusations "deeply unfair."
        While the fate of the forest is being considered, Mr. Wesolowski, the biologist, warned that some things cannot be undone.
        "We can't restore a primeval forest," he said. "If we could, we would have done it already somewhere near Berlin or London. Our Bialowieza Forest is the only one, and we, like some idiots, are trying to destroy it."

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        2)  U.K. Orders New Inquiry Into Contaminated-Blood Scandal
         JULY 11, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/world/europe/uk-contaminated-blood-scandal-theresa-may.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=stream&module=
        stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront

        LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into how contaminated blood in the 1970s and 1980s resulted in the deaths of at least 2,400 people and infected thousands more, an episode that members of Parliament have called "one of the worst peacetime disasters in Britain's history."
        Britain's health minister, Philip Dunne, told Parliament the government would set up an independent public inquiry aimed at getting to the truth of what happened when patients, many of them hemophiliacs, received blood products infected with H.I.V. or hepatitis C, supplied by the tax payer-funded National Health Service.
        It was not immediately clear what form the inquiry, which comes after decades of campaigning by victims and their families for justice, would take.
        Diana Johnson, a Labour member of Parliament who has led the cross-party call for an inquiry, told the House of Commons on Tuesday that the blood contamination scandal was a gross injustice, calling it a "cover-up" on an "industrial scale" that extended to the highest levels of the government.
        She said she had been deeply moved by how the infected blood had devastated victims' lives. She invoked Glenn Wilkinson, a father of two, who has hemophilia and was infected with hepatitis C when he was 19 after a routine operation in 1983 to remove two teeth.
        Mr. Wilkinson, one of dozens of people who have been campaigning for an inquiry and compensation, had described how the specter of illness had dominated his life and how for years he lived in fear of passing the virus on to family members.
        Hemophilia, an inherited disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly, is usually controlled with blood plasma products that encourage clotting. But in the 1970s and '80s, screening procedures were insufficient. Ms. Johnson noted that blood contamination scandals had been investigated in France and Japan, among other countries, and led to some convictions of government health officials. But in Britain, she said, officials had not been held to account.
        The inquiry comes after leaders of all the main political parties wrote a letter this month to Mrs. May demanding a full investigation amid longstanding concerns. Victims' advocates have contended for years that, among other things, the decisions that led to the deaths had been covered up, that the Department of Health had evaded responsibility, and that important evidence, including the medical records of those affected, had been tampered with.
        Mr. Wilkinson, one of dozens of people who have been campaigning for an inquiry and compensation, had described how the specter of illness had dominated his life and how for years he lived in fear of passing the virus on to family members.
        Hemophilia, an inherited disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly, is usually controlled with blood plasma products that encourage clotting. But in the 1970s and '80s, screening procedures were insufficient. Ms. Johnson noted that blood contamination scandals had been investigated in France and Japan, among other countries, and led to some convictions of government health officials. But in Britain, she said, officials had not been held to account.
        The inquiry comes after leaders of all the main political parties wrote a letter this month to Mrs. May demanding a full investigation amid longstanding concerns. Victims' advocates have contended for years that, among other things, the decisions that led to the deaths had been covered up, that the Department of Health had evaded responsibility, and that important evidence, including the medical records of those affected, had been tampered with.
        The letter alluded to accusations that Department of Health officials destroyed documents to hide what had happened, and also said that contaminated blood was "not removed from the blood supply, once the dangers became known."
        Also under scrutiny will be how the infected blood products entered Britain and who was responsible. In the 1970s and 1980s, the National Health Service imported commercial blood products from the United States, including from donors in the American prison system. Some, it later emerged, had H.I.V. and hepatitis C.
        There have been two previous inquiries, but members of Parliament said Tuesday that a new inquest was needed because the previous ones had not gone far enough nor delivered justice to the victims.
        In 2009, an independent inquiry report concluded that the tragedy may have been prevented if imports of blood from the United States had been halted, and it lamented that both the government and the scientific community had been too slow in recognizing the dangers. However, the report stopped short of blaming individual doctors or companies, and no one from the Department of Health was called to testify.
        A second inquiry in Scotland in 2015 revisited the blood safety issue. It called what happened "the stuff of nightmares" and prompted an apology from David Cameron, the prime minister at the time, to victims and their families. The report recommended that anyone in Scotland who had a blood transfusion before 1991 should be tested, if they had not been already. But it, too, was deemed unsatisfactory by victims, campaigners and their relatives on the grounds that it was unable to call witnesses outside of Scotland.
        At the time, Mr. Wilkinson was photographed burning the 2015 report in protest.

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        3)  U.A.W. Says Nissan Workers Seek a Union Vote in Mississippi
         JULY 11, 201
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/business/nissan-uaw-mississippi-union.html

        The United Auto Workers union has waged a long and mostly futile campaign to organize factories in the South, where much of the nation's auto production has shifted. Now the union sees a breakthrough in sight.
        On Tuesday, the U.A.W. said a petition for a union election had been filed by employees at a Nissan plant in Mississippi with more than 6,000 workers. They asked for a vote within a month.
        A victory at the plant, which the U.A.W. has been working hard to unionize since 2012, would be a major prize in a traditionally hostile region. The effort comes almost three and a half years after the union's last high-profile election at a so-called foreign transplant facility, a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., ended in a narrow defeat.
        Union officials announced the organizing milestone at a news conference near the Nissan plant in Canton, Miss. In a statement, the U.A.W. cited "a pattern of labor abuses by Nissan against its predominantly African-American work force in Mississippi" and said the plant was "one of only three Nissan facilities in the world" that lack a union.
        Nissan said in a statement that it offered "stable, safe jobs with some of the best wages and benefits in Mississippi" and that it did not believe that U.A.W. representation "is in the best interest of Nissan Canton and its workers."
        The plant is a key component in Nissan's growth in the United States market. Stretching nearly a mile long, the factory is larger than most assembly plants, and it makes several models, including the Murano S.U.V. and the Titan pickup truck.
        Employees at the plant complain that the company relies too heavily on contract workers, whose hourly wages are lower but who some say get cushier assignments as a way to reduce turnover. Workers also cite safety concerns — the company has been fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in a few instances over the last five years, including once when a worker's hand was caught in a conveyor roller.
        To petition for an election with the National Labor Relations Board, unions must show support from at least 30 percent of eligible rank-and-file workers, and they rarely do so with less than 50 percent. (The U.A.W. estimates that about 4,000 workers are eligible to vote in Canton.) But the challenge facing the union this time could be far greater than during the Tennessee campaign.
        "Nissan has been a hard nut to crack for the U.A.W.," said Kristin Dziczek, a labor expert at the Center for Automotive Research. "Mississippi is very challenging."
        The union lost its first Nissan unionization vote at an assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn., in 1989. It tried again there in 2001 and lost by a big margin.
        Unlike Volkswagen, Nissan has actively opposed unionization; it has, for example, shown videos and held meetings with workers in which it makes its case.
        The union, for its part, has filed numerous charges with the National Labor Relations Board accusing Nissan of violating labor rights. The union asserted that a Nissan security guard had prevented workers from distributing union material outside a plant entrance and that the company had threatened to close the plant if workers unionized.
        Chip Wells, a longtime worker at the plant, said he had been repeatedly harassed by a supervisor for supporting the union — for example, the supervisor once sent him to the human resources office and cited him for tardiness when he was not back by the time his break ended. "She was pushing my buttons," he said. "Or trying to push my buttons to get me to go."
        A Nissan spokeswoman, Parul Bajaj, said that Mr. Wells's allegations were unsubstantiated and that the union's charges of intimidation were simply an organizing tactic. Ms. Bajaj added, "Nissan's Canton plant has a safety record that is significantly better than the national average for automotive plants."
        In Canton, the union has some advantages that it might have lacked in Tennessee, where the political class tended to be relentlessly opposed to the union at Volkswagen even as the company stood down.
        While Mississippi's political leadership is no more hospitable to unions — Gov. Phil Bryant signed legislation in 2014 that restricted union activity — the racial dynamic at the Canton plant, where well over half the workers are African-American, could make attacks by the state's largely white conservative leadership less effective.
        The union appears to have calibrated its strategy accordingly, missing few opportunities to highlight the issue of race.
        "Nissan spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year marketing itself as a socially responsible carmaker, even going so far as to brag about its appeal to African-American car buyers," Rahmeel Nash, a longtime worker at the plant, said in the union's statement. "But behind the scenes, the company is violating the labor rights of African-American workers who make those cars."
        During its Mississippi campaign, the union has forged strong alliances with civil rights groups and clergy, helping to organize a high-profile rally in the area in March featuring the actor Danny Glover, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Cornell William Brooks, then the president of the N.A.A.C.P.
        "Some of the issues I gather in the Nissan plant are similar to the issues in Chattanooga and elsewhere," said Daniel Cornfield, a labor expert at Vanderbilt University. "But in the case of Mississippi, they are being framed in terms of respect and disrespect for workers, and linking that to a civil rights orientation."
        Duane O'Neill, the president of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, a business group that opposes unionization, said, "Anytime you're discussing issues like this in the context of race, it becomes a little more sensitive." But he added that his group had worked closely with Nissan in Mississippi and that "I just don't see that as being an issue."
        Mr. O'Neill emphasized that a unionization decision was up to the workers. But he expressed concern that it could discourage future employers from relocating to central Mississippi and jeopardize economic growth.
        Since its setback at Volkswagen, the U.A.W. has not been bereft of momentum. Volkswagen soon allowed its Chattanooga workers to join voluntary unions that did not collect dues, and the union later succeeded in organizing a small group of skilled-trades workers in the plant. The union has also enjoyed some recent organizing successes at auto-parts suppliers across the South, including at least one since 2014.
        Nissan, for its part, is riding some momentum of its own. It has been growing in the United States market, even as sales in the overall industry have tapered off after two record years. In the first six months of this year, Nissan sales — including its Infiniti luxury division — have increased 2.7 percent, compared with a 2.1-percent decline for the industry as a whole.
        Sales of Nissan's Rogue compact S.U.V. are up more than 30 percent this year, and the Canton-made Titan has more than quadrupled its sales from a year ago.
        The company said that wages at the Canton plant were "significantly above the average central Mississippi production wage of $16.70 per hour" and that workers received consistent bonuses, health benefits and employer contributions to a 401(k) plan.
        The three Detroit automakers pay veteran union workers a top hourly wage approaching $30, and the hourly pay for new entry-level employees approaches $20. Foreign competitors like Nissan operating in the United States do not routinely disclose pay scales. But the Center for Automotive Research estimates that labor costs at nonunion plants in the South can be 15 to 25 percent lower than at those operated by General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler.
        The Nissan workers who filed for the election asked that it take place on July 31 and Aug. 1, a rapid but not unheard-of turnaround, said Wilma Liebman, a former N.L.R.B. chairwoman.
        In doing so, the workers and the union appear to have calculated that the window for their opportunity to organize the Nissan facility may be closing, with President Trump having recently made two Republican nominations to the labor board. A board more hostile to organizing could make it easier for the company to overturn a union victory, or be more likely to reject union appeals after the fact.
        "I think N.L.R.B. changes have to be playing a role here," Ms. Dziczek said.

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        4)  Takata Expands Recall Again, Citing New Airbag Hazard
         JULY 11, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/business/takata-recall-airbag.html?ref=business

        Takata has added an additional 2.7 million airbags to the nation's largest automobile industry recall after a new hazard was detected in testing.
        The company told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationon Monday that a subset of its airbag inflaters — ones that rely on calcium sulfate to keep them dry — can, like other versions, rupture while deploying the bags, hurling metal shards into vehicles.
        Ford, Mazda and Nissan installed these inflaters in vehicles manufactured for the United States market from 2005 through 2012, according to Takata, of Japan. All are on the driver's side of the vehicles.
        The recall adds to an effort that was previously expected to cover 70 million Takata airbag inflaters in 42 million vehicles. Takata's problems with defective devices began in 2008, when Honda initially recalled 4,000 vehicles that used Takata technology. So far, the safety agency says, about 17 million airbags have been replaced in the United States.
        The deaths of at least 17 people worldwide, including 12 in the United States, have been linked to Takata inflaters. On Monday, Honda said a person in Florida died last summer after a Takata inflater ruptured in a parked 2001 Accord during an attempt to make an unspecified repair with a hammer.
        Takata and the safety agency said they knew of no ruptures related to the hazard that prompted the latest recall.
        Exposure to moisture and temperature fluctuations can degrade the propellant, which contains ammonium nitrate, a volatile compound Takata's inflaters use to deploy airbags. The company used a variety of chemical agents to keep the propellant dry in its devices over the years, with some combinations showing a greater propensity to fail than others, federal regulators said.
        The latest recall is the first involving the inflaters that use calcium sulfate as a drying agent. The inflater can combust in an "over-aggressive" manner, potentially rupturing and causing harm, according to a filing Takata submitted to the highway safety administration.
        Takata's latest admission brought fresh criticism of the company in Washington.
        "This recall now raises serious questions about the threat posed by all of Takata's ammonium-nitrate-based airbags," Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said in a statement. "If even more are found to be defective, it will take us from the biggest recall ever to something that could become mind-boggling."
        He called on regulators to quickly determine "whether all remaining Takata airbag inflaters are safe."
        In a statement, Takata said it had decided to recall inflaters that use calcium sulfate "out of an abundance of caution." The devices are Takata's earliest generation of ammonium-nitrate inflaters using calcium sulfate as a drying agent. The company is now testing later generations of those devices.
        Takata pleaded guilty to criminal charges in January and agreed to pay a $1 billion fine related to its faulty airbag inflater systems. After filing for bankruptcy protection last month, it is selling assets.
        The company has said that it expects to fund the airbag repairs through the asset sale and that it has secured financing to ensure it can continue operations, including dealing with the defective inflaters, while it restructures.

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        5)  When Is Speech Violence?
        Imagine that a bully threatens to punch you in the face. A week later, he walks up to you and breaks your nose with his fist. Which is more harmful: the punch or the threat?
        The answer might seem obvious: Physical violence is physically damaging; verbal statements aren't. "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
        But scientifically speaking, it's not that simple. Words can have a powerful effect on your nervous system. Certain types of adversity, even those involving no physical contact, can make you sickalter your brain— even kill neurons — and shorten your life.
        Your body's immune system includes little proteins called proinflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation when you're physically injured. Under certain conditions, however, these cytokines themselves can cause physical illness. What are those conditions? One of them is chronic stress.
        Your body also contains little packets of genetic material that sit on the ends of your chromosomes. They're called telomeres. Each time your cells divide, their telomeres get a little shorter, and when they become too short, you die. This is normal aging. But guess what else shrinks your telomeres? Chronic stress.
        If words can cause stress, and if prolonged stress can cause physical harm, then it seems that speech — at least certain types of speech — can be a form of violence. But which types?
        This question has taken on some urgency in the past few years, as professed defenders of social justice have clashed with professed defenders of free speech on college campuses. Student advocates have protested vigorously, even violently, against invited speakers whose views they consider not just offensive but harmful — hence the desire to silence, not debate, the speaker. "Trigger warnings" are based on a similar principle: that discussions of certain topics will trigger, or reproduce, past trauma — as opposed to merely challenging or discomfiting the student. The same goes for "microaggressions."
        This idea — that there is often no difference between speech and violence — has stuck many as a coddling or infantilizing of students, as well as a corrosive influence on the freedom of expression necessary for intellectual progress. It's a safe bet that the Pew survey data released on Monday, which showed that Republicans' views of colleges and universities have taken a sharp negative turn since 2015, results in part from exasperation with the "speech equals violence" equation.
        The scientific findings I described above provide empirical guidance for which kinds of controversial speech should and shouldn't be acceptable on campus and in civil society. In short, the answer depends on whether the speech is abusive or merely offensive.
        Offensiveness is not bad for your body and brain. Your nervous system evolved to withstand periodic bouts of stress, such as fleeing from a tiger, taking a punch or encountering an odious idea in a university lecture.
        Entertaining someone else's distasteful perspective can be educational. Early in my career, I taught a course that covered the eugenics movement, which advocated the selective breeding of humans. Eugenics, in its time, became a scientific justification for racism. To help my students understand this ugly part of scientific history, I assigned them to debate its pros and cons. The students refused. No one was willing to argue, even as part of a classroom exercise, that certain races were genetically superior to others.
        So I enlisted an African-American faculty member in my department to argue in favor of eugenics while I argued against; halfway through the debate, we switched sides. We were modeling for the students a fundamental principle of a university education, as well as civil society: When you're forced to engage a position you strongly disagree with, you learn something about the other perspective as well as your own. The process feels unpleasant, but it's a good kind of stress — temporary and not harmful to your body — and you reap the longer-term benefits of learning.
        What's bad for your nervous system, in contrast, are long stretches of simmering stress. If you spend a lot of time in a harsh environment worrying about your safety, that's the kind of stress that brings on illness and remodels your brain. That's also true of a political climate in which groups of people endlessly hurl hateful words at one another, and of rampant bullying in school or on social media. A culture of constant, casual brutality is toxic to the body, and we suffer for it.
        That's why it's reasonable, scientifically speaking, not to allow a provocateur and hatemonger like Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at your school. He is part of something noxious, a campaign of abuse. There is nothing to be gained from debating him, for debate is not what he is offering.
        On the other hand, when the political scientist Charles Murray argues that genetic factors help account for racial disparities in I.Q. scores, you might find his view to be repugnant and misguided, but it's only offensive. It is offered as a scholarly hypothesis to be debated, not thrown like a grenade. There is a difference between permitting a culture of casual brutality and entertaining an opinion you strongly oppose. The former is a danger to a civil society (and to our health); the latter is the lifeblood of democracy.
        By all means, we should have open conversations and vigorous debate about controversial or offensive topics. But we must also halt speech that bullies and torments. From the perspective of our brain cells, the latter is literally a form of violence.

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        6)  Smoking Marijuana While Black
        "African-Americans are arrested at 15 times the rate of whites in Staten Island and in Manhattan, and seven times the rate of whites in Queens. The disparities shown in the analysis are especially striking in areas where African-Americans make up a small proportion of the population."
         JULY 17, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/opinion/smoking-marijuana-while-black.html?action=
        click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=
        opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

        New York City was scaling back its stop-and-frisk program even before a federal judge ruled in 2013 that the tactics underlying it violated the constitutional rights of minority citizens. It's hard not to look at marijuana arrests today without thinking of that saga. Although the city has reduced the number of arrests for low-level marijuana possession, black and Latino New Yorkers are far more likely to be arrested for smoking in public than whites, who are just as likely to use marijuana.
        These arrests have virtually no public safety benefit and can cause lasting damage to people who often have had no other contact with the criminal justice system. Charges are typically dismissed if people stay out of trouble for a year, but in that period, they can be denied jobs, housing and entry into the armed services.
        The city needs to do more to minimize arrests. District attorneys can take the lead by refusing to prosecute most, if not all, of these cases.

        Public opposition to marijuana arrests surfaced during the 1970s, when affluent families complained to lawmakers after seeing the future careers of their children ruined by petty marijuana arrests. The Legislature subsequently barred the police from arresting people for tiny amounts of the drug, unless it was being smoked or shown in public view. Black and Latino communities have since borne the brunt of the enforcement policy.
        Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office three years ago, put into place the policies that have reduced the number of people arrested each year for trivial amounts of marijuana. Instead of being hauled off to jail, many people found with small amounts are given summonses and allowed to continue on their way. As a result, the de Blasio administration is averaging about 20,000 marijuana arrests per year, about half the average of the Bloomberg years.
        Nevertheless, a new analysis by Harry G. Levine, a sociology professor at Queens College, shows that longstanding racial disparities have persisted. African-Americans and Latinos make up about half the population, but, as in decades past, they make up about 85 percent of those arrested for low-level marijuana offenses.
        The Police Department argues that the arrests occur in places where it receives drug complaints. But the study shows that arrests are strikingly skewed along racial lines everywhere in the city.
        African-Americans are arrested at 15 times the rate of whites in Staten Island and in Manhattan, and seven times the rate of whites in Queens. The disparities shown in the analysis are especially striking in areas where African-Americans make up a small proportion of the population.
        Supporters of so-called "zero tolerance" policing contend that low-level arrests act as a net to scoop up more serious offenders. But as the study said: "The young people arrested for marijuana possession are ordinary high school and college students and young workers, the latter sometimes building families. They are not career criminals." Three-quarters of those arrested for a crime last year had never been convicted of any crime.
        The state missed an opportunity to fix this problem five years ago when a bill that would have made public display of marijuana an offense similar to a traffic violation — rather than a crime — died in the Legislature. Until lawmakers act, it's up to the city's criminal justice system, particularly the district attorneys, to bring fairness and sanity to these cases.

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        7)  Photos of Donald Trump's adult sons hunting in Africa resurface, spark comparisons with Walter Palmer, killer of Cecil the lion
        By Adam Edelman, July 29, 2015
        http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/pics-rump-adult-sons-hunting-game-africa-resurface-article-1.2308107

        What hideous people they are. I agree with Peter 100 percent! Watching those pigs being hunted is the kind of Reality TV show I would love to see!

        —Bonnie Weinstein

        From Peter Turner:

        Sent from my iPad

        Begin forwarded message:
        Check out the photos from the following link:
        http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/pics-rump-adult-sons-hunting-game-africa-resurface-article-1.2308107

        I have had the privilege of being with these animals in the bush.
        Most of them are threatened due to poaching or infringement on their
        natural habitat by poor farmers who have little recourse.  My natural
        reaction to them is respect and hope that humanity can create a means
        for these animals to survive and thrive.

        In these photos, which I hope readers access, you will see examples of
        the Trump family showing a different reaction.  Their excuses might
        have validity if used to justify hunting animals that are plentiful
        and are used for sustenance, in ways that are in harmony with the
        environment in which they exist.  Urban westerners have a hard time
        creating this excuse in their homeland; even Africans cannot when they
        hunt threatened species in theirs.  But none of the animals shown are
        used for sustenance by anyone.  They are killed for the egos of the
        killers; and then left for the hyenas, vultures, and flies.

        When tracking big cats on foot in Africa (for photos and the
        experience of just being with them) I came to know that other big game
        are often encountered; they are just there.  If a westerner encounters
        a big cat, it is with the help of a skilled local tracker.  Cape
        buffalo and elephants do not flee or hide from humans in Zimbabwe,
        where these photos were taken.  To find or shoot one requires no
        skill.  It requires the payment of a fee that only a rich westerner
        can afford to a government that is a kleptocracy - regardless of other
        geopolitical issues.

        I am not one to dwell on the personal shortcomings of political
        figures, but make an exception in this case because of my sympathy for
        Africa and all it is.  The Trumps, like all trophy hunters, are
        monsters who should be sentenced to a game reserve populated by the
        animals they hunt, afoot and without arms to protect them.  Then we
        would see what skills they really have, and raw justice could be
        dispensed.
        Their dad likes shooting from the lip, but the Trump kids prefer shooting wild animals with guns.
        Pictures of Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the two adult sons of bombastic 2016 candidate Donald Trump, shooting wild animals in Africa have resurfaced, sparking unflattering comparisons of the mogul's heirs to lion-killer Walter Palmer.
        The Trump brothers went on a 2011 hunting trip in Zimbabwe, where they snapped photos of themselves with enormous dead animals they took down.
        In one photo, Donald Trump Jr., known to many as "Donnie," is seen toting a rifle and flashing a huge grin while seated next to a dead buffalo he had just killed. In another picture, Eric Trump is seen sitting atop his fresh kill, another buffalo, smiling as the dead animal lies still on the ground.
        In yet another grisly snap, the brothers are seen smiling while holding a dead cheetah. And in another pic, Donald Jr. is seen holding a knife in one hand and the bloody, detached tail of an elephant in the other.
        Palmer, who faces poaching charges for the kill, reportedly paid $55,000 to local guides for the lion hunt earlier this month.
        Palmer stalked the animal for 40 hours before killing it, skinning it and beheading it. Two Zimbabwean nationals have been charged in the incident, including the owner of the farm where the kill took place, and Palmer is being sought as well.
        Unlike Palmer, though, the Trumps went through Hunting Legends, an apparently reputable safari and hunting trip organizer that allows clients to "hunt, fish and golf the world."
        Attempts to reach the Trump brothers weren't immediately successful.
        Donald Jr. and Eric have opined extensively on the values of hunting wild game in prior interviews.
        "Anyone who thinks hunters are just 'bloodthirsty morons' hasn't looked into hunting," Donald Jr. told Forbes magazine in 2012. "If you wait through long, cold hours in the November woods with a bow in your hands hoping a buck will show or if you spend days walking in the African bush trailing Cape buffalo while listening to lions roar, you're sure to learn hunting isn't about killing.
        "Nature actually humbles you," he said. "Hunting forces a person to endure, to master themselves, even to truly get to know the wild environment. Actually, along the way, hunting and fishing makes you fall in love with the natural world. This is why hunters so often give back by contributing to conservation."
        "I think what made it sort of a bigger story and kind of national and even global news was that I didn't do what a lot of other people do, which is immediately start apologizing for what I am and that I'm a hunter and all this," Donald Jr. told Deer & Hunter magazine in a separate interview about the initial controversy surrounding the photos. "I kinda said, 'No, I am what I am. I did all those things. I have no regrets about it.'"
        His candidate father, through a spokesperon, declined to comment on the matter. However, he has said a number of times he doesn't get the appeal.
        "My sons love hunting. They're hunters and they've become good at it," Trump told TMZ in 2012. "I am not a believer in hunting and I'm surprised they like it."

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        8) Environmental defenders being killed in record numbers globally, new research reveals
        Exclusive Activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders are dying violently at the rate of about four a week, with a growing sense around the world that 'anyone can kill environmental defenders without repercussions' See the names of all defenders who have died so far this year here. Read more from the project here.
        By Jonathan Wattsand John Vidal, July 13, 2017
        https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/13/environmental-defenders-being-killed-in-record-numbers-globally-new-research-reveals

        Last year was the most perilous ever for people defending their community's land, natural resources or wildlife, with new research showing that environmental defenders are being killed at the rate of almost four a week across the world.

        Two hundred environmental activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders trying to protect their land were killed in 2016, according to the watchdog group Global Witness – more than double the number killed five years ago.
        And the frequency of killings is only increasing as 2017 ticks by, according to data provided exclusively to the Guardian, with 98 killings identified in the first five months of this year.
        John Knox, UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said: "Human rights are being jettisoned as a culture of impunity is developing.
        "There is now an overwhelming incentive to wreck the environment for economic reasons. The people most at risk are people who are already marginalised and excluded from politics and judicial redress, and are dependent on the environment. The countries do not respect the rule of law. Everywhere in the world, defenders are facing threats.
        "There is an epidemic now, a culture of impunity, a sense that anyone can kill environmental defenders without repercussions, eliminate anyone who stands in the way. It [comes from] mining, agribusiness, illegal logging and dam building."
        Mexican indigenous leader and opponent of illegal logging Isidro Baldenegro López was killed in January
        In May, farmers in Brazil's Maranhão state attacked an indigenous settlement, hacking with machetes at the hands of their victims in another land conflict that left more than a dozen in hospital. There have also been killings of environmental defenders and attacks on others in Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and many other countries since the new year.
        Most environmental defenders die in remote forests or villages affected by mining, dams, illegal logging, and agribusiness. Many of the killers are reportedly hired by corporations or state forces. Very few are ever arrested or identified.
        "These are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of a systematic assault on remote and indigenous communities by state and corporate actors." 
        Around the world, the number and intensity of environmental conflicts is growing, say researchers. An EU-funded atlas of environmental conflict academics at 23 universities has identified more than 2,000, ranging over water, land, pollution, evictions and mining.
        "Communities that take a stand against environmental destruction are now in the firing line of companies' private security guards, state forces and contract killers," he said. "For every land and environmental defender who is killed, many more are threatened with death, eviction and destruction of their resources.

        "These are just the reported ones. There could be three times as many. There is much more violence now," said Cass business school researcher Bobby Banerjee who has studied resistance to global development projects for 15 years.

        "The conflicts are happening worldwide now because of globalisation. Capitalism is violent and global corporations are looking to poor countries for access to land and resources. Poor countries are more corruptible and have weaker law enforcement. Companies and governments now work together to kill people," he said.
        The 2016 Global Witness data shows that the industries at the heart of conflict were mining and oil, which were linked to 33 killings. Logging was in second place worldwide – with 23 deaths, up from 15 the previous year – followed by agriculture. That ranking could change. In the first five months of this year, the most striking trend is that for the first time agribusiness is rivalling mining as the deadliest sector, with 22 deaths worldwide – just one short of the total for the whole of last year.
        The situation in Colombia in particular has gone from bad to worse in 2017. Brazil and the Philippines are also on course to hit new highs and indigenous groups continue to suffer disproportionately.
        In terms of country rankings, in 2016 Brazil was once again the deadliest country in absolute terms with 49 killings, many of them in the Amazon rainforest. Timber production was implicated in 16 of those cases as the country's deforestation rate surged by 29%.
        More broadly, Latin America remained the most dangerous region for anyone wanting to protect rivers, forests, mountains and oceans, accounting for 60 of the global total of killings of environmental defenders even though it is home to less than a tenth of the world's population.
        With major economic interests at stake, state security forces were behind at least 43 killings globally – 33 by the police and 10 by the military – while private actors such as security guards and hitmen were responsible for 52 deaths. 
        The human cost of all this is terrible, said Laura Cáceres, one of the daughters of Honduran indigenous Lenca leader Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in 2016 after resisting the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque river.
        Now in exile following death threats, Cáceres was recently in Oxford, in the UK, at a conference organised by Not1More (N1M), a group founded in 2016 in response to the violence facing environmental defenders.
        "Berta Cáceres was a hindrance to the system," she said. "[Honduras] is so battered; 30% of the land has been granted to transnational corporations. Companies are taking over ancestral territories. Forests are being privatised. My mother was passionate about her land, her roots, and she was horrified by the sinister and violent forms with which imperialism acts."
        Shortly after the conference the Guardian reported that another of Cáceres' children, Berta Zúñiga had survived an armed attack soon after being named leader of the indigenous rights organisation formerly led by her mother.
        Defenders frequently say they get no help from government, indeed corrupt governments are often implicated in the violence.
        One west African anti-illegal logging activist, who asked not to named for fear of reprisals, said: "I am subject to pressure and threats. Millions [of dollars] are coming out of the forests and yet people have nothing – no schools, no health centres. Money is not going to the state but to private people. We are working without resources.
        "My family has been threatened with death. We have had anonymous calls. I keep working with the help of my colleagues. We gave information to the UN, and asked for help. We got nowhere. We could be killed any moment."
        Wildlife defenders are also being increasingly targeted. More than 800 park rangers have been killed by commercial poachers and armed militia groups in the past 10 years, according to US group Global Conservation.
        "Rangers face high levels of violence and are being [killed] at an alarming pace," says Sean Willmore, president of the International Ranger Federation. "Almost 60% of those killed in 2016 were from Asia, with the majority from India."
        US writer Olesia Plokhii, who witnessed the murder of Cambodian illegal logging activist Chut Wutty in 2012, wrote in the Ecologist last month: "Wutty ran his own environmental organisation, had Western financial backers, the support of high-ranking Cambodian military officials, hundreds of local supporters who watched out for him and tools – multiple cell phones, a GPS tracker. He was still murdered.
        "Much less organised and prepared defenders, people who might be forced unexpectedly into protecting their lands due to evictions or enormous infrastructure developments, are up against the same violence."
        The 2016 Global Witness report also notes that environmental protest is being clamped down on across the board – even in the richest countries – citing the case of the Standing Rock campaign against the construction of an oil pipeline under Lake Oahe in the US, and noting North Dakota legislators only narrowly defeated a bill that would have allowed drivers to run over and kill protesters without being jailed.
        N1M co-founder Fran Lambrick told the Guardian: "Frontline environmental defenders are critical in fighting climate change, protecting our natural resources and upholding human rights and cultural identity. Yet they face violent reprisals, threats and criminalisation." 
        "We are defenders of life," said Laura Cáceres. "We are willing to do anything to allow life to continue. We don't want to lose our lives and lose our mamas and families. But we assume that risk. If they can murder someone with high recognition like my mother Berta, then they can murder anyone."
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        9)  After a Harrowing Flight From U.S., Refugees Find Asylum in Canada
         JULY 16, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/16/world/canada/refugees-in-canada.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=
        rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

        WINNIPEG, Manitoba — There are many differences between the two Ghanaian refugees in Winnipeg, but the most significant comes down to a single thumb.
        Razak Iyal and Seidu Mohammed became the public face of desperationamong refugees in the United States after President Trump's election. A trucker found them half-frozen north of the Canadian border on Christmas Eve. They had walked — sometimes waist deep in snow — across farm fields to avoid being deported from the United States. Their fingers were so severely frostbitten that all of them had to be amputated — with the exception of Mr. Iyal's right thumb.
        That single digit means he can fry up his own breakfast, pull on his clothes and pinch the knob of the washing machine to do his laundry. "That thumb I have left helps me a lot," said Mr. Iyal, 35, a former appliance store owner from Accra, Ghana. "I thank God for it."
        Both men won permission to stay permanently in Canada. But while they are rebuilding their lives, their story has become a focus of sympathy and criticism among advocates in Canada, who say their fate shows that the United States is not fair or safe for refugees.
        Some advocates argue that Canada should scrap its 13-year-old pactwith the United States that requires asylum seekers to demand refuge in the first country of the two in which they arrive. After arriving in one country, refugees are not allowed to enter the other at an official border crossing, which creates a perverse incentive to sneak across the border and then seek asylum.
        "We are forcing people to lose fingers and toes, making them go to such lengths to seek our protection," said Efrat A. Arbel, an assistant law professor at the University of British Columbia.
        Others say the story of Mr. Iyal and Mr. Mohammed is more an example of stupidity mixed with opportunism, pointing out that neither fled their country because of persecution.
        "They haven't had to flee over the bodies of their relatives or undergo torture," said Karin Gordon, the executive director of settlement at the Hospitality House Refugee Ministry in Winnipeg, which has a waiting list of about 30,000 refugees looking for sponsorship to Canada.
        While Ms. Gordon supports both men personally — and welcomed them into the refugee home she runs in north Winnipeg — she blames them for losing their fingers.
        "They should have checked the Weather Channel," she added, noting they were woefully underdressed for the frigid prairie temperatures. "They were damaged by their own ignorance. They are suffering the consequence of that."
        Three refugee-supporting organizations, including Amnesty International, have started a legal challenge to Canada's designation of the United States as a "safe country" for asylum seekers under the pact, the Safe Third Country Agreement.
        But Canada's minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, says government monitoring reports show the American system remains fair.
        And despite fears among residents along the border that the men would be the first of many to be in the same plight, the rush of asylum seekers heading north has slowed with the warming weather.
        "We don't encourage people to come," Mr. Iyal said, in his soft, calm voice. "But if you come, please, check the weather before. My life changed totally. They have to take a lesson from what happened to us."
        The men met by chance on Dec. 23, in the Minneapolis bus station. Each had planned to walk across the border from northern Minnesota into Manitoba, and they decided to join forces and split the fare for a cab. Both admit they were underdressed for the trip, which for both men was the last leg of a long journey across many borders, beginning in Brazil years before.
        Mr. Iyal left Ghana after a dispute over inheritance with his brothers became violent and put him in the hospital. The police, he said, were unwilling to take action. He bought a ticket to São Paulo, Brazil, and from there, made his way slowly — by plane, bus, boat and foot — to the United States border, where he filed for asylum and was detained for 21 months.
        Mr. Mohammed's journey also took to him to Brazil, trying out for a professional soccer team. After his agent found him in bed with a man — an act that could get him imprisoned in Ghana, where gay sex remains illegal — and threatened to expose him, Mr. Mohammed fled. He, too, made the arduous journey to the United States, where he also asked for asylum and spent seven months in detention.
        Both men lost in their hearings. The system, they say, was rigged against them; they could not afford lawyers, nor long-distance phone calls back to Ghana to assemble their cases.
        In Canada, they were granted legal aid and won their cases.
        Mr. Mohammed clearly met the Canadian legal definition of a refugee under United Nations rules because his sexual orientation meant he would have been persecuted had he returned to Ghana, said Bashir Khan, the immigration lawyer who represented both men.
        Mr. Iyal's case was a much less likely bet because he was fleeing a family spat, and not obvious persecution, Mr. Khan said. But his chance encounter with Mr. Mohammed and their fateful night together in the snow led the news media in Ghana to state repeatedly that both men were gay, even though Mr. Iyal had a wife back in Ghana. That perception put his life at risk and gave him a good legal case to win asylum, Mr. Khan said.
        In Winnipeg, the two men are quasi celebrities. Their cellphones ring regularly with unexpected invitations. The small Ghanaian community has rallied to their support, helping them fill out forms for passports and social insurance numbers and stocking their refrigerator with fufu and peanut stew.
        They have both begun occupational therapy to learn how to do basic things like brushing their teeth.
        The road ahead is daunting, particularly for Mr. Mohammed, 24, who has only two paddle-like hands. His plastic surgeon has offered to transfer two toes from each foot, which would operate like fingers and offer him complete independence — with all costs covered by Canada's social medicine program.
        "He is crazy lucky," said Dr. Edward Buchel, the head of plastic surgery for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. "He ended up in a country willing to put out multimillion dollars for repeated hospital trips, surgeries, drugs, rehab, physiotherapy and occupational therapy for years."
        But to date, Mr. Mohammed has adamantly refused. He quit school at age 11 to train full time as a soccer player, and he dreams of playing professionally again. For that, he thinks he needs his toes.
        Mr. Iyal's prospects seem brighter.
        Every morning, he showers, makes himself breakfast and boards a city bus to a charity for Muslim women, where he volunteers daily. There, he sorts donated clothing and distributes food as a volunteer among a boisterous crowd of Ghanaian men, who challenge him continually to prove himself.
        "Put your coin on the ground," he proclaimed to one and then, with the help of a simple Velcro strap, picked it up to cheers. "I can do it!"
        He dreams of running an appliance store, like the one he owned in Ghana, and sponsoring his wife to come to Canada. God, he said, kept him and Mr. Mohammed alive for a reason.
        Mr. Iyal understands his luck at starting life again. He rarely dwells on what he has lost, he said.
        Last week, after finishing his volunteer shift, he stopped to give a homeless man on the street some money. The man asked to see his hands, and then held up his own — revealing no fingers. He too had lost his fingers to frostbite, Mr. Iyal said.
        "He was a Canadian guy, on the street begging," he said. But then, he stoked his optimism again and reminded himself of his luck.
        "He doesn't have one thumb," Mr. Iyal said. "I encourage myself. I can do something in my life. I'm a young boy. I can still make it."

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        10)  The Cost of a Hot Economy in California: A Severe Housing Crisis
         JULY 17, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/us/california-housing-crisis.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=
        click&contentCollection=us&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

        SACRAMENTO — A full-fledged housing crisis has gripped California, where the lack of affordable homes and apartments for middle-class families is severe. The median cost of a home here is now a staggering $500,000, twice the national cost. Homelessness is surging across the state.
        In Los Angeles, booming with construction and signs of prosperity, some people have given up on finding a place and have moved into vans with makeshift kitchens, hidden away in quiet neighborhoods. In Silicon Valley — an international symbol of wealth and technology — lines of parked recreational vehicles are a daily testimony to the challenges of finding an affordable place to call home.
        Heather Lile, a nurse who makes $180,000 a year, commutes two hours from her home in Manteca to the San Francisco hospital where she works, 80 miles away. "I make really good money and it's frustrating to me that I can't afford to live close to my job," said Ms. Lile.
        The extreme rise in housing costs has emerged as a threat to the state's future economy and its quality of life. It has pushed the debate over housing to the center of state and local politics, fueling a resurgent rent control movement and the growth of neighborhood "Yes in My Back Yard" organizations, battling long-established neighborhood groups and local elected officials as they demand an end to strict zoning and planning regulations.
        Now here in Sacramento, lawmakers are considering extraordinary legislation to, in effect, crack down on communities that have, in their view, systematically delayed or derailed housing construction proposals, often at the behest of local neighborhood groups. The bill was passed by the Senate last month and could be acted on as soon as this week.
        "The explosive costs of housing have spread like wildfire around the state," said Scott Wiener, a Democratic senator from San Francisco who sponsored the bill. "This is no longer a coastal, elite housing problem. This is a problem in big swaths of the state. It is damaging the economy. It is damaging the environment, as people get pushed into longer commutes."
        For California, this crisis is a price of this state's economic boon. Tax revenue is up and unemployment is down. But the churning economy has run up against 30 years of resistance to the kind of development experts say is urgently needed. California has always been a desirable place to live and over the decades has gone through periodic spasms of high housing costs, but officials say the combination of abooming economy and the lack of construction of homes and apartments have combined to make this the worst housing crisis here in memory.
        Housing prices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego have jumped as much as 75 percent over the past five years.
        The bill sponsored by Mr. Wiener, one of 130 housing measures that have been introduced this year, would restrict one of the biggest development tools that communities wield: the ability to use zoning, environmental and procedural laws to thwart projects they deem out of character with their neighborhood.
        It is now the subject of negotiations between Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders as part of a broader housing package intended to encourage the construction of housing for middle- and lower-income families that is also likely to include the more traditional remedy of direct spending to build more housing units.
        This is not the first time this state has sought to prod recalcitrant local governments to build housing. Mr. Brown tried to push through a measure to force communities to build more affordable housing around a year ago. That effort, like most in recent years, faltered in the face of opposition from local officials, homeowners and environmentalists, who often see these kinds of measures as enriching developers while threatening the character of some of the most visually striking parts of this state, along the coast and in the mountains.
        "It's giving developers a great gift and not giving residents and voters a chance to cast their opinions about what happens in their own neighborhood," Helene Schneider, the mayor of Santa Barbara, said of Mr. Wiener's new bill.
        But the worsening housing crisis here has created a political environment where prospects for a state housing intervention appear more likely than ever.
        "There is a consensus that there is a crisis and we have to address it," said David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who leads the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. Mr. Wiener compared the political atmosphere now to how Californians embraced mandatory water-rationing in response to the five-year drought here.
        "We're at a breaking point in California," Mr. Wiener said. "The drought created opportunities to push forward water policy that would have been impossible before. Given the breadth and depth of the housing crisis in many parts of California, it creates opportunities in the Legislature that didn't exist before."
        The debate is forcing California to consider the forces that have long shaped this state. Many people were drawn here by its natural beauty and the prospect of low-density, open-sky living. They have done what they could to protect that life. That has now run up against a growing generational tide of anger and resentment, from younger people struggling to find an affordable place to live as well as from younger elected officials, such as Mayor Eric M. Garcetti of Los Angeles, who argue that communities have been failing in what they argue is a shared obligation.
        For the past several decades, California has had a process that sets a number of housing units, including low-income units, that each city should build over the next several years based on projected growth. Mr. Wiener's bill targets cities that have lagged on building by allowing developers who propose projects in those places to bypass the various local design and environmental reviews that slow down construction because they can be appealed and litigated for years.
        The bill applies only to projects that are already within a city's plans: If the project were higher or denser than current zoning laws allow, it would still have to go through the City Council. But by taking much of the review power away from local governments, the bill aims to ramp up housing production by making it harder to kill, delay or shrink projects in places that have built the fewest.
        It is hard to say exactly which projects might benefit if the various bills were passed, since it's impossible to know which projects local governments might reject in the future. But there are various examples where it might have pushed a development along.
        In Los Gatos, about 60 miles south of San Francisco, for instance, a long-running dispute over a proposed development for 320 homes that the city rejected led to a lawsuit by the developer, which resulted in a judge directing the city to reconsider the plans. Also, cities regularly make developments smaller than their zoning allows, something that gradually chips away at future housing production.
        California is the toughest market for first-time home buyers and the cost of housing is beyond reach for almost all of this state's low-income population. Despite having some of the highest wages in the nation, the state also has the highest adjusted poverty rate.
        And Proposition 13, the sweeping voter initiative passed in 1978 that capped property taxes, has made things worse: It had the effect of shrinking the housing stock by encouraging homeowners to hold on to properties to take advantage of the low taxes.
        "California is a beautiful place with great weather and a terrific economy," said Issi Romem, the chief economist with BuildZoom, a San Francisco company that helps homeowners find contractors. "To accommodate all those people you need to build a lot, and the state's big metro areas haven't since the early '70s. To catch up, cities would need to build housing in a way that they haven't in two generations."
        Coastal cities — which tend to have the worst housing problems — have the most scarce land. Still, economists say, the high cost of all housing is first and foremost the result of a failure to build. The state has added about 311,000 housing units over the past decade, or about 75 percent of what economists say is needed.
        "Cities have proven time and time again that they will not follow their own zoning rules," said Brian Hanlon, policy director of the San Francisco Yimby Party, a housing advocacy group. "It's time for the state to strengthen their own laws so that advocates can hold cities accountable."
        Still, few elected officials are eager to risk community anger by forcing through construction that would, say, put a 10-story apartment building at the edge of a neighborhood of single-family homes. That has turned California into a state of isolated and arguably self-interested islands.
        The situation has been aggravated by places such as Brisbane, just south of San Francisco, which has encouraged extensive office development while failing to build housing.
        "We have cities around California that are happy to welcome thousands of workers in gleaming new tech and innovation campuses, and are turning a blind eye to their housing need," said Mr. Chiu.
        In the Bay Area, the explosive growth of the tech industry has led to escalating rents, opening a tough debate over gentrification and brutal commutes for workers. "Cities that deny housing are contributing to skyrocketing rents, unfair evictions and homelessness," said Lori Droste, a member of the Berkeley City Council.
        The measure has raised considerable opposition as well, including from lawmakers who argued that letting state take power away from local governments strips communities of the ability to control the fundamental character of their own neighborhoods.
        "People here feel like this is a special place, like people in any town or city do," said Chris Coursey, the mayor of Santa Rosa. "And they want decisions about the future of the community to be made by people in the community who they can actually talk to about this."
        Richard Bloom, a Democratic state assemblyman and a former mayor of Santa Monica, said even communities like his were no longer reflexively trying to derail housing projects.
        "More and more people are becoming well aware that we have a housing affordability crisis on our hands," he said. "The issue is just reaching critical mass with the Legislature and the public."

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        11)  U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Nondisclosure Rules for Surveillance Orders
         JULY 17, 2017, 1:48 P.M. E.D.T
        https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/07/17/technology/17reuters-usa-surveillance.html?src=busln

        WASHINGTON — A U.S. federal appeals court on Monday upheld nondisclosure rules that allow the FBI to secretly issue surveillance orders for customer data to communications firms, a ruling that dealt a blow to privacy advocates.
        A unanimous three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco sided with a lower court ruling in finding that rules permitting the FBI to send national security letters under gag orders are appropriate and do not violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution's free speech protections.
        Content distribution firm CloudFlare and phone network operator CREDO Mobile had sued the government in order to notify customers of five national security letters received between 2011 and 2013.
        Andrew Crocker, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented the companies in the consolidated case, said no immediate decision whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court had been made. He called the ruling disappointing.
        Several major technology firms, including Microsoft and Twitter, have mounted a variety of legal challenges in recent years to U.S. government restrictions limiting what they can disclose, both to affected users and to the public, about the surveillance requests they receive.
        National security letters, or NSLs, are a type of government subpoena for communications data sent to service providers. They are usually issued with a gag order, meaning the target is often unaware that records are being accessed, and they do not require a warrant.
        Tens of thousands of NSLs are issued annually, and some gag orders last indefinitely.
        Writing for the panel, Judge Sandra Ikuta said the gag orders meet a compelling U.S. government interest, are sufficiently narrow and allow for appropriate judicial review.
        Ikuta, appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, said recent changes to the law passed by Congress in 2015 bolstered oversight of NSL use.
        The FBI's use of NSLs has drawn increased scrutiny from privacy groups in recent years as new transparency laws have allowed companies to publish some of them.
        In June of last year the U.S. Senate narrowly rejected a Republican-backed proposal to expand the kinds of telephone and internet records the FBI could request under an NSL to include senders and recipients of emails, some information about websites a person visits and social media log-in data.
        The legislation failed, but lawmakers have said they intend to pursue the expansion again.
        (Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by David Gregorio)

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        12) Seattle insists it's a model for progressive policing – so why was Charleena Lyles killed?
        On 18 June, two white police officers shot dead a black pregnant mother of four, in a city where, family members say, police are ‘trained to kill’
        "In Washington, police are never convicted. Out of 213 police killings in a 10-year-period, only one officer was even charged, according to a Seattle Times investigation"
        By Sam Levin, July 17, 2017
        https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/17/seattle-police-model-charleena-lyles-killed

        Police were quick to respond to Charleena Lyles’s call about a burglary in her apartment. Less than an hour after she dialed 911 on the morning of 18 June, she opened her door to two Seattle officers and explained that her Xbox went missing after a trip to the store.
        Two minutes and 35 seconds later, the pregnant mother of four was lying on the floor, face-down, bleeding from gunshot wounds. Her one-year-old son crawled to her and rested his head on her body.
        The policemen, who are both white, had fired bullets at Lyles from about 5ft away. They immediately scrambled to get the baby and two other children out of the apartment, but it was impossible to prevent them from seeing their mother, who died by the time the ambulance arrived.
        The killing of Lyles – who police claim threatened the officers with a knife and may have been mentally ill – has reignited national criticism of racially biased policing in the US and law enforcement’s disproportionate shooting of black Americans. Once again.
        But this time, the shooting has taken place in a progressive city whose leaders insist that they have created a model for de-escalation and crisis intervention training that departments across the country have followed.
        “I don’t think there’s anyone who is doing it better than us,” said Sgt Dan Nelson, Seattle police’s crisis intervention team coordinator.
        That claim is particularly painful for Lyles’s grieving relatives. To them, the case is a litany of all-too-familiar injustices: disregard for those with mental health challenges; the use of excessive force against communities of color; and a state legal system that makes it impossible to prosecute officers who kill civilians.
        At a memorial service one week ago – packed with Lyles’s family and hundreds of other mourners – some said they were holding on to hope that the shooting was so disturbing and indefensible that it would be the catalyst for meaningful reforms.




        A victim treated like a suspect

        Charleena Lyles, 30, known by her loved ones as Leena, was about 15 weeks pregnant when she was killed. The day after the funeral, her siblings and cousins briefly laughed through their grief at the absurdity of two policemen feeling physically endangered by her. 
        She was feisty and outspoken, they said, but at 5ft 3in and 100lbs, she was not intimidating or menacing – and certainly not some kind of skilled knife-thrower as police seemed to fear.
        “She’s not a threatening person at all,” said Monika Williams, her 37-year-old sister. “She was just one of those people who lit up the room.”
        Her relatives said she was known as one of the most energetic people in the family and loved dancing, styling her cousins’ hair and writing poetry about her loved ones. Above all, they said, she was dedicated to her four children.
        “I truly admired her as a mother and I just admired her drive,” said Shaneé Isabell, a cousin who grew up alongside her. “She was very courageous and dependable, and she was very loyal.”
        Seattle officers saw something very different in Lyles. The day of her death was not the first time she had called police for help and was instead treated like a suspect.
        On 5 June, Lyles called police after an ex-boyfriend showed up to her apartment unannounced, according to her family. Officers arrived to investigate a “physical domestic disturbance”, but instead of approaching her like a potential domestic violence victim, the police quickly had their service pistols drawn, records show. They felt threatened, the officers later said, because Lyles was holding a pair of scissors.
        They arrested her for “harassment”, alleging she “repeatedly used words and actions to create a substantial risk of assault”.
        A police report on that day said that Lyles seemed “out of touch with reality” and had made statements about police being the devil. But any struggle Lyles was having with her mental health was only further exacerbated by spending the next eight days behind bars, away from her children, her family said.
        Four days after her release, on 18 June, two different officers prepared to investigate her burglary call, reviewing Lyles’s previous incident which noted that they should approach her with caution.
        “She started talking all crazy,” officer Jason Anderson told the other officer, Steven McNew, according to released audio recordings. “This gal, she was the one making all these weird statements.”
        When they arrived at her door, Lyles answered a few questions and the officers, in later interviews with investigators, said that everything seemed normal to them, though they both said they noticed her home was messy.
        Within a few minutes, they realized she had a knife in her hand, and said in their official account that they feared she could try and stab them or throw it at them. McNew, 6ft 2in and 250lbs, later noted that he is “a little larger” than Lyles, but said he feared for his life nonetheless.
        Anderson and McNew screamed at her to get back, and at one point she complied. They briefly discussed tasering her, but they didn’t have one on them. Within about 12 seconds of them noticing the knife, they both fired multiple rounds at her. 
        Neither officer ever ordered her to drop the knife. 

        ‘The training is to kill’

        Deep distrust of police is embedded in the family, said Williams, Lyles’s sister. “I can honestly say I would fear the police, even before this, more than I would fear a gang member. At least a gang member, you’d have to do something to them for them to want to do something to you.”
        When Williams’s four-year-old daughter sees an officer, she always asks: “Are you going to shoot my dad?”
        Lyles’s relatives all had stories – unjustified tickets, unwarranted stops, threatening physical contact.
        Nakeya Isabell, Lyles’s cousin, said this was standard police behavior in Seattle’s African American communities: “They train your mind to fear people, specifically black people.”
        “It’s a system founded on racism ... All the training is to kill.” 
        Later, she elaborated that while some training is geared toward non-lethal tactics, she believes police would have less fear if they developed better relationships with communities of color.
        Angel Johnson, another cousin, chimed in: “They are hunting us. It’s like target practice.”
        The US Department of Justice (DoJ) validated these kinds of complaints in 2011 when it concluded that the Seattle police department was engaged in an unconstitutional pattern of excessive use of force. The investigation originatedwith the 2010 police killing of a First Nations woodcarver who had trouble hearing and was ordered to drop his knife while walking down the street.
        The DoJ inquiry resulted in a consent decree that required the agency to make significant reforms under the watch of a federal monitor.
        (These kinds of court-enforced reforms are now under threat by US attorney general Jeff Sessions, who has ordered a review of consent decrees, arguing that the DoJ has gone too far in its interference with local policing.)
        Seattle is proud of the progress it has made, Brian Maxey, chief operating officer, said in an interview at police headquarters. From 2011 to 2016, the department’s use of force has dropped 60%, and last year, out of 9,300 cases of encountering people in crisis, officers applied force only 1.6% of the time.
        “We rarely use force and when we do, it appears to be appropriate,” he said, adding that he believes the agency has aggressively tackled racial profiling and bias.
        Crisis intervention trainings emphasize de-escalation tactics – finding ways to slow down the situation, isolate suspects so they can’t harm others and use non-lethal force to disarm them. Even officers with minimal training are well equipped to respond to people facing mental health crises, said Nelson, the crisis intervention coordinator.
        “They have a pretty deep level of understanding,” he said, adding, “We definitely are national leaders in our training.”
        Maxey and Nelson said they couldn’t comment on the Lyles shooting while the investigation was pending, but they both noted that, in general, knives are considered lethal instruments and there are times when officers have to respond with deadly force.

        ‘Accountable to nobody’

        The officers who killed Lyles had both done the required crisis intervention training.
        Anderson later admitted he was supposed to be carrying a Taser, but that his battery recently died and he hadn’t replaced it.
        Seated inside his seventh-floor office in city hall, Seattle mayor Ed Murray called Lyles’s death a “tragedy” and “huge setback” for the city. “Seattle’s story, I think, is significant progress, but we’re not there yet ... The question is what failed with their training.”
        Katrina Johnson, Lyles’s cousin, scoffed at the idea that the department had improved, noting that the medical examiner’s office told her that Lyles had two bullet wounds in her back: “They de-escalate who they want to de-escalate.”
        No matter what evidence emerges, the officers are very unlikely to face any criminal consequences in Washington, which is by some measures the hardest place in America to hold police accountable.
        In 1986, the state passed legislation saying officers cannot face prosecution for killing someone in the line of duty unless they acted with “malice” and “evil intent”.
        The law is the most restrictive in the US, where it is generally very difficultto convict officers who kill, since they can broadly cite self defense. Despite video evidence, officers across the country have avoided criminal consequences in most high profile killings in recent years, including the deaths of Philando CastileAlton Sterlingand Tamir Rice
        In Washington, police are never convicted. Out of 213 police killings in a 10-year-period, only one officer was even charged, according to a Seattle Times investigation.
        “It’s the worst law in the nation,” said André Taylor, a police reform activist whose brother was killed by police last year. “It can embolden officers. They feel they have this special immunity. They don’t want to be responsible or accountable to nobody.”
        Taylor, who has been assisting Lyles’s family, is chairing a campaign to pass a ballot measure that would remove the “malice” language.
        Without criminal consequences, activists have argued, the killings will continue. Under the current laws, Taylor argued, the easiest way to get away with murder in Washington state is to put on a police uniform.

        Life without their mother

        Lyles’s oldest children have avoided talking much about their mother’s death. Her 11-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter are aware of some of the marches and protests in her honor, but they’ve struggled to process the events, said Francis Butts, their grandmother, who is taking care of them. 
        “I’ve just been keeping them busy,” she said, seated in the basement of a Seattle church where the family was preparing a reception after the funeral. “They just seem normal, but you can look in their eyes and you can see the hurt and pain.”
        Lyles’s four-year-old and one-year-old, who were crawling nearby when their mother died, don’t seem to understand what happened. But Lyles’s family fears long term impacts for the toddlers, who are now living with one of her sisters.
        “They are going to have secondary trauma for the rest of their lives,” said Katrina, one of the cousins.
        Nakeya noted that the children were frightened by loud noises at the funeral and could be suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress. “These are two babies who can’t communicate. What are they going to do? We can’t bring their mother back.”
        Shaneé said there was at least one clear lesson she took away from her cousin’s death: she would never call the police again.

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        13)  Driving While Undocumented, and Facing the Risks




        Heading to church one evening in late March, a farmworker and her sister were stopped for speeding in the village of Geneseo, N.Y. They were driving with their five children in the back of the minivan. Two were not in car seats, as required.
        The police officer, trying to cite the driver for the infractions, discovered she had no driver’s license, so he called Border Patrol to review her Guatemalan passport. Both sisters were undocumented immigrants. They were detained and are facing deportation.
        Under a Trump administration that has taken an aggressive stance on illegal immigration, the moving car has become an easy target. A broken headlight, a seatbelt not worn, a child not in a car seat may be minor traffic violations, but for unauthorized immigrants, they can have life-altering consequences.
        Routine traffic stops have always carried the threat of deportation, but during the last years of the Obama administration, when serious crimes were prioritized, the stops that simply revealed unlawful status often resulted in deferment. No longer.

        Rachael Yong Yow, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said it did not keep statistics on traffic stops that have led to detention, but over the last several months, there has been an increasing number of reports of traffic stops, whether in upstate New York, Florida or Minnesota, in which drivers have been taken into ICE custody. Even passengers have been detained and face deportation.
        “If there was a valid licensed driver driving the vehicle,” the Geneseo police chief, Eric Osganian, said in a statement after the two sisters were pulled over, “there would have been no need to call Border Patrol to confirm the ID of the driver.”
        As many as 12 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, offer driver’s licenses for unauthorized immigrants, up from three in 2010. New York, which has the third-largest immigrant population in the country, is not one of them.
        In large sections of the United States, unauthorized immigrants drive without a license anyway — to work, to shop or to take their children to school or other activities. Carlos Cardona, 28, who works on a dairy farm outside of Rochester, said he had no choice the night his infant daughter’s fever spiked. He drove to get her medicine. “I know we are in another country that is not our own, and I don’t like breaking the law,” he said in an interview in Spanish, “but when it comes to my family, I have to take risks.”
        Luis Jimenez, 33, another dairy worker who said that he drove without a license, said: “We are workers. We are not here to harm anybody. We need things to advance.”
        Supporters of efforts to allow those who are undocumented to get driver’s licenses say that public safety would improve because they would be required to pass road tests and obtain insurance. But critics said that licenses represented a privilege that unauthorized immigrants should not hold, because they should not be here in the first place.
        Outside of Rochester, Tony Bartolucci, a pastor, and his daughter were struck by an unlicensed, undocumented driver on their way to buying a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve in 2015. His daughter, Giana, 14, died six months later after brain surgery.
        “It was the second time that he was caught in the country illegally,” Mr. Bartolucci said. “And both times were due to his being drunk while driving. Obviously, if he wasn’t in the country illegally, it wouldn’t have happened either. But I’m not going to make a political point about it.”
        He believes in restricting illegal immigration and thinks that giving driver’s licenses to people in the country illegally is just “a non sequitur.” But at the same time, Mr. Bartolucci said, he has forgiven his daughter’s killer.
        While Connecticut and Vermont enacted laws in 2013 that allow noncitizens to obtain licenses, a similar effort in New York has made little progress in more than a decade.
        In 2007, Gov. Eliot Spitzer ordered that unauthorized immigrants be given licenses, but within two months, he was forced to rescind the order under pressure from upstate county clerks — serving as officers of the Department of Motor Vehicles — who refused to enforce it. Bills supporting the idea have been introduced in the State Assembly the last three years, but in June, another legislative session ended without a billfor “limited purpose drivers’ licenses” getting out of the transportation committee.
        Advocates for a grass-roots campaign, “Green Light NY: Driving Together,” to offer the licenses considered this year’s effort a test run for next year. They emphasized the public safety aspect of having noncitizen licenses so that all drivers know the rules of the road and carry insurance.
        Senator Kathleen A. Marchione, a Republican representing the Upper Hudson Valley, was the president of the New York State Association of County Clerks when it opposed Gov. Spitzer’s initiative in 2007. She does not understand the argument for giving licenses to those who are undocumented.
        “Driving without a license should not give you a right to have a driver’s license when you are already breaking the law in two instances,” she said in an interview. “That’s like saying if a kid is drinking at 16 years old, we might as well let him.”
        Senator Marchione said that the association’s main objection in 2007 still stands: that creating a license designated for unauthorized immigrants could enable would-be terrorists to obtain identification. (Some of the Sept. 11 hijackers used state driver’s licenses to check in for their flights.)
        The Assembly bill, proposed by a Queens Democrat, Francisco Moya, however, would ensure that the card would not be legal for federal purposes — boarding an airplane or entering federal buildings.
        In New York State, driver’s licenses are offered to green card holders with Social Security numbers, and those with temporary visitor or work visas, including recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Applicants must provide proof of residence and forms of identification that are weighted on a point scale.
        Anne Doebler, a private immigration lawyer in Buffalo, said that undocumented immigrants want to follow traffic laws, and that civil law and immigration law should be kept distinct. “Why do we want to use our vehicle and traffic laws to enforce an immigration policy when it’s detrimental to public safety?” she asked.
        “I don’t want someone to hit me who doesn’t have insurance,” she said. “I don’t care what their immigration status is.”
        recent report out of Stanford University in California, which started issuing drivers’ licenses for undocumented residents in 2015, examined the public safety aspect of the law. With 600,000 new licensed drivers who were undocumented in 2015, hit-and-run accidents decreased significantly, by 4,000, from the year before.
        According to a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, more than 752,000 undocumented immigrants would be eligible for driver’s licenses in New York State, and of that number, roughly 265,000 would apply. Taxes and fees could assist the annual economy in counties and the state by $57 million, the report showed.
        The Westchester villages of Mamaroneck, Ossining and Port Chester issued resolutions in support of the State Assembly bill earlier this year. So did Ithaca, Hudson and Irvington.
        “We think that people should be able to drive so that they can be productive members of the community, as well as being properly licensed and insured,” said Nancy Seligson, the Mamaroneck town supervisor.
        Recently, Alberto, a 32-year-old Mexican man living in Ulster County for the last 11 years, was on his way to visit his sick mother-in-law in Florida when a police officer pulled his car over. His wife had been breast-feeding their infant while the car was moving. That was illegal.
        Alberto, who declined to give his last name because of his immigration status, said in a recent interview that he was arrested that night in Georgia. His car was impounded because he had no license to drive it. He was able to get the car back and plead to lesser charges, he said, but those charges have not yet been reduced. He could still face deportation.
        Back in New York, he continues to drive, always looking over his shoulder. “I have to be perfect,” he said.

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        14)  After Minneapolis Police Shooting, Many Ask: Why Wasn’t Body Camera On?


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        It has happened in high-profile, fatal police shootings in Chicago, Los Angeles and now in Minneapolis: An officer fired a gun, but his body camera was turned off.
        Body cameras have been rapidly adopted in police departments across the country in recent years, as scrutiny of police conduct has mounted. But officers often fail to turn cameras on at crucial moments, depriving investigators and the public of video evidence that could be revealing.
        The issue emerged again this week after the death of Justine Damond, 40, an Australian immigrant and meditation teacher who was fatally shot by a police officer, Mohamed Noor, outside her home in Minneapolis on Saturday.
        State and city officials have given spare details about what happened that night, and they say they know of no video footage or audio recording of the shooting. Ms. Damond had called 911 to report a possible assault near her home and went outside to the alley, where Officer Matthew Harrity and Officer Noor had arrived and were investigating. Officer Harrity, who was driving the squad car, told state investigators that he was startled by a loud noise near the car; immediately afterward, Ms. Damond approached his window. His partner, Officer Noor, then fired through the open window, fatally shooting Ms. Damond in the abdomen.
        The authorities say that neither Officer Noor nor his partner had their video cameras activated during the shooting. Officer Noor, who declined to be interviewed by investigators, may have violated department policy by not turning his body camera on before firing his weapon. According to the Minneapolis Police Department’s policy and procedure manual, body cameras should be activated if the officer is using force. If the camera is not activated during the use of force, the manual says, the officer should turn it on “as soon as it is safe to do so.”
        State investigators have said that a camera on the squad car was also not turned on, and that the officers’ body cameras were not activated until after the shooting. A lawyer for Officer Noor did not return an email seeking comment.
        “Why don’t we have footage from body cameras?” Betsy Hodges, the mayor of Minneapolis, said at a news conference Tuesday evening, visibly frustrated. “Why were they not activated? We all want answers to those questions.”
        Around the country, police officers have no standard practice that dictates when a body camera should be turned on, said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit focused on improving policing. Recording constantly would spare officers from deciding when to turn on their cameras, but it would result in an unwieldy amount of data to be stored, an expensive undertaking for police departments, experts say. Instead, a patchwork of rules governing individual police departments has developed, with some officers required to turn on their cameras during every interaction with a civilian, and others required to activate cameras on a more limited basis.
        “Part of what’s happening in policing around body camera video policy is, there’s no national coherence,” Mr. Bueermann said. “The policy has to be clear. And you have to have an auditing system that helps you determine if the policy is working.”
        In Minneapolis, the use of body cameras has been fiercely debated. Critics say that the Police Department was slow to adopt cameras, and that it still does not require officers to use them frequently enough.
        Last week, days before Ms. Damond’s shooting, a Minneapolis television station, using a snapshot of data from March, reported that body camera usage in the Minneapolis Police Department appeared to be minimal. Records showed that on average, officers each uploaded five or six hours of video footage for the entire month.
        In Ms. Damond’s case, the lack of body camera footage is concerning, said Teresa Nelson, the interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.
        “Body cameras aren’t perfect, and they’re only going to capture from the officer’s perspective,” she said. “But we would know, certainly, perhaps any commands that were given prior to the use of force. We would know, perhaps, the reason why force happened. We would know if this was an accident. The officer who shot might have commented, ‘I can’t believe I just did that.’ We would know so much more about why this happened.”
        The shooting in Minneapolis was unusual in several ways. It took place in a neighborhood in the southwest part of the city that has little violent crime. Ms. Damond had moved to Minnesota from Sydney, Australia, a few years ago, and she was fatally wounded by a police officer of Somali descent, one of only a small number of officers with similar backgrounds in the Minneapolis department.
        After the shooting, three days went by without an explanation from officials. Ms. Damond’s grieving family and friends demanded an answer: What reason could Officer Noor have had for shooting her?
        “It sounds like a really tragic situation right on the surface,” said Darrel W. Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and an instructor for the Public Safety Leadership program of the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. “But we know virtually nothing from the officer’s perspective on what they encountered. Body camera footage would help.”
        The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a state agency, is investigating the shooting. It is likely to take weeks or months before the county prosecutor decides whether to file criminal charges against Officer Noor, 31, who joined the police force in 2015.
        Last year, the Minneapolis Police Department equipped its officers with close to 600 body cameras across all five districts, excluding detectives and undercover officers.
        A citizens group, the Police Conduct Oversight Commission, has pushed the department for more oversight of how officers are using the cameras. The group has urged monthly audits to determine how often officers are turning on the cameras. So far, said Jenny Singleton, the vice chairwoman of the group, the recommendations have been ignored.
        “I had no evidence about how they were using the body cameras, but I know that there weren’t specific structures in place to make sure they were using the cameras in accordance with policy,” Ms. Singleton said.
        Medaria Arradondo, assistant chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, said on Tuesday that department officials will soon release an updated policy. Among the updates expected: changes to when officers are required to turn their body cameras on.

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        15)  City Expands Services as More Become Homeless, Even With a Job




        Between intermittent drizzle and drenching downpours, social workers climbed an embankment just off what they called the “zigzag” — an entanglement of roads and exits from the Henry Hudson Parkway and Riverside Drive in northern Manhattan.
        They were looking for a crudely built wooden loft bed wedged into concrete so that it was suspended above the ground and three feet or so beneath Riverside Drive.
        Kyle Stefano, one of the workers, shined a flashlight and woke the man who had slept through the rumbling traffic above him. He said that his name was Javier and that he didn’t want help. “Wait, wait,” he shouted from the darkness on Friday morning. “What time is it? I have to go to work.”

        The problem of homelessness in New York City now includes more able-bodied people who sometimes have jobs but shun the overcrowded shelters. To address the change, the city is expanding its services to help those who recently began living on the street.
        An annual survey in February found that about 3,900 people were living on sidewalks, in subways, in parks and in isolated areas, like the embankment. The tally was an alarming 40 percent increase from 2016. Though mild winter weather was cited as a factor, Steven Banks, the commissioner of social services, said the survey gave a more accurate picture of what social workers had been reporting.
        As part of a new approach, the Center for Urban Community Services, a nonprofit, will announce this week that under a $33 million contract with the city, it will lead a consortium to reduce street homelessness in Manhattan. Other nonprofits handle the city’s other boroughs, but Manhattan was the clear epicenter of the surge, according to the survey.
        Tony Hannigan, the executive director of the Center for Urban Community Services, said the contract required the consortium to broaden its scope and its definition of homelessness. For a decade, the nonprofits focused on chronically homeless people, defined as living unsheltered for nine months or more and having physical or developmental disabilities, substance abuse problems or mental health issues. The providers are now being asked to help newly homeless or short-term homeless people, including panhandlers.
        “The economy has improved but not necessarily for people on the very bottom,” Mr. Hannigan said.
        Mayor Bill de Blasio recently upset some homeless people and advocates with off-the-cuff remarks that included calling people begging for money on the street charlatans pretending to be homeless.
        But his remarks reflected a new effort by the Department of Homeless Services to better understand who is panhandling, why they are begging and how the city can help them get off the streets. “We want to dig more deeply to what their needs are,” Mr. Banks said.
        One of their needs is to simply have somewhere to go. The city has six drop-in centers, where people can shower and get meals and services. Two more are scheduled to open by the end of the year, including one on 14th Street in Manhattan, Mr. Banks said.
        On Tuesday, Mr. Banks toured a new center in Ozone Park, Queens, operated by Breaking Ground, which is part of the consortium.
        Once home to a coffee roaster, the unassuming building still smells of coffee beans, but is filled with computers and has a new kitchen. Abdul Hasan, 38, who said he became homeless three months ago after a dispute with his family over his sexuality and drinking, said he was now getting three meals a day there instead of hanging out in nearby Forest Park.
        Mr. Hasan said he lived in a shelter in East New York for two months until he was attacked by other residents. He said he quit his job as a cashier at a restaurant at Kennedy Airport after he was unable to maintain his hygiene. Told about the drop-in center, Mr. Hasan said social workers have helped him apply for unemployment benefits and get a mailing address and a library card.
        “It’s way better than the street,” he said. “I could have been sitting on a bench.”
        The city has a list of 2,000 names of people who live on the street, Mr. Banks said. That is far from the survey’s estimate of 3,900 people, but Mr. Banks said it was a start to building the trust needed to get people into shelter. It takes an average of five months to establish trust and get people indoors, according to the Homeless Services Department.
        On Friday as she left the embankment, Ms. Stefano suspected that Javier was a fake name. She and Eric Wilson, a case manager, ticked off nicknames they have been given: Daddy-O, Animal, Tasty, Tow Truck, Charlie Tuna, Mr. Nature, Dirty Harry and Juice.
        “Some folks have given up on the shelters,” Mr. Wilson said. “The more crowded the shelters get, it trickles to the street.”
        Mr. Wilson and Ms. Stefano found several people living under an overpass in Highbridge Park in Washington Heights in Manhattan. Meticulously decorated, the encampment of half a dozen people looked like the showroom of a furniture store, complete with a comfy red velour armchair.
        In Harlem, Ms. Stefano and Mr. Wilson talked to Mohammad Daka, an immigrant from Ivory Coast, who was living in a tent he had fashioned out of a blue tarp, a black shower curtain and cardboard boxes.
        Mr. Daka and others on the street could be moved by city officials as a nuisance, though the city now gives some notice. Earlier this year, the city settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of three homeless men whose belongings, including birth certificates, were destroyed in a removal.
        Mr. Daka was willing to take the risk. He said he could not deal with the curfews and rules of the shelters.
        On a bad day, there are about 60,000 people in the city’s main shelter system. Earlier this year, Mr. de Blasio unveiled a plan to open about 90 new shelters aimed at replacing the apartments and hotel rooms currently being used as stopgap measures for a system too small to meet the demand.
        High-profile crimes inside shelters, including the murder of a former librarian in January 2016, keep people away.
        Aware of the reputation, the city is increasing the number of so-called safe haven beds. The beds are generally in smaller settings and in churches and do not have the same restrictions, like curfews. In the past 18 months, the city has added 350 safe haven beds and plans to add 360 by the end of the year, when it with have a total of 1,100.
        Israel Gonzalez, 47, moved into a safe haven about nine months ago after becoming homeless about eight years ago. “When they told me they were going to house me, I said, ‘Aww, I’ve heard that one before,’ ” he said.
        But in three weeks, he was in the Center for Urban Community Services safe haven in Harlem, which has 40 beds and is adding 20 more.
        Mr. Gonzalez said he was grateful to be off 126th Street and Third Avenue where he had made his home outdoors. He preferred it to the shelters. “In the winter, shelters get extra, extra packed,” he said.
        He said opening more shelters and safe havens was noble of the city. “But I don’t think more shelters would work,” he said. “More permanent housing is the solution.”
        That is the solution the city would like, too, Mr. Banks said.

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