Saturday, February 16, 2019

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2019


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Cuba Warns U.S. Moving Special Forces Closer to Venezuela Under Guise of "Humanitarian Intervention"

By Jessica Corbett
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in May of 2018. (Photo: EFE/El Nuevo Diario)
As Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro urges the international community to condemn an ongoing U.S.-backed effort to overthrow him and calls for peaceful negotiations with critics led by self-declared "Interim President" Juan Guaidó, the Cuban government—which supports Maduro—claimed on Thursday that the Trump administration is moving special forces closer to Venezuela "in preparation for a military adventure under the guise of a 'humanitarian intervention.'"
In a lengthy statement denouncing the steps President Donald Trump and his allies have taken to oust Maduro—particularly National Security Advisor John Bolton and Republican Senator Marco Rubio (Fla.)—the Cuban government said:
"Between February 6 and 10 of 2019, several military transport aircraft have flown to the Rafael Miranda Airport in Puerto Rico, the San Isidro Air Base in the Dominican Republic, and other strategically located Caribbean Islands, most certainly without the knowledge of the governments of those nations. These flights took off from U.S. military facilities where Special Operation Troops and U.S. Marine Corps units operate. These units have been used for covert operations, even against leaders of other countries."
Pointing to a draft resolution that the Trump administration recently introduced at the U.N. Security Council that expresses concern about the humanitarian conditions of Venezuela, Cuba concluded:
"[T]he U.S. intends to fabricate a humanitarian pretext in order to launch a military attack on Venezuela and, by resorting to intimidation, pressure, and force, is seeking to introduce into this sovereign nation's territory alleged humanitarian aid...It is obvious that the United States is paving the way to forcibly establish a humanitarian corridor under international supervision, invoke the obligation to protect civilians, and take all necessary steps. It is worth recalling that similar behaviors and pretexts were used by the U.S. during the prelude to wars it launched against Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya, which resulted in tremendous human losses and caused enormous suffering."
The warnings out of Cuba come after Guaidó vowed on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, that foreign aid—which has already begun arriving along the border with Colombia and Brazil—will enter Venezuela on February 23 in spite of objections from Maduro, who has also characterized offerings of aid as part of a "political war of American empire" and "warmongering in order to take over" Venezuela.
Since Trump recognized Guaidó as Venezuela's leader last month, he has appointed war hawk Elliott Abrams as a special representative to the country, repeatedly threatened military action if Maduro doesn't turn over power to Guaidó, and seized billions-of-dollars in Venezuelan oil assets. In its statement on Thursday, Cuba charged U.S. actions are "causing serious humanitarian damage and harsh deprivation" to the people of Venezuela.
During a press conference late last month announcing the sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Bolton—in a move that critics said was "likely not an accident"—held up a notepad on which he had written "5,000 troops to Colombia." A few days later, Bolton suggested that if Maduro keeps refusing to leave office, he could find himself locked up in a U.S. military prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba.
Common Dreams, February 14, 2019
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/02/14/cuba-warns-us-moving-special-forces-closer-venezuela-under-guise-humanitarian?

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No to the U.S. Intervention and Attempted Coup in Venezuela!

Note: The following resolution was adopted by the Delegates Meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Whereas, Trump administration officials have openly declared their intention to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro; and

Whereas, the U.S. has tightened economic sanctions, including the seizure of Venezuela's oil properties in the United States, increasing the hardship on the people of Venezuela; and

Whereas, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, and leading Trump administration foreign policy officials have made clear their intention to privatize Venezuela's oil and open it to exploitation by the U.S. oil companies if their coup strategy succeeds; and

Whereas, Elliott Abrams has been named Special Envoy to Venezuela and is notorious for his central role in the Iran-Contra scheme and arming of the Nicaraguan contras, the Salvadoran death squad government, and the genocidal regime in Guatemala responsible for the massacres of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in that country; and

Whereas, the U.S. campaign of regime change in Venezuela is against the interests of the people of Venezuela, Latin America or the people of the United States; and

Whereas, the San Francisco Labor Council resolved on May 12, 2014, to "support the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people to continue their political and social process free from foreign intervention," demanding "that the U.S. government refrain from intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela." 

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council endorse and support (1) the February 23 Emergency Bay Area Hands Off Venezuela protest action; (2) the March 16 National March on the White House to say "Hands Off Venezuela, No War, No Sanctions, No Coup," which in the Bay Area will be held on Saturday, March 9; and (3) the Hands Off Venezuela National Action, which in the Bay Area will be held on March 31.

Be It Further Resolved, that this resolution will be sent to the California Labor Federation and to Bay Area Congress members.

(adopted unanimously minus one abstention)

Respectfully submitted by
• Gloria La Riva, delegate, Pacific Media Workers Guild Local 39521
• Alan Benjamin, delegate, OPEIU Local 29
• David Welsh, delegate, NALC Branch 214

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Send an email to the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center calling on them to open their books on activities in Venezuela 

The AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center has received at least $3,925,000 of public funds for its operations in Colombia and Venezuela, but next to nothing is known about its activities in Venezuela. Considering the role the Solidarity Center played in supporting coup plotters in 2002, and considering the current coup effort in Venezuela, the Solidarity Center should open its books and release details about what it is doing in Venezuela. We hope the Solidarity Center is not aiding and abetting today's coup plotters and Trump Administration plans for regime change. We need details that show us that the Solidarity Center is not going down the same road it did in 2002. If it is, we need to take action now to get the Solidarity Center on the right track. The Solidarity Center must represent workers, not the White House and its destabilization plans.  
BACKGROUND INFO:

What  is the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center Doing in Venezuela:  We Have a Right to Know!

by James Patrick Jordan 
The Solidarity Center--the AFL-CIO's organization for acting around the world--has long been active in Venezuela, and not usually for good effect.  We demand that the Solidarity Center open their books, and honestly report about their current operations in that country. 
We hope they are not supporting the current coup attempt against President Nicolaus Maduro in any way, as the coup attempt is an illegal effort to replace a democratically-elected president with one not elected by the Venezuelan people but of the US Government.  But we don't know; their past operations cause us great concerns; and we want them to prove to us they have nothing to do with the current attempt. 
The AFL-CIO associated Solidarity Center has received at least $3,925,000 for operations in Venezuela and Colombia between 2010 and 2019, and perhaps more. The Solidarity Center gets approximately 90 percent of its funding from the United States government, mostly via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The Solidarity Center has a history that includes advancing State Department goals even against the interests of workers. It channeled money to plotters in Venezuela behind the attempted coup of 2002. The Solidarity Center supported union officials who locked out their own oil workers during the economic sabotage that followed the failed coup attempt. In 2008, when the AFL-CIO was leading the resistance to a Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, the Solidarity Center was meeting with the U.S. Embassy in Colombia to discuss strategies for passing that same FTA. The Solidarity Center leadership that was in Venezuela and Colombia in 2002 and 2008 is still in place in 2019. 
The Solidarity Center's operations are part of the AFL-CIO (and previously, AFL) foreign operations that have taken place over the past 100+ years.  This was most completely documented in a 2010 book titled AFL-CIO's Secret War against Developing Country Workers:  Solidarity or Sabotage? by long-time labor activist and Purdue University sociologist, Kim Scipes (Lanham, MD:  Lexington Books).  The Solidarity Center has continued operating since then. 


Subject:  What is the Solidarity Center doing in Venezuela?
Message: 

Remaining:  1628
This email will be delivered to  2 recipients:
Worker to Worker Solidarity Campaign Alliance for Global Justice
Sister and Brother Workers
Solidarity Center
AFL-CIO


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DA Krasner: At long last, turn the page on Mumia Abu-Jamal case!



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In 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a former Black Panther and respected public radio journalist in Philadelphia, when he was jailed after a disputed incident in which police officer Daniel Faulkner was killed. In 1982, Abu-Jamal was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by Judge Albert Sabo, known as a "hanging judge" who'd sent more people to Death Row than any other U.S. judge.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International criticized the trial, pointing to racial bias and "possible political influences that may have prevented him from receiving an impartial and fair hearing." Unsuccessful appeals over the years have argued that prosecutors suppressed evidence and that blacks were systematically purged from the jury.

But after 37 years behind bars, much of it on death row in solitary confinement, Abu-Jamal now has some real hope.

Click here to tell Larry Krasner, Philadelphia's progressive District Attorney, that it's time to turn the page on Abu-Jamal's case.

Last December, Abu-Jamal won a major victory when Philadelphia Judge Leon Tucker ruled that he had the right to re-appeal his case because of the appearance of bias during the appeals process – specifically that a former DA-turned-Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who'd blocked Abu-Jamal's appeals should have recused himself from the case.

This victory, clearing the path for a possible new trial, seemed especially hopeful because in 2017 Philadelphia voters, especially African American voters, had elected Krasner – a longtime foe of mass incarceration, the death penalty, and racism in criminal justice.

Click here to urge DA Krasner not to resist Judge Tucker's ruling and let justice be served.

At the end of January, Krasner shocked many by announcing that he would challenge Judge Tucker's decision to give Abu-Jamal the right to appeal, apparently over his concern that it might open up appeals for other convicted prisoners. Days later, Krasner was disinvited from a progressive law conference at Yale which he was to keynote, and conference organizers urged Krasner to drop his resistance to Abu Jamal's appeal: "We cannot understand how DA Krasner's decision in this case serves justice or the transformative vision that he ran on."

Add your voice to those who want DA Krasner to reverse course on Abu-Jamal's case – and to ask the DA: "Isn't nearly four decades behind bars more than enough?!" 

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now. 



-- The RootsAction.org Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

Background:
>> Amnesty International: "A Life in the Balance: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal" (Feb. 2000)
>> Essence: "Judge Rules Mumia Abu-Jamal Can Reargue Appeal To The Pennsylvania Supreme Court" (Dec. 28, 2018)
>> Philly.com: "Philly DA Larry Krasner disinvited to speak at Yale Law conference" (Feb. 2, 2019)
>> The Intercept.com: "Larry Krasner Responds to Progressive Critics" (Feb. 9, 2019)
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Mumia Abu-Jamal

BREAKING NEWS! SHARE WIDELY!

On January 3, 2019 the office of District Attorney Larry Krasner filed a letter memorandum to Judge Leon Tucker.  "DA [Larry Krasner], and members of his staff went to a remote and largely inaccessible of the DA's office marked "Storage" looking for office furniture." And found six boxes of files on Mumia Abu-Jamal's case that were not produced duringthe recent court proceedings.

The District Attorney Krasner's remarkable and suspicious discovery of six boxes of files marked Mumia or Mumia Abu-Jamal hidden in a storage room on December 28 was one day after Judge Tucker's historic decision granting Mumia Abu-Jamal new rights of appeal.

This is confirmation of what we've known for decades--the prosecution has hidden exculpatory evidence in Mumia's case.  Evidence that is likely proof that Mumia's guilt was intentionally manufactured by the police and prosecution and the truth of his innocence suppressed.

These files should be released to the public. DA Krasner should take this as evidence of the total corruptness of this prosecution against an innocent man. The remedy for this is nothing less than dismissal of the charges against Mumia and his freedom from prison!

It took DA Krasner six days to report this find to Judge Tucker. Why? And who has gone through those six boxes of files on Mumia's case? What assurance can DA Krasner give that there hasn't been further tampering with and covering up of the evidence, which led to an innocent man being framed for murder and sentenced to death?

The DA's letter was not publicly available, nor was the January 3 docket filing shown on the court's public access web pages of docket filing, until January 9.

Rachel Wolkenstein, January 10, 2019
WHYY (an affiliate of NPR)
https://whyy.org/articles/philly-prosecutors-discover-mysterious-six-boxes-connected-to-mumia-abu-jamal-in-storage-room/
Philly prosecutors discover mysterious 'six boxes' connected to Mumia Abu-Jamal in storage room
By Bobby AllynJanuary 9, 2019
A group of two dozen activists briefly block traffic during a rally outside the Philadelphia District Attorney's office on Friday. The group called on DA Larry Krasner to not challenge a Common Pleas court ruling that allows Mumia Abu-Jamal to file an appeal. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

Days after Christmas, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and some of his assistants went rummaging around an out-of-the-way storage room in the office looking for some pieces of furniture. What they stumbled upon was a surprising find: six boxes stuffed of files connected to the case of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Five of the six boxes were marked "McCann," a reference to the former head of the office's homicide unit, Ed McCann. Some of the boxes were also marked "Mumia," or the former Black Panther's full name, "Mumia Abu-Jamal."

It is unknown what exactly the files say and whether or not the box's contents will shed new light on a case that for decades has garnered worldwide attention.

But in a letter to the judge presiding over Abu-Jamal's case, Assistant District Attorney Tracey Kavanagh wrote "nothing in the Commonwealth's database showed the existence of these six boxes," she said. "We are in the process of reviewing these boxes."

The surprise discovery comes just weeks after a Philadelphia judge reinstated appeals rightsto Abu-Jamal, saying the former radio journalist and activist should get another chance to reargue his case in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to a conflict-of-interest one of the justices had at the time Abu-Jamal's petition was denied.

Abu-Jamal's supportersare seizing on the mysterious six boxes as proof that his innocence has been systematically suppressed by authorities.

"There's no question in my mind that the only reason they could've been hidden like this is that this is the evidence of the frame-up of Mumia," said Rachel Wolkenstein, who has been a legal advocate and activist for Abu-Jamal for more than 30 years.

"What these missing boxes represent is confirmation of what we've known for decades: there's hidden, exculpatory evidence in Mumia's case, and that is evidence that Mumia's guilt was intentionally manufactured by the police and prosecution and the truth of his innocence was suppressed," Wolkenstein said.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office did not say anything at all about what is in the boxes, or whether there is evidence that the files are exculpatory, or capable of demonstrating that Abu-Jamal did not commit a crime. During his original trial three separate eyewitnesses testified Mumia did commit the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Wolkenstein's assessment is wild speculation, according to Ed McCann, the former homicide unit chief whose name was scrawled across the six boxes. McCann left the office in 2015 after 26 years there as a prosecutor. He was never directly involved in Abu-Jamal's case.

"I can't tell you 100% what is in these boxes," McCann said Wednesday night. "But I doubt there is anything in them that is not already in the public eye."

How and why did six boxes tied to one of the most legendary and racially-charged cases the office has ever handled get relegated to a dusty storage room?

McCann is not sure. But he said when the office moved locations in 2006, hundreds of boxes with his name written them were moved into the current headquarters on South Penn Square, just across the street from Philadelphia City Hall.

"I don't remember these six boxes. But nobody over there discussed this with me before filing this letter," McCann said. "I would think if they were really interested in what happened, they would have reached out to me."

In the two-page letter to the court, assistant district attorney Kavanagh wrote that if Judge Leon Tucker would like to review the boxes, prosecutors will turn them over.

Tucker, who is the same judge who ordered that Abu-Jamal should be given a new appeals argument, has not weighed in on the newly-discovered boxes.

But in his opinion last month, Tucker said former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille should have recused himself from hearing Abu-Jamal's petitions, since Castille himself was Philadelphia's District Attorney when the case was actively on appeal. "True justice must be completely just without even a hint of partiality, lack of integrity or impropriety," wrote Tucker, saying a new hearing in front of the state's high court is warranted.

Prosecutors have not taken a position yet on Tucker's opinion. The files unearthed in the six boxes could influence whether Krasner's office supports or opposes a new hearing for Abu-Jamal.

Wolkenstein said the thousands of people who have joined the "Free Mumia" movement around the globe should be able to review the documents themselves.

"These files should be released publicly," Wolkenstein said. "The remedy for this is nothing less than dismissal of Mumia's charges and his release from prison."




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APPEAL FOR SUPPORT FOR ANTI-RACIST BOARD GAME—PLEASE FORWARD WHERE APPROPRIATE

Hello to You All,
                        I have created a board game—"RACE FOR SOLIDARITY" and am awaiting the copyright.   The board game involves throwing dice.  The game both teaches and tests historical knowledge of racism—USA, and the fight against racism involving the struggles for and of multiracial unity.  The game also demonstrates the negative, reactionary movement of the forces of racism as well as the progressive movement of solidarity forces.  Playing the game involves and depends upon successfully building solidarity during the game.  Also included is an extensive list of references for the answers to all questions.
                        Due to the expense of producing the game I presently have only three complete games.  I am hoping to find person, persons or organizations to help me both fund and promote this game.  I am open to suggestions.
Please contact me with any thoughts   gordonnayvin@yahoo.com
Thank you,
In Multiracial Solidarity,
Nayvin Gordon


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Statement: Academic Institutions Must Defend Free Speech

The International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity issued the following statement on 23 December, signed by 155 distinguished academics and human rights advocates.



Petition Text


Statement issued by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity:
We, the undersigned, oppose the coordinated campaign to deny academics their free speech rights due to their defense of Palestinian rights and criticism of the policies and practices of the state of Israel. Temple University in Philadelphia, USA and the University of Sydney, Australia have been under great pressure to fire, respectively, Marc Lamont Hill and Tim Anderson, both senior academics at their institutions, for these reasons. Steven Salaita and Norman Finkelstein have already had their careers destroyed by such attacks. Hatem Bazian, Ahlam Muhtaseb, William Robinson, Rabab Abdulhadi and others have also been threatened.
The ostensible justification for such action is commonly known as the "Palestinian exception" to the principle of free speech. One may freely criticize and disrespect governments – including one's own – religions, political beliefs, personal appearance and nearly everything else except the actions and policies of the state of Israel. Those who dare to do so will become the focus of well-financed and professionally run campaigns to silence and/or destroy them and their careers.
We recognize that much of the free speech that occurs in academic and other environments will offend some individuals and groups. However, as has been said many times before, the answer to free speech that some may find objectionable is more free speech, not less. We therefore call upon all academic institutions, their faculty and students, as well as the public at large, to resist such bullying tactics and defend the free speech principles upon which they and all free societies and their institutions are founded.
https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/academic-institutions-must-defend-free-speech?just_launched=true
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Courage to Resist
Hi Bonnie. Courage to Resist is working closely with our new fiscal sponsor, the Objector Church, on a couple projects that we're excited to share with you.
objector registry
Objector Registry launches as draft registration of women nears
The first ever Objector Registry (objector.church/register) offers a declaration of conscience for anyone to assert their moral opposition to war, regardless of age, gender, or religious affiliation. This serves to create a protective record of beliefs and actions with which to oppose a later forced draft. Given last week's release of the report by the Congressionally mandated commission on military service, this free registry is coming online just in time. Please sign up yourself and share with friends!
weekly meetup
You're invited to join us online weekly
This is a great way to find out more about the Objector Church and why we might be the religious humanist interfaith peace and justice community you have been looking for! Our live meetups are lead by Minister James Branum from Oklahoma City. This Sunday at 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern, if your not excited by the NFL's "big game", pop online and check us out at objector.church/meetup
COURAGE TO RESIST ~ SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHO REFUSE TO FIGHT!
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559
www.couragetoresist.org ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist



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COURAGE TO RESIST


New "Refuse War" Shirts


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

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

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

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

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

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Abu-Jamal Wins New Right to Appeal

By Rachel Wolkenstein



 On December 27, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker granted Mumia's petition for new appeal rights, over the opposition of "progressive DA" Larry Krasner. 

This is the first Pennsylvania state court decision in Mumia's favor since he was arrested on December 9, 1981.  

 In his decision Judge Tucker ruled former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who was the District Attorney during Mumia's first appeal of his frame-up conviction and death sentence, "created the appearance of bias and impropriety" in the appeal process when he didn't recuse himself from participating in Mumia's appeals. Judge Tucker relied heavily on Ronald Castille's public statements bragging that he would be a "law and order" judge, that he was responsible for 45 men on death row, that he had the political and financial support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and new evidence of Castille's campaign for death warrants for convicted "police killers." The appearance of bias and lack of "judicial neutrality" exhibited by Castille warranted his recusal.

Judge Tucker's order throws out the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions from 1998-2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia's racially-biased, politically-motivated murder conviction on frame-up charges of the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. 

Judge Tucker's decision means that Mumia Abu-Jamal's post-conviction appeals of his 1982 conviction, that he was framed by police and prosecution who manufactured evidence of guilt, suppressed the proof of his innocence and tried by racist, pro-prosecution trial Judge Albert Sabo who declared, "I'm gonna help them fry the nigger."   and denied him other due process trial rights must be reheard in the Pennsylvania appeals court. 

The new appeals ordered by Judge Tucker opens the door to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom. Abu-Jamal's legal claims and supporting evidence warrant an appeal decision of a new trial or dismissal of the frame-up charges that have kept him imprisoned for 37 years. 

The international campaign for Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom has launched a new offensive. At the top of its actions is a call for letters and phone calls to DA Larry Krasner demanding he not appeal Judge Tucker's order granting new appeal rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Tell DA Larry Krasner: Do NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting Mumia Abu-Jamal New Appeal Rights!

Email: DA_Central@phila.gov, Tweet: @philaDAO, Phone: 215-686-8000
Mail: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
3 S. Penn Square, Corner of Juniper and S. Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499

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


Listen to a radio report at Black Agenda Report:
https://www.blackagendareport.com/judge-soon-rule-mumias-appeal-bid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To add your endorsement to this call, please go here: http://www.no2nato2019.org/endorse-the-action.html



Please donate to keep UNAC strong: https://www.unacpeace.org/donate.html 

If your organization would like to join the UNAC coalition, please click here: https://www.unacpeace.org/join.html

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To: Indiana Department of Corrections

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Should Have Access to His Personal Property

Petition Text

1. IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII must be respected! Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) must be allowed to select from his property the items that he most immediately needs. He has been left without any of the material he requires for contacting his loved ones, his writing (this includes books), his pending litigation, and for his artwork. 
2. Kevin Johnson (IDOC# 264847) should be released into General Population. Prolonged solitary confinement is internationally recognized as a form of torture. Moreover, he has not committed any infractions.

Why is this important?

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson (IDOC# 264847) – a Virginia prisoner – was transferred to Indiana on November 4. His transfer was authorized under the Interstate Corrections Compact, commonly used to ship prisoners out of state. Virginia is one of several states that make use of this practice as a tool to repress and isolate prisoners who speak up for their rights.
These transfers are extremely disruptive, and serve as an opportunity for prison officials to violate prisoners' rights, especially regarding their property. This is exactly what has been done to Rashid.
Rashid has 24 boxes of personal property. These are all of his possessions in the world. Much of these 24 boxes consist of legal documents and research materials, including materials directly related to pending or anticipated court cases, and his list of addresses and phone numbers of media contacts, human rights advocates, outside supporters, and friends.
At Pendleton Correctional Facility, where Rashid is now being kept prisoner and in solitary confinement, only one guard is in charge of the property room. This is very unusual, as the property room is where all of the prisoners' belongings that are not in their cells are kept. The guard in charge, Dale Davis, has a dubious reputation. Prisoners complain that property goes missing, and their requests to access their belongings – that by law are supposed to be met within 7 days, or if there are court deadlines within 24 hours – are often ignored, answered improperly, or what they receive does not correspond to what they have asked for.
Despite having a need for legal and research documents for pending and anticipated court cases, his requests to receive his property have not been properly answered. The property officer, Dale Davis, is supposed to inventory the prisoners' property with them (and a witness) present, according to IDOC regulation 02-01-101-VIII; this was never done. When Rashid did receive some property, it was a random selection of items unrelated to what he asked for, brought to the segregation unit in a box and a footlocker and left in an insecure area where things could be stolen or tampered with.
On December 19th, Rashid received notice that Davis had confiscated various documents deemed to be "security threat group" or "gang" related from his property. Rashid has no idea what these might be, as (contrary to the prison regulations) he was not present when his property was gone through. Rashid does not know how much or how little was confiscated, or what the rationale was for its being described as "gang" related. None of Rashid's property should be confiscated or thrown out under any circumstances, but it is worth noting that the way in which this has been done contravenes the prison's own regulations and policies!
Dale Davis has been an IDOC property officer for 8 years. He has boasted about how he does not need any oversight or anyone else working with him, even though it is very unusual for just one person to have this responsibility. Prisoners' property goes "missing" or is tampered with, and prisoners' rights – as laid out by the Indiana Department of Corrections – are not being respected.
Rashid is not asking to have all of his property made available to him in his cell. He is willing to accept only having access to some of it at a time, for instance as he needs it to prepare court documents or for his research and writing. 
After two months in Indiana, he has still not been supplied with his documents containing the phone numbers and addresses of his loved ones and supporters, effectively sabotaging his relationships on the outside. Rashid is not asking for any kind of special treatment, he is only asking for the prison property room to follow the prison's own rules.
We ask that you look into this, and make sure that Mr. Johnson's right to access his property is being respected, and that something be done about the irregularities in the Pendleton property room. We ask that the rules of the Indiana Department of Corrections be respected.

Sign the petition here:
https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/kevin-rashid-johnson-should-have-access-to-his-personal-property?bucket&source=facebook-share-email-button&time=1547257147&fbclid=IwAR3rjpTZog631Oxv6oqjZmaJQv1GLIMHMuhDaP4g0Xu_EajWwW6X1faBPbE


FOR UPDATES CHECK OUT RASHID'S WEBSITE AT RASHIDMOD.COM
you can also hear a recent interview with Rashid on Final Straw podcast here: https://thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org/post/tag/kevin-rashid-johnson/
Write to Rashid:
Kevin Rashid Johnson's writings and artwork have been widely circulated. He is the author of a book,Panther Vision: Essential Party Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, Minister of Defense, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, (Kersplebedeb, 2010).

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

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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.


Phone zap on Tuesday, November 13

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

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

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

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

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Background on Malik's Situation

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

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

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

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

By Michael Barbaro, May 30, 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/30/podcasts/the-daily/kevin-cooper-death-row.html?emc=edit_ca_20180530&nl=california-today&nlid=2181592020180530&te=1

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


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


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



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

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

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

NO ESTÁN SOLOS (You are not alone).

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


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

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

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


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


P.O. Box 3565, New York, NY 10008. All Right Reserved. | Unsubscribe
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Major George Tillery
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.

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


Major Tillery and family

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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    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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    MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN MUMIA'S CASE. TIME SENSITIVE. SHARE WIDELY. WE WANT KRASNER TO BE DELUGED.

    INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

    December 29, 2018

    Dear Comrades and Friends Across the Globe:

     On December 27, 2018, in a historic action, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker granted Mumia's petition for new appeal rights, over the opposition of "progressive DA" Larry Krasner. 
    This is the first Pennsylvania state court decision in Mumia's favor since he was arrested on December 9, 1981.  The new appeals ordered by Judge Tucker open the door to Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom. The legal claims and supporting evidence, previously denied in the PA Supreme Court with Justice Ronald Castille's participation, warrant a dismissal of the frame-up charges that have kept Mumia imprisoned for 37 years, or, at the very least, a new trial. 

     It is critical that Mumia can go forward immediately with these appeals. However, DA Larry Krasner has the authority to appeal Judge Tucker's decision. Krasner's position, to the surprise of many who had described him as the "new kind" of district attorney, more bent toward justice than mere conviction, with a history of defending dissident activists, been adamant in his opposition to Mumia' petition.  His legal filings, court arguments, and his statements on public radio have all argued that there is no evidence of Justice Castille's bias or the appearance of impropriety when he refused to recuse himself in Mumia's PA Supreme Court appeals from 1998-2012 (!).

     If the prosecution appeals, there will follow years of legal proceedings on the validity of Judge Tucker's order before Mumia can begin the new appeal process challenging his conviction. .Mumia is now 64 years old. He has cirrhosis of the liver from the years of untreated hepatitis C. He still suffers from continuing itching from the skin ailment which is a secondary symptom of the hep-C. Mumia now has glaucoma and is receiving treatment. He has been imprisoned for almost four decades.  An extended appeals process coming at the age of 64 to a person whose health had already been seriously compromised is the equivalent of a death sentence by continued incarceration.    

    We are asking you to join us in demanding that Larry Krasner stop acting in league with the Fraternal Order of Police. Mumia should be freed from prison, now!  We are asking you to call, email or tweet DA Larry Krasner TODAY and tell him: DO NOT Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Granting New Rights of Appeal to Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    In his decision, Judge Tucker ruled that former PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who was the District Attorney during Mumia's first appeal of his frame-up conviction and death sentence, had "created the appearance of bias and impropriety" in the appeal process when he didn't recuse himself from participating in Mumia's appeals. Judge Tucker relied heavily on Ronald Castille's public statements bragging that he would be a "law and order" judge, that he was responsible for putting 45 men on death row, that he had the political and financial support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and in recently discovered new evidence that Castille had particularly campaigned for immediate death warrants of convicted "police killers".  Judge Tucker states unequivocally that the appearance of bias and lack of "judicial neutrality" exhibited by Castille warranted his recusal. 

    Judge Tucker's order throws out the PA Supreme Court decisions from 1998-2012 that rubber-stamped Mumia's racially-biased, politically-motivated murder conviction on frame-up charges of the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner. 

     Judge Tucker's decision means that Mumia Abu-Jamal's post-conviction appeals of his 1982 conviction must be reheard in the PA appeals court. In those appeals Mumia's lawyers proved that Mumia was framed by police and prosecution who manufactured evidence of guilt and suppressed the proof of his innocence. And, he was tried by a racist, pro-prosecution trial judge, Albert Sabo, who declared to another judge, "I'm gonna help them fry the n----r" and denied Mumia his due process trial rights.

    We can win Mumia's freedom! We have a legal opening. It is our opportunity to push forward to see Mumia walk out of prison! The international campaign for Mumia Abu-Jamal's freedom has launched a new offensive. At the top of its actions is this call for letters and phone calls to DA Larry Krasner demanding he not appeal Judge Tucker's order granting new appeal rights to Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Please take this action today.  Please send us back your name so we can compile a list of international signers.  Also, no matter how many letters for Mumia you have signed in the past year or two, please sign this one as well.  The moment is different, and the demand of Krasner is different.  We want all possible supporters included.

    CONTACT:    Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. 
                            Phone: (215) 686-8000; Email: DA_Central@phila.gov; Tweet: @philaDAO
                            Mail: Phila. DA Larry Krasner, Three South Penn Square, Phila, PA 19107

    Tell DA Krasner:     Do Not Appeal Judge Tucker's Decision Reinstating Appeal Rights 
                                     for Mumia Abu-Jamal!


    In solidarity and toward Mumia's freedom,

    (Initiated by all the US based Mumia support organizations)
    International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; The MOVE Organization; Educators for Mumia; International Action Center; Mobilization for Mumia; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC); Campaign to Bring Mumia Home; Committee to Save Mumia; Prison Radio, Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oakland; Oakland Teachers for Mumia; Workers World/Mundo Obrero

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    1) THE EXCUSES OF LARRY KRASNER
    "Looking beyond what Krasner says to the underlying opinion from judge Leon Tucker, the possible far-reaching implication here is that, if someone was a prosecutor, they shouldn't then get to sit as a judge on the cases that came up when they were a prosecutor."
    BY OREN NIMNI, FEBRUARY 10, 2019
    https://www.currentaffairs.org/2019/02/the-excuses-of-larry-krasner

    Larry Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney elected in 2018

    Larry Krasner was elected district attorney of Philadelphia in 2018 with a radically progressive mandate. As a former public defender and civil rights lawyer, he has been long critical of the criminal punishment system. He's perhaps the most "progressive prosecutor" in the country, and has already effectively decriminalized marijuana, sued Big Pharma companies, and required his deputies to consider the costs of mass incarceration in their sentencing recommendations. Activist Shaun King has said Krasner was "exceeding expectations" and that his sentencing memorandum was a "dream come true." But recently, Krasner has received criticism from fellow reformers, after announcing that his office would challenge a judge's decisionin favor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther controversially imprisoned for the 1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner. 
    On Saturday, the Intercept published a story by Eoin Higgins in which Krasner made his first statements in defense of his decision on the Abu-Jamal case. The basis for Abu-Jamal's current appeal is pretty simple—he argues that one of the judges was biased. Specifically, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice—Ronald Castille—who ruled on Abu-Jamal's previous appeals, had also been the Philadelphia District Attorney while that office was prosecuting pieces of Abu-Jamal's case. Abu-Jamal argues that Castille should have recused himself. After a recent Supreme Court decision on the subject, a Philly judge agreed with that argument and granted Abu-Jamal's petition, calling for the tainted hearing to be re-argued before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Krasner's office appealed, which surprised and puzzled many allies. Why, they wondered, would a supporter of reform oppose a judge's ruling that would require more substantial neutrality from judges? 
    Here are the justifications Krasner gave in his interview with Higgins:  
    [The judge's decision] is a narrow, technical decision in one sense, but incredibly complex and nuanced and affects many other cases… I hope that the people who are critical take a deep breath and wait and see what it is we actually say in the brief that we file in this matter… The opinion that was written by the court contained language that, potentially, could result in having to rehear possibly thousands of cases… As this case evolves, we will continue to try to make the right decisions and to see things in all their complexity and nuance… At the same time, we will try to do individual justice to all of the people affected by the case involving Mumia Abu-Jamal.
    Krasner, then, offers two primary defenses for his decision. First, he asks critics to give him time—they don't yet know what he will write in the final brief his office files and it could potentially be something good for criminal defendants. He can't tell us what it is, though, and says that he is limited in what he can say right now regarding ongoing litigation. For his second defense, he says that the case is "complex and nuanced" (a phrase he repeats) and could have wide-ranging implications. 
    So the arguments here boil down to: "Trust me" and "It's complicated."
    There is a certain part of me that likes Krasner and wants to give him the benefit of the doubt. In some sense we have very similar legal backgrounds, both having done criminal defense work (particularly for activists) and having sued police departments. His career has earned him a degree of trust, and indicates that he has a commitment to actual justice in the criminal punishment system. 
    But despite this background, and despite his record so far as Philly DA, Krasner's defense is unconvincing, and he shouldn't be granted the kind of deference he's seeking. 
    It's possible, of course, that Krasner is right. Perhaps his team will file a brief that knocks our socks off and somehow simultaneously bolsters Mumia's claim and takes the opportunity to make great procedural reforms to the criminal system. I doubt it. In fact, this is extremely unlikely given his stated concern about making too many cases eligible for review. But even if it was true that he had something up his sleeve, he still doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt. It's Krasner's job, as a person in power, and especially as a prosecutor, to prove why we should believe his arguments. The burden is on him to justify his actions. "Wait and see" and "It's too complicated, you wouldn't understand" are not only condescending answers, but they don't provide us with any actual reasons why we should believe Krasner is doing the right thing. Krasner needs to explain why it's complicated, and what we're supposed to be waiting for. When progressives get in positions of power, it's not only their obligation to do good, but also to use their platforms to shed light on the inner workings of the system and provide space public education. One of the ways power insulates itself is by disguising how it actually operates. Progressives are obligated to pull back the veil. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, doesn't hesitate to tell us how things work on the inside—she doesn't resort to "leave me alone, shut up, and let me get on with the job." Krasner, on the other hand, invokes familiar rhetoric of the powerful: Ordinary people wouldn't understand, they are owed no explanations, they need to quit whining and let experts use their judgment. 
    Krasner also invokes a favorite lawyerly aphorism: "I can't talk about ongoing litigation," which is the go-to excuse for those who don't want to have to publicly defend their reasoning. But this cliche is no defense in this case. Krasner could quite easily tell us why he won't accept the judge's pro-Mumia decision (which was actually quite middle-of-the-road, rejecting Mumia's more pointed argument and granting only a narrower claim). In many cases, lawyers can't talk about aspects of cases—they owe a duty of confidentiality to clients and must often keep their work secret. This is not the case here: This is an appeal of an old case, Krasner's only client is the state, and he is the boss and can do as he pleases. The only reason not to share his argument is that he doesn't want to tip off Mumia's defense team, which itself should show that he's not, in fact, committed to being generous to the defense. 
    Transparency, then, should require Krasner to be straightforward with us rather than issuing meaningless condescending verbiage. But beyond transparency, the justification he gives just doesn't hold up. The only substantive argument he makes is that the decision could have far-reaching impacts that he wants to limit. That could be a reasonable fear, in a case where on first blush a rule seemed sound but would have bad consequences if applied to all. But Krasner doesn't say what the possible impacts are, except that "thousands" of cases could suddenly become reviewable. Making cases more reviewable should be a good thing, though! If Krasner is a "progressive" DA, he should want cases to be reviewed to see if the judge was neutral. Looking beyond what Krasner says to the underlying opinion from judge Leon Tucker, the possible far-reaching implication here is that, if someone was a prosecutor, they shouldn't then get to sit as a judge on the cases that came up when they were a prosecutor. That's a good rule. Many federal judges and a significant number of state judges start out as prosecutors, and limiting the extent to which they can work on cases they have touched is good policy. It might also mean that fewer prosecutors become judges, since they would have to recuse themselves so often, and that would be a useful corrective to the current imbalance. Unless Krasner is concerned that he might someday want to be a judge, and doesn't want to limit his own chances, even a small limit on the ability of people to switch from being the prosecutor to being the judge would be in the interest of fairness. 
    No one should have expected perfection from Krasner, or from any prosecutor. He still remains better than most, but this case is an example of something important. There is a wearingly familiar pattern when exciting reformers are elected to public office: They go in with zeal, then sooner or later they're doing precisely the thing they said they wouldn't do, and giving the public patronizing lectures about how we simply don't understand "complexity and nuance." It's true, of course, that wielding power well is tricky and making policy is more difficult than making campaign slogans. But it's also true that being in office doesn't just open your eyes to unforeseen constraints—it also cramps your imagination and distances you from those who you promised to serve. The cure for this is a demand for explanations: If it's complicated and nuanced, explain how. "I operate under limitations you activists are unaware of" is plausible, but we need to know what the limitations actually are. Power does not deserve deference, and real reformers offer explanations, not excuses.


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    2) Yellow Vests and Red Unions Strike Together
    By Richard Greenman, February 10, 2019
    https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/yellow-vests-and-red-unions-strike-together/

    On Tues, Feb. 5, as the Macron government pushed harsh repressive laws against demonstrators through the National Assembly, the Yellow Vests joined with France's unions for the first time in a day-long, nation-wide "General Strike."
    At the very moment when in Paris the lower house was voting to implement Macron's proposed laws designed to suppress public demonstrations (a legal right protected in both the French Constitution and the U.N. Human Rights Declaration) tens of thousands of their constituents were out in the streets all over the country demonstrating and striking against Macron's authoritarian, neo-liberal government. The demonstrators' demands ranged from better salaries and retirement benefits, restoration of public services, equitable tax codes, an end to police brutality, and banning the use of "flash-balls" on demonstrators, to Macron's resignation and the instauration of participatory democracy.
    Deaf to the angry people's legitimate grievances, unwilling to deal with them, Macron has given himself no other choice than to legislate new repressive legal restrictions to suppress their continued free expression. This resort to open repression can only serve to discredit the government's handling of a crisis largely of his own making, treating a spontaneous social movement among the 99% as if it were a terrorist or fascist conspiracy. The unpopular President's repressive tactics will inevitably backfire on him. The French are extremely jealous of their liberties, and Macron's monarchical arrogance can only remind them of how their ancestors dealt with Louis XVI.
    Moreover, the Yellow Vests, who have been a painful thorn in Macron's side since last November, were now demonstrating together with the French labor unions, whom he thought he had tamed last Spring. This convergences came in response to a call for a one-day "General Strike" issued by the CGT and Solidaires, who for the first time invited "any Yellow Vests who felt like it" to join. In the event, quite a few did feel like it, despite the CGT's previous hostility to the Yellow Vests and despite their own fundamental suspicion of all "representative" structures, like established parties and unions (whom the Yellow Vests justifiably fear would attempt to coopt them, speak in their name, and sell them out).

    A Day of Action and Convergence
    For a "first date" the one-day Strike came off very well, somewhat to the surprise of both parties. And if this tentative Red-Yellow alliance continues to solidify (and there is every indication that it will) France will likely become ungovernable and the ruling classes will be up against the wall. What might happen next rich in possibility, for the French, with their long history of popular revolutions, have been singularly inventive in coming up with new political arrangements. For now, let us look more closely at what may in retrospect be an historic day.
    The Strike began at exactly midnight when a rowdy crowd of 200-300 demonstrators near Paris blocked the giant Rungis produce market (which replaced Les Halles, the legendary "Belly of Paris), cutting off food to the capital with trucks lining up outside. You can see the Yellow Vests among the Red flags of the CGT in this video from Le Parisien.[1] They even set up a barricade. In the early hours there were also blockages at the airport of Nantes and at the University there, at a key toll-gate near Toulouse, while in Grenoble transport was perturbed all morning.
    All told there were demonstrations in at least 160 different localities, all different in size and conduct, mostly improvised by people on the spot at the last minute. There were big ones in the Channel ports Le Harvre, Rouen and Caen. In Strassbourg about 1500, in Lyon 5000 including 500 Yellow vests. In Marseille the Yellow Vest march converged with the CGT at the Stock Exchange, a shift of targets for the Yellow Vests from government to finance capital.
    In Paris, instead of the usual union march through the popular quarters from the Bastille to Nation, the CGT-led strikers invaded the fancy Right Bank territory, violently contested for twelve weeks by the Yellow Vests, marching boldly up the Rue de Rivoli with its luxurious shop-windows (and construction sites with bricks lying around). They then held an impromptu rally at a major intersection, tying up traffic and baffling the police.[2]
    Here in Montpellier, as elsewhere in France, the crowd was big, but no bigger than some of the previous Saturday Yellow Vest demos – as was the case all over France. But this Tuesday it was largely a union crowd. On the other hand, after weeks of gassing peaceful protestors, the police presence was extremely discrete, and one Gendarme was filmed explaining to the Yellow Vests protestors that the Gendarmes had "nothing against them," that his family supported the movement, explaining that they were soldiers and sworn to obey orders (the Gendarmerie is under the military). They Yellow Vests answered that they "had nothing against the Gendarmes either." See amazing video.[3]
    When I arrived at the gathering point, the loudspeakers of the CGT sound-truck were blaring out a long boring speech – complicated stuff concerning the Euro. No possibility of conversation much less convergence. Next up the line came a contingent of CGT people, quite a number of whom were wearing yellow vests with bright red CGT emblems on them. This "dual" identity underscores the naturalness of the convergence of the two movements of working class people who have nearly identical economic goals and all the same enemies. Like the Red-Yellow CGT activists, nearly every Yellow Vest has by now personalized her/his attire, inscribing slogans on them like: "End of Month/End of World: Same Combat," "Macron Resign!" "Down with Capitalism" and the very popular "Government of the People, By the People and for the People" (The French haven't a clue they're quoting Lincoln, an American!)
    At the front of the column, after the CGT banner, were the Yellow Vests, perhaps 200 strong behind our banner and singing aloud. I was a little disappointed by the low turnout of Yellow Vests. Also that they didn't go back and fraternize and mingle with the union folk, as one woman proposed and I attempted, in spite of the loud recorded CGT music. At the end of the march, our Montpellier Yellow Vest had planned to hold an open-mike speakout, but that didn't come off either. But as comrades kept reminding me, it was an important first step, and we'll be back. We make our road by walking.

    Who Are these Yellow Vests?
    Since Nov. 17, 2018, the popular, nation-wide, self-organized Yellow Vests movement has been keeping up the pressure on the neo-liberal Macron regime with daily protests at traffic circles and weekly demonstrations in dozens of cities. It is made up of average, lower middle-class French people, mostly provincials, whose lives have gotten worse under neo-liberal policies. They are mostly "little people" who are struggling to make ends meet and are tired of being ignored and humiliated by France's elites.
    Last November, they began to turn off their TVs, come out of their houses, join together at traffic circles and toll booths, get to know each other, grill sausages and feel empowered, rather than isolated and helpless. They thus humanized these "noplaces" or non-places created by the automobile civilization that had stripped their villages of post-offices, bakeries and cafés forcing them to spend two hours every workday in their cars.
    The Yellow vests represent a demographic cross section of France– naturally minus the top 2% or 3%. And, unfortunately, for the moment, minus the 10% (?) of France's doubly oppressed, discriminated immigrant communities. The Arabs, Berbers, Black Africans and other immigrants who do most of the dirty jobs, who are rarely seen in civil service jobs, and whose youth riots in the Banlieues (Projects) seriously challenged President Sarkozy in 2005. (Partly due to my suggestion, the Montpellier Yellow Vests are starting to reach out to the immigrant communities.)
    Coming from many different backgrounds, the Yellow Vests wisely chose to put aside their political differences and party preferences, avoid pointless arguments, and focus on the struggle that unites them, each speaking for her or himself (alternating genders to maintain parity). As the weekly protests continued, the Yellow Vests were slowly refining their goals and tactics and discovering how to organize themselves while retaining their autonomy. After more than two months, on Jan. 25-27, delegates from 75 local Yellow Vest Assemblies came together in the town of Commercy (Lorraine) for their first "Assembly of Assemblies" and wrote a democratic, egalitarian, anti-racist Declaration (discussed below) which soon achieved a consensus around the country. So a functioning federation with common goals is now emerging.
    Remarkably, the Yellow Vests' rebellion has persisted week after week despite a government campaign of brutal police repression – including thousands of injuries (some serious), several deaths, a thousand arrests, and routine tear-gassing of peaceful groups. The Yellow Vests have persisted despite being constantly vilified by the government and media as fascists, violent terrorists, "a hate-filled mob" (Macron) etc. Yet, amazingly, according to the latest polls, 77% of French people at large think their mobilization is "justified" (up from 74% in January.)
    Most remarkable of all, they have wrung some actual concessions from Macron, who, after disdainfully declaring he would "never" give in to an unruly mob, was forced to rescind the tax on Diesel fuel that the movement had originally crystalized around, and promised a raise in the minimum wage and a cut in taxes on retirement income (both of which turned out to be shams on close examination).
    These practical victories, won by an autonomous group that refuses to anoint leaders or to negotiate, have deeply embarrassed the French labor movement and particularly the "militant" CGT (General Confederation of Labor, historically affiliated with the French Communist Party) which, after months of stop-and-go strikes last Spring, failed to block the implementation of Macron's neo-liberal "reforms," which took away many benefits won by French labor during the great struggles of the past.[4]
    The defeated strikers returned to work last Sept. with their tails between their legs, simmering mad; and it was out this void of active opposition to Macron's ongoing neo-liberal offensive that the Yellow Vests spontaneously emerged and spread across the country, with their spectacular direct action tactics. Many union members, more or less disgusted with their leaders, joined the Yellow Vests from the start. The Yellow Vests organized themselves via Facebook pages, socialized in traffic circles and parking lots and grew into an autonomous social movement. They stood up for themselves and for the rest of France's working poor, unemployed, single mothers, and retired people. They spontaneously organized mass civil disobedience, successfully opposing Macron's economic program of taking from the poor and giving to the rich (from whose soft white hands the wealth will theoretically "trickle down.")

    The CGT
    The immediate response to the rise of the Yellow Vests on the part of the CGT and its leader, the unsmiling, mustachioed Martinez (picked by Central Casting for the "tough-guy" part) was suspicion ('petty-bourgeois fascists?') and hostility. Martinez and the other union bureaucrats could not help seeing the Yellow Vests as competitors, and thus as a threat to their own hegemonic status as official representatives of the workers – especially after Macron's "concessions."
    After shocking reports of police violence unleashed by Macron's government against the Yellow Vests' third Saturday demonstration, and in direct response to an appeal for calm from Macron, on Dec. 6, the leaders of the CGT and all the other labor federations except for Solidaires, signed a Déclaration of solidarity – not of solidarity with the injured and arrested demonstrators, but with the Macron government, the alleged representative of the "peaceful republican order!"[5] In return for what many described as a "betrayal," the labor movement's clique of professional negotiators accepted Macron's invitation to "resume the social dialogue" – that is to allow them to sit at the table with him and negotiate more give-backs of workers' rights.
    The union leadership's pledge of allegiance to the neo-liberal flag did not go down well in the union ranks. And so the very next day, Martinez and the other union leaders spun in the wind like weathercocks, started acting militant, and called for a national labor demonstration (legal) on Fri. Dec 14. The union leaders' strike demands covered the same basic economic demands as the Yellow Vests. The event was to be a demonstration of power, a public-relations leadership challenge, and it was pointedly planned for Friday, not Saturday – the Yellow Vests' demonstration day (the only free day for many of them, for example single parents, workers in offices and small businesses who don't have strike pay or legal rights to strike). The Friday Dec. 14 union demonstrations were hardly imposing compared to Saturday's Yellow Vest evens, so the ploy fizzled.
    Two months later, the CGT's issued another call for a one-day "General Strike" on Feb. 5 (a Tuesday). It seemed like a replay of the same ploy, but in a gesture toward the more and more obvious need for "convergence," Martinez opened a crack for Yellow Vests "to join if they wished" (as he said the day before the Strike). However the next day, blowing with a different wind, he changed his tune and actually made some sensible remarks about convergence:
    "People have been saying for more than two months that we must talk and find common demands. We have them. There is no reason we shouldn't march side by side, the ones behind the others. What is important is to have a successful first day of action together, because I find that the bosses have been let off easy [by the Yellow Vests – Ed.] and it is time to bring to account the big bosses of this country."
    Martinez remark about needing to attack the big bosses was both pointed and to the point. The Yellow Vests, given their broad and varied social composition, have naturally focused on the consumer issues they have in common as working folk struggling to make ends meet: high prices, unfair taxes and declining social services, directing their anger at the government, the media and the political elite. Their signs often denounce "capitalism," but as a group they have no direct relationship with big industry and finance in whose interest Macron rules. Yet clearly, only with the active participation of France's organized workers can this broad popular movement succeed – for example through an unlimited general strike with occupations of workplaces and public spaces as in 1968.

    The Opening of  Chapter Two in the Movement?
    More encouraging, Martinez' co-organizer of the Feb. 5 strike, Cécile Gondar-Lalanne, whose union Sud-Solidaires has been supportive of the Yellow Vests from the start, declared: "if today works out, we must look forward doing it again, to constructing a common movement." To this observer, such a convergence of the Reds with the Yellows, if it develops, might release a revolutionary power greater than anything we have seen in modern history.
    The Yellows, composed of a cross-section of the common people in the provinces already have the support of the vast majority of French people. They have held off the government for thirteen weeks and show no sign of relenting. The Reds, meaning the organized workers, have the power to strike and bring a halt to France's major industries, transportation, energy and all public services, as they did in 1936 and 1968.
    United, the Reds and the Yellows have the potential to change the system, and many of the Yellows clearly have system-change on their agenda.
    System-change is definitely not on the agenda of Martinez and the other union bureaucrats, whose social status, like that of the members of the National Assembly, depends on their role as the official "representatives" of their constituents within the existing system. Given the pressure from below, Martinez has no choice but to play at "convergence" with the Yellow Vests today, but it is only to outmaneuver them and secure his official status as labor's representatives. This is precisely what the Yellow Vests feared from the start when they founded their movement on autonomy – perhaps remembering the dismal role played by the CGT in ending the general strike and popular uprising that shook up the De Gaulle regime in 1968 (and whose 50th anniversary was being celebrated all over the media all last year).
    So Red-Yellow convergence is taking place in a conflictual context pitting the traditionally hierarchical, vertical discipline of the CGT and other French labor organizations against the innovative, horizontal self-organization of the proudly autonomous Yellow Vests. The presence, observed in Montpellier and on the videos of the Feb. 5 event, of demonstrators with big red CGT badges on their Yellow Vests, is already significant. The fact that these Red-Yellow (Orange?) activists dare to openly display their independence within the tightly organized culture of the CGT is a sign of cracks opening in that bureaucratic structure through which imaginative wildcat initiatives may emerge.
    Convergence is also developing from below, through mutual understanding. According to the investigative journalism site Médiapart (whose coverage of this event was superb) "a not very militant" CGT member who has been out with his Yellow Vest on the roundabouts and demonstrated every Saturday remarked that "there are lots of employees who can't strike, who work in small shops and whose relations with their bosses are too direct. But they understand that the problem is big capital."
    In Paris, a young man up from Lognes with his wife (who had never before demonstrated) and his Yellow Vest group held out a CGT flyer showing a red arm and a yellow arm holding each others hand. He concluded: "Today may be the beginning of Chapter Two of our movement. We must all converge!".
    Two railroad workers on the Paris-East line share his hopes. "The CGT has always been a fighting union, we're on the side of labor, not capital. Before taking a definite position on the Yellow Vests, we needed to wait to see how this movement was going to clarify its outlook. Now, their discussions and demands are interesting, indeed attractive, rather leftist," they judged. "This movement has evolved on the ideological plane, the Yellow Vests have become conscious through their struggle. It's time to converge, to join together."

    Yellow Vests' Self-Education in Action
    Over time, the Yellow Vests' objectives have indeed deepened, as evidenced by the evolution of the home-made signs at demonstrations, by lists of progressive demands from various local groups, and finally, at the end of Jan. 2018, by a Declaration (reproduced below) voted by a "General Assembly of General Assemblies" attended by Yellow Vests mandated by some 75 different local groups. A second Assembly, bringing together many more groups, is being prepared as the Yellow Vests structure themselves in a loose federation and learn to represent themselves through delegates selected (always one woman and one man) with limited mandates and subject to recall (the system of the Paris Commune of 1871).
    The Commercy Declaration defines their goals as "dignity," an "end to inequality," "free public services," "higher" salaries, retirements, etc., taxing the super-rich to pay for them and the restructuring of France as a participatory democracy through referendums. At the same time, in response to charges by Macron, the media, and any number of groups on the far Left, The Yellow Vests Declaration declares: "we are neither racist, nor sexist, nor homophobic, we are proud to come together with our differences to build a society of solidarity." Although this radical Declaration is not a binding program, it expresses a consensus and has been quickly adopted by many Yellow Vest groups, who are looking forward to a larger nationwide Assembly of Assemblies in two months.
    The investigative site Médiapart sent two reporters up to Commercy after the Assembly of Assemblies and filmed their conversations with a couple of dozen local Yellow Vests, giving us an intimate view of how this diverse group interacts and makes decisions – a long process of patience, respect, tolerance, and conscious self-education. They explain how each individual brings pieces of the truth from her/his knowledge and experience, from which a consensus is achieved. (Or not achieved, on subjects where they are not ready to decide and sweep under the rug until they are).
    The atmosphere is one of trust and comradeship and active listening. Interventions are short and to the point. Viewing the video, I was struck by the contrast between the locals' discourse and that of the two academic sociologists, both charming and well intentioned, who tended to go on and on and talk over each other, adding very little. The local Yellow Vests, whatever their education levels, have all learned to express themselves in public succinctly, and some have become quite eloquent. Linked by common struggle, pooling their knowledge, they are tapping into "the Wisdom of Crowds" long known to socialists and recently studied by psychologists.
    They also have fun and laugh a lot. For example, here in Montpellier, the first report on the Agenda of last Sunday's General Assembly was on the question of how to curse and insult the "forces or order" (cops). The rapporteur went through a whole list of insults which, like "cocksucker" are offensive to gays, or women, or sex itself. It was both hilarious and instructive. He the proposed a number of really nasty, but politically correct insults, and his report was approved by the group. This Saturday we are going to demonstrate wearing masks, to mock the government's vicious liberticidal anti-demonstration laws which criminalize covering your face.

    Macron's Throne Is Shaky
    As for Macron, his popularity hovering around 22% thanks to his regal pretentions, inflexible neo-liberal orthodoxy, methodical use of violence to suppress the expression of legitimate citizen grievances and criticism, and his contemptuous way of talking down to his angry subjects. This figure is slightly above the 18% of the 2017 Presidential vote he got on the first round, before being elected as the only alternative to "the fascist LePen." Compare this with approval of the Yellow Vests, which stands at 77%. The French hate nothing worse than being talked down to and taken for jerks, and Macron is his own worst enemy, for example when he declared that the presumably lazy French had "lost the taste for effort" – when more than half of them are breaking their backs just to survive.
    Macron's latest ploy is the "Great Debate," a public-relations charade designed to counter the Notebooks of Grievances being circulated by the Yellow Vests in imitation of the Cahiers de Doléances of the 1789 Revolution. The "Great Debate" consists of a serious of programmed meetings between Macron or one of his Ministers and the elected Mayors of a region. Hardly democratic considering how many mayors are the tools of local real estate interests and political mafias. Nonetheless, some mayors are actually honest and sincere, and at the very first televised "Debate," the first mayor to take the floor made a searing critique of Macron and his handling of the crisis. Now questions are filtered in advance. Whom does Macron think he's fooling?
    Curiously, the French public intellectuals and philosophers, who occupy a much larger space in the media than their American counterparts, have mostly turned a cold shoulder to the Yellow Vests. If I'm not mistaken, only two have seriously take up their defense: the popular libertarian philosopher Michel Onfray (author of 100 books) and the historian-anthopologist-essayist Emmanuel Todd. They alone carry on the contrarian tradition of Voltaire, Zola and Sartre into the 21st Century, our epoch in which the mediatized intellectuals, like the media personalities, the media owners, the politicians and the labor leaders have all become integral parts of what the French call "the political class."
    Meanwhile, Macron is traveling outside of France and playing a role in international affairs to deflect from the intractable crisis at home, while the media keep up a business as usual façade, respectfully reporting the Great Debate and reducing the Yellow Vest insurrection to a weekly tally of the number of demonstrators (aren't they declining yet?), the number of arrests and of cars burnt. I suppose that like frightened little kids, the French elites think that if they hide their eyes all these angry little people will go away, but they won't. What will Act XIII (or Chapter Two) reveal?

    APPENDIX:
    Call from the First Assembly of Assemblies of the Yellow Vests
    We, the Yellow Vests of the roundabouts, of the parking lots, of the squares, of the assemblies, rallies and demonstrations, have gathered on January 26 and 27, 2019, as an "Assembly of Assemblies," bringing together a hundred delegations, in response to a call by the Yellow Vests of Commercy.
    Since November 17, from the smallest village, from the rural world to the largest city, we have risen up against this deeply violent, unjust and unbearable society. We will no longer let ourselves be pushed around! We are rebelling against the high cost of living, precariousness and poverty. For our loved ones, our families and our children, we want only to live in dignity. It's unacceptable that 26 billionaires own as much as half of humanity. Let's share the wealth and not the poverty! Let's put an end to social inequality! We demand an immediate increase in wages, social minima, allowances and pensions; the unconditional right to housing and health, to education; and free public services for all.
    It is for all these rights that we are occupying roundabouts on a daily basis, that we organize actions and demonstrations, that we discuss everywhere. With our yellow vests we retake the floor, we who have never had it.
    And how has the government responded?  With repression, contempt, denigration. Many dead and thousands wounded, massive use of firearms that mutilate, blind, injure and traumatize. More than 1,000 individuals have been arbitrarily detained and sentenced. And now the new "anti-wrecker" law is applied to stop us from demonstrating. We condemn all such violence against protesters, whether from the police or violent gangs. None of this will stop us! To demonstrate is a fundamental right. End impunity for the police! Amnesty for all the victims of repression!
    And what a dirty trick is the so-called great national debate – in fact it's just a government propaganda campaign that manipulates our desire to debate and decide! True democracy, as we practice it in our assemblies, in our roundabouts, is neither on television nor in the fake roundtables organized by Macron.
    After having insulted us and treated us as less than nothing, now he points to us as a hateful fascistic and xenophobic mob. But we are quite the opposite: neither racist, nor sexist, nor homophobic, we are proud to come together with our differences to build a society of solidarity.
    We are strengthened by the diversity of our discussions. At this very moment hundreds of assemblies are developing and proposing their own demands. These concern real democracy, social and tax justice, working conditions, ecological and climatic justice, and the end of discrimination. Among the claims and strategic proposals that are the most debated, we find: the eradication of poverty in all its forms, the transformation of institutions (citizen's initiative referenda, constituent assembly, abolition of the privileges of elected officials …), the ecological transition (energy injustice, industrial pollution …), the equality and the taking into account of all regardless of their nationality (people with disabilities, male/female equality, an end to the neglect of popular neighborhoods, the rural world and the DOM-TOM [overseas territories] …).
    We, the Yellow Vests, invite everyone to join us with their own means and abilities. We call for continuation of the acts of protest (act 12, against police violence at the police stations; acts 13, 14 …), to continue the occupations of the roundabouts and the economic blockades, to build a massive strike starting on February 5th. We call for committees to be formed at workplaces, at schools and everywhere else so that this strike can be built from the bottom up by the strikers themselves. Let's take things into our own! Do not remain alone – join us!
    Let's organize ourselves in a democratic, autonomous and independent way! This assembly of assemblies is an important step that enables us to discuss our demands and our means of action. Let us federate to transform society!
    We urge all Yellow Vests to circulate this call. If as a group of Yellow Vests you agree, add your signature and send it to Commercy (assembledesassemblees@gmail.com). Do not hesitate to discuss and formulate proposals for the next "Assemblies of the Assemblies," which we are preparing for right now. Down with Macron – power to the people, for the people and by the people!

    [2] Information from the investigative journalism website subscriber-supported website, Médiapart, at whose studio Macron's justice department recent attempted to conduct a warantless search, scandalizing civil libertarians. https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/050219/gilets-jaunes-et-rouges-cela-peut-etre-le-debut-du-chapitre-deux-de-notre-mouvement
    [4] Please see: Richard Greeman « Spontaneous Teachers' Strikes Sweep Conservative U.S. States. French Strikes Remain Stalled"  http://divergences.be/spip.php?article3348
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    3) The Mother Who Wants to Put Air Pollution on Her Daughter's Death Certificate
    Millions die each year from dirty air. The trauma of a 9-year-old London girl may bring the dangers home.
    By Beth Gardiner, February 13, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/opinion/ella-kissi-debrah-pollution-london.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    Ella Kissi-Debrah's school photo.CreditCreditThe Ella Roberta Family Foundation


    LONDON — Dirty air kills millions of people around the world every year, but it can be hard to put a face on a danger so vast. Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah is fighting to do just that. The face she has in mind is her daughter's.
    Ella Kissi-Debrah was 9 when she died in 2013, after three years of asthma attacks so bad, they sometimes triggered seizures. In photos, her smile is broad and bright, her hair braided. She loved music and swimming, and dreamed of becoming a pilot.
    Ella lived with her family just off London's South Circular Road, a major thoroughfare that is clouded by the diesel fumes that make London's air — like much of Europe's — thick and foul-smelling. A scientist's analysis found that many of her hospitalizations coincided with local pollution spikes.

    Now Ms. Adoo-Kissi-Debrah wants to put air pollution on Ella's death certificate. On Jan. 11, the top legal adviser for England and Wales, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, backed her application for a new inquest, and this week, her lawyer plans to petition the High Court to authorize it.

    The coroner who originally investigated Ella's death ruled she had died of acute respiratory failure, but made no mention of pollution. Ms. Adoo-Kissi-Debrah did not know then what diesel fumes can do to young lungs. It was more than a year after Ella's death that she first learned dirty air is a known asthma trigger. "It was like putting a picture together" as it finally began to make sense, she told me.
    Air pollution has never appeared on a British death certificate, said Ms. Adoo-Kissi-Debrah's lawyer, Jocelyn Cockburn. If a new coroner amends Ella's to note its role, he or she could also demand that the government take action to prevent future deaths. And the moral and political repercussions could be even wider.
    This grieving mother's fight holds a power far greater than its potential to clarify the cause of one family's tragedy. It's bigger than just London and Britain, too. In demanding that dirty air be written into the official record as having contributed to her loss, Ms. Adoo-Kissi-Debrah wants to force us all to recognize a danger that is all around us, but which we have long chosen to ignore.
    This danger is truly global, and it is a consequence of our decisions to remain dependent on dirty, deadly fossil fuels and our failure to force polluters — like Volkswagen and the other auto manufacturers whose brazen shattering of pollution limits has left so many Europeans breathing toxic fumes — to follow the rules.
    It is not just that air pollution itself can be invisible. Its links to all manner of health woes — heart attacks and strokes, premature birth and dementia, among many others — while very real, are hard to make out. That is why getting it on a legal document as a contributing factor in the death of one child matters so much. The message would be unmistakable: This is not an abstraction.

    The numbers are chilling. Globally, air pollution cuts short seven million lives every year: about 40,000 in Britain, some 100,000 in the United States, and upward of a million each for China and India.
    Europe's air is significantly worse than America's. That is in part because of Europe's embrace of diesel cars, whose fumes are more noxious than gasoline's. But the bigger reason is the failure of its governments to effectively enforce pollution rules. Instead, they have looked the other way while manufacturers sell diesels that emit six or more times legal nitrogen oxide limits.
    The United States Environmental Protection Agency has been a more powerful policeman, turning rules on paper into air quality improvements that have saved millions of lives and trillions of dollarssince 1970. Of course, the E.P.A. and the regulations it enforces are under assault by the Trump administration and so decades of progress are at risk, and dirtier air and more ill health are the predictable consequences.
    Few understand that better than Ms. Adoo-Kissi-Debra, who was a secondary school teacher before Ella died. For a long time, she says, "I felt her death like a physical pain." Now, she wonders how many other children London's dirty air has killed since her own loss.
    It does not have to be this way. Effective regulation can significantly reduce pollution levels. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is taking some meaningful steps, including charging the oldest and most polluting cars to enter the city's center and retrofitting buses with filters.
    But there's only so much a mayor can do. The problem is much bigger than one city. Real progress requires action at the national, and European levels, to get the dirtiest diesels off roads, force carmakers to comply with the law and crack down on less obvious pollution sources, like household wood-burning. Ultimately, the real answer, in Europe and beyond, is eliminating fossil fuels altogether — and reducing the number of cars on our roads by providing better alternatives, such as strengthened public transportation and denser development that makes biking and walking easier.
    And the science is clear. Cleaner air brings better health, and fewer deaths.
    Only governmental power can fix this. So now Ms. Adoo-Kissi-Debrah is running for London Assembly. And she hopes official acknowledgment, on a death certificate, of what pollution did to her daughter will make the need for action harder to ignore. "It's not going to bring her back, obviously. But at least the real reason why she's not here will be on there."
    Beth Gardiner (@gardiner_beth) is a London-based journalist and author of the forthcoming "Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution."
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    4) The Atomic Soldiers
    They served at ground zero — and it has haunted them ever since.
    By Morgan Knibbe, February 12, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/opinion/atomic-soldiers.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    I've always been fascinated by nuclear weapons and the self-destructive tendencies of mankind. So when I found declassified United States Civil Defense footage of soldiers maneuvering in the glare of a mushroom cloud, I wanted to learn more about their stories. 
    I discovered that as many as 400,000 American soldiers and sailors observed nuclear explosions just a few miles from ground zero in more than 200 atmospheric tests conducted between 1946 and 1962. It was difficult to get a precise count of how many men were involved, because most information was classified — including reports on the illnesses the veterans suffered and the radioactive pollution that was released into the environment around the test sites. I was baffled by the lack of recorded testimonies available, but I found a few firsthand accounts of the soldiers' experiences. Many of them said they'd been positioned much closer to the point of detonation than in the footage I'd seen. 
    With so little information available and the number of remaining veterans dwindling rapidly, I wanted to prevent these stories from disappearing. I decided to interview some of them as research for a fiction film on the topic and wound up making this documentary in the process. I traveled across the United States to record the veterans' accounts on camera. 
    Connecting with them wasn't easy. Most of the veterans had either passed away or didn't use email or mobile phones. Because of secrecy agreements they had signed, some of them were hesitant to talk about their experiences. My nationality also raised suspicion: Why was a 25-year-old Dutchman prying into their nation's secret military past? After the soldiers realized my intention was to give them a voice, they finally opened up to me.

    Getting to know these men was an experience I will never forget. I realized that my own generation seems to have become numb to what nuclear war could do to humanity. The accounts of the atomic soldiers can help us understand that horror.

    Morgan Knibbe is a Dutch documentary filmmaker. His work includes the European Film Award-nominated short film "Shipwreck" and the feature documentary "Those Who Feel the Fire Burning."

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    5) What happened at the Brooklyn jail is part of a deeper human rights crisis
    By Bonnie Kerness, February 12, 2019
    https://www.afsc.org/blogs/news-and-commentary/what-happened-brooklyn-jail-part-deeper-human-rights-crisis

    Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where people went without heat and electricity in freezing temperatures – prompting mass protests.


    We must demand community oversight for every federal, state, and county facility in the U.S. 

    Recent headlines over the plight of people imprisoned in the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn begs for a deeper look into the conditions of confinement in the U.S. prisons, jails, and juvenile and immigrant detention facilities. Although the electricity and heat are back on at the Brooklyn federal facility, the continuing and staggering neglect that led to this humanitarian crises continues – and will continue. Not only did the federal officials lie about conditions at the facility, they refuse to acknowledge the situation as part of a deeper human rights crisis.

    For the staff and volunteers at the AFSC Healing Justice and Prison WatchPrograms, what happened in Brooklyn reflects the heart-rending testimonies we receive daily from prisoners and their families throughout the country. We hear about how prisons use isolation for immigrants, distribute poor-quality food made being provided by companies, lack appropriate physical and psychological medical care, and neglect the elderly and youth. The culture of cruelty from one human to another is often beyond understanding, and certainly beyond being acceptable.

    In the same week that the MDC prisoners called out of their windows to protestors and family members that they were without heat, hot water, electricity and sanitation, we received word of arsenic being found in the water of the Atlanta federal facility.

    In another letter, we received the following testimony from South Woods State Prison in New Jersey: "THIS IS A PLACE FOR INMATES THAT ARE VERY SICK AND WAITING TO DIE. They can't get out of bed to use the bathroom and are forced to do it in the bed. Medical staff lets them lay for days in their own waste. Inmates for days don't get showers and those that are aging in wheel chairs have no nurses to help them clean themselves. No one cares about the beating of inmates, or those laying in bed crying for help. I believe that this is because this prison is 85% white staff and the units are 90% black inmates."

    This is also the same week we received news of a 36-year-old woman being locked up in an Indiana jail for a probation violation. Lamekia Dockery begged for medical attention for her stomach pains. She was vomiting, unable to eat, sprawled out on the floor stating she couldn't breathe. The corrections officer's blog read, "I advised her to stop talking to me."

    Lamekia had been sent to this work release center after she violated probation for a shoplifting conviction. She died six days later of sepsis. In the end, she received a sentence of death for a minor violation.

    Each summer in 7 wing at New Jersey State Prison, temperatures in that solitary confinement unit -- built in the 1860s -- rises to 110 degrees or hotter. This has been confirmed to me by the Department of Corrections. I have had the heartbreaking experience of speaking at the funeral of an activist prisoner who died in of heatstroke in that unit. I have held his mother and his brother. Hatari wa' Haki was one of the people who consistently reached out to the AFSC, so we could understand with depth the torturous the conditions in that prison. His devastated brother now volunteers for the Service Committee.
    Our U.S. system of "justice" is supposed to separate out people who have been found guilty of transgression -- not torture them. With well over two million people imprisoned in the U.S., the number of families impacted by conditions of confinement in prisons is profound.  Not a day goes by that AFSC doesn't receive complaints from people in prison and their families describing conditions, including cold, filth, rats, roaches, mold, callous medical care, extended isolation often lasting years, use of devices of torture, harassment, brutality, and racism.  We've received testimonies and drawings of four- and five-point restraints, restraint hoods, restraint beds, stun guns, stun grenades, spit hoods, chain gangs, extreme light or dark, extreme heat or cold. The people inside tell us that this is a systematic attack on all human stimuli.

    We, as advocates and activists need to push for community oversight for every federal, state and county facility, including juvenile and immigrant detention facilities. Whether that oversight is legislated or an informal coalition of family members, it is crucial to the physical and mental well-being of our very vulnerable imprisoned and their loved ones.

    These conditions also speak to a profound and national spiritual crisis. Is this really who we, as a nation, want to be? Without forms of oversight, people with power in these spaces are committing and allowing torture with impunity. Departments of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons are more than a set of institutions. They are also a state of mind. That state of mind is what led to the events at MDC and what is experienced every single day by those imprisoned in this country. We laud the courage of people who have no power bravely speaking truth to the powerful.

    AFSC is working with many groups and coalitions towards a national anti-racist movement against torture and prisons among people who dare to believe that human rights belong to each of us -- that over two million men, women, and children need not be imprisoned to make the rest of us feel safe. We are bonded with prisoners, ex-prisoners, their families, faith-based and civil society organizations in this country when we say loudly and collectively "not in my name."

    There is an adage that says, "Apartheid was legal, the Holocausts were legal, slavery was legal, colonialism was legal. Legality is a matter of power, not justice." Empowering prisoners, their loved ones, and ourselves through community oversight of our criminal legal system is a spiritually crucial imperative. 
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    6) Glyphosate Raises Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma by 41 Percent
    By Carey Gillam, February 14, 2019
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/14/weed-killing-products-increase-cancer-risk-of-cancer
    Bottles of Roundup herbicide, a product of Monsanto. Findings come as regulators in several countries consider limiting the use of glyphosate-based products in farming. Photograph: Jeff Roberson/AP

    A broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weedkilling products in the world, has found that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
    The evidence "supports a compelling link" between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the authors concluded, though they said the specific numerical risk estimates should be interpreted with caution
    The findings by five US scientists contradict the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) assurances of safety over the weed killer and come as regulators in several countries consider limiting the use of glyphosate-based products in farming.
    Monsanto and its German owner Bayer AG face more than 9,000 lawsuits in the US brought by people suffering from NHL who blame Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicides for their diseases. The first plaintiff to go to trial won a unanimous jury verdict against Monsanto in August, a verdict the company is appealing. The next trial, involving a separate plaintiff, is set to begin on 25 February , and several more trials are set for this year and into 2020.
    Monsanto maintains there is no legitimate scientific research showing a definitive association between glyphosate and NHL or any type of cancer. Company officials say the EPA's finding that glyphosate is "not likely" to cause cancer is backed by hundreds of studies finding no such connection.
    The company claims the scientists with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) who classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015 engaged in improper conduct and failed to give adequate weight to several important studies.
    But the new analysis could potentially complicate Monsanto's defense of its top-selling herbicide. Three of the study authors were tapped by the EPA as board members for a 2016 scientific advisory panel on glyphosate. The new paper was published by the journal Mutation Research /Reviews in Mutation Research, whose editor in chief is EPA scientist David DeMarini.
    The study's authors say their meta-analysis is distinctive from previous assessments. "This paper makes a stronger case than previous meta-analyses that there is evidence of an increased risk of NHL due to glyphosate exposure," said co-author Lianne Sheppard, a professor in the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences department at the University of Washington. "From a population health point of view there are some real concerns."
    Sheppard was one of the scientific advisers to the EPA on glyphosate and was among a group of those advisers who told the EPA that it failed to follow proper scientific protocols in determining that glyphosate was not likely to cause cancer. "It was wrong," Sheppard said of the EPA glyphosate assessment. "It was pretty obvious they didn't follow their own rules. "Is there evidence that it is carcinogenic? The answer is yes."
    An EPA spokesperson said: "We are reviewing the study." Bayer, which bought Monsanto in the summer of 2018, did not respond to a request for comment about the study.
    A Bayer statement on glyphosate cites the EPA assessment and says that glyphosate herbicides have been "extensively evaluated" and are proven to be a "safe and efficient weed control tool".
    The study authors said their new meta-analysis evaluated all published human studies, including a 2018 updated government-funded study known as the Agricultural Health Study (AHS). Monsanto has cited the updated AHS study as proving that there is no tie between glyphosate and NHL. In conducting the new meta-analysis, the researchers said they focused on the highest exposed group in each study because those individuals would be most likely to have an elevated risk if in fact glyphosate herbicides cause NHL.
    Looking only at individuals with real-world high exposures to the pesticide makes it is less likely that confounding factors may skew results, the authors said. In essence – if there is no true connection between the chemical and cancer then even highly exposed individuals should not develop cancer at significant rates.
    In addition to looking at the human studies, the researchers also looked at other types of glyphosate studies, including many conducted on animals.
    "Together, all of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs are associated with an increased risk of NHL," the scientists concluded.
    David Savitz, professor of epidemiology in the Brown University School of Public Health, said the work was "well conducted" but lacking "fundamentally new information".
    "I would suggest it sustains the concern and need for assessment but doesn't put the question to rest in any definitive sense," Savitz said.
    In a statement Bayer later said" "[The study] does not provide new epidemiology data; instead, it is a statistical manipulation that is at odds with the extensive body of science, 40 years of real world experience and the conclusions of regulators."
    It added: "[The study] provides no scientifically valid evidence that contradicts the conclusions of the extensive body of science demonstrating that glyphosate-based herbicides are not carcinogenic."
    Carey Gillam is a journalist and author, and a public interest researcher for US Right to Know, a not-for-profit food industry research group.

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    7) "I Remember the First Time I Saw a Teenager Die"
    By Eric Curran, February 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/opinion/sunday/guns-violence-hospitals.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    The trauma bay in the emergency department at Temple University Hospital after resuscitation efforts failed.CreditCreditEric Curran


    PHILADELPHIA — I remember the first time I saw a teenager die. He came to Temple University Hospital in the back of a police cruiser with three bullet holes in his chest. He was wearing bluejeans that had turned red. 
    The nurses cut them off and threw them at the end of the bed. The bluejeans that were no longer blue dangled for a while, eventually falling into the puddle of blood collecting underneath them. After nothing more could be done to save him, the bed that held his thin body was rolled away, leaving streaks of blood across the floor.
    As a first-year medical student, this image haunted me. I think it always will.
    Over and over, young Americans from Parkland, Fla., to North Philadelphia are carried into ambulances and the back seats of police cars and rushed to a hospital. The emergency room nurses and doctors lift them onto stretchers. If they are awake, they may ask if they're going to die. The doctor tells them no.

    Once inside, the trauma team yells out locations of holes in their body. The medical student tapes paper clips to each bullet wound so that they're visible on X-ray. If the heart stops, doctors break through the sternum with a mallet and a chisel.

    Two gloved hands hold the heart and start to squeeze. More nurses and more doctors help inject medicines. They place paddles on the lifeless heart. If God or luck or physiology allows, it beats again. And then the wheels on the bed spin toward the operating room and leave those horrible red streaks on the floor, red shoe prints all around them.

    When a patient's heart has stopped, handheld defibrillation paddles are placed directly onto the organ to shock it back to life. Sometimes a heartbeat returns. Often not.CreditEric Curran

    In the wake of the struggle to save a human life, a silent, splattered room remains. Gauze, tubes, shirts, gloves, pants, tape and sneakers lie scattered. Hospital workers come in and wash away the blood. They bring mops, towels, brushes and trash cans, and work with respect and grace, on hands and knees. The room must be cleaned quickly because another young victim could be wheeled in soon.

    A doctor's glove lies on the floor of the trauma bay.CreditEric Curran

    I started photographing this room out of the helplessness and despair I felt about these senseless deaths. I wanted the violence to stop. I asked if I could hold a camera. Not to capture the dead and dying. They deserve privacy and respect. But I wondered if capturing and sharing the moments after lives are saved and lost could help Americans understand what is happening.
    I place plastic covers over my shoes. Sometimes I hear screams — the loved ones receiving news that their son or daughter, brother or sister, spouse or partner, has been shot to death.

    Temple University Hospital treated 481 patients with gunshot wounds last year, and 97 died. In this one hospital in one neighborhood in one city. As a country, we lost nearly 40,000 lives to guns in 2017. These images are here to show you what happens. And to inspire change. Because here, in America, shouldn't bluejeans stay blue?

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    8) A Border Agent Detained Two Americans Speaking Spanish. Now They Have Sued.
    By Liam Stack, February 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/us/border-patrol-montana-spanish.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_rr_20190215&nl=race-related&nl_art=2&nlid=26108213emc%3Dedit_rr_20190215&ref=headline&te=1

    Martha Hernandez, left, and Ana Suda in front of a convenience store in Havre, Mont., where they say they were detained by a United States Border Patrol agent for speaking Spanish last year.CreditCreditBrooke Swaney/ACLU of Montana, via Associated Press


    The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Thursday against United States Customs and Border Protection on behalf of two American women who were stopped last spring in a small Montana city by a border agent who said he was asking for their identification because he heard them speaking Spanish.
    The border agent, identified in the lawsuit as Paul A. O’Neal, stopped the women, Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez, inside a convenience store in Havre, Mont., late on May 16, 2018.
    The lawsuit alleges that he commented on Ms. Hernandez’s accent, calling it “very strong,” and then asked where they were born. Ms. Hernandez was born in California and Ms. Suda in Texas, the A.C.L.U. said.

    When the women expressed shock at the agent’s question, he told them he was “dead serious” and asked to see their identification, the lawsuit alleges.

    After they showed the agent their valid Montana driver’s licenses, he briefly detained them in the store’s parking lot, the suit contends. The women then began to film the encounter on their phones, and asked the agent on video why they were being stopped.
    “Ma’am the reason I asked you for your ID is I came in here and I saw you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here,” the agent said, looking into the camera.
    One of the women then asked if they had been stopped because of their “racial profiles.”
    “No, it has nothing to do with that,” he replied, according to the video. “It’s the fact that it has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store in a state where it is predominantly English speaking, O.K.?”
    The A.C.L.U. says that is not O.K. In the lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the District of Montana, it alleges that Customs and Border Protection violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution because the agency did not have probable cause to detain the women.
    It also argues that the agency violated the women’s constitutional right to equal protection because the agent said he was questioning them because he heard them speak Spanish, which the A.C.L.U. argues was used as a proxy for their race.

    A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection declined to provide information about the encounter or to comment on the lawsuit, which also names Mr. O’Neal, the acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan and 25 unnamed “John Doe” defendants the A.C.L.U. said were involved in the episode.
    “As a matter of policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection does not comment on pending litigation,” Jason Givens, an agency spokesman, said in an email. “However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations.”
    Efforts to locate Mr. O’Neal on Thursday evening were not immediately successful.
    In a statement, the A.C.L.U. said that it was unconstitutional for law enforcement or immigration agents to detain people because of their language, accent or race. Cody Wofsy, a lawyer with the organization’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said he saw the case “as a part of a broader pattern of abusive conduct by an out-of-control agency.”
    “This is an opportunity for the courts to step in and say there are constitutional limits on what C.B.P. can do,” he said. “This is certainly nothing new based on what we have seen over the last couple of years of the Trump administration. The agency has been emboldened to act on some of its worst impulses.”
    The case highlights concern over the far-reaching power of Customs and Border Protection, whose agents have the authority to detain and question people up to 100 miles from an international border, a vast area that is home to almost two-thirds of the population of the United States.
    Havre, a remote farm city of about 9,000 people, is home to a Customs and Border Protection field office with 183 agents who have jurisdiction over more than 450 miles of the Canadian border. The city is about 35 miles from the border.
    In 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruledthat border agents illegally detained five Latino men in Havre in 2004 and said that “apparent Hispanic ethnicity, although a relevant factor in the reasonable suspicion inquiry, cannot by itself justify an investigatory stop in a border area.”

    The episode on May 16 was not Ms. Suda’s and Ms. Hernandez’s first experience with border agents.
    According to the lawsuit, the women were dancing at a bar last February when a plainclothes border patrol agent took a picture of them on his phone and sent it to other agents with the comment, “There are two Mexicans at the bar.”
    One of the agents receiving the text responded that the women were friends of his wife, the A.C.L.U. said.
    Ms. Hernandez and Ms. Suda were detained in the parking lot for about 40 minutes last May, the A.C.L.U. said. During their detention, several more agents, including Mr. O’Neal’s supervisor, arrived on the scene, according to the suit.
    Ms. Suda asked the supervisor, who was not identified by name in the lawsuit, if they would have been detained if they had been speaking French.
    “No,” he replied, according to the lawsuit. “We don’t do that.”
    In a statement, Ms. Suda said the experience had been humiliating and had led to her and Ms. Hernandez being shunned by other residents in Havre. Ms. Suda said her daughter was afraid to speak Spanish and now responds in English when her mother speaks to her in Spanish “because she is scared.”
    “This changed our lives, I believe, forever,” Ms. Suda said in the statement.

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    9) Jason Van Dyke, Ex-Officer Who Killed Teenager, Is Beaten by Inmates, Lawyers Say
    By Mitch Smith, February 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/us/jason-van-dyke-beaten-chicago.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_rr_20190215&nl=race-related&nl_art=4&nlid=26108213emc%3Dedit_rr_20190215&ref=headline&te=1
    Jason Van Dyke during his sentencing hearing in Chicago in January. He was beaten shortly after arriving at federal prison, according to his lawyers.CreditCreditPool photo by Antonio Perez

    CHICAGO — Fellow inmates battered Jason Van Dyke, the white former Chicago police officer convicted of murdering a black teenager, shortly after his arrival at a federal prison in Connecticut this month, Mr. Van Dyke’s lawyers and his wife said.
    Mr. Van Dyke, who was sentenced in January to nearly seven years in prison in the 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald, was transferred last week from an Illinois prison to the federal penitentiary in Danbury, Conn. Mr. Van Dyke’s lawyers said he suffered injuries to his face and was bruised, but was expected to recover.
    “We’re just asking that Jason Van Dyke be allowed to serve his time,” said Daniel Herbert, one of Mr. Van Dyke’s lawyers, at a news conference on Thursday. “He’s a tough man. He’ll go in there and serve his sentence and keep his mouth shut. But he needs to be protected, because he can’t protect himself in there.”
    Federal prison officials confirmed that there was “an assault resulting in minor injuries” on Feb. 7, but they did not answer questions about his lawyers’ account of the attack or the reasons for Mr. Van Dyke’s transfer to the Connecticut prison. Illinois prison officials confirmed that Mr. Van Dyke, who was convicted in state court, had been transferred out of state custody, but they declined to provide any other details.

    Mr. Van Dyke’s security has been a frequent concern of law enforcement authorities in the years since he was charged. While in state prison in Illinois, Mr. Van Dyke was held in isolation and had no problems with other inmates, his lawyers said. The attack in Connecticut came on the same day he was placed in the general population there, they said. The lawyers said he had since been relocated to a segregated housing unit where he stays in his cell for 23 hours a day.
    During and before his trial, Mr. Van Dyke would arrive at Chicago’s courthouse wearing a ballistic vest over his suit jacket. After his conviction last year, he was transferred out of Chicago to a jail in western Illinois to await sentencing. He and his family members have reported death threats, and his wife, Tiffany, told the judge that she feared her husband would not survive a prison stint.
    “My biggest fear is that somebody will kill my husband for something he did as a police officer,” Ms. Van Dyke said at last month’s sentencing hearing.
    Ms. Van Dyke, who said she had not had any contact with her husband since that hearing, cried on Thursday as she described learning about the attack in Connecticut.
    “The worst has happened,” Ms. Van Dyke said. “I am fearful for him every single day.”
    Tammy Wendt, another of Mr. Van Dyke’s lawyers, said she learned details of the prison attack this week from an anonymous person at the Connecticut facility. She and Ms. Van Dyke both described being frustrated with a lack of official information from prison authorities.

    “To put a police officer who has spent his entire career locking up bad guys in with these bad guys — it doesn’t take a genius to know that that’s obviously going to get him in trouble,” Ms. Wendt said.
    Mr. Van Dyke’s case upended the city like few others in recent history, and his name has become synonymous with the Chicago Police Department’s long-strained relationship with black residents.
    Dashboard camera video of Mr. Van Dyke shooting Laquan 16 times led to weeks of protests in 2015 and an overhaul of the Police Department. His trial riveted the city, and some celebrated in the streets after he was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. A few months later, when Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced him to less than seven years in prison, some of those same activists said they felt betrayed.
    The case could still be revisited. Just this week, the Illinois attorney general asked the State Supreme Court to review the legality of the prison sentence, which was far less than what prosecutors had requested. Mr. Van Dyke’s lawyers announced that they planned to appeal his conviction.

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    10) 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Cheers 'Beginning of Great Changes' as Climate Strike Goes Global
    By Andrea Germanos, February 15, 2019
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/02/15/16-year-old-greta-thunberg-cheers-beginning-great-changes-climate-strike-goes-global

    Students in Melbourne take part in a school strike for climate on November 30, 2018. (Photo: julian meehan/flickr/cc)


    The world may be edging toward "environmental breakdown"—but 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg sees signs for hope.

    Pointing to global walkouts planned for March 15, Thunberg—whose "school strikes for climate" helped galvanized similar actions worldwide—said, "I think what we are seeing is the beginning of great changes and that is very hopeful."

    "I think enough people have realized just how absurd the situation is," she told the Guardian. "We are in the middle of the biggest crisis in human history and basically nothing is being done to prevent it."

    In a sign of that realization, thousands of students from dozens of communities across the United Kingdom skipped class on Friday to join the ranks taking part in the weekly climate actions.

    In fact, it's "incredible" that the movement "has spread so far, so fast," she told"Good Morning Britain."

    Explaining the start of her own interest in the issue, she told the hosts, "Once you fully understand the meaning of the climate crisis, you can't un-understand it; then you have to do something about it."

    She acknowledged that such actions mean kids missing school time, but, she countered, "Why should we be studying for a future that soon may not exist anymore and when no one is doing anything to save that future?"

    Because "this is like slightly breaking the law... then it will have a huge impact [because] people will see it and think that this is important," she said.

    On Twitter, Thunberg also refuted British Prime Minister Theresa May's assertion that the children on school strikes are "wasting lesson time."

    "That may well be the case," she wrote Friday. "But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse."

    Stateside, some observers see hope for addressing the climate crisis in the recently introduced Green New Deal, and the U.S. actions set for next month are aimed at buoying that and other legislative tactics to reign in global warming.

    In a call-to-action, the teen organizers behind the U.S. youth climate strikes write, "We are at a turning point in history. Our futures are at stake. We call for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We are striking for the Green New Deal, a fair and just transition to decarbonize the U.S. economy, and other legislative action that combats the effects of climate change."

    "We stand in solidarity with Greta Thunberg and all youth strikers worldwide as we demand action on this issue," they wrote.

    "We are running out of time, and we won't be silent any longer," they continue. "We, the youth of America, are striking because our present and future on this planet are at stake. And we are determined to do something about it."

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    11) Students Skip School Across Europe to Demand Climate Action
    By Megan Specia, February 15, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/15/world/europe/student-climate-protest-europe.html

    Demonstrators gathered Friday in Brighton, southern England.CreditCreditDan Kitwood/Getty Images


    Thousands of students streamed out of schools across Europe on Friday, waving placards and carrying banners as they marched as part of a coordinated walkout to demand action on climate change.
    In London, students chanting, “Save our planet!” gathered in Parliament Square, where they brought traffic to a standstill. Others held signs that read, “Change the politics not the climate.”

    About 200 students gathered outside the Ministry of Ecology in Paris, saying they hoped to repeat the demonstration every week until their demands were heard. They urged the government to reduce France’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 4 percent per year.
    Activists on Friday near the Ministry for Ecology in Paris.CreditJacques Demarthon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Similar demonstrations have been steadily gaining momentum since emerging in Sweden last year. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist, has been cutting class weekly since September to stage sit-ins at the Swedish Parliament demanding government action to address climate change.

    Inspired by her, a movement known as Youth Strike 4 Climate was founded in Britain and has since grown rapidly, propelled by social media. Demonstrations have been held in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and elsewhere.

    Luisa Neubauer, 22, one of the organizers of marches in Berlin, which have gone on for weeks, called Friday’s demonstrations powerful. Children as young as 6 joined university students on the streets, she said.
    “It’s just during these strikes that I am convinced we can actually make a difference,” she said.
    A nursery-school girl dressed as a superhero for a march in Manchester, northwest England.CreditChristopher Furlong/Getty Images

    While some politicians have rallied in support of the students, others, including Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, have been skeptical.
    A spokesman for Mrs. May said: “Everybody wants young people to be engaged in the issues that affect them most so that we can build a brighter future for all of us. But it is important to emphasize that disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.”

    The prime minister’s reaction was criticized by some, including Ms. Thunberg, the Swedish teenager.
    “British PM says that the children on school strike are ‘wasting lesson time.’ That may well be the case,” Ms. Thunberg wrote on Twitter. “But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse.”

    Juliette Hirsch contributed reporting.

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    12) Why Did Police Officers Fire 42 Times to Bring Down a Robbery Suspect in Queens?
    By Michael Wilson, February 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/nyregion/nypd-detective-shot.html

    A bullet lays next to an evidence marker on the ground outside a T-Mobile store in Queens where police officers shooting at a robbery suspect accidentally killed a veteran detective.CreditCreditUli Seit for The New York Times


    A question that often arises after many police shootings, especially when officers fire multiple rounds, is why did they need to shoot so many times?
    That question came up after Tuesday evening’s police fusillade in Queens that claimed the life of a veteran detective and wounded a sergeant. Seven officers fired 42 rounds in 11 seconds. Their target was a 27-year-old man suspected of robbing a T-Mobile store, who was holding a pistol that turned out to be fake.

    Eight of the bullets knocked down the suspect, but the shooting also left Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, dead and Sgt. Matthew Gorman, 34, seriously wounded.
    On Tuesday, the police received a call about a masked man with a gun in the T-Mobile store at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 120th Street. The caller said the man was holding two employees hostage in a back room.

    Officers in at least half a dozen police cars quickly responded that they were en route. The first group to arrive included Detective Simonsen and Sergeant Gorman, both in civilian clothing, and two uniformed officers. The officers and Sergeant Gorman entered the store, and were met by the man, Christopher Ransom, 27, who advanced toward them from the back of the store with an authentic-looking imitation handgun.
    The officers and the sergeant retreated from the store. By then, several more officers had arrived and were in front of the store. The police said Mr. Ransom approached the store’s door and pointed his fake gun at the police, moving it as if he were firing.
    The police opened fire, shooting Mr. Ransom through the glass storefront. Detective Simonsen and Sergeant Gorman, who were not wearing body armor, were caught in crossfire, senior police officials said.
    The police are trained to fire their weapons until a threat has been eliminated, not one or two rounds at a time. In ideal circumstances, an officer can take cover and shoot in small bursts, reassessing the threat after every couple of rounds. But facing a lethal threat, an officer tends to empty his weapon, experts on firearms training say.
    In recordings of the officers’ panicked radio calls to a dispatcher on Tuesday, a thunderous barrage of gunfire can be heard in the background. It would have been practically impossible for each officer to stop and realize how many bullets had been fired during those 11 seconds.

    Also, it’s very unlikely that an officer in that type of situation would know how many other officers had previously fired their weapon. For example, the seventh officer to shoot in a sequence would not have likely known in what order they were shooting, the police have said after similar incidents.
    When the police opened fire on Tuesday, they riddled the glass front and side of the T-Mobile store with bullets — at least 16 holes were visible the following day.
    That scenario might have caused a phenomenon that an expert witness described as “blowback” at the 2008 criminal trial of three officers who shot and killed Sean Bell, an unarmed driver leaving his bachelor party in Queens in 2006.
    In that case, officers, believing the men in the car had a gun, fired 50 rounds at Mr. Bell and his two passengers as they attempted to flee in a car. At the trial in State Supreme Court in Queens, a crime scene analyst, Alexander Jason, said that bullets passing through Mr. Bell’s car windows might have caused glass to blow outward, making it appear to the officers that they were being shot at.
    All three officers who faced criminal charges — two others involved in the shooting were not charged — in the case were acquitted. But in 2010, New York City agreed to pay more than $7 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Mr. Bell’s family and two friends.
    Experienced police officers say the adrenaline that flows during a live gunfight can push an officer to fire more than he even realizes.
    One of the officers in the Sean Bell incident, Detective Michael Oliver, fired an eyebrow-raising 31 of 50 rounds, first emptying his pistol, which held 16 rounds, reloading it with a 15-round magazine and then emptying it again.

    Detective Oliver recalled the events of that night in his testimony before a grand jury in 2007:
    “I looked at my gun. I didn’t know if it had any bullets or something was wrong. I was standing right in front of him. I see him lifting his arms. I didn’t want to die. I reloaded the gun, and I continued to fire, and the shots still are going on around me. I don’t know where they are coming from, and all this is happening in a matter of a couple of seconds, which it seemed.”
    Another factor on Tuesday that investigators may examine is the phenomenon of “contagious shooting,” which theorizes that police officers fire because other officers are firing, with everyone believing the threat against them is growing.
    In 1995, officers responding to a robbery at a bodega in the Bronx fired 107 rounds. “They were shooting to the echo of their own gunfire,” a former police official said at the time.
    On Tuesday, Sergeant Gorman fired 11 rounds, the police said, and Detective Simonsen, two. Five other officers fired the remaining 29 rounds.
    An investigation into the Tuesday’s “friendly-fire” incident is being conducted by the Force Investigation Division, which investigates all police shootings. Investigators will have access to footage from five officers’ body cameras and surveillance video and interviews with witnesses. Police investigators do not generally interview the officers who have fired their weapons right away for legal reasons.
    Past shootings have led to revisions in police training, and time will tell whether that occurs in this instance. At a news conference on Wednesday, Chief Terence Monahan, the Police Department’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, spoke about the gap between training and real-life situations.
    “Every six months, when you go to the range, you get trained,” he said, referring to the police firearms range. “We talk about the tactics, we talk about incidents that have occurred over the course of the last six months. You want to avoid that crossfire situation. But understand — it’s great to train — everything happens in a second. You’re reacting within seconds and you’re in fear for your life. Your adrenaline is high.”

    Ali Winston contributed reporting.

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