Tuesday, August 27, 2019

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, TUESDAY, AUGUST 27, 2019



Death Penalty Focus Reception for Sr. Helen Prejean

Thursday, September 5, 2019, 6:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M.

Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 94925, USA 


Nancy Haydt, J.D.
Executive Director
Death Penalty Focus
415-243-0143 (office)
805-637-1061 (cell)



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680 Majority Latinx Workers in Mississippi Taken off their Jobs by ICE: An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
 

On August 7, the US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted raids on workers in 7 food processing plants in six Mississippi cities.

These workers came to the US to try to earn an honest living, because conditions in their home countries prevented them from living in peace, supporting their families and endangering them by military and social violence and climate changes.  US foreign policies in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa contribute to the conditions faced by the majority of these immigrant workers.

The families, communities and cities that depend on the incomes of these workers are being disrupted representing a form of ethnic cleansing consistent with the demands of white nationalism.

Although the ICE representatives claimed that this mass raid was not ordered by the Trump administration, it fits the racist and xenophobic lies that immigrants are taking U.S. jobs. These mass raids are part of Trump's white nationalist claim of bringing back U.S. jobs.

This raid is not only a violation of human rights that needs stronger language in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is also an attack on the working-class, aimed a fostering greater divisions and fears. It is part of the corporate strategy to create a climate of insecurity within the working-class to super-exploit immigrant and all Southern workers.

The US South has attracted large numbers of Latinx workers.  Along with African descendants and Indigenous people the combined amount of people of color in the South is about 40 percent of the population of 108 million. What capitalism does to its most oppressed and exploited sectors sets a direction for capitalism's plans for the entire working-class.

Organized labor and working-class communities in the South, nationally and internationally must show solidarity with these workers.  They must know that they are not isolated and are part of the workers struggle.

The Southern Workers Assembly calls on all member organizations, all workers in the labor movement and communities dependent on the working-class to take some solidarity action to express solidarity with these workers and our outrage at the actions of the federal government.

Please send feedback on what action you organizations can take based on your capacity. If taken in your organizations name, add member of Southern Workers Assembly to show the mobilization of our network.

There are no walls in the workers struggle!
An injury to one is an injury to all!

- Southern Workers Assembly, August 2019

Read more about this ICE raid attack on migrant workers at:


Pay Day: ICE Raids Miss. Plant After $3.75 Million Sexual Harassment Settlement


Reuters: U.S. immigration agents arrest 680 workers at Mississippi plants

Copyright © 2019 Southern Workers Assembly, All rights reserved.
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Southern Workers Assembly
PO Box 934
Rocky MountNC  27802

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

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Act Now to Save Mumia's Eyesight and to 

Demand His Release!


Tell them to approve Mumia's cataract surgery immediately!


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

Update



Prison officials turn away thousands of petitions for Mumia


Dozens of community activists traveled hundreds of miles from four states to Mechanicsburg, Penn., on July 24 to deliver petitions signed by 3,000 people from around the world, simply requesting the right to proper vision care for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. They expected at the very least that someone with authority in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections would step out to accept the petitions.

The PA DOC instead placed several burly Capitol District cops and a couple of DOC staff members outside the front doors to "greet" the community representatives.

The activists fighting for Abu-Jamal's freedom — representing a global movement for the freedom of all political prisoners — insisted on their right to speak to John Wetzel, head of the state prison authority or one of his near-equals, before handing over the signatures from thousands of Mumia supporters.

Agreement to meet

Outside the main doors of the state facility, the first of two non-uniformed men to speak to the activists was a Mr. Barnacle. When Pam Africa, representing the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, asked who he was, he pulled out a badge marked "staff," dated 2018. When told someone with real authority and current identification was needed, Barnacle eventually agreed to allow three participants to enter the building to deliver the petitions to a DOC official.

While the assembled activists waited to be joined by people in two additional vehicles from New York City, Megan Malachi, from REAL Justice, read the petition to the press titled "Act Now to Save Mumia's Eyesight and to Demand His Release." (tinyurl.com/y4s3ekpr)

Aminata Sandra Calhoun, from Mobilization4Mumia, followed with a statement from Mumia's medical proxy, Rev. Mark Taylor, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, serving presently as Mumia's "spiritual advisor." The statement read in part:

"So far, the prison officials are discouraging and making complicated the eye-doctor's ability to share with me the medical information that Mumia wants me to have. They have not scheduled his surgery. Every cooperative effort on these matters is being made by Mumia's family and friends; still there is too much stalling by prison officials.

"We insist that SCI-Mahanoy and the PA DOC honor every legal step that Mumia needs to be taken, so that he receives quality eye-care immediately. He must no longer be subject to medical neglect or to any withholding of full information about his medical condition.

"The abuse Mumia suffered in the past nearly killed him, and even when finally addressed left him with cirrhosis of the liver. There is time for PA officials to turn a new corner." (tinyurl.com/yxvmabkr)

Abu Jamal has a lot of trouble reading and doing other tasks that require good eyesight. His eyesight is seriously threatened by glaucoma, a vitreous detachment and cataracts in both eyes. These jeopardize his quality of life and wellbeing, as well as his journalistic profession.

The ophthalmologist whom Abu-Jamal was taken to see outside Mahanoy Prison recommends surgical procedures to remove the cataracts on both eyes.
But months of delays echo the years of delays Abu-Jamal experienced before the DOC was finally forced by a federal court to treat him with the cure for hepatitis C in 2018.

DOC reneges on agreement

When three designated activists — Dr. Suzanne Ross, Rev. Keith Collins and a videographer — later tried to enter the DOC state headquarters, they were met by another DOC staff member, Ken Smith, who claimed he was a Major in "Special Operations," but would not show any valid identification to that effect.

Smith then reneged on the earlier agreement and said he would take the petitions, but would not allow the representatives to enter the building and meet with a DOC official.

The activists were unbending in their demand that a valid DOC person of authority formally accept, "on the record," the inch-think bundle at a location inside the building.

Dr. Ross, designated as one of the petition delivery trio, told Smith: "The DOC has already failed from 2015 to 2017 to make available to Mumia the cure that was available for hep C at that time. The two-year delay left Mumia with cirrhosis of the liver [and other hep C-related damage]. Mumia supporters are determined to prevent the damage that could be caused by a comparable delay in treating his visual problems … . We've been here before and met with people. One time it was with the head of the press office. Send us the press officer."

Rev. Keith Collins, who visited Mumia on July 4 and was also appointed to deliver the petitions, said: "I'm a pastor, a decorated veteran, a paratrooper, also an ex-cop … . We just want to deliver these petitions … . Mumia told me he can see to get around but not to read and that's very important — for a journalist to read and to study … . So we're here … to get him access to the doctor … and to let him come home. He's served forty years for a crime he did not commit."

Despite arguing for over an hour, the activists could not get the DOC to relent. Because of the commotion and locked doors, when a FedEx worker tried to deliver a package, no one on the outside would sign for it, and he was told to come back another time.

Yet the DOC wanted petitions from 3,000 people to be handed over to undesignated staff, off the record, with no way of tracking the petitions, which could immediately be trashed.

Finally, Abu-Jamal's supporters marched away, but not before Pam Africa said: "We're leaving now, but it's not over. Wetzel, we're going to find out wherever you be at, cause there ain't no power like the power of the people." The group left chanting, with the petitions in Rev. Collins' hands, undelivered.

Legal struggle continues

The DOC's refusal to meet with community representatives comes less than a week after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court decision that Corrections Department employees could be sued for their decisions regarding the 65-year-old Mumia. Abu-Jamal asserts his initial denial of treatment with two antiviral drugs for hepatitis C violated his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. In an unprecedented January 2017 decision, Federal District Court Judge Robert Mariani used that argument to order the DOC to treat Abu-Jamal with direct-acting antiviral medications for his hep C infection.
Abu-Jamal's supporters argue that because deliberate delay resulted in Mumia's cirrhosis of the liver and because the current delay in cataract surgery may cause further deterioration in his overall health, he should immediately be released to seek treatment that the DOC refuses to make readily available to him.

Abu-Jamal is not alone in enduring these cruel and unusual assaults on his health. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of state prisoners age 55 or older increased 400 percent between 1993 and 2013. Across the nation elderly prisoners experience a torturous journey toward the end of their lives, suffering from life-threatening illnesses without adequate treatment or any "compassionate release." Abu-Jamal's appeals for his right to treatment and for his release could result in increased rights for the freedom of all prisoners experiencing cruel and unusual conditions.

Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence in the Pennsylvania prison system. The sentence, for the alleged 1981 murder of a Philadelphia policeman, came down in the context of a corruption-ridden and racist police department. That sentence has been declared unfair by human rights organizations and prison activists the world over.

Although Abu-Jamal has suffered a travesty of justice in the denial of his many appeals over the years, now both the Philadelphia District Attorney and the courts have recognized his right to have his appeals re-argued. This was determined by a momentous decision by Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker in December 2018. Abu-Jamal is currently waiting for his Post Conviction Relief Act appeals to be reheard before a new panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court judges.

While the PA DOC remains resistant to giving Abu-Jamal his full rights to timely health care, and while the political powers in Pennsylvania continue to vilify him, Abu-Jamal and his supporters remain strong and energized by his recent court victories.
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Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives.org


Mumia Abu-Jamal

Take Action:

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


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




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The Campaign To Bring Mumia Home

Brother Delbert Africa Needs Our Help

             
        

ONA MOVE
The MOVE Organization would like to bring to people's attention a very dangerous situation that is currently occurring with our Brother Delbert Africa. For the past two weeks Delbert has been suffering from severe swelling from the bottom of his waist all the way down to his toes. For the past two weeks prison officials at SCI Dallas have ignored Delbert's request for medical until this past week when several calls were made to his counselor. A medical visit was finally scheduled for this past Wednesday 7/31/2019 where it was explained to Delbert that he has a fluid build up which required to be drained. Delbert was immediately taken to an outside hospital; as of today 8/3/2019 we still do not know where Delbert is.
For several days now Delbert has been kept incommunicado from calling his MOVE Family, His Blood Daughter, and even his lawyer. Prison officials and also hospital officials will not give any one information pertaining to where Delbert is at.

Something very suspicious is happening here and it appears the same pattern that occurred with Phil Africa in 2015 where a simple stomach virus turned to a weeklong trip to the outside hospital held incommunicado from family and friends to return back to the prison and be placed in hospice care and to only die a day later. In 1998 Merle Africa who had a stomach virus was forced in her cell and told she was dying only to die a couple of hours later.
This system has no issue with murdering MOVE people and that's what they are trying to do with Delbert now. They have already given ground by letting innocent MOVE people out on parole and they do not want to do this with Delbert. As we said before, this system has always seen Delbert as the leader and isolated him and this latest tactic is no different. Delbert is set to go before the board this September after winning his appeal; now this happens.

As of now, we have heard that it has been stated based on the medical report given from Outside medical they are stating that Delbert has Anemia, High Potassium, High Psa's, Acute malignancy of lower intestines, Kidney Trouble, and Suspicion of prostate cancer. The only thing that Delbert has agreed to with any treatment or exams is the submission of a catheter to be used.

Delbert has requested a phone call to his MOVE Family, which neither the prison nor the hospital will allow. We are highly suspicious that this prison has done something to Delbert to bring on these symptoms so quickly. They could not kill Delbert August 8th after the brutal beating they gave him and now they want to finish the job before he can come home on parole.

These officials are so arrogant; this is the same way they murdered Phil Africa and Merle Africa .
As we have stated before, they have isolated our Brother so they can kill him. They won't let anyone speak to him. This is very dangerous!!!

We need people now to call
SCI Dallas Superintendent Kevin Ransom 570 675-1101
Geisenger Hospital 570 808-7300
We want people to demand that Delbert Orr Africa Am4895 be allowed to call his MOVE Family and let them know what's going on.

Even Though it's the weekend we are still asking people to call and Monday we are going full blast .
The MOVE Organization
People can reach
Sue Africa 215 387-4107
Carlos Africa 215 385-2772
Janine Africa 610 704 4524

          

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at the moment you begin to die. And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice" 

-Mumia Abu-Jamal
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50 years in prison: 
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!

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

NOW is the time for Chip to come home!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The California Board of Parole Hearings is holding Chip hostage.

We call on Governor Newsom to release Chip immediately.

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


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

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

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

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

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Lost In the System 

By Mahmud Khabir Al-Matin
The system in which I attempt to discuss today is a familiar place in the world. The name of this system varies from mouth to mouth in casual conversation, or heated debates. Some call it Gulags, others call it the Prison Industrial Complex, others the human warehouse.
I agree with all these names and more, including the numerous books that have surfaced in the last two decades about mass incarceration. This system as we know it holds 2.5 million people and some of them they refuse to let go regardless of rehabilitation, programming certifications, college, and ignorant youthful mistakes. I am one of those 2.5 million and counting.
On June 4, 2019 after having served 31 years of my life in which I've turned 18 in Union County Jail in Elizabeth, New Jersey, I was transferred to Rikers Island where I turned 19 and was sentenced to 25 years to life in 1991. I was finally granted parole after being denied four times. I convinced the Commissioners by the grace of Allah that I was no longer that easily influenced teenager.
I was no longer a threat to society. I was a college graduate twice. I was in school working on a degree at Ulster Community College through Hudson Link Prison Education Program funded by Mr. Warren Buffett and his sister Doris, and many other famous people—to name a few: Harry Belafonte, Ice-T and Coco his wife. (See HudsonLink.org website). I was a teacher's aide helping men whose reading level was below fifth-grade, as well as math. I was the Imam's clerk and taught Arabic. I had numerous letters from staff requesting my release. Some staff were retaliated against for such belief and reprimanded although New York DOCCS rules state that staff should write these reports. I am the author of an urban novel entitled Can't Stop the Grindand a book of poetry entitled From the Mind of the Incarcerated Slavethat has yet to be published. I gave speeches in the prison grassroots events regularly.
I had become a father and a husband. I had written articles about "the system," the comrade brother Rashid who was the codefendant of Assata Shakur and Abdul Majid (Anthony Laborde) who was placed in solitary confinement with me on two separate occasions. Once was in Wende Correctional Facility, and the last before his death and Elmira, for organizing and other false charges.  I had also written articles in the Bay View on the death of Hugo Pinell and how it was our obligation to adopt his daughter as our sister, daughter, and niece.
However, on June 4, 2019, the day when billions of Muslims are celebrating the end of Ramadan, I was waiting in the cell to go home. My family and I had been told there were no warrants or detainers, no reason for my further incarceration. My brothers had catered a beautiful meal for the evening for me, daughters and sons-in-law to partake, after the evening prayer. I was dressed in full Islamic attire—full-length prayer robe and Kufi. Instead of my release, I was told that my backpack that I was to pick up from Hudson with a laptop computer and suits of clothing as part of the coming home package, and pages of trial transcripts and books would have to stay. I was taken into custody by Union County sheriffs and my family was told to leave the parking lot. I was not coming out. My daughter Aminati and my wife who is a strong prison advocate on Prison Radio's "Voices Beyond the Wall" on WKBR 91.3 Radiowas crushed. My wife has not gotten back on the radio because she can't speak without breaking down.
I was placed in a filthy bullpen with walls smeared with all types of disgusting looking substances while foot-shackled and waist-cuffed. I was told I would not be allowed to wear a black Kufi and my attire was confiscated as I was given a tan uniform. I was given one phone call to let everyone know what happened. I had not seen any judge and within 48 hours I was zoomed off at 5:00 A.M. to Trenton State Prison, which sent me to Central Reception Assignment Facility (CRAF) butt naked in a jumpsuit and flip-flops. I was issued #550844, and old number and simply told I would see Classification. This is 31 years later. My family was not allowed to speak to me for a week. Upon seeing Classification I was told owed time—16 years with a five-year stipulation. The Classification Committee removed six years from the back of the sentence and gave me an early parole date of November 2023 plus 202 to jail credit days. This was my punishment for getting a reversal in 1994 and being re-sentenced, which in the original judgment of conviction showed there was a 256 Gap time days plus 202 jail credit and another eight months missing.
The judge has since died and on a motion has been filed to amend the judgment of conviction to reflect 1014 days are owed to me on the front of the sentence and 1059 on the back which under State v. HernandezState v. Beatty and State v. Rippy, I am entitled to every day. This time would put me at an immediate Parole Board to be released, or at least a halfway house, which, under New Jersey law, for which anyone who is 36 months short of the earliest release is eligible. I am in need in legal representation. I have been given a Public Defender and assigned Judge Deitch in Union County who is reviewing the pro se motion.
Today I need people to contact Judge Deitch at 908-787-1650 extension #21250 or in a written letter of support that such a motion be granted for an Amended Judgment under indictment # 88-12-2105. The address to write to the Judge Deitch is: County Courthouse, 2 Broad St., Elizabeth, NJ 07201. Otherwise I will continue to be lost in the system. Your help in my liberation as a changed, conscious man is imperative. No prison do I wish to be lost in, although I remain strong under such tormenting conditions. Please feel free to write.
Write to:
Mahmud Khabir Al-Matin
#550844 (3 Wing IT 152 Top)
East Jersey State Prison
Lock Bag 'R'
Rahway, NJ 07065


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Support Chuck Africa for Parole

Michael Africa Jr. started this petition to Pennsylvania Governor


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

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On Abortion: From Facebook

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

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


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

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

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

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

Email Gov. Cuomo with this form

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


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

Decarcerate Louisiana

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



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

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

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


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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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Don't extradite Assange!

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

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Words of Wisdom

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

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

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

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Get Malik Out of Ad-Seg


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

In May and June 2016, Emanuel Claitt gave sworn statements that his testimony was a total lie, and that the homicide cops and the prosecutors told him what to say and coached him before trial. Not only was he coerced to lie that Major Tillery was a shooter, but to lie and claim there were no plea deals made in exchange for his testimony. He provided the information about the specific homicide detectives and prosecutors involved in manufacturing his testimony and details about being allowed "sex for lies". In August 2016, Claitt reaffirmed his sworn statements in a videotape, posted on YouTube and on JusticeforMajorTillery.org.

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

Major Tillery Needs Your Help:


Major Tillery and family

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

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

    Write to:
    Security Processing Center
    Major Tillery AM 9786
    268 Bricker Road
    Bellefonte, PA 16823
    For More Information, Go To: JusticeForMajorTillery.org
    Call/Write:
    Kamilah Iddeen (717) 379-9009, Kamilah29@yahoo.com
    Rachel Wolkenstein (917) 689-4009, RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com




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    ILPDC NEWSLETTER BANNER
      

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

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

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


    Free Leonard Peltier!


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

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

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    1) Seattle Has Figured Out How to End the War on Drugs
    By Nicholas Kristof, August 23, 2019
    "The number of opioid users has surged, and more Americans now die each year from overdoses than perished in the Vietnam, Afghan and Iraq wars combined."
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/opinion/sunday/opioid-crisis-drug-seattle.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    Mikel Kowalcyk, a former drug user who now works for a program that serves as an alternative to courts and jail, looks for addicts from inside a Washington State Corrections Department Community Response Unit van.CreditCreditRuth Fremson/The New York Times


    SEATTLE — On gritty streets where heroin, fentanyl and meth stride like Death Eaters, where for decades both drugs and the war on drugs have wrecked lives, the city of Seattle is pioneering a bold approach to narcotics that should be a model for America.
    Anyone caught here with a small amount of drugs — even heroin — isn't typically prosecuted. Instead, that person is steered toward social services to get help.
    This model is becoming the consensus preference among public health experts in the U.S. and abroad. Still, it shocks many Americans to see no criminal penalty for using drugs illegally, so it takes courage and vision to adopt this approach: a partial retreat in the war on drugs coupled with a stepped-up campaign against addiction.

    The war on drugs has been one of America's most grievous mistakes, resulting in as many citizens with arrest records as with college diplomas. At last count, an American was arrested for drug possession every 25 seconds, yet the mass incarceration this leads to has not turned the tide on narcotics.

    The number of opioid users has surged, and more Americans now die each year from overdoses than perished in the Vietnam, Afghan and Iraq wars combined. And that doesn't account for the way drug addiction has ripped apart families and stunted children's futures. More than two million children in America live with a parent suffering from an illicit-drug dependency.

    So Seattle is undertaking what feels like the beginning of a historic course correction, with other cities discussing how to follow. This could be far more consequential than the legalization of pot: By some estimates, nearly half of Americans have a family member or close friend enmeshed in addiction, and if the experiment in Seattle succeeds, we'll have a chance to rescue America from our own failed policies.
    In effect, Seattle is decriminalizing the use of hard drugs. It is relying less on the criminal justice toolbox to deal with hard drugs and more on the public health toolbox. 
    Decriminalization is unfolding here in part because of Dan Satterberg, the prosecuting attorney for King County, which includes Seattle. It's also arguably underway because of what happened to his little sister, Shelley Kay Satterberg.

    At the age of 14, Shelley ran away from home because her parents wouldn't let her go to a concert on a school night. It was a rebellion that proved devastating. She was away for several months, was gang-raped by two men, was introduced to hard drugs and began to self-medicate with those drugs to deal with the trauma of rape.

    As Dan Satterberg rose through the ranks of prosecutors, Shelley Satterberg wrestled with addiction. She was never arrested or jailed (middle-class drug users often avoid police attention, which focuses on marginalized people who use or sell in public).
    Dan told me that he was angry at Shelley — angry that she had made terrible choices, angry that she had hurt their parents. But over time he also concluded that his own approach of prosecuting drug users accomplished little, except that it isolated them from the family and friends who offered the best support system to escape addiction.
    In 2015, Dan took Shelley to Navos, a nonprofit that provides mental health and addiction services, and she was able to stop using street drugs and gradually put her life back in order. Dan saw that treatment made a huge difference in Shelley's life and became a believer.
    Yet it wasn't enough. Shelley died of a urinary tract infection last year at age 51, a consequence of previous drug and alcohol abuse.
    "It gave me some insight about what works better than jail," Dan Satterberg told me. "What Shelley needed was not a jail cell and not a judge wagging a finger at her, but she needed some support."

    Seattle's first crucial step came in 2011 when Satterberg and others started a program called LEAD, short for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. The idea is that instead of simply arresting drug users for narcotics or prostitution, police officers watch for those who are nonviolent and want help, and divert them to social service programs and intensive case management.

    Almost immediately, this was a huge success. A 2017 peer-reviewed study found that drug users assigned to LEAD were 58 percentless likely to be rearrested, compared with a control group. Participants were also almost twice as likely to have housing and 46 percent more likely to be employed or getting job training than they had been before entering LEAD.
    LEAD isn't cheap — it costs about $350 per month per participant to provide case managers. But it is cheaper than jail, courts and costs associated with homelessness. As a result, this approach has spread rapidly around the country, with 59 localities now offering LEAD initiatives or rolling them out.
    Chian Jennings, 45, who had struggled with drugs for years, living in the streets and financing her habit by selling sex and by stealing, was smoking crack when a policeman stopped her.

    "It was probably the best thing that happened to me," Jennings told me. "It saved my life." Instead of locking her up, the police officer handed her over to social workers at LEAD.

    Through LEAD, Jennings got medical care, clothing and housing. She also gained confidence in herself, people who cared for her and the idea that life could get better. "They're some of the most caring people I've ever met," she said of the counselors. "Whether you come in high or not, they always treat you with respect." Now, she said, "I work to make them proud of me."
    Jennings remains a work in progress. She says she still sometimes uses cocaine, but less over time, and she adds that she's no longer stealing. If she had been held in jail, she said, "it would have pissed me off, and I would have gotten high when I got out. I'd still be homeless, stealing for food and drug money."
    Prison, she says, just makes people more miserable and more dependent on drugs when they are released. "This bit about 'I learned my lesson' — no, it doesn't work that way," she said. "People are hurting inside. That's why they're using in the first place."
    The war on drugs began in 1971 out of a legitimate alarm about narcotics both in the United States and among U.S. troops in Vietnam. But the "war" approach locked up enormous numbers of people and devastated the family structure. Drug laws discriminated against African-Americans (possession of crack cocaine, disproportionately used by blacks, drew far harsher sentences than possession of the same quantity of powdered cocaine, more likely to be used by whites).
    Yet locking up endless waves of users has had little deterrent effect, and overdose deaths have surged. The White House has estimated that the economic cost of the opioid crisis in the United States exceeds $500 billion a year, equivalent to about $4,000 per household. And that doesn't even include cocaine, meth and other drug use.
    While the U.S. doubled down on the criminal justice approach to drugs, Portugal took the opposite avenue, decriminalizing possession of all drugs in 2001. It was a gamble, but it succeeded. As I've reported, Portugal's overdose deaths plunged. The upshot is that drug mortality rates in the United States are now about 50 times higher than in Portugal.

    Increasingly there is global recognition that drugs are better addressed as a health challenge than as a law enforcement issue. "To criminalize people who use drugs is ineffective and harmful," argues the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a panel of former presidents and other prominent figures from around the world who have explored these issues.

    It would be difficult to think of a policy that has failed more definitively than America's war on drugs, sending even small-time users to prison for years. This policy has cost the economy trillions, ruined tens of millions of lives, ruptured the family structure, exacerbated racial inequities — yet we still have a fatal overdose every seven minutes in the United States.
    "Legislative and law enforcement solutions to drug problems in the U.S. have consistently caused more harm than they have solved," noted Alex Kral, an epidemiologist with RTI International, a think tank. Countless studies have shown, he said, that public health approaches work better.
    That's the context in which Seattle took another crucial step in September: Satterberg announced then that he would no longer prosecute cases involving possession of less than one gram of drugs, even cocaine and heroin (one gram is more than a simple user would normally have at any one time). In practice, that means that dealers still get arrested, but not ordinary users.
    "Seattle is leading on this," said Daliah Heller of Vital Strategies, a New York group that examines how to reduce overdose deaths. "It's extremely significant." 
    But don't expect miracles. Overcoming addiction is a slog, and no approach has eradicated drug abuse. Maybe that shouldn't surprise us. We've been wrestling with alcoholism for thousands of years, and we still haven't solved that, either. Even now, more Americans die each year from alcohol (88,000) than from drug overdoses (68,000).
    It's too early to have reliable data from the decriminalization experiment, but outside the courthouse in downtown Seattle where Satterberg has his offices, drug users continue to be homeless and feed their habits. At the same time, some police officers feel undermined and robbed of authority.

    "You've got a guy shooting heroin on the street, and the cop is supposed to say, 'You O.K.?'" grumbled one law enforcement officer in Seattle. (In fact, an officer would typically confiscate the heroin, admonish the user and move on.) Some residents worry that when the city ignores its own laws on the books and tolerates people openly abusing narcotics, it takes a step toward incivility that will eventually result in chaos and crime. There's also a legitimate argument that the threat of prison is sometimes necessary to motivate users to participate in treatment programs.

    Businesses are resentful of homeless drug users discarding needles on sidewalks and using bushes as toilets. A television documentary released this spring, "Seattle Is Dying," captured the frustration of residents; some would prefer to see the police cart drug users off to jail to get them out of the way.
    "It isn't as easy as I thought to create a sensible drug policy," Satterberg admitted to me. But he remains confident that his path, if not easy, will work better than simply throwing people in jail.
    As I see it, the problem is that while Seattle has done an outstanding job halting the war on drugs, it hasn't done well in financing the war on addiction. It closed the law enforcement toolbox without fully opening the public health toolbox.
    Local officials found that in a world of competing budget silos, money saved from jails can't easily be reallocated to treatment. This is so even though researchers repeatedly find that drug treatment pays for itself by saving huge amounts of taxpayer money, not to mention lives. One study found that substance abuse treatment in California paid for itself seven times over in reduced crime and other savings.
    We need a greater focus on services — mental health, housing, counseling, medication-assisted treatment and more. It should be a scandal that less than 20 percent of Americans with substance abuse disorders get treatment.

    We should also try other evidence-based public health interventions to reduce the drug epidemic. Let's have safe injection sites, so that an overdose won't turn fatal, as well as testing for fentanyl, so that users can understand what's in the drugs they buy. Let's distribute naloxone widely, as Baltimore has done, to counteract opioid overdoses. 
    We might also experiment (as Canada has) with providing safe heroin to longtime users who can't break their addictions, for use under medical supervision. It's impossible to help people defeat addictions if they're dead.
    Local jurisdictions like Seattle are leading partly because the federal government isn't. President Trump has boasted that his administration is making "tremendous progress" against opioids,but after more than two years, he still hasn't even gotten around to appointing an administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
    As a country, we also must tackle root causes, which means ensuring that every kid graduates from high school and that job training and apprenticeships usher disadvantaged young people into decent jobs. The most important kind of drug policy is preventive: It's about providing a future that isn't so depressing that people numb themselves with opioids or meth.

    Perhaps I sound too bleak. Nothing is easy, but Johnny Bousquet is a living example of how a patient public health approach can save lives and leave everyone better off.
    Bousquet, 42, was born with drugs in his system into a dysfunctional household. His mom, who had been raped by her father and her brother, self-medicated with heroin, and Johnny himself began selling crack at 13 to buy money for food. At 19 he found his mom dead of a heroin overdose. Soon afterward, his stepbrother who was also his best friend was murdered while trying to rescue his sister from being pimped by a gang; then the sister died of an overdose.

    In short, Bousquet experienced more trauma by young adulthood than an entire suburb of more privileged children. Yet he's a talented musician and made a good living for a time producing records and corporate jingles, while marrying and having two children. Then life took a rough turn, his wife left him and took the children, he self-medicated, and he ended up homeless on the streets and stealing and selling drugs to get by.
    In 2014 he sold $40 worth of crack to an undercover police officer and was referred to LEAD and a young counselor, Mikel Kowalcyk, who herself had a long history of abusing drugs. Kowalcyk had overcome her addiction and gone to college, and she and Bousquet quickly formed a symbiotic relationship.

    "Part of what keeps me clean is Johnny, and people like Johnny," Kowalcyk told me. "Because they let me give back."
    Bousquet repeatedly relapsed, but Kowalcyk never gave up on him, and he gradually stayed sober for longer periods. Now he has been drug-free since Feb. 14, 2018, and he has a home and a job. If it hadn't been for LEAD, he figures he would be dead of an overdose, would have killed himself or might have killed someone else.
    Now, he says, he goes to a 7-Eleven that he used to shoplift from — and he buys from the cashier. "I'm nothing special," he told me, "but it's a big deal compared to being homeless last year and sleeping outside with needles in my arm."
    Day by day, Bousquet is making progress, a reminder that treating drug users as humans with an illness is a more effective strategy than the almost 50-year policy of imprisoning them as "junkies."
    "I just paid my rent again yesterday," he said, beaming. "I'm not in your car stealing your stereo. I'm paying damn taxes now."
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    2) Slavery gave America a fear of black people and a taste for violent punishment. Both still define our criminal-justice system.
    By Byran Stevenson, August 14, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/prison-industrial-complex-slavery-racism.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    Spencer Lowell/Trunk Archive

    Several years ago, my law office was fighting for the release of a black man who had been condemned, at the age of 16, to die in prison. Matthew was one of 62 Louisiana children sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for nonhomicide offenses. But a case I'd argued at the Supreme Court was part of a 2010 ruling that banned such sentences for juveniles, making our clients eligible for release.
    Some had been in prison for nearly 50 years. Almost all had been sent to Angola, a penitentiary considered one of America's most violent and abusive. Angola is immense, larger than Manhattan, covering land once occupied by slave plantations. Our clients there worked in fields under the supervision of horse-riding, shotgun-toting guards who forced them to pick crops, including cotton. Their disciplinary records show that if they refused to pick cotton — or failed to pick it fast enough — they could be punished with time in "the hole," where food was restricted and inmates were sometimes tear-gassed. Still, some black prisoners, including Matthew, considered the despair of the hole preferable to the unbearable degradation of being forced to pick cotton on a plantation at the end of the 20th century. I was fearful that such clients would be denied parole based on their disciplinary records. Some were.
    The United States has the highest rate of incarceration of any nation on Earth: We represent 4 percent of the planet's population but 22 percent of its imprisoned. In the early 1970s, our prisons held fewer than 300,000 people; since then, that number has grown to more than 2.2 million, with 4.5 million more on probation or parole. Because of mandatory sentencing and "three strikes" laws, I've found myself representing clients sentenced to life without parole for stealing a bicycle or for simple possession of marijuana. And central to understanding this practice of mass incarceration and excessive punishment is the legacy of slavery.
    It took only a few decades after the arrival of enslaved Africans in Virginia before white settlers demanded a new world defined by racial caste. The 1664 General Assembly of Maryland decreed that all Negroes within the province "shall serve durante vita," hard labor for life. This enslavement would be sustained by the threat of brutal punishment. By 1729, Maryland law authorized punishments of enslaved people including "to have the right hand cut off ... the head severed from the body, the body divided into four quarters, and head and quarters set up in the most public places of the county."
    Soon American slavery matured into a perverse regime that denied the humanity of black people while still criminalizing their actions. As the Supreme Court of Alabama explained in 1861, enslaved black people were "capable of committing crimes," and in that capacity were "regarded as persons" — but in most every other sense they were "incapable of performing civil acts" and considered "things, not persons."
    [To get updates on The 1619 Project, and for more on race from The New York Times, sign up for our weekly Race/Related newsletter.]
    The 13th Amendment is credited with ending slavery, but it stopped short of that: It made an exception for those convicted of crimes. After emancipation, black people, once seen as less than fully human "slaves," were seen as less than fully human "criminals." The provisional governor of South Carolina declared in 1865 that they had to be "restrained from theft, idleness, vagrancy and crime." Laws governing slