Thursday, July 18, 2019

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019

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A Call for National Emergency Meetings on the Border Migrant Crisis: July 20 – 27










https://fightformigrants.org/2019/07/07/a-call-for-national-emergency-meetings-on-the-border-migrant-crisis-july-20-27/


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Campaign for Medicare for All

At San Francisco Mime Troupe Shows In July



Dear Healthcare Activist, 



We invite you to help us collect postcards in support of HR 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019.

We send the postcards to the constituent's Congress Member asking them to support HR 1384 or thanking them if they are already a cosponsor.

In July we will be asking people at many of the San Francisco Mime Troupe shows.  This year's show is about development on Treasure Island.

We will be asking people to sign postcards from noon to 2pm.

The show starts at 2pm. 

Please let us know when you can help.



___ Yes, on July 4 at noon I can collect HR 1384 postcards at Dolores 
Park (18th St and Dolores - 5 blocks from 16th St BART)
___ Yes, on Sat. July 6 at noon I can collect HR 1384 postcards at 41          
Somerset Pl in Berkeley In John Hinkel Park.
___ Yes, on Sun. July 7 at noon I can collect HR 1384 postcards at 41 
Somerset Pl in Berkeley In John Hinkel Park.
___ Yes, on Sat. July 13, I can help collect HR 1384 postcards at         
Frances Willard/Ho Chi Minh Park. Derby & Hillgrass in Berkeley
___ Yes, on Sat. July 20 at noon I can help collect HR 1384 postcards in
          McLaren Park at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in San Francisco
___ Yes, on Sat. July 27 at noon I can help collect HR 1384 postcards in 
Balboa Park (San Jose Ave & Havelock in San Francisco)

I look forward to working with you.
Don Bechler
Chair - Single Payer Now
415-695-7891

And if you would like to make a financial contribution to keep us strong, you can send a contribution to:
Single Payer Now
PO Box 460622
San Francisco, CA 94146
Or to make a credit cards contribution: Click here


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Political Prisoners and Assange: Carole Seligman At S.F. Assange Rally
As part of an international action to free Julian Assange, a rally was held on June 12, 2019 at the US Federal Building in San Francisco and Carole Seligman was one of the speakers. She also speaks about imperialist wars and  the cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Fumiaki Hoshino.
For more info:
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org 

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Act Now to Save Mumia's Eyesight and to 

Demand His Release!


Tell them to approve Mumia's cataract surgery immediately!


Tell them to release Mumia Abu-Jamal NOW because he can receive better healthcare outside of prison and also because he is an innocent man!

Update June 3, 3029:

Forwarded message from Dr. Joseph Harris:

To All:

With a more complete history I was able to clarify:

1. Mumia is currently suffering from severe visual impairment "functionly" blind.
2. Under current conditions of incarceration his prognosis is dismal. I estimate he will be partially blind in less than 1 year and will be totally or near totally blind in 2 years.

Peace,

J. Harris MD
(Please circulate)
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P.S. In a subsequent email, Dr. Harris said that Mumia gave his permission to circulate this information. 

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Take Action:

1.    Sign the petition
2.    Call: Dr. Courtney P Rodgers – (570) 773-7851 and SCI Mahanoy Superintendent Theresa A. Delbalso - (570) 773-2158
3.    Call: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf – (717) 787-2500; PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel – (717) 728-2573; Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner – (215) 686-8000


Write to Mumia at:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335
SCI Mahanoy
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733




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50 years in prison: 
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!

FREE Chip Fitzgerald 
Grandfather, Father, Elder, Friend
former Black Panther 
              
Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald has been in prison since he was locked up 50 years ago. A former member of the Black Panther Party, Chip is now 70 years old, and suffering the consequences of a serious stroke. He depends on a wheelchair for his mobility. He has appeared before the parole board 17 times, but they refuse to release him.

NOW is the time for Chip to come home!

In September 1969, Chip and two other Panthers were stopped by a highway patrolman. During the traffic stop, a shooting broke out, leaving Chip and a police officer both wounded. Chip was arrested a month later and charged with attempted murder of the police and an unrelated murder of a security guard. Though the evidence against him was weak and Chip denied any involvement, he was convicted and sentenced to death.

In 1972, the California Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty. Chip and others on Death Row had their sentences commuted to Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. All of them became eligible for parole after serving 7 more years. But Chip was rejected for parole, as he has been ever since. 

Parole for Lifers basically stopped under Governors Deukmajian, Wilson, and Davis (1983-2003), resulting in increasing numbers of people in prison and 23 new prisons. People in prison filed lawsuits in federal courts: people were dying as a result of the overcrowding. To rapidly reduce the number of people in prison, the court mandated new parole hearings:
·        for anyone 60 years or older who had served 25 years or more;
·        for anyone convicted before they were 23 years old;
·        for anyone with disabilities 

Chip qualified for a new parole hearing by meeting all three criteria.

But the California Board of Parole Hearings has used other methods to keep Chip locked up. Although the courts ordered that prison rule infractions should not be used in parole considerations, Chip has been denied parole because he had a cellphone.

Throughout his 50 years in prison, Chip has been denied his right to due process – a new parole hearing as ordered by Federal courts. He is now 70, and addressing the challenges of a stroke victim. His recent rules violation of cellphone possession were non-violent and posed no threat to anyone. He has never been found likely to commit any crimes if released to the community – a community of his children, grandchildren, friends and colleagues who are ready to support him and welcome him home.

The California Board of Parole Hearings is holding Chip hostage.

We call on Governor Newsom to release Chip immediately.

What YOU can do to support this campaign to FREE CHIP:


1)   Sign and circulate the petition to FREE Chip. Download it at https://www.change.org/p/california-free-chip-fitzgerald
Print out the petition and get signatures at your workplace, community meeting, or next social gathering.

2)   Write an email to Governor Newsom's office (sample message at:https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iwbP_eQEg2J1T2h-tLKE-Dn2ZfpuLx9MuNv2z605DMc/edit?usp=sharing

3)   Write to Chip: Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald #B27527,
CSP-LAC
P.O. Box 4490
B-4-150
Lancaster, CA 93539

--
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/

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Support Chuck Africa for Parole

Michael Africa Jr. started this petition to Pennsylvania Governor


Charles Sims Africa #AM 4975 has been in prison since age 18. He is now 59 years old and a recovering cancer patient. He has been eligible for parole since 2008 but continually denied because of  his political views.
Charles has 8 codefendants. Two has died in prison, four has been released from prison onto parole. Chuck's sister Debbie Sims Africa is one of the four codefendants released onto parole.
Since coming home from prison, Debbie is thriving. Our community of support has supported Debbie to excel and we are committed to do the same for Chuck so that he can excel as well. 
http://chng.it/Yprs8pXBBp

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On Abortion: From Facebook

Best explanation I've heard so far..., Copied from a friend who copied from a friend who copied..., "Last night, I was in a debate about these new abortion laws being passed in red states. My son stepped in with this comment which was a show stopper. One of the best explanations I have read:, , 'Reasonable people can disagree about when a zygote becomes a "human life" - that's a philosophical question. However, regardless of whether or not one believes a fetus is ethically equivalent to an adult, it doesn't obligate a mother to sacrifice her body autonomy for another, innocent or not., , Body autonomy is a critical component of the right to privacy protected by the Constitution, as decided in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), McFall v. Shimp (1978), and of course Roe v. Wade (1973). Consider a scenario where you are a perfect bone marrow match for a child with severe aplastic anemia; no other person on earth is a close enough match to save the child's life, and the child will certainly die without a bone marrow transplant from you. If you decided that you did not want to donate your marrow to save the child, for whatever reason, the state cannot demand the use of any part of your body for something to which you do not consent. It doesn't matter if the procedure required to complete the donation is trivial, or if the rationale for refusing is flimsy and arbitrary, or if the procedure is the only hope the child has to survive, or if the child is a genius or a saint or anything else - the decision to donate must be voluntary to be constitutional. This right is even extended to a person's body after they die; if they did not voluntarily commit to donate their organs while alive, their organs cannot be harvested after death, regardless of how useless those organs are to the deceased or how many lives they would save., , That's the law., , Use of a woman's uterus to save a life is no different from use of her bone marrow to save a life - it must be offered voluntarily. By all means, profess your belief that providing one's uterus to save the child is morally just, and refusing is morally wrong. That is a defensible philosophical position, regardless of who agrees and who disagrees. But legally, it must be the woman's choice to carry out the pregnancy., , She may choose to carry the baby to term. She may choose not to. Either decision could be made for all the right reasons, all the wrong reasons, or anything in between. But it must be her choice, and protecting the right of body autonomy means the law is on her side. Supporting that precedent is what being pro-choice means.", , Feel free to copy/paste and re-post., y
Sent from my iPhone

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Celebrating the release of Janet and Janine Africa
Take action now to support Jalil A. Muntaqim's release


Jalil A. Muntaqim was a member of the Black Panther Party and has been a political prisoner for 48 years since he was arrested at the age of 19 in 1971. He has been denied parole 11 times since he was first eligible in 2002, and is now scheduled for his 12th parole hearing. Additionally, Jalil has filed to have his sentence commuted to time served by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Visit Jalil's support page, check out his writing and poetry, and Join Critical Resistance in supporting a vibrant intergenerational movement of freedom fighters in demanding his release.

48 years is enough. Write, email, call, and tweet at Governor Cuomo in support of Jalil's commutation and sign this petition demanding his release.

http://freedomarchives.org/Support.Jalil/Campaign.html
Write:
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
Executive Chamber State Capital Building
Albany, New York 12224

Michelle Alexander – Author, The New Jim Crow
Ed Asner - Actor and Activist
Charles Barron - New York Assemblyman, 60th District
Inez Barron - Counci member, 42nd District, New York City Council
Rosa Clemente - Scholar Activist and 2008 Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate
Patrisse Cullors – Co-Founder Black Lives Matter, Author, Activist
Elena Cohen - President, National Lawyers Guild
"Davey D" Cook - KPFA Hard Knock Radio
Angela Davis - Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - Native American historian, writer and feminist
Mike Farrell - Actor and activist
Danny Glover – Actor and activist
Linda Gordon - New York University
Marc Lamont Hill - Temple University
Jamal Joseph - Columbia University
Robin D.G. Kelley - University of California, Los Angeles
Tom Morello - Rage Against the Machine
Imani Perry - Princeton University
Barbara Ransby - University of Illinois, Chicago
Boots Riley - Musician, Filmmaker
Walter Riley - Civil rights attorney
Dylan Rodriguez - University of California, Riverside, President American Studies Association
Maggie Siff, Actor
Heather Ann Thompson - University of Michigan
Cornel West - Harvard University
Institutional affiliations listed for identification purposes only
Call: 1-518-474-8390

Email Gov. Cuomo with this form

Tweet at @NYGovCuomo
Any advocacy or communications to Gov. Cuomo must refer to Jalil as:
ANTHONY JALIL BOTTOM, 77A4283,
Sullivan Correctional Facility,
P.O. Box 116,
Fallsburg, New York 12733-0116


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Painting by Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on San Quentin's death row. www.freekevincooper.org

Decarcerate Louisiana

Declaration of Undersigned Prisoners
We, the undersigned persons, committed to the care and custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections (LDOC), hereby submit the following declaration and petition bearing witness to inhumane conditions of solitary confinement in the N-1 building at the David Wade Corrections Center (DWCC). 
Our Complaint:
We, the Undersigned Persons, declare under penalty of perjury: 
1.    We, the undersigned, are currently housed in the N-1 building at DWCC, 670 Bell Hill Road, Homer, LA 71040. 
2.    We are aware that the Constitution, under the 8th Amendment, bans cruel and unusual punishments; the Amendment also imposes duties on prison officials who must provide humane conditions of confinement and ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and must take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates. 
3.    We are aware that Louisiana prison officials have sworn by LSA-R.S.15:828 to provide humane treatment and rehabilitation to persons committed to its care and to direct efforts to return every person in its custody to the community as promptly as practicable. 
4.    We are confined in a double-bunked six-by-nine foot or 54 square feet cell with another human being 22-hours-a-day and are compelled to endure the degrading experience of being in close proximity of another human being while defecating. 
5.    There are no educational or rehabilitation programs for the majority of prisoners confined in the N-1 building except for a selected few inmates who are soon to be released. 
6.    We get one hour and 30 minutes on the yard and/or gym seven days a week. Each day we walk to the kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which takes about one minute to get there. We are given ten minutes to eat. 
7.    The daily planner for inmates confined in the N-1 building is to provide inmates one hour and 30 minutes on yard or gym; escort inmates to kitchen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to sit and eat for approximately ten minutes each meal; provide a ten minute shower for each cell every day; provide one ten minute phone call per week; confine prisoners in cell 22-hours-a-day. 
8.    When we are taking a shower we are threatened by guards with disciplinary reports if we are not out on time. A typical order is: "if you are not out of shower in ten minutes pack your shit and I'm sending you back to N-2, N-3, or N-4"—a more punitive form of solitary confinement. 
9.    When walking outside to yard, gym or kitchen, guards order us to put our hands behind our back or they'll write us up and send us back to N-2, N-3, N-4. 
10.  When we are sitting at the table eating, guards order us not to talk or they'll write us up and send us back to N-2, N-3, N-4. ) 
11.  Guards are harassing us every day and are threatening to write up disciplinary reports and send us back to a more punitive cellblock (N-2, N-3, N-4) if we question any arbitrary use of authority or even voice an opinion in opposition to the status quo. Also, guards take away good time credits, phone, TV, radio, canteen, and contact visits for talking too loud or not having hands behind back or for any reason they want. We are also threatened with slave labor discipline including isolation (removing mattress from cell from 5:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.,) strip cell (removing mattress and bedding and stationery from cell for ten to 30 days or longer), food loaf  (taking one's meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and mixing it all together into one big mass, bake it in oven and serve it to prisoners for punishment.)
12.  When prison guards write up disciplinary reports and transfer us to the more punitive restrictive solitary confinement in N-2, N-3, N-4 or N-5, guards then enforce an arbitrary rule that gives prisoners the ultimatum of sending all their books and personal property home or let the prison dispose of it. 
13.  Louisiana prison officials charge indigent prisoners (who earn less than four cents an hour) $3.00 for routine requests for healthcare services, $6.00 for emergency medical requests, and $2.00 for each new medical prescription. They wait until our family and friends send us money and take it to pay prisoners' medical bills. 
Our concerns:
14.  How much public monies are appropriated to the LDOC budget and specifically allotted to provide humane treatment and implement the rehabilitation program pursuant to LSA- R.S.15:828? 
15.  Why does Elayn Hunt Correctional Center located in the capitol of Louisiana have so many educational and rehabilitation programs teaching prisoners job and life skills for reentry whereas there are no such programs to engage the majority of prisoners confined in the N-1, N- 2, N-3, and N-4 solitary confinement buildings at DWCC. 
16.  It is customary for Louisiana prison officials and DWCC prison guards to tell inmates confined in the prison's cellblocks to wait until transfer to prison dormitory to participate in programs when in fact there are no such programs available and ready to engage the majority of the state's 34,000 prisoner population. The programs are especially needed for prisoners confined in a six-by-nine foot or 54 square feet cell with another person for 22-or-more-hours-per-day. 
17.  Why can't prisoners use phone and computers every day to communicate with family and peers as part of rehabilitation and staying connected to the community? 
18.  Why do prisoners have to be transferred miles and miles away from loved ones to remote correctional facilities when there are facilities closer to loved ones? 
19.  Why are prison guards allowed to treat prisoners as chattel slaves, confined in cages 22-or-more-hours-per-day, take away phone calls and visitation and canteen at will, and take away earned good time credits for any reason at all without input from family, one's peers and community? 
20.  Why do the outside communities allow prison guards to create hostile living environments and conditions of confinement that leaves prisoners in a state of chattel slavery, stress, anxiety, anger, rage, inner torment, despair, worry, and in a worse condition from when we first entered the prison? 
21.  Why do state governments and/or peers in the community allow racist or bigoted white families who reside in the rural and country parts of Louisiana to run the state's corrections system with impunity? For example, DWCC Warden Jerry Goodwin institutes racist and bigoted corrections policies and practices for the very purpose of oppression, repression, antagonizing and dehumanizing the inmates who will one day be released from prison. 
22.  David Wade Correctional Center Colonel Lonnie Nail, a bigot and a racist, takes his orders from Warden Jerry Goodwin, another racist and bigot. Both Goodwin and Nail influences subordinate corrections officers to act toward prisoners in a racist or bigoted manner and with an arrogant attitude. This creates a hostile living environment and debilitating conditions of confinement for both guards and prisoners and prevents rehabilitation of inmates.
23.  In other industrialized democracies like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, et al, it is reported that no prisoner should be declared beyond reform or redemption without first attempting to rehabilitate them. Punitive or harsh conditions of confinement are not supported because they see the loss of freedom inherent in a prison sentence as punishment enough. One Netherlands official reported that their motto is to start with the idea of "Reintegration back into society on day one" when people are locked up. "You can't make an honest argument that how someone is treated while incarcerated doesn't affect how they behave when they get out," the official added. 
24.  Additionally, some Scandinavian countries have adopted open prison programs without fences or armed guards. Prisoners who prove by their conduct that they can be trusted are placed in a prison resembling a college campus more than a prison. The result is a 20 percent recidivism rate, compared to a 67 percent rate in the United States. 
25.  The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) in a position statement says: "Prolonged (greater than 15 consecutive days) solitary confinement is cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and harmful to an individual's health."
 What We Believe: 
26.  We believe that when the greater portion of public monies goes to war and the military, this leaves little funds left for community reinvestment and human development.The people have less access to resources by which to get a better idea of human behavior and rely on higher education instead of prison to solve cultural, social, political, economic problems in the system that may put people at risk to domestic violence and crime as a way to survive and cope with shortcomings in the system. 
27.  We believe that investing public monies in the rehabilitation program LSA-R.S.15:828 to teach prisoners job and life skills will redeem inmates, instill morals, and make incarcerated people productive and fit for society. 
28.  We believe that confining inmates in cellblocks 15-or-more=hours-per-day is immoral, uncivilized, brutalizing, a waste of time and counter-productive to rehabilitation and society's goals of "promoting the general welfare" and "providing a more perfect union with justice for all." 
29.  We believe that corrections officers who prove by their actions that incarcerated people are nothing more than chattel slaves are bucking the laws and creating hardening criminals and these corrections officers are, therefore, a menace to society. 
Our Demands:
30.  We are demanding a public conversation from community activists and civil rights leaders about (1) the historic relationship between chattel slavery, the retaliatory assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and the resurrection of slavery written into the 13th Amendment; (2) the historic relationship between the 13th Amendment, the backlash against Reconstruction, Peonage, Convict Leasing, and Slavery; (3) the historic relationship between the 13th Amendment, the War Against Poverty, the War on Drugs, Criminal Justice and Prison Slavery. 
31.  We demand that the Louisiana legislature pass the Decarcerate Louisiana Anti-Slavery and Freedom Liberation Act of 2020 into law and end prison slavery and the warehousing of incarcerated people for the very purpose of repression, oppression, and using prisoners and their families and supporters as a profit center for corporate exploitation and to generate revenue to balance the budget and stimulate the state economy. 
32.  We are demanding that Warden Jerry Goodwin and Colonel Lonnie Nail step down and be replaced by people are deemed excellent public servants in good standing with human rights watchdog groups and civil rights community. 
33.  We are demanding that the LDOC provide public monies to operate state prison dormitories and cellblocks as rehabilitation centers to teach incarcerated people job and life skills five-days-a-week from 7:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. 
34.  We are demanding that the LDOC release a public statement announcing that "from this day forward it will not support punitive or harsh conditions of confinement," and that "no prisoner should be declared beyond reform or redemption without first attempting to rehabilitate them."
35.  We are demanding that the prison cellblocks be operated as open dormitories (made in part a health clinic and part college campus) so that incarcerated people can have enough space to walk around and socialize, participate in class studies, exercise, use telephone as the need arise. Prisoners are already punished by incarceration so there is no need to punish or further isolate them. Racism and abuse of power will not be tolerated. 
36.  We are demanding an end to unjust policies and practices that impose punishments and deprive incarcerated people of phone calls, visitation, canteen, good time credits, books and other personal property that pose no threat to public safety. 
37.  We are demanding that LDOC provide incarcerated people cellphones and computers to communicate with the public and stay connected to the community. 
38.  We are demanding the right to communicate with reporters to aid and assist incarcerated persons in preparing a press release to communicate to the public Decarcerate Louisiana's vision and mission statements, aims, and plans for moving forward. 
39.  We are demanding the right to participate in the U.S.-European Criminal Justice Innovation Project and share our complaint, concerns, and demands for a humane corrections program. 
40.  We are only demanding the right to enough space to create, to innovate, to excel in learning, to use scientific knowledge to improve our person and place and standing in the free world. The rule of law must support the betterment and uplifting of all humanity. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said: "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 
41.  We demand that the responsibility for prisoner medical care be removed from DOC wardens and place it under the management of the state's health office; increase state health officer staff to better monitor prisoner healthcare and oversee vendor contracts. 
42.  We have a God-given right and responsibility to resist abuse of power from the wrongdoers, to confront unjust authority and oppression, to battle for justice until we achieve our demands for liberation and freedom. 
We, the undersigned, declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. 
Executed on this 28th Day of January 2019. 
Ronald Brooks #385964 
David Johnson #84970 
Freddie Williams #598701 
Earl Hollins #729041 
James Harris #399514 
Tyrone Carter #550354 
Kerry Carter #392013 
Ivo Richardson #317371 
Rondrikus Fulton #354313 
Kentell Simmons #601717 
Jayvonte Pines #470985 
Deandre Miles #629008 
Kenneth P. #340729 
Brandon Ceaser #421453 
Tyronne Ward #330964 
Jermaine Atkins #448421 
Charles Rodgers #320513 
Steve Givens #557854 
Timothy Alfred #502378 
—wsimg.com, January 2019
https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/1f4bce95-7ddd-4b2d-8ee7-d8edf36f394f/downloads/Declaration_of_Undersigned_Prisoners.pdf?ver=1555809786117



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New Prison and Jail Population Figures Released by U.S. Department of Justice

By yearend 2017, the United States prison population had declined by 7.3% since reaching its peak level in 2009, according to new data released by the Department of Justice. The prison population decreases are heavily influenced by a handful of states that have reduced their populations by 30% or more in recent years. However, as of yearend 2017 more than half the states were still experiencing increases in their populations or rates of decline only in the single digits. 
Analysis of the new data by The Sentencing Project reveals that: 
  • The United States remains as the world leader in its rate of incarceration, locking up its citizens at 5-10 times the rate of other industrialized nations. At the current rate of decline it will take 75 years to cut the prison population by 50%.
      
  • The population serving life sentences is now at a record high. One of every seven individuals in prison – 206,000 – is serving life.
      
  • Six states have reduced their prison populations by at least 30% over the past two decades – Alaska, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.  
  • The rate of women's incarceration has been rising at a faster rate than men's since the 1980s, and declines in recent years have been slower than among men.
      
  • Racial disparities in women's incarceration have changed dramatically since the start of the century. Black women were incarcerated at 6 times the rate of white women in 2000, while the 2017 figure is now 1.8 times that rate. These changes have been a function of both a declining number of black women in prison and a rising number of white women. For Hispanic women, the ratio has changed from 1.6 times that of white women in 2000 to 1.4 times in 2017. 
The declines in prison and jail populations reported by the Department of Justice today are encouraging, but still fall far short of what is necessary for meaningful criminal justice reform. In order to take the next step in ending mass incarceration policymakers will need to scale back excessive sentencing for all offenses, a key factor which distinguishes the U.S. from other nations. 

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[Note: China's population is 1,419,147,756* as of April 26, 2019 with 1,649,804 in prison***; while the population of the USA is 328,792,291 as of April 27, 2019** with 2,121,600 in prison.*** 
*http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/china-population/
**https://www.census.gov/popclock/
***https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_incarceration_rate]


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Courage to Resist
daniel hale drone activist
Drone vet turned activist facing 50 years for whistle-blowing
Daniel Hale, an Air Force veteran and former US intelligence analyst was arrested May 9th and charged with violating the Espionage Act. Daniel is a well-known anti-drone activist who has spoken out a number of anti-war events and conferences. He's a member of About Face: Veterans Against the War, and he's featured in the documentary "National Bird." For years, Daniel has expressed concern that he'd be targeted by the government.  Learn more.
Hal Muskat
Podcast: "There were US anti-war soldiers all over the world" - Hal Muskat
"I told my command officer that I wasn't going to, I was refusing my orders [to Vietnam] … In his rage, he thought if he court-martialed me, he'd have to stay in the Army past his discharge date." While stationed in Europe, Hal Muskat refused orders to Vietnam and joined the GI Movement, resulting in two court martials. This Courage to Resist podcast was produced in collaboration with the Vietnam Full Disclosure effort of Veterans For Peace. Listen to Hal Muskat's story.



Chelsea Manning returned to jail after brief release; Faces half million dollar fine in addition to another 18 months prison
chelsea manning resists
Since our last newsletter less than two weeks ago, Chelsea Manning was freed from jail when the grand jury investigating Julian Assange and WikiLeaks expired. However, a few days later, she was sent back to jail for refusing to collaborate with a new grand jury on the same subject. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ordered Chelsea fined $500 every day she is in custody after 30 days and $1,000 every day she is in custody after 60 days -- a possible total of $502,000. Statement from Chelsea's lawyers.
Stand with Reality Winner, rally in DC
chelsea manning resists
June 3, 2019 at 7pm (Monday)
Lafayette Square, Washington DC 
Please join friends and supporters as we raise awareness of the persecution of this young veteran and brave truth teller. This marks two years of imprisonment of Reality for helping to expose hacking attempts on US election systems leading up to the 2016 presidential election. For more info, visit the "Stand with Reality" pages on Twitter or FacebookOrder "Stand with Reality" shirts, banners, and buttons from Left Together protest shirts.


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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Funds for Kevin Cooper

https://www.gofundme.com/funds-for-kevin-cooper?member=1994108

For 34 years, an innocent man has been on death row in California. 

Kevin Cooper was wrongfully convicted of the brutal 1983 murders of the Ryen family and houseguest. The case has a long history of police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering, and numerous constitutional violations including many incidences of the prosecution withholding evidence of innocence from the defense. You can learn more here . 

In December 2018 Gov. Brown ordered  limited DNA testing and in February 2019, Gov. Newsom ordered additional DNA testing. Meanwhile, Kevin remains on Death Row at San Quentin Prison. 

The funds raised will be used to help Kevin purchase art supplies for his paintings . Additionally, being in prison is expensive, and this money would help Kevin pay for stamps, paper, toiletries, supplementary food, and/or phone calls.

Please help ease the daily struggle of an innocent man on death row!




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Don't extradite Assange!

To the government of the UK
Julian Assange, through Wikileaks, has done the world a great service in documenting American war crimes, its spying on allies and other dirty secrets of the world's most powerful regimes, organisations and corporations. This has not endeared him to the American deep state. Both Obama, Clinton and Trump have declared that arresting Julian Assange should be a priority. We have recently received confirmation [1] that he has been charged in secret so as to have him extradited to the USA as soon as he can be arrested. 
Assange's persecution, the persecution of a publisher for publishing information [2] that was truthful and clearly in the interest of the public - and which has been republished in major newspapers around the world - is a danger to freedom of the press everywhere, especially as the USA is asserting a right to arrest and try a non-American who neither is nor was then on American soil. The sentence is already clear: if not the death penalty then life in a supermax prison and ill treatment like Chelsea Manning. The very extradition of Julian Assange to the United States would at the same time mean the final death of freedom of the press in the West. 
The courageous nation of Ecuador has offered Assange political asylum within its London embassy for several years until now. However, under pressure by the USA, the new government has made it clear that they want to drive Assange out of the embassy and into the arms of the waiting police as soon as possible. They have already curtailed his internet and his visitors and turned the heating off, leaving him freezing in a desolate state for the past few months and leading to the rapid decline of his health, breaching UK obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. Therefore, our demand both to the government of Ecuador and the government of the UK is: don't extradite Assange to the US! Guarantee his human rights, make his stay at the embassy as bearable as possible and enable him to leave the embassy towards a secure country as soon as there are guarantees not to arrest and extradite him. Furthermore, we, as EU voters, encourage European nations to take proactive steps to protect a journalist in danger. The world is still watching.
[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/16/us/politics/julian-assange-indictment-wikileaks.html
[2] https://theintercept.com/2018/11/16/as-the-obama-doj-concluded-prosecution-of-julian-assange-for-publishing-documents-poses-grave-threats-to-press-freedom/
https://internal.diem25.org/en/petitions/1

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Words of Wisdom

Louis Robinson Jr., 77
Recording secretary for Local 1714 of the United Auto Workers from 1999 to 2018, with the minutes from a meeting of his union's retirees' chapter.

"One mistake the international unions in the United States made was when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. When he did that, the unions could have brought this country to a standstill. All they had to do was shut down the truck drivers for a month, because then people would not have been able to get the goods they needed. So that was one of the mistakes they made. They didn't come together as organized labor and say: "No. We aren't going for this. Shut the country down." That's what made them weak. They let Reagan get away with what he did. A little while after that, I read an article that said labor is losing its clout, and I noticed over the years that it did. It happened. It doesn't feel good."

[On the occasion of the shut-down of the Lordstown, Ohio GM plant March 6, 2019.]
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/05/01/magazine/lordstown-general-motors-plant.html

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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 comrademalik.com 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.


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

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

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Major George Tillery
MAJOR TILLERY FILES NEW LEGAL PETITION
SEX FOR LIES AND
MANUFACTURED TESTIMONY
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.

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 JusticeforMajorTillery.org.

Major Tillery has Fought his Conviction and Advocated for Other Prisoners for over 30 Years

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:


Major Tillery and family

HOW YOU CAN HELP
    Financial Support—Tillery's investigation is ongoing. He badly needs funds to fight for his freedom.
    Go to JPay.com;
    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: JusticeForMajorTillery.org
    Call/Write:
    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com
    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com




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    ILPDC NEWSLETTER BANNER
      

    On Monday March 4th, 2019 Leonard Peltier was advised that his request for a transfer had been unceremoniously denied by the United States Bureau of Prisons.

    The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee appreciates and thanks the large number of his supporters who took the time to write, call, email, or fax the BOP in support of Leonard's request for a transfer.
    Those of us who have been supporting Leonard's freedom for a number of years are disappointed but resolute to continue pushing for his freedom and until that day, to continue to push for his transfer to be closer to his relatives and the Indigenous Nations who support him.
    44 years is too damn long for an innocent man to be locked up. How can his co-defendants be innocent on the grounds of self-defense but Leonard remains in prison? The time is now for all of us to dig deep and do what we can and what we must to secure freedom for Leonard Peltier before it's too late.
    We need the support of all of you now, more than ever. The ILPDC plans to appeal this denial of his transfer to be closer to his family. We plan to demand he receive appropriate medical care, and to continue to uncover and utilize every legal mechanism to secure his release. To do these things we need money to support the legal work.
    Land of the Brave postcard-page-0

    Please call the ILPDC National office or email us for a copy of the postcard you can send to the White House. We need your help to ask President Trump for Leonard's freedom.
      


    Free Leonard Peltier!


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

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

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    1) When Public School Starts at Age 3
    By Connor P. Williams, July 9, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/09/opinion/free-pre-k-washington.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    Ashley Peel teaching her pre-K class to write their names at Kipp DC: Connect Academy in Washington in 2014.CreditCreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times


    Free public school starting at age four, or even three, is growing in many American cities. It's gaining traction as a way to help young children learn the reading, counting and social skills that prepare them for kindergarten. It also promises to help close academic gaps between rich and poor children. Above all, it may have lasting benefits for attendees, including success in school and better lives as adults.
    But promises are not guarantees, and universal pre-K works better in some places than in others. Washington, D.C., runs one of the country's oldest, best-funded, most comprehensive pre-K systems. So what can other cities learn from Washington's success?
    Here's how pre-K looks in one Washington classroom:
    Amina, who is 4 years old and introduces herself as a writer, looks up from chopping plastic carrots. She and two of her classmates are pretending to cook a family meal together. Her "sister" Lesley, who said she is a librarian-professor, is prepping tomatoes. Their third "sister," Madison — "I don't work. I just sit on my computer all day," she said — is making caramel for the salad. That doesn't seem right, I say.

    Amina shrugs. It's an odd salad, but not out of bounds for the dramatic play center at the Parklands campus of AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School. It's in the Shipley Terrace neighborhood of Washington, a largely low-income, African-American part of the city.

    Amina gathers all the ingredients and passes me the bowl. "Here! Try some!"
    Amina, Lesley and Madison are three of the more than 13,000children enrolled in Washington's universal public pre-K program.
    The city introduced universal pre-K in 2008. Over the next decade, glittering rhetoric about pre-K's benefits helped sell the public — and policymakers across the country — on the idea. Studies show that high-quality pre-K can advance children's linguistic, academic and social development. Research also suggests that pre-K programs reduce the need for special education placements, raise students' future incomes, lower incarceration rates and get parents back to work.
    And yet enthusiasm for these programs has often outrun practicalities. Several studies of recent efforts to increase public pre-K have hinted that cities and states have expanded access at the cost of quality. Some expansions have been rushed and others given too little money; many face both problems.
    Beside issues of politics, there are questions of what we want universal pre-K to do. "The big problem in the sector is, what do we mean by quality?" asks Jack McCarthy, AppleTree's president and chief executive.

    The range of pre-K's promised benefits makes this a surprisingly complex question. Is the goal academic readiness, social and emotional learning, better health outcomes, access to child care, raising future incomes, decreasing the size of future prison populations — or some combination of these? Then, once we've defined success, how do we measure it? And, finally, how can new pre-K programs in cities like New York, San Antonio and Seattle deliver it?
    A decade into building — and reforming — its universal pre-K program, Washington provides some hints.
    The program is popular with parents: 73 percent of 3-year-olds and 85 percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in the 2017-2018 school year. "With the pre-K participation rates that we have across the city, I think we can truly say that our public education system starts at age three," says Miriam Calderon, who was the school district's director of early childhood education during the program's early years. (Now she heads Oregon's early education system.)
    The city's enthusiasm for early education is at least partly a function of its skyrocketing cost of living. Washington designed its pre-K program to help families financially and became one of the few cities that offers it to 3-year-olds, leaving new parents with just three years of child care to cover.

    It also runs all day. Most campuses provide at least six and a half hours of care and education each day. A Center for American Progress study found that Washington's program has increased mothers' participation in the labor force.
    But quality pre-K isn't solely — or even primarily — about helping parents afford to have children or get back to work. Analysis of universal early education programs like Quebec's suggest that while it is reasonably straightforward to provide safe, daylong care that allows parents to return to work, it is more complicated to ensure that these programs also advance children's development.

    Across Washington, educators and administrators say that pre-K classrooms aim to close academic achievement gaps before they have grown too large. Such measurement makes sense: Just as second grade prepares children for third and middle school prepares children for high school, pre-K ought to pre-prepare children for kindergarten.
    Of course, kindergarten preparation is unique. It covers a holistic span of child development, and it's long on social and emotional skills — paying attention, working with peers, recognizing and solving conflicts. It's about learning how to be at school and how to get the most out of it. For instance, when Amina, Lesley and Madison serve caramel salad, they're learning to create collaboratively in a team.
    Laura Steinmetz, a pre-K teacher in Washington, calls this "the underlying piece" of her work. Take wooden blocks. They develop some obvious skills: Students acquire dexterity and learn how their choices affect a structure's stability. They learn to plan and persist in the face of failure. But there's more, Ms. Steinmetz says. "Maybe somebody walked by and touched one of the support blocks and the whole thing fell down, so you have to learn how to manage your feelings and talk to that peer."
    Turner Elementary School's principal, Eric Bethel, said he's seeing the impact of the pre-K program in his kindergartners. "They're not spending the first three or four weeks of school crying because it's some sort of foreign place to them," he said. "They know school routines. They have stamina."
    But high-quality pre-K isn't only about patiently navigating imaginary salads, block towers and frustration. These social and emotional skills help students' acquire knowledge by building their abilities to learn in group settings. Good pre-K also builds academic foundations.
    At a literacy table in one Turner classroom, Tanisha Watson, a veteran pre-K teacher, reads "Be Boy Buzz" with a student. The boy prompts her to read by pointing to each word. In just two minutes, she reinforces a pile of basic literacy skills. "If I read, you'll point, right? Are you ready? We go left to right," she reminds him. "Do we start at the bottom or the top? What's that period mean? O.K.! Now we need to keep going. What do we do to keep reading? We turn the page? Great!" She stretches him to think about what's happening — "Does he seem like he's talking loud? What do you think he's doing here? He's crying? How do you know? Why is he crying?" Those are the building blocks of reading.
    Skilled instruction like Ms. Watson's doesn't come cheap. Unlike most American communities, Washington pays its pre-K teachers at rates similar to those its elementary schoolteachers get. Their salaries make up a large part of the nearly $19,000 the city spends annually on each preschooler. San Antonio, for comparison, spends just under $14,000 per child.

    What's more, Washington also uses federal Head Start funding in its pre-K sites. All district pre-K classrooms must adopt Head Start's holistic approach to child development, which means providing access to health, nutrition and family outreach programs. In many cities, public pre-K classrooms enroll students separately from Head Start classrooms, which primarily serve children from low-income families. Washington's systemwide funding coordination helps avoid this de facto segregation. No other city blends local and federal early education funding as smoothly on a large scale.
    Most important, more than 95 percent of Washington's pre-K seatsare in public schools. This can help students acclimate to the facilities where they'll spend their elementary school years. It can also make it easier for kindergarten to pick up precisely where pre-K leaves off.
    Just five years ago, 80 percent of kindergartners at Turner Elementary started the year behind on basic print concepts, like how to hold and use a book. As the school's pre-K program has improved — Turner's pre-K teachers have worked with a full-time coach for three years — the data have flipped. Last year, 76 percent of incoming kindergartners had mastered those reading basics.
    At both Turner Elementary and AppleTree's Parklands campus, nearly every student is growing up in a low-income, African-American family. But Washington's pre-K classrooms seem to be getting results with all their students.
    For example, children who were learning English at schools using AppleTree's curriculum finished pre-K performing as well as, or better than, native English-speaking peers on math and literacy tests. At AppleTree's Columbia Heights campus, children who speak a language other than English at home — one-third of the school's students — showed stronger growth on early literacy and math skills than their native English-speaking peers.
    In 2018, the school district reported that fewer than half of 3-year-olds were meeting early literacy benchmarks when they arrived in pre-K classrooms. However, 86 percent were finishing pre-K ready for kindergarten on the cognition skills measured by the city's early childhood assessment — and 83 percent were becoming kindergarten-ready on language metrics. More than 75 percent reached kindergarten-ready skills on fluently matching sounds with letters.
    It is too early to say for certain whether Washington's system is delivering on all of the many promises made on pre-K's behalf. (Paradoxically, the program's popularity makes it difficult to study, because there are few students outside the program who could make up a control group.) Right now, the earliest 3-year-olds to have enrolled in the city's expanded pre-K system are only now arriving in the later elementary grades, where standardized academic assessments become more common. Students in Washington's public schools have shown steady academic improvement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, particularly in the elementary school years. While many factors contribute to this trend — the city simultaneously embarked upon major K-12 education reforms and has seen significant demographic changes in its schools — these are grades that enroll more students who attended the city's pre-K programs.
    But it will be decades before researchers can determine whether the program has affected students' incomes or incarceration rates as adults. So far, though, Washington's example does suggest that a universal, full-day, well-funded, school-based, developmentally-appropriate, holistic pre-K program can improve children's lives — if the public is patient, and willing to pay.
    Conor P. Williams (@ConorPWilliams) studies educational equity as a fellow at the Century Foundation.
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    2) An Arizona Teenager Was Fatally Stabbed. The Suspect Blames Rap Music.
    By Karen Zraick, July 9, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/09/us/elijah-al-amin-michael-paul-adams.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage

    Elijah Al-Amin


    A 17-year-old boy was fatally stabbed in Arizona by a man who said the rap music the victim was listening to made him feel "unsafe,"the police said. 
    The victim, Elijah Al-Amin of Glendale, had finished work at a Subway sandwich shop and stopped at a Circle K convenience store in Peoria early Thursday morning, relatives said. He was standing at a soda machine around 1:45 a.m. when Michael Paul Adams, 27, who had been released from prison two days earlier, stabbed him in the back and slit his throat, witnesses told officers from the Peoria Police Department.
    The two were not believed to have known each other, and witnesses reported that Mr. Adams did not say anything before the attack. Elijah fled the store, bleeding profusely, and collapsed in the parking lot, according to a probable cause statement. When emergency responders arrived, a witness was trying to stop the bleeding from his neck. He died at a hospital about 20 minutes later.
    Mr. Adams simply walked out of the store after the encounter, much of which was caught on surveillance tape. The police found him nearby, stained with blood and carrying a folding pocketknife, and he admitted to the killing, according to the statement.
    In a police interview, Mr. Adams, who is white, said that Elijah, who was multiracial, had been listening to rap music on his car radio before he entered the store, and that the music had made Mr. Adams feel threatened.
    Mr. Adams said in the interview that rap music "makes him feel unsafe," because in the past he had been "attacked by people (blacks, Hispanics and Native American) who listen to rap music." According to the police statement, he said that "people who listen to rap music are a threat to him and the community."
    Mr. Adams said that he had felt he "needed to be 'proactive rather than reactive' and protect himself and his community from the victim," it added.
    Mr. Adams was charged with premeditated murder in the first degree.
    The attack bore similarities to the 2012 killing of Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old who was shot and killed by a 47-year-old white man after Mr. Davis and his friends refused the man's request to turn down the volume of the rap music playing from their car. The shooter, Michael Dunn, was later sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Davis's mother, Lucy McBath, was elected to Congress last year after running on a gun control platform.

    Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the National Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was among those calling for the killing to be investigated by the Justice Department as a hate crime. On Twitter, people used the hashtag #JusticeforElijah as they expressed outrage and sadness.
    Amanda Steele, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, said that state law did not allow for separate hate crimes charges, but that they could be used after conviction to argue for a more severe sentence.
    Court documents show that Mr. Adams, who is listed as homeless, had been released from prison two days before the killing, after serving time for charges that included aggravated assault.
    At Mr. Adams's initial court appearance, his lawyer, Jacie Cotterell, told the judge that Mr. Adams was mentally ill. Prosecutors also noted that he had several previous felony convictions and a history of unprovoked violence.
    In court and in an interview with "Good Evening Arizona," Ms. Cotterell accused the Department of Corrections of releasing Mr. Adams without sufficient resources or supervision.
    "He's been released into the world and left to fend for himself and two days later, this is where we are," she said in the interview.

    The Department of Corrections said that Mr. Adams had not been designated as seriously mentally ill and was not on prescription medication at the time of his release. He was given contact information for social service providers, the department said.
    "He was no longer under the department's legal jurisdiction and the department had no further legal authority over him," a spokesman, Bill Lamoreaux, said in a statement.
    Mr. Adams was being held with bail set at $1 million.
    In interviews, Elijah's parents, Raheem Al-Amin and Serina Rides, struggled to make sense of the killing. They said the suspect's mental health was no excuse for such a heinous act.
    "I don't care what somebody's hiding behind — mental illness?" Ms. Rides told the local Fox affiliate. "There's no excuse."
    Elijah's father said in a phone interview that his son was quick to help others. He had recently expressed interest in hotel management, perhaps inspired by his paternal grandfather, who owned hotels.
    "He was just a young, ambitious kid that wanted life to be better for himself and others around him," he said.
    About his son's love of music, Mr. Al-Amin said Elijah liked rap artists who had a message, like Nipsey Hussle and Tupac Shakur.

    The last time he saw his son was the night he died. Mr. Al-Amin had picked up Elijah's sister, who worked near the Subway, earlier that evening. He saw his son through the windows, cleaning up. Mr. Al-Amin spoke to him on the phone, teasingly asking him to bring back some cookies or a sandwich, but Elijah said he wanted to see his girlfriend after work.
    Hours later, Mr. Al-Amin grew worried when his son had not returned home and was not answering his phone. He spent all night trying to find him, and learned that he had been killed around dawn.
    Elijah would have turned 18 later this month.

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    3) Touring the Israeli Occupation: Young U.S. Jews Get an Unflinching View
    By David M. Halbfinger, July 10, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/10/world/middleeast/birthright-israel-occupation-palestinians.html

    At Har Gilo, a Jewish settlement overlooking the southern West Bank, American college students get a history lesson.CreditCreditIlia Yefimovich for The New York Times


    PSAGOT, West Bank — The fun was over before the tour bus rolled into Har Gilo.
    For the past week, 28 college students from the United States had been taking part in a traveling experiment billed as an alternative to Birthright Israel, whose free trips to the country have become a rite of passage for hundreds of thousands of young American Jews.
    Birthright's avoidance of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank has made it the target of angry protests by left-leaning Jewish activists. But for sheer ambition, no critique has approached this week's attempt by the liberal lobbying group J Street to map out an alternative route for Birthright's tours.
    The organizers said they embraced Birthright's goal of helping young American Jews connect with Israel and with their Jewishness, but that they also needed to be exposed to the realities of the occupation.

    On Sunday, after several upbeat days hiking in the Galilee, learning about the kibbutz movement and bonding over buffets and Israeli pop songs, the J Street cohort took a sharp left turn into territory where Birthright does not go.

    In the West Bank settlement of Har Gilo, they received a harsh history lesson from a veteran opponent of the occupation. Then they toured an impoverished, water-starved Palestinian village that Israeli settlers want to demolish, and visited the city of Hebron, where repeated outbreaks of violence have turned an entire Palestinian business district into a ghost town.
    Adam DeSchriver, 21, a clarinet student at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., said he had been wowed on the trip's first few days by the "renaissance of Hebrew culture" he discovered in Israel.
    "What breaks my heart," he said after Sunday's eye-opening itinerary, "is seeing it at the expense of others."

    Birthright officials say their trips do address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a limited extent, but that it is not their focus.

    Birthright's goal is "to strengthen Jewish identity and foster a love for the land, people and culture of Israel," said Pamela Fertel Weinstein, a spokeswoman for the group. Travelers more interested in the conflict, she said, are free to stay on in Israel to learn about it on their own.
    The organizers of the J Street trip, called "Let Our People Know," said newcomers to Israel also needed to understand the experiences of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
    "To be raising a generation of American Jews with no knowledge of that? That's wrong," said Shira Wolkenfeld, 22, a new graduate of George Washington University and a member of J Street's student board. "And that's political. We're creating a generation who don't have the knowledge to speak out against it."

    The ride to Har Gilo, just south of Jerusalem, took the bus through an Israeli checkpoint. Hagit Ofran, a leader of Peace Now, addressed the group over a microphone and described how soldiers decided which motorists to stop: "To look suspicious," she said, "you need to look Arab."
    It was a bracing how-do-you-do for liberals unaccustomed to blunt racial profiling.
    But it was atop Har Gilo, peering out over the southern West Bank, that the travelers began to see troubling aspects of a country they had mainly loved from far away.
    Down below was the separation barrier, with decorous brickwork beautifying the side facing an Israeli settlement. The Palestinian village on the other side looked upon a crude concrete slab.

    Farther downhill was the tunnel road, a bypass highway to speed Israelis to and from their growing settlements, tunneling under Palestinian villages and surfacing between high concrete walls to protect Jewish drivers from potential attacks by Palestinians.
    "You don't feel the occupation when you don't see it," Ms. Ofran said.
    She was referring to the drivers in the distance, but she could have been referring to the young passengers who climbed back onto their tour bus.

    Many of the young people on the tour had been to Israel before, some on Birthright trips, and most were already activists with J Street's campus arm. But they were still unprepared for Susiya.
    There, in the southern Hebron hills, they trudged across dusty, rocky terrain and crowded inside a steaming domicile with cinder-block walls and a tarpaulin roof.
    Lunch arrived: Steaming vats of savory rice and trays of cooked vegetables.
    The flies were so many, and so impudent, that the students gave up swatting them from their faces.

    Nasser Nawajah, a Susiya resident and activist with the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, told Susiya's story: Evicted from their old homes just downhill to make way for an Israeli archaeological site, Susiya's shepherds had set up a ramshackle collection of tents and huts here in their fields, lest their grazing lands be taken from them as well.

    An organization of Jewish settlers has sued to compel the army to demolish Susiya, since the tents and huts were built without permits — permits that Israel does not grant to Palestinians across much of the West Bank.
    Susiya's residents were also cut off from their cisterns and barred from digging new ones, Mr. Nawajah said. They asked Israel's water company, which has a big line just across the street, to install a spigot and a meter so they could pay for water for their families and sheep. It said no, because the village was built illegally. So the villagers truck in water, he said, paying many times what it costs Israelis to drink and bathe.
    "How do you fight back?" one of the young visitors asked. International pressure is the only thing that works, Mr. Nawajah said.
    "Is there anything we can do?" someone else asked. Pressure the Americans who donate to the settlers, and call your congressmen, Mr. Nawajah said.
    "I have to honestly say, the occupation is not just Israeli," he added. "It's American as well."

    A quick walk through the divided house of worship above the Cave of the Patriarchs — Muslims on one side, Jews the other, with padlocks and soldiers enforcing the split — set the mood for the group's visit to Hebron. Jewish settlers were attracted to Hebron by the belief that the cave holds the remains of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah.

    Outside, Ms. Ofran told of violence including the massacre of 67 Jews in Hebron in 1929, and of 29 Muslims gunned down by a settler as they prayed in 1994, which ushered in a period of Arab suicide bombings.
    She was leading the group on a thousand-yard tour along what were once some of Hebron's main market streets, until Palestinians were forbidden to use them, even to get to their front doors. Today they are a graveyard of abandoned storefronts and apartments, as well as some homes where Ms. Ofran said settlers had moved in illegally after the Arab owners, demoralized by restrictions and harassment, had fled.
    "People aren't kicked out," she said of the Palestinians who had left. "It's unbearable to live here."
    At a last checkpoint, Arabs crossed into the Israeli-controlled section, where soldiers protect 800 settlers from the city of 200,000 Palestinians beyond the gate. Pointing up a steep street to an Arab neighborhood, Ms. Ofran said cooking gas could not be delivered there by truck; people had to carry the tanks on their backs.
    The only Palestinian vehicle allowed in, she said, was a garbage truck.
    "This is all really sad," said Liyah Foye, 19, a senior at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.
    Ms. Foye, who as a black Jew said she had experienced more than her share of bigotry, said she was hit hard by the idea that a "state founded to protect one marginalized group" was oppressing another.
    She said she had always loved Israel and seen it as a "beacon of light." But what she saw on Sunday overwhelmed her: "My joy and my light shouldn't be coming from someone else's darkness," she said.

    "After today I can no longer stand by," she added, saying she wanted to go home and educate American Jews about the Palestinians' plight. "Even if I'm not oppressing them, I'm still part of the system that is," she said. "My job is to say to my community, 'No, this can't happen.'"

    As the day grew long, the facial expressions more pained and the questions more anguished, the J Street tour seemed increasingly incompatible with Birthright's goal of hooking young American Jews on Israel.
    By dinnertime, two participants said they were reconsidering their belief in a Jewish state. Jesse Steshenko, 19, of Santa Cruz, Calif., who has a Star of David tattooed on his right wrist, said he was "disgusted" with Israel's government.
    "I came in here a very ardent Zionist," he said. "You never know when a Holocaust might happen again. Yet, coming here, I'm starting to doubt whether a two-state solution is possible — and whether Zionism is even worth pursuing anymore."
    Yet Mr. Steshenko also said he had made up his mind to make Israel his home after he graduates from college, "to do the work that I think should be done."
    Yael Patir, J Street's top official in Israel, pointed to Mr. Steshenko's decision as a sign of success.

    "We knew that their days in the West Bank would be the most challenging and difficult," she said of the group. "But we also know that it's the reason they came for the trip."
    There remained the question of how much Birthright itself might borrow from a trip like this, if it chose to.
    But Channah Powell, 20, a pre-med student at Tufts University, warned against taking the J Street experiment as a model.
    "You can't just next year have 50,000 kids on a trip like this," she said. "You have to change the way we're educating them." She added that Jewish groups, schools and synagogues needed to teach their young people about the occupation, not merely wait or pray for it to end.
    "American Jewish kids," Ms. Powell said, "have to be able to come on a trip like this without feeling so blindsided."

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    4) 35 Employees Committed Suicide. Will Their Bosses Go to Jail?
    By Adam Nossiter, July 9, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/09/world/europe/france-telecom-trial.html

    French union members outside the Paris courthouse at the start of the trial of France Télécom in May.CreditCreditThibault Camus/Associated Press


    France Télécom employees marching in Lannion after the suicide of a colleague in 2009.CreditDavid Vincent/Associated Press
    PARIS — In their blue blazers and tight haircuts, the aging men look uncomfortable in the courtroom dock. And for good reason: they are accused of harassing employees so relentlessly that workers ended up killing themselves.
    The men — all former top executives at France's giant telecom company — wanted to downsize the business by thousands of workers a decade ago. But they couldn't fire most of them. The workers were state employees — employees for life — and therefore protected.
    So the executives resolved to make life so unbearable that the workers would leave, prosecutors say. Instead, at least 35 employees — workers' advocates say nearly double that number — committed suicide, feeling trapped, betrayed and despairing of ever finding new work in France's immobile labor market.

    Today the former top executives of France Télécom — once the national phone company, and now one of the nation's biggest private enterprises, Orange — are on trial for "moral harassment." It is the first time that French bosses, caught in the vise of France's strict labor protections, have been prosecuted for systemic harassment that led to worker deaths.

    The trial has riveted a country deeply conflicted about capitalism and corporate culture, and may help answer a question that haunts the French as they fitfully modernize their economy: How far can a company go to streamline, shed debt and make money?
    If convicted, the ex-executives face a year in jail and a $16,800 fine. But even before the trial wraps up on July 12, with a verdict sometime later, it has become a landmark in the country's often hostile relations between labor and management.
    As President Emmanuel Macron has sought to make France more business-friendly, he has run into a buzz saw of strikes and faced a revolt among Yellow Vest protesters who accuse him of being the president of the rich. While many workers complain they struggle to make ends meet, employers say a system of generous social benefits and worker protections makes hiring onerous and stifles job creation.

    The trial has become a searing demonstration of those lingering tensions.
    France Télécom was caught flat-footed by the digital revolution, as fixed-line subscribers dropped away by the thousands. The state ordered the company to go private in 2003, and by 2005, it was over $50 billion in debt.

    Company executives thought they needed to get rid of 22,000 workers out of 130,000 — a necessity contested by the prosecution — to ensure survival.
    "They were stuck, cornered," said Michel Ledoux, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers. "The only possibility was to make them leave, one way or another."
    Weeks of wrenching testimony about despairing employees who hanged themselves, immolated themselves, or threw themselves out of windows, under trains and off bridges and highway overpasses, have suggested that the former executives went very far in "pushing the company into the new century," as corporate strategy dictated.
    The executives include Didier Lombard, the former chief executive officer; Louis-Pierre Wenès, his No. 2; Olivier Barberot, the former head of human resources; and four others.
    A grim universe of underemployment, marginalization, miscasting and systematic harassment was established at the huge company, according to testimony at the trial.
    The executives "sought the destabilization of the workers," prosecutor Francoise Benezech said in her summing up on Friday.

    "People who had worked outside their whole career were suddenly put in front of a computer," said Frédérique Guillon, a worker advocate who testified at the trial, in an interview. "There were people whose work was simply taken away from them."

    Among those victims, the youngest was Nicolas Grenouville, 28, who was wearing a company T-shirt when he put an internet cable around his neck and hanged himself in a garage, Mr. Ledoux told the court this week.
    "I can't stand this job anymore, and France Télécom couldn't care less," Mr. Grenouville wrote shortly before his death in August 2009. "All they care about is money."
    An introspective technician used to working alone on the phone lines, praised for his scrupulousness, Mr. Grenouville was suddenly pitched into a sales job dealing with customers. He couldn't stand it. "They threw him out into the arena without a speck of training," Mr. Ledoux told the court.
    The day before his suicide he had worked a 12-hour day with one 30-minute break. "Little Nicolas took this violence right smack in the face," Mr. Ledoux said.
    Camille Bodivit, 48, had been a planner at the company when suddenly his job description began to shift. He threw himself off a bridge in Brittany in 2009. "Work was everything for him," his partner's lawyer, Juliette Mendès-Ribeiro, told the court Tuesday.
    "You killed my father — why?" asked Noémie Louvradoux last week, turning to the defendants, in one of the trial's most widely reported moments. Her father, Rémy, set himself on fire in 2011 in front of a France Télécom office near Bordeaux, in despair over successive marginal reassignments.

    In their defense, the former executives have cited the intense pressure of a competitive and changing marketplace.
    "The company was going under and it didn't even know it," Mr. Lombard, the ex-chief executive, testified. "We could have gone about it much more gently if we hadn't had the competition banging on our door."
    Unfortunately for Mr. Lombard, he was recorded saying in 2007 that he would reach the quota of layoffs "one way or another, by the window or by the door." The window is what a number of the employees chose.
    "This isn't going to be lacework here," Mr. Barberot said in 2007. "We're going to put people in front of life's realities."
    To the mounting signs of distress management turned a deaf ear, testimony at the trial suggested.
    Noëlle Burgi, a sociologist who worked with the employees during the suicide wave and testified at the trial, said in an interview that it was "a process of humiliation."
    "You were put in an office, underground," Ms. Burgi said. "There was one guy who was literally kicked out of his office. He didn't understand."

    The suicides and testimony made clear that France's chronically high unemployment rate had left many of the workers feeling especially vulnerable.

    "Before, when there was full employment, if you were unhappy at work, you could tell your boss to go to hell," Ms. Guillon said.
    But those conditions haven't existed for years in France, where the labor market is stagnant and immobile by American standards, and workers have little culture of moving cross-country for a new job.
    It is clear that these France Télécom employees had signed on expecting to finish their careers at the company. "Eighty percent were there to stay until the end of their professional life," Pascale Abdessamad, a France Télécom worker who also testified, said in an interview.
    Most of the employees were deeply dedicated to their work, testimony indicated. A company like France Télécom, iconic in French life for years, was an apparent lifelong security blanket.
    "These companies were considered family," Mr. Ledoux told the court. To be mistreated by one is extremely transgressive," he said.

    France's executive caste, normally mutually supportive, has been notably silent about the executives on trial, while France's workers have watch the proceedings with special glee.
    The courtroom is filled with current and former company employees who look on with disapproval at the silent row of jacketed defendants.
    "Even if the penalties are low, it will be a nice stain on their jackets," said Noel Rich, a France Télécom employee who had come to observe the trial.
    "These are guys who are used to hanging out with ministers," Mr. Rich added. "There's been no words of compassion for the little guy."

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    5) U.S. Prepares to Arrest Thousands of Immigrant Family Members
    By Caitlin Dickerson and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, July 11, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/11/us/politics/ice-families-deport.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
    An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent as deportations were being carried out in November in Houston.CreditCreditDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday, according to two current and one former homeland security officials, moving forward with a rapidly changing operation, the final details of which remain in flux. The operation, backed by President Trump, had been postponed, partly because of resistance among officials at his own immigration agency.
    The raids, which will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over multiple days, will include "collateral" deportations, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary stage of the operation. In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.
    When possible, family members who are arrested together will be held in family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. But because of space limitations, some might end up staying in hotel rooms until their travel documents can be prepared. ICE's goal is to deport the families as quickly as possible.

    The officials said ICE agents were targeting at least 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered deported — some as a result of their failure to appear in court — but who remain in the country illegally. The operation is expected to take place in at least 10 major cities.

    The families being targeted crossed the border recently: The Trump administration expedited their immigration proceedings last fall. In February, many of those immigrants were given notice to report to an ICE office and leave the United States, the homeland security officials said.
    Matthew Bourke, an ICE spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesday that the agency would not comment on specific details related to enforcement operations, to ensure the safety and security of agency personnel.
    The threat of deportation has rattled immigrant communities across the country, prompted backlash from local politicians and police officials and stoked division inside the Department of Homeland Security — the agency that is charged with carrying out the deportations. The Trump administration's goal is to use the operation as a show of force to deter families from approaching the southwestern border, the officials said.
    Agents have expressed apprehensions about arresting babies and young children, officials have said. The agents have also noted that the operation might have limited success because word has already spread among immigrant communities about how to avoid arrest — namely, by refusing to open the door when an agent approaches one's home. ICE agents are not legally allowed to forcibly enter a home.
    Immigration defense lawyers are likely to file motions to reopen the families' immigration cases, which would significantly delay, if not stop altogether, their removal from the United States.

    For weeks last month, the ICE director at the time, Mark Morgan, signaled that agents would escalate efforts to round up families. Days before the operation was to begin, Mr. Trump forecast the plan on Twitter, blindsiding ICE agents whose safety officials feared would be compromised as a result.
    In early June, the Department of Homeland Security's acting secretary, Kevin K. McAleenan, told Mr. Morgan to call off the operation. Mr. McAleenan did not support the raids, officials said at the time, in part out of concern that undocumented parents could be separated from any of their children who are American citizens.
    Mr. Morgan then directly lobbied Mr. Trump to move forward with the raids. He is now the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, another arm of the Department of Homeland Security.
    In a tense meeting with White House officials on June 21, two days before the raids were scheduled to begin, Mr. McAleenan again outlined the challenges of the operation, including the separation of families and the logistics of housing them until they can be removed. If undocumented parents are found to have children who are United States citizens, for example, ICE agents will need to wait with the children in a hotel room until a relative in the United States can claim them.
    Homeland security officials also worried that many of the families that the administration had hoped to detain might have left the addresses known to ICE after Mr. Trump tweeted the agency's plans.
    Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mr. Trump after his tweet and urged him to halt the operation, which in a statement hours later she described as "heartless."
    Mr. Trump then tweeted that he would delay the effort at the Democrats' request. But he also threatened to resume the deportations if Democrats refused to join with Republican lawmakers to "work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border."

    Days later, the Senate passed a $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package for the border.
    Migrant crossings have declined since May, when 144,200 migrants were taken into custody at the southwestern border — a 13-year high.
    Last Friday, Mr. Trump said the raids would begin "fairly soon."
    "I say they came in illegally, and we're bringing them out legally," the president told reporters.

    Maggie Haberman and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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    6) ICE Is Dangerously Inaccurate
    Even American citizens are not immune from immigration raids.
    By Darlena Cunha, July 12, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/12/opinion/ice-raids.html
    Guadalupe Plascencia, a United States citizen, is consoled by her daughter, Mahria Torres, as she recounts her ordeal of being falsely arrested and transferred to ICE custody in 2017.CreditCreditGina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Time

    Tracy Nuetzi, a Trump voter and resident of Florida, was an American citizen for 60 years, until the country decided she wasn't.
    "I thought, 'This is a mistake, this must be a mistake,'" she said. Ms. Nuetzi spent nearly a year, from December 2017 to November 2018, trying to prove she was an American, and not liable to be arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
    ICE is not, of course, just a run-of-the-mill government bureaucracy doing necessary work to keep our borders intact. Under President Trump, a wildly invigorated ICE has become an American nightmare, nothing less than the main thrust of an attempt to institutionalize racism against a scapegoated minority — undocumented, nonvoting, mostly voiceless brown people.
    ICE is Trump's main instrument for the dirty work of trying to make America whiter again, without regard for family values, due process, human rights or even plain human decency. The agency has been a problem for decades, but American citizens often ignore it, content in the belief that their citizenship will prevent them from ICE, deportation, detention without representation and all those horrific stories written about other people.

    But ICE makes mistakes. American citizens can get caught in its maw — even white Americans. According to the Cato Institute, from 2006 to 2017 ICE wrongfully detained more than 3,500 U.S. citizens in Texas alone. Even in Rhode Island, ICE issued 462 detainers for people listed as U.S. citizens over a 10-year period, according to the A.C.L.U. From 2017 to 2019, A.C.L.U. data showed that law enforcement detained 420 citizens in Ms. Nuetzi's state of Florida, at ICE's request. Eighty-three of those requests have been canceled, and the people released. The rest remain in detention, waiting for ICE, according to the A.C.L.U. report. Even though ICE detainers should lapse after 48 hours, local law enforcement often continues to hold people until the agency gets around to checking them. 
    Ms. Nuetzi is a cheerful white woman who spent her childhood in Ocala, Fla., and has been an elementary school secretary in Gainesville for 20 years. In 2016, she voted for Donald Trump, and was ecstatic when he won. A year later, her driver's license expired.
    Ms. Nuetzi went to the motor vehicles agency to get a new one, and for the first time in her life, officials did not accept her birth certificate. She could have used a passport, but hers had long expired; the last time she traveled abroad, she was 12. With her birth certificate suddenly invalid, she couldn't get a new passport, meaning she couldn't get a driver's license. 
    Never once was she asked for her Social Security number, which would have proved that she worked as a teenager starting in 1974.To get a passport, you need proof of citizenship and a photo ID: A Social Security number is not an accepted form of identification there. With an invalidated birth certificate and no passport, Ms. Nuetzi had no paperwork to prove she belonged in the United States.
    Ms. Nuetzi was born in Montreal to two U.S. citizens who were in Canada for less than a year while working for an American company. Having two U.S. citizen parents automatically makes you a citizen under Section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, but with restrictions tightening under the Trump administration, 60 years later, that automatic citizenship wasn't enough.

    "I called to get a new passport, and they told me to go to immigration," Ms. Nuetzi said. "But why would I go to immigration? I'm not an immigrant. Then I called Homeland Security and the woman on the other end of the line started laughing at me."
    It proved nearly impossible for Ms. Nuetzi to extract herself from the ICE machine. If a legal citizen with the money and means to prove she belongs here cannot right the mistake without months of anguish, we cannot trust the agencies in place to correctly discern who should be kicked out. Deporting people is deplorable in and of itself; deporting people without proof that they are here illegally is obscene.
    "It felt like these people put a door in front of me and then told me it was closed," Ms. Nuetzi said.

    ICE cannot be allowed to function as it is, and it certainly should not be given more power. People will be ousted from the country with no recourse and no due process. And ICE is often wrong.
    Davino Watson is a U.S. citizen who was 23 years old when ICE held him for more than three years. A New Yorker, he was eventually dropped off in Alabama with no explanation and no money. After he was released, Mr. Watson filed a complaint and a court awarded him compensation in 2016. The next year, an appeals court decided the statute of limitations for that complaint had expired while he was still in ICE custody.
    Then there was Peter Sean Brown, who was born in Philadelphia and lived in the Florida Keys. ICE faxed a request to Florida authorities to hold him. He was in jail for weeks. Guadalupe Plascencia, a naturalized citizen, won a $55,000 settlement after ICE wrongfully detained her. Ada Morales and Sergio Carrilloearned their citizenship decades before they were detained. The list goes on.

    This pattern has repeated across the U.S. throughout multiple administrations, and the current presidency is making it worse.
    We hear increasingly alarming tales of concentration-camp-likeimmigrant detention centers and see firsthand how many people are lost in this fray. The fact that it's nearly impossible to prove citizenship even for someone who was born a citizen and has never lived anywhere else shows how sloppy the machinery in place is. It shows how fragile anyone's right to live in this country is. One paperwork error and any citizenship could be on the line.
    "Suddenly, I was a lady with no country," Ms. Nuetzi said. "Where would they even send me? I'm not a Canadian citizen."
    Nearly a year after she stepped into the motor vehicle agency, Ms. Nuetzi finally got the State Department to review her case, giving her 90 days to compile and send in documentation — including her parents' marriage license, a letter from her parents and baptism records from when she was 9. Her mother had to physically obtain another copy of her own birth certificate from her hometown in Kansas. The National Passport Center looked up a census dating back to the 1940s, showing that her grandparents were also born in the U.S.
    The people caught up in ICE's looming roundups won't have the three months Ms. Nuetzi had.
    These raids are meant to happen quickly, as agents work off old lists and files, to go into the homes of those who failed to make a court appearance or had old documentation regarding deportation from years past. These raids are meant to target those with children, increasing the risk of separating families, as well. The raids won't leave room for the meticulous detail work required for the burden of proof. They don't allow time for people to do the exhaustive groundwork to prove something that, to them, has always been true — that they are supposed to be here.
    For more than a year, Ms. Nuetzi was scared that she'd lost her country. If we can't trust our system with a case like hers, how can we trust it with immediate border deportations?
    "I don't think anyone should be treated like that, period," said Ms. Nuetzi.
    In the end, she finally was granted a passport.

    During her ordeal, she thought about contacting the president via Facebook to ask for his personal intervention in her case. She ended up doing it all on her own, but she said she continues to believe Mr. Trump will "make America great again." She intends to vote for him in 2020.

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    7) Stop Surveillance Humanitarianism
    Requiring biometric data, like iris and facial scans, sets a dangerous precedent for vital aid.
    By Mark Latonero, July 11, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/11/opinion/data-humanitarian-aid.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    Expired food and medicine aid packages from the World Food Program in the Houthi rebel-held Yemeni capital, Sana, in June. The World Food Programme announced the "partial suspension" of aid to the capital, which is controlled by Houthi rebels.CreditCreditMohammed Huwais/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


    A standoff between the United Nations World Food Program and Houthi rebels in control of the capital region is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yemen.
    Alarmed by reports that food is being diverted to support the rebels, the aid program is demanding that Houthi officials allow them to deploy biometric technologies like iris scans and digital fingerprints to monitor suspected fraud during food distribution. 

    The Houthis have reportedly blocked food delivery, painting the biometric effort as an intelligence operation, and have demanded access to the personal data on beneficiaries of the aid. The impasse led the aid organization to the decision last month to suspend food aid to parts of the starving population — once thought of as a last resort — unless the Houthis allow biometrics.

    With program officials saying their staff is prevented from doing its essential jobs, turning to a technological solution is tempting. But biometrics deployed in crises can lead to a form of surveillance humanitarianism that can exacerbate risks to privacy and security.

    By surveillance humanitarianism, I mean the enormous data collection systems deployed by aid organizations that inadvertently increase the vulnerability of people in urgent need.

    Despite the best intentions, the decision to deploy technology like biometrics is built on a number of unproven assumptions, such as, technology solutions can fix deeply embedded political problems. And that auditing for fraud requires entire populations to be tracked using their personal data. And that experimental technologies will work as planned in a chaotic conflict setting. And last, that the ethics of consent don't apply for people who are starving.

    Biometric and digital identity technologies can seriously disrupt the lives of displaced people. Interviewing dozens of migrants and refugees in Europe who fled conflict in East Africa, I was told how minor discrepancies in identity databases can cause bureaucratic chaos. A misspelled name, for example, can be used as a threat to separate a child from her parents or reject an asylum application. 
    It is not a simple matter of getting the database to work correctly — for some government officials, biometrics were used to carry out policies that discriminate against displaced people. Fearing surveillance technologies, some refugees avoided camps requiring fingerprint scans in exchange for food and shelter.
    For humanitarian organizations, monitoring and collecting data are essential for delivering the right amount of aid to the right people at the right place and time. When these organizations collect data, they are trusted more than companies or governments because their mandates include the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. 
    Yet to date, the humanitarian sector has not developed the calculus to weigh the benefits of digital identity systems against the costs to fundamental rights. A report commissioned by Oxfam released last year found a concerning lack of evidence to support the assumption that biometrics will reduce fraud at key points in the food distribution process. If most of the Yeminis burdened with proving their identity in the food lines are not the masterminds behind Houthi schemes to divert aid, is the biometric response proportional?
    One might say that in a war zone, the risk to privacy is insignificant compared with the dangers of going without food. This may be true in the immediate moment. But potential harms related to data are often latent or shifted to a later time. 
    If an individual or group's data is compromised or leaked to a warring faction, it could result in violent retribution for those perceived to be on the wrong side of the conflict. When I spoke with officials providing medical aid to Syrian refugees in Greece, they were so concerned that the Syrian military might hack into their database that they simply treated patients without collecting any personal data. The fact that the Houthis are vying for access to civilian data only elevates the risk of collecting and storing biometrics in the first place.
    Data collectors and data brokers hold power. This is why surveillance technologies can be so alluring. International organizations that deploy large-scale identity collection systems can become the largest data brokers in a crisis region.

    The responsibility these organizations have to those they serve goes beyond data protectionClose X and privacy. It's about upholding the human dignity of those who have been stripped of the ability to provide food for themselves and their families. Forcing them to submit biometrics further erodes their senses of agency.
    There are ways for organizations like the United Nations World Food Program to safeguard against surveillance humanitarianism. Identity systems can be used that are not as invasive as biometric iris and fingerprint scanners. Systems can minimize the collection of personally identifiable informationClose X. Databases can be not only encrypted but also engineered so that no one has access to the data. 
    More important, accountability mechanisms can be put in place, before deployment, to redress harms when they do occur. Sufficient staff can be allocated to sort out technical or bureaucratic errors. Data-sharing agreements and tech vendors can be vetted, and human rights impact assessments undertaken. 
    There need to be opt-out alternatives for individuals that will not result in the denial of aid. And organizations should consider phasing out the biometric system once the threats are gone. Having a theory of harm and acknowledging the risks of technology would go a long way in building trust.
    When decision makers turn to technology as a solution they need to be aware of both the immediate trade-offs and unintended consequences. Without this awareness, the situation in Yemen could become an extreme example of a larger problem — the creation of a digital underclass who are forced to hand over their personal data in exchange for basic needs like food without dignity and choice.
    Mr. Latonero is a research lead at Data and Society and a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.


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    8) Hector Figueroa: The Labor Movement Can Rise Again
    By Hector Figueroa, July 12, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/12/opinion/hector-figueroa.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    The author in 2017 with Union members, Fast Food Workers, and New York City Council Members, outside the US Department of Labor Building protesting President Trumps Pick of a Fast-Food CEO for U.S. Secretary of Labor.CreditCreditErik McGregor/Pacific Press -- LightRocket, via Getty Images


    As the American economy continues its record-breaking expansion, the question for labor leaders across the country is: What can unions do to make economic growth work for the workers left behind by the bonanza of the past decade?
    Workers are ready to do more. In the United States, about 80 million workers make less than $20 an hour. And many of them are more than willing to take risks and demand dignity and respect on the job. There are signs of renewed worker militancy everywhere. In 2018,  in America went on strike or stopped work because of a labor dispute, the largest number since 1986. From teachers to aircraft cleaners, workers are showing a return to the kind of collective action that brought us Social Security, the weekend and a federally guaranteed minimum wage. nearly half a million workers
    That's a good sign, but it's not enough to reshape our economy. If labor wants to have a real impact, our movement needs a big and ambitious plan to organize.


    We hear all the time about the heyday of American unions. They were strong and influential in the 1950s, when they counted  as members. But what most people forget is that this power came from a conscious decision to organize new members — a commitment that began two decades earlier.35 percent of American workers

    In the 1930s, national federations like the Congress of Industrial Organizations realized that without making an effort to grow, the movement would die. So they put real money into organizing. In 1936, the C.I.O., thanks to the commitment of the mine workers and clothing workers unions, poured $500,000 — the equivalent of $9.2 million today — into a single campaign to organize steelworkers. Fast-forward to 2019, and you will find that with only a few exceptions, most unions are not committing significant resources to organizing nonunion workers.
    That is a grave error. Poll after poll, especially of millennials, women and independent voters, finds that Americans want unions to be more powerful and influential. But only  of American workers now have a union. As a labor leader, it is heartbreaking to witness our movement risk near-irrelevance at a time when workers are ready to take action and improve their jobs and lives. 10.5 percent
    Our lack of ambition is having direct effects on the very members we should be fighting for. With fewer workers in unions, we have become weaker at the bargaining table. Many younger union members have two-tiered union contracts, so that older workers get pension benefits that younger union members will never see. And pensions are a nonstarter for nonunion workers. We've been tricked into believing that the bosses just can't afford to let workers retire with dignity, or to fully cover our health care, or pay us enough to feed our families.
    How did we go from 35 percent to just 10.5 percent union membership, the lowest unionization rate of any rich country? A lot of the decline is the fault of governments unfriendly to labor. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 slowed down union organizing, putting new restrictions on unions and allowing states to pass freeloader laws (also known as right-to-work laws) allowing nonunion members to enjoy union benefits without paying dues. The Reagan years brought a new round of deregulation and a direct attack in 1981, when Ronald Reagan fired more than 11,000 striking air traffic controllers who refused his back-to-work order after they walked out to protest poor working conditions and low pay.
    But there's plenty of blame to go around. For too long, too many unions have avoided the tough work that needs to be done to organize nonunion workers, to convince our own members that it's in their interest to expand our ranks, and to retool our organizations by putting resources into building power. We have let ourselves be backed into a corner, by trying to just hold on to what we have and fighting only for workers who are already union members.

    It's not too late to rebuild our movement. Many who study the labor movement thought the Supreme Court's ruling  which aimed to strip unions of vital dues resources, would kill the movement. That's what the political right was hoping. But we survived, and workers are mobilizing and organizing, with and sometimes without a union behind them. in the Janus case last year,
    We cannot let this unique moment in history pass us by. Organizing workers, all kinds of workers, needs to be our No. 1 priority.
    My local union, by mandate of its members, spends at least 20 percent of its budget to bring in workers who are not already union members. We are far from perfect, but our strategy is working. Our union has grown to 175,000 members — doubling our size in just over a decade — by talking to workers in sectors that many thought too fragmented to be organized. Thousands of baggage handlers, security personnel, aircraft cleaners and other low-wage workers at airports up and down the East Coast have joined our ranks, taking risks by speaking up and, when necessary, going on strike, to demand respect. These tactics made it possible for 40,000 New York-New Jersey area service workers to win a $19-an-hour wage rate by 2023,  in the country.the highest government-required minimum wage
    To make lasting change for American workers, unions cannot focus only on dues-paying members. We need a broader movement that helps every family — union or nonunion — win economic security. We can do more. That's why our union is running a breakthrough campaign in fast food. That's why we are supporting the taxi workers' union in New York City, which won the first ever minimum pay rate for Uber drivers and regulations on app companies to protect driver livelihoods. We are also backing New York State farmworkers in their fight for collective bargaining rights, and we helped them to win those rights in this legislative session. 
    As the Trump administration ramps up its attack on workers, and with Trump's labor board and the courts firmly on the side of the rich and powerful, the labor movement can't wait to organize workers shop by shop. We need, instead, industrywide efforts to mobilize large numbers of workers. This "big tent approach" calls for a richer understanding of the economics and competitive dynamics within industries and in different cities. 
    Let's take Amazon, which is now the  in the United States, with warehouses scattered all around the country, many of them also staffed by contract workers. Organizing those warehouse workers should be a top priority for the labor movement, but it would be close to impossible for one union to organize so many workers in so many locations. So unions need to pool their resources and work together, with the shared goal of creating secure union jobs, regardless of which union the workers may end up in.second-largest private employer
    President Trump is trying hard to divide us, but unions can help reverse some of the damage. We can build a lasting movement that will reduce income inequality, create a country that is fair for all and kick the hatemongers out of office. We must begin putting organizing first today, not in 2021.

    I once heard it said that most people miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work. If that's the case, let's get to work, my brothers and sisters.

    Hector Figueroa was president of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union.



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    9) How the Eric Garner Decision Compares With Other Cases
    By Mitch Smith, July 16, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/us/eric-garner-police-shootings.html

    From left: Darren Wilson, Betty Jo Shelby, Jason Van Dyke and Mohamed NoorCreditCreditSt. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, via Associated Press; Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press; pool photo by Antonio Perez; Craig Lassig/Reuters


    After the fatal chokehold of Eric Garner by a New York City police officer, a familiar pattern unfolded: Expressions of outrage, promises to investigate, a long wait for a resolution.
    On Tuesday, just before the fifth anniversary of Mr. Garner's death, word came that federal prosecutors would not seek civil rights charges against Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put Mr. Garner in a chokehold.

    Mr. Garner's death was among several involving the police in recent years that have led to protests and calls for the officer to face criminal charges. Here is what has happened to the officers in some of the other cases.

    Protesters marched for months in 2014 when Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Mr. Wilson resigned. County grand jurors declined to indict him, and federal prosecutors decided not to file civil rights charges.

    In 2014, Timothy Loehmann, a rookie patrolman in Cleveland, shot and killed Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old, within seconds of arriving outside a recreation center where Tamir was carrying a replica gun. Mr. Loehmann, who is white, was not criminally charged, but was fired from the Cleveland police for lying about a past job on his employment application. Years later, Mr. Loehmann accepted another policing job in rural Ohio, but resigned under pressure from activists. He has appealed his firing from the Cleveland police force.
    Protesters in Minneapolis occupied the area outside a police station for days in 2015 after Jamar Clark, a black man, was shot during a struggle with Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze. Both officers, who are white, returned to work after the county prosecutor and the police chief cleared them of wrongdoing. In 2017, Officer Ringgenberg was among the first officers on the scene after another Minneapolis officer shot and killed an unarmed woman.
    In Tulsa, Okla., prosecutors swiftly charged Officer Betty Jo Shelbywith manslaughter after she shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, in 2016. But jurors acquitted her, and Officer Shelby, who is white, returned to work. She later resigned from the Tulsa police after being assigned a desk job, and joined a sheriff's department in a nearby county.

    Twice, prosecutors tried to convince jurors that Ray Tensing, a white University of Cincinnati police officer, was guilty of murder in the death of Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black driver. Twice, jurors deadlocked and failed to reach a verdict. Prosecutors declined to seek a third trial. Mr. Tensing, who had been fired shortly after the shooting, was later reported to have reached a settlement with the university that included legal fees and nearly $250,000 in back pay.
    Baltimore erupted in large, sometimes violent, protests in 2015 when Freddie Gray, a black man, died after suffering a spinal cord injury while in police custody. The local prosecutor charged six officers in connection with his death, but none were convicted. Federal prosecutors declined to file charges.
    Roy D. Oliver II, a white police officer in Balch Springs, Tex., shot and killed Jordan Edwards with a high-powered rifle as Jordan, who was black and 15, and other teenagers drove away from a house party in 2017. Mr. Oliver was convicted of murder last summer and sentenced to 15 years in prison, a sentence Jordan's family called too lenient.
    Mohamed Noor, a Minneapolis police officer, said he feared for his life when Justine Ruszczyk, a white woman wearing pajamas and holding a glittery cellphone, approached his squad car on a summer night in 2017. Mr. Noor, who is black, shot and killed her. Jurors did not accept his account, and convicted him of murder this year. He was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison.
    A 2014 video showing Jason Van Dyke, a white Chicago police officer, firing 16 shots into Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who had been holding a knife, touched off political upheaval and led to an agreement to overhaul the city's Police Department. Jurors found Mr. Van Dyke guilty of murder last year — the first such conviction for an on-duty Chicago officer in decades — and he was sentenced in January to nearly seven years in prison. Laquan's family and the Illinois attorney general called the sentence inadequate.

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    10) Why the Eric Garner Case Is Not Over
    By Azi Paybarah, July 17, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/nyregion/newyorktoday/eric-garner-nytoday.html

    Gwen Carr, Eric Garner's mother, at a news conference Tuesday.CreditDemetrius Freeman for The New York Times

     Five years after Eric Garner died, the Justice Department announced it would not bring federal charges against the officer who placed him in a chokehold.


    Attention immediately turned to Mayor de Blasio, who has allowed that officer, Daniel Pantaleo, and others involved in the fatal encounter, to remain on the New York Police Department payroll.
    "Mayor de Blasio, do your job. Fire these officers," Mr. Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said at a news conference. 
    Catch me up. What happened?
    The Justice Department was considering whether to bring federal civil rights charges against Officer Pantaleo. On video taken by a bystander, he is seen wrapping an arm around Mr. Garner's neck and helping to wrestle him to the ground. (Mr. Garner had been accused of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.) 
    On the video, Mr. Garner is heard saying "I can't breathe" 11 times. 
    Officer Pantaleo still works for the city? 
    Yes. 

    Officer Pantaleo has been stripped of his gun and badge and assigned to desk duty since the July 17, 2014, encounter.

    In 2016, Politico reported that Mr. Pantaleo had bolstered his salary of $78,000 with more than $23,000 in overtime pay
    Can Mr. de Blasio fire him?
    Yes. 
    The Police Department is a highly regulated agency. It is constrained by federal and local laws, decades of court rulings and labor agreements with several unions.
    Despite all that, the mayor has tremendous influence over the department, and also appoints the police commissioner, who makes the final decision about internal disciplinary matters. 
    The mayor also selects the head of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates certain allegations of police wrongdoing. 
    What has the mayor said about employing Officer Pantaleo?
    Initially, Mr. de Blasio said he wanted federal officials to finish their inquiry before the Police Department initiated its own. That way, the mayor said, there would be no interference. 
    Officer Pantaleo's departmental trial began in May and ended last month, but the judge has yet to release her decision. 
    In 2015, the city agreed to pay Mr. Garner's family $5.9 million to settle a wrongful-death claim.
    Yesterday, the mayor implied that waiting to begin the departmental inquiry was wrong.

    "We won't make that mistake again," he said in a statement. From now on, the Police Department and the review board "will begin its disciplinary process immediately" when an unarmed civilian is killed by a police officer.
    What's next?
    Mr. Garner's supporters plan 11 days of protests throughout the city to pressure Mr. de Blasio into taking action. 
    A lawyer for the Garner family said it would seek federal charges under a new administration. "The next president and the next attorney general will be presented with the same facts," said the lawyer, Jonathan Moore.

     
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    11) Prison for Life. He Turned Himself Around. So I Freed Him.
    A federal judge explains how she say redemption in an inmate's efforts to improve himself.
    By Robin Rosenberg, July 18, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/18/opinion/prison-drugs-freedom.html

    CreditCreditÁngel Franco/The New York Times


    WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. — In January 1999, Robert Clarence Potts III was sentenced to life in prison. He was 28, and had been convicted of drug and weapons charges. The federal judge sentencing him seemed to express some regret at the gravity of the penalty. But under the law at the time, Mr. Potts faced a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without release because of the type of offenses and his two previous convictions for drug and other offenses.
    “You are facing a very tough sentence here, and it is very regrettable that you are,” the judge, James C. Paine of the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida, told him. The judge added that “we are governed by the law and the guidelines and we are going to have to go by those.” And the law and sentencing guidelines meant “a term of life imprisonment,” he explained.
    To that, Mr. Potts responded, “Sir, there is not much I can say.” But it was what he did afterward that ultimately made the difference.

    On Friday, Mr. Potts, now 49, is scheduled to be released from prison after more than 20 years — a turn of events made possible by the First Step Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last year. Among other things, the law expanded early-release programs, modified sentencing laws and allowed defendants like Mr. Potts to seek a reduction in their sentence, a step toward correcting the country’s history of disproportionate sentences.

    The decision whether to reduce his sentence fell to me when I was randomly assigned his case. The twist was that I had been Judge Paine’s law clerk in 1989, 10 years before Mr. Potts was sent away. Now I was a federal judge in the same courthouse where Judge Paine had served and where he had sentenced Mr. Potts two decades before.
    I wanted to understand who Mr. Potts was back then. But, maybe more important, I wanted to understand who he is today. 
    At his hearing, I learned that Mr. Potts was born in Florida and grew up in a poor but close-knit family; his father was a landscaper and his mother worked as a housekeeper. He graduated from high school and joined the Army at 18, where he was a nuclear weapons technician in Germany and Oklahoma. 
    But his life started to spiral down after he left the Army. His mother and father separated. A car accident left him in a coma for a week and caused chronic pain. He started using crack cocaine to self-medicate and sold drugs to maintain his addiction.
    State authorities arrested and charged Mr. Potts twice within three months. In the first case, he was convicted of battery, resisting an officer and drug possession. In the second case, he was convicted of resisting an officer, drug possession with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. For these crimes, he received a total of six months in county jail and two years of probation.

    Then, in 1998, Mr. Potts sold crack cocaine to a confidential informant who reported to law enforcement that Mr. Potts had a large amount of crack cocaine at his home. A search there uncovered drugs and firearms. He was convicted by a jury and given his sentence by Judge Paine.
    Mr. Potts had served over 20 years in a high-security federal penitentiary when the First Step Act became law last December. The First Step Act made the Fair Sentencing Act — signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 to reduce the disparity in sentencing for powder cocaine and crack cocaine offenses — applicable to past cases. The First Step Act also allowed a defendant like Mr. Potts to seek a sentence reduction even when the original sentence was for life. The law provides wide discretion to the court to determine whether to reduce a sentence and by how much.
    At his sentence reduction hearing, Mr. Potts had much more to say than he did back in 1999. Before me, he was remorseful, dignified and hopeful. He was proud of all that he had accomplished in over two decades in prison — proud of the courses he took in personal growth, responsible thinking, legal research and software, proud of his participation in nearly every health, nutrition and fitness class available. Perhaps he derived his greatest pride from conquering a debilitating addiction and maintaining his sobriety. As his lawyer explained to me, sobriety is not a foregone conclusion in prison, where drugs are widely available.
    I wanted to know how Mr. Potts had managed his life in prison. He told me: “A lot of times I felt like giving up, but I didn’t want to let my mom down, my family.” 
    He continued: “I kept myself away from a lot of people in prison. I wasn’t around the average people in prison. Prison is an awful place. You have all these different types of organizations and gangs and foolishness. That is not me, ma’am. I’m not like that.
    “I made some bad decisions in my life," he added, “but I am not a bad person.”
    The true marker of a person’s character is what he does when he thinks no one is watching. Because Mr. Potts was sentenced to life, no one had really been looking at what he had been doing. But his unwavering dedication to improve himself over the last two decades, despite his circumstances, convinced me that his hope in his own future isn’t misplaced.
    After a long hearing, I concluded that 20 years was more than sufficient as punishment for his past — and serious — crimes, and ordered his release. To help his transition, he will spend six months in a residential re-entry center.
    I believe Mr. Potts’s story is one of redemption through self-improvement. His case speaks to the importance of criminal justice reforms such as the First Step and Fair Sentencing Acts. His story illuminates the human impact of such reforms and a person’s capacity for hope and redemption.
    Robin Rosenberg is a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida.
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    12) Puerto Ricans in Protests Say They’ve Had Enough
    By Patricia Mazzel and Frances Robles, July 18, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/18/us/puerto-rico-rossello-governor-protests.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    Protesters have been filling the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, calling for Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló to resign. Here are the reasons fueling their anger.CreditCreditErika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times


    SAN JUAN, P.R. — Flags in hand, Puerto Ricans descended into the streets of San Juan on Wednesday, arriving by the thousands for several hours before the start of an enormous protest. They filled a boulevard lined with palm trees, a sea of people covering every inch from the imposing Capitol to the waterfront with a unified message: The governor must go.
    On a platform with speakers, the rapper Residente offered a microphone to the artist Ricky Martin. The trap musician Bad Bunny waved a flag. The singer iLe looked over the impressive crowd and declared, “It was about damn time to wake up.”
    Then, the schoolteachers and the union leaders, the lifetime political activists and the first-timers, the students and their parents, set off on foot to try to reach the governor’s mansion, where more protesters awaited. For the fifth consecutive day, they demanded Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló’s resignation. As on Monday, the night ended with chaotic confrontations with the police.

    This time, there were many more protesters packed into the narrow colonial streets of Old San Juan, including a hardcore group that faced off with the authorities for hours. Police officers in riot gear deployed tear gas and rubber bullets. The young demonstrators left a Puerto Rican flag — symbolically painted in black, white and gray instead of red, white and blue — perched on the ground facing the governor’s mansion.

    Ostensibly, the demonstrators were protesting the arrogant and crass exchanges by the governor and his inner circle in a leaked group chat and the corruption of top politicians unveiled by a series of high-profile arrests. But the forceful display on the streets of Old San Juan amounted to a rejection of decades of scandals and mismanagement involving affluent and disconnected leaders who have time and again benefited at the expense of suffering Puerto Ricans.

    The outcry has brought the United States commonwealth to a crossroads, with far-reaching implications. For now, Mr. Rosselló is still governor. But the persistent question about how Puerto Rico might be governed amid so many difficulties remains.
    Some of Mr. Rosselló’s ambitious goals, including the push for statehood, will almost certainly be shelved now. And his rapidly diminishing power has handed political fuel to President Trump, who has derided the island’s leaders as not competent enough to manage federal disaster relief funds.
    Now, Mr. Trump claims to be vindicated — even though some of Puerto Rico’s woes are not entirely of the island’s own making. Big Wall Street investors benefited for years from the Puerto Rican government’s willingness to keep taking on more debt. The island’s bankruptcy restructuring has cost jobs and, at one point, threatened public employees’ pensions and traditional Christmas bonuses.

    Silvia Álvarez Curbelo, a historian who retired last year from the University of Puerto Rico, said the protests against the governor are unprecedented. Nobody took to the streets during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, when both the local and federal governments were widely blamed for a botched response, because they were too busy surviving, she said. But the accumulation of grievances has led to a spontaneous explosion of discontent.
    “This has been a process of trauma,” Ms. Álvarez Curbelo said. “And so now, all of that trauma has come out, all of that pain.”

    Mr. Rosselló’s tenure has been defined by the hurricane that hit less than nine months after his inauguration. Many people did not have electricity for months, and the storm is estimated to have left several thousand people dead — a grim reality that the governor’s administration was slow to acknowledge. On the chat, one of his aides made a joke about the cadavers that had accumulated after the hurricane in the understaffed morgue.
    Immediately after the storm, Mr. Rosselló’s administration caused outrage when it awarded a $300 million contract, to help restore power, to Whitefish Energy, a Montana company with no major disaster experience. After the public furor, the governor was forced to cancel the agreement. Mr. Rosselló and the electric company’s leaders were criticized for not having standard mutual aid agreements ready, so that outside utilities could be on hand to help quickly. In the end, it took nearly a year to get power fully restored.
    Mr. Rosselló has also overseen thousands of layoffs, cuts to public services, school closures and tuition hikes as a result of a 12-year economic recession and Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Not all of those measures were Mr. Rosselló’s doing: The island’s finances are managed by an unpopular and unelected oversight board created by Congress.
    Mr. Rosselló has tried at times to push back against “la junta,” as the board is known, but his term has coincided with its oversight, and Puerto Ricans have fused their anger toward Mr. Rosselló with their anger toward the board. One of the most popular protest chants is, “¡Ricky, renuncia, y llévate a la junta!” — Ricky, resign, and take the board with you.

    Since Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published 889 pages of the leaked Telegram chat on Saturday, Mr. Rosselló has found himself increasingly isolated in office. The snowballing scandal has, suddenly and unexpectedly, united factions from across Puerto Rican society, revealing deep dissatisfaction with how the island is governed.

    “The governor’s moral authority and credibility to lead are completely gone,” said former Gov. Luis Fortuño, who like Mr. Rosselló is a member of the New Progressive Party. “I only hope and pray that the governor will think of the Puerto Rican people first, and put them above his own political interests.”
    Mr. Rosselló and the 11 other men on the chat have been ordered to turn over their cellphones to Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice. The governor has maintained that there was no illegal activity taking place in the chat.
    The political crisis has prompted Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill to consider imposing more oversight restrictions on $12 billion in federal Medicaid funds for the island. Tens of millions more have been set aside to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.
    To avoid the unrest, cruise ships have skipped docking in San Juan, worrying small business owners who depend on tourists to survive. On Wednesday, Old San Juan felt eerily silent, its storefronts covered by storm shutters in advance of the angry crowds.

    Business leaders have expressed concern about scaring off investors long term, especially if truckers make good on their threat to join the protest by slowing deliveries of gasoline and goods.

    But Puerto Ricans of all stripes said they could no longer tolerate mocking, profanity and corruption, real or perceived, by the leaders who are supposed to be fighting on their behalf in Washington and San Juan. Six people with ties to the government, including a former Cabinet secretary and agency director, were arrested in the federal corruption investigation last week.
    At Wednesday night’s protests, some said it was the devastation of the hurricane, and the government’s poor response, that helped open people’s eyes.
    “This is the upside of Maria,” said Coralie Córdoba, 55. “This would not have happened, I don’t think, if we wouldn’t have had Maria. It’s been too many years of putting up and holding back.”
    Vanessa Ruiz, a 34-year-old teacher, said she was attending her first protest ever. Puerto Rico has had troubled governments “for as long as I remember, since I was a little girl,” she said.
    “I have never seen or heard of a transparent government,” she said. “I haven’t lived under a government that hasn’t been corrupt. This is why we came.”

    Puerto Rico has a long history of embarrassing scandals. Mr. Rossello’s father, Pedro J. Rosselló, who was governor from 1993 through 2000, saw some of his closest aides, including an executive assistant and the former education secretary of education, convicted of kickback schemes. The stain on the two-time governor’s legacy added to his defeat when he tried to return to the governor’s seat in 2004.
    He lost to Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, who was later indicted in connection with an elaborate scheme to pay back campaign debt. A judge dismissed many of the charges, and a jury acquitted him of the rest. In 2015, a federal indictment laid out a pattern of cronyism surrounding former Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, whose brother was accused of accepting gifts from a top Popular Party fund-raiser.
    Mr. Acevedo said this week that members of his family joined this week’s protests. His daughter was tear gassed when police clashed with demonstrators. “I had never seen anything like this,” he said.
    Talk of impeachment and private negotiations over a transition abound. Members of the governor’s New Progressive Party have spent much of the week on the phone, trying to figure out what comes next.
    “There is deep dissatisfaction, and there is grading of positions: Some people want him to resign the party presidency, some people want him to resign re-election aspirations and some are asking that he resign the position he currently holds,” said Kenneth McClintock, a former Puerto Rican secretary of state and senator.

    Mayor Mayita Meléndez of Ponce, who is a member of Mr. Rosselló’s party, left a meeting with the governor disgusted over his attempts to move on from the scandal.

    “I expected to see a sensible man, a repentant man,” she said. She has since called on him to resign.
    When he began campaigning, Mr. Rosselló, who holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering from the University of Michigan but had no prior political experience, was viewed as an extension of his father. This week, his father called legislators on the island to plead his son’s case to stay in office.
    Carlos Romero Barceló, who served as governor from 1977 to 1985 and was one of the founders of the governor’s party 50 years ago, said he supported Mr. Rosselló’s candidacy but was surprised that once the governor took office, the governor’s chief of staff never returned any of Mr. Romero Barceló’s phone calls.
    “What has happened is the product of the arrogance and lack of experience,” Mr. Romero Barceló said.
    Still, Mr. Romero Barceló said it was “premature” to ask for the governor’s resignation. Party leaders were busy trying to find a good candidate to be secretary of state, so that someone could be in place for a smooth transition should Mr. Rosselló resign. The governor technically has the right to fill that position, but he needs the support of the head of the Puerto Rico Senate and House of Representatives to get a person approved.
    With his political life hanging in the balance, Mr. Rosselló turned earlier this week to the most mundane of government agencies to try to defend the work being done by his administration: The Department of Motor Vehicles, he touted, would soon provide more services online.
    Around the same time, on the other side of San Juan, several women walked into the local D.M.V. office and marched up to the framed portrait of the governor, with his boyish, matinee-idol good looks.
    In an age-old act of defiance against power, they unceremoniously yanked Mr. Rosselló’s picture off the wall.

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    Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com 

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