Saturday, December 01, 2018






We refuse to pay to protest!

Women's March on the Pentagon, October 2018

For Immediate Release

What: The day before Thanksgiving, Cindy Sheehan, co-coordinator of the recent Women's March on the Pentagon (WMOP) was presented with a $540.00 gill for "police escort" by the Arlington County Virginia Police Department (ACPD).

Background: Beginning in July, leadership of WMOP began taking steps to secure permits from the two jurisdictions that the WMOP would take on October 21st (51st anniversary of the March on the Pentagon during the Vietnam War): 

Arlington County (brief march) and the Pentagon. Although WMOP eventually obtained a permit from the Pentagon, WMOP was never able to obtain a permit from Arlington County and many phone messages left by DC area Co-ordinator Malachy Kilbride were never returned by the ACPD.

On the day of the March, about 1500 people gathered at the Pentagon City Metro station (for a 12pm March start) in front of the mall and at about 10:30am, to the surprise of March organizers, ACPD showed up and did stop traffic for the brief March through Arlington County.

The organizers of the WMOP are outraged and appalled by this obvious violation of our First Amendment rights to gather “peaceably” and demonstrate one of the sacrosanct rights to our Freedom of Speech. 

The DC area co-ordinator for the WMOP Malachy Kilbride had this to say upon receipt of the bill:  “As a former resident of Arlington County of over 20 years I am disturbed that the county is following in the footsteps of the Trump Administration which wants to charge people for First Amendment activity. Shame on Arlington County! The First Amendment is priceless and shouldn’t be monetized.”

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF)* the D.C. based non-profit legal organization that works to protect and advance the constitutional rights of protestors has issued the following letter to the ACPD on behalf of the Women’s March on the Pentagon:

Chief Jay Farr

Lt. John Feden

Arlington County Police Department

1425 North Courthouse Rd
. Arlington, VA 22201
Dear Chief Farr and Lt. Feden:

We are writing on behalf of Cindy Sheehan in response to Lt. John Feden’s e-mail correspondence dated November 21, 2018. 

The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) has issued an invoice to Ms. Sheehan seeking to charge her for engaging in constitutionally protected First Amendment activities. Specifically, the invoice is stated to be “for the police services we provided October 21st during the March On the Pentagon,” and demands $540.00 for what is described as “police escort for The Women’s March on the Pentagon.” 

This attempt to tax free speech is without lawful basis and violates Ms. Sheehan’s constitutional rights. We request that this invoice be immediately withdrawn.

Ms. Sheehan did not request police “services,” nor was she given prior notice that the ACPD intended to send police to the demonstration and charge her for their time.  At no time did Ms. Sheehan agree to pay for any such charges. 

Indeed, the ACPD actually refused to respond to Ms. Sheehan’s efforts to coordinate the First Amendment activities with them. An application for a permit was submitted for the March and thereafter, Arlington Country was nonresponsive to follow up efforts. After failing and refusing to return phone calls regarding the March, the ACDP appeared at the Pentagon City mall in front of the metro stop entrance at the starting point for the march, well before the march was scheduled to step off. At that time Ms. Sheehan expressed her surprise at their presence given their refusal to communicate with the March organizers. 

The ACPD may not charge demonstrators for First Amendment activities at its own discretion. We are requesting that the ACPD provide all policy documents, guidelines, and criteria that the department relies upon in assessing charges on demonstration activities as well as any notice it believes was given to Ms. Sheehan of such policies and procedures. 

We further request that the ACPD issue instructions to personnel consistent with constitutional obligations to ensure that organizers of demonstration activity are not improperly charged in the future.


Mara Verheyden-Hilliard (PCJF)  

The Women’s March on the Pentagon adamantly refuses to pay for this appalling violation of our constitutional rights.

*The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund is a free speech and civil rights organization that has defended First Amendment rights for over 20 years in Washington, D.C. and around the country. It is currently challenging the Trump Administration’s proposed anti-protest rules that would levy potentially bankrupting fees and costs on demonstrators who engage in constitutionally protected free speech on public parkland in the nation’s capital. More information here.

*(Women’s) March on the Pentagon is a women-led coalition of activists, professionals, military veterans, and everyday citizens of the world with one thing in common: we are anti-imperialist. More info can be found here.

  This press release can also be found on our website:

Join the Facebook group:



America has spent $5.9 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says

  • The U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $5.9 trillion since they began in 2001.
  • The figure reflects the cost across the U.S. federal government since the price of war is not borne by the Defense Department alone.
  • The report also finds that more than 480,000 people have died from the wars and more than 244,000 civilians have been killed as a result of fighting. Additionally, another 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.






Sunday, December 2, 2018...

A Message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal:

Join Us at the Howard Zinn Book Fair!

The 5th Annual Howard Zinn Book Fair
San Francisco City College Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia Street,

December 2, 2018 from 10am-6pm.

This year's theme is Fighting for the Air We Breathe.

Attend the workshop:

Class Struggle Defense
and the Case of Mumia Abu Jamal

Presented by:

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

4 PM, Room 321, at the Book Fair
Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia Street


Gerald Smith, Former Black Panther Party
Jack Heyman, ILWU (longshore union) retired

And look for our literature table, featuring books by and about 
political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. 


Open letter to active duty soldiers on the border
Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the U.S. are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country's elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.
Courage to Resist has been running a strategic outreach campaign to challenge troops to refuse illegal orders while on the border, such as their Commander-in-Chief's suggestion that they murder migrants who might be throwing rocks, or that they build and help run concentration camps. In addition to social media ads, About Face, Veterans For Peace, and Courage to Resist, are also printing tens of thousands of these leaflets for distribution near the border. Please consider donating towards these expenses.

Don't turn them away

The migrants in the Central American caravan are not our enemies

Open letter to active duty soldiers
Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the U.S. are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country's elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.
"There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone."
These extremely poor and vulnerable people are desperate for peace. Who among us would walk a thousand miles with only the clothes on our back without great cause? The odds are good that your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived similar experiences to these migrants. Your family members came to the U.S. to seek a better life—some fled violence. Consider this as you are asked to confront these unarmed men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. To do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy.
The U.S. is the richest country in the world, in part because it has exploited countries in Latin America for decades. If you treat people from these countries like criminals, as Trump hopes you will, you only contribute to the legacy of pillage and plunder beneath our southern border. We need to confront this history together, we need to confront the reality of America's wealth and both share and give it back with these people. Above all else, we cannot turn them away at our door. They will die if we do.
By every moral or ethical standard it is your duty to refuse orders to "defend" the U.S. from these migrants. History will look kindly upon you if you do. There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone. It is much harder to punish the many than the few.
In solidarity,
Rory Fanning
Former U.S. Army Ranger, War-Resister
Spenser Rapone
Former U.S. Army Ranger and Infantry Officer, War-Resister
Leaflet distributed by:
  • About Face: Veterans Against the War
  • Courage to Resist
  • Veterans For Peace
Courage to Resist has been running a strategic outreach campaign to challenge troops to refuse illegal orders while on the border, such as their Commander-in-Chief's suggestion that they murder migrants who might be throwing rocks, or that they build and help run concentration camps. In addition to social media ads, About Face, Veterans For Peace, and Courage to Resist, are also printing tens of thousands of these leaflets for distribution near the border. Please consider donating towards these expenses.
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559 ~*---------*---------*---------*---------*---------*---------*




New "Refuse War" Shirts

We've launched a new shirt store to raise funds to support war resisters. 

In addition to the Courage to Resist logo shirts we've offered in the past, we now  have a few fun designs, including a grim reaper, a "Refuse War, Go AWOL" travel theme, and a sporty "AWOL: Support Military War Resisters" shirt.

Shirts are $25 each for small through XL, and bit more for larger sizes. Please allow 9-12 days for delivery within the United States.

50% of each shirt may qualify as a tax-deductible contribution.

Courage to Resist -- Support the Troops who Refuse to Fight!
484 Lake Park Ave. #41, Oakland, CA 94610, 510-488-3559 --







Court: Evidence To Free Mumia, To Be Continued...
District Attorney Larry Krasner Opposes Mumia Abu-Jamal's Petition for New Rights of Appeal – Despite Clear Evidence of Ronald Castille's Bias and Conflict of Interest When He Participated As a PA Supreme Court Justice Denying Abu-Jamal's Post-Conviction Appeals from 1998-2012

October 29, 2018: A victory—the judge granted a 30-day extension to defense attorneys seeking to have Mumia's previous appeals vacated so they can file a new appeal!

Free Mumia Now!
Mumia's freedom is at stake in a court hearing on August 30th. 
With your help, we just might free him!
Check out this video:

This video includes photo of 1996 news report refuting Judge Castille's present assertion that he had not been requested at that time to recuse himself from this case, on which he had previously worked as a Prosecutor:
A Philadelphia court now has before it the evidence which could lead to Mumia's freedom. The evidence shows that Ronald Castille, of the District Attorney's office in 1982, intervened in the prosecution of Mumia for a crime he did not commit. Years later, Castille was a judge on the PA Supreme Court, where he sat in judgement over Mumia's case, and ruled against Mumia in every appeal! 
According to the US Supreme Court in the Williams ruling, this corrupt behavior was illegal!
But will the court rule to overturn all of Mumia's negative appeals rulings by the PA Supreme Court? If it does, Mumia would be free to appeal once again against his unfair conviction. If it does not, Mumia could remain imprisoned for life, without the possibility for parole, for a crime he did not commit.
• Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent and framed!
• Mumia Abu-Jamal is a journalist censored off the airwaves!
• Mumia Abu-Jamal is victimized by cops, courts and politicians!
• Mumia Abu-Jamal stands for all prisoners treated unjustly!
• Courts have never treated Mumia fairly!
Will You Help Free Mumia?
Call DA Larry Krasner at (215) 686-8000
Tell him former DA Ron Castille violated Mumia's constitutional rights and 
Krasner should cease opposing Mumia's legal petition.
Tell the DA to release Mumia because he's factually innocent.
Write to Mumia at:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
SCI Mahanoy
Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733



A Call for a Mass Mobilization to Oppose NATO, War and Racism
Protest NATO, Washington, DC, Lafayette Park (across from the White House)

1 PM Saturday, March 30, 2019.
Additional actions will take place on Thursday April 4 at the opening of the NATO meeting

April 4, 2019, will mark the 51st anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the internationally revered leader in struggles against racism, poverty and war.

And yet, in a grotesque desecration of Rev. King's lifelong dedication to peace, this is the date that the military leaders of the North American Treaty Organization have chosen to celebrate NATO's 70th anniversary by holding its annual summit meeting in Washington, D.C. This is a deliberate insult to Rev. King and a clear message that Black lives and the lives of non-European humanity really do not matter.   

It was exactly one year before he was murdered that Rev. King gave his famous speech opposing the U.S. war in Vietnam, calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" and declaring that he could not be silent.

We cannot be silent either. Since its founding, the U.S.-led NATO has been the world's deadliest military alliance, causing untold suffering and devastation throughout Northern Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

Hundreds of thousands have died in U.S./NATO wars in Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yugoslavia. Millions of refugees are now risking their lives trying to escape the carnage that these wars have brought to their homelands, while workers in the 29 NATO member-countries are told they must abandon hard-won social programs in order to meet U.S. demands for even more military spending.

Every year when NATO holds its summits, there have been massive protests: in Chicago, Wales, Warsaw, Brussels. 2019 will be no exception.

The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) is calling for a mass mobilization in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 30.  Additional actions will take place on April 4 at the opening of the NATO meeting. 

We invite you to join with us in this effort. As Rev. King taught us, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

No to NATO!
End All U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad!
Bring the Troops Home Now! 
No to Racism! 
The Administrative Committee of UNAC,

To add your endorsement to this call, please go here:

Please donate to keep UNAC strong: 

If your organization would like to join the UNAC coalition, please click here:



In Defense of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson

Update on Rashid in Indiana
By Dustin McDaniel

November 9, 2018—Had a call with Rashid yesterday. He's been seen by medical, psych, and
dental. He's getting his meds and his blood pressure is being monitored,
though it is uncontrolled. The RN made recommendations for treatment
that included medication changes and further monitoring, but there's
been no follow up.

He's at the diagnostic center and he (along with everyone else I've
talked to about it) expect that he'll be sent to the solitary
confinement unit at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, though it could
be 30 days from now.

He's in a cell with no property. He has no extra underwear to change
into. The cell is, of course, dirty. He's in solitary confinement. He
didn't say they were denying him yard time. He didn't say there were any
problems with his meals.

They are refusing him his stationary and stamps, so he can't write out.
He gets a very limited number of phone calls per month (1 or 2), and
otherwise can only talk on the phone if a legal call is set up.

They are refusing to give him his property, or to allow him to look
through it to find records relevant to ongoing or planned litigation.
He's already past the statute of limitations on a law suit he planned to
file re abuses in Texas and other deadlines are about to pass over the
next month.

He has 35 banker boxes of property, or 2 pallets, that arrived in IDOC.
He needs to be allowed to look through these records in order to find
relevant legal documents. Moving forward, I think we need to find a
place/person for him to send these records to or they are going to be
destroyed. It would be good if we could find someone who would also take
on the task of organizing the records, getting rid of duplicates or
unnecessary paperwork, digitizing records, and making things easier to
search and access.

Although he does not appear in the inmate locator for IDOC, he does
appears in the JPay system as an Indiana prisoner (#264847). At his
request, I sent him some of his money so hopefully he can get stamps and

Hold off on sending him more money via JPay - I've been told that some
of the IDOC facilities are phasing out JPay and moving to GTL and
wouldn't want to have a bunch of money stuck and inaccessible due to
those changes. If you want to send him more money immediately, send it
to Abolitionist Law Center. You can send it via Paypal to, or mail it to PO Box 8654, Pittsburgh,
PA 15221. We will hold on to it and distribute it according to Rashid's

Please write to him, if you haven't already. He's got nothing to do in
solitary with nothing to read and nothing to write with.

you can also hear a recent interview with Rashid on Final Straw podcast here:
Write to Rashid:
Kevin Rashid Johnson's writings and artwork have been widely circulated. He is the author of a book,Panther Vision: Essential Party Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, Minister of Defense, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, (Kersplebedeb, 2010).

Kevin Johnson D.O.C. No. 264847
G-20-2C Pendleton Correctional Facility
4490 W. Reformatory Rd.
Pendleton, IN 46064-9001



Prisoners at Lieber Correctional Institution in South Carolina are demanding recognition of their human rights by the South Carolina Department of Corrections and warden Randall Williams.  Prisoners are also demanding an end to the horrific conditions they are forced to exist under at Lieber, which are exascerbating already rising tensions to a tipping point and people are dying. 
Since the tragedy that occured at Lee Correctional earlier this year, prisoners at all level 3 security prisons in SC have been on complete lockdown, forced to stay in their two-man 9x11 cells 24 hours a day (supposed to be 23 hrs/day but guards rarely let prisoners go to their one hour of rec in a slightly larger cage because it requires too much work, especially when you keep an entire prison on lockdown) without any programming whatsoever and filthy air rushing in all day, no chairs, tables, no radios, no television, no access to legal work, no access to showers, and no light!  Administration decided to cover all the tiny windows in the cells with metal plates on the outside so that no light can come in.  Thousands of people are existing in this manner, enclosed in a tiny space with another person and no materials or communication or anything to pass the time.  
Because of these horific conditions tensions are rising and people are dying. Another violent death took place at Lieber Correctional; Derrick Furtick, 31, died at approximately 9pm Monday, according to state Department of Corrections officials:
Prisoners assert that this death is a result of the kind of conditions that are being imposed and inflicted upon the incarcerated population there and the undue trauma, anxiety, and tensions these conditions create.  
We demand:
- to be let off solitary confinement
- to have our windows uncovered
- access to books, magazines, phone calls, showers and recreation
- access to the law library and our legal cases
- single person cells for any person serving over 20 years
Lieber is known for its horrendous treatment of the people it cages including its failure to evacuate prisoners during Hurricane Florence earlier this year:
Please flood the phone lines of both the governor's and warden's offices to help amplify these demands from behind bars at Lieber Correctional.
Warden Randall Williams:  (843) 875-3332   or   (803) 896-3700
Governor Henry McMaster's office:  (803) 734-2100

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Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg

Keith "Malik" Washington is an incarcerated activist who has spoken out on conditions of confinement in Texas prison and beyond:  from issues of toxic water and extreme heat, to physical and sexual abuse of imprisoned people, to religious discrimination and more.  Malik has also been a tireless leader in the movement to #EndPrisonSlavery which gained visibility during nationwide prison strikes in 2016 and 2018.  View his work at or write him at:

Keith H. Washington
TDC# 1487958
McConnell Unit
3001 S. Emily Drive
Beeville, TX 78102
Friends, it's time to get Malik out of solitary confinement.

Malik has experienced intense, targeted harassment ever since he dared to start speaking against brutal conditions faced by incarcerated people in Texas and nationwide--but over the past few months, prison officials have stepped up their retaliation even more.

In Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement) at McConnell Unit, Malik has experienced frequent humiliating strip searches, medical neglect, mail tampering and censorship, confinement 23 hours a day to a cell that often reached 100+ degrees in the summer, and other daily abuses too numerous to name.  It could not be more clear that they are trying to make an example of him because he is a committed freedom fighter.  So we have to step up.

Phone zap on Tuesday, November 13

**Mark your calendars for the 11/13 call in, be on the look out for a call script, and spread the word!!**

- Convene special review of Malik's placement in Ad-Seg and immediately release him back to general population
- Explain why the State Classification Committee's decision to release Malik from Ad-Seg back in June was overturned (specifically, demand to know the nature of the "information" supposedly collected by the Fusion Center, and demand to know how this information was investigated and verified).
- Immediately cease all harassment and retaliation against Malik, especially strip searches and mail censorship!

Who to contact:
TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier
Phone: (936)295-6371

Senior Warden Philip Sinfuentes (McConnell Unit)
Phone: (361) 362-2300


Background on Malik's Situation

Malik's continued assignment to Ad-Seg (solitary confinement) in is an overt example of political repression, plain and simple.  Prison officials placed Malik in Ad-Seg two years ago for writing about and endorsing the 2016 nationwide prison strike.  They were able to do this because Texas and U.S. law permits non-violent work refusal to be classified as incitement to riot.

It gets worse.  Malik was cleared for release from Ad-Seg by the State Classification Committee in June--and then, in an unprecedented reversal, immediately re-assigned him back to Ad-Seg.  The reason?  Prison Officials site "information" collected by a shadowy intelligence gathering operation called a Fusion Center, which are known for lack of transparency and accountability, and for being blatant tools of political repression.

Malik remains in horrible conditions, vulnerable to every possible abuse, on the basis of "information" that has NEVER been disclosed or verified.  No court or other independent entity has ever confirmed the existence, let alone authenticity, of this alleged information.  In fact, as recently as October 25, a representative of the State Classification Committee told Malik that he has no clue why Malik was re-assigned to Ad-Seg.  This "information" is pure fiction.   



Listen to 'The Daily': Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder?

By Michael Barbaro, May 30, 2018

Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile deviceVia Apple Podcasts | Via RadioPublic | Via Stitcher

The sole survivor of an attack in which four people were murdered identified the perpetrators as three white men. The police ignored suspects who fit the description and arrested a young black man instead. He is now awaiting execution.

On today's episode:
• Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row at San Quentin State Prison in California for three decades.



Last week I met with fellow organizers and members of Mijente to take joint action at the Tornillo Port of Entry, where detention camps have been built and where children and adults are currently being imprisoned. 

I oppose the hyper-criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers. Migration is a human right and every person is worthy of dignity and respect irrespective of whether they have "papers" or not. You shouldn't have to prove "extreme and unusual hardship" to avoid being separated from your family. We, as a country, have a moral responsibility to support and uplift those adversely affected by the US's decades-long role in the economic and military destabilization of the home countries these migrants and asylum seekers have been forced to leave.

While we expected to face resistance and potential trouble from the multiple law enforcement agencies represented at the border, we didn't expect to have a local farm hand pull a pistol on us to demand we deflate our giant balloon banner. Its message to those in detention:

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

Despite the slight disruption to our plan we were able to support Mijente and United We Dream in blocking the main entrance to the detention camp and letting those locked inside know that there are people here who care for them and want to see them free and reunited with their families. 

We are continuing to stand in solidarity with Mijente as they fight back against unjust immigration practices.Yesterday they took action in San Diego, continuing to lead and escalate resistance to unjust detention, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and to ICE. 

While we were honored to offer on-the-ground support we see the potential to focus the energy of our Drop the MIC campaign into fighting against this injustice, to have an even greater impact. Here's how:
  1. Call out General Dynamics for profiteering of War, Militarization of the Border and Child and Family Detention (look for our social media toolkit this week);
  2. Create speaking forums and produce media that challenges the narrative of ICE and Jeff Sessions, encouraging troops who have served in the borderlands to speak out about that experience;
  3. Continue to show up and demand we demilitarize the border and abolish ICE.

Thank you for your vision and understanding of how militarism, racism, and capitalism are coming together in the most destructive ways. Help keep us in this fight by continuing to support our work.

In Solidarity,
Ramon Mejia
Field Organizer, About Face: Veterans Against the War

P.O. Box 3565, New York, NY 10008. All Right Reserved. | Unsubscribe
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Major George Tillery
April 25, 2018-- The arrest of two young men in Starbucks for the crime of "sitting while black," and the four years prison sentence to rapper Meek Mill for a minor parole violation are racist outrages in Philadelphia, PA that made national news in the past weeks. Yesterday Meek Mills was released on bail after a high profile defense campaign and a Pa Supreme Court decision citing evidence his conviction was based solely on a cop's false testimony.
These events underscore the racism, frame-up, corruption and brutality at the core of the criminal injustice system. Pennsylvania "lifer" Major Tillery's fight for freedom puts a spotlight on the conviction of innocent men with no evidence except the lying testimony of jailhouse snitches who have been coerced and given favors by cops and prosecutors.

Sex for Lies and Manufactured Testimony
For thirty-five years Major Tillery has fought against his 1983 arrest, then conviction and sentence of life imprisonment without parole for an unsolved 1976 pool hall murder and assault. Major Tillery's defense has always been his innocence. The police and prosecution knew Tillery did not commit these crimes. Jailhouse informant Emanuel Claitt gave lying testimony that Tillery was one of the shooters.

Homicide detectives and prosecutors threatened Claitt with a false unrelated murder charge, and induced him to lie with promises of little or no jail time on over twenty pending felonies, and being released from jail despite a parole violation. In addition, homicide detectives arranged for Claitt, while in custody, to have private sexual liaisons with his girlfriends in police interview rooms.
In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies". In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on
Without the coerced and false testimony of Claitt there was no evidence against Major Tillery. There were no ballistics or any other physical evidence linking him to the shootings. The surviving victim's statement naming others as the shooters was not allowed into evidence.
The trial took place in May 1985 during the last days of the siege and firebombing of the MOVE family Osage Avenue home in Philadelphia that killed 13 Black people, including 5 children. The prosecution claimed that Major Tillery was part of an organized crime group, and falsely described it as run by the Nation of Islam. This prejudiced and inflamed the majority white jury against Tillery, to make up for the absence of any evidence that Tillery was involved in the shootings.
This was a frame-up conviction from top to bottom. Claitt was the sole or primary witness in five other murder cases in the early 1980s. Coercing and inducing jailhouse informants to falsely testify is a standard routine in criminal prosecutions. It goes hand in hand with prosecutors suppressing favorable evidence from the defense.
Major Tillery has filed a petition based on his actual innocence to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Larry Krasner's Conviction Review Unit. A full review and investigation should lead to reversal of Major Tillery's conviction. He also asks that the DA's office to release the full police and prosecution files on his case under the new  "open files" policy. In the meantime, Major Tillery continues his own investigation. He needs your support.
Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years
The Pennsylvania courts have rejected three rounds of appeals challenging Major Tillery's conviction based on his innocence, the prosecution's intentional presentation of false evidence against him and his trial attorney's conflict of interest. On June 15, 2016 Major Tillery filed a new post-conviction petition based on the same evidence now in the petition to the District Attorney's Conviction Review Unit. Despite the written and video-taped statements from Emanuel Claitt that that his testimony against Major Tillery was a lie and the result of police and prosecutorial misconduct, Judge Leon Tucker dismissed Major Tillery's petition as "untimely" without even holding a hearing. Major Tillery appealed that dismissal and the appeal is pending in the Superior Court.
During the decades of imprisonment Tillery has advocated for other prisoners challenging solitary confinement, lack of medical and mental health care and the inhumane conditions of imprisonment. In 1990, he won the lawsuit, Tillery v. Owens, that forced the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) to end double celling (4 men to a small cell) at SCI Pittsburgh, which later resulted in the closing and then "renovation" of that prison.
Three years ago Major Tillery stood up for political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and demanded prison Superintendent John Kerestes get Mumia to a hospital because "Mumia is dying."  For defending Mumia and advocating for medical treatment for himself and others, prison officials retaliated. Tillery was shipped out of SCI Mahanoy, where Mumia was also held, to maximum security SCI Frackville and then set-up for a prison violation and a disciplinary penalty of months in solitary confinement. See, Messing with Major by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Major Tillery's federal lawsuit against the DOC for that retaliation is being litigated. Major Tillery continues as an advocate for all prisoners. He is fighting to get the DOC to establish a program for elderly prisoners.
Major Tillery Needs Your Help:
Well-known criminal defense attorney Stephen Patrizio represents Major pro bonoin challenging his conviction. More investigation is underway. We can't count on the district attorney's office to make the findings of misconduct against the police detectives and prosecutors who framed Major without continuing to dig up the evidence.
Major Tillery is now 67 years old. He's done hard time, imprisoned for almost 35 years, some 20 years in solitary confinement in max prisons for a crime he did not commit. He recently won hepatitis C treatment, denied to him for a decade by the DOC. He has severe liver problems as well as arthritis and rheumatism, back problems, and a continuing itchy skin rash. Within the past couple of weeks he was diagnosed with an extremely high heartbeat and is getting treatment.
Major Tillery does not want to die in prison. He and his family, daughters, sons and grandchildren are fighting to get him home. The newly filed petition for Conviction Review to the Philadelphia District Attorney's office lays out the evidence Major Tillery has uncovered, evidence suppressed by the prosecution through all these years he has been imprisoned and brought legal challenges into court. It is time for the District Attorney's to act on the fact that Major Tillery is innocent and was framed by police detectives and prosecutors who manufactured the evidence to convict him. Major Tillery's conviction should be vacated and he should be freed.

Major Tillery and family

    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing. He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom.
    Go to;
    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC

    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner:
    The Conviction Review Unit should investigate Major Tillery's case. He is innocent. The only evidence at trial was from lying jail house informants who now admit it was false.
    Call: 215-686-8000 or

    Write to:
    Security Processing Center
    Major Tillery AM 9786
    268 Bricker Road
    Bellefonte, PA 16823
    For More Information, Go To:
    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009,
    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009,



    Free Leonard Peltier!

    Art by Leonard Peltier
    Write to:
    Leonard Peltier 89637-132
    USP Coleman 1,  P.O. Box 1033
    Coleman, FL 33521



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





    1) Another Ferguson Protester Has Died
    By Opheli Garcia Lawler
    The Cut, November 28, 2018
    Bassem Masri, center, confronting a St. Louis police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday, October 8, 2014.

    Bassem Masri, 31, a Palestinian-American activist who live-streamed throughout the protests against police brutality and the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has died. Reports of his death circulated on social media on Tuesday, with other prominent activists and journalists offering condolences and memories about the man, who was known for his strong, outspoken beliefs, and his thoughtful conversation.
    According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Masri was found unresponsive on a bus in Bridgeton, Missouri. He was declared dead at a hospital 11:09 A.M., after someone on the bus attempted to administer CPR.
    A man named Faizan Syed, who identified himself as a family member of Masri’s, posted about his death on Facebook. “A gentle man who was fierce when he faced injustice,” Syed wrote. “In his short life he did as much if not more to unit the fight for Black liberation and Palestinian liberation. We ask everyone to pray and make duafor Bassem and his family. May Allah accept his sacrifices for justice and overlook his flaws and mistakes.”
    Masri is not the first person connected to the Ferguson protests to die in the years since the protests against the killing of Michael Brown. Danye Jones, and Darren Seals have both been found dead since 2014. Jones death was considered by police to be a suicide, but his mother Melissa McKinnies—who is a prominent activist herself—suspected foul play. Seals was found shot to death and set on fire, and his murder has not been solved.
    Wesley Lowery, a journalist who covered the Ferguson protests, remembered Masri “defining character from those nights in Ferguson.” Lowery wrote on Twitterthat Masri was “as committed an activist as I’ve known.” Brittany Packnett wrote that Masri’s investment in liberation was “real, and his commitment was unwavering.”
    Funeral services for Bassem Masri were held on Wednesday, November 28, 2018.
    The Cut, November 28, 2018


    2) Climate Change Protest Draws Thousands of Australian Students
    By Livia Albeck-Ripka, November 30, 2018
    Milou Albrecht, 14, center, speaking to students attending a rally for climate change action at the Old Treasury Building in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday

    MELBOURNE, Australia — As wildfires raged across the country, a heat wave again threatened the Great Barrier Reef and a mining giant announced it would push ahead with a huge coal project, thousands of students across Australia quit school for the day on Friday to protest government inaction on climate change.
    The students — ranging in age from 5 to 18 — came from more than 200 schools to demand that the federal government block construction of the Adani Carmichael coal mine, block any new coal or gas projects and require 100 percent renewable energy use by 2030.
    “I am here because I am terrified,” Harriet O’Shea Carre, 14, told a crowd of thousands of student marchers outside the Old Treasury Building in Melbourne. Protesters spilled out onto the road with signs saying “civil disobedience requires no permission slip” and “don’t be a fossil fool.” 
    Ms. O’Shea Carre, an organizer of the march and a student from Castlemaine Steiner School in Muckleford, about 70 miles northwest of Melbourne, predicted dire consequences if the government failed to act on climate change.

