Thursday, January 19, 2017

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2017

Very Sad News from Amnesty International:

Native American Activist Leonard Peltier Denied Clemency


Native American activist Leonard Peltier was denied clemency by President Obama today after more than four decades in prison.
“We are deeply saddened by the news that President Obama will not let Leonard go home,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Despite serious concerns about the fairness of legal proceedings that led to his trial and conviction, Peltier was imprisoned for more than 40 years. He has always maintained his innocence. The families of the FBI agents who were killed during the 1975 confrontation between the FBI and American Indian Movement (AIM) members have a right to justice, but justice will not be served by Peltier’s continued imprisonment.”
“Leonard Peltier is 72 years old and in failing health. The failure to act may have condemned him to die in prison.”
http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/native-american-activist-leonard-peltier-denied-clemency

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Chelsea Manning Support Network
President Obama Commutes Chelsea's Sentence!
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President Obama Commutes Chelsea's Sentence!!!

Chelsea Manning Support Network
January 17, 2017
“Today’s victory is a victory for all those who stood with Chelsea Manning.”
President Obama has commuted all but four months of the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former US Army Intelligence Analyst serving 35-years for releasing classified information. Chelsea’s attorney Nancy Hollander, who spoke with President Obama’s counsel earlier today, confirms that “Chelsea will walk out of Fort Leavenworth a free woman in four months, on May 17th.”
The Chelsea Manning Support Network applauds this decision by outgoing President Barack Obama, and extends our heartfelt gratitude. A commutation can not be reversed by a future president.
“Today’s fantastic news goes a long way to making amends for the brutal treatment Chelsea was illegally subjected to while awaiting trial at the Quantico Marine Brig. It’s tragic that Chelsea had to spend 7-years imprisoned for releasing documents that should never have been classified in the first place, and were clearly in the public interest,” stated Chelsea Manning Support Network co-founder Jeff Paterson. “All of us who worked on Chelsea’s behalf are overjoyed.”
The Chelsea Manning Support Network was founded in the weeks following Chelsea’s arrest in Iraq in May 2010. The Network covered 100% of the legal fees associated with her pretrial hearing, court martial trial, and raised a significant amount toward the legal costs of her appeal. Many days during her trial, the courtroom was packed with supporters wearing “truth” shirts.
“Over the last few years, I’ve come to know Chelsea as a deeply intelligent, sensitive woman who doesn’t deserve to spend decades in prison. I often feared that any more time behind bars would be devastating for Chelsea, or potentially even lethal, especially with President-Elect Trump taking office. Soon, she’ll have a chance to live the life she’s been denied for almost seven years,” Rainey Reitman, co-founder of the Chelsea Manning Support Network.
In addition to fundraising, the organization worked to raise awareness of Chelsea’s case. The Support Network held hundreds of rallies around the world, from San Francisco and London. Chelsea’s supporters became regular participants in yearly pride parades the last several years. In addition, the Support Network placed billboards in Los Angeles and Kansas City, ran a full-page New York Times ad, and helped generate over one million petition signatures in support of Chelsea’s release.
"In conversations Chelsea and I had while she was imprisoned, I learned that she’s not only driven by principles, but that she believes in the foundations of America’s government. She dreamed about attending graduate school, and helping to research ways that government could use technology to improve transparency and public participation. Whatever she chooses to do now, the world is better for having a bright young person free to pursue a meaningful life," noted former campaign manager Emma Cape.
“I believe that the support for Chelsea demonstrated that whistleblowers who oppose injustice will not face powerful government retribution alone,” declared Rainey Reitman. “Today’s victory is a victory for all those who stood with Chelsea Manning.”




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BREAKING NEWS on Mumia Abu-Jamal:

ALERT:

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has filed the (predicted) appeal of Mumia's recent court victory, which granted his right to the curative drug for his Hepatitis-C infection. 

See Mumia"s comment below

Join the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal 
for MLK Day in Oakland:

_  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _
THE DOC APPEALS
[col. writ. 1/14/17] ©'17 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Several days ago, the Pa. DOC appealed the Jan. 3rd US District Court ruling that granted an injunction against the DOC's so-called 'protocol' covering hepatitis treatment (or should I say lack of treatment?).
The state waited almost 10 days to file an appeal saying they didn't have the time needed to obey a court order that gave them 2 weeks (14 days) to begin the process.
They also ignored the court's order that the DOC was enjoined from using its 'protocol'--they continue to use it, as if no court order was ever issued.
If that ain't contempt of court, what can it be called?
The State violates constitutional rights daily--because it can. What's another court order?
To them, it ain't worth the paper it's printed on.
From the very beginning the DOC has spit in the eye of the judge. They've filed false documents. They've made misleading claims. They tried to intimidate him.
Why should they now be any different?
And yet, the battle goes on, to save the lives of thousands of prisoners in Pa. dungeons.
--©'17maj.
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After last month's successful Mumia Action Coalition rally and march in Oakland, the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal is calling all activists to join the labor contingent for the MLK march on Monday January 16. We will be gathering in front of the State Building at 16th St. & Clay in downtown Oakland at 10:45 AM and then moving to Oscar Grant Plaza around the corner to join the main march. We'll have a large Free Mumia banner and posters, but if you have your own bring that.  Let's make Mumia's recent courtroom victories a reality by organizing a spirited contingent demanding his immediate release from prison after 35 years on slow death row! 

For more info: call Gerald at 510-417-1252

About the recently appealed Court victory:

On January 3rd, a federal court granted Mumia Abu-Jamal's petition for immediate and effective treatment for his Hepatitis-C infection, which has hitherto been denied him. The judge struck down Pennsylvania's protocols as "deliberate indifference to serious medical need."

This is a rare and important win for innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal in a court system that has routinely subjected him to the "Mumia exception," i.e., a refusal of justice despite court precedents in his favor. Thousands of Hep-C-infected prisoners throughout Pennsylvania and the US stand to benefit from this decision, provided it is upheld. 

But, it is up to us to make sure that this decision is not over-turned on appeal--something the State of Pennsylvania will most likely seek.

Hundreds demonstrated in both Philadelphia and Oakland on December 9th to demand both this Hep-C treatment for prisoners, and "Free Mumia Now!" In Oakland, the December 9th Free Mumia Coalition rallied in downtown and then marched on the OPD headquarters. The Coalition brought over two dozen groups together to reignite the movement to free Mumia; and now we need your support to expand and build for more actions in this new, and likely very dangerous year for political prisoners. 

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"Labor Rising Against Trump"

Dear Friends,

Monday, January 16, 2017 was a success in the fight to reclaim Martin Luther King's legacy as we were joined by several thousand in the street in Oakland for the "Reclaim King's Radical Legacy March." To continue to build momentum in raising awareness about King's legacy, we invite you to join "Labor Rising Against Trump" to learn more about King's support for the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike during the final days of his life in the Spring of 1968. This film explores King's historic links with labor as he believed that economic justice and organized workplaces were central to the liberation of African Americans and all working people during the Civil Rights movement.

The film will be shown on Wednesday (1/18/17) at the Omni Commons Disco Room (4799 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland) at 7pm. Requested Donation of $5 (no one turned away for lack of funds). Snacks and light refreshments will be provided.

The link to the Film Screening Event on IndyBay.org is found below:

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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."

**********************

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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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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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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Dear supporters,
We have been busy mobilizing for thousands to join us at the mass resistance to Trump,  #J20Resist –  j20resist.org.
So far we have
  • Initiated buses and carpools from over 15 cities to march at #J20Resist in DC, along with actions across the U.S.
  • Launched a call for global actions across the world against Trump on January 20th
  • We worked with local groups in DisruptJ20 to secure permits to rally and planned  a march on the White House during Trump's parade.
  • Plans are in place for legal observers, jail solidarity teams, if there are any arrests during J20, medical teams, mass housing at local churches and working with the press as best we can to get our revolutionary message out.

Our D.C. Plans are to rally at Union Station, at "Anti" Columbus Circle starting at 6 am and march at 10 am to the White House. We will have an ending rally McPhearson Square, a block from the White House.

Now more than ever, we urgently need your support to make this mobilization possiblegofundme.com/protest-trumps-inauguration. A donation of $25 will get another person a seat from our buses from New York and Philadelphia. A $60 donation can help us to mobilize people from North Carolina and Detroit.

Please, if you cannot make it to DC, consider making a donation to this important movement. We need it now more than ever.

While the Democrats want divert the rage against Trump into a stronger, pro-war stance against Russia, the people of the U.S. must continue to fight independently of both parties for what we desperately need. We need jobs, health care, education, justice for migrants and people of color, an end to militarism and war and more. We don't buy the fake news and the outright lies meant to distract us from our real task, creating a revolution to end the rule of the two parties of capitalism.

Let the Anti-Trump struggle blossom into a struggle against the entire system of capitalism, white supremacy, LGBTQ bigotry, oppression of women, attacks on migrants, police terror, union-busting, and more!

This massive mobilization in D.C. and all around the country is a step in building the unity we need to fight Trump and the whole capitalist system. J20Resist is working in participation with the following groups, and many more:


BAYAN Philippine Coalition,
Committee to Stop FBI Repression,
DisruptJ20,
Freedom Road Socialist Organization,
International Action Center,
Michigan Emergency Coalition Against War & Injustice,
Moratorium Now,
Pakistan USA Freedom Forum,
Peoples Power Assembly,
Philly Real Justice,
Samidoun Palestine Prisoners Network,
Solidarity Center,
Solidarity Iran,
Students for a Democratic Society,
Team Solidarity,
United American Indians of New England,
United National Antiwar Coalition,
USW Local 8751 Boston School Bus Drivers Union,
Why Accountability,
Women's Fightback Network,
Workers World Party
Your support wil make this mobilization possible 
gofundme.com/protest-trumps-inauguration
See plans around the country and internationally and send additional info at J20Resist.org

You are subscribed to IAC Solidarity Center action alerts.
Our mailing address is:
IAC Solidarity Center
147 W 24th St
2nd FL
New York, NY 10011

Add us to your address book @solidarityweb.com

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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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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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)  Women's March Gives Boost to Start-Up for Bus Sharing
         JAN. 15, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/15/technology/womens-march-gives-boost-to-start-up-for-bus-sharing.html?ref=business





        2)  What Thomas Merton and Muhammad Ali Had in Common
         JAN. 17, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/opinion/what-thomas-merton-and-muhammad-ali-
        had-in-common.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module
        =opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-
        right-region&_r=0




        3)  As the Earth Shook, They Stood Firm
        4)  World's 8 Richest Have as Much Wealth as Bottom Half, Oxfam Says
        "How concentrated has wealth become in the globalized modern world? Here's one answer: Just eight of the richest people on earth own as much combined wealth as half the human race. ...Oxfam said, new data gathered by Credit Suisse about the global poor led it to lower its estimates of their assets, and revise its findings about how few rich men — the eight are all men — were needed to equal the wealth of 3.6 billion people."
         JAN. 16, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/world/eight-richest-wealth-oxfam.html?ref=world




        5)  Two Years, 31 Dead Construction Workers. New York Can Do Better.
         JAN. 16, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/opinion/2-years-31-dead-construction-workers-new-york-can-do-
        better.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion&action=click&contentCollection=nyregion
        &region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=10&pgtype=sectionfront




        6) Mourning Again in America
        JANUARY 17, 2017
        http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/17/mourning-again-in-america/




        7)  Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year




        8)  Trump Entering White House Unbent and Unpopular




        9)  Russia Extends Edward Snowden’s Asylum


        10)  Video of Fatally Wounded Teenager Sparks Palestinian Rage
        11)  Obama Commutes Sentence of F.A.L.N. Member Oscar Lopez Rivera




        12)  DAPL Cops Open Fire on Prayer Circle with Rubber Bullets, Shoot Water Protectors in the Back
         January 17, 2017

        http://thefreethoughtproject.com/dapl-cops-water-protectors-rubber-bullets/




        13)  For Trump’s Nominees, a Billionaires’ Guide to Running the Government
        By 

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/donald-trump-billionaires-cabinet-nominees.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0




        14)   U.S. Bombs ISIS Camps in Libya





        15)  Student Loan Collector Cheated Millions, Lawsuits Say





        16)  Isidro Baldenegro, Mexican Environmental Activist, Is Shot to Death



        17)  Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Nominee, Failed to Disclose $100 Million in Assets














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        1)  Women's March Gives Boost to Start-Up for Bus Sharing
         JAN. 15, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/15/technology/womens-march-gives-boost-to-start-up-for-bus-sharing.html?ref=business

        A few days after Donald J. Trump won the presidential election, the founders of Skedaddle, a bus start-up, began seeing some unusual activity.
        Their tiny company, which makes an app that lets individuals collectively commission private bus rides, was suddenly hit by a surge in bookings. Some of the bookings originated from places where Skedaddle has done little business before, including Wichita, Kan.; Madison, Wis.; and Macon, Ga. All of the reservations were for travelers to arrive the same day, Jan. 21, at the same destination: Washington.
        There was another twist. Many of those booking the bus trips were women.
        The Skedaddle founders realized that the prospective riders were all going to Washington to be part of the Women's March on Washington. That is an event being held on Saturday, the day after Mr. Trump's inauguration, where people plan to gather to send a message about upholding their civil rights.
        "We're bringing people to D.C. from as far away as Kansas," said Adam Nestler, one of the founders of Skedaddle, which is based in Boston and New York City. The company said that on Friday and Saturday, it will transport more than 11,000 people to the Women's March, or about 5 percent of the 200,000 people expected to attend. That is the largest ever two-day period of business for the 19-person company.
        The spike in bookings makes Skedaddle one of the unlikely beneficiaries of the presidential inauguration. Across Washington, hotels and restaurants are set to be packed over the coming weekend, and other companies are also trumpeting what they expect to be a rise in their business. Airbnb, the online room rental service, said on Friday that it has more than 15,100 guests booked in Washington for inauguration weekend. And Uber said it has been working overtime to ensure that its ride-hailing services work smoothly in Washington during inauguration week.
        Other bus start-ups are also tapping into the inauguration demand. Skedaddle's main rival is Rally, which was started in 2010 to transport people to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, a political gathering hosted by the comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Rally, which provided bus transportation to specific events but now lets people make their own routes, said it is bringing 50,000 people to the Women's March, as well as buses of Trump supporters to Inauguration Day.
        "This is a once-in-a-generation event in terms of numbers and no single organization can move them all," said Numaan Akram, co-founder and chief executive of Rally.
        Unrecognized tech start-ups have been lifted by presidential inaugurations before. In 2009, for President Obama's first inauguration, Airbnb was largely unknown and the practice of paying to sleep in a stranger's home was relatively uncommon. But most Washington hotels were sold out and word of Airbnb spread quickly among people desperate for a place to stay. Airbnb now operates in more than 34,000 cities worldwide and is valued at $30 billion.
        Skedaddle may see some similar inauguration benefits. The company was founded in 2015 by Mr. Nestler, his brother Craig, Brad Werntz and Louis Harwood, who had met through a combination of school and previous work at start-ups. None of the founders are over the age of 29, and this is the first company any of them have started.
        The four founded Skedaddle to allow people to create bus routes to wherever they please, with a mission of letting users "ride to amazing destinations with inspiring people." Once a route has at least 10 people, Skedaddle works with a local transportation company to provide the appropriate van or bus. The company works with higher-end, luxury transportation companies.
        Skedaddle makes money by securing a discounted rate from the transportation providers for bringing in a higher volume of customers. The average price of a ride on Skedaddle is $45 to $50. As a route fills with more people, the company's margins grow. Skedaddle has raised more than $3 million from investors.
        Riders can book, track and rate their transportation providers on Skedaddle, just as they can with Uber or Lyft. But in contrast with Uber and Lyft, all of the vehicles and drivers that Skedaddle contracts with are licensed and insured for commercial operations.
        While Skedaddle aims to someday replace established bus services like Greyhound and Peter Pan, much of its early business has focused on getting people out of cities for trips like weekend getaways. It has partnerships with 17 ski resorts and with music festivals like Bonnaroo, and it has been moving an average of 50,000 riders a month.
        "Today Skedaddle appeals to self-selecting groups, like music lovers and skiers," said Paige Craig, an investor in Skedaddle who was also an early investor in Lyft. "That inherently social aspect of the company is a big advantage."
        The Women's March on Washington is just the sort of grass-roots, viral event that Skedaddle was built for. The march began with a Facebook post by Teresa Shook, a retired lawyer in Hawaii who, the day after the election, urged women to make their presence known in Washington. With the march and other inauguration activities happening, transportation emerged as a key issue for the event's organizers.
        "When we were trying to hire charter buses, there were big questions about insurance and upfront payments," said Lauren North, an organizer of the march who is based in Louisville, Ky. "We were having a hard time moving all of these people to D.C."
        Ms. North had not heard of Skedaddle until someone mentioned the app during an organizing meeting. She said about 800 people from Kentucky are now going to the march and nearly half of those will use Skedaddle.
        "Skedaddle has been a huge help," Ms. North said. "It means something to us that they share our values and are proud to support the cause."
        Skedaddle is politically agnostic and would have transported Trump supporters to the inauguration, but none of the company's employees voted for Mr. Trump and Mr. Nestler said his company is proud to support the marchers.
        As more people booked seats to the march, Skedaddle employees scrambled to keep up with demand, working longer hours and on weekends. Everyone took on additional roles, with many pulled in to help with customer service. Women's March organizers and bus riders have been punctuating their emails to Skedaddle with expressions of relief and heart emojis.
        So huge was the bookings surge for Skedaddle — the company had interest from thousands more riders than are currently booked — that in early January, it cut off the number of new routes to Washington. The company said it did not want to run the risk of signing up so many people that it could not serve them all well.
        "The march has opened doors for us in new places," said Lindsay Dougherty, Skedaddle's marketing director.

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        2)  What Thomas Merton and Muhammad Ali Had in Common
         JAN. 17, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/opinion/what-thomas-merton-and-muhammad-ali-
        had-in-common.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module
        =opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-
        right-region&_r=0



        On an afternoon in 1958, near the shopping district at Walnut and Fourth Streets in Louisville, Ky., Thomas Merton was moving about inconspicuously gathering supplies for the Abbey at Gethsemani. The monastery, established in 1848 by the Order of Trappist Cistercians, is in Nelson County, south of Louisville near Bardstown. It is where Merton lived as a Trappist monk beginning in 1941.
        Merton's autobiography "The Seven Storey Mountain," published in 1948, and other works on interfaith dialogue, peace and nonviolence had made him an international best-selling author. The Washington Post would later call him the most significant Catholic writer of the 20th century. In an address to Congress, Pope Francis described Merton as a thinker "who opened new horizons for souls and for the church" and "a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions."
        That afternoon on Walnut Street Merton had a revelation that, according to his biographer, William H. Shannon, caused him to rethink the separateness of his life at the abbey. Merton experienced "the glorious destiny that simply comes from being a human person and from being united with, not separated from, the rest of the human race." It was as if, Merton himself said, "I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts." Merton would emerge from the confines of the abbey and become a significant figure in the 1960s social justice movement.

        Twenty years later, in 1978, Walnut Street was renamed Muhammad AliBoulevard, after my late husband. In 2008, the intersection at Fourth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard was dedicated as "Thomas Merton Square." It would have been difficult to predict in 1958 that the divergent paths of the two men would someday be merged in the permanent markers of the same city street. At the time of Merton's revelation, 16-year-old Muhammad was across town delivering his own revelation to a series of opponents on his way to a gold medal and the World Heavyweight Championship.
        But by the 1960s, their voices in support of peace and justice began to merge. Both men had been shaken from their respective sanctuaries of literary and athletic attainment by the harsh realities of a nation deeply divided by war, race and social inequality. In 1968, during his last days, Merton set off for China and India to visit the Dalai Lama and other faith leaders concerned about the conditions of the world. By this time Muhammad was standing by the courage of his convictions in his refusal to go to Vietnam, a position ultimately vindicated in a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court.
        It is the convergence of their message of faith that bears noting as we mark what would have been Muhammad's 75th birthday on Jan. 17. Over time, Muhammad's deep, evolving devotion to God, whom as a Muslim he called Allah, came to be rooted in his love of all people. Boxing had taken him around the world and it opened his eyes to the beauty in diversity. Akin to Merton's revelation, Muhammad was fond of saying, "the key to a man's soul is in his heart."
        Like Merton, whom he never met, Muhammad was naturally drawn to the power in all faiths and at his direction his memorial service included an imam and an Islamic scholar, two Baptist ministers, two Jewish rabbis, a Roman Catholic priest, a Native American tribal chief and faith leader, and a Buddhist monk. Muhammad famously said, "Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different namesbut they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths."
        As America stands divided once again in the aftermath of a polarizing election, we would do well to follow the example of Thomas Merton and Muhammad Ali in their approach to diversity, pluralism and faith. Regardless of our differences, we share a common humanity, something that will always bind us to each other. We must find ways to reconnect to each other by developing empathy and by giving back. In truth, America has always faced division in varying degrees. The test for America has always been how she manages her division, how she finds and clings to a common purpose, and how she spins the tapestry of her diversity.
        Neither the monk nor the boxer relied on political leaders to set their course in matters of justice, equality and tolerance. Neither man was elected to high office, but their messages in print, in words and in deeds reverberated across the globe and in the highest chambers of power. Although one was a scholar and the other bore no papered credential, they each challenged convention or, as Pope Francis said of Merton, "the certitudes of the time."
        Muhammad was fond of the Buddhist expression, "The only constant in the universe is change." He drew on those words to embrace each day and each person he met. Merton said, "we do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone — we find it with another. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony."

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        3)  As the Earth Shook, They Stood Firm
        In January 1967, when the First and 25th Infantry Divisions of the United States Army began Operation Cedar Falls, their all-out offensive against the Communist strongholds of the "Iron Triangle" northwest of Saigon, Vo Thi Mo, 20, was ready.
        Born in Cu Chi, in the middle of the Cedar Falls battle zone, Ms. Mo had been in the fight against American troops and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam — the South Vietnamese force, known as ARVN — since the age of 13, when she helped to build the extensive tunnel system that southern Communist forces, known as the National Liberation Front (and to its enemies as the Vietcong), used as barracks, command center and communications network.
        By 1967 she was a "deputy of hamlet combat," and 50 years ago this month she led three commando squads against a battalion of the 25th Division.
        "I had never been at any military school," said Ms. Mo, now 70 and still living in a small house in Cu Chi. "As a girl, I was so scared when I cocked a gun for the first time. But, you know, I learned a lot on the battlefields."
        That poorly equipped, poorly supplied Communist forces were able to resist a sustained mechanized onslaught was a testament to the resilience, adaptability and tenacity of fighters like Ms. Mo. Their ability to survive, at a terrible cost, and learn from the experience helped shape their strategy for the rest of the war.
        To understand the experiences of Vietnamese on both sides of the war, I've studied hundreds of Vietcong reports and communications, soldiers' diaries and letters, captured by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam and archived at Texas Tech University. I've also conducted dozens of interviews in Vietnam in which former soldiers like Ms. Mo reflected on the war, and Cedar Falls in particular. Besides Ms. Mo, the other interviewees spoke on condition that their initials, but not their names, would be published.
        Even a half-century later, Col. Q.T.N., an 81-year-old former regiment commander and one of the few survivors of a division that was considered among the most hardened units of the Vietcong, shuddered as he recalled Cedar Falls in an interview at his home in Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City.
        After bomb and rocket attacks from B-52s, jet fighters, helicopters and heavy artillery secured the area, American tanks and troops came in "to search for and destroy us," Colonel Q.T.N. said. "The lands of Cu Chi, Ben Cat and Ben Suc" — villages at the perimeter of the Iron Triangle — "were razed as if they were some evils peeled off the skins of our body. Therefore, we called the operation Peeling the Shell of the Earth."
        He added: "Although they could not eliminate our leadership, they destroyed our bases, especially war supplies. To be honest, they created many difficulties for us and established a secure perimeter for themselves in the northwest of Saigon."
        Like the colonel, Mr. Q.H. has traumatic memories of the offensive. Born in Cu Chi in 1948 and educated at the University of Saigon, he went to the jungle to join the local Communists' department of propaganda and training.
        "The areas around Ben Cat and Ben Suc shook violently like there was an earthquake," Mr. Q.H. said. "Because all the food supplies were captured or destroyed, we had nothing to eat and drink. I don't know how and why I was able to survive the rain of bombs and the storm of fire pouring on us."
        Among the 350,000 documents that American and South Vietnamese forces captured during the operation are many showing that starvation was at the heart of the Communists' concerns. Because the offensive was so fierce, their comrades near the village of Phuoc Hiep "did not dare to visit to collect rice," Vietcong officials wrote in reports in mid-January 1967. Living under American surveillance after being relocated to a "New Life Hamlet," the people in Thanh Hoa did not sell rice anymore, the officials wrote, "so we found it very difficult to survive."
        Many Vietcong escaped the ruined tunnels and hid along rivers and canals. "The Vietcong usually sank themselves in the mud along the canal banks," a deserter told his interrogators, according to a report I found in the archives. "They had learned, from experience, that South Vietnamese soldiers would not check the canal banks very closely."
        But escape often proved impossible, and casualties rose. The Saigon River became a floating graveyard. In a memoir, Le Dinh An, a veteran of a South Vietnamese unit, wrote of "a river full of death."
        "Cadavers swelled, the men faced down in the water, while the women faced the sky," he wrote. "When we moved into the new areas, we continued to see new dead bodies floating on the rivers, the banks and paddies. The corpses showed up everywhere."
        By the end of Operation Cedar Falls, American officials said 750 Vietcong were killed, along with 72 Americans and 11 South Vietnamese.
        In their official writing, the Communists claimed that during the 19 days of the operation, their forces had resolutely fought the enemy advance of 30,000 United States and South Vietnamese troops. In reality, American and South Vietnamese troops faced only skirmishes against small units, not the main forces of the Vietcong.
        Colonel Q.T.N. admitted that his elite division — which he referred to as the "Vietnamese Big Red One," in homage to the American First Infantry Division — did not engage with the Americans during this operation.
        "Our policy was to avoid the enemy and protect our force," he said. "Only our local guerrilla units coped with the enemies, mainly by hit-and-run tactics. They also concealed their fighters during the day while moving and ambushing the American soldiers at night."
        That was a matter of necessity, said Mr. U.V.M., a former guerrilla at Cu Chi, born in 1947. "How could we fight them while we did not have enough weapons?" he said in an interview. "We avoided them from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. every day because during that time they carried out their search and destroy missions. We could have been killed anytime if they found us. Our commune was located on the soft ground, so we did not have tunnels. It was more difficult for us to face the bombings and rockets. We secretly sheltered in the bamboo hedges."
        Still, the guerrilla fighters were able to blunt the American attacks, especially in areas around Cu Chi.
        Young Ms. Mo's readiness to resist there came from more than just her years of training and experience. Communist officials had warned her what was ahead before the first American troops entered her hamlet.
        "We knew when, where and how many days they would carry out their operation," she said, smiling. "We had a lot of agents who worked at the Dong Du base of the 25th Division, and in Saigon, who collected information and sent it to us."
        Still, resistance was difficult. "How could our 30 gunners, including six or seven sisters" — fellow female soldiers — "fight a battalion of the Tropic Lightning Division with their helicopters, artillery and planes?" Ms. Mo asked, using a nickname for the 25th Infantry Division. "If we fought them as a regular team in a conventional war, we would be swallowed by their forces."
        Instead she established elaborate defenses, beginning with anti-tank mines. Her fighters used a locally improvised anti-tank mine that was more effective than Soviet mines that worked only when a tank ran right over them. The jury-rigged mines used a remotely activated bamboo lever to propel the mine against the tank. They were devised with explosives from dud American shells gathered on the American Army base or on battlefields. "We stuffed the gunpowder into a galvanized pail or a machine-gun can," she said. "Our lever mines were very sensitive, so they could easily blast any vehicles."
        But that wasn't all, she said. "Next, we had an anti-tank ditch, then a spike-trap system, and finally bamboo barriers before our tunnels. So, their tanks could not overcome our anti-tank trenches and mines, while their troops were scared to come in. When they fired at us with cannons and B-52s, we hid in the tunnels. When their troops attacked with tanks, we came out to snipe at them."
        One reason for her tenacity was that, unknown to her enemies, a regional military command and a local Communist Party cell was garrisoned in her hamlet. "We saved our leadership until the operation concluded," she said.
        Despite her lethal efficiency, Ms. Mo did not dehumanize her foe: "I was not scared of the enemy. I fought against them to the end. I felt hatred toward them but I also saw their young men were to be pitied."
        A year before Cedar Falls, she recalled, she saw four soldiers from the First Division sitting in a clearing because they feared booby traps set under the trees. "They did not know they sat on a mine we made from a 105 millimeter cannon shell," she recalled. "My messenger boy wanted to kill them, but I resisted because I saw they cried as they looked at letters and pictures that I guessed came from their families. I felt sorry for them. My messenger boy asked me why I fought against the Americans but didn't kill them. He wanted to kill them so we would be awarded the Military Victory Medal. I told him, 'If you kill them, I will kill you!' I thought they might be students in their homeland but they were drafted, so they came here to fight. I did not kill them although I knew I could be disciplined."
        Even Mr. Q.H., the Communist propagandist, provided a surprisingly sympathetic view of the American military. "Frankly, we exaggerated stories of the brutal activities of the Americans and the numbers of American killed," he said. "At that time, we needed that talk in order to encourage our comrades on the battlefields."
        Mr. U.V.M., the former guerrilla at Cu Chi, concurred. "I harbored hatred for the U.S. Army because my brother was killed by them," he said. "But I recognized that American soldiers valued humanitarianism. When they saw our villagers, even our comrades, wounded they cared for all on the spot or sent them to the hospital immediately."
        While Cedar Falls provided these soldiers with insight into their enemy, it also provided the Communists with insights into themselves.
        Colonel Q.T.N. said that after Cedar Falls, National Liberation Front officials changed their strategies in the southeast battlefields and reorganized their forces in ascending levels — hamlet, village, commune and district combat units.
        "These units linked together to establish a combat system that could support each other effectively in containing and fighting against the Americans on the battlefields, including the Tet offensive of 1968," he said. Also, he added, instead of storing weapons that were sent from the north, all were delivered to the local units.
        "Therefore, when the Americans carried out next operations, they could not destroy our military supplies, while we had enough weapons to encounter them."
        The colonel remembers Cedar Falls with pride as well as horror. The American and South Vietnamese forces had little to show for their efforts in Cedar Falls, despite their overwhelming firepower and heavy Communist casualties. The tunnels were damaged but mostly not destroyed.
        "It was horrible, fierce," he said of the brutal standoff, "but glorious."
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        4)  World's 8 Richest Have as Much Wealth as Bottom Half, Oxfam Says
        "How concentrated has wealth become in the globalized modern world? Here's one answer: Just eight of the richest people on earth own as much combined wealth as half the human race. ...Oxfam said, new data gathered by Credit Suisse about the global poor led it to lower its estimates of their assets, and revise its findings about how few rich men — the eight are all men — were needed to equal the wealth of 3.6 billion people."
         JAN. 16, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/world/eight-richest-wealth-oxfam.html?ref=world



        How concentrated has wealth become in the globalized modern world? Here's one answer: Just eight of the richest people on earth own as much combined wealth as half the human race.
        That's a notable change from last year, when it was reckoned to take 62 of the superrich to match the assets of the 3.6 billion people in the poorer half of mankind.
        The charity Oxfam does the math each year and publishes its results just in time for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where many of the spectacularly wealthy are often among the attendees, along with diplomats, political figures, and business and cultural leaders. The Oxfam report on inequality is on the agenda for discussion at the forum.
        Oxfam bases its figures in part on Forbes's annual list of billionaires and the magazine's estimates of their wealth. This year, Oxfam said, new data gathered by Credit Suisse about the global poor led it to lower its estimates of their assets, and revise its findings about how few rich men — the eight are all men — were needed to equal the wealth of 3.6 billion people.
        Here are the eight, with their net worth as estimated by Forbes, whose annual survey depends on a range of sources:
        Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, led the list with a net worth of $75 billion. He is scheduled to speak at the forum in Davos this year.
        Amancio Ortega Gaona, the Spanish founder of the fashion company Inditex, best known for its oldest and biggest brand, Zara, has a net worth of $67 billion.
        Warren E. Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, $60.8 billion.
        Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecommunications magnate, $50 billion.
        Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, $45.2 billion.
        Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's creator, $44.6 billion.
        Lawrence J. Ellison, the founder of Oracle, $43.6 billion.
        Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and founder of the media and financial-data giant Bloomberg L.L.P., $40 billion.



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        5)  Two Years, 31 Dead Construction Workers. New York Can Do Better.
         JAN. 16, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/opinion/2-years-31-dead-construction-workers-new-york-can-do-
        better.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion&action=click&contentCollection=nyregion
        &region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=10&pgtype=sectionfront

        On Dec. 23, on the Upper East Side of New York City, yet another construction worker died. His name has not yet been released, but he was the 31st to die on the job in the city in the past two years. He was working on a nonunion work site, as were 28 of the 30 others. Fabian Para, who worked nearby, explained that "he was on the third floor, and he was wearing a harness but wasn't hooked to a cable, and when he fell, he just went down."
        Just three weeks earlier, Wilfredo Enriques fell to his death at the old Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. Deaths 27 and 28 occurred on Nov. 22, when a steel beam fell four stories at a Queens job site, crushing George Smith and Elizandro Enriquez Ramos. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the workers' deaths were a "tragedy" and that "we need to know, of course, right away whether it was mechanical, or was it human error? We don't know yet."
        Actually, we do know; it is abundantly clear: We are in the midst of a public health epidemic brought on by inadequate safety regulations and public inattention. Construction-safety lapses happen because it pays for companies to run the risk of letting them happen. When the dead are largely foreign born and, in many cases, undocumented, no one much cares.

        Spending in the construction industry is at a record high. And yet many contractors can't be bothered to pay for training programs and safety measures, even those required by law, such as installing "fall protection" systems like nets and railings. The federal agency tasked with enforcing such safety protocols, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is severely understaffed. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of building permits issued in New York City jumped by more than 18 percent, but the number of OSHA inspectors for all of New York State dropped by more than 13 percent (as of 2014, there were only 71 left in the state).
        Because there are so few inspectors, only a small fraction of construction sites are ever inspected. When sites are inspected, not surprisingly, OSHA finds a high level of violations. And even when sporadic inspections lead to fines for violations, the fines are too small to deter misconduct. According to records kept by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, a nonprofit group that lobbies for worker safety, of the city contractors that were inspected from 2009 to 2014, 73 percent had at least one "serious" OSHA violation, mostly of "fall protection" standards — precisely the violation responsible for the most deaths.
        Predictably, the number of construction injuries and fatalities has soared. The Department of Buildings recorded a 250 percent increase in construction injuries from 2011 through 2015, with construction fatalities increasing each year as well.
        It is not a coincidence that a vast majority of preventable accidents occur at nonunion work sites. Nonunion contractors make up 90 percent of the construction companies listed in OSHA's "Severe Violator Enforcement Program" for New York, a list of recalcitrant employers that have endangered workers with "indifference to their occupational safety and health obligations through willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations."
        Union workers are safer because they are better trained and know they will be protected if they refuse to work under dangerous conditions. Building trade unions have apprenticeship programs that teach workers the required and recommended safety protocols. Further, every union work site has a shop steward who serves as an advocate for workers with questions or concerns about their safety. If a contractor or foreperson tries to cut corners, the workers can, and will, refuse to put themselves in jeopardy.
        New York City can do better. Real egalitarianism is not just about declaring your city to be a "sanctuary" and blandly committing to staying true to liberal values, as our mayor has done. It is about making the hard economic and political choices needed to create a society that acts on its claims of valuing all life — even if that means missing out on the generous political contributions of the real estate industry.
        As many New Yorkers brace themselves for the incoming administration of Donald J. Trump and bemoan the racism and indifference to facts that they blame as factors in his victory, we ought to spare time for some soul searching about what is happening right in front of us. Poor immigrant workers are falling off our buildings and being crushed to death in our streets. The mayor, public officials and New Yorkers at large must stop tolerating, indeed condoning, this epidemic of workers dying "accidentally."
        We need to be outraged. More, we need tough licensing requirements for contractors, frequent safety inspections, robust worker training and, yes, support for developers who sign union contracts. It may not be the cheapest way to build. But it is what a city government and an electorate true to their ideals should be doing.

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        6) Mourning Again in America
        JANUARY 17, 2017
        http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/17/mourning-again-in-america/

        “I could never throw roses to Hitler” *
        Or shake Henry Kissinger’s hand
        Or embrace a place whose bombs leave children
        Bleeding to death in the sand.
        I could never make nice to Dick Cheney
        That merchant of torture and death
        Or Putin, Duterte or Erdogan
        All killers with foul lying breath.
        I don’t want a trumped-up country
        With freedom and justice for some
        Where bankers and brokers are royalty
        And everyone else is scum.
        I can’t bear to pledge allegiance
        To a bozo who puts people down
        If they’re poor or gay or disabled
        Female, black or brown.
        And I loathe all career politicians
        Those corporate government clowns
        If elections don’t pry them off the trough
        We should boot their butts out of town
        *Mormon Tabernacle Choir singer Jan Chamberlain, on declining to sing at Donald Trump’s inauguration

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        7)  Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year





        Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.
        The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.
        The data show that politicians cannot wish the problem away. The Earth is heating up, a point long beyond serious scientific dispute, but one becoming more evident as the records keep falling. Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization.

        In 2015 and 2016, the planetary warming was intensified by the weather pattern known as El Niño, in which the Pacific Ocean released a huge burst of energy and water vapor into the atmosphere. But the bigger factor in setting the records was the long-term trend of rising temperature, which scientists say is being driven by increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
        “A single warm year is something of a curiosity,” said Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.”
        The heat extremes were especially pervasive in the Arctic, with temperatures in the fall running 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal across large stretches of the Arctic Ocean. Sea ice in that region has been in precipitous decline for years, and Arctic communities are already wrestling with enormous problems, such as rapid coastal erosion, caused by the changing climate.
        “What’s going on in the Arctic is really very impressive; this year was ridiculously off the chart,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, a unit of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that tracks global temperatures.
        But Arctic people were hardly alone in feeling the heat. Drought and starvation afflicted Africa. On May 19, the people in the town of Phalodi lived through the hottest day in the recorded history of India, 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
        El Niño has now ended, and climate scientists almost universally expect 2017 to be cooler than the year before. But the scale of the heat burst has been startling to many of the experts, and some of them fear an accelerated era of global warming could be at hand over the next few years.
        Even at current temperatures, billions of tons of land ice are melting or sliding into the ocean. The sea is also absorbing most of the heat trapped by human emissions. Those factors are causing the ocean to rise at what appears to be an accelerating pace, and coastal communities in the United States are spending billions of dollars to fight increased tidal flooding. Their pleas for help from Congress have largely been ignored.
        The finding that a record had been set for the third year in a row was released on Wednesday by three government agencies, two American and one British, that track measurements made by ships, buoys and land-based weather stations. They analyze the figures to correct for known problems, producing an annual average temperature for the surface of the Earth. The national meteorological agency of Japan also confirmed the findings in a preliminary analysis.
        The findings about a record-warm year were also confirmed by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, a nonprofit California group set up to provide a temperature analysis independent of governments. That group, however, did not find that three records had been set in a row; in its analysis, 2010 was slightly warmer than 2014.
        In addition to the surface measurements, satellites are used to measure the temperature of the atmosphere a few miles above the surface. Two groups that analyze these figures showed a record-warm 2016 in data going back to 1978, though in one data set it was a record by only a small margin.
        Since 1880, NOAA’s records show only one other instance when global temperature records were set three years in a row: in 1939, 1940 and 1941. The Earth has warmed so much in recent decades, however, that 1941 now ranks as only the 37th-warmest year on record.
        The modern era of global warming began around 1970, after a long stretch of relatively flat temperatures, and the past three years mark the first time in that period that three records were set in a row. Of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have now occurred since 2000.
        Two of the agencies that issued Wednesday’s figures, NOAA and NASA, will soon report to cabinet secretaries appointed by President-elect Donald J. Trump, who has expressed doubt about the findings of climate science. Mr. Trump famously issued a tweet in 2012 that said: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.”
        Fear has erupted within the agencies about whether their data will now be subject to political manipulation. However, Mr. Trump and his cabinet nominees have given no detailed indication of what their broad climate policies are likely to be, much less how they will manage the scientific enterprise of monitoring the climate.

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        8)  Trump Entering White House Unbent and Unpopular





        WASHINGTON — In one way at least, President-elect Donald J. Trumphas already surpassed all of his recent predecessors. It took Barack Obama 18 months in the White House for his approval rating to slip to 44 percent in Gallup polling, and it took George W. Bush 4½ years to fall that far. Mr. Trump got there before even being sworn in.
        Indeed, Mr. Trump will take office on Friday with less popular support than any new president in modern times, according to an array of surveys, a sign that he has failed to rally Americans behind him, beyond the base that helped him win in November. Rather than a unifying moment, his transition to power has seen a continuation of the polarization of the election last year.
        Where other presidents used the weeks before their inauguration to put the animosities of the campaign behind them and to try to knit the country together again, Mr. Trump has approached the interregnum as if he were a television wrestling star. He has taken on a civil rights icon, a Hollywood actressintelligence agencies, defense contractors, European leaders and President Obama. The healing theme common at this stage in the four-year presidential cycle is absent.

        “He seems to want to engage with every windmill that he can find, rather than focus on the large aspect of assuming the most important position on earth,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said on CNN on Tuesday. “And obviously, apparently, according to the polls, many Americans are not happy with that approach when he has not even assumed the presidency.”
        Two polls out on Tuesday — one by CNN and ORC and another by The Washington Post and ABC News — found that just 40 percent of Americans approved of Mr. Trump’s performance heading into the inauguration on Friday. NBC News and The Wall Street Journal put his approval rating at 44 percent, calling it the lowest rating ever for an incoming president.
        By comparison, shortly after their inaugurations, Mr. Obama was at 68 percent and Mr. Bush was at 57 percent in Gallup surveys. Both used the time after their initial victories to preach a message of inclusion and to extend a hand to their opposition, even if it did not ultimately last.
        Mr. Trump’s advisers said privately that his unexpected rise to power showed that such traditional barometers did not matter as much anymore. If polls were to be believed, he would not have been president, they said.
        Still, the anemic numbers clearly irritated Mr. Trump, who lashed out on Tuesday. “The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls,” he wrote on Twitter. “They are rigged just like before.”
        Although polling in several Midwest battleground states failed to accurately reflect the actual results on Election Day, national polls generally came within a percentage point of the actual popular vote, which Hillary Clinton won with 48 percent to Mr. Trump’s 46 percent.
        For Mr. Trump, the worry about approval ratings would be less about what it might mean for the next election, still years away, but about how such numbers are interpreted by members of Congress, who historically have been more deferential to popular presidents than unpopular ones.
        “Every president starts off with a good-will account with Congress that eventually draws down,” said Phil Schiliro, who was Mr. Obama’s White House legislative director in his first term. “As approval ratings drop, the account sinks very quickly. And that makes it much harder to bring Congress along on the president’s priorities.”
        Steve Israel, a Democrat who represented New York in the House, said the biggest challenge for Mr. Trump might be with nervous members of his own party. “Right now, Trump’s numbers are kryptonite for 21 House Republicans in districts that he lost,” he said. “So not only does he begin with low poll numbers, he begins with a significant potential bloc of resistance in his own caucus.”
        But Mr. Trump has shown that he intends to lead more through force of personality than through the breadth of his coalition. Brash and uninhibited, he seeks out enemies and allows few slights to go unanswered. He has repaired bridges with some critics, like Mitt Romney, but has made only sporadic efforts to reach out to parts of the public that have not supported him.
        His strongest supporters cheer his pugnacious style, and he argues that it has gotten results, like when House Republicans backed off plans to undercut the authority of the Office of Congressional Ethics, or major employers reversed plans to move jobs overseas after he wrote on Twitter about his disapproval.
        “With all of the jobs I am bringing back into the U.S. (even before taking office), with all of the new auto plants coming back into our country and with the massive cost reductions I have negotiated on military purchases and more, I believe the people are seeing ‘big stuff,’ ” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
        For many years, presidents and their advisers quaked at polls that showed a drop in their ratings, fearful that it would hurt their ability to command the stage and to enact their agendas. The last two presidents governed for long stretches with less than majority support, which clearly limited their capacity to advance major legislation. But they both also demonstrated that they could still make at least some progress.
        Mr. Bush never had the support of more than 50 percent of Americans for nearly his entire second term and fell into the 20s before leaving office. Still, he ignored poll numbers and the opposition of Democrats to send reinforcements to Iraq to turn around a losing war.
        Mr. Obama never fell as far, but he went for many months below 50 percent and turned to his executive authority to enact policies on immigration and the environment. He rebounded in public standing in the last few months and will leave office at 56 percent in the NBC-Journal poll, near his highest marks.
        Some Republicans now say Mr. Trump has rewritten the rule book. “Polling more and more is a false god,” said Ron Kaufman, the White House political director under President George Bush and a longtime Republican strategist. “We all play to it, but it’s a false god. I just think it’s no longer reliable as a judge.”
        Mary Matalin, who was a top counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney, who ignored his own low approval ratings while in office to focus on advancing his national security agenda, said Mr. Trump “has ushered in a new political paradigm” that has upended age-old assumptions.
        “Trump has exposed the inadequacy and fallibility of decades-old domestic political strategy of governing by polls and contrived expectations,” she said. “In the new Trump world, it has already been proven prima facie absurd to presume personal approval numbers to be more vote-determinative than policy approval.”

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        9)  Russia Extends Edward Snowden’s Asylum



        MOSCOW — A day after President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Russian government clarified on Wednesday the fate of Edward J. Snowden, the other main source of secrets about United States surveillance in recent years.
        Mr. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who was granted asylum in Russia in 2013, will be allowed to remain in the country for “a couple more years,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said on Facebook.
        He and his supporters have been campaigning for a pardon from Mr. Obama, but the chances of clemency appear to be vanishingly small given that his name did not appear on a list of pardons on Tuesday.
        Mr. Snowden found himself essentially stranded in Moscow four years ago after he was thwarted in his attempts to fly to Latin America following the publication of articles in The Guardian and The Washington Post, based on information he provided, revealing extensive surveillance and data collection programs operated by the N.S.A.
        In response to a question about why Mr. Snowden and Ms. Manning were being treated differently, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday that the documents leaked by the former N.S.A. contractor were “far more serious and far more dangerous” than those Ms. Manning had disclosed.
        Ms. Zakharova described her Facebook post as a rejection of an idea presented in a recent article in The Cipher Brief by a former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael J. Morell. He suggested that Russia should extradite Mr. Snowden to the United States as a signal of good will to the incoming Trump administration.
        Ms. Zakharova said that Mr. Morell’s suggestion of turning over Mr. Snowden would amount to “a gift” for the new American leader. That is apparently a gesture that Russia is not prepared to make, however, even though President-elect Donald J. Trump has spoken admiringly of Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin.
        “The funniest thing is that the former deputy director of the C.I.A. !!! does not know that Snowden’s residence permit in Russia was just extended for a couple more years,” Ms. Zakharova wrote.

        “And seriously, the essence of what the C.I.A. agent is suggesting is an ideology of betrayal,” she wrote. “You spoke, Mr. Morrell, and now it’s clear to everybody that in your office, it’s normal to bring gifts in the form of people, and to hand over those who seek defense.”
        In an interview with The Guardian in September, Mr. Snowden argued that his revelations about government surveillance were not only morally right but that they also led to an overhaul of secrecy laws that benefited Americans.
        “I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013, the laws of our nation changed,” Mr. Snowden said. “Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures.”
        The Foreign Ministry did not specify how long Mr. Snowden’s residence permit had been extended. But his lawyer, Anatoly G. Kucherena, told the state-run RIA news agency that it was valid until 2020.
        Mr. Kucherena said that Mr. Snowden would be eligible to apply for Russian citizenship next year, after having spent five years in the country, but he did not say if Mr. Snowden would apply.
        Mr. Snowden is accused of violating the Espionage Act in the United States and would face at least 30 years in prison if convicted.
        Some privacy advocates have lionized Mr. Snowden as a whistle-blower, while his opponents and government officials have cast him as a defector, particularly in light of his seeking asylum in Russia.
        Mr. Snowden has taken pains to portray his exile as comfortable. He spends time with his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, according to posts on social media, and he recently took a break from posting on Twitter for what he described as a vacation, presumably in Russia.





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        10)  Video of Fatally Wounded Teenager Sparks Palestinian Rage
        JERUSALEM — A Palestinian teenager was lying motionless on the ground in an olive grove after being shot — fatally, it would turn out — by Israeli security forces.
        It started as a routine clash: Israeli forces arrived on Monday afternoon in military jeeps at Tekoa, a Palestinian village in the Bethlehem district of the occupied West Bank, and were confronted by residents hurling stones. There was nothing particularly remarkable about the clash that led to the death of the teenager, Qusai Al-Amour, 18.
        But graphic video footage emerged showing what happened next. Israeli Border Police officers ran up to Mr. Amour, grabbed him by the arms and legs and dragged him roughly for about 50 seconds back to the jeeps, his body limp and his head bouncing and hitting the ground.
        Mr. Amour was given emergency treatment by army medics, the military said, but was soon declared dead. The video also showed a woman and a man who approached the jeeps quickly turning and limping away, apparently having been hit in the legs, perhaps by rubber-coated bullets. The footage was shown on Palestinian television and spread quickly on Palestinian social networks, stoking popular outrage.
        “Qusai was shot with six bullets during these clashes, four times in the chest and one bullet in each of his legs,” Yousef Al-Amour, the teenager’s uncle, said on Tuesday. The soldiers then carried him off “and started throwing his body around as if he wasn’t a human being,” his uncle said, speaking by telephone from the wake in Tekoa, hours after his nephew’s funeral.
        The Palestinian Authority’s governor of the Bethlehem district, speaking on Palestinian radio, described the teenager’s death as an “execution.”
        The Israeli military said in a statement that “hundreds of violent rioters” had confronted the security forces, who fired on and wounded “a main violent instigator.” In the process of evacuating him, the military said, the forces came under a barrage of rocks, which caused them to remove him hastily. The military added that the episode was under review.
        The West Bank has long been volatile, but a recent increase in Palestinian attacks against Israelis and accusations of excessive use of force by Israeli soldiers have added to the tensions. An Israeli soldier was recently convicted in a military court of manslaughter after fatally shooting a wounded and subdued Palestinian assailant in the head.
        Another Palestinian man was fatally shot by Israeli forces on Tuesdayafter he tried to stab a soldier at a military checkpoint elsewhere in the West Bank, the army said.
        Hisham Abu Shaqrah, a Palestinian photojournalist working for Anadolu, the Turkish news agency, filmed the video in Tekoa. Mr. Abu Shaqrah told Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, that he had initially considered running to help the wounded teenager. Once the soldiers arrived, he said, he began to document the scene instead. “The video showed the crime in all its details,” he said.
        By Tuesday night, the video posted to Mr. Abu Shaqrah’s Facebook pagehad more than 30,000 views and had been shared nearly 500 times.
        Yousef Al-Amour, the dead teenager’s uncle, who works in the governor’s office, said Israeli forces frequently raided Tekoa, which is near Israeli settlements, and detained youths for a few days of interrogation. He described Qusai, a high school student, as a popular and talented soccer player who played for local teams and was always well groomed, with “the latest haircut” kept in place with copious amounts of shiny gel.

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        11)  Obama Commutes Sentence of F.A.L.N. Member Oscar Lopez Rivera





        President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of a man convicted for his role in a Puerto Rican nationalist group linked to more than 100 bombings in New York and other cities in the 1970s and 1980s.
        The man, Oscar Lopez Rivera, was serving a 70-year sentence after being convicted of numerous charges, including seditious conspiracy, a charge used for those plotting to overthrow the United States government.
        He was linked to the radical group known as the F.A.L.N., the Spanish acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation, and was one of more than a dozen group members convicted in the 1980s.
        Under Mr. Obama’s commutation order, Mr. Lopez Rivera’s prison sentence will expire May 17. It was one of 209 grants of commutation by the president announced Tuesday.
        The F.A.L.N., which waged a violent campaign for the independence of Puerto Rico, was considered by the authorities to be among the most elusive and resilient terrorist groups to operate in the United States. Among its notable attacks was a bombing at Fraunces Tavern in New York in 1975 that killed four people.
        The group was known for its tight-knit membership, fanatical zeal and hit-and-run tactics, as exemplified by the bombings of four government buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve in 1982 that seriously wounded three police officers.
        Mr. Lopez Rivera was not specifically charged in the Fraunces Tavern bombing but more broadly with, among other things, the interstate transportation of firearms with the intent to commit violent crimes, and transportation of explosives with intent to kill and injure people and to destroy government buildings and property.
        President Bill Clinton offered Mr. Lopez Rivera and other members of the F.A.L.N. clemency in 1999, a decision that stirred an emotional debate. Mr. Clinton said their sentences were out of proportion with their offenses.

        While 12 prisoners accepted the offer and were freed, Mr. Lopez Rivera rejected the chance to reduce his sentence because it did not include all of the group’s members, his lawyer, Jan Susler, said at the time. If he had accepted the agreement, she said, he would have been eligible for release in 2009.
        A senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday that Mr. Lopez Rivera, 74, had served nearly half of his life in prison and was the only F.A.L.N. member still in prison.
        In 1981, he was sentenced to 55 years for seditious conspiracy and in 1988 was sentenced to an additional 15 years for conspiring to escape from a prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
        The news on Tuesday was received with jubilation by some on social media.
        On Twitter, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” wrote: “Sobbing with gratitude here in London. OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA IS COMING HOME. THANK YOU, @POTUS.”
        Over the years, supporters of Mr. Lopez Rivera have tried to have him freed on parole. The National Boricua Human Rights Network in 2011 said that he posed no threat to the public and that others who were released went on to have productive, trouble-free lives.
        A lawyer for Mr. Lopez Rivera, Jan Susler, said in an interview on Tuesday that there was widespread support for the commutation of his sentence.
        “Really the only controversy is that this man was still in prison after 35 years after not being convicted of hurting or killing anyone,” she said.
        In an earlier interview with El Nuevo Día, Mr. Lopez said: “I want to enjoy Puerto Rico, my family. But I like to work. I have some skills — organizing, helping young people — that I want to share with people.”





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        12)  DAPL Cops Open Fire on Prayer Circle with Rubber Bullets, Shoot Water Protectors in the Back
         January 17, 2017
        http://thefreethoughtproject.com/dapl-cops-water-protectors-rubber-bullets/


        Morton County Sheriff’s Department officers together with the National Guard began firing less-than-lethal projectiles, pepper spray, and, reportedly, mace on a group of water protectors at Standing Rock during what was supposed to be a prayerful, peaceful walk to the drill pad where work is rumored to continue on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

        And all of this, of course, happens on the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — who dedicated his life to non-violence to spark drastic change on the issue of civil rights.

        Around 200 water protectors eventually grouped at the site of the drill pad, and three were arrested — accused of trespassing after cutting a razor wire fence and then allegedly tampering with industrial lighting.

        As the crowd verbally taunted militarized police sporting riot shields and military gear, the situation Monday quickly tensed, and police began spraying people with mace. Soon after, as some water protectors sang and prayed, police fired rubber bullets at a few individuals, who then had to be transported away from the scene for medical assistance.

        Reports from people at the camps indicated police brought in vehicles with water cannons just beyond the scene. In the video below, we can also see police open fire on water protectors with rubber bullets in their backs as they are running away from the tear gas.

        Water protectors also gathered at Highway 1806’s Backwater Bridge, where a blockade of cement barriers, burned out vehicles, and razor wire remains in place after a confrontation in the autumn.  
        In fact, that site has seen several confrontations between water protectors and police from multiple states led by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department over several months — the worst occurring on the night of November 20 when less-than-lethal rounds, tear gas, and water cannons were employed to allegedly control the crowd. 

        Hundreds were injured and dozens had to be treated for hypothermia when law enforcement sprayed protectors with pressurized water in sub-freezing temperatures. Police claimed protectors acted violently against them and set several fires which blazed out of control — but video showed the pipeline opposition group defending against the onslaught of force, mainly hurling tear gas canisters back at police.

        Monday night’s showdown between National Guard-reinforced law enforcement and completely peaceful water protectors at first seemed it would devolved into a similarly unjustified use of force, but — though many were maced and a few shot with projectiles — the situation did not spiral completely out of control.

        Before night fell on the camps near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, activists filmed and photographed a surface-to-air missile system brought by law enforcement to the area near pipeline opposition camps — allegedly in place to shoot down any drones flown above the scene.

        Despite evacuation and emergency orders in place in the area, water protectors remain encamped near the banks of the Missouri River in protest against completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. A fracture also occurred after Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II asked those unprepared to endure the harsh winter on the open plains to vacate the camps.

        Additionally, Oceti Sakowin — now the primary and largest camp — lies in the river’s floodplain and, as snow thaws, will eventually be submerged. 

        Water protectors have vowed to remain at the location until construction of Dakota Access is permanently halted — but considering the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump has openly courted Big Oil, it appears unlikely the effort will see its dream of protecting the drinking water source of some 18 million people and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe will come to fruition.

        Law enforcement did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the events of Monday night.

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        13)  For Trump’s Nominees, a Billionaires’ Guide to Running the Government
        By 
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/donald-trump-billionaires-cabinet-nominees.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

        Pity the poor billionaires who are about to take the oath of office. For them, everything is going to change.
        In winning the presidency, Donald J. Trump proposed a grand hypothesis: that the federal government can be managed like a business. “If we could run our country the way I’ve run my company, we would have a country that you would be so proud of,” he told voters in the final presidential debate. It’s a theory that has been suggested, to various degrees, by almost every president in the last century, from Calvin Coolidge to Barack Obama.
        What’s different this time is the vigorousness of the experiment. With his inauguration on Friday, and a cabinet that is likely to include three billionaires, five former chief executives and some of the business world’s most accomplished leaders, Mr. Trump is poised to test, perhaps once and for all, if good governance and crafty deal making are really similar skills.
        But, as anyone who has spent time in a laboratory can attest, experiments are messy. Separating the signals from the noise takes diligence. And in this case, so much will depend on the savviness of those woeful billionaires who had it so good, and now will be guinea pigs thrust into a maze that has overwhelmed so many test subjects before them.
        “Running an agency is very, very different from running a company,” said Carlos M. Gutierrez, who was commerce secretary under George W. Bush after serving as chief executive of Kellogg’s. “Some of the skills do transfer, but you have to be careful figuring out which ones. In government, you can’t fire anyone. Your board of directors is 535 people in Congress, and half of them want to see you fail.”
        One of the first challenges will be figuring out what “business leadership” means when so many of capitalism’s tools — firing misbehaving employees; giving raises to those who overperform — aren’t allowed by federal rules. “C.E.O.s who come in saying, ‘I’m going to show everyone how it’s done,’ are the ones most likely to fail,” Mr. Gutierrez said.
        One problem has always been that while the business world rewards leaders for an intense focus on a singular goal — maximizing profits as efficiently as possible — government yearns for the opposite: pleasing the largest number of people with methods that offend the fewest. And while competition is usually a good thing within business, inside government, it’s often more corrosive, as the partisanship of the past decade demonstrates.
        “You succeed in Washington by collaborating,” said Henry M. Paulson Jr., who was widely lauded as Treasury secretary for Mr. Bush and, before that, as chief executive of Goldman Sachs.
        Businesspeople tend to see competition as a means to find the best solutions, a sorting device that pushes the smartest ideas ahead. But many of the trickiest government issues, like immigration or tax reform, involve dozens of agencies, as well as lawmakers and lobbyists, who must be persuaded to cooperate. Intelligence in government is almost always a humble, group activity.
        “You can’t just think about your own agency, or your own goals,” Mr. Paulson said. “You have to please both sides of the aisle, while making sure you’re not outshining other officials, and persuading employees who don’t have to obey your orders. And you have to adjust to having a boss, the president, instead of being the boss. It takes a lot of humility.”
        Some of Mr. Trump’s picks might have an easier time making the transition than others. Rex W. Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil and the choice for secretary of state, is among the nominees who have spent their careers involved in the day-to-day operations of complicated firms that span continents.
        “Tillerson has basically been a politician for the last 20 years; he’s just been doing it for the nation of Exxon,” said Paul H. O’Neill, who became Treasury secretary during Mr. Bush’s first term after leading the aluminum company Alcoa. “He’s negotiated with foreign governments, he’s had more than 80,000 employees. You don’t run a company that size by telling people what to do. You learn how to persuade them to follow your vision, to accommodate all kinds of different agendas and personalities.”
        Other cabinet secretaries have spent their careers mostly as investors, not as direct managers. Hedge fund and private equity professionals like Steven T. Mnuchin, likely to be the next Treasury secretary; Betsy DeVos, who has been tapped as education secretary; and Wilbur L. Ross, the expected commerce secretary, have largely devoted their lives to buying and selling companies. And so there are questions about how well they will make the shift to jobs that demand a day-to-day focus on the smallest details of governance.
        Mr. Ross, whose confirmation hearing was held on Wednesday, presents a fascinating test subject. As an acquirer of steel mills, coal mines and other heavy industries, he has amassed a personal fortune worth billions. “Over the years, I’ve had businesses that actually operated in some 23 countries,” Mr. Ross said at the hearing. “We have been on the ground in all of the major trading partners of this country.”
        Usually, when Mr. Ross buys a new company, he follows a pretty successful script: He shows up, says a few words and then hands operations to professional managers who know how to run things — and who know he will fire them if they fail.
        However, when Mr. Ross takes the oath of office, that script will change. He will be whisked off to the executive wing of the Commerce Department and walked past long rows of barren offices. (The furniture of political appointees is removed during each presidential transition, and — spoiler alert — it often takes weeks for new desks and bookcases to arrive.) If he can find enough chairs, he might call a meeting of the few employees milling around (his deputies and key department heads need senatorial approval, which might take a few months). He will be handed dozens of binders explaining how his department does everything from monitor weather satellites to administer patents, and admonished to study up. (Congress loves humiliating cabinet members who haven’t done their homework, and explaining that you are an excellent delegator, alas, fails to impress on Capitol Hill.)
        If Mr. Ross hopes to fly to one of the department’s satellite offices, he will have to decide if he wants to complete the reams of paperwork needed to use his own jet, or go coach, as secretaries in previous administrations were encouraged. “Perception matters a lot in Washington,” said Karen G. Mills, who always flew in the cheap seats as administrator of the Small Business Administration after a career in finance left her with more than $40 million. “I did, however, try to avoid the middle seat.”
        If Mr. Ross is lucky, by the end of his first day, someone will have shown him where the bathrooms are. There’s a risk, however, that the agency’s permanent staff’s “No. 1 goal will be to find ways to sabotage each new cabinet secretary as soon as they walk through the door,” said Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker who was a campaign adviser to Mr. Trump. “All those bureaucrats overwhelmingly voted for Clinton. There won’t be any real cooperation until we change federal law so we can fire them.”
        Worst of all, though, is that at the end of his tenure, no matter how hard Mr. Ross works or how much he sacrifices, a large part of his success — as well as that of the other secretaries and this experiment as a whole — will be outside his control. Ultimately, the most important variable in testing this hypothesis will be Mr. Trump himself. What kind of management style will he adopt? Will he be an operator or a delegator? Will he change as president, or simply relocate and remain C.E.O. in chief?
        How a president behaves filters into the cabinet, and senior officials, no matter how talented or powerful they once were, become an appendage of their new boss — a hard demotion for any former master of the universe. If Mr. Trump can’t manage the presidency, then no one working for him is likely to succeed. And vice versa.
        So as this experiment unfolds before a captivated nation, pity Mr. Ross and all the poor billionaires. They are sacrificing themselves so that all of us might learn. And, in case they are wondering: The bathrooms are down the hall and around the corner. You’re responsible for replacing the toilet paper if you’ve used the last of the roll.
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        14)   U.S. Bombs ISIS Camps in Libya






        WASHINGTON — Two United States Air Force B-2 bombers attacked Islamic State training camps outside of Surt, Libya, overnight, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
        Military analysts were assessing the impact of the strikes, but officials said it was possible that dozens of Islamic State fighters may have been killed.
        The Pentagon’s Africa Command announced on Dec. 19 the official end of air operations against the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, in Surt, the group’s coastal stronghold, after conducting 495 strikes against truck bombs, heavy guns, tanks and command bunkers there.
        But the need to carry out additional strikes reflected the resilience of the Islamic State in Libya. While the group was driven out of Surt last month, the Islamic State still has several hundred fighters who have dispersed across Libya and pose a threat to the country, its neighbors and potentially Europe, according to American officials and the Africa Command.
        Jonathan Winer, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Libya, told Congress in November that the Islamic State, as it suffered defeats in Surt at the hands of Libyan fighters and American warplanes, was most likely forming cells around the country. He called on Libyans to unite behind the country’s fledgling Government of National Accord to combat the terrorists.
        A recent analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a policy organization in Washington, found that Islamic State militants operating as “desert brigades” south of Surt had ambushed Libyan military positions, disrupted supply lines with explosives and established checkpoints on key roads. The Islamic State is recruiting foreign fighters into southern Libya and is most likely relying on the same havens used by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, according to the analysis.

        The two B-2 bombers flew a round-trip mission of about 34 hours from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and dropped satellite-guided bombs on the training camps, military officials said.


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        15)  Student Loan Collector Cheated Millions, Lawsuits Say





        Navient, the nation’s largest servicer of student loans, has for years misled borrowers and made serious mistakes at nearly every step of the collections process, illegally driving up loan repayment costs for millions of borrowers, according to lawsuits filed on Wednesday by a federal regulator and two state attorneys general.
        Navient handles $300 billion in private and federal loans for some 12 million people — touching about one in four student loan borrowers. Every customer may have been affected by Navient’s misdeeds, said Lisa Madigan, the attorney general of Illinois, announcing her own lawsuit with the one filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
        Navient does not make the loans, but it holds lucrative contracts to collect payments each month on behalf of banks, government and other lenders.

        The damages sought could reach billions of dollars, said Ms. Madigan, who sued Navient and Sallie Mae — which split into the two companies in 2014. Washington State’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, filed a similar lawsuit against both companies.
        The lawsuits describe routine mistakes and lapses in oversight that over time added up to systematic failures, eerily similar to the mortgage servicing industry’s bungling of borrower accounts and property foreclosures during the 2008 recession. Financial companies eventually paid more than $100 billion to settle mortgage-related lawsuits.
        Navient mishandled loan payments, buried critical information in fine print and set obstacles for borrowers trying to release co-signers from their loans, among other failings, according to the consumer bureau’s legal filing.
        The move was one of a series of late-hour actions by the Obama administration just days before the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. It is also a politically perilous time for the consumer bureau, which has long been the target of criticism by Republican lawmakers. Several have called for the president-elect to fire its director, Richard Cordray — a move that would likely set off a legal challenge over the president’s authority to do so.
        Republicans have also taken aim at the Dodd-Frank Act, the 2010 law that imposed more regulations on banks and created the consumer bureau. The law also specified that the bureau’s director can be fired only for cause, defined as “inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance.”
        Crushing student debt was a flash point on the campaign trail, as students complained that loans had diminished their career prospects. The issue helped fuel Bernie Sanders’s campaign in the Democratic primaries, and sparked discussions about reining in college costs. Total outstanding student loan debt hovers at more than $1.4 trillion. Student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto loan debt.
        Navient, which plans to fight the lawsuits, denied all wrongdoing.
        “The allegations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are unfounded, and the timing of this lawsuit — midnight action filed on the eve of a new administration — reflects their political motivations,” Patricia Nash Christel, a company spokeswoman, said in a written statement. “We will vigorously defend against these false allegations.”
        Regulators and consumer groups have long complained about widespread abuses in the student loan market, but Wednesday’s coordinated state and federal action, which stems from investigations that began about three years ago, is a legal attack that is likely to resonate throughout the industry.
        Navient is accused of deliberately steering borrowers away from income-based repayment plans that could have lowered their loan costs — in order to maximize its own profits. Enrolling customers in such plans can be time-consuming and complex, and Navient’s compensation system for its customer service representatives encouraged them to push struggling customers toward other options, according to the bureau’s complaint.
        Derek Smith said he is one such borrower. In 2011, when his loan payments kicked in, he was living in a homeless shelter in Boston. He had no job and three children.
        Mr. Smith was exactly the kind of former student who should have had his payments reduced, according to Persis Yu, director of the Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project at the National Consumer Law Center. But that never happened, she said. After struggling for two years to make a dent on his loans, Mr. Smith defaulted and his wages from a new job were garnished. Collection calls poured in.
        “I was just at a standstill,” said Mr. Smith, whose debt has ballooned to more than $13,000.
        Navient declined to comment on Mr. Smith’s case, but said it was “a leader in enrolling eligible borrowers into income-driven repayment programs.”
        Sallie Mae, which was not named in the consumer bureau’s lawsuit, said in a statement that Navient had “accepted responsibility for all costs, expenses, losses and remediation” stemming from investigations into the company’s past lending practices.
        The bureau’s lawsuit does not estimate how much money individual borrowers have lost, which would vary widely from person to person. But it alleges that the scope of the problem is vast, and involves a long list of reckless mistakes and potentially willful violations.
        Navient “used shortcuts and deception to illegally cheat struggling borrowers out of their rights to lower payments,” Mr. Cordray said. “These unlawful practices have cost student loan borrowers across the country both heartache and money.”
        In one example, the agency accused Navient of marring the credit reports of injured military veterans.
        Borrowers with a “total and permanent” disability are eligible to have their federal student loans discharged. Navient improperly marked some of those charged-off loans as defaults, the bureau said, leaving those borrowers, including disabled soldiers, with black marks on their credit records that could have prevented them from obtaining mortgages and other loans.
        And officials said that Sallie Mae, which originated some loans that Navient inherited, made loans that were crafted to ensnare students in debt. These loans were “designed to fail,” Ms. Madigan said, and should be discharged.
        Student loan debt can haunt borrowers long after they graduate. In the past decade, the number of people 60 and older with student loans has quadrupled, according to a report in January by the consumer bureau. More than 2.8 million Americans over the age of 60 had student loan debt outstanding, up from 700,000 in 2005.
        This is not the first time in the spotlight for Navient or its subsidiaries. Consumer groups have long been raising alarms about the company and its practices.
        “The allegations in the complaint mirror the experiences of the dozens of borrowers that we have worked with,” said Ms. Yu at the National Consumer Law Center.
        The bureau’s lawsuit focuses on possible wrongdoing from 2010 onward. The state lawsuits stretch back further, as early as 2000, Ms. Madigan said.
        As far back as August 2015, Navient warned investors in a regulatory filing that it was under investigation by the consumer bureau and could face legal action.
        In 2014, the Justice Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, fined Navient for illegally overcharging military members. The company, officials found, flouted the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a federal law that protects active duty military members, requiring lenders to reduce interest rates on any loans to 6 percent.
        One of Navient’s subsidiaries, Pioneer Credit Recovery, which was also named in the lawsuits announced Wednesday, previously collected on defaulted federal student debt, but the Education Department ended that arrangement two years ago because, it said, Pioneer made “materially inaccurate representations” to borrowers.
        Navient still holds a contract with the department to service federal student loans, which runs through 2019.

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        16)  Isidro Baldenegro, Mexican Environmental Activist, Is Shot to Death




        MEXICO CITY — Isidro Baldenegro López, an indigenous activist whose struggle to protect the pine-oak forests of Mexico’s Sierra Madre range won him the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, has been killed by a gunman, the authorities said on Wednesday.
        A leader of the Tarahumara people who live among the jagged peaks of the western Sierra Madre, Mr. Baldenegro defended the area’s old-growth forests against powerful local strongmen allied with drug traffickers and loggers.
        The killing was the second of a Goldman prizewinner in less than a year. Last March, gunmen attacked and killed Berta Cáceres, who led her Lenca people of Honduras against a proposed dam.
        Seven people have been arrested in her killing, but in a statement on Sunday, her family said that the Honduran government had yet to investigate who had ordered it.
        The death of Mr. Baldenegro, coming so soon after Ms. Cáceres’ murder, highlights the danger faced by environmental defenders in Latin America, where mining, energy, agribusiness and logging interests have generated violent conflict with local communities.
        His fight to protect his community’s ancestral lands went back decades, and his father, Julio Baldenegro, was assassinated in 1986 for his opposition to logging.
        Threats had forced the younger Mr. Baldenegro, 51, to leave his community in the remote southern part of Chihuahua State, said Isela González, the director of Alianza Sierra Madre, an organization that works with the Tarahumara to defend their land rights.
        He returned recently to visit an uncle in the village, Coloradas de la Virgen. On Sunday afternoon, Romero Rubio Martínez, who was present at the uncle’s house, pulled a gun, fired six shots and fled, according to the Chihuahua prosecutor’s office.

        Mr. Baldenegro died a few hours later, Ms. González said. The motive was unclear, according to the prosecutor’s statement.
        Mr. Baldenegro won the Goldman Prize in 2005, the year after he was released from prison, where he had spent 15 months on weapons and drug charges that were eventually thrown out.
        In 1993, Mr. Baldenegroformed an advocacy group and began organizing sit-ins and marches to force the government to suspend logging licenses, according to the Goldman Prize. But despite early victories, the government continues to grant concessions, Ms. González said. Legal cases filed by the Tarahumara to assert their rights over their ancestral lands have been stuck in court for decades, she said.
        The violence in the region has intensified since the government’s campaign against drug cartels began at the end of 2006. Local bosses known as “caciques formed alliances with drug traffickers, which provided them with hit men,” she said.
        Many of the Tarahumara, including Mr. Baldenegro and his family, were forced to leave their communities before the threat of armed men who arrived to clear the forest and plant marijuana on the deforested mountainsides.
        Over the past six years, he had been working with a “very low profile,” Ms. González said. In the last year alone, four other activists in the same municipality, Guadalupe y Calvo, have been killed, she said.
        Susan R. Gelman, president of the Goldman Environmental Foundation, called on the Mexican authorities to find Mr. Baldenegro’s killers and bring them to trial. “Unfortunately, too many governments are failing to create safe spaces where people can voice their dissent and organize movements free of persecution and violent attacks,” she said in a statement.
        Almost three-quarters of the known deaths of environmental activists worldwide occurred in Central and South America, according to a report by the organization Global Witness, which analyzed 116 killings in 2014.
        Erika Guevara-Rosas, the Americas director at Amnesty International, called the killing of Mr. Baldenegro “a tragic illustration of the many dangers faced by those who dedicate their lives to defend human rights in Latin America, one of the most dangerous regions in the world for activists.”


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        17)  Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Nominee, Failed to Disclose $100 Million in Assets





        WASHINGTON — Steven T. Mnuchin, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s pick to be Treasury secretary, failed to disclose nearly $100 million of his assets on Senate Finance Committee disclosure documents and forgot to mention his role as a director of an investment fund located in a tax haven.
        The revelation came hours before Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was scheduled to testify on Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee, which has historically been bipartisan in its demands for transparency from nominees. Mr. Mnuchin was ready to outline his vision for the economy and defend himself against claims that he headed a bank that ran a “foreclosure machine” during the financial crisis.
        “In his revised questionnaire, Mr. Mnuchin disclosed several additional financial assets, including $95 million worth of real estate — a co-op in New York City, a residence in Southampton, New York, a residence in Los Angeles, California, and $15 million in real estate holdings in Mexico,” Democratic staff members of the Senate Finance Committee wrote in a memo on Thursday. “Mr. Mnuchin has claimed these omissions were due to a misunderstanding of the questionnaire.”
        According to the memo, Mr. Mnuchin also initially failed to disclose that he is the director of Dune Capital International, an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which is a tax haven, along with management posts in seven other investment funds.
        And he belatedly disclosed that his children own nearly $1 million in artwork.
        Democrats pounced on the “inadvertent” omissions Thursday morning, calling them more evidence that Mr. Mnuchin is not fit to steer the country’s economic agenda.

        “Never before has the Senate considered such an ethically challenged slate of nominees for key cabinet positions,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said in a statement. “Mr. Mnuchin’s failure to disclose his Cayman Islands holdings just reeks of the swamp that the president-elect promised to drain on the campaign trail.”
        And American Bridge, the so-called Democratic super PAC, said Mr. Mnuchin’s holdings were a sign that Mr. Trump’s government would not look out for working class Americans.
        “By slamming through Mnuchin, Senate Republicans are becoming accessories to Trump’s future corruption, helping him stack his cabinet with shady billionaires who, like Trump, will rig the government to serve their own interests at the expense of the American people,” said Shripal Shah, vice president of American Bridge.
        Asked about the omissions at the hearing, Mr. Mnuchin described them as a simple mistake made amid a mountain of bureaucracy.
        “I think as you all can appreciate, filling out these government forms is quite complicated,” Mr. Mnuchin said, noting that he had handed over 5,000 pages of disclosures. “Let me first say, any oversight, it was unintentional.”

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