Friday, January 13, 2017

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017

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LISTSERV MASTHEAD new
MEDIA ADVISORY
January 3, 2017
Contact: Kari Ann Boushee, Family Contact and Co-Director, International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, (505) 217-3612 or contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info
Top Prosecutor: Clemency for Leonard Peltier "in best interest of justice"
Last month, a letter in support of clemency for federal prisoner Leonard Peltier was sent to President Obama by former United States Attorney James H. Reynolds.
Supporters believe that Native American activist Leonard Peltier was wrongfully convicted in 1977 for the deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Imprisoned for over 41 years, Peltier has the support of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. Over 50 Members of Congress and others—including Judge Gerald Heaney (8th Circuit Court of Appeals) who sat as a member of the court in two of Peltier's appeals—have all called for his immediate release.
As noted in his letter to President Obama, Mr. Reynolds was appointed to the position of U.S. Attorney for the District of Iowa by former President Jimmy Carter. He held the position in 1977, the year that Mr. Peltier's case went to trial, and supervised the prosecutors through trial and appeals, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Hultman. He was later appointed as U.S. Attorney for South Dakota.
Appellate courts have repeatedly acknowledged evidence of government misconduct in the Peltier case—including knowingly presenting false statements to a Canadian court to extradite Mr. Peltier to the U.S., and forcing witnesses to lie at trial. A federal prosecutor has twice admitted that the government "can't prove who shot those agents." Per the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals "the FBI used improper tactics in securing Peltier's extradition from Canada and in otherwise investigating and trying the Peltier case." The court concluded that the government withheld evidence from the defense favorable to Peltier "which cast a strong doubt on the government's case," and that had this other evidence been brought forth "there is a possibility that a jury would have acquitted Leonard Peltier." In 2003, the judges of the 10th Circuit stated: "Much of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed."
Per the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), from the time of Peltier's conviction in 1977 until the mid-1990s, the average length of imprisonment served for homicide in the U.S. prior to being released on parole ranged from 94 to 99.8 months (about 8 years). Per the existing standards at the time of his sentencing, Peltier is long overdue for discretionary parole. Per 1977 standards, he has served the equivalent of over five life sentences. But, in violation of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (and its amendments), the government has illegally extended Peltier's prison term. Effective on October 12, 1984, the law ordered that parole dates be issued to all "old system" prisoners within the following five-year period, at the end of which time (on October 11, 1989) the U.S. Parole Commission would cease to exist. After it had technically ceased to exist, the Commission claimed it needed more time to complete its work. Congress inexplicably granted several after-the-fact extensions. These extensions were legally invalid and therefore inapplicable because, at the time they were made, the Parole Commission had already been abolished.
Further, in determining his release date, the government has failed to apply its 30 -year rule. After 30 years served, all sentences are to be aggregated and the prisoner released. In addition, the government has not considered the good-time credit earned by Peltier (20 years, to date). Peltier has long been eligible for mandatory release.
Clemency, Reynolds said in his letter to President Obama, is "…in the best interest of justice in considering the totality of all matters involved."
Age 71 and in poor health, Peltier formally applied for clemency on February 17, 2016, and awaits President Obama's decision.
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Download attachment: December 21, 2016, Letter from James H. Reynolds to President Barack Obama @ goo.gl/Xv1Iqo.
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Protect Kevin "Rashid" Johnson from Prison Repression!

PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* That Kevin Johnson's property be returned to him

* That Kevin Johnson's cell be thoroughly decontaminated

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

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



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

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

TDCJ Ombudsman: ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov

The Inspector General:  512-671-2480

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

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

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

Interstate Compact director, Terry Glenn
804-887-7866

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear John- this is the moment we have been waiting for.

January 3rd, Federal Judge Robert Mariani ordered the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to immediately give Mumia Abu-Jamal the life-saving latest direct-acting antiviral medications that have a 95% cure rate!

After a year and a half of constant legal battling, near death hospitalization, and agonizing chronic sickness, Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and attorney Robert Boyle, and thousands of activists, on behalf of Mumia, have prevailed. It took two lawsuits hundreds of hours of motions and your calls, letters and demands.

Winning a preliminary injunction is a tall order and requires proving there will be irreversible harm in delaying the order. This is a tremendous victory. It will pave the way for all incarcerated people who seek hepatitis C treatment.

"This is the first case in the country in which a federal court has ordered prison officials to provide an incarcerated patient with the new medications that came on the market in 2013" -Bret Grote Esq., Abolitionist Law Center

This victory is yours. I want to take a moment to let this sink in: nearly two years ago when Mumia fell into diabetic shock and was near death, you fought with us through the many phone calls, action alerts, fundraising campaigns, and the continuous struggle to keep Mumia alive, stabilize his health, and get him treatment. When Judge Mariani denied our preliminary injunction in August on a technicality, you stuck with us again to raise funds, re-file, and persist onwards. In 2015 and 2016, we raised over $130,000 for Mumia's Medical and Legal Defense because of your support.

Now we need to turn up the pressure more than ever. We expect that the DOC will quickly appeal Mariani's ruling in the coming days. 

As Robert Boyle, Esq. said, "The struggle is far from over: the DOC will no doubt appeal this ruling. But a victory! Thanks Pam Africa and all the Mumia supporters and all of you."

"Everyone has to get on board to keep the pressure on. We have an opportunity here that we have never had before. We are going to do it as a unified community, everyone together." - Pam Africa  
Let me be honest. We fundraise like we breathe. We have to. We are going to win-- with your key help. We've got until midnight tomorrow to raise just $2,021! We're 97% there. Please pitch in today to help us reach $60K!

Tomorrow your phone will ring with a special message from Mumia. In it, he says, "This is indeed a serious time for me, and for us all. It is not easy to take on the state and prevail; however, it is right to do so. With your help, we may be able to prevail. This is Mumia Abu-Jamal, thanking you for supporting Prison Radio."

John, the clock's running out- but it's not too late to chip in and help us reach our goal! You can open the airwaves for prisoners to speak out in this urgent time of massive incarceration.

Will you pitch in with a gift of $103, $35 or even $250 to bring us to our goal by midnight and amplify the voices of prisoners?
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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Mumia Comments on Hep-C Victory 

Please forward and distribute widely. 

Below is Mumia Abu-Jamal's comment on his recent court victory, in which he was finally granted the effective, curative treatment for the Hepatitis-C infection which he has had since 1981, when he was hospitalized after being shot by a cop. 

The Hep-C was dormant until 2015, when symptoms began to show up. The prison system has a protocol which excused their failure to treat the Hep-C which thousands of prisoners like Mumia suffer from, due to the new cure's exorbitant cost. The court ruled that not to treat him was a violation of his constitutional rights under the eighth amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

The benefit of this decision could extend to all Hep-C infected prisoners in the US, but we must remain vigilant. The PA DOC may appeal this decision to a higher court, and the courts have never been friendly to Mumia. Mumia's supporters are asking you to register your objection to any appeal with the following:

Rally at the governor's office: Friday 13 January 2017, 4 to 5:30 PM, 200 S. Broad St, Philadelphia; or call: 717 728-2573, or 717 728-4109. Demand no appeal of this critical ruling!

_  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _

HEPATITIS C GETS A KNOCKOUT PUNCH!
[col. writ. 1\3\17] © '17 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Just a few hours ago, I placed a call to my civil lawyer; Bret Grote of the Pittsburg based Abolitionist Law Center.

I could hear the excitement in his voice, "Did you hear the news yet? he asked.

I hadn't.

Then he told me that the judge (U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani) granted our motion for a Preliminary injunction, ordering heath care staff on the DOC's Hepatitis Care Committee, to cease their unconstitutional protocol in my case, and to begin treatment of my hepatitis infection with direct-acting antiviral medications.

While it's certainly good to win, I thought of the good, hard work by Bret and his colleague, Bob Boyle who rumbled in court. I thought of the many people who filled two courtrooms (1) because of the organizing prowess of Sis. Pam Africa, Dr. Suzanne Ross, Dr. Johanna Fernandez, and others who made it happen.

I thought of Dr. Joseph Harris, MD, who, as an expert witness, hushed the courtroom by his intricate medical explanations, which made scientific arguments so clear that anyone could understand it. Moreover, when he explained my symptoms and tied it together, I shall never forget the tremendous sense of relief that I finally had something that none of the doctors either in the infirmary or at Gelsinger Medical Center could provide: a diagnosis.

And I thought of thousands of men and women in Pennsylvania prisons, suffering from the unforgiving ravages of hepatitis C - and now, who had new hope.

I thought of the prisoners who also suffered from Hep C, and were denied treatment by the DOC -- and died, choking on toxins that their liver could no longer expel.

They did not live long enough to see this day.

--©'17maj

This message from: 
the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
10 January 2017

Contact: Tova, 510-600-5800; Jack, 510-501-7080; or Gerald, 510-417-1252.

More information: December 9th is the date in 1981 on which Mumia was shot by a cop, almost killed, and then framed for the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner, which had already taken place before Mumia arrived on the scene. Mumia was an anti-racist activist and journalist, whose activities and radio reports on police brutality had made him a target of both federal and local cops and politicians. 

Mumia's trial before a racist judge was a crime scene in itself, with corrupted and lying "witnesses," honest witnesses not called to appear, faked "evidence" and Mumia himself removed from most of his own trial! His State appeal was held before the same racist judge, and another man who confessed to the Faulkner killing was never called before any court.

Mumia contracted Hepatitis-C from a blood transfusion in the hospital in 1981 after his arrest. Decades later, this long-incubating viral infection exploded into a raft of debilitating secondary symptoms, and into the present threat Mumia faces of cirrhosis of the liver and likely death, unless he receives the newly-available curative treatment. While treating him for the secondary symptoms, the PA prison DOC has up to now refused the essential cure, due to its cost (while masking this in a litany of excuses). 

In 1995, mass international demonstrations took place, which succeeded in stopping the threat of immediate execution which had been leveled against Mumia by the PA governor.  And in 1999, Oakland teachers held unauthorized teach-ins on Mumia and the death penalty, and  longshore workers in the ILWU shut down all West Coast ports to free Mumia. More recently, the LAC has organized demonstrations demanding treatment for prisoners like Mumia and against price-gouging by Gilead Sciences, the maker of the Hep-C drug Harvoni, which all Hep-C victims need.

Now, we must ramp up all this movement to demand: Treatment for all Hep-C infected prisoners, and Free Mumia Now!

This message from: Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. 04 January 2017 
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Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net)

Rasmea Defense Committee statement - December 21, 2016

Rasmea retrial set for May 16, 2017

Support the defense now!


This morning, Rasmea Odeh and her defense attorney Michael Deutsch were called into Judge Gershwin Drain's courtroom in Detroit, where the judge and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel were in attendance. The parties all agreed on May 16, 2017, as the new starting date for Rasmea's retrial.

The defense committee will continue to send regular updates regarding any pre-trial hearings or other appearances that Rasmea must make between now and the retrial, as well as requests to participate in regular defense organizing and activities.

In addition, we urge supporters to continue to
call U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade
 at 313-226-9100,
or tweet @USAO_MIE
and demand that she stop wasting taxpayer money, that she stop persecuting a woman who has given so much to U.S. society, and that she #DropTheChargesNow against Rasmea.

Lastly, and in the spirit of the season, please help us win #Justice4Rasmea by making your end-of-year donation to the defense fund! We thank you all for your continued support!



Background info

Statement from Tuesday, December 13


U.S. Attorney extends political attack on Rasmea, brings new indictment against the Palestinian American


Today, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade announced that a grand jury she had empaneled returned a new, superseding indictment against Rasmea Odeh for unlawful procurement of naturalization. This new indictment, just four weeks before her retrial, is a vicious attack by prosecutors desperate after a series of setbacks in their case against the Chicago-based Palestinian American community leader. From the outset, the government has attempted to exclude and discredit evidence of Rasmea's torture at the hands of Israeli authorities, but the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the prosecution, which led to the retrial; and the government's own expert affirmed that Rasmea lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Knowing that it faces the real prospect of losing a retrial before a jury, the U.S. Attorney's office has reframed its case against Rasmea, putting allegations of terrorism front and center. In the first trial in 2014, prosecutors were barred from using the word "terrorism," because Judge Gershwin Drain agreed the word would bias the jury. The new indictment adds two allegations that preclude this protection: first, that the crimes she was forced by torture to confess to are "terrorist activity"; and second, that she failed to report an alleged association with a "Designated Terrorist Organization." Despite the government's claim that this is a simple case of immigration fraud, this new indictment is written to ensure that Rasmea stands before a jury as an accused terrorist.

The Rasmea Defense Committee is urging supporters to call U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade at 313-226-9100, or tweet @USAO_MIE, and demand that she stop wasting taxpayer money, that she stop persecuting a woman who has given so much to U.S. society, and that she #DropTheChargesNow against Rasmea. In addition, the committee is calling on supporters to help win #Justice4Rasmea by donating to the defense and organizing educational events about the case.

"They [the prosecutors] are switching course because they know that a jury will believe Rasmea," says Nesreen Hasan of the Rasmea Defense Committee and its lead organization, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network. "We have always said, from day one, that this is a political case, and that the government is prosecuting Rasmea as part of a broader attack, the criminalization of the Palestine liberation movement. This new indictment is literally the same charge, with the same evidence - immigration forms. Only now, they want to paint Rasmea, and all Palestinians, as terrorists. The real criminals in this case are the Israelis who brutally tortured Rasmea 45 years ago, as well as those in the U.S. government who are trying to put her on trial for surviving the brutality committed against her."

Prosecutors will be disappointed to find that these new allegations fail to erode Rasmea's support. People have mobilized by the hundreds for countless hearings, every day of her 2014 trial, and her appeal earlier this year. "We have people ready to come from across the Midwest to stand with Rasmea in Detroit on January 10, but we are also prepared to adjust those plans to be there whenever we are needed," says Jess Sundin of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, who lives in Minneapolis and has mobilized dozens of Minnesotans and others in support of the defense. "We will redouble our organizing and fundraising work, and make certain Rasmea has the best defense possible."

According to lead defense attorney Michael Deutsch, "We also intend to challenge this indictment as vindictive and politically-motivated."

Visit www.justice4rasmea.org for more information.

### End ###
Copyright © 2016 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights reserved.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in the fight against FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!
Our mailing address is:
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
PO Box 14183
MinneapolisMN  55414

Add us to your address book



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Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:

A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS

B. ARTICLES IN FULL



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A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS

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Trump and the National Park Service are trying to shut down Inauguration protests – don't let them win! 



January 20, 2017, 7:00 A.M.
Freedom Plaza
1355 Pennsylvania Ave N.W.
(14th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.)
Washington, D.C.

Here in San Francisco:

Fri. Jan. 20, 5pm
SF Protest: Say NO to Trump and the Trump Program on Inauguration Day
Fight Racism, Sexism and Bigotry—Defend Immigrants!
UN Plaza, near Civic Center BART, San Francisco

Share on FacebookShare on Twitter
Sign up to volunteer! Become an organizer in the fightback movement against Trump!
n8 sf
Progressive people from all over the country will be descending on Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2017, to stage a massive demonstration along Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day along with corresponding actions in San Francisco and other West Coast cities.
Trump's appointees are a motley and dangerous crew of billionaires, white supremacists and other extreme rightwingers. They have nothing good in mind for anyone but the banks, oil companies and the military-industrial complex.
It is more important than ever that we keep building the grassroots movement against war, militarism, racism, anti-immigrant scapegoating and neoliberal capitalism's assault against workers' living standards and the environment.
Real social change comes from the bottom, the mobilized grassroots, and not from the centers of institutional power, the professional politicians or the capitalist elites.
This country needs a real political revolution. Millions of people feel entirely disenfranchised by a political system that delivered the least favorable and trusted candidates in U.S. history. Many hoped that the Bernie Sanders campaign would represent a new direction and opportunity to take on entrenched power and extreme inequality, for a higher minimum wage, to defend Social Security, rebuild the labor movement, provide universal health care and free tuition.
Donald Trump is a racist, sexist bigot. On Inauguration Day, thousands will be in the streets to give voice to the millions of people in this country who are demanding systemic change and who reject Trump's anti-people program.
Join us on January 20, 2017, for a massive mobilization of the people!
More info: www.ANSWERsf.org or 415-821-6545. 

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Read more about this action at:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_lsTTIlJff6anpUaUdoYWUwVU0/view

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December 2016-January 2017 - Volume 37, No. 6
Sukey Wolf
December 2016

On Aug. 18, Manning defenders pose outside the Pentagon before delivering 100,000 signatures to the U.S. Army Liaison Office on Capitol Hill demanding an end to her solitary confinement. Photo: Mike Avender

Courageous whistleblower and transgender activist Chelsea Manning remains in military lockup. But she does not remain silent. She resists brutish prison conditions by the Army and defends the right and need for whistleblowers.
Manning was originally charged with espionage for leaking thousands of documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. These leaks exposed war crimes committed by the military, unjust incarceration of prisoners at Guantánamo, and the phenomenal waste and corruption involved in U.S. prosecution of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A biographer, Denver Nicks, wrote that the diplomatic cables leaked were widely seen as a catalyst for the stunning Arab Spring that erupted in Tunisia in December 2010.
No lives were directly lost due to Manning's disclosures. But in July 2013, having already served three grueling years in prison at Quantico, Va., Private Manning was tried and convicted of 20 offenses, including violating the Espionage Act. She was sentenced to 35 years, less than the 60 years the prosecutor wanted, but that was considered harsh and unwarranted, even by some government insiders. The international Reporters Without Borders denounced the sentence as proof of the vulnerability of whistleblowers.
Double persecution. The extreme persecution that Manning has suffered fits a pattern of harsh treatment of whistleblowers by the current administration. While there have only been ten people prosecuted for espionage in the entire history of the United States, seven have occurred under the Obama White House. This war on truth tellers is part of a larger effort to stifle dissent as Obama prosecutes the War on Terrorism with George W. Bush-like devotion. Human Rights Watch pointed out that the "aggressive prosecution and harsh sentencing" is a sharp contrast to the impunity of senior U.S. officials for torture and other human rights abuses.
Manning's jailers treated her brutally. Why? Because she is a pioneer in blowing the whistle on countless U.S. war crimes and ruthless diplomatic decisions. And because she is a pioneer in fighting and winning the battle for transgender existence in the U.S. military.
Manning has undergone the repeated torture of solitary confinement and vicious mockery of her identity as a transgender woman — such as being required to have her hair at standard military length for males — forced to spend long periods spent completely naked, etc. All of this before she was sentenced, violating the government's own rules against pre-trial punishment.
Manning explained that her attempts at suicide were prompted by the lack of care she has received for her gender dysphoria. "I needed help. Yet, instead I am now being punished for surviving my attempt." She has been subjected to "high-tech bullying" in the form of "constant, deliberate and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials."
It takes a movement. After facing new charges and more solitary for her July suicide attempt, Manning finally won her demand to have gender reassignment surgery from male to female, under the new Department of Defense protocols. Her victory is precedent setting. She will probably be the first transgender soldier to receive the treatment.
Clearly, the decision to grant Manning her reassignment surgery and the fact that her latest spell in isolation was shortened was the successful result of mass pressure. It is also the result of Chelsea Manning's firm commitment to keep on fighting. She joined the national labor strike of prisoners begun on Sept. 9 (See "National prisoner labor strike spurs resistance to a new level") and she has recently written she was no longer going to be "bullied by the system."
It is vitally important to keep up the pressure on Eric Fanning, the secretary of the Army, to ultimately free Chelsea Manning. To help, visit chelseamanning.org.


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

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

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



Join the Fight to Free Rev. Pinkney!

Click HERE to view in browser

http://www.iacenter.org/prisoners/freepinkney-1-28-15/

UPDATE:

Today is the 406th day that Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan
languishes in prison doing felony time for a misdemeanor crime he did not
commit. Today is also the day that Robert McKay, a spokesperson for the
Free Rev. Pinkney campaign, gave testimony before United Nations
representatives about the plight of Rev. Pinkney at a hearing held in
Chicago. The hearing was called in order to shed light upon the
mistreatment of African-Americans in the United States and put it on an
international stage. And yet as the UN representatives and audience heard
of the injustices in the Pinkney case many gasped in disbelief and asked
with frowns on their faces, "how is this possible?" But disbelief quickly
disappeared when everyone realized these were the same feelings they had
when they first heard of Flint and we all know what happened in Flint. FREE
REV. PINKNEY NOW.

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

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

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

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

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State Seeks to Remove Innocent PA Lifer's Attorney! Free Corey Walker!


The PA Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed legal action to remove Corey Walker's attorney, Rachel Wolkenstein, in November 2014. On Tuesday, February 9, 2016 the evidentiary hearing to terminate Wolkenstein as Corey Walker's pro hac vice lawyer continues before Judge Lawrence Clark of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, PA.

Walker, assisted by Wolkenstein, filed three sets of legal papers over five months in 2014 with new evidence of Walker's innocence and that the prosecution and police deliberately used false evidence to convict him of murder. Two weeks after Wolkenstein was granted pro hac vice status, the OAG moved against her and Walker.

The OAG claims that Wolkenstein's political views and prior legal representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal and courtroom arrest by the notorious Judge Albert Sabo makes it "intolerable" for her to represent Corey Walker in the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Over the past fifteen months the OAG has effectively stopped any judicial action on the legal challenges of Corey Walker and his former co-defendant, Lorenzo Johnson against their convictions and sentences to life imprisonment without parole while it proceeds in its attempts to remove Wolkenstein.

This is retaliation against Corey Walker who is innocent and framed. Walker and his attorney won't stop until they thoroughly expose the police corruption and deliberate presentation of false evidence to convict Corey Walker and win his freedom.

This outrageous attack on Corey Walker's fundamental right to his lawyer of choice and challenge his conviction must cease. The evidence of his innocence and deliberate prosecutorial frame up was suppressed for almost twenty years. Corey Walker must be freed!

Read: Jim Crow Justice – The Frame-up Of Corey Walker by Charles Brover

Go to FreeCoreyWalker.org to provide help and get more information.


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The Oasis Clinic in Oakland, CA, which treats patients with Hepatitis-C (HCV), demands an end to the outrageous price-gouging of Big Pharma corporations, like Gilead Sciences, which hike-up the cost for essential, life-saving medications such as the cure for the deadly Hepatitis-C virus, in order to reap huge profits. The Oasis Clinic's demand is:

PUBLIC HEALTH, NOT CORPORATE WEALTH!


WE DEMAND:

PUBLIC HEALTH, NOT CORPORATE WEALTH!

IMMEDIATE AND FREE TREATMENT FOR ALL HCV-INFECTED PRISONERS!

NO EXECUTION BY MEDICAL NEGLECT!

JAIL DRUG PROFITEERS, FREE MUMIA!

This message from:
Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610 • www.laboractionmumia.org
06 January 2016

Mumia Is Innocent!  Free Mumia!
 

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Imam Jamil (H.Rap Brown) moved

Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown) was moved by bus from USP Canaan in Waymart, PA. to USP Tucson, Arizona.  His mailing address is:  USP Tucson United States Penitentiary P.O. Box Tucson, AZ. 85734  (BOP number 99974555)

Sign the Petition:

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, THE Bureau of Prisons, The Governor of Georgia

We are aware of a review being launched of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted and or deserve a new trail because of flawed forensic evidence and or wrongly reported evidence. It was stated in the Washington Post in April of 2012 that Justice Department Officials had known for years that flawed forensic work led to convictions of innocent people. We seek to have included in the review of such cases that of Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. We understand that all cases reviewed will include the Innocence Project. We look forward to your immediate attention to these overdue wrongs.
ASAP: The Forgotten Imam Project
P.O. Box 373
Four Oaks, NC 27524
Signed,
Luqman Abdullah-ibn Al-Sidiq

https://www.causes.com/actions/1671495-the-forgotten-imam-jamil-abdullah-al-amin-h-rap-brown?utm_campaign=post_mailer%2Fcampaign_update.cb_71432&utm_medium=email&utm_source=causes

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

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

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

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





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      Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

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


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

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

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

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

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

      Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

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

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

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

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

      In solidarity,

      James Clark
      Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
      Amnesty International USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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        CANCEL ALL STUDENT DEBT!

        Sign the Petition:

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



        Dear President Obama, Senators, and Members of Congress:


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

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

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


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        Campaign to Free Lorenzo Johnson


        Updates from Team Lorenzo Johnson

        Dear Supporters and Friends,


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




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


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

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

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

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

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

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

        freelorenzojohnson.org

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        B. ARTICLES IN FULL


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        1)  Peabody Energy and Native Americans in Dispute Over Mining in Arizona
         DEC. 29, 2016
        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/us/arizona-navajo-tribe-peabody-energy.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncoll
        ection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentP
        lacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront




        2)  Cub Scouts Kick Out Transgender Boy in New Jersey
         DEC. 30, 2016
        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/us/cub-scouts-transgender.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion&action=click&contentCollection=
        nyregion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&content
        Placement=9&pgtype=sectionfront




        3) Scientists Loved and Loathed by an Agrochemical Giant
        With corporate funding of research, "There's no scientist who comes
        out of this unscathed."
        By Danny Hakim
        December 31, 2016
        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/business/scientists-loved-and-loathed-by-syngenta-an-agrochemical-giant.html?ref=business




        4)  Costly Drug for Fatal Muscular Disease Wins F.D.A. Approval
         DEC. 30, 2016
        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/business/spinraza-price.html?ref=business




        5)  Gender Pay Gap Halves for Millennials, but Will Widen With Age: Study
         JAN. 4, 2017, 10:54 A.M. E.S.T
        http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/01/04/business/04reuters-britain-pay-gender.html?src=busln&_r=0




        6)  A Young Mother's Solitary, Uphill Struggle
        By    JAN. 4, 2017
        http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/nyregion/neediest-cases-fund-
        mothers-struggle.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion
        &action=click&contentCollection=nyregion&region=stream&module=
        stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=9&pgtype=sectionfront




        7)  With Nearly 100 Dead in Prison Riots, Brazil's Government Faces Crisis
         JAN. 8, 2017
        http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/08/world/americas/brazil-prison-riots-michel-temer.html?ref=world




        8)  Rights Battles Emerge in Cities Where Homelessness Can Be a Crime
        " About 32 percent of homeless people have no shelter, according to the federal government,"
         JAN. 9, 2017
        http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/us/rights-battles-emerge-in-cities-where-homelessness-can-
        be-a-crime.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=
        us&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront




        9)  Real U.S. Unemployment Rate is 30 Percent!
        Record 95,102,000 Americans not in labor force
        By Joseph Jankowski
        Nation of Change, January 8, 2017
        http://www.nationofchange.org/2017/01/08/record-95102000-americans-not-labor-force-unemployment-rate-like-30/




        10)  American Destroyer Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Boats
         JAN. 9, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/world/middleeast/iran-uss-mahan-shots.html?ref=world&_r=0




        11)  A Strike Empties London's Underground. Aboveground Is a Different Story. JAN. 9, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/world/europe/london-underground-tube-strike.html?ref=world




        12)  Prisons Run by C.E.O.s? Privatization Under Trump Could Carry a Heavy Price
        By Eduardo Porter,  January 10, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/business/economy/privatization-trump.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion&action=click&contentCollection=nyregion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=sectionfront




        13)  Wintry Blast in Greece Imperils Refugees in Crowded Camps
         JAN. 11, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/world/europe/greece-refugees-crisis-winter-storms.html?ref=world&_r=0




        14)  E.P.A. Accuses Fiat Chrysler of Secretly Exceeding Emissions Standards
         JAN. 12, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/business/epa-emissions-cheating-diesel-fiat-chrysler-jeep-dodge.html




        15)  Chelsea Manning Describes Bleak Life in a Men’s Prison




        16)  Chicago Police Routinely Trampled on Civil Rights, Justice Dept. Says




        17)  Obama Ends Exemption for Cubans Who Arrive Without Visas





        18)  With Electricity in Short Supply, 10,000 Protest in Gaza, Defying Hamas



        19)  Kunduz Attack in November Killed 33 Civilians, U.S. Military Says









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        1)  Peabody Energy and Native Americans in Dispute Over Mining in Arizona
         DEC. 29, 2016
        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/us/arizona-navajo-tribe-peabody-energy.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncoll
        ection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentP
        lacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront

        KAYENTA, Ariz. — The world's largest coal company, Peabody Energy, is seeking federal approval to expand its mine on Navajo and Hopi land in northern Arizona, a move supported by tribal leaders. But many other tribe members say the expansion would destroy burial grounds and pre-Columbian ruins and are opposing it in court.
        The dispute is the latest episode in a series of longstanding conflicts involving the treatment of Native American ancestral lands, mining companies and the federal government. Like the Dakota Access oil pipeline project, the Kayenta mine dispute pits the rights of tribes against powerful industry and federal interests.
        Peabody built its first mine on this coal-darkened plateau 50 years ago, and in the process dug up an adjacent American Indian village. The dig uncovered an "enormous body of knowledge" about ancient Indian tribes who flourished here three millenniums ago, according to Beth Sutton, a Peabody spokeswoman.

        But Leland Grass, a Navajo horse trainer, called the dig a "desecration." He and other tribe members complained that Peabody handed off 192 sets of human remains to an anthropology professor, destroyed ancient petroglyphs and archaeological ruins, and warehoused 1.2 million artifacts at Southern Illinois University, which helped conduct the dig.
        Unlike the pipeline project at Standing Rock, however, Peabody's mine plan has the backing of the official tribal governments because the original mine is one of the few sources of jobs and revenue on the impoverished reservations. Peabody has paid about $50 million per year to the Navajo and Hopi tribes since 1987, according to a federal report released in 2012, because the mine was built on tribal land.
        But several powerful Navajo nongovernmental organizations, at odds with their leaders, have joined with the Sierra Club to try to curb the mine expansion, arguing that the mine harms air and water quality and that Peabody's initial plan did not include enough protections for so-called cultural resources like graves. While they acknowledge that they cannot stop the mine project, they at least want Peabody and the government to protect ceremonial sites, ruins and graves in the expanding mine's path.
        To that end, these groups have brought a lawsuit that has forced the government to undertake a Preservation Act study to identify burial grounds and sites of archaeological importance. For projects on or near tribal land, the government must consult with tribes.
        The problem, however, say tribal activists and preservation law experts, is that the permitting system is set up in such a way that it usually favors the project proponents while giving short shrift to tribal concerns. Even when "tribal consultation does happen, it's often not in the spirit of the law," said Anne Mariah Tapp, a lawyer who works on similar cases for other tribes.
        In the Peabody case, the tribal plaintiffs who are demanding protection for Indian sites complain that they have not been included in decision making as the project moves forward and that they are not privy to the study that identified which sites might be protected.
        They also claim there is a conflict of interest.
        The mine fuels a power plant whose majority owner is the permitting agency, the United States Bureau of Reclamation.
        Sandra Eto, environmental protection specialist with the Bureau of Reclamation, denied any conflict of interest and said the plant's ownership would have no bearing on the integrity of the study. She also said that the study was being kept confidential because of "the sensitive and confidential nature of the material."
        For Peabody, at stake is a huge federal energy project that powers most of the Southwest. But the issue is especially fraught because of persistent questions about how Peabody has dealt with tribal property on its mine lease area over the past 50 years.
        Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that although Peabody's promotional materials say artifacts are "curated in a state-of-the-art facility," a 2002 government audit found that the collection "needed complete rehabilitation to comply with federal guidelines for archaeological curation." Looting was a problem among Peabody employees, according to government records.
        Even though Peabody's mine has the backing of tribal officials, government records show a long history of tribal leaders appealing to the mining company to better respect their land and cultural artifacts. For example, the federal government "loaned" 192 sets of human remains to Debra L. Martin — an anthropology professor at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., who is now with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas — without permission from the tribes, causing outrage. "I was shocked when I found out," said Alan Downer, a former historic preservation officer for the Navajo Nation.
        Peabody's permit requires workers to stop and notify regulators and the tribe at the first sight of bone or native pottery. But, only three findings of human remains have been recorded by mining crews since 1983.
        Asked about the lack of finds, Gregg Heaton, a Peabody spokesman, said in an email, "Peabody achieves full regulatory compliance."
        Peabody's current lease is set to expire in 2019, and the company is seeking federal permission for a permit that would allow it to continue mining until 2044. The government's environmental study is in draft form and was available for public comment until Dec. 29. Complicating matters is Peabody's entry into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which Ms. Sutton said would not have any bearing on the mine re-permitting or the company's commitment to protect native sacred sites and graves.
        For many here, the loss of ancestral remains and archaeological ruins is devastating.
        "What will I have to show my grandchildren once the evidence of our ancestors is gone?" said Harrison Crank, a Navajo miner and former 30-year Peabody employee. He agreed to participate in the Preservation Act study, and one late autumn day he led researchers into the scrub behind his home, pointing out material he thought should be saved from mining.
        "This is all I'm trying to tell them: These are the sites where we prayed, where we buried our dead, where we made pottery a long time ago," he said. "Please honor it. Please let it be known."

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        2)  Cub Scouts Kick Out Transgender Boy in New Jersey
         DEC. 30, 2016
        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/us/cub-scouts-transgender.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion&action=click&contentCollection=
        nyregion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&content
        Placement=9&pgtype=sectionfront

        In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America ended its ban on openly gay youthsparticipating in its activities.
        Two years later, the organization ended its ban on openly gay adult leaders.
        Now, after an 8-year-old in Secaucus, N.J., was kicked out of his Cub Scout pack about a month after joining, scouting leaders are confronted with the decision to extend the welcome to transgender boys.
        "It made me mad," the boy, Joe Maldonado, told The Record, a North Jersey newspaper. "I had a sad face, but I wasn't crying. I'm way more angry than sad. My identity is a boy. If I was them, I would let every person in the world go in. It's right to do."
        Last year, when he began second grade, Joe came out as a boy, according to The Record. His mother, Kristie Maldonado, allowed him to cut his hair short.
        He signed up for the Cub Scouts intending to join his friends in the activities the organization is known for, like science projects and camping. The other children were fine with his presence and he had been accepted at school, Ms. Maldonado told The Record.
        Other parents, however, felt differently and complained to Scout officials, she said.
        Joe appears to be the first transgender boy removed from the activity because of his gender identity, presenting a new question for Scout leaders, said Zach Wahls, a co-founder of Scouts for Equality, a group that has fought for gay rights in scouting.
        "The Boy Scouts just spent several years trying to make right a decades-old policy that discriminated against gay people," he said. "The last thing they should be doing in this moment is creating a new, discriminatory policy that is out of touch in the 21st century."
        Mr. Wahls said that the handling of Joe's case indicates there is no formal policy in place for transgender members, and that leaders "haven't given it the thought it really needs and deserves."
        Responding to questions about Joe and his family, Boy Scouts of America, which administers the Cub Scouts, said in a statement that the child did "not meet the eligibility requirements to participate." An official instead referred the family to coed programs, said Effie Delimarkos, a spokeswoman for the organization.
        "If needed, we defer to the information provided for an individual's birth certificate and their biological sex," she said, adding that scouting "teaches its youth members and adult leaders to be respectful of other people and individual beliefs."
        On its website, Girl Scouts of the USA directly answered questions about transgender members, saying that "placement of transgender youth is handled on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of the child and the members of the troop/group in question a top priority."
        "That said," the organization continued, "if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe."

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        3) Scientists Loved and Loathed by an Agrochemical Giant
        With corporate funding of research, "There's no scientist who comes
        out of this unscathed."
        By Danny Hakim
        December 31, 2016
        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/business/scientists-loved-and-loathed-by-syngenta-an-agrochemical-giant.html?ref=business

        EXETER, England — The bee findings were not what Syngenta expected to hear.
        The pesticide giant had commissioned James Cresswell, an expert in flowers and bees at the University of Exeter in England, to study why many of the world's bee colonies were dying. Companies like Syngenta have long blamed a tiny bug called a varroa mite, rather than their own pesticides, for the bee decline.
        Dr. Cresswell has also been skeptical of concerns raised about those pesticides, and even the extent of bee deaths. But his initial research in 2012 undercut concerns about varroa mites as well. So the company, based in Switzerland, began pressing him to consider new data and a different approach.
        Looking back at his interactions with the company, Dr. Cresswell said in a recent interview that "Syngenta clearly has got an agenda." In an email, he summed up that agenda: "It's the varroa, stupid."
        For Dr. Cresswell, a Birkenstock-wearing 54-year-old, the foray into corporate-backed research threw him into personal crisis. Some of his colleagues ostracized him. He found his principles tested. Even his wife and children had their doubts.
        "They couldn't believe I took the money," he said of his family. "They imagined there was going to be an awful lot of pressure and thought I sold out."
        The corporate use of academia has been documented in fields like soft drinks and pharmaceuticals. But it is rare for an academic to provide an insider's view of the relationships being forged with corporations, and the expectations that accompany them.
        A review of Syngenta's strategy shows that Dr. Cresswell's experience fits in with practices used by American competitors like Monsanto and across the agrochemical industry. Scientists deliver outcomes favorable to companies, while university research departments court corporate support. Universities and regulators sacrifice full autonomy by signing confidentiality agreements. And academics sometimes double as paid consultants.
        In Britain, Syngenta has built a network of academics and regulators, even recruiting the leading government scientist on the bee issue. In the United States, Syngenta pays academics like James W. Simpkins of West Virginia University, whose work has helped validate the safety of its products. Not only has Dr. Simpkins's research been funded by Syngenta, he is also a $250-an-hour consultant for the company. And he partnered with a Syngenta executive in a consulting venture, emails obtained by The New York Times show.
        Dr. Simpkins did not comment. A spokesman for West Virginia University said his consulting work "was based on his 42 years of experience with reproductive neuroendocrinology."
        Scientists who cross agrochemical companies can find themselves at odds with the industry for years. One such scientist is Angelika Hilbeck, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. The industry has long since challenged her research, and she has been outspoken in challenging them back.
        Going back to the 1990s, her research has found that genetically modified corn — designed to kill bugs that eat the plant — could harm beneficial insects as well. Back then, Syngenta had not yet been formed, but she said one of its predecessor companies, Ciba-Geigy, tried to stifle her research by citing a confidentiality agreement signed by her then employer, a Swiss government research center called Agroscope.
        Confidentiality agreements have become routine. The United States Department of Agriculture turned over 43 confidentiality agreements reached with Syngenta, Bayer and Monsanto since the beginning of 2010 following a Freedom of Information Act request. Agroscope turned over an additional five with Swiss agrochemical companies.
        Many of the agreements highlight how regulators are often more like collaborators than watchdogs, exploring joint research and patent deals that they agree to keep secret.
        One agreement between the U.S.D.A. and Syngenta, which came with a five-year nondisclosure term, covered everything from "research and development activities" to "manufacturing processes" and "financial and marketing information related to crop protection and seed technologies." In another agreement, a government scientist was barred even from disclosing sensitive information she heard at a symposium run by Monsanto.
        The Agriculture Department, in a statement, said that without such agreements and partnerships, "many technological solutions would not make it to the public," adding that research findings were released "objectively without inappropriate influence from internal or external partners."
        Luke Gibbs, a spokesman for Syngenta, which is now being acquired by the China National Chemical Corporation, said in a statement, "We are proud of the collaborations and partnerships we have built."
        "All researchers we partner with are free to express their views publicly in regard to our products and approaches," he said. "Syngenta does not pressure academics to draw conclusions and allows unfettered and independent submission of any papers generated from commissioned research."
        A look at the experiences of the three scientists — Dr. Cresswell, Dr. Simpkins and Dr. Hilbeck — reveals the ways agrochemical companies shape scientific thought.

        A Reluctant Partner

        For James Cresswell, taking money from Syngenta was not an easy decision.
        Dr. Cresswell has been a researcher at the University of Exeter in England's southwest for a quarter-century, mostly exploring the esoterica of flower reproduction in papers with titles like "Conifer ovulate cones accumulate pollen principally by simple impaction." He was not used to making headlines.
        But about a half-decade ago, he became interested in the debate over neonicotinoids, a nicotine-derived class of pesticide, and their effects on bee health. Many studies linked the chemicals to a mysterious collapse of bee colonies that was in the news. Other studies, many backed by industry, pointed to the varroa mite, and some saw both factors at play.
        Dr. Cresswell's initial research led him to believe that concerns about the pesticides were overblown. In 2012, Syngenta offered to fund further research.
        While many academics resisted efforts by The Times to examine their communications with Syngenta, Dr. Cresswell did not challenge a records request submitted to his university. And he spoke with candor.
        "The last thing I wanted to do was get in bed with Syngenta," Dr. Cresswell said. "I'm no fan of intensive agriculture."
        But turning away research funding is difficult. The British government ranks universities on how useful their work is to industry and society, tying government grants to their assessments.
        "I was pressured enormously by my university to take that money," he said. "It's like being a traveling salesman and having the best possible sales market and telling your boss, 'I'm not going to sell there.' You can't really do that."
        The issue soon came up at Dr. Cresswell's dinner table.
        "Me and my mum were like, 'Oh, you're taking money,'" his daughter Fay, now a 21-year-old university student, recalled of the conversation that took place. "We didn't have an argument, but it did get quite heated. We just said, 'Don't.'"
        Duncan Sandes, a spokesman for Exeter, declined to discuss specific research grants. He said in a statement that up to 15 percent of university research in Britain was funded by industry. "Industry sponsors are fundamentally aware that they will receive independent analysis that has been critically evaluated in an honest and dispassionate manner," Mr. Sandes said.
        But the degree of independence is in question.
        Dr. Cresswell and Syngenta agreed on a list of eight potential causes of bee deaths to be studied. They discussed how to structure grant payments. They reviewed research assistant candidates. Dr. Cresswell sought permission from Syngenta to pursue new insights he gained, asking at one point, "Please can you confirm that you are happy with the direction our current work is taking?"
        But he also pushed back at times. An email from Syngenta to the university said that Dr. Cresswell "will have final editorial control," but Dr. Cresswell, in another email, expressed concern that a proposed confidentiality clause "grants Syngenta the right to suppress the results," adding, "I am not happy to work under a gagging clause." He says the term of the clause was reduced to only a few months.
        Neonicotinoids are now subject to a moratorium in the European Union. A recent study by Britain's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology attributed a population loss of at least 20 percent of many kinds of wild bees to the pesticides.
        Syngenta and its competitors argue that the real culprit is a disease called varroosis, which is spread by varroa mites. The Bayer Bee Care Center in Germany includes menacing sculptures of the little pest.
        But Dr. Cresswell's initial research for Syngenta did not support the varroosis claims. "We are finding it pretty unlikely that varoosis is responsible for honey bee declines," he wrote to Syngenta in 2012.
        An executive wrote back, suggesting that Dr. Cresswell look more narrowly at "loss data" of beehives rather than at broader bee stock trends, "As this may give a different answer!"
        For the next several weeks, the company repeatedly asked Dr. Cresswell to refocus his examination to look at varroa. In another email, the executive told Dr. Cresswell, "it would also be good to also look at varroa as a potential uptick factor" in specific countries where it could have exacerbated bee losses.
        In the same email, part of a chain with the subject line "Varoosis report," he also asked Dr. Cresswell to look at changes in Europe, rather than worldwide. Dr. Cresswell agreed and said, "I have some other angles to look at the varoosis issue further."
        By changing parameters, varroa mites did become a significant factor. "We're coming to the view that varoosis is potent regarding colony loss at widespread scale," Dr. Cresswell wrote in January 2013. A later email included scoring that bore that out.
        Mr. Gibbs of Syngenta said, "We discussed and defined the direction of the research in partnership with the researcher with the aim of ensuring that it was focused and relevant." He added, "We did not undermine Dr. Cresswell's independence, dictate his approach to assessing the eight factors agreed upon with him, or restrict any of the conclusions he subsequently drew."
        That said, Syngenta was a client and Dr. Cresswell was providing a service. Looking back, Dr. Cresswell said that while he still thought concerns about the pesticides were overblown, aspects of his project were inevitably influenced by the nature of the relationship.
        "You can write it up as, Syngenta had an effect on me," he said. "I can't actually deny that they didn't. It wasn't conniving on my part, but absolutely they influenced what I ended up doing on the project."
        For Dr. Cresswell, the affiliation with Syngenta became a burden. Environmentalists saw him as an adversary, and his industry connection came to define him in newspaper articles. When he was called to testify before Parliament, Dave Goulson, a biology professor at the University of Sussex, sat next to him. Dr. Goulson likened taking money from agrochemical companies to taking money from the tobacco industry, which long denied that cigarettes were addictive.
        Some people thrive on controversy. Dr. Cresswell does not.
        "It hurt me more than I was willing to admit at the time," he said. "Everything happened so fast."
        He had a breakdown. He said that he began to feel "I was virtually incompetent," adding that he would put his head on his desk and think his work was a mess. He ended up leaving his job for several months. While he presented his research publicly, it was never published.
        In an interview, Dr. Goulson said, "I've known James for a very long time and always thought he was a good guy.
        "You can't win," Dr. Goulson added. "If you are funded by industry, people are suspicious of your research. If you're not funded, you're accused of being a tree-hugging greenie activist. There's no scientist who comes out of this unscathed."
        Today, Dr. Cresswell has returned to less controversial areas of bee research. He said he respects scientists he met from Syngenta, but views collaboration with industry as a Faustian bargain.
        He called Syngenta "a kind of devil."
        "What I didn't realize is that supping with them would actually have a broader impact on how the world sees me as a scientist," he said. "That was my misjudgment."

        A Tangled Relationship

        If some scientists struggle to reconcile themselves with taking corporate money, others embrace complex business relationships.
        James W. Simpkins, a professor at West Virginia University and the director of its Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research, is one of the many outside academics that Syngenta turns to for research.
        He has focused on the Syngenta product atrazine — the second most popular weed killer in America, widely used on lawns and crops — often co-authoring research with Syngenta scientists.
        Atrazine, banned in the European Union, has also been controversial in America. Most notably, Syngenta embarked on a campaign to discreditTyrone B. Hayes, a professor it once funded at the University of California, Berkeley, until Dr. Hayes found that atrazine changes the sex of frogs.
        Dr. Simpkins has had a different relationship with the company. In 2003, he appeared before American regulators on Syngenta's behalf, saying that "we can identify no biologically plausible mechanism by which atrazine leads to an increase in prostate cancer."
        Dr. Simpkins was also lead author of a 2011 study finding no support that atrazine causes breast cancer. And last year, he was part of a small team of Syngenta-backed scientists that fought California's move to require atrazine be sold with a warning label. He also recently edited a series of papers on atrazine for Syngenta, garnering praise from a senior researcher at the company, Charles Breckenridge, who wrote in an email that the "papers tell a simple, yet compelling story."
        The depth of the financial intertwining of Dr. Simpkins and Syngenta was laid out in nearly 2,000 pages of email traffic, obtained by The Times following a Freedom of Information Act request. Not only does Dr. Simpkins receive research grants, but the company also pays him $250-an-hour as a consultant for his work on expert panels, studies and manuscripts, records show. Syngenta even asked Dr. Simpkins to contribute to Dr. Breckenridge's annual performance review.
        Asking outsiders to contribute to corporate reviews is not unusual. However, Dr. Simpkins is also described in the emails as a partner in a venture set up by Dr. Breckenridge called Quality Scientific Solutions to consult on pesticides and other issues.
        West Virginia University's website says that "Research conducted at W.V.U. is data-driven, objective and independent" and "not influenced by any political agenda, business priority" or "funding source." And John A. Bolt, a spokesman for the university, said all of Dr. Simpkins's Syngenta-related research had been conducted before Dr. Simpkins arrived at West Virginia in 2012.
        But a review of Dr. Simpkins's published work shows that he co-authored favorable atrazine studies with Syngenta scientists in 2014and 2015, and listed his university affiliation. Mr. Bolt said Dr. Simpkins only "served as an expert adviser" in the studies.
        In 2014, Syngenta made a $30,000 donation to the university's foundation. Mr. Bolt said that donation was made "in general support of the research activities of Dr. James W. Simpkins." None of the money, Mr. Bolt said, was "used to support research related to Syngenta."
        Dr. Simpkins's collaborations with Dr. Breckenridge appear to be expansive. In an email to Dr. Simpkins last year, Dr. Breckenridge sent him a study on the Mediterranean Diet and suggested they use a multilevel marketing company to help them sell a product of their own.
        "If we could come up with a better Snake Oil," he wrote to Dr. Simpkins, "we would have access to a massive marketing force."

        A Critic and a Target

        Some scientists labor outside the industry. It can be a difficult path.
        Angelika Hilbeck worked for Agroscope, a Swiss agricultural research center, in the 1990s, when she began to examine genetically modified corn. The corn was designed to kill insect larvae that fed on it, but Dr. Hilbeck found it was also toxic to an insect called the lacewing, a useful bug that eats other pests.
        Ciba-Geigy, a predecessor of Syngenta, had a confidentiality agreement with Agroscope, and insisted she keep the research secret, she said. Confidentiality agreements are not unusual for Agroscope. In one such agreement obtained by The Times, the agency agreed to return or destroy corporate documents it received as part of a research project.
        Dr. Hilbeck said she refused to back down and eventually published her work. Her contract at Agroscope was not renewed. An Agroscope spokeswoman said the episode took place too long ago to comment on.
        Dr. Hilbeck continued as a university researcher and was succeeded at Agroscope by Jörg Romeis, a scientist who had worked at Bayer and has since co-authored research with employees from Syngenta, DuPont and other companies. He has spent much of his career attempting to debunk Dr. Hilbeck's work. He followed her lacewing studies by co-authoring his own, finding that genetically modified crops were not harmful to the lacewing.
        Next, after Dr. Hilbeck co-authored a paper outlining a model for assessing the unintended risks of such crops, Dr. Romeis was lead author of an alternative approach with a Syngenta scientist among his co-authors.
        Then, in 2009, Dr. Hilbeck co-authored a paper looking at risks to ladybug larvae from modified crops. Dr. Romeis followed by co-authoring a study that found "no adverse effects" to ladybird larvae. In subsequent publications, he referred to work by Dr. Hilbeck and others as "bad science" and a "myth."
        "They were my little stalkers," Dr. Hilbeck said. "Whatever I did, they did."
        In an interview, Dr. Romeis, who now leads Agroscope's biosafety research group, said, "Her work does not affect our mission in any way," adding that the idea of researching the effects of genetically modified crops was "not patented by her."
        Refereeing a scientific dispute is difficult. But Dr. Romeis and his collaborators do seem preoccupied with Dr. Hilbeck's work, judging from a review of email traffic between Agroscope and the U.S.D.A. obtained by The Times following a Freedom of Information Act request.
        In 2014, as Dr. Romeis was developing a paper assailing Dr. Hilbeck's work, one U.S.D.A. scientist, Steven E. Naranjo, joked in a message to Dr. Romeis: "Joerg, its generous of you to see that Hilbeck gets published once in a while :)"
        Dr. Hilbeck is used to looking over her shoulder. "We shouldn't be running into all kinds of obstacles and face all this comprehensive mobbing just doing what we're supposed to do," she said. "It's totally corrupted this field."

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        4)  Costly Drug for Fatal Muscular Disease Wins F.D.A. Approval
         DEC. 30, 2016
        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/business/spinraza-price.html?ref=business

        The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug to treat patients with spinal muscular atrophy, a savage disease that, in its most severe form, kills infants before they turn 2.
        "This is a miracle — seriously," Dr. Mary K. Schroth, a lung specialist in Madison, Wis., who treats children who have the disease, said of the approval, which was made last week. "This is a life-changing event, and this will change the course of this disease." Dr. Schroth has previously worked as a paid consultant to Biogen, which is selling the drug.
        The drug, called Spinraza, will not come cheap — and, by some estimates, will be among the most expensive drugs in the world.
        Biogen, which is licensing Spinraza from Ionis Pharmaceuticals, said this week that one dose will have a list price of $125,000. That means the drug will cost $625,000 to $750,000 to cover the five or six doses needed in the first year, and about $375,000 annually after that, to cover the necessary three doses a year. Patients will presumably take Spinraza for the rest of their lives.
        The pricing could put the drug in the cross hairs of lawmakers and other critics of high drug prices, and perhaps discourage insurers from covering it. High drug prices have attracted intense scrutiny in the last year, and President-elect Donald J. Trump has singled them out as an important issue.
        "We believe the Spinraza pricing decision is likely to invite a storm of criticism, up to and including presidential tweets," Geoffrey C. Porges, an analyst for Leerink Partners, said in a note to investors on Thursday.
        Mr. Porges said the price could lead some insurers to balk or to limit the drug to patients who are the most severely affected, such as infants, even though the F.D.A. has approved Spinraza for all patients with the condition.
        "What you will have is a standoff with payers," he said in an interview on Thursday. "How is this all going to play out?"
        The price of the drug would be comparable to some other drugs that treat rare diseases. A spokeswoman for Biogen said the company set the price after considering several factors, including the cost to the health care system and the clinical value it brought to patients. She said that the company has also consulted insurers about covering the drug, and that while the talks are in their early stages, insurers have responded positively to the drug's effectiveness.
        "We are working to help ensure no patient will forgo treatment because of financial limitations or insurance status," said the spokeswoman, Ligia Del Bianco.
        She said Biogen, like many companies that sell expensive drugs, had set up a program to help families navigate insurance approvals and other logistics, and will provide financial assistance.
        Kenneth Hobby, the president of Cure SMA, a patient advocacy group that invested $500,000 in early academic research that led to the development of Spinraza, said more important than the list price of the drug is whether patients who need it will get it.
        "Are our families going to get access to the drug in the end?" he said.
        About 1 in 10,000 babies are born with spinal muscular atrophy — or about 400 a year in the United States — and it is among the leading genetic causes of death in infants. People with the disease have a genetic flaw that makes them produce too little of a protein that supports motor neurons, leading muscles to atrophy. Spinraza addresses the underlying genetic cause of the disease and enables a backup gene to produce more of the necessary protein.
        Blake Farrell, 6, has the disease. As an infant, Blake reached developmental milestones, learning to roll over, sit up and crawl at all the right times. "She was doing everything on target," Kacey Farrell, Blake's mother, said recently from the family's home in Cincinnati.
        But as she approached her first birthday, Blake started regressing. She struggled to sit on her own and stopped crawling. At 14 months, tests revealed that Blake had a moderate form of spinal muscular atrophy. As she got older, the muscle loss caused her bones to weaken, and she suffered fractures. She could no longer sit up in the bathtub, and had trouble swallowing food.
        In May of 2015, when she was 4, Blake was accepted into a clinical trial for Spinraza, also known as nusinersen. A third of the patients in the study were given a placebo, so the Farrells were not sure if she was getting the real thing. But after receiving her first few doses, which were injected into her spinal fluid, Blake started to improve. She joined her two sisters in the bathtub, sitting up on her own. One day, she even scooted across the floor.
        "I was just in shock," Ms. Farrell said. "These were all things we hadn't seen her do since she was 8 months old."
        In an analysis of 82 infants in the clinical trial that led to the approval, 40 percent of babies on the drug reached milestones such as sitting, crawling and walking. None of the babies that received a placebo did. The F.D.A. approved the drug months ahead of time and, because the drug treats a rare pediatric disease, granted Biogen a special voucher that it can use to gain priority review of a future drug that would not otherwise qualify for the program.
        The F.D.A. said the most common side effects were respiratory infections and constipation, and there is a warning about possible low blood platelet counts and toxicity to the kidneys.
        Even though trial investigators did not know which patient was receiving Spinraza, "anecdotally, it just seemed quickly obvious to us that some patients were following a very different trajectory than what we were used to seeing," said Dr. John Brandsema of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the investigators.
        He said that while the patients who improved were the most remarkable, the drug also appears to stop the progression of the disease in other patients.
        "It's hard not to use very exaggerated terms when you are talking about this, because it really is a pretty major step forward," Dr. Brandsema said.
        For now, Blake receives Spinraza free because she is enrolled in an extension study of the drug. But her father, Nick Farrell, a lawyer, said cost is a concern.
        "That is a whole lot of money," he said, adding that among parents of children with the disease, access is already a major topic. "The conversation has already started about, O.K., what's the next step here?"

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        5)  Gender Pay Gap Halves for Millennials, but Will Widen With Age: Study
         JAN. 4, 2017, 10:54 A.M. E.S.T
        http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/01/04/business/04reuters-britain-pay-gender.html?src=busln&_r=0

        LONDON — The pay gap between men and women in their 20s has halved in a generation to 5 percent but will widen as the same adults grow older, according to analysis by a British think-tank.
        The analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics by the Resolution Foundation found the gender pay gap has closed for every generation of women since those born between 1911 and 1925.
        "Young women today face relatively little disadvantage in terms of their pay packets compared to what their parents' and grandparents' generation faced," said Laura Gardiner, senior policy analyst at the non-partisan foundation.
        According to the study, the gender pay gap has fallen from an average of 16 percent for baby-boomers born between 1946 and 1965, to 9 percent for Generation X, born between 1966 and 1980, and to 5 percent for millennials, or those born between 1981 and 2000.
        However, the pay gap begins to widen as women begin to enter their 30s and early 40s when they begin to have children and begin to take time off work, after which it continues for decades, the study said.
        "This pay penalty is big and long-lasting, and remains for younger generations despite the progress in their early careers," Gardiner said in a statement.
        The study said addressing the gender pay gap at all stages of women's careers, particularly post-childbirth, will remain a key challenge.
        Based in London, the Resolution Foundation was established in 2005 and conducts research on UK living standards.

        (Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; editin by StephenAddison)

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        6)  A Young Mother's Solitary, Uphill Struggle
        By    JAN. 4, 2017
        http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/nyregion/neediest-cases-fund-
        mothers-struggle.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion
        &action=click&contentCollection=nyregion&region=stream&module=
        stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=9&pgtype=sectionfront

        Without warning, Tyrell Williams's mood shifts from gleeful to morose. Consumed by his action figures one moment, Tyrell, 4, will abruptly set them down, start sobbing and complain to his mother how much he needs his father.
        "Obviously I want to cry with him, but I don't," his mother, Myasia Williams, 23, said. "I stay strong and I just speak to him. I say, 'Daddy's away and he loves you. He misses you very much.'"
        She will not explain to him that his father, who is also named Tyrell Williams, is in prison. That conversation must be between father and son, reserved for a future date. Mr. Williams is serving time for attempted murder and is set to be released in 2041.

        Mrs. Williams said his crime has not changed her love for him, though it has caused her to lose relationships with other people in her life who question why she is loyal to a man behind bars. They don't understand the depth of the love she has for him, she said.
        They met while attending Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Manhattan. She noticed his kindness toward her friends. Once they began dating, she felt a sense of belonging she had never experienced.
        "At the time we met, I was at a rough place when it came to my family, and his family came to me with open arms," she said. "They really took care of me."
        Mr. Williams was arrested in 2011. He spent the next few years out on bail and the couple spent even more time together, and she gave birth to Tyrell Jr. Mr. Williams was convicted in July 2015. That October, the couple married at the Rikers Island jail complex. The ceremony was held in a small room, under the supervision of two corrections officers. Another inmate and his wife served as the witnesses.
        "After we said, 'I do,' we only got five minutes to sit there and talk to each other," Mrs. Williams said. "I was not happy at all. But I was happy I got married."
        Mrs. Williams, alone raising their son, had limited career options. When she became pregnant, she dropped out of high school and thought that Mr. Williams would provide for the family.
        "When he got taken away from us, I could have been more prepared," she said. "Instead, I have to start all over in my life."
        To improve her job prospects, Mrs. Williams enrolled in test preparation classes at the Next Generation Center for the high school equivalency diploma exam. The center is operated by the Children's Aid Society, one of the eight agencies supported by The New York Times's Neediest Cases Fund. A year ago, the organization used $400 from the Neediest Cases Fund to help Mrs. Williams buy winter clothing for herself and Tyrell.
        Mrs. Williams and Tyrell live in the Bronx in an overcrowded apartment shared with six other relatives.
        Finding work has not been as easy as Mrs. Williams had hoped. She has a temporary job at a postal office in Flushing, Queens. She said she needed a college degree to have more career options, so she is working toward a practical nursing certificate at Mildred Elley, a two-year career and technical college.
        She feels guilty whenever she has to leave Tyrell in the care of her sisters or godparents when heading off to school or work, especially at times where he pleads with her not to leave him like Daddy did.
        "I always talk to him and try to explain to him 'This is what I'm doing,'" she said. "'I'm doing this so you can have your own room, you can have this, you can have that.' I don't know if he's too young to understand, but I know he'll eventually understand."
        Mrs. Williams said she lived by her phone, and talked to her husband almost every day. The thought of not being able to answer is its own source of stress.
        "If I miss a call, I miss a chance to speak to him," she said. "And if I'm at work or at school, Tyrell can't talk to him."
        Once every few months, Mrs. Williams and Tyrell Jr. travel by bus, to the Clinton Correctional Facility to visit Mr. Williams. The journey takes six hours one way to nearby Plattsburgh, and then they must take a cab. Their son recognizes police officers, Mrs. Williams said, but doesn't grasp that they are visiting a prison.
        She hopes that her husband will be able to appeal and one day be granted an early release. Then they can make a life for themselves in Central New York. The family spent some time in Syracuse while Mr. Williams was awaiting trial. He has relatives there.
        "I loved it," Mrs. Williams said. "It's different. You come outside and everyone wants to say hi and give you a smile. When you come here, and have a smile on your face, it's 'What are you looking at?'"
        She has another dream as well, and this one might never be realized.
        "I want more kids, but I don't want to have them while he's in there," Mrs. Williams said. "That's not going to work. I'm not having a child in that situation. I feel guilty for even having my son, knowing that eventually something was going to happen."
        Motherhood, in addition to her long hours of work and school, is already a lot to juggle, and she admits, despite her best efforts, she doesn't always do so with aplomb. But she says she won't stop trying.
        "I'm trying to get it together," Mrs. Williams said. "It's not together at all."

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        7)  With Nearly 100 Dead in Prison Riots, Brazil's Government Faces Crisis
         JAN. 8, 2017
        http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/08/world/americas/brazil-prison-riots-michel-temer.html?ref=world

        RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil's government is struggling to cope with overcrowded and violent prisons that have seen nearly 100 inmates killed within a week, with many beheaded and dismembered.
        This is one of the most serious crises that Michel Temer, the president of Brazil, has faced since assuming power last year after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff.
        Critics have described the Temer administration's response as inadequate and called the refusal by all spheres of government to accept responsibility as "absurd."
        "This is a challenge to civilization," said José Moisés, a professor of political science at the University of São Paulo. "It was not a good response."
        After 56 prisoners were killed in a riot between rival drug gangs that began on Jan. 1 at the privately run Anísio Jobim Penitentiary complex in Manaus in Amazonas state, followed by four killed the next day at a nearby jail, it took Mr. Temer three days to respond.
        He called it a "terrible accident" and said that because a private company ran the prison where the killings happened, the state bore no clear responsibility.
        His comments were widely ridiculed.
        "The majority saw the president's declaration as disdainful to the seriousness of the situation," The Sensationalist, a widely read satirical website, said.
        "The government treated this tragedy as if it was unforeseen. This is absurd," said Maria Laura Canineu, the director in Brazil of Human Rights Watch.
        Ms. Canineu pointed to a December 2015 report from the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Combat of Torture, a group of independent researchers linked to the Ministry of Justice, that described a potentially explosive situation at the Anísio Jobim prison, where prisoners were scared they could be tortured and killed in a riot.
        Adding to the recent carnage, 33 died on Jan. 6 in a prison riot outside Boa Vista, in Roraima, north of Brazil.
        Police officers said two rival drug gangs, the First Capital Command and the Family of the North, are involved in a bloody war for control of lucrative Amazon drug smuggling routes and are behind the grisly murders in recent days.
        Murders and robberies have soared in the city of Manaus since the prison killings, said Gerson Feitosa, a police corporal and president of a local police association.
        "People are scared," he said. "After the massacre, the war on the streets has started."
        Alexandre de Moraes, the minister of justice, released a draft of a National Plan of Public Security on Jan. 6. First announced in October, the proposal aims to reduce homicides, modernize the prison system and improve cooperation between security agencies and neighboring nations in the fight against cross-border organized crime.
        It includes building five new federal prisons for 220 dangerous prisoners, $248 million for states to build new jails and $94 million for cellphone blockers, body scanners and ankle bracelets.
        Robert Muggah, founder of the Igarapé Institute in Rio de Janeiro, which specializes in public security and drug policy, said that the plan included welcoming innovations, like a target to reduce homicides by 7 percent a year, but that it was too focused on law and order.
        "The fight against drugs will fail if it's reduced to eradicating drug production and seizing drugs," Mr. Muggah said. Drug use and possession should be decriminalized, he said.
        Violence has been a problem for decades in Brazil's overcrowded prisons, where drug gangs rule and decapitations are common.
        And memories are still fresh in Brazil of the violence that terrorized São Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, in 2006, when fighting between the police and the First Capital Command gang killed almost 200 people.
        In addition to the criticism faced by the Temer administration, the Amazonas state government faces a number of serious accusations.
        A report by state prosecutors dated Jan. 4 requested that private prison contracts be rescinded because of the "lack of control of security and inefficient management."
        In 2012, 3 percent of Brazilian inmates were in privately run prisons.
        Prosecutors said the state government paid Umanizzare, the company running Anísio Jobim prison, around $1,458 a month for each prisoner, nearly twice the Brazilian average of $745 cited by the president of Brazil's top court, Cármen Lúcia, in November.
        The state government is also said to have negotiated peace in the state's prisons with the Family of the North in July 2015.
        An investigation that year by Brazil's Federal Police into the gang said that one of its jailed leaders met with a state government official and helped end the occupation of parts of two secure wings at another Manaus prison by the rival gang, the First Capital Command. The drug leader, in return, was promised he would not be transferred to a high-security federal prison.
        "The Northern Family came out strengthened from this regrettable episode," the report said.
        The Amazonas state governor, José Melo, has denied that any negotiation took place. Last week, Mr. Melo also said there were "no saints" killed in the Manaus massacre.
        A similar view was expressed by the youth secretary in Mr. Temer's administration, Bruno Júlio. "There has to be a massacre every week," he said. Amid widespread outrage over the comment, Mr. Júlio quit hours later.
        The killings are continuing.
        On Sunday, four more prisoners died in Manaus, three of whom were beheaded.
        More than 100 prisoners who escaped in the riot from Anísio Jobim prison are still at large. And Manaus police officers said they need more than just talk to combat a growing drug trade across a vast state.
        "We don't have structure to combat this," said Rafael Costa e Silva, an investigating officer and police union representative in Manaus.

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        8)  Rights Battles Emerge in Cities Where Homelessness Can Be a Crime
        " About 32 percent of homeless people have no shelter, according to the federal government,"
         JAN. 9, 2017
        http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/us/rights-battles-emerge-in-cities-where-homelessness-can-
        be-a-crime.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=
        us&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

        DENVER — Condos and townhouses are rising beside the weedy lots here where Randy Russell once pitched a tent and unrolled a sleeping bag, clustering with other homeless people in camps that were a small haven to him, but an illegal danger in the eyes of city officials.
        Living on the streets throws a million problems your way, Mr. Russell, 56, said, but finding a place to sleep tops the list. About 32 percent of homeless people have no shelter, according to the federal government, and on Nov. 28, Mr. Russell was among them. He was sitting in an encampment just north of downtown when the police and city workers arrived to clear it away. A police officer handed Mr. Russell a citation.
        "Now I don't have a place to sleep tonight," Mr. Russell told the officer in a video. "You're taking my home away from me."
        Growing numbers of homeless encampments have led to civic soul-searching in Denver and in cities around the country, from Philadelphia to Seattle. Should cities open up public spaces to their poorest residents, or sweep away camps that city leaders, neighbors and business groups see as islands of drugs and crime?
        Activists and homeless residents like Mr. Russell are waging public campaigns and court fights against local laws that ban "urban camping" — prohibitions that activists say are aimed at the homeless. The right to rest, they say, should be a new civil right for the homeless. Many wear buttons that ask, "Move Along to Where?" and are challenging misdemeanor citations and anti-camping ordinances, like Denver's, in court.
        "They take away your means of survival," said Jerry Burton, who was ticketed the same day as Mr. Russell.
        In recent years, the Obama administration has offered the homeless and their advocates some support. In a 2015 letter addressing a law in Boise, Idaho, the Justice Department warned that local laws criminalizing homelessness could violate the Constitution's protections against cruel and unusual punishment. And the Department of Housing and Urban Development has said it takes into consideration policies that criminalize homelessness when deciding which places should get competitive grants.
        Advocates for the homeless said those policies had strengthened their hand. They are now worried about how those measures — and broader funding for homeless services — might fare under President-elect Donald J. Trump, who ran as a "law and order candidate."
        "We're quite concerned," said Maria Foscarinis, the founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, which estimated that half of American cities had some kind of anti-camping law.
        "No sooner do you win the battle than 10 other cities pop up criminalizing homelessness, Ms. Foscarinis added. "The idea was if you could get the federal government on your side, you have a much broader impact."
        Nationwide, the number of homeless people is declining, according to the most recent counts. But camps have become a particularly acute problem in the West, where soaring housing costs and a scarcity of subsidized apartments have pushed homelessness to the fore in booming towns like Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco.
        As new clusters of tents and sleeping bags pop up along river banks, on city sidewalks and in parks and gentrifying neighborhoods, they are exposing deep divisions about how cities should strike a balance between accommodation and enforcement.
        In Seattle, where violence has flared in a homeless camp known as the Jungle, beneath a freeway, there was a fierce response to a councilman's proposal to allow the city's 3,000 unsheltered homeless residents to camp in some parks and on undeveloped public land.
        Scores of residents packed a City Hall hearing in October, according to The Seattle Times. Some shouted, "Recall!" Others applauded a Republican politician who urged "zero tolerance."
        "I'm not going to solve homelessness by outlawing it," said Mike O'Brien, the Seattle councilman who proposed accommodating some homeless camps. (The legislation did not get far.) "These folks, they don't have a lot of good options. The best choice they face every day is sleeping under that bridge."
        Officials and advocates cite many reasons for the growing number of encampments and the clashes over them. Gentrification in old neighborhoods. Citywide housing shortages. Rough conditions in shelters.
        A one-night survey last January found a 67 percent rise in the number of unsheltered homeless people in Seattle since 2011.
        "The threat of homelessness is becoming more real," Mr. O'Brien said. "More of us know people. They've gone to couch-surfing. They're living in their vehicles. I know people who are losing their housing, and it's scary."
        In November, San Francisco voted to ban sidewalk tents and allow the city to remove them with 24 hours' notice. In July, Philadelphia lifted a four-year-old ban on serving meals in public parks after homeless advocates and faith groups sued the city. Portland, Ore., was so roiled by the blowback to a "safe sleep policy" announced in February that the mayor rescinded it six months later.
        In Denver, videos of the police seizing blankets and tents on the cusp of winter created a public outcry and demands to soften the city's approach.
        Denver officials appeared taken aback by the furor. They pointed out that the city was creating permanent housing for 250 homeless residents, had set up a $150 million housing fund for low- and moderate-income families and was starting a pilot program to employ people living on the streets.
        Denver officials say there is no shortage of shelter space — it is available any night to anyone who needs it. Outreach workers visit camps before they are dismantled to try to steer people to shelters or other services, the officials said.
        Officials estimate Denver's homeless population at 3,500 to 3,600, about 500 of whom are not in transitional housing or shelters on any given night.
        In a statement, Mayor Michael B. Hancock said the city would not seize any more camping equipment until the end of April when it enforces the camping ban. According to the Denver police, 26 people have been cited under the ban since it was passed in 2012, and officers issue citations only as a last resort.
        City officials say the camps are neither safe nor healthy for neighbors or camp occupants. They have found piles of trash by the Platte River and human waste on sidewalk encampments by Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play. When the City Council passed the camping ban by a 9-to-4 vote, supporters said clearing the camps was a health and safety necessity, and they have rejected recent calls from activists to repeal or scale back the regulation.
        "It's immoral for a community to accept folks on the streets. This is a cold city." said Albus Brooks, the Council's president. "It's the stuff that keeps me up at night."
        What keeps Trena Vahle up at night is the cold, the gunshots, the people walking past the tent she has pitched at the end of a line of tents, overstuffed shopping carts and plastic-tarp yurts in an alley just down the block from an architecture studio, brewery and cocktail lounge in Denver's trendy River North neighborhood.
        "We've been told five times to leave," she said.
        Ms. Vahle, 47, said she had been out of work since she tore a back muscle at the Iowa factory where she made plastic coolers. She said she had moved to Colorado in 2015 after being arrested on a trespassing charge related to homelessness. She did not like the shelters — she had to shower on a lottery system, and three of her bags had been stolen. The alley is her spot, she said. For now.

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        9)  Real U.S. Unemployment Rate is 30 Percent!
        Record 95,102,000 Americans not in labor force
        By Joseph Jankowski
        Nation of Change, January 8, 2017
          http://www.nationofchange.org/2017/01/08/record-95102000-americans-not-labor-force-unemployment-rate-like-30/

          The "official" unemployment rate (U3) released each month is, to put it in the most straightforward way possible, a completely misleading and politicized statistic.

          The U3 unemployment rate, which is one of six ways the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the amount of people out of work, is defined as the "total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force."

          This is the 4.7 percent number, which came out today and the statistic that soon-to-be former President Barrack Obama has boasted so proudly over.

          You remember this, right? …

          Obama: "I took an economy that was about to go into a Great Depression, and we've now had a little over six years of straight economic job growth, an unemployment rate that's down below five percent, and incomes that have gone up and poverty that has gone down."

          Well, today we found out that a record number of Americans are not in the labor force and are not even looking for a job, the same way it was when Obama first stepped into office.

          The final jobs report of Obama's presidency revealed that the number of Americans not in the labor force has increased by 14,573,000 (18.09 percent) since January 2009.

          In December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 95,102,000 Americans were not in the labor force, 47,000 more than in November.

          Hmmm…

          They said the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent! How can that be! The U.S. population is only about 325,340,300 people!

          As explained above, the "official" number only calculates the number of unemployed persons as a percent of the civilian labor force.

          So, let's now take the amount of folks who are not in the labor force and get the percentage of the population that this group accounts for. (I'll use a calculator just so I know Obama never lied to me!)
          "95102000 is what percent of 325320300? Answer: 29.23 percent!"

          *GASP

          The reality of the unemployment situation inside the U.S. is much grimmer than any politician or bureaucrat would ever want to admit.

          And just to highlight how bad the situation is, those people counted as "not in the labor force" qualify to be a part of that statistic because they are no longer looking for work.

          It is unrevealing statistics like the U3 unemployment rate that allows politicians to grandstand and pose as your leader.

          


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        10)  American Destroyer Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Boats
         JAN. 9, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/world/middleeast/iran-uss-mahan-shots.html?ref=world&_r=0

        WASHINGTON — In a vivid illustration of the tensions between the United States and Iran, an American Navy warship fired warning shots at Iranian boats that were racing toward it near the Strait of Hormuz, Defense Department officials said on Monday.
        The episode occurred Sunday when four Iranian fast boats came within 900 yards of the U.S.S. Mahan, a guided missile destroyer that was escorting an amphibious warship with 1,000 Marines on board and a Navy oiler.
        When the Iranian boats did not respond to a radio call and flares signaling them to stop, the American destroyer fired three warning shots with a .50-caliber machine gun. A Navy helicopter also dropped smoke grenades. There was no damage to the Iranian vessels, and they did not return fire.
        It was the first time the Navy had fired warning shots at an Iranian boat since Aug. 24.
        Though the boats' approaches are essentially a form of harassment, they point to the risk of military confrontation in a region that is bristling with Western, Arab and Iranian forces. President-elect Donald J. Trump vowed during the presidential campaign to take military action against Iranian ships that approached American vessels in a threatening manner.
        "With Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn't be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water," Mr. Trump said at a rally in September.
        There were 35 close encounters between American and Iranian vessels in 2016, most of which occurred during the first half of the year, and 23 encounters in 2015.
        "We had a significant number of these before," Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. "They had largely stopped."
        The most serious episode took place in January 2016, when Iran detained and ultimately freed 10 sailors who had unintentionally entered its territorial waters while cruising from Kuwait to Bahrain.
        On Sunday, Iranian boats approached the American ships six times before they got so close that the Mahan fired warning shots.
        "This was an unsafe and unprofessional interaction, and that is due to the fact that they were approaching at a high level of speed, with weapons manned, and disregarding repeated warnings," Captain Davis said.
        There was no immediate comment from the Iranian authorities. But the Iranian military has signaled its intention to be active in the area and is planning a war game in the region this month.

        "The navy will practice up-to-date tactics during the drill, including modern warfare tactics, for the first time," Habibollah Sayyari, the Iranian Navy commander, said, according to Iranian news organizations.

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        11)  A Strike Empties London's Underground. Aboveground Is a Different Story. JAN. 9, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/world/europe/london-underground-tube-strike.html?ref=world

        LONDON — Londoners struggled to maintain their poise on Monday after a 24-hour strike on the Underground forced the evacuations of subway stations, left buses dangerously crammed and made thousands of commuters walk for hours to get to and from work.

        "The buses are now Mad Max-style death trucks," said Aaron Gillies, an author and comedy writer. "People try to ride pigeons to work. No gaps are minded. Chaos."
        More than two million commuters were thought to be affected by the walkout, which came amid cold, rainy weather, a falling pound and new fears over Britain's plans to exit the European Union. Two separate industrial actions at British Airways and Southern Railway are also expected this week.
        "Hard Brexit, pound plummet, Tube strike," Alex Caldwell, a Londoner, wrote on Twitter, adding the hashtag #blueMonday.
        As a consequence of the strike, Uber fares more than quadrupled, further raising the ire of Londoners and making Leicester Square, a major tourist hot spot, seem like a "Toyota Prius convention," according to Chris Parsons, another commuter.
        Transport for London, the Underground's operator, provided river services — that is, boat rides across the Thames. The company was also forced to wheel out its heritage buses — vintage double-deckers — to help ferry thousands of bus passengers, offering some a brief moment of delight.
        The staff walkout on the Underground came after a long-running dispute over the closing of ticket offices.
        Sadiq KhanLondon's mayor, described the subway strike as "completely unnecessary," saying the dispute should have been resolved amicably around the negotiating table. "You going on strike means millions of Londoners have had a miserable journey today," he told the BBC.
        But Mick Cash, the general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, or R.M.T., one of two unions that organized the strike, said that Transport for London had failed to offer a "serious set of proposals" to deal with stations that had insufficient staff to be run safely.
        John Leach, an R.M.T. regional organizer, also told the BBC: "You can't run London Underground with millions and millions of pounds of less money," 834 fewer station staff, "but at the same time carry a million people more every day and keep it safe and efficient for the passengers."
        The strike is expected to end Tuesday morning — just in time for two other strikes to begin, one by drivers of Southern, a troubled rail service that serves southern England, and another by British Airways cabin staff.
        At British Airways, crew members who work on both short- and long-haul flights are taking action after negotiations over what they call "poverty pay" broke down. As a result of the strike, major disruptions are expected at Heathrow Airport, with up to 48 flights grounded.
        The disruptions prompted worries over London's image as an open, global city.
        "This is the wrong time to send out a message across the world that London isn't open for business, as it is being closed by ongoing strikes," Colin Stanbridge, the chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
        "It will put tourists off visiting and discourage business from moving their headquarters to the U.K.," he said. "Strikes like this go to the very heart of undermining companies' efforts to make a real success of Brexit."
        But Wetherspoons, a British pub chain that supported leaving the European Union, begged to differ by cheerfully reminding Londoners: "Remember today during the Tube strike, most stations have a Wetherspoon pub in walking distance, so just come in and get mangled instead."

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        12)  Prisons Run by C.E.O.s? Privatization Under Trump Could Carry a Heavy Price
        By Eduardo Porter,  January 10, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/business/economy/privatization-trump.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion&action=click&contentCollection=nyregion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=sectionfront

        Last summer, the Justice Department decided to start winding down its use of private prisons.
        Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates noted in a memo that while private prisons were useful when public prisons were overflowing, they made little sense now that the prison population was falling. They didn't save much on costs. Nor did they provide the kind of rehabilitation programs proven to reduce recidivism.
        And they are particularly dangerous. A recent report by the department's inspector general found that prisoners in private facilities, which house some 12 percent of federal inmates, were much more likely to have weapons. Private prisons had many more assaults on inmates and prison workers than those run by the Bureau of Prisons. And they went into lockdown to respond to disturbances 10 times as often.
        But on Nov. 9, the day after Donald J. Trump was elected president, the stocks of correctional conglomerates were among the best performing on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares in Corrections Corporation of America gained an astonishing 43 percent on the day. The reason? Privatization is back at the top of the government's agenda.
        While this is being applauded in executive suites across corporate America, the cost for the rest of society is likely to be high.
        "With prisons I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons," Mr. Trump said on the campaign trail last year. "It seems to work a lot better." Mr. Trump's pick for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, is a staunch supporter of the approach, having invited private prisons into his state as its attorney general more than 20 years ago.
        But privatization is likely to sweep through not only prisons. The president-elect wants to privatize health services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He wants to privatize public infrastructure — drawing private sector companies to fix, build and manage bridges and roads, water supplies and airports. He is selling privatization as a surefire winner that will deliver better services for less public money.
        "There's a magical thinking among business executives that something about the profit motive makes everything run better," noted Raymond Fisman, a professor of economics at Boston University. "What is government going to be like when it is run by billionaire C.E.O.s that see the private sector as a solution to all the world's problems?"
        A serious body of economics, not to mention reams of evidence from decades of privatizations around the world, suggests this belief is false.
        Consider, for instance, what the profit motive has done for higher education. For-profit colleges absorb a full quarter of federal aid for higher education. Not all are fraudulent diploma mills set up to milk federal aid dollars from low-income students. Still, on average they are much more expensive than public institutions, while their degrees are much less valuable.
        There are abundant similar examples in the health care industry. Hospices run for profit are less likely to admit patients with shorter, less-profitable expected lengths of stay. For-profit hospitals have been found to fib more to Medicare than nonprofits do — tweaking their diagnoses to get higher reimbursements. And they have been found to bolster profits at the expense of patient safety. A study at the RAND Corporation found that hospitals that switched from nonprofit to for-profit operation saw a sharp rise in profits but also a jump in mortality rates one to two years after their conversion.
        Then there is a study by Bonnie Svarstad and Chester Bond of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison more than three decades ago: They found that patients in for-profit nursing homes got heavier doses of sedatives than those in nonprofits got. Explaining the pattern, the economist Burton Weisbrod wrote that sedatives were "less expensive than, say, giving special attention to more active patients who need to be kept busy."
        Of course, the government can also do a horrible job of running things. And private corporations do many things well. They tend to be much faster to innovate. In competitive markets, the profit motive makes for a powerful incentive to deliver all kinds of goods and services, from widgets to telephone calls, efficiently and effectively. A study found that opening nursing homes in Sweden to private providers actually improved patients' mortality rates.
        But it is critical to understand how profit seeking can go awry, giving companies a motivation to skimp on quality to bolster margins. When a private provider faces little or no competition, or when quality of service is difficult to track properly — think of the well-being of patients in a nursing home, or the health of prison inmates — there will be nothing to stop it from pursuing higher profits at society's expense.
        "The private sector is good at cutting costs and finding ways to save money," Oliver Hart, a professor of economics at Harvard, told me. "Some are socially desirable; some are not." The critical issue is whether a contract can be written that reduces the space for socially undesirable tactics to a minimum.
        Negotiating the trade-offs is not always obvious. For instance, the privatization of the water supply of Buenos Aires led to a reduction in infant deaths from infectious and parasitic disease. But it also increased water bills, so the unpopular concession to a private company was ultimately canceled.
        Professor Hart, as it happens, won the Nobel in economic sciences last year for his work in studying precisely these sorts of contracts: When are they more likely to work? How should they be structured? Crucial tasks with many dimensions — waging war, policing the streets of a city — are often best left to the public sector, he points out. By contrast, a private provider could do a better job when the desired output is more straightforward and can be measured properly, like collecting trash.
        He is not at all opposed to privatization. Indeed, he argues that determining whether a service should be privately or publicly provided should not be an ideological issue. The decision should be based on "what mode of organization achieves the social goal in the best way."
        Unfortunately, he noted, it seems unlikely Mr. Trump's team will take the thoughtful path. Indeed, one of Professor Hart's seminal papers, produced together with Andrei Shleifer and Robert Vishny nearly 20 years ago, suggested that while things like garbage collection or weapons production were quite suitable for private provision, the government would probably do a better job tackling tasks like foreign policy, the police and … prisons.

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        13)  Wintry Blast in Greece Imperils Refugees in Crowded Camps
         JAN. 11, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/world/europe/greece-refugees-crisis-winter-storms.html?ref=world&_r=0

        First it was the icy snow. Now comes the freezing rain.
        An arctic blast that has reached as far south as the Mediterranean is generating perilous conditions for thousands of refugees in overcrowded migrant camps in Greece and prompting the European Union to declare the situation "untenable."
        On Wednesday, a Greek navy ship docked at Lesbos island to take on as many as 500 refugees. They have been struggling to survive the subzero temperatures in the severely overcrowded main camp in Moria, using pup tents that were supposed to be temporary when they were set up last year in warmer weather.
        Video and photos taken by migrants inside the camp and posted to social media showed flimsy shelters sagging under a blanket of snow, and people waiting in long lines in the falling snow for food and to use bathrooms.

        In one video, a man identifying himself as a migrant shows people lifting the flaps of snow-covered tents near a slushy pathway. "Look at how human beings are living," said the man, speaking French.
        Imploring officials of the European Union to look at the situation themselves, he said: "Why can't people leave here? How is it possible to live in these conditions, my God?"
        On Tuesday night, the snow turned to freezing rain, forming rivers of muck around the camp and drenching tents and clothing, aid organizations reported. On Samos, another island where the main migrant camp is overflowing, refugees reported freezing conditions with no heat.
        At refugee camps on the Greek mainland, and especially near the northern border, migrants continued to grapple with living outside under heavy snowfall.
        "This is unbearable," said Roland Schoenbauer, a spokesman for the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, who said he was receiving reports from doctors in camps across Greece warning of rising health risks from the cold and humidity. "It shows what happens when you try to squeeze too many people into these camps. You can't stockpile human beings."
        A year after the European Union sealed its borders to large numbers of newcomers, Greece remains Europe's holding pen for nearly 60,000 men, women and children. Many have been living for months in a distressing limbo in sordid refugee camps on the mainland and on Greek islands near Turkey, unable to move to countries where they hoped to seek asylum, and with no means or motivation to return to Syria, Iraq or other countries from which they fled war or economic hardship.
        Eric Kempson, a British citizen who has been living on Lesbos for over a decade, has been documenting the deteriorating conditions in the Moria refugee camp, posting videos of tents collapsing under the weight of snow and migrants slogging through muddy walkways.
        "It is now heavy rain and melting snow, which is causing flooding in the camp," Mr. Kempson wrote to The New York Times, via Facebook, describing the conditions in the camp on Wednesday. "It's like we begin the vicious circle again and nothing gets better, only worse."
        On Monday, the European Commission issued a statement saying the Greek refugee situation was the responsibility of Greek authorities. "The situation has become untenable," a spokeswoman, Natasha Bertaud, said in Brussels.
        The United Nations refugee agency and other aid groups have been working to move migrants from camps into better shelters, including hotels. In some cases, however, they have met resistance: Hotel owners on Samos, for example, were generally refusing to house migrants, Mr. Schoenbauer said.
        But a bigger problem is the extremely slow processing of asylum applications for those in the Greek camps. While the numbers of people streaming across the Aegean Sea from Turkey have slowed to a trickle after Turkey and the European Union signed a deal to resolve the crisislast March, thousands of migrants have yet to be registered for asylum.
        That is partly because the European Union has sent just a fraction of the assistance it pledged to Greece last year to help clear the backlog.
        A separate European Union plan to ease Greece's burden by relocating tens of thousands of asylum seekers has also failed to take off, with European countries taking only a few thousand of the many stuck in Greece.
        The bottlenecks have overwhelmed many of the camps, especially on the Greek islands, where migrants arriving after the March deal are supposed to be held until being deported to Turkey.
        The camp at Moria, for instance, run by the Greek police and nongovernmental organizations and designed for about 3,000 people, was reinforced with small container shelters that can each house up to 30 people.
        But hundreds of makeshift tents have been set up outside for months to accommodate an overflow of asylum seekers — first under the beating Greek sun, and now under the pelting snow and rain.
        "The snow is only the tip of the iceberg," Mr. Schoenbauer said. "The bigger problem is the overcrowding of the islands, and one reason for the overcrowding is the fact that the asylum procedure remains far too slow."

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        14)  E.P.A. Accuses Fiat Chrysler of Secretly Exceeding Emissions Standards
         JAN. 12, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/business/epa-emissions-cheating-diesel-fiat-chrysler-jeep-dodge.html

        The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday accused Fiat Chrysler of using secret software that allowed illegal excess emissions from at least 104,000 diesel vehicles.
        Affected models include the light-duty model year 2014, 2015 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3-liter diesel engines sold in the United States, the agency said.
        The software resulted in excess emissions of nitrogen oxides, which have harmful health effects, from the vehicles, the agency said.
        The excess in emissions "threatens public health by polluting the air we breathe," said Cynthia Giles, an assistant administrator at the E.P.A.
        While Ms. Giles stopped short of calling the software "defeat devices," which Volkswagen used to cheat on diesel emissions tests, she said, "There is no doubt that they are contributing to illegal pollution."
        Fiat Chrysler was not immediately available for comment.

        Volkswagen has been engulfed in a scandal about cheating on emissions tests. Many of the company's 600,000 cars in the United States that are equipped with emissions-cheating software were imported from Germany or Mexico.


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        15)  Chelsea Manning Describes Bleak Life in a Men’s Prison





        Most mornings at 4:30 a.m., half an hour before the “first call” awakens inmates at the Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas, an alarm rings within an 80-square-foot cell. Inmate 89289, slightly built with close-cropped hair, rises to apply makeup and don female undergarments and a brown uniform before the still-slumbering men in the adjacent cells stir.
        That is the routine for Chelsea Manning, America’s most famous convicted leaker and the prison’s most unusual inmate. She is serving the longest sentence ever imposed for disclosing government secrets — 35 years — and her status as a celebrity of sorts and an incarcerated transgender woman presents continuing difficulties for the military.
        During the day, Ms. Manning, who was an Army intelligence analyst known as Bradley Manning when she disclosed archives of secret military and diplomatic files to WikiLeaks in 2010, builds picture frames and furniture in the prison wood shop. In the evenings, before the 10:05 p.m. lockdown, she reads through streams of letters, including from antisecrecy enthusiasts who view her as a whistle-blower.
        “I am always busy. I have a backlog of things to do: legal, administrative, press inquiries, and writing — lots of writing,” Ms. Manning wrote in response to questions submitted by The Times because the Army does not permit her to speak directly to journalists. “Being me is a full-time job.”

        But Ms. Manning, who is struggling to transition to life as a woman while enduring a bleak existence at a male military prison, has asked President Obama to commute the remainder of her sentence before he leaves office next week. She poses particular challenges as a prisoner, with a volunteer support network that helps bring global attention to her treatment, fragile mental state — she twice tried to commit suicide in 2016 — and need for treatment that the military has no experience providing.
        Her request comes as the world is again focused on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, whom her leaks made famous. The organization last year published Clinton campaign emails, obtained in a hacking, as part of what American intelligence officials claim was a covert Russian operation aimed at tilting the election to President-elect Donald J. Trump. (Ms. Manning declined to discuss WikiLeaks, saying only that her decision to send documents to it “was neither an endorsement nor an affiliation.”)
        It also comes at a time of flux in the military’s policies on gender identity. Last June, the Obama administration rescinded a ban on transgender people serving in the military and began overhauling its practices, which eventually would include providing gender reassignment surgery. But Mr. Trump has derided the lifting of the ban as “politically correct,” raising the possibility that his administration may roll back the changes.
        The White House declined to comment on Ms. Manning’s commutation request. The Army declined to comment about her situation at Fort Leavenworth, citing privacy laws.
        A military prosecutor had called Ms. Manning a “traitor” at her 2013 court-martial, and officials have said the disclosures disrupted government operations and put people at risk, although prosecutors did not claim anyone was killed because of them.
        In a statement accompanying her petition asking Mr. Obama to reduce her sentence to the nearly seven years she already has served, Ms. Manning, now 29, said she never intended to hurt anyone and pleaded for a chance to start her life over.
        “I need help,” she wrote. “I am living through a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss, and depression. I cannot focus. I cannot sleep. I attempted to take my own life.”

        Transformation in a Crucible

        On Aug. 22, 2013, the day after her sentencing for sending documents to WikiLeaks, Ms. Manning’s lawyer read a statement on the “Today” show announcing that she was female, wanted to be called “Chelsea” rather than “Bradley” and would seek cross-sex hormone therapy.
        To observers of her court-martial, this was no surprise. Her motivation for leaking hundreds of thousands of files she had copied from a classified computer network while serving in Iraq, as she wrote at the time, was hope that they would spark “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.” But at her trial, she apologized and noted that she was “dealing with a lot of issues” when she had made that decision.
        Testimony showed that she had been in a mental and emotional crisisas she came to grips, in the stress of a war zone, with the fact that she was not merely gay, as she had believed while growing up in Oklahoma, but had gender dysphoria — a disconnect between one’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth. In the months before her leaks and May 2010 arrest, she had been behaving erratically and emailed a picture of herself wearing a woman’s wig to her supervisor.
        The military sent Ms. Manning to serve out her sentence as a medium-security inmate at the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks, its main prison for male inmates.
        Court documents show that Ms. Manning has had counseling sessions with a prison psychologist, Dr. Ellen Galloway, at least once a week, and military authorities have over time allowed her access to some treatments doctors prescribed for her gender dysphoria, in part because of pressure from a lawsuit filed by Chase Strangio, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, in September 2014.
        She can now wear female prison undergarments, including a sports bra, and “subdued cosmetics.” In early 2015, she was permitted to get speech therapy to feminize the tone and pitch of her voice and began cross-sex hormone therapy prescribed, Mr. Strangio said, by an endocrinologist brought in from the military’s Walter Reed hospital.
        Since then, Ms. Manning wrote, she has developed breasts and curvier hips. “There have been significant changes since I’ve been taking the hormones, and I am happy with them,” she said.
        But, citing security risks, the military rejected the recommendation of an outside psychologist who said she should be permitted to further feminize her appearance by growing her hair longer than male military standards. Mr. Strangio is helping her challenge that restriction.
        “Plaintiff feels like a freak and a weirdo — not because having short hair makes a person less of a woman — but because for her, it undermines specifically recommended treatment and sends the message to everyone that she is not a ‘real’ woman,” he wrote in a court filing.
        “She is getting hormones, but it sounds like the inability to socially transition, or to have surgery, could be contributing to suicidality — especially when she is looking at decades in prison and thus a certain hopelessness about whether that might ever be available for her,” said Dan Karasic, a University of California, San Francisco psychiatrist and the chairman of the American Psychiatric Association’s work group on gender dysphoria; he cautioned that he had not examined her.
        The military turned down a request by The New York Times to visit the facility. But an Army spokesman, Wayne Hall, provided written answers from the Army Corrections Command to questions posed by The Times, from which a sketch of her environment emerged.
        Ms. Manning’s cell, like others at Fort Leavenworth, contains a bed, toilet, sink, locker, storage bin, chair and desk, according to the Army. She showers in a nearby communal bathroom with individual stalls. She has no access to the internet, but says she receives “at least a couple hundred pieces of mail every week.”
        The Army does not permit her to see people who did not know her before her incarceration, so she is not allowed to meet with a handful of volunteers who have formed an informal network of supporters, but she calls one of them daily. A volunteer who relayed questions from The Times to her asked not to be named, citing security concerns.
        Ms. Manning said she recently finished reading “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies,” a book about artificial intelligence by the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, and “1Q84,” a dystopian novel by Haruki Murakami. She is interested in efforts to develop stronger encryption and has been “going through” the “Princeton Companion to Mathematics.” She also said she reads women’s athletic, fashion and lifestyle magazines like Shape, Vogue, Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan.
        Her cell door has a window looking onto a central “day room” with tables, chairs, pay phones and televisions. For a time, Ms. Manning played Dungeons & Dragons with a few fellow inmates, but she said she had had no time in recent months. She eats meals with other inmates in a dining facility and works on a team at the wood shop.
        The roughly 424 inmates held at Fort Leavenworth with Ms. Manning include men accused of routine crimes as well as some who drew public attention, including Nidal Hasan, convicted in a 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood and held on the prison’s death row wing, and Robert Bales, who murdered 16 Afghans in Kandahar and was sentenced to life without parole in August 2013.
        Ms. Manning declined to say much about the guards or fellow inmates, other than to say that they have never bullied or attacked her.
        “It’s best to keep to yourself and try not to get involved in any drama,” she wrote. “It’s a little harder for me to keep to myself, since the staff is constantly watching me and those that interact with me. But I’m used to it by now. I don’t feel threatened by the other prisoners. I have friends.”

        Doing Hard Time

        Her special status at Fort Leavenworth is evident. Nancy Hollander, one of the lawyers working on the appeal of her conviction and sentence, said the Army built a special secure information facility in a windowless basement room so she could meet with them and discuss still-classified documents she leaked.
        While Ms. Manning said she could not say on her monitored phone calls “anything critical of the prison or the current administration or I can get charged for violation of a lawful general order,” her supporters pay close attention to her treatment.
        Scrutiny of the military’s struggles to deal with Ms. Manning go back to her confinement at the Quantico, Va., brig after her arrest, when she was held for months in isolation, shackled during exercise and sometimes stripped of clothing and glasses to prevent her from harming herself — even after a prison psychologist said such steps were unnecessary. A military judge ruled that the treatment had been illegal.
        At Leavenworth, after a minor disagreement with a guard in 2015, officials punished her, among other things, for “medical misuse” because they found a tube of toothpaste in her cell that was past its expiration date. Her supporters publicized the incident.
        In September, her supporters issued a news release saying she was on a hunger strike because of an “overzealous administrative scrutiny” and lack of progress in getting more treatment.
        She resumed eating after five days. Mr. Strangio said an official told her she would be eligible for the same medical treatment as non-incarcerated transgender soldiers, suggesting she would eventually be permitted to proceed with surgery. But months have passed, and Ms. Manning wrote that she has not seen a surgeon.
        Later in September, a prison board disciplined Ms. Manning for the disruption a June suicide attempt had caused. The punishment: solitary confinement. While in isolation in October, she tried again to kill herself — by choking herself on a piece of clothing, according to a support network member — before guards intervened.
        About a week further into that stint in solitary, she experienced a bizarre episode in which four people impersonating guards simulated breaking into the prison one night and pretended to kill her regular guards, filling her with fear, according to an account she filed with the army inspector general.
        A military official denied her account. Dr. Stuart Grassian, a specialist in the psychological effects of solitary confinement, said her description is consistent with hallucinations often experienced by unstable people placed in isolation.
        Now, with 28 years of her sentence to go and uncertainty over whether the Trump administration will deny her sex-reassignment surgery, Ms. Manning is hoping Mr. Obama will take mercy on her and free her from military prison, which goes by the acronym U.S.D.B.
        “I am not asking for a pardon of my conviction. I understand that the various collateral consequences of the court-martial conviction will stay on my record forever,” she wrote in her commutation application. “I am merely asking for a first chance to live my life outside the U.S.D.B. as the person I was born to be.”

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        16)  Chicago Police Routinely Trampled on Civil Rights, Justice Dept. Says




        CHICAGO — The Chicago police have systemically violated the civil rights of residents by routinely using excessive force, a practice that particularly affects African-Americans and Latinos, the Justice Department said in a scathing report released on Friday, unveiling the findings of a 13-month investigation into the city’s police department.
        Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch also announced at the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago detailed steps the city had committed to take to remedy the problems.
        “The systems and policies that fail ordinary citizens also fail the vast majority of Chicago Police Department officers who risk their lives every day to serve and protect the people of Chicago,” said Ms. Lynch, who had raced to complete the investigation before the end of President Obama’s term.

        “With this announcement, we are laying the groundwork for the difficult but necessary work of building a stronger, safer, and more united Chicago for all who call it home,” Ms. Lynch said.
        Justice Department investigations can be powerful tools for overhauls of the police, and the Obama administration has made expansive use of them amid a wrenching national debate over race and policing. Chicago is among nearly two dozen cities — including Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo.; Seattle; and Cleveland — where the Justice Department has pushed for wholesale changes in policing.
        By negotiating an agreement with Chicago to fix the problems, the Justice Department has laid the groundwork for change regardless of what happens under President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump’s attorney general nominee, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, has said he believes that many of the police department overhauls sought by the Obama administration went too far and unfairly maligned officers. He also has spoken against the court-enforced settlements, known as consent decrees, that usually result from investigations like the one in Chicago.
        With the statement announced on Friday, the Justice Department has put the city’s problems on the record and set in motion a process — albeit one that may be less easy to enforce — for change, even if the Trump administration does not seek a consent decree with Chicago.
        Chicago’s announcement came only a day after the Justice Department and city leaders in Baltimore announced an agreement that called for greater oversight of the police department there, as well as improved training and safety technology. The consent decree came in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who died of a spinal cord injury in 2015 while in the custody of the Baltimore police.
        Chicago officials have been bracing for the findings from the Justice Department after more than a year of tense public debate about the police and its long, troubled history of community relations, particularly with African-American and Latino residents. Announced in December 2015, the investigation came in a year of cascading violence for the city. Shootings and murders rose significantly. In 2016, there were 762 homicides in Chicago, more than New York City and Los Angeles combined and more than this city has experienced in 20 years.
        The inquiry was spurred by the city’s reluctant release of a chilling video that showed a white police officer shooting a young black man, Laquan McDonald, 16 times. For months, the city had fought to keep the dashboard camera footage from being made public, but a judge ultimately ordered its released. Residents were outraged by the images, some marching in protest and demanding that Mr. Emanuel resign.
        Long before the Justice Department’s findings, the critiques of the Chicago police were stark. Two years ago, the city announced reparations and an apology to black men who had for years said they were tortured and abused at the hands of a “Midnight Crew” of officers overseen by a notorious police commander in the 1970s and 1980s. Last year, a task force appointed by Mr. Emanuel issued a blistering reportthat concluded that racism had contributed to a long pattern of institutional failures by the police.
        “C.P.D.’s own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color,” the task force wrote. “Stopped without justification, verbally and physically abused, and in some instances arrested, and then detained without counsel — that is what we heard about over and over again.”
        As Chicago awaited the Justice Department’s announcement, city officials said that they were already making substantive changes at the department — separate from whatever the Justice Department would announce. Mr. Emanuel’s aides pointed to changes the mayor has called for in improved training and equipment. All Chicago patrol officers are to have body cameras by the end of 2017.
        “As you can see from our actions over the past year, we are committed to continuing to make significant and much-needed reforms, providing officers with the tools and certainty they need to do their tough jobs well,” said Adam Collins, a spokesman for Mr. Emanuel.
        But controversial police shootings have persisted, and some say the mayor’s changes have not come fast enough. Just weeks after the Justice Department began its investigation, an officer shot and killed two people: a teenager said to be wielding a bat, and an elderly neighbor hit by a stray bullet. That officer later sued the estate of the teenager he killed, claiming emotional trauma.
        Last summer, another officer fatally shot an unarmed teenager in the back as he was running away.



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        17)  Obama Ends Exemption for Cubans Who Arrive Without Visas





        WASHINGTON — President Obama said Thursday that he was terminating the 22-year-old policy that has allowed Cubans who arrived on United States soil without visas to remain in the country and gain legal residency, an unexpected move long sought by the Cuban government.
        “Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”
        The move places a finishing touch on Mr. Obama’s efforts as president to end a half-century of hostility between the United States and Cubaand to establish normalized relations and diplomatic ties with a government American presidents have long sought to isolate and punish.

        The action came through a new Department of Homeland Securityregulation and a deal with the Cuban government, which Mr. Obama said had agreed to accept the return of its citizens.
        “What we’ve agreed to is that the past is past, and the future will be different,” said Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security secretary. “This is us repealing a policy unique to Cuba given the nature of the relationship 20 years ago, which is very different right now.”
        The so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which dates to 1995, owes its name to its unusual rules, which require Cubans caught trying to reach the United States by sea to return home, yet allow those who make it onto American soil to stay and eventually apply for legal, permanent residency.
        It was one way in which the United States tried to weaken Fidel Castro’s government, by welcoming tens of thousands of Cubans fleeing repression. In recent years, however, it has become a magnet for economic refugees, enticing many Cubans to make a perilous journey to the United States, where they enjoy a status unlike migrants from any other country.
        “The exceptionalism of the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy toward Cuba is a relic of the Cold War, and this decision by the administration is really its final effort to normalize an area of interaction between Cuba and the United States, migration, that is clearly in need of normalization,” said Peter Kornbluh, a co-author of “Back Channel to Cuba,” which recounts the secret negotiations between the United States and Cuban governments that forged the policy.
        But the change drew sharp criticism from opponents of Mr. Obama’s move to thaw United States relations with Cuba, who argued it would reward dictators in Cuba, ignoring their human rights abuses.
        “Today’s announcement will only serve to tighten the noose the Castro regime continues to have around the neck of its own people,” Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said in a statement. He said Congress had not been consulted on the move, and he added, “The Obama administration seeks to pursue engagement with the Castro regime at the cost of ignoring the present state of torture and oppression, and its systematic curtailment of freedom.”
        Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, who led clandestine negotiations that produced the 2014 opening, said most Cubans who came to the United States in the past “absolutely had to leave” Cuba “for political purposes.” Now, he said, the flow is largely of people seeking greater economic opportunity. Ending the policy, he added, is a reflection of Mr. Obama’s view that, ultimately, the rise of a new generation of Cubans pressing for change in their own country is vital to bringing about change there.
        “It’s important that Cuba continue to have a young, dynamic population that are agents of change,” Mr. Rhodes said.
        Jorge Mas, the chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation, said the changes would force Cuba’s leaders to be more responsive to their citizens. “People may be initially upset at not being able to have this way of getting out of Cuba, but ultimately, the solution for Cuba is people fighting for change in Cuba,” Mr. Mas said.
        The change in policy essentially guts the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which assumed that Cubans were political refugees who needed protection and allowed those who remained in the United States for more than a year to become legal residents.
        Obama administration officials urged Congress on Thursday to repeal the measure, but in the interim, by eliminating the policy that automatically afforded parole to Cubans arriving in the United States, they have essentially denied Cuban migrants the opportunity to take advantage of its benefits.
        Cuba, likewise, still has a law in place that denies re-entry to migrants once they have been gone for four years or more; Mr. Rhodes said officials in Havana have pledged to repeal it once the United States Congress scraps the Cuban Adjustment Act.
        Cubans who believe they will be persecuted if they return home will still be permitted to apply for political asylum when they reach the United States.
        According to the agreement, which was signed on Thursday in Havana, the Cuban government said it would accept 2,746 people who fled in the Mariel boatlift of 1980 back into the country, and consider accepting back others on a case-by-case basis.
        The Obama administration also eliminated the Cuban Medical Parole program, in which Cuban medical professionals stationed in international missions could defect and get fast-tracked visas to the United States.
        Obama administration officials had initially said they were not planning to change the policy after efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. But the thaw prompted speculation that once diplomatic relations resumed — as they did in 2015 — the arrangement would end. On Thursday, the officials said they had deliberately played down talk of revising the policy for fear of setting off an even larger exodus from the island nation.
        The number of Cubans trying to arrive by sea surged after the United States and Cuba announced the decision to restore diplomatic relations in 2014. In the 2014 fiscal year, almost 4,000 Cubans either landed or were caught. Two years later, the number shot up to 7,411, according to the Coast Guard.
        The number of Cubans who have since begun to arrive in the United States by land has also soared in recent years. The number of Cubans who arrived at the Southwest border has increased more than fivefold since 2009. Last year, almost 55,000 Cubans arrived nationwide, the Department of Homeland Security said.
        Kevin Appleby of the Center for Migration Studies of New York praised the specific change, while questioning the broader rules covering asylum. “The good news is that it ensures equal treatment between Cubans and asylum-seekers from other nations,” he said. “The bad news is that our asylum system is broken and does not afford adequate due process and protection to those who need it.”
        Phil Peters, president of the Cuba Research Center, said that the number of Cubans entering the United States is actually much higher because tens of thousands more overstay their visitor visas and still others migrate legally.
        “This is a favor to Trump because it’s a tough measure to take, but it’s the right measure to take,” Mr. Peters said. “These are economic migrants coming here that, unlike any other nationality, get a big package of government benefits without any justification.”
        There was a mixed reaction among Cubans in Havana to news of the sudden change in policy. Some said they felt its repeal was long overdue. Others thought the impact would be widely felt among Cubans still hoping to leave their island.
        Michel, 33, who declined to give his last name for fear of running afoul of the government, said he tried to escape on a makeshift boat in the early 2000s, but the vessel broke down halfway to the Florida Keys.
        Since then, he has given up on his desire to move to the United States. But he knows many Cubans who still hope to leave and who would be devastated by the change in policy.
        “This is going to make a lot of people’s lives very hard,” he said.
        Alberto Herrero, 58, a high school biology teacher, applauded the move by the Obama administration, saying the previous regulation was “an unfair law. It’s unfair to the rest of the world’s people, especially those in Latin America.”
        “It’s exclusive to us, and that’s not fair to the world,” he said, adding that he hoped the removal of the policy was a signal of a re-evaluation of other outdated measures taken by the Americans against Cuba.
        “Maybe other restrictions will be lifted, like the embargo,” he added.



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        18)  With Electricity in Short Supply, 10,000 Protest in Gaza, Defying Hamas



        JABALIYA, Gaza Strip — The nearly two million residents of Gaza have been suffering through a cold winter of crippling power cuts, receiving electricity for only three or four hours a day.
        The popular anger over the cuts erupted on Thursday in a large protest.
        In a rare display of defiance against the Hamas authorities who control the Palestinian territory, about 10,000 people took to the streets in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. They marched toward the offices of an electricity company, chanting slogans against Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, as well as against the rival Fatah party and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.
        “Oh, Haniya and Abbas, we are being trampled!” people shouted.
        Outside the electricity company, protesters hurled stones and burned tires as the Hamas police fired their weapons into the air to disperse the crowd.
        The protest was one of the largest unauthorized demonstrations in the Gaza Strip in the decade since Hamas took full control of the enclave.
        The political schism between Gaza and the West Bank has compounded the misery for many residents of the Gaza Strip, who already face tough restrictions from Israel and Egypt on crossing the territory’s borders.
        Divisions and arguments over taxation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have contributed to the cuts — a perennial problem in Gaza that has recently worsened, with rolling power interruptions that once lasted 12 to 16 hours a day now stretching to 20 or 21 hours.
        Most of the population is too poor to run private generators, given the scarcity and price of fuel, and those that have them use them sparingly.
        “I look at the sky but even the sky in Gaza has no stars,” said Ahmed Mohareb, 19, a student who was demonstrating. “I cannot read or study in my home, and even when I go out into the street there is no light.”
        Iyad al-Buzom, an Interior Ministry spokesman in Gaza, said in a statement that the police had acted on Thursday to protect the electricity company from “vandalism.”
        Smaller protests had been building all week. Hamas security forces on Wednesday detained Adel Al-Mashoukhi, a comedian and singer, hours after he posted on Facebook a video of himself cursing the lack of electricity, as well as “no jobs, no border crossings, no food, no water,” and shouting, “Enough, Hamas! Enough, Hamas!” By Thursday night the video had nearly 300,000 views.
        The Palestinian Center for Human Rights based in Gaza said Mr. Mashoukhi had been arrested by the military police at his home in Rafah, in southern Gaza. The rights group said he had been arrested twice before after making other videos critical of Hamas.
        A close friend and neighbor of Mr. Mashoukhi said by telephone that the comedian “loves art and songs more than Hamas and its military,” and that Mr. Mashoukhi was “fed up of being without electricity and being treated like a sheep.” The friend requested anonymity for fear of retribution by Hamas’s security apparatus.
        An Interior Ministry official said that Mr. Mashoukhi, aside from being a comedian, received a salary from the ministry as a member of the security apparatus, and that he was arrested for disciplinary violations, as well as a lack of commitment to the performance of his duties.
        Gaza requires up to 470 megawatts of power per day — with demand increasing when people use heaters during the winter — but it is producing or receiving barely a third of that amount, according to officials.
        The Gaza power plant, bombed by Israel in 2006 during fighting between Israel and Hamas, has long been working at half capacity, in part because of funding shortages that limit fuel purchases. It has been producing only 60 megawatts since 2013, according to the United Nations office for humanitarian affairs in the region.
        In addition, Israel supplies 120 megawatts and Egypt up to 30 megawatts, but the flow from these lines is sometimes disrupted for technical reasons.
        Many Gaza residents do not pay their electricity bills, leaving the electricity companies in debt. The Palestinian Authority has also been reducing the tax exemptions it grants to Hamas to purchase fuel for the Gaza power plant, increasing the cost. Authority officials, for their part, have blamed Hamas for imposing its own taxes and tariffs.
        Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, blamed the Palestinian Authority for delays in upgrading the electricity supply lines to Gaza. Addressing Gaza residents at a news conference he said, “I suffer like you. I don’t have electricity in my home.”




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        19)  Kunduz Attack in November Killed 33 Civilians, U.S. Military Says



        KABUL, Afghanistan — A United States military investigation into claims of civilian casualties during a joint operation by Afghan and American forces found that 33 civilians were killed and 27 others were wounded during a firefight and airstrikes in Kunduz Province last year, American military officials said on Thursday.
        In early November, Afghan Special Forces, accompanied by American military advisers, came under intense fire during an operation to arrest Taliban commanders in Boz Qandahari, a village in Kunduz, the United States military command in Afghanistan said in a statement. They called in American airstrikes, which resulted in some of the civilian casualties.
        Two American soldiers and three Afghan commandos were killed, and four American soldiers and 11 commandos were wounded, the statement said.
        “Regardless of the circumstances, I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives,” said Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the commander of United States forces in Afghanistan. “On this occasion, the Taliban chose to hide amongst civilians and then attacked Afghan and U.S. forces.”
        “I wish to assure President Ghani and the people of Afghanistan that we will take all possible measures to protect Afghan civilians,” he added, referring to Ashraf Ghani.
        After the battle in Kunduz, a New York Times reporter counted 22 bodies being brought into the city on the way to the hospital there. Among them were 14 children, four women, two older men and two men of fighting age. They were accompanied by a large group of protesters from Boz Qandahari, the village that was hit.
        Residents of Boz Qandahari, however, said that the investigation had underestimated the number of civilians killed and that the claim of Taliban firing at the forces from their homes was not true.
        “My father was a shopkeeper — he had a grocery shop close to our house. My brother and I were farmers. We had never had a weapon. I and no one in my family knows how to use a weapon,” said Mohammed Reza, 29, who lost seven family members in the bombing and was stuck in the rubble of their house for hours. “I lost my father, my brother, my brother’s wife, my son and three of my nephews who were between 1 and 7 years old.”
        Dad Mohammed, 45, said he was aware of at least 37 killed among his own relatives.
        “There were no Taliban among us, there was no Taliban in our house. Except for one former Talib, who was disabled and had lost a leg and he was our cousin,” he said. “He was killed along with his father, his wife and five children. His brother was also killed.”
        Mr. Mohammed said the Taliban stronghold in the area was obvious, but it was far from the areas that had been bombed.
        “This was an act of oppression,” he said. “We are also humans. It should be investigated by an international court, and we need to be compensated for our loss.”

        Kunduz is also where a United States military gunship mistakenly targeted a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in October 2015, killing at least 42 people and destroying much of the hospital.

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