    “I cannot bear the thought of losing the people that I love, when it could have been stopped,” she said of climate change. “And it can be stopped, but not for much longer.” 
    Another organizer, Milou Albrecht, said she had been inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old girl in Sweden who since September has spent every Friday sitting in protest outside Parliament in Stockholm
    “I realized that I could do the same,” said Ms. Albrecht, 14, a schoolmate of Ms. O’Shea Carre. 
    Ms. Thunberg tweeted her support of the students.

    Time for bed in Sweden. But in Australia it’s already morning and the 30th of November. IStand strong Australia. We are with you.
    310 people are talking about thisWith the help of their parents, climate activists and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Ms. Albrecht, Ms. O’Shea Carre and two other students from the same town, Callum Neilson-Bridgefoot, 11, and Tully Boyle, 15, created a campaign video and set up a website and Facebook groups to publicize the strike.

    Ms. Albrecht said she was astonished by the number of students who took part. 
    In Melbourne and Sydney, organizers estimated that about 8,000 students participated, and hundreds more joined the effort in other cities and towns. And earlier this week, an estimated 1,700 students protested in other parts of the country, including more than 200 who showed up at Parliament House in Canberra, the capital, to demand answers from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

    On Monday, Mr. Morrison told senators that he did not condone the strike, because students should focus on “more learning” and “less activism.” He said he did not support “schools being turned into parliaments.”
    The resources minister, Matt Canavan, was more pointed, saying students “don’t learn anything” by marching. 
    “I want kids to be at school to learn about how you build a mine, how you do geology, how you drill for oil and gas,” he told the local news media.

    While the students did not manage to meet with Mr. Morrison, they were able to discuss their climate demands with members of the Green and Labor parties.

    “We have seen parties listening to us, so we do have hope,” said Maiysha Moin, 17, an organizer from Fintona Girls’ School in Melbourne. “We’re part of a democracy; you can’t just ignore us because we’re younger,” she added.
    Organizers said the students were joined by teenagers in Sweden, France, Norway and Finland who also skipped school in support. 
    In Melbourne, the students left the Treasury building’s steps to march through the busy city center. Some passers-by looked on, bewildered, as the strikers chanted, “The youth are rising, we’re not compromising.”

    Livia Albeck-Ripka is a reporter for The Times, currently based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter: @livia_ar

    3) What Is ‘La Lista,’ Which Controls Migrants’ Fates in Tijuana?
    "But the Trump administration has used a system known as 'metering,' which limits the number of asylum-seekers allowed to present their cases to the United States each day at certain ports of entry. The system was instituted by the Obama administration in 2016 to respond to the thousands of Haitian migrants who had ended up in Tijuana and the nearby city of Mexicali seeking to cross into the United States."
    By Kirk Semple, November 30, 2018
    A Mexican woman seeking asylum in the United States presented documents with her son this week at the border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, after her number was called from The List.

    TIJUANA, Mexico — They call it “La Lista” — The List. And the thousands of migrants who have arrived in northern Mexico in recent weeks with plans to apply for asylum in the United States have quickly learned its importance to their future.
    If they had thought they could just show up at any border entry and make their case for American sanctuary, they soon learned otherwise.
    Nearly all these migrants, traveling in caravans from Central America, have landed in Tijuana, where the main border entry into Southern California is. But even before their arrival, there was a severe bottleneck in asylum processing at the crossing, with some 3,000 people cramming the city’s migrant shelters and cheap hotels waiting for their turn to apply.

    This long-running crush at the border gave rise to The List.

    For the migrants seeking to apply for asylum in the United States at the San Ysidro border crossing, the first step is to get their names on The List, an informal numbering system that puts them in a virtual line for their appointment with the American immigration authorities.
    It is a critical part of the American asylum application process, yet, strangely, its operation has nothing to do with the United States government. It is an entirely Mexican construct that begins and ends on the Mexican side of the border.
    That said, it’s a direct result of American migration policy. For years, most migrants seeking asylum in the United States needed only to show up at a port of entry to begin the asylum process, and there was usually no delay.
    But the Trump administration has used a system known as “metering,” which limits the number of asylum-seekers allowed to present their cases to the United States each day at certain ports of entry. The system was instituted by the Obama administration in 2016 to respond to the thousands of Haitian migrants who had ended up in Tijuana and the nearby city of Mexicali seeking to cross into the United States.
    At the incredibly busy crossing in Tijuana, known as El Chaparral, the metering system caused severe backups and disorder.

    So The List was born.

    This is where things get even more unusual.
    The List is not operated by the Mexican government, at least not officially. It is maintained by the asylum-seekers themselves — an extraordinary effort to impose order on what for many migrants is a bewildering and opaque bureaucratic system.
    A continually rotating cast of migrants has assumed control of the process. As the managers have moved further up the very list they coordinate, eventually having their own day of reckoning with the American immigration authorities, other asylum-seekers have been selected to replace them.
    The List is currently under the management of a group of eight migrants from four countries: Mexico, Honduras, Peru and Nicaragua. They were voted in by other migrants, they said, to replace another team that had been accused of taking bribes in return for advancing people on the list.

    The List is defined by a series of rituals, which unfold shortly after daybreak every day on the plaza outside the border crossings at El Chaparral.
    Migrants seeking to apply for American asylum line up to put their names on a register, a hard-bound ledger maintained by the managers of The List. In return each receives a number, handwritten on a scrap of paper, and is told to return in several weeks and start checking to see if that number is coming up. In the meantime, they remain in Tijuana, fending off boredom.

    “As long as I’m not in Honduras, there’s no problem,” said Marlon Cerrato, 30, who put his name on The List one morning this week. He said he had fled political repression in Honduras, his home country. “I feel very relaxed waiting,” he said.
    More than 5,000 people are on The List now, which translates into waits of two months or more. Since January, more than 11,600 people have put their names on The List.
    Mexican migration officials assert that they have nothing to do with The List, that it’s a system managed by and for the migrants. Yet, officers from Mexico’s National Migration Institute are present as the process unfolds. At the end of the day, the volunteers hand over the ledgers to the officers for safekeeping.

    American border officials tell their Mexican counterparts how many people will be interviewed on a given day — in recent weeks, the daily capacity has ranged from about 40 to 100 — and the Mexican officials inform the volunteers managing The List.
    Around 8 a.m., the volunteers organize the group of migrants who will be applying for asylum that day.
    As expectant migrants gather on the plaza, many carrying packed bags or pulling roller suitcases, a volunteer reads out the numbers and names of the people who will be able to make their cases in the United States that day.

    Those whose numbers are called are put on a minibus and driven by Mexican migration officials to a crossing into the United States. On a recent morning, the migrants were from countries including Mexico, Haiti, Cameroon, Russia, Honduras and El Salvador.
    If someone is not present when his name is called, he is given 24 hours to resurface. Failing that, he is crossed off the List.
    With waits recently stretching more than a month, many have given up, deciding instead to apply for asylum in Mexico or try to cross illegally into the United States.


    4) Seven Convicted in Killing of Prominent Honduran Environmentalist
    By Elisabeth Malkin, November 29, 2018
    At the grave of Berta Cáceres, an environmental activist killed in March 2016. She had led opposition to a dam planned in western Honduras

    MEXICO CITY — A Honduran court on Thursday found seven men guilty of murder in the 2016 assassination of an indigenous environmental leaderwhose opposition to a dam project brought her an international prominence that still failed to protect her life.
    The verdict, delivered by a panel of judges after a six-week trial in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, ended a proceeding bitterly denounced by the family of the environmentalist, Berta Cáceres, and the organization that she led.
    They criticized the prosecution for focusing its efforts on those believed to have carried out the crime, and disregarding evidence that could have implicated powerful business leaders in its planning.
    “This is undoubtedly a first step towards justice,” said Marcia Aguiluz Soto, the director for Central America and Mexico at the Center for Justice and International Law, a human rights group that has worked closely with the family. “But of course there are other people who are the ones who paid for the assassination of Berta Cáceres and they should be here.”

    The judges convicted two former executives of Desarrollos Energéticos, or Desa, the company with the concession to build the 21-megawatt dam, a project that was eventually abandoned after Ms. Cáceres’s killing.
    Ms. Cáceres, 44, was shot six times by two gunmen in March 2016 in the small town of La Esperanza, where she had led indigenous opposition to the dam, which was planned for the Gualcarque River in western Honduras. The Lenca people consider the river to be sacred and said the dam would jeopardize their water resources.
    Among those convicted were Sergio Rodríguez Orellana, Desa’s director of environmental and social development, and Douglas Bustillo, a retired Honduran Army lieutenant who had worked as the company’s security chief but left before Ms. Cáceres was killed.
    Five others, including Mariano Diaz, a Honduran Army major, were also convicted. Another defendant, the brother of one of the accused, was acquitted.
    Desa’s general manager, David Castillo, who was arrested in March, will be tried separately. The company has denied any involvement in ordering the killing and said that Mr. Castillo and Mr. Rodríguez, the two executives working for Desa at the time of the killing, had been wrongly accused.

    “This is a completely political verdict,” said Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer for Desa. “The Honduran government has given into the pressure of the European Union and the U.S. State Department and issued a political ruling.”
    The company said it had consulted with community groups about the dam project, but Ms. Cáceres’s organization, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, known as Copinh, vigorously opposed the dam.
    Ms. Caceres’s fight won her the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. Her killing just a few months later became emblematic of the threats faced by environmental activists in Latin America.
    In 2016, according to the organization Global Witness, 14 environmental activists were killed in reprisal for their work in Honduras.
    International organizations have expressed skepticism that the prosecution will reach up to those who ordered the murder.
    “Justice for victims will be effective and comprehensive when all the material and intellectual authors of the crime are brought to justice and held accountable,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ office in Honduras and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said in a joint statement on Wednesday.


    5) They Were Raped. Then, at 7 Hospitals, They Were Billed for Evidence Kits.
    By Liz Robbins, November 29, 2018
    The New York attorney general, Barbara D. Underwood, reached a civil settlement with seven hospitals that illegally billed victims of rape for evidence collection kits.

    The victims came to New York hospitals after being sexually assaulted. Then, against state law, they were billed for their own rape evidence kits. In some cases, they were hounded by bill collectors.
    A yearlong investigation by the state attorney general, Barbara Underwood, found that seven hospitals in New York had illegally billed more than 200 sexual assault survivors for rape kits, with individual charges ranging from $46 to $2,892. Ms. Underwood said on Thursday that her office had reached civil settlements with the hospitals, who agreed to refund patients and to implement formal policies to ensure that it would not happen again.
    “Survivors of sexual assault have already gone through unfathomable trauma,” Ms. Underwood said in a statement. “To then subject them to illegal bills and collection calls is unconscionable.”
    The investigation started last November when advocates for sexual assault victims told the attorney general’s office about a woman who had been billed seven times for her rape kit, first by Brooklyn Hospital Center then by debt collectors. That case led to a wider inquiry.

    “We were stunned that they found as many cases as they did,” said Mary Haviland, the executive director of the The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, which brought the Brooklyn case to the attorney general’s attention.
    The hospitals that reached settlements included both large and small institutions. Among them were NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, Richmond University Medical Center, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center and St. Barnabas Hospital.
    Since 2005, a state law has required hospitals to provide services to sexual assault victims free of charge. The hospitals are supposed to bill the state Office of Victim Services for rape kits, unless victims choose to have the hospital bill their insurers.
    But the attorney general’s office found the hospitals were not only billing some patients for collecting evidence, but then sometimes were billing their insurers as well. Some of the unpaid bills were even handed over to debt-collection agencies.
    For instance, Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island billed 28 patients for rape kits between January 2016 and Nov. 27, 2017, and in 10 cases also billed their insurers, settlement documents showed.

    The emergency room physicians group separately billed 13 patients, and in two cases, double-dipped by also billing the insurer. Four of those patients were dunned by collection agencies.
    “It’s like dredging up the entirety of the trauma that brought them to the hospital in the first place, where, by law, they have the right to get a free exam,” said Christopher E. Bromson, the executive director of the Crime Victims Treatment Center in Manhattan.
    A spokesman for Richmond University Medical Center said that in response to the settlement the hospital “has assessed its internal policies and protocols to ensure they are in full compliance with the law.”
    Court papers showed that 24 patients at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital were illegally billed by Columbia University over the same period, and 19 of those bills were eventually sent to collection agents. A spokesman for the university said the bills were sent in error.
    “Hospital billing departments are such behemoths that without constant monitoring, this can happen,” Mr. Bromson said.
    Steven Clark, a spokesman for St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, apologized that invoices for rape kits were sent to eight patients during the 23-month period in question.
    “While the hospital never pursued payment from these patients, we acknowledge that the billing was done in error,” he said. “We have since instituted a training program among our clinicians to make sure all policies and procedures are followed and this does not happen again.”


    6) South Korean Women Smash Makeup, and Patriarchy
    By Maya Salam, November 30, 2018
    “Born pretty? That’s a big fat lie.”
    — A makeup advertisement in the Seoul subway
    The movement began quietly, with women posting photos on social media of smashed makeup palettes — colorful messes of shimmering powder and crushed lipstick that looked almost like beautiful works of art
    But this wasn’t art — this was protest, one in which South Korean women, emboldened by #MeToo, were protesting what they see as the restrictive beauty standards of their country’s deeply patriarchal culture. South Korea has the world’s highest rate of cosmetic surgery per capita, and the beauty market there generated $13 billion in sales last year.
    “We go through 12 steps just to put on the basic products before we even apply makeup,” said Kim Ji-yeon, 22. “That basically defines the problem.”

    My colleague recently delved into the movement that’s become known as “Escape the Corset.” It is set against a backdrop of political and economic disparities. Of 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea’s wage gap is the widest. And women hold just 10 percent of corporate management positions.

    So what are women who are escaping the corset doing, exactly? Aside from trashing makeup, which is saving them hundreds of dollars a month, they are embracing bowl haircuts and opting for eyeglasses instead of contacts — a seemingly simple protest that, nonetheless, has made the women targets of verbal abuse and death threats online.
    [Read the full story: South Korea Loves Plastic Surgery and Makeup. Some Women Want to Change That.]
    Closer to home, a different effort is underway to draw attention to unrealistic body expectations propagated by the stars who dominate social media. 
    Jameela Jamil, an actor on “Good Place,” is on a quest to upend Instagram’s #sponcon machine — #sponcon is short for “sponsored content,” or posts that celebrities are paid to promote — that pays untold sums to those who peddle weight loss teas and shakes, particularly celebrities (see: Khloe Kardashian). 
    “When will these women who are covered in plastic surgery stop telling their followers to drink a laxative to look like them?” Ms. Jamil wrote on Instagram this week.

    Ms. Jamil, who started the #iweigh movement on Instagram — which aims to illustrate that a person’s worth should be measured in accomplishments, not in pounds — said she cares so much partly because she still grapples with health problems from similar products she used to buy and ingest. 
    “I was the teenager who starved herself for years, who spent all her money on these miracle cures and laxatives and tips from celebrities on how to maintain a weight that was lower than what my body wanted it to be,” she tweeted. “I was sick.” 
    On Tuesday, Ms. Jamil mocked these celebrities in a video that’s been viewed three million times between Twitter and Instagram. In it, she’s sitting on the toilet, sobbing through smeared makeup while sipping a shake.
    Readers: Which beauty item would you be happy to never see again? Let me know at

    7) This Woman Got 8 Years In Prison For Illegal Voting. Texas Is Showing No Mercy.
    By Sam Levine, November 30, 2018
    Rosa Maria Ortega was sentenced to eight years in prison for voting illegally, even though she said she didn’t know she was breaking the law

    A Texas appeals court last week refused to overturn the conviction of a 39-year-old mother of four who has been sentenced to eight years in prison for illegal voting. She could also be deported.
    There’s little dispute that Rosa Maria Ortega did in fact break the law. Ortega came to the United States from Mexico as a baby and was living in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident. Although it’s against the law for non-citizens to vote in Texas, Ortega registered to vote in 2002 as a Republican and then cast ballots multiple times over more than a decade. She tried to register again after moving in 2014, which is when state investigators noticed something was amiss. They arrested her in January 2016.
    To Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), this is an open-and-shut case of voter fraud ― Ortega lied about being a citizen, voted multiple times and now is being punished.
    But the evidence in Ortega’s case tells a far more complex story and illustrates the enormous discretion that prosecutors have in pursuing incidents of voter fraud.
    Throughout her trial, Ortega maintained that she had no idea she couldn’t vote. She said she didn’t know the difference between a U.S. citizen and a legal permanent resident. She was brought to the United States when she was very young and two of her brothers were born in the U.S. According to one brother, her entire family thought she was a citizen.
    “She has a sixth-grade education. She didn’t know she wasn’t legal,” Ortega’s lawyer told The New York Times in 2017. “She can own property; she can serve in the military; she can get a job; she can pay taxes. But she can’t vote, and she didn’t know that.”
    When Ortega first tried to register at her new residence in 2014, she indicated on her application that she was a non-citizen. Because she checked that box, a local election official sent her a letter saying she was ineligible to vote. Since Ortega had voted before at her old address, she called the local election office to find out why she was being rejected. After learning it was because she’d checked the non-citizen box, she mailed in a second voter registration form indicating that she was a citizen. That application wound up in front of Delores Stevens, the same person who had processed Ortega’s original application and spoken with her on the phone. Stevens registered her to vote.
    But then the state attorney general’s office under Paxton received allegations against Ortega and they investigated.
    Chiraag Bains, a former prosecutor and civil rights attorney at the U.S. Justice Department, said that because criminal codes are so complicated, prosecutors have an incredible amount of flexibility in deciding whether and how to bring a case. Prosecutors normally consider the culpability of the individual, the severity of the offense and what kind of penalty is necessary to deter future misconduct.
    “One thing that’s very clear is that the sentence here is far disproportionate to the conduct,” said Bains, now director of legal strategies at the think tank Demos, which has brought several voting rights cases across the country. “I think there’s a strong argument ... that there are alternative consequences that are more appropriate for conduct like this. Is this a case that somebody needs to go to jail for? No.”
    Voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the United States, but Paxton has pursued it zealously in Texas, launching an entire unit within his office focused on the issue. In the same county where Ortega was prosecuted, an African-American woman was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally voting while she was still on supervised release for an unrelated felony conviction. Like Ortega, Crystal Mason said she didn’t know she was ineligible to vote. The prosecutions of two women of color drew accusations of racism when a white justice of the peace merely received probation after being convicted of turning in forged signatures on the petitions he needed to run for re-election this year.
    Beth Stevens, the director of the Voting Rights Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project, said the decision to prosecute Ortega was politically motivated.
    “They’re using this case to kind of prop up their claims of widespread illegal voting in the state so that then they can use that claim to make voting laws even harder and more strict,” Stevens told HuffPost. “Imagine if you’re a new citizen and gained the right to vote but are afraid that you’re going to get prosecuted. We see this obvious political gain because it helps the people in power.”
    Aggressive pursuit of voter fraud charges isn’t confined to Texas. In North Carolina, a federal prosecutor is bringing charges against 20 immigrants for illegal voting. In at least some of those cases, it appears the people were mistaken or confused about their lack of voting rights.
    In February 2017, Ortega was convicted on two counts of illegal voting, a second-degree felony punishable by between two and 20 years in prison. Prosecutors did not recommend a specific sentence for her, but left it up to the jury to decide. They also advised the jury that Ortega could be eligible for early parole.
    But just before she was sentenced, a prosecutor suggested to jurors that Ortega was just the tip of the voter fraud iceberg.
    “I just want to throw out one thought to you. You came back with the right verdict, [and] that if you hadn’t, if you’d come back with a not-guilty, can you imagine the floodgates that would be open to illegal voting in this county?” the prosecutor said.
    In Ortega’s appeal, her lawyer highlighted that comment, saying it was inflammatory and outside the scope of the case. The appeals court rejected the argument on the grounds that Ortega’s trial attorney hadn’t objected to the remarks at the time in the right way.
    Comments like that from a prosecutor are a “dog whistle,” Stevens said.
    “The jury should be looking at her issue, not making an example of her to scare other people. Basically that’s what the attorney general’s office was asking the jury to do,” said Stevens. “They laid it all out in that closing statement, basically asking the jury to make something they can hang on the wall, [an] example of this woman, who is a real human being with children and family, on the consequences of this conviction.”
    In a statement after the appeals court’s ruling, Paxton’s office distanced itself from the harsh sentence that Ortega had received, noting that the jury had chosen the length of her prison term.
    Bains said it was “disingenuous” to suggest that the prosecutors in Ortega’s case had no control over the sentence. The remark about the voter fraud “floodgates” sent a clear message to jurors about the kind of sentence they should bring.
    “That is sending the message to the jury that you need to punish ... severely because of the consequences that will follow if you don’t,” Bains said. “So it’s not surprising that the jury then came back with this disproportionate, heavy sentence of eight years.”
    In a 2017 jailhouse interview with the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Ortega continued to insist that she hadn’t meant to break the law.
    “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. People make mistakes. I had a lot of business and kids and stuff like that. People don’t look. Every time you get an application, you get mistakes.”

    8) 'Shameful and Cowardly': CNN Fires Marc Lamont Hill for Daring to Denounce Oppression of Palestinians
    By Jake Johnson, November 30, 2018
    "I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice," Hill wrote in a series of tweets after he was fired by CNN. (Photo: CNN/Screengrab)

    In a move decried by critics as blatant suppression of dissent and an attack on all who advocate for the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people, CNN on Thursday firedcontributor Marc Lamont Hill for daring to denounce the oppression of Palestinians and endorse "a single secular democratic state for everyone" over the failed two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    CNN terminated Hill just 24 hours after he delivered a speech at a meeting of the U.N.'s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in New York, in which he expressed support for Palestinians' resistance against brutal Israeli occupation, denounced Israel for actively depriving Palestinians of basic human rights, and called for a "free Palestine from the river to the sea."

    Slamming CNN for caving to right-wing defenders of Israel's decades-long occupation by firing a commentator for the crime of doing political commentary, Intercept journalist Ryan Grim began circulating a petitioncalling on the network to apologize and reverse its decision.

    We’re already close to 1,000 signatures on a petition to urge the cowards at CNN to re-hire @marclamonthill and apologize. I think it would take about 500k to get them to rethink, which should easily be doable 
    974 people are talking about this
    Everyone understands CNN wouldn’t fire a contributor who said they think Israel has a biblical right to the West Bank, yes? In fact they almost certainly have contributors who believe that. It’s straight-up discriminatory to fire @marclamonthill and that’s how it should be framed
    348 people are talking about thisJewish Voice for Peace echoed the demand that CNN reverse course and praised Hill for speaking "powerfully" in defense of Palestinian rights.

