Thursday, March 01, 2018

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 2018





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It is so beautiful to see young people in this country rising up to demand an end to gun violence. But what is Donald Trump's response? Instead of banning assault weapons, he wants to give guns to teachers and militarize our schools. But one of the reasons for mass school shootings is precisely because our schools are already militarized. Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was trained by U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program while he was in high school.
Yesterday, Divest from the War Machine coalition member, Pat Elder, was featured on Democracy Now discussing his recent article about the JROTC in our schools. The JROTC teaches children how to shoot weapons. It is often taught by retired soldiers who have no background in teaching. They are allowed to teach classes that are given at least equal weight as classes taught by certified and trained teachers. We are pulling our children away from classes that expand their minds and putting them in classes that teach them how to be killing machines. The JROTC program costs our schools money. It sends equipment. But, the instructors and facilities must be constructed and paid for by the school.
The JROTC puts our children's futures at risk. Children who participate in JROTC shooting programs are exposed to lead bullets from guns. They are at an increased risk when the shooting ranges are inside. The JROTC program is designed to "put a jump start on your military career." Children are funneled into JROTC to make them compliant and to feed the military with young bodies which are prepared to be assimilated into the war machine. Instead of funneling children into the military, we should be channeling them into jobs that support peace and sustainable development. 
Tell Senator McCain and Representative Thornberry to take the war machine out of our schools! The JROTC program must end immediately. The money should be directed back into classrooms that educate our children.
The Divest from the War Machine campaign is working to remove our money from the hands of companies that make a killing on killing. We must take on the systems that keep fueling war, death, and destruction around the globe. AND, we must take on the systems that are creating an endless cycle of children who are being indoctrinated at vulnerable ages to become the next killing machine.  Don't forget to post this message on Facebook and Twitter.
Onward in divestment,
Ann, Ariel, Brienne, Jodie, Kelly, Kirsten, Mark, Medea, Nancy, Natasha, Paki, Sarah, Sophia and Tighe
P.S. Do you want to do more? Start a campaign to get the JROTC out of your school district or state. Email divest@codepink.org and we'll get you started!

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by Rachel Wolkenstein

For more information:
 
 





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A Call for a National Conference to
Organize a Fightback to Defeat Austerity
Stop the war by the banks, corporations
and government on the workers and poor


Saturday March 24, 2018

Historic St. Matthews-St. Joseph's Church
8850 Woodward Avenue
(between Holbrook and King)
Detroit, MI 48202

10:00am-5:00pm

Special Conference Guest:
Ricardo Santos Ramos, former President,
Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER),
Puerto Rico.


To endorse, email defeatausterity@gmail.com

All progressive activists and organizations are invited to participate in the National Conference to Defeat Austerity taking place in Detroit on Saturday, March 24. The purpose of this gathering is to map out a strategy for defeating the war being waged by the banks, corporations and government against the workers and oppressed. Capitalism cannot continue unchallenged while our very lives are being jeopardized by the ruling elites who are determined to grow richer and more powerful at our expense while whipping up white supremacy, an anti-immigrant offensive, attacks on women and anti-LGBTQ bigotry to keep our class divided.

Detroit along with colonized Puerto Rico has been at the epicenter of bank-imposed austerity against the workers and oppressed in this hemisphere. But every U.S. city, from Chicago to Baltimore to Cleveland to Milwaukee, from New York City to Oakland and Seattle, has felt the brunt of this attack in the form of cutbacks, school closings, mass transit cuts, water shutoffs, gentrification and destruction of public service unions.

The Trump tax plan and Pentagon war build-up continue the massive transfer of wealth to the rich at the expense of the poor. This war by the banks and on the workers and poor is an international phenomenon spanning every continent. On March 24, we will hammer out a program on how to fight back against the corporations, the banks and their lackeys in government at all levels.

The Conference will discuss these issues in depth from the perspective of how they all are products of a capitalist system where profits are everything and people mean nothing. We will mobilize support for making May Day 2018 an anti-Austerity Day, as well as lending solidarity to the Poor Peoples Campaign. We will outline a program of action in solidarity with all movements working for social change and transformation.

For information on housing, please email Sharon at sfsharonfeldman@live.com 

If you need child care, please email your request to defeatausterity@gmail.com 

Please indicate your intent to participate in the conference by registering at CONFERENCE REGISTRATION.

Finally, donations are needed to cover the cost of the conference. Click here to donate online or write a check to Moratorium NOW, add #DefeatAusterity in the memo line, and mail the check to:

Moratorium NOW! Coalition
5920 Second Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202




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Tell the Feds: End Draft Registration

This morning, in a small community college classroom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a newly formed federal commission  scheduled its first public hearing on the future of draft registration in the United States. "The bipartisan, 11-member Commission was created by Congress to review the military selective service process," notes their press release. In addition to eight more (yet to be scheduled) public hearings across the United States over the next two years, the commission has invited feedback via a webform here.

Courage to Resist Podcast: The Future of Draft Registration in the United States

We had draft registration resister Edward Hasbrouck on the Courage to Resistpodcast this week to explain what's going on. Edward talks about his own history of going to prison for refusing to register for the draft in 1983, the background on this new federal commission, and he addresses liberal arguments in favor of involuntary service. Edward explains: 
When you say, "I'm not willing to be drafted", you're saying, "I'm going to make my own choices about which wars we should be fighting", and when you say, "You should submit to the draft", you're saying, "You should let the politicians decide for you."
What's happening right now is that a National Commission … has been appointed to study the question of whether draft registration should be continued, whether it should be expanded to make women, as well as men register for the draft, whether a draft itself should be started, whether there should be some other kind of Compulsory National Service enacted.
The Pentagon would say, and it's true, they don't want a draft. It's not plan A, but it's always been plan B, and it's always been the assumption that if we can't get enough volunteers, if we get in over our head, if we pick a larger fight than we can pursue, we always have that option in our back pocket that, "If not enough people volunteer, we're just going to go go to the draft, go to the benches, and dragoon enough people to fight these wars."
[This] is the first real meaningful opportunity for a national debate about the draft in decades.

COURAGE TO RESIST ~ SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHO REFUSE TO FIGHT!
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559



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PACK THE COURT FOR MUMIA



Tuesday, March 27, 8:00 A.M.
Court Hearing

Room 1108, Criminal Justice Center
1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia

In a court case that could eventually lead to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom, Judge Leon Tucker has ordered the District Attorney's office to present new testimony in reference to Ronald Castille. A Status Hearing will take place Feb.26 followed by a court hearing on March 27.

Castille is a former PA Supreme Court

judge who refused to disqualify
Himself when Mumia's case came before the court despite having been the Philadelphia District Attorney during Mumia's prior appeals. The US Supreme Court has ruled such conduct unconstitutional.


The people's movement forced the courts to take Abu-Jamal off death row in 2011 but his freedom was not won. Despite his innocence he was re-sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

As an innocent man, Mumia must be freed! It is even more urgent that he gain his freedom because he is suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, severe itching and other ailments.

International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, International Action Center, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (NYC), Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, Educators for Mumia; Food Not Bombs Solidarity


What you can do:
 Call DA Larry Krasner at (215)686-8000.
Tell him to release all DA and police files on Mumia to the public.
Tell the DA to release Mumia because he's factually innocent.
 Pack the court on 2/26 and 3/27.



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International Letter in Support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


December 9, 2017
To:
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner From:
Concerned Members of International Community
A CALL TO RELEASE THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND POLICE FILES RELEVANT TO MUMIA ABU-JAMAL'S CASEAND TO FREE ABU-JAMAL NOW
We, the undersigned individual and organizational members of the international community concerned with issues of human rights, call your attention to an egregious example of human rights violations in your respective jurisdictions: the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Specifically, we call on you both, key officials with the power to determine Abu-Jamal's fate, to:
  1. Assure that all the District Attorney and police files relevant to Abu-Jamal's case, be released publicly as the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is reviewing the potential involvement of retired Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille in a conflict of interest when he reviewed Abu Jamal's case as a PA Supreme Court Justice.
  2. Release Abu-Jamal now from his incarceration. That given the mounds of evidence of Abu-Jamal's innocence and even more evidence of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct, his unjust incarceration, including almost 30 years on death row, his twice near-executions, his prison-induced illness which brought him to the brink of death, and the lack of timely treatment for his hepatitis-C which has left him with a condition, cirrhosis of the liver, which poses a potential threat to his life ... we call for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal now.
Now, Abu-Jamal has a new legal challenge in the Pennsylvania courts on the grounds that PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille had a conflict of interest when he denied Abu-Jamal's appeals from 1998-2014. The new action is based on a precedent setting U.S. Supreme Court decision, Williams v. Pennsylvania, that a judge who had been personally involved in a critical prosecutorial decision violates the defendant's right to an impartial judicial review if he then gets to rule on the case as a State Supreme Court Justice. Castille was the Philadelphia elected District Attorney during Abu-Jamal's first appeal process, after his conviction and death sentence, from 1986-1991. He was a PA Supreme Court Justice from 1994 to 2014, during which time Abu-Jamal's case came before him multiple times.
We demand: Public disclosure of the police and DA files! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Now!!
To sign onto this letter please email infomumia@gmail.com with the subject line "International Letter for Mumia." Submit your full name as you want it listed and your organizational or professional identification.This identification is critical in a letter of this sort, as names alone carry little leverage.
page1image2213076912 page1image2213077200 page1image2213077488 page1image2213077840 page1image2213078128 page1image2213078416 page1image2213078704 page1image2213079056 page1image2213079344 page1image2213079632 page1image2213079920 page1image2213080208 page1image2213080496 page1image2213080848 page1image2213081136 page1image2213081680 page1image2213081904 page1image2213082128 page1image2213082416 page1image2213082704 page1image2213082992 page1image2213083280
frantzfanonfoundation@amail.com - 58. rue Daquerre, 75014 Paris. +336 86 78 39 20. frantzfanonfoundation-fondationfrantzfanon.com 


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Major George Tillery
A Case of Gross Prosecutorial Misconduct and Police Corruption
Sexual Favors and Hotel Rooms Provided by Police to Prosecution Fact Witness for Fabricated Testimony During Trial
By Nancy Lockhart, M.J.
August 24, 2016

Corruption in The State of Pennsylvania is being exposed with a multitude of public officials indicted by the US Attorney's office in 2015 and 2016.  A lengthy list of extortion, theft, and corruption in public service includes a former Solicitor, Treasurer and Veteran Police Officer  U.S. Department of Justice Corruption Prosecutions.  On Monday August 15, 2016 Pennsylvania State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane was found guilty of all nine counts in a perjury and obstruction case related to a grand jury leak.  Pennsylvania's Attorney General Convicted On All Counts - New York Times
Although this is a small sampling of decades long corruption throughout the state of Pennsylvania, Major George Tillery has languished in prison over 31 years because of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption. Tillery was tried and convicted in 1985 in a trial where prosecutors and police created a textbook criminal story for bogus convictions. William Franklin was charged as a co-conspirator in the shootings, he was tried and convicted in December of 1980, because he refused to lie on Tillery.  Franklin is 69 years old according to the PADOC website and has been in prison 36 years. 

Major Tillery Is Not Represented by an Attorney and Needs Your Assistance to Retain One. Donate to Major Tillery's Legal Defense FundMajor Tillery, PA DOC# AM9786, will turn 66-years-old on September 9, 2016 and has spent over three decades in prison for crimes he did not commit. Twenty of those 31 plus years were spent in solitary confinement. Tillery has endured many very serious medical issues and medical neglect.  Currently, he is plagued with serious illnesses that include hepatitis C, stubborn skin rashes, dangerous intestinal disorders and a degenerative hip. His orthopedic shoes were taken by prison administrators and never returned.

Tillery, was convicted of homicide, assault, weapons and conspiracy charges in 1985, for the poolroom shootings which left one man dead and another wounded. William Franklin was the pool room operator at the time. The shooting occurred on October 22, 1976.  
Falsified testimony was the only evidence presented during trial. No other evidence linked Tillery to the 1976 shootings, except for the testimony of two jailhouse informants. Both men swore that they had received no promises, agreements, or deals in exchange for their testimony. Barbra Christie, the trial prosecutor, insisted to the Court and Jury that these witnesses were not given any plea agreements or sentencing promises. That was untrue.

Newly discovered evidence is the sole basis for Tillery's latest Pro Se filing. According to the  Post Conviction Relief Petition Filed June 15, 2016, evidence proves that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania committed fraud on the Court and Jury which undermined the fundamentals of due process. The newly discovered evidence in sworn declarations is from two prosecution fact witnesses. Those two witnesses provided the entirety of trial evidence against Major Tillery. The declarations explain false testimonies manufactured by the prosecution with the assistance of police detectives/investigators. On August 19, 2016 Judge Leon Tucker filed a Notice of Intent to Dismiss Major's PCRA petition.  Notice to Dismiss

Emanuel Claitt Has Come Forth to Declare His Testimony as Manufactured and Fabricated by Police and Prosecutors. Claitt states that his testimony during trial was fabricated and coerced by Assistant District Attorney Barbara Christie, Detectives John Cimino and James McNeshy.  Claitt swore that he was promised a very favorable plea agreement and treatment in his pending criminal cases.  Claitt was granted sexual favors in exchange for his false testimony. Claitt states that he was allowed to have sex with four different women in the homicide interview rooms and in hotel rooms in exchange for his cooperation. 

Prosecution fact witness Emanuel Claitt states in his  Declaration of Emanuel Claitt, and Emanuel Claitt Supplemental Declaration that testimony against Major Tillery was fabricated, coerced and coached by Assistant District Attorney's Leonard Ross, Barbara Christie, and Roger King with the assistance of Detectives Larry Gerrad, Ernest Gilbert, and Lt. Bill Shelton.  Claitt was threatened with false murder charges as well as, given promises and agreements of favorable plea deals and sentencing. In exchange for his false testimony, many of Claitt's cases were not prosecuted. He received probation. Additionally, he was sentenced to a mere 18 months for fire bombing and was protected after his arrest between the time of Franklin's and Tillery's trials.  

Trial Lawyer Operated Under Actual Conflict of Interest. Tillery discovered that his trial lawyer, Joseph Santaguida, also represented the victim. In other words, the victim in this case was represented by trial lawyer Santaguida and Santaguida also represented Major Tillery.  The Commonwealth has concealed newly discovered evidence as well as, evidence which would have been favorable to Major Tillery in the criminal trial. That evidence would have exonerated him. In light of the new Declarations which prove manufactured testimony by prosecutors and police, Major Tillery needs legal representation. He is not currently represented by an attorney. 
Donate: Major Tillery's Legal Defense FundClick Here & Donate

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Art by Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard Peltier!

On my 43rd year in prison I yearn to hug my grandchildren.

By Leonard Peltier

I am overwhelmed that today, February 6, is the start of my 43rd year in prison. I have had such high hopes over the years that I might be getting out and returning to my family in North Dakota. And yet here I am in 2018 still struggling for my FREEDOM at 73.
I don't want to sound ungrateful to all my supporters who have stood by me through all these years. I dearly love and respect you and thank you for the love and respect you have given me.
But the truth is I am tired, and often my ailments cause me pain with little relief for days at a time. I just had heart surgery and I have other medical issues that need to be addressed: my aortic aneurysm that could burst at any time, my prostate, and arthritis in my hip and knees.
I do not think I have another ten years, and what I do have I would like to spend with my family. Nothing would bring me more happiness than being able to hug my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I did not come to prison to become a political prisoner. I've been part of Native resistance since I was nine years of age. My sister, cousin and I were kidnapped and taken to boarding school. This incident and how it affected my cousin Pauline, had an enormous effect on me.
This same feeling haunts me as I reflect upon my past 42 years of false imprisonment. This false imprisonment has the same feeling as when I heard the false affidavit the FBI manufactured about Myrtle Poor Bear being at Oglala on the day of the fire-fight—a fabricated document used to extradite me illegally from Canada in 1976.
I know you know that the FBI files are full of information that proves my innocence. Yet many of those files are still withheld from my legal team. During my appeal before the 8th Circuit, former Prosecuting Attorney Lynn Crooks said to Judge Heaney: "Your honor, we do not know who killed those agents. Further, we don't know what participation, if any, Mr. Peltier had in it."
That statement exonerates me, and I should have been released. But here I sit, 43 years later still struggling for my freedom. I have pleaded my innocence for so long now, in so many courts of law, in so many public statements issued through the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, that I will not argue it here. But I will say again, I DID NOT KILL THOSE AGENTS!
Right now, I need my supporters here in the U.S. and throughout the world helping me. We need donations large or small to help pay my legal team to do the research that will get me back into court or get me moved closer to home or a compassionate release based on my poor health and age. Please help me to go home, help me win my freedom!
There is a new petition my Canadian brothers and sisters are circulating internationally that will be attached to my letter. Please sign it and download it so you can take it to your work, school or place of worship. Get as many signatures as you can, a MILLION would be great!
I have been a warrior since age nine. At 73, I remain a warrior. I have been here too long. The beginning of my 43rd year plus over 20 years of good time credit, that makes 60-plus years behind bars.
I need your help. I need your help today! A day in prison for me is a lifetime for those outside because I am isolated from the world.
I remain strong only because of your support, prayers, activism and your donations that keep my legal hope alive.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
Doksha,
Leonard Peltier
If you would like a paper petition, please email contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info.
—San Francisco Bay View, February 6, 2018
Write to:
Leonard Peltier 89637-132 
USP Coleman I 
P.O. Box 1033 
Coleman, FL 33521

Donations can be made on Leonard’s behalf to the ILPD national office, 116 W. Osborne Ave, Tampa, FL 33603




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More Artwork by Kevin Cooper



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Dog-Eat-Dog System
#PoorPeoplesCampaign kicks off 40 days of "Moral Action"
By Jessica Corbett
"We are witnessing an assault on the poor, on immigrants, on black and brown people, and on the Earth, and we can't let it happen any longer."
In Washington, D.C. and more than two dozen states across the country on Monday, February 5, 2018, supporters of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival gathered to kick off 40 days of "moral action" to highlight "the human impact of policies which promote systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and environmental devastation."
Led by co-chairs Reverend Dr. William J. Barber and Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis—and inspired by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s original Poor People's Campaign in the late 1960s—the campaign, which was announced last year, livestreamed a press conference from D.C. and delivered to lawmakers a letter outlining their demands for policy changes.
Barber, in a series of tweets, denounced rampant voter suppression, systemic poverty, a lack of living wages, ecological devastation, and "Christian nationalism," emphasizing an urgent need for sweeping changes in public policy on a national scale.
"We are tired of a dog-eat-dog system of life," declared Reverend Saeed Richardson, director of policy for the Chicago Renewal Society.
"We are witnessing an assault on the poor, on immigrants, on Black and Brown people, and on the Earth," said Reverend Joan Javier-Duval in Vermont, "and we can't let it happen any longer."
"This is about fighting injustice anywhere so that we don't let ourselves lose the vision of what America can be," noted Diana Martinez of the pro-immigrant Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance. "Because when racism and nativism become the rule of law it hurts all of us."
Participants from events across the U.S. shared on social media messages, photos, and videos depicting the goals of the #PoorPeoplesCampaign.
Common Dreams, February 5, 2018

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SOLIDARITY with SERVERS — PLEASE CIRCULATE!
From Clifford Conner

Dear friends and relatives

Every day the scoundrels who have latched onto Trump to push through their rightwing soak-the-poor agenda inflict a new indignity on the human race.  Today they are conspiring to steal the tips we give servers in restaurants.  The New York Times editorial appended below explains what they're trying to get away with now.

People like you and me cannot compete with the Koch brothers' donors network when it comes to money power.  But at least we can try to avoid putting our pittance directly into their hands.  Here is a modest proposal:  Whenever you are in a restaurant where servers depend on tips for their livelihoods, let's try to make sure they get what we give them.

Instead of doing the easy thing and adding the tip into your credit card payment, GIVE CASH TIPS and HAND THEM DIRECTLY TO YOUR SERVER. If you want to add a creative flourish such as including a preprinted note that explains why you are doing this, by all means do so.  You could reproduce the editorial below for their edification.

If you want to do this, be sure to check your wallet before entering a restaurant to make sure you have cash in appropriate denominations.

This is a small act of solidarity with some of the most exploited members of the workforce in America.  Perhaps its symbolic value could outweigh its material impact.  But to paraphrase the familiar song: What the world needs now is solidarity, sweet solidarity.

If this idea should catch on, be prepared for news stories about restaurant owners demanding that servers empty their pockets before leaving the premises at the end of their shifts.  The fight never ends!

Yours in struggle and solidarity,

Cliff

The Trump Administration to Restaurants: Take the Tips!
The New York Times editorial board, December 21, 2017
Most Americans assume that when they leave a tip for waiters and bartenders, those workers pocket the money. That could become wishful thinking under a Trump administration proposal that would give restaurants and other businesses complete control over the tips earned by their employees.
The Department of Labor recently proposed allowing employers to pool tips and use them as they see fit as long as all of their workers are paid at least the minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour nationally and higher in some states and cities. Officials argue that this will free restaurants to use some of the tip money to reward lowly dishwashers, line cooks and other workers who toil in the less glamorous quarters and presumably make less than servers who get tips. Using tips to compensate all employees sounds like a worthy cause, but a simple reading of the government's proposal makes clear that business owners would have no obligation to use the money in this way. They would be free to pocket some or all of that cash, spend it to spiff up the dining room or use it to underwrite $2 margaritas at happy hour. And that's what makes this proposal so disturbing.
The 3.2 million Americans who work as waiters, waitresses and bartenders include some of the lowest-compensated working people in the country. The median hourly wage for waiters and waitresses was $9.61 an hour last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further, there is a sordid history of restaurant owners who steal tips, and of settlements in which they have agreed to repay workers millions of dollars.
Not to worry, says the Labor Department, which argues, oddly and unconvincingly, that workers will be better off no matter how owners spend the money. Enlarging dining rooms, reducing menu prices or offering paid time off should be seen as "potential benefits to employees and the economy over all." The department also assures us that owners will funnel tip money to employees because workers would quit otherwise.
t is hard to know how much time President Trump's appointees have spent with single mothers raising two children on a salary from a workaday restaurant in suburban America, seeing how hard it is to make ends meet without tips. What we do know is that the administration has produced no empirical cost-benefit analysis to support its proposal, which is customary when the government seeks to make an important change to federal regulations.
The Trump administration appears to be rushing this rule through — it has offered the public just 30 days to comment on it — in part to pre-empt the Supreme Court from ruling on a 2011 Obama-era tipping rule. The department's new proposal would do away with the 2011 rule. The restaurant industry has filed several legal challenges to that regulation, which prohibits businesses from pooling tips and sharing them with dishwashers and other back-of-the-house workers. Different federal circuit appeals courts have issued contradictory rulings on those cases, so the industry has asked the Supreme Court to resolve those differences; the top court has not decided whether to take that case.
Mr. Trump, of course, owns restaurants as part of his hospitality empire and stands to benefit from this rule change, as do many of his friends and campaign donors. But what the restaurant business might not fully appreciate is that their stealth attempt to gain control over tips could alienate and antagonize customers. Diners who are no longer certain that their tips will end up in the hands of the server they intended to reward might leave no tip whatsoever. Others might seek to covertly slip cash to their server. More high-minded restaurateurs would be tempted to follow the lead of the New York restaurateur Danny Meyer and get rid of tipping by raising prices and bumping up salaries.
By changing the fundamental underpinnings of tipping, the government might well end up destroying this practice. But in doing so it would hurt many working-class Americans, including people who believed that Mr. Trump would fight for them.

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Working people are helping to feed the poor hungry corporations! 
Charity for the Wealthy!

GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 of America's Largest Corporations a $236B Tax Cut: Report

By Jake Johnson, December 18, 2017



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Addicted to War:

And this does not include "…spending $1.25 trillion dollars to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and $566 billion to build the Navy a 308-ship fleet…"



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Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:



Love this guy!


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Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:

A) EVENTS, ACTIONS 
AND ONGOING STRUGGLES

B) ARTICLES IN FULL


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A) EVENTS, ACTIONS AND ONGOING STRUGGLES


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Save the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper

From: SF Bay View <editor@sfbayview.com>
Date: December 19, 2017 at 6:42:58 PM PST
To: SF Bay View <sfbayview@lists.riseup.net>
Subject: [sfbayview] Bay View faces loss and challenge
Reply-To: SF Bay View <editor@sfbayview.com>
Bay View faces loss and challenge

With profound sadness, we bid farewell to Troy Williams, who we'd hoped would lead the Bay View's regeneration and build it into the New York Times of the Prison Abolition Movement he envisioned. Our challenge today is survival; we must face the fact that the fate of the Bay View is in your hands. To grow the number of hands willing to help, please share this message far and wide.

Please keep reading. There may not be a January paper without your help.

The problem: Advertising revenue is down for all newspapers still in print including the Bay View. Each monthly Bay View paper used to carry its own weight, with ads sufficient to pay the basic expenses of printing, distribution and mailing – and then some. Not any more. In 2017, total income from all sources – ads, subscriptions and donations – averaged only $8,000 per month. Those three basic expenses total almost $7,000 a month, and the Ratcliffs' social security barely covers the rent and a bit of the utilities.

People always ask, "Why not go web-only, like Black Agenda Report," an excellent and very influential source of news and analysis. The Bay View's role is different. The Bay View is the only publication in the country widely distributed both inside prison and out. Of the 20,000 papers we print every month, 3,000 are mailed to subscribers in prisons around the country (who pass them around to thousands more) and the other 17,000 are distributed in hoods around the Bay. 

Therein lies the solution:  The millions of people in prison and the hoods are our FREEDOM FIGHTERS. From the most intense oppression, like diamonds from coal, comes an unquenchable thirst for liberation – and the Bay View gives that force a voice and an organizing network. As a result, the Prison Abolition Movement is burgeoning everywhere and, to its leaders, the Bay View is essential. Similar energy in the hoods is making the Bay View fly off the stands faster than ever. 

Subscription revenue is way up, but at just $24 for a year, that income is a big help but it's not sufficient to pay the big bills. For that, we need more advertising and donations. 

Advertising – Are you or your friends or colleagues organizing an event for Martin Luther King Day in January or Black History Month in February? Email your flier or postcard and we'll quote you an affordable price for running it in the Bay View. Same for agencies and nonprofits with goods or services our readers should know about. Special low prices apply to Religious Directory ads and Black Pockets Directory ads for professionals and entrepreneurs. Call 415-671-0789 today to discuss an advertising campaign to support your project and your newspaper.

Donations – Hit the DONATE button near the top left side of the Bay View homepage to make a big donation if you're able or a smaller recurring donation. More and more readers are doing that, keeping the Bay View alive. The Bay View also has a nonprofit arm, so your donation can be tax deductible; read all about it HERE. I repeat: There may not be a January paper without your help. At the moment, we are flat broke.

The Ratcliffs are "older than dirt" and need to pass the torch to new leadership and a real newspaper staff. For that, we need a major fund drive. We hear about successful social media drives. Are you an expert on that or want to learn? Email editor@sfbayview.com to volunteer for a fundraising or development committee, and let's make it happen!

Good news: new website coming soon – An expert website designer is volunteering to build the Bay View a new website that can easily be read on your mobile device. A beautiful new website should convince potential donors, advertisers and subscribers that the Bay View will outlive the Ratcliffs!

Indulge in some recent stories and discover new ones every day at sfbayview.com ... 

Find a friend among the Bay View Pen Pals, who write, "I would love to hear my name at mail call."

Looking for a job, a contract, affordable housing or a scholarship or other opportunity? Check theBayView Classifieds today.

Finally, follow the Bay View on Facebook and Twitter – and lead everyone you know to do the same. 

To reach the Bay View, email editor@sfbayview.com
To subscribe to this list, email sfbayview-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

Mary Ratcliff
SF Bay View
(415) 671-0789
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We are extremely disappointed to share yesterday's ruling of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which has upheld the indefinite imprisonment of Reality Leigh Winner. Ms. Winner has been jailed without bail since June 6, 2017 for helping expose Russian hacking that targeted US election systems.
"I am beyond heartbroken" shared Winner's mother, Billie Davis-Winner. "The trial, originally scheduled in October 2017 and then reset to March 2018, will once again be reset to a much later date, but as of now we do not have a new setting. There is so much going on with the evidence and discovery and there are a few active appeals not yet ruled on. It's gonna be a long journey."
Winner, a decorated Air Force veteran with no criminal record, who has already served eight months in jail despite being convicted of no crime, and displaying every intention to face the single charge against her in court, will now be jailed for another year, regardless of the jury's eventual verdict.

SUPPORTERS RESPOND

Government transparency advocate Rainey Reitman adds that "Reality Winner is facing an unjust and unconstitutional prosecution under the Espionage Act. This 100 year old law, created to prosecute spies during World War I, isn't designed to be used on whistleblowers. Under this law, the judge won't consider her motives or the public benefits of her actions as a whistleblower. It makes it impossible for her to receive a fair trial."

Jeff Paterson, who managed the successful campaign to free Chelsea Manning, notes that, "By the time Reality's trial starts, she'll have spent a full year and half behind bars. Meanwhile the actual Russiagate indicted criminals, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, haven't spent a day in jail."
"Winner's case has precedent setting implications for whistleblowers trying to do the right thing, press freedom, election suppression, and the government's escalating war on dissent. Reality took a risk to share something that Americans had a right to know," Paterson added.

TIMELINE

January 2017 - After serving six years in the Air Force, Winner takes a job as an NSA intelligence contractor.

May 9, 2017 - President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. Winner allegedly finds and prints a classified report entitled, "Russia/Cybersecurity: Main Intelligence Directorate Cyber Actors."

May 10, 2017 - Trump celebrates with Russian officials in the White House, bragging that he had fired "nut job" Comey in order to end any "Russiagate" investigation.

May 11, 2017 - Winner allegedly sends NSA report to the media outlet "The Intercept."

May 17, 2017 - Special counsel Robert Mueller appointed to investigate "Russiagate."

June 5, 2017 - Winner arrested. During interrogation, she allegedly states, "Why do I have this job if I'm just going to sit back and be helpless … I just thought that was the final straw … I felt really hopeless seeing that information contested … Why isn't this out there? Why can't this be public?"

US v. WINNER INSIGHT

Contrary to a focus on citizens' right to know of attacks against election infrastructure, Winner's Espionage Act charge actually requires the government to prove that the leak itself caused harm rather than exposed it. Joe Whitley, attorney for Reality Winner, recently explained.
     "This is not a simple case. 18 U.S.C. § 793(e) -- the charged offense here -- is a notoriously complicated statute that has numerous elements the Government must prove, including ... that the classified intelligence reporting referenced ... constitutes "national defense information" (meaning the Document could actually threaten the national security of the US if disclosed, and that the information in the classified intelligence reporting was "closely held") and that the Defendant knew the Document contained this type of information." (Case document #203)
Winner has a top notch defense team determined to prove her innocence in court, despite the prosecution's ongoing campaign to deny her the right to a fair and open trial.
And we are the primary source of fundraising for Winner's legal defense team as well as leading public education efforts regarding this precedent setting First Amendment vs. Espionage Act case.

SOLIDARITY STEP: Make a donation today in honor of Reality's courage to do the right thing and to support her legal defense.
And tell others. BOOST THE SIGNAL!

Can you donate a few hours this month to help? We have a small list of a few well-defined volunteer tasks which we can send you to consider if they match with your interest and skills. Please email us at connect@standwithreality.org
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For complete campaign information and case documents:


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B) ARTICLES IN FULL


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1)  3½ Years After Eric Garner's Death, Family Still Waits for Closure
 FEB. 25, 2018
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"We've been waiting for almost four years. Waiting time is over," Gwen Carr, 68, said of the investigations into the death of her son, Eric Garner, on Staten Island, N.Y.CreditGareth Smit for The New York Times

 
 
The family of Anthony Baez was angered in 1996 when a New York State judge acquitted Officer Francis X. Livoti of criminally negligent homicide. Mr. Baez died after Officer Livoti placed him in a chokehold following a confrontation over a game of pickup football about two years earlier.
While federal prosecutors were investigating whether to charge the officer with civil rights violations, the city held an administrative trial in which he was fired from the New York Police Department in February 1997.
The officer's dismissal brought some closure to Mr. Baez's mother, Iris Baez, who found comfort in knowing that Mr. Livoti "wouldn't be out there ever again wearing a uniform."
Like Ms. Baez, the mother of Eric Garner, Gwen Carr, is looking for closure. It has been three and a half years since a New York police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, wrapped his arms around Mr. Garner's neck in a chokehold that helped cause his death in July 2014. The Police Department banned chokeholds in 1993.

"We've been waiting for almost four years. Waiting time is over," Ms. Carr said one frigid afternoon as she stood on the steps of City Hall demanding that Mayor Bill de Blasio fire Officer Pantaleo.
After Mr. Garner's death, a Staten Island grand jury in 2014 declined to indict Officer Pantaleo. That same year, the Department of Justice began a civil rights investigation, but the case has been delayed by a dispute between federal officials in New York and Washington, and a change in presidential administrations. The city has put off an administrative trial for Officer Pantaleo until federal prosecutors decide whether to file civil rights charges. In the meantime, Officer Pantaleo remains on desk duty.
"This investigation has dragged on for so long it's getting to the point of outrage," said William R. Yeomans, a fellow at the Alliance for Justice, a liberal judicial advocacy group, who once served as the acting assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Getting answers in some of the city's most notorious police-involved killings can often take years. With competing legal interests, family members of the victims can wait up to a five years to learn the fate of officers involved. From state criminal trials to federal civil rights investigations and the decision about whether an officer will remain on the force, the lengthy and complicated process conspires to frustrate families who say they are only seeking justice.
Mr. Yeomans said the initial request from federal prosecutors to hold off on an administrative trial was not unusual, but that the Justice Department has had enough time to act.
"The Garner case is an open, festering sore that the federal government has not taken steps to heal." Mr. Yeomans said. "At some point, the city has got to move on."
Last year the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that investigates claims of excessive force against the New York Police Department, substantiated charges of misconduct against Officer Pantaleo for using a chokehold and recommended severe penalties that could lead to his dismissal. 
The next step would be an administrative trial prosecuted by lawyers with the review board. A final recommendation would be sent to the police commissioner who can "accept, reject or modify" any suggestion.
Austin Finan, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, said in a statement that the city had never gone ahead with a disciplinary hearing if the Justice Department had requested it to wait.
The city's top lawyer, Zachary W. Carter, said the Department of Justice asked the city not to proceed with an administrative trial to avoid interfering with the federal investigation by questioning witnesses and gathering statements and testimony that could be duplicative or create prejudice.
"I have no doubt that the length of time that has passed during which the Department of Justice has had this under investigation adds to the family's anguish," Mr. Carter said. While he acknowledged that the city is under no obligation to wait on federal prosecutors, he said it would be the "highest level of irresponsibility" to move forward against their wishes.
"The more statements there are, the worse it is," said Mr. Carter, a former United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York. In the long run, "people remember the result but nobody remembers how long it took."
Devin M. O'Malley, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, declined to comment on the status of the Garner investigation.
The city has moved swiftly recently to bring administrative charges against other officers accused of misconduct.
Two officers, Edward Martins and Richard Hall, quit the Police Department in November, three days before they were scheduled to face an administrative trial. The officers' trial on charges of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in Coney Island, Brooklyn, after a drug stop had just begun. A crucial difference between the case of the two officers and Officer Pantaleo is that Mr. Martins and Mr. Hall have been charged.
Rather than hurt the federal case, Susan M. Karten, a lawyer who represented the Baez family in their civil suit against the city, said testimony gathered for Mr. Livoti's administrative trial helped reveal discrepancies among the statements of officers at Mr. Baez's arrest. While Mr. Livoti claimed that Mr. Baez's struggling set off an asthma attack, another officer said that Mr. Baez was not struggling and was handcuffed on the ground when she arrived.
The departmental trial was the first time Mr. Livoti had testified.
"I think the more prior testimony you have," Ms. Karten said, "the better in these cases where there are several people involved and they get together and get their story together."
Two officers were fired after an administrative trial in 2003 for perjuring themselves in testimony about Mr. Baez's death.
The actions of other officers as Mr. Garner was being subdued for reportedly selling illegal cigarettes, and the reports they filed, could be under scrutiny in any investigation, Ms. Karten added.
Christopher Dunn, associate legal director at the New York Civil Liberties Union, tracks Police Department disciplinary practices and the actions of the review board. He said the reluctance to move forward with an administrative trial in the Garner case made it appear as if the city was protecting its officers.
"This is unquestionably a call being made by City Hall," Mr. Dunn said. "It fairly raises questions about credibility. Whatever might have been the justification for waiting for the Department of Justice, that has lapsed."
Officer Pantaleo's lawyer, Stuart London, said his client also wanted a resolution.
"Transparency is what he wanted from the beginning, but he can't do anything with the federal civil rights case hanging over his head," Mr. London said.
Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, who was shot and killed by a police officer after being chased into his Bronx apartment in February 2012, said she hoped it did not take as long for Officer Pantaleo to face administrative charges as it did the officer who shot her son.
The officer, Richard Haste, resigned from the department in Marchafter being found guilty in an administrative trial of using poor tactical judgment, more than five years after Mr. Graham's death.
Officer Haste was initially indicted on manslaughter charges before the indictment was dismissed. A second grand jury, before which Officer Haste testified, declined to indict him. Federal prosecutors declined to press charges.
The city also held off on an administrative trial for Mr. Haste until federal prosecutors made a decision, citing a request from the Department of Justice.
"It shouldn't take years for the N.Y.P.D. to be held accountable after they kill civilians," Ms. Malcolm said.
She said Mr. Haste's punishment gave her a small measure of relief — something Ms. Carr wants.
"Even if it wasn't a full victory, she received some closure," Ms. Carr said. "That's what I'm looking for."

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2)  Behind a Key Anti-Labor Case, a Web of Conservative Donors
 FEB. 25, 2018
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Pro-labor demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in 2016 before the justices heard arguments in a case challenging mandatory union fees. The court split evenly on the case after Justice Antonin Scalia's death. CreditMark Wilson/Getty Images

 
In the summer of 2016, government workers in Illinois received a mailing that offered them tips on how to leave their union. By paying a so-called fair-share fee instead of standard union dues, the mailing said, they would no longer be bound by union rules and could not be punished for refusing to strike.
"To put it simply," the document concluded, "becoming a fair-share payer means you will have more freedom."
The mailing, sent by a group called the Illinois Policy Institute, may have seemed like disinterested advice. In fact, it was one prong of a broader campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right. It is an effort that will reach its apex on Monday, when the Supreme Court hears a case that could cripple public-sector unions by allowing the workers they represent to avoid paying fees.
One of the institute's largest donors is a foundation bankrolled by Richard Uihlein, an Illinois industrialist who has spent millions backing Republican candidates in recent years, including Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois.

Tax filings show that Mr. Uihlein has also been the chief financial backer in recent years of the Liberty Justice Center, which represents Mark Janus, the Illinois child support specialist who is the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case.
And Mr. Uihlein has donated well over $1 million over the years to groups like the Federalist Society that work to orient the judiciary in a more conservative direction. They have helped produce a Supreme Court that most experts expect to rule in Mr. Janus's favor.
The case illustrates the cohesiveness with which conservative philanthropists have taken on unions in recent decades. "It's a mistake to look at the Janus case and earlier litigation as isolated episodes," said Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, a Columbia University political scientist who studies conservative groups. "It's part of a multipronged, multitiered strategy."
In doing so, these donors have not just brought labor to the brink of crisis but threatened the Democratic Party as well.
Amid changes in the campaign finance landscape and the decline of private-sector unions, the party and its candidates have increasingly relied on major public unions for funding, including hundreds of millions of dollars in direct and indirect spending during the 2016 presidential cycle. Those unions include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, whose Council 31 is the defendant in the Janus case.
A recent paper by Mr. Hertel-Fernandez and two colleagues may foretell what Democrats can expect if Mr. Uihlein and his fellow philanthropists succeed. It found that the Democratic share of the presidential vote dropped by an average of 3.5 percentage points after the passage of so-called right-to-work laws allowing employees to avoid paying union fees. That is larger than Democrats' margin of defeat in several states that could have reversed their last three presidential losses.
And that is clearly on the mind of Republicans. In a recent interview, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, acknowledged the potential of the Janus case to hurt Democratic fund-raising for the coming midterm elections. "In states where they got rid of the automatic deduction and employees figured they could keep their own money, they did," he said. "So it could have an impact."
Conservative groups aren't alone in locking arms to advance an ideological agenda. For decades, liberal donors and foundations, sometimes working together through coalitions like the Democracy Alliance, have promoted liberal goals in a variety of ways. Some backed groups, like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, that used litigation to move American society leftward.
But the extent of the coordination on the right often dwarfs liberal efforts. Especially on the state level, conservative groups are "doing different things, mobilizing different constituencies," Mr. Hertel-Fernandez said. "But they're all working with one another. You don't see the same thing on the left."
As the percentage of unionized private-sector workers has collapsed in recent decades, public-sector unions, which have held steady in the mid-30s since the early 1980s, have increasingly become a target.
Conservatives chafe at the unions' political influence, which they believe not only props up the Democratic Party but also drives up government spending and skews public policy on issues like education.
In 2011, Wisconsin rolled back the right of most public unions to bargain over anything other than wages and eliminated the requirement that nonmembers pay fees. The portion of unionized public-sector workers in the state plummeted from half to just over one-quarter within five years.
In seeking to produce similar results nationally, conservative donors have created a symbiosis between groups aiming to overturn Supreme Court precedent favorable to unions and groups that take advantage of those rulings to drain unions of members.
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Wisconsin, which had over $800 million in assets in 2016, has funded both kinds of organizations.
In a 2014 case brought by a group that had received more than $1 million in contributions from the Bradley Foundation, the Supreme Court ruled that home-care aides and other "partial-public employees" paid through Medicaid could not be forced to pay fair-share fees if they left their unions. Unions say these fees, typically about 80 percent of standard dues, are necessary to compensate them for representing nonmembers in bargaining and grievance proceedings.
Then in 2016, the court heard a case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, that could have struck down fair-share fee requirements for all public employees represented by unions in more than 20 states, including California, Illinois and New York. The case was brought by a group that has received millions of dollars from the Bradley Foundation.
During 2015 and 2016, the foundation also substantially increased its contributions, totaling well over $1 million, to groups like the Independence Institute of Colorado and the Freedom Foundation of Washington State. Those groups have used such tools as direct mail, phone calls and door knocking to persuade public-sector workers to give up union membership.
Richard Graber, the chief executive of the Bradley Foundation, said the foundation avoided short-term tactical considerations in its giving. But he acknowledged that the increase was driven partly by the recent Supreme Court developments, which promised to make such opt-out campaigns more compelling for union members. (Some conservative groups are currently raising money for even more ambitious opt-out campaigns to take advantage of a favorable ruling this year.)
In February 2016, the month after the Supreme Court heard the Friedrichs case, Justice Antonin Scalia died, depriving conservatives of a decisive fifth vote to strike down mandatory union fees. That gave the Liberty Justice Center, backed by Mr. Uihlein, a chance to try again.
Few philanthropists have funded a more sweeping assault on labor than Mr. Uihlein, who with his wife, Elizabeth, founded a Wisconsin-based shipping supply company called Uline.
Mr. Uihlein is an ardent conservative who considers many Republican office holders too moderate on fiscal and social issues, according to those who know him.
"It's not just politics for him," said his friend Leonard A. Leo, the Federalist Society executive vice president, who declined to offer specifics on Mr. Uihlein's views. "I think he is philosophically attuned to conservative ideas," added Mr. Leo, whom the Trump White House enlisted to shepherd the Supreme Court nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch, Justice Scalia's successor.
The Uihleins have spent tens of millions of dollars over the past decade supporting Republican candidates and committees. That includes contributions to super PACs backing the 2016 presidential campaigns of Mr. Walker and Mr. Cruz, and at least $250,000 to help Mr. Walker survive a 2012 recall election. (Mr. Uihlein did not respond to a request for comment.)
The Uihleins appear to be preoccupied with state employee pensionsand the unions that negotiate them.
"Bruce is the only one in the race who isn't beholden to public-sector unions," Mr. Uihlein said of Mr. Rauner, the year before his 2014 election as Illinois governor, in an interview with Crain's Business Chicago. The Uihleins gave more than $2.5 million to his campaign.
Mr. Rauner has been a major ally in the fight against public-sector unions. Shortly after taking office in 2015, he challenged the constitutionality of mandatory union fees in federal court.
By the time a judge ruled that Mr. Rauner lacked standing for his lawsuit, the Illinois Policy Institute, which drew more than one-third of its $5.8 million in revenue that year from Mr. Uihlein's foundation, had found a viable plaintiff to replace him: Mark Janus. The Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which Mr. Uihlein also contributes to, represented Mr. Janus in court.
Since then, the policy institute has sought to persuade state employees to leave their union through its mailing campaign. It said it had obtained employees' names through Freedom of Information Act requests.
Mr. Rauner's administration has amplified the institute's message, and vice versa. In an August 2016 email to state workers, the administration highlighted a benefit of giving up union membership and urged workers to visit a website that would help them do so. The policy institute soon promoted the same website and provided similar guidance in its mailings to state workers.
Mr. Uihlein's foundation has supplemented these efforts by supporting a nonprofit called Think Freely Media, which uses storytelling techniques to champion free-market ideas, including right-to-work laws. The Uihlein foundation contributed more than $1.5 million to Think Freely from 2014 to 2016, the last year for which tax records are available.
At the center of this network is a longtime conservative activist named John Tillman, who serves as the chief executive of the Illinois Policy Institute as well as the chairman of the Liberty Justice Center and Think Freely Media.
In an interview, Mr. Tillman, who managed a call center earlier in his career and talked up his "marketing-centric approach" to promoting free enterprise, said the institute is fighting the enormous power of union leaders but is not anti-union per se.
"In the late 1800s, early 20th century, business owners had all the power, and workers had very little power," he said. "Unions and collective bargaining emerged as a way to level the playing field. I think it was an amazing story of success."
But in other contexts, Mr. Tillman has been less conciliatory.
In a fund-raising solicitation by the policy institute in December, Mr. Tillman claimed credit for helping more than 2,600 workers leave their union, resulting in a loss of $1.2 million in union revenue.
"It's time for Illinois to throw off the shackles of big labor and big government," he wrote.
"When you and I look around Illinois and see the devastation the union-dominated status quo has inflicted," he continued, "we simply have no choice."

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3)  Death Penalty Madness in Alabama
  FEB. 27, 2018
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Doyle Lee Hamm this month in Alabama as he faced execution, left, and in an undated photo in Mississippi.CreditAlabama Department of Corrections, via Associated Press (left); Mississippi Department of Corrections (right)

 
 
A man suffering from cancer strapped to a gurney after spending 30 years on death row in Alabama. An intravenous team probing him, jabbing him, for hours in an attempt to find a usable vein to administer the lethal, secret drug cocktail. Going into his groin a half-dozen times, puncturing his bladder, penetrating his femoral artery. Until, a little before the midnight deadline, they abandon the botched execution with its puncture-mark traces tattooed across the man’s legs and groin.
Doyle Lee Hamm, age 61, becomes one of the rare people to walk out of an execution chamber. “This was a bit of butchery that can only be described as torture,” his attorney, Bernard Harcourt, tells me.
Not all is rosy in Alabama, a state long prominent in the United States death belt, where these events unfolded last Thursday. The state was the darling of the world in December when Le Monde, among other leading global newspapers, gave Alabama a front page headline for defeating the ultraconservative Republican bigot and accused sexual predator Roy Moore and electing a Democrat to the United States Senate. But Alabama is a place where old habits die hard.
Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn was unmoved by the grotesque unexecution. “I wouldn’t necessarily characterize what we had tonight as a problem,” he said. That might just qualify, against stiff competition from the highest office in the land, as the dumbest statement of 2018.
This was an abomination foretold. Harcourt, who has been representing Hamm since 1990, had been arguing for months that Hamm’s case presented an unconstitutional risk of a “cruel and unnecessarily painful execution.” Hamm, convicted of the 1987 murder of a motel clerk, Patrick Cunningham, has advanced lymphatic cancer and carcinoma. He’s dying. An examination in September by a doctor from the Columbia University Medical Center found that Hamm had no usable veins and that “the state is not equipped to achieve venous access in Mr. Hamm’s case.”
So began a macabre dance characterized by an unseemly determination to execute Hamm. The Alabama Supreme Court set an execution date late last year. U.S. Chief District Judge Karon Bowdre of the Northern District of Alabama granted a stay on Jan. 31. After an emergency appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, that stay was vacated on Feb. 13 and a medical examination ordered.
The examination found that Hamm’s arms and hands were unusable but his legs and feet, or “lower extremities,” were workable. On Feb. 20, Bowdre ordered that the execution could proceed on Feb. 22. Then the 11th Circuit required that a doctor be present with ultrasound equipment. A final appeal to the Supreme Court was denied last Thursday evening, setting in motion the ghoulish proceedings.
The examination found that Hamm’s arms and hands were unusable but his legs and feet, or “lower extremities,” were workable. On Feb. 20, Bowdre ordered that the execution could proceed on Feb. 22. Then the 11th Circuit required that a doctor be present with ultrasound equipment. A final appeal to the Supreme Court was denied last Thursday evening, setting in motion the ghoulish proceedings.
Alabama has executed 61 people since the Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976. United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions was long the grim reaper of Alabama, eagerly seeking executions when he was the state’s attorney general. In President Trump, Sessions has a strong capital-punishment ally. Trump tweeted “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY” for a New York terrorist suspect in November, one of more than a dozen tweets calling for the death penalty since 2012. He has hinted strongly that he thinks the death penalty is the way to solve America’s drug crisis. The president lusts for blood.
The country, however, is moving in another direction. The number of executions has fallen to 23 in 2017, from 98 in 1999. Illinois, Connecticut, New Mexico and Maryland abolished the death penalty in recent years. Over 20 companies, including Pfizer, have prohibited their products from being used for lethal injections.
Harcourt was moved to help Hamm after learning of the abject quality of legal protection afforded indigent defendants in capital cases. After the Supreme Court denied his appeal on Thursday, and the execution looked inevitable, Harcourt told me he had said to Hamm that, “I did everything I possibly could have done but had let him down and I apologized.”
Hamm, he said, tried to console his longtime attorney: “We did everything possible.”
It is now time, after Thursday’s lesson in the consequences of inhumanity, for Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama to grant Hamm clemency and allow him to serve the rest of his life in prison.

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4) Trump’s Tax Cuts in Hand, Companies Spend More on Themselves Than on Wages
"...the vast majority of the billions of dollars in planned share purchases will benefit the richest 10 percent of American households, who own 84 percent of all stocks. The top 1 percent of households own about 40 percent of all stocks."
 FEB. 26, 2018
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Warren E. Buffett said that his company, Berkshire Hathaway, might consider buying back shares.CreditAndy Kropa/Invision, via Associated Press

 
 
President Trump promised that his tax cut would encourage companies to invest in factories, workers and wages, setting off a spending spree that would reinvigorate the American economy.
Companies have announced plans for some of those investments. But so far, companies are using much of the money for something with a more narrow benefit: buying their own shares.
Those so-called buybacks are good for shareholders, including the senior executives who tend to be big owners of their companies’ stock. A company purchasing its own shares is a time-tested way to bolster its stock price.
But the purchases can come at the expense of investments in things like hiring, research and development and building new plants — the sort of investments that directly help the overall economy. The buybacks are also most likely to worsen economic inequality because the benefits of stocks purchases flow disproportionately to the richest Americans.

The tax overhaul is the cornerstone of Mr. Trump’s economic plan. It has been a big win for companies, offering lower corporate rates and a permanent break on overseas profits. Warren E. Buffett said in his annual letter to investors on Saturday that his company, Berkshire Hathaway, enjoyed a $29 billion gain thanks to the new tax law.
What companies do with the trillions of dollars they’re bringing back to the United States, and the money they will save each year on their tax bills, will in large part determine whether the plan is a success or a failure.
As the tax cuts kick in, companies have laid out a variety of uses for the money. Some are paying out one-time bonuses to employees. Others are raising salaries. Others plan to open new factories.
In the fourth quarter, American companies’ investments in things like factories and business equipment grew by 6.8 percent. That was the fastest growth rate since 2014, but far from the giant surge in capital spending that was promised ahead of the tax overhaul.
But the buying back of shares is also at record levels.
Almost 100 American corporations have trumpeted such plans in the past month. American companies have announced more than $178 billion in planned buybacks — the largest amount unveiled in a single quarter, according to Birinyi Associates, a market research firm.
Such purchases reduce a company’s total number of outstanding shares, giving each remaining share a slightly bigger piece of the profit pie.
Cisco said this month that in response to the tax package, it would bring back to the United States $67 billion of overseas cash, using $25 billionto finance additional share repurchases. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, authorized up to $8.6 billion in stock purchases. PepsiCo announced a fresh $15 billion in planned buybacks. Chip gear maker Applied Materials disclosed plans for a $6 billion program to buy shares. Late last month, home improvement retailer Lowe’s unveiled plans for $5 billion in purchases.
On Monday, Mr. Buffett said on CNBC that Berkshire might be open to buy some of its shares. The remarks helped send Berkshire’s stock — and the broader market — higher.
More buybacks are almost certainly on the way. UBS analysts covering Apple said the iPhone maker might authorize another $30 billion in share purchases when it reports its next quarterly earnings in April. That would be on top of the $30 billion it already spends each year to buy back its shares.
“I’m expecting buybacks to get to a record for 2018,” said Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst with S.&P. Dow Jones Indices. “And if I’m disappointed, there’s a lot of people with me.”
The flurry of planned buybacks has been good for the stock market. Early this month, stocks were down more than 10 percent from their January peak. The prospect of companies flooding markets with “buy” orders helped the market recoup some of its losses.
The broader impact on the economy is less clear. Economists believe a rising stock market benefits the economy, helping support consumer and business confidence. But the vast majority of the billions of dollars in planned share purchases will benefit the richest 10 percent of American households, who own 84 percent of all stocks. The top 1 percent of households own about 40 percent of all stocks.
Ultimately, the effect of the rising stock market depends on how those wealthy investors use their windfall. It helps the economy more, for example, if they put the money toward productive new companies than if they invest in government bonds.
Companies typically decide to make long-term investments in things like new workers and factories based on whether they will make the company more profitable — not merely because the companies are sitting on a pile of money that they otherwise would have paid in taxes.
At a news conference Thursday, the head of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, acknowledged that many companies were spending their money on buying their own shares.
“Right now we’re going to have an adjustment where you see probably more dividends and share buybacks than wage increases,” Mr. Hassett said. “But going forward we’re going to see a lot of capital formation and wage growth.”
That is not what happened in 2005, when a one-time tax holiday allowed companies to repatriate money on the cheap. That plan, championed by President George W. Bush, was sold as a way to get American companies to invest more in the domestic economy.
Some $300 billion came back to the United States that year. But economists estimated that as much as 92 percent of it may have been paid out to companies’ shareholders — mostly in the form of buybacks.
Studies have shown that the tax change lifted companies’ stock prices but did not expand their American work forces.
Until the early 1980s, the practice of buying shares with corporate money was considered borderline illegal because it was thought to potentially open the company up to charges of manipulating share prices.
But in 1982 the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a rule that gave the green light to most share repurchases, as long as they followed certain rules.
Historically, American companies had paid out profits with a quarterly check, known as a dividend. But after the S.E.C.’s rule change, companies started using more of their profits to buy their own shares, in the process giving their shareholders a bigger piece of the company.
Buybacks soon soared. By 2016, the most recent year for which there is complete data, companies spent $536 billion on purchasing their own shares, according to data from S. & P. Dow Jones Indices.
That was about 5 percent less than those companies spent on new plants, research and development and other investments. By contrast, 20 years ago, companies spent four times as much on such investments as they did on buybacks.
Some economists think the surge in share buybacks has something to do with the relative decline in capital investments, which recently have been lower than expected.
“We have some causal evidence that because of short-termism companies are doing some stock repurchases that maybe they shouldn’t do,” said Heitor Almeida, a professor of corporate finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “And maybe that’s causing them to reduce investment.”

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5)  Contractors Are Leaving Puerto Rico, Where Many Still Lack Power
 FEB. 26, 2018
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Workers installing a power pole in Coamo, P.R., last month. Nearly 1,000 workers have left the island in the last two weeks in what the Army Corps of Engineers calls a “responsible drawdown.”CreditCarlos Giusti/Associated Press

 
SAN JUAN, P.R. — Though hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans remain in the dark five months after a devastating hurricane trampled the island’s power grid, the federal government has begun to scale back the number of contractors it has working to get the lights back on.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of the federal effort to repair the power grid on the island, where a Category 4 storm last fall knocked out electricity to every home and business. The corps gave major contracts to two companies, Fluor Corporation and PowerSecure, and coordinates their work with the efforts of the island’s government-run power utility, which has also hired contractors and brought in crews from mainland utilities.
At one point, there were a total of 6,200 workers repairing transmission and distribution lines across the island, about half of them working for the corps. Now that power has been restored to more than 1.1 million people, by the utility’s count — about 86 percent of the island’s customers — the corps said it would begin a “responsible drawdown” of its work force.
Nearly 1,000 power workers have left the island in the past two weeks, according to Twitter messages posted by the corps. Fluor still had 1,600 people in Puerto Rico as of Sunday, but its contract period is “nearing the end,” and PowerSecure is scheduled to wrap up work by April 7, the corps said.

The decision to scale back was met with “indignation” across the island, said Jorge L. González Otero, the mayor of Jayuya, a town in the central part of the island, where about half the residents still lack power.
Fluor has already billed the maximum amount allowed under its $750 million contract, and its subcontractors were told last week to pack up.
“Fluor was among the first companies to get here, about a month and a half ago,” Mr. González Otero said, referring to Jayuya. “They said the contract was over, and they left everything half-done.”
“Imagine, I have people here without power for five months who are 80 years old, disabled, bedridden,” he added, “and they were just beginning to see people 50 meters away get their electricity back. They are growing desperate.”
Fluor’s crews would not be the first contractors to leave abruptly. After a scandal erupted over the Puerto Rico government’s award of its first power restoration contract, worth $300 million, to a small Montana firm, Whitefish Energy, the government canceled the deal.
Many people involved in power restoration said that officials overseeing the work were disappointed with the Army Corps of Engineers contractors. Fluor in particular was criticized for working sluggishly and using up the money available under its contract without accomplishing as much as expected.
Fluor is a Texas-based construction giant that has done more than $30 billion in government work over the past four decades, much of it for the Defense Department, federal records show.
“I understand that they were slow — super slow,” Mr. González Otero said. “Now we don’t have anyone, slow or at all. We have no one.”
Justo González, the interim executive director of the island’s government-owned utility, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, also was critical of Fluor’s performance.
“We compared, and saw better work from other companies,” Mr. González said in an interview.
Even so, he said, the corps’s decision to let the Fluor workers leave was worrisome.
“It concerns me,” he said. “It can affect our ability to energize. We wanted them to continue. What do I want? To energize as quickly as possible.”
A spokesman for Fluor denied that there had been any questions about its work.
“To date, we have restored power to 250,000 customers by fixing 7,500 poles, installing 462 miles of wire, more than 20,000 conductors, and repaired 170 transmission lines,” the company said. Under the limits set by the contract on the time and money to be expended, the company said, “we are reaching the end of both, and have been directed by the corps to begin transitioning people and equipment off of the island.”
The corps said that restoring power to some of the hardest-hit areas of Puerto Rico, including Arecibo and Caguas, would take a few more months. The “right number of restoration workers” were “actively engaged” in completing the job, the corps said in a statement.
“We will not rest until we have the lights back on for all of our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico,” Col. Jason Kirk said in the statement.
Ahsha Tribble, who oversees power efforts for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Puerto Rico, said it was unfair to single out Fluor for leaving before restoration was complete, because other private companies that came to the island from New York and other states under mutual assistance agreements were also considering scaling back soon.
“At 86 percent restoration, we are starting to shave off people,” Ms. Tribble said. “In any normal course of restoration, you ramp up until you start getting your successes, and then you begin to start ramping down.”
Many of the remaining areas without power are in mountainous regions where it is not possible to squeeze in thousands of workers at once, she said.
Island residents, many of them still struggling to get basic services, were surprised by the corps’s announcement.
“We are so appreciative of everything these people have done — these workers risked their lives coming here, working in dangerous helicopters and all of that,” said Nydia Guzmán, 72, who spent Friday at one of the utility’s customer service offices, along with dozens of other customers who were disputing their bills.
“But they can’t leave now,” Ms. Guzmán said. “There’s too much left to be done.”

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6) Judge Rejects Lawsuit Seeking to Legalize Marijuana Nationwide
 FEB. 26, 2018
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Alexis Bortell, 12, who treated her epilepsy with medical marijuana, was a plaintiff on the lawsuit seeking to legalize the drug. CreditDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

 
A federal judge in New York tossed out a sweeping lawsuit Monday thatsought to make marijuana legal under federal law, ruling that the plaintiffs had failed to take the necessary first step of asking the Drug Enforcement Administration to remove cannabis from its list of dangerous substances.
The ruling by the judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan, was a stinging defeat for the plaintiffs — among them a former professional football player who owns a company that sells pot-based pain relievers, a 12-year-old girl who treats her chronic epilepsy with medical marijuana and a nonprofit group that works on behalf of minorities in the marijuana industry.
Though several courts have ruled in the past against similar litigation, the suit dismissed on Monday was passing through the courts as the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era policy and, in January, encouraged federal prosecutors to go after marijuana sellers, even in states that have legalized the drug, imperiling the viability of the country’s multibillion-dollar pot industry.
The suit, filed in July, employed some novel legal arguments, including a claim that the country’s marijuana laws have traditionally discriminated against minorities and have long precluded people who use pot for their illnesses from boarding airplanes, which are regulated by the federal government.

In a 20-page opinion, Judge Hellerstein said that his decision did not address the plaintiff’s central argument that marijuana has medical benefits and thus should not be classified under the 1970 Controlled Substances Acts as a so-called Schedule 1 drug, the category reserved for the most pernicious substances. Judge Hellerstein noted, for example, that the 12-year-old girl, Alexis Bortell, used to have several epileptic seizures a day, but after treating herself with medical marijuana “she has gone nearly three years without a single seizure.”
Rather, the judge said, under federal rules, the plaintiffs were bound to ask the D.E.A. to declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug — and they did not. The D.E.A. rejected a similar request in a separate case in 2011 and again in 2016.
In his opinion, Judge Hellerstein quoted a colleague, Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford of Federal District Court in Rochester, who ruled two years ago that while marijuana has a clear medical purpose, Congress and the D.E.A. still have a right to regulate it.
The 98-page lawsuit presented its case for legalization not only through a host of constitutional arguments, but also by way of history — from marijuana’s first purported role 10,000 years ago in the production of Taiwanese pottery to the smoking habits of President Obama in his younger days. It pointed out that the ancient Egyptians used the drug to treat eye sores and hemorrhoids, and Thomas Jefferson puffed it for his migraines. James Madison credited “sweet hemp” for giving him “insight to create a new and democratic nation,” the suit noted.
Judge Hellerstein, however, seemed to be leaning toward rejecting the plaintiffs’ arguments when he held oral arguments earlier this month. In court, he appeared to agree with lawyers for the Justice Department, who maintained that if the plaintiffs wanted to legalize marijuana they should try to change the law.
Joseph A. Bondy, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he and his partners might appeal Judge Hellerstein’s ruling or ask him to reconsider his decision.
“The bottom line is that we think the judge neglected parts of our argument that were of critical importance,” Mr. Bondy said. “We believe in our claims and we’re going to continue to push the ball forward.”

 
 

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7)  March For Our Lives
Can you give two days to stop the slaughter?
By David Swanson
CounterPunch, February 25, 2018

The power of mass demonstrations to mobilize activism and move those in positions of power is minimized, first and foremost, by those opposed to popular power. Do not listen to them. Make them listen to us!
Can you give two days to stop the slaughter of innocents and the shameless profiteering from their blood? If you can give more, so much the better. But by giving two days, you will guarantee that others will give more. You will be part of building the necessary momentum, the key ingredient in social change.
These are the two days to give: March 24 and November 11. If you can’t give those, or want more, pick some others. But here’s why I say those two, and why the top priority is to be in Washington, D.C., but just as important is to be visible everywhere else.

March 24

On March 24 in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere in the U.S. (and beyond?), students and teachers and everyone else who values lives over guns will march against gun violence. But the strategy will be weak unless millions of us uninvited marchers show up to augment the message with what it is not permissible to say. The culture of gun violence is fueled by the culture of militarism and by the military. A hugely disproportionate share of mass-shooters have been U.S. military veterans. Some have been JROTC students. The recent killer in Florida was trained to kill by the U.S. Army in the very school where he killed. The JROTC’s “history” classes, the Army’s video games, the military’s role in producing Hollywood movies, the Pentagon’s unloading of old weapons on police departments and the general public — this is all done with our tax dollars. The NRA understands the connections perfectly, and churns out advertisements promoting more wars. If we don’t make the connections, we won’t win. So, bring these signs. And help us keep military recruiters out of schools.
By the way, March 24 was the day in 1999 when the United States and NATO began 78 days of bombing Yugoslavia. Fittingly, March 24 is also International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. A great day around which to create a new holiday tradition!
So, go sign up here![1] And (this is important!) politely encourage the organizers to acknowledge the existence of the JROTC.

November 11

Since the United States destroyed North Korea almost 70 years ago, November 11 has been called, in the United States, “Veterans Day.” This year, Donald Trump proposes to stage a giant parade of weaponry through the streets of Washington, D.C. But prior to the intense propaganda campaign around the brutal bombardment that leveled most North Korean cities, and to this day in much of the rest of the world, November 11 is known as Armistice Day, or in some places Remembrance Day.
At 11 o’clock on this 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years ago this year, World War I ended. It was a scheduled end to the war, with the killing and dying pointlessly continuing right up to that moment. The worldwide celebration after the armistice was euphoric. And those who had believed the propaganda about a “war to end all war” and those who had not were united in desiring to make it true. Armistice Day was for years promoted by the U.S. government among others as a day to work for global friendship and peace. Parading the instruments of death that suck down 60 percent of the budget Congress votes on each year is not a way to build friendship or peace.
But our “Armistice Day, Not Trump Day” will be weak if it includes only those who have learned to reject war propaganda and dedicated themselves to ending war and weapons dealing. We need, again, from the other direction, to make the connections. We need to include in our peace parade those who reject the militarization of schools, of police, or borders, and of entertainment. Those who care about the earth’s climate must not sit by while the single greatest contributors to climate change are paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue. Those who care about investment in human needs will metaphorically shoot themselves in the foot if they fail to oppose the glorification of wasting trillions of dollars on weaponry. Those who want safety need to earn it by demonstrating to the world that people in the United States do not agree with the policy of bombing foreign countries.
So, go sign up at March for our Lives, and invite people and organizations to do so too. And if we help prevent the Trumparade from happening, our celebration will go forward even bigger and better!

Can madness be cured by marching?

“Madness in individuals is something rare; 
but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.” —Friedrich Nietzsche
The two marches planned for March and for November are the same march when seen from the perspective of a national psychiatrist. The racism, militarism, and extreme materialism they address are a single disease.
The U.S. has had mass shootings on military bases full of people with guns. The U.S. has filled its schools with armed guards, who have not prevented a single shooting but have criminalized children’s behavior. Proposing to put more guns into schools is not a sane proposal.
Other nations have banned guns, or banned the worst guns, and seen dramatic decreases in mass shootings. Throwing up one’s hands and exclaiming that nothing can be done is not the action of a population or sub-population that is thinking straight.
The U.S. puts almost as much money into war weaponry as the rest of the world combined, with much of the rest of the world buying U.S. weaponry pushed on it by a U.S. State Department turned into a weapons dealer. The result is anti-U.S. hostility at levels other nations can’t imagine going to such expense and effort to generate. Celebrating the weapons that endanger and impoverish is a form of sickness.
Each war kills large numbers of innocent people, disproportionately the very old and the very young. Each day, the vast majority of the people killed with U.S. weapons are outside the United States. Each war leaves a new area of the world devastated, more violent, and a greater threat to others.
When you’re in a hole, the first step is not to use explosives to dig faster.
There are some things, said Dr. King, to which we should insist on remaining maladjusted.
In a time of universal deceit, said George Orwell, telling the truth becomes an act of rebellion.
Can a large group of thoughtful, committed citizens change the world? Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
CounterPunch, February 25, 2018

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8) Dick’s Sporting Goods, Major Gun Retailer, Stops Selling Assault-Style Weapons
The gun department in a Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Paramus, N.J., in 2012. The retailer is taking a stance in the national debate on gun control by ending sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores.CreditVictor J. Blue/Bloomberg


One of the nation’s largest sports retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods, said Wednesday morning it was immediately ending sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores.
The retailer also said that it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines and that it would not sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age, regardless of local laws.
The announcement, made two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 students and staff members, is one of the strongest stances taken by corporate America in the national gun debate. It also carries symbolic weight, coming from a prominent national gun seller.
Late last week, after coming under attack on social media for their ties to the National Rifle Association, a number of major companies, including Hertz car rental, MetLife insurance and Delta Air Lines, publicly ended those relationships, issuing brief, carefully phrased statements.
But Edward Stack, the 63-year-old chief executive of Dick’s whose father founded the store in 1948, is deliberately steering his company directly into the storm, making clear that the company’s new policy was a direct response to the Florida shooting.
“When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset,” Mr. Stack said in an interview Tuesday evening. “We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘enough is enough.’ It got to us.”
He added, “We’re going to take a stand and step up and tell people our view and, hopefully, bring people along into the conversation.”
Mr. Stack said he hoped that conversation would include politicians. As part of its stance, Dick’s is calling on elected officials to enact what it called “common sense gun reform’’ by passing laws to raise the minimum age to purchase guns to 21, to ban assault-type weapons and so-called bump stocks, and to conduct broader universal background checks that include mental-health information and previous interactions with law enforcement.
This is not the first time Dick’s has made changes in response to a school massacre. In 2012, after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26 people, Dick’s removed assault-style rifles from its main retail stores. But a few months later, the company began carrying the firearms at its outdoor and hunting retail chain, Field & Stream.
This time, Mr. Stack said, the changes will be permanent.
Mr. Stack said the retailer began scouring its purchase records shortly after the identity of the suspected Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, became known. The company soon discovered it had legally sold a gun to Mr. Cruz in November, though it was not the gun or type of gun used in the school shooting.
“But it came to us that we could have been a part of this story,’’ he said. “We said, ‘We don’t want to be a part of this any longer,’” said Mr. Stack.
That decision raised rounds of discussions with top executives inside the company as well as the directors, all of whom backed the decision to take a stance, said Mr. Stack.
As of Wednesday morning, the company said all AR-15s and other semiautomatic rifles would be removed from its stores and websites.
Mr. Stack said Dick’s remained a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and will continue to sell a variety of sport and hunting firearms. Although he has never been a member of the N.R.A., Mr. Stack said he is, in fact, a gun owner and enjoys trapshooting clay targets.
But when it comes to selling guns to individuals under 21 years of age or stocking assault-style rifles, Mr. Stack said his company was done. “We don’t want to be a part of a mass shooting,” he said.
Dick’s informed its employees of the new policy in an internal note Wednesday morning, shortly after Mr. Stack appeared on “Good Morning America” to discuss the decision.
Dick’s is not the first retailer to stop selling the semiautomatic guns. In 2015, Walmart said that it would no longer sell high-powered rifles in its stores in the United States. But Walmart sidestepped any controversy involving gun politics, attributing its decision to lower customer demand for the military-style rifles.
It is unclear what financial impact the decision will have on Dick’s business. Neither Dick’s nor its competitor, Cabela’s, now owned by Bass Pro Shops, have broken out firearm sales in their financial reports. But last August, Dick’s shares plummeted after it said weak results from its hunting segment resulted in its missing Wall Street’s second-quarter earnings estimates.
Over all, firearm sales for retailers and gun manufacturers have slumped since Donald J. Trump was elected president, as fears of stricter gun regulation receded. Firearm sales data for the United States is not readily available, but background checks tumbled more than 8 percent last year, the largest fall since the F.B.I. began keeping track in 1998.
Mr. Stack said he and his company expected there would be mixed response — including fallout — to its new policy.
“The whole hunting business is an important part of our business, and we know there is going to be backlash on this,” said Mr. Stack. “But we’re willing to accept that.”
He added, “If the kids in Parkland are being brave enough to stand up and do this, we can be brave enough to stand up with them.”

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9) The West Virginia Teacher Strike Not Over Yet
Schools in West Virginia will remain closed Thursday, despite a deal between union leaders and the governor.
By Dave Jamieson, February 28, 2018
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/west-virginia-teacher-strike-might-not-be-over-yet_us_5a970a85e4b0e6a5230453f0



UPDATE: 11:30 p.m. ― All of West Virginia’s schools will remain closed on Thursday, despite a tentative deal between union leaders and Gov. Jim Justice earlier in the week. Many teachers had taken to the halls of the state’s Capitol during a “cooling off” period to voice their ongoing frustration with the negotiations.
It will be the sixth day all schools across the state have been shuttered. 
Earlier: The tentative deal struck Tuesday night to end a statewide teacher strike in West Virginia is on shaky ground just hours after being announced by Gov. Jim Justice (R), with employees in some counties pondering whether to extend a walkout that seemed to be over.
Striking teachers continued to fill the halls of the state capitol in Charleston on Wednesday despite the day being billed as a “cooling off” period before schools would reopen on Thursday. Many of them demanded that the unions and legislators get back to the bargaining table to improve a deal they deemed unsatisfactory.
The arrangement Justice rolled out would give teachers and other school personnel a five percent raise, and workers employed by the state a three percent raise. Although it marked progress from the meager wage increases earlier proposed by Justice, the deal did not placate strikers’ bigger concerns over the state employee health care program.
Justice said the state would temporarily freeze employee costs under the program, known as the Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA), while a task force was set up to develop a long-term fix to rising premiums and co-pays. But many striking employees apparently don’t trust the issue will be resolved, and fear increased health costs could wipe away their raises.
The director of the West Virginia Education Association, one of the two state unions leading the strike, told The Charleston Gazette Mail on Wednesday that “we’ll wait and see” whether the strike continues.
Jenny Santilli, a Spanish teacher protesting at the Capitol on Wednesday, said many teachers would have rejected the deal had union leaders put it up for a vote. Santilli was upset that the health care issue remained in play, and that state workers would have to settle for smaller pay increases than educators. 
“We’re furious,” she said. “All hell is breaking loose.”
Striking workers weren’t the only ones to find out the details of the deal when it was announced at a press conference by Justice Tuesday night. A Republican source who asked to remain anonymous said many GOP legislators learned of the deal in a caucus meeting while watching Justice live on television. Shouting erupted from members upset with the offer.
Teachers and other school employees first walked off the job last Thursday, with the workers in all 55 counties onboard with the first such major strike in West Virginia since 1990. Teachers have not seen an across-the-board pay hike since 2014, and increasing health care costs mean take-home pay has gone down for some.
West Virginia ranks 48th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in teacher pay, according to the National Education Association.
Public-sector workers do not have collective bargaining rights in West Virginia. Unlike in most other states, unions do not negotiate contracts for their members spelling out pay and benefits, then have members vote on them; instead, the unions must pressure the state legislature to pass bills.
As of Wednesday afternoon, all employees had was the governor’s word that legislators would take up and approve his proposal.
Santilli said many teachers in her area, Harrison County, were leaning toward continuing the strike on Thursday. While the strike so far has shut down schools across the state, it’s possible dissatisfaction with the deal could lead to reopenings in some counties but not others, splintering what had been a unified strike under the banner of #55strong.
Greg Cruey, a teacher and union representative at his school in McDowell County, said he believed union leaders struck a good deal under the circumstances. He called the raise “more than we’ve gotten in a long, long time.”
He said he was satisfied that unions would have a place on the task force formed to address the state employee health plan, and added that teachers could walk out again if legislators don’t follow through on their end of the proposed deal.
But Cruey acknowledged that many of his colleagues think quite differently, and that the historic strike might not yet be over.
“There a lot of discord and confusion and unhappiness,” he said. ”It won’t surprise me if there are a few more strike days. The question is whether the union will stick together in solidarity, and whether ‘55 united’ means something or whether we’ll eat our young instead.”
Nick Visser contributed to this report.


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