    In a series of tweets after his firing on Thursday, Hill dismissed the notion that his remarks were anti-Semitic or that they amounted to a call for the destruction of Israel.

    "I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice," Hill wrote. "I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things."
    "My reference to 'river to the sea' was not a call to destroy anything or anyone. It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza. The speech very clearly and specifically said those things," Hill added. "No amount of debate will change what I actually said or what I meant."

    Yousef Munayyer—executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights—argued in a column for the Huffington Post that Hill was "targeted by what can only be described as an organized campaign to silence his principled and consistent advocacy against racism and for the equal treatment of all people, including Palestinians."
    "CNN fired him because he believes Palestinians, too, fit into a vision where all people deserve equal rights," Munayyer continued. "For CNN, that was just too much."

    Describing CNN's decision to terminate Hill as "shameful and cowardly," The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald argued that Hill's firing "is a major defeat for the right to advocate for Palestinian rights, to freely critique the Israeli government, and for the ability of journalism and public discourse in the U.S. generally to accommodate dissent."
    Greenwald added that Hill's ouster lays bare the fact that in the boundaries of discourse established by the corporate media, "it's forbidden" to acknowledge that the so-called "two-state solution" is unviable because "illegal Israeli settlements have grown so rapidly and have eaten up so much Palestinian land in the West Bank that such a solution is now essentially impossible."
    The only remaining options, Greenwald argues, are apartheid or a single state "in which both Israelis and Palestinians share full and equal political rights."
    "Professor Hill, like all morally decent people, opposes apartheid," Greenwald continued. "Therefore, he advocates a single state in which both Palestinians and Israelis have equal political rights."


    9) Violence Flares Anew as France Scrambles to Respond to ‘Yellow Vest’ Protesters
    By Alissa J. Rubin, December 1, 2018
    Protesters wearing yellow vests near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday.

    PARIS — Tear gas swirled and riot police flanked the Arc de Triomphe on Saturday as protesters wearing the signature yellow vests of a movement protesting gas taxes and a high cost of living alternately tried to crash police barriers and gathered to sing the national anthem.
    Elsewhere in Paris and across France the protests were tense in some places but largely peaceful in others, giving credence to the French government’s claim that although many in Paris might be wearing the yellow vests, at least those around the Arc de Triomphe were, in great part, not representative of the movement and instead intent on causing trouble.
    Violent protesters in Paris spread out from the Arc de Triomphe later on Saturday, clashing with police, setting fire to cars and erecting makeshift barricades.
    It was the third consecutive weekend of demonstrations and while the numbers of protesters was down nationwide — 75,000 in contrast to more than 100,000 last weekend — the overall support for the movement shows no sign of abating and the government appeared flummoxed over how to respond.

    By midday some 158 people had been arrested and 65 had been wounded in the melee in Paris, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who made a point of distinguishing between those who had come prepared to fight the police and those with whom the government was willing to talk.
    “We are attached to freedom of expression, but also to respect for the law,” Mr. Philippe said.
    “I am shocked by the violence of such a symbol of France,” he said, referring to the clashes around the Arc de Triomphe and graffiti sprayed on it that read “Yellow Jackets Will Triumph.”
    It was two weeks into the protests before the government, which had been giving the demonstrators a cold shoulder, agreed to meet with them. First, government officials offered to increase subsidies for buying fuel-efficient cars and installing less-polluting home heating systems, but the protesters indicated that was insufficient since many do not have enough money to buy even a subsidized car.

    Mr. Philippe then called a meeting with Yellow Vest representatives for Nov. 30. However, since the movement has no leader or even really any representatives, it was unclear whom he invited. The result was that only one or two Yellow Vests showed up at Mr. Philippe’s formal residence at Matignon, a grand house in Paris’ chic 7th arrondissement.

    The meeting was “interesting, frank and respectful,” said Mr. Philippe, adding that the door remained open.
    But the “open door” was undercut by other ministers who publicly said there would be no backing down on the government’s new gas taxes.
    The good-cop, bad-cop approach did not go over well. A large group of Yellow Vests in Paris marched peacefully with a banner that said, “Macron, Stop Taking Us for Stupid People.”
    Asked if this referred to the government’s mixed messages, one of the marchers who was holding the edge of the banner said: “Of course. Who does he think we are?”
    In many ways the street confrontations on Saturday in Paris, while gripping on television, obscured the movement’s seriousness and its significance for the government. French politicians are accustomed to dealing with violent demonstrations: they occur several times every year, especially in Paris. Sometimes they are in the context of union strikes but more often as part of broader protests.
    Far more difficult for the government is dealing with the Yellow Vests who represent a broader swath of the French population than any union and include many who have not yet come out to demonstrate, but who say they are supportive.

    Of course, it is possible that reservoir of supporters will not become activists, but if they did, the government would be hard put to cope.

    President Emmanuel Macron’s dilemma is that in the past when French presidents, under pressure from the French Street, have backed down from their fiscal programs and moderated tax and other spending proposals, they are seen as weak and unable to enact meaningful change.
    Mr. Macron, whose campaign and now his government have been built on the promise to make needed reforms in France’s labor market and social security costs, would see his dream of bringing back prosperity to France and making it into a 21st century economy at the least cut short.
    The problem, said Bernard Sananès, president of Elabe, a French polling organization, is that “there are two Frances.”
    “One is a France that feels left behind and moving down” the socio-economic ladder, he said in an interview Dec. 1 on BFMTV, a French news channel.
    A study released this past week by the Jean Jaurès Institute, a public policy think tank, said: “In the past, these people could have given themselves some little entertainment; today those little ‘extras’ are out of reach.”
    Multiple surveys of public opinion released in the past week suggest that 70 percent to 80 percent of French people sympathize with the Yellow Vests’ contention that President Emmanuel Macron and his government “talks about the end of the world while we are talking about the end of the month.”

    The movement’s slogan refers to Mr. Macron’s focus on reducing climate change by promoting fuel efficiency and raising gas taxes in contrast to French working people who struggle to make it to the end of their month on their earnings.
    The Yellow Vests draw their constituency from the majority of French who have watched their take-home pay increasingly fall behind their cost of living.
    The catalyst for the protests was the government’s decision to continue increasing the gas tax in 2019 to help pay for the transition to more sustainable energy, but many people say that the discontent has been building for years.

    It reflects the bite of French payroll taxes, which are among the highest in Europe, and disposable income that is well below that of a number of other western European countries, although the French are still considerably better off than those in Eastern Europe, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics arm.
    The median disposable income for a person in a French household was 1,700 euros a month, about $1,923, in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to Insee, the French government’s statistics arm.

    Disposable income reflects the amount left for workers to spend on their daily needs — housing, food, schooling, clothes — after paying income taxes and payroll taxes and making adjustments for any government subsidies for which they might eligible.
    Often the only way to rein in costs has been to move to the exurbs of major cities, where real estate prices are much lower, but where workers generally must rely on a car to get to work and for errands. Cars need gas and so any gas tax increase hits them. Taxes have also risen on tobacco and other goods.
    For rural workers and those who live in distant small villages in the heart of France, a car is even more clearly a necessity.
    Centrist politicians, even some who support Mr. Macron, are beginning to push for a more engaged response from the government.
    “You can’t govern against the people,” said François Bayrou, the leader of the Moderate Democrats in Parliament, who are partners with Mr. Macron’s Les Republiques En Marche party in an interview on Europe 1.
    He said he did was not sure of the answer, but he said the government can’t keep “adding taxes on top of taxes.”

    Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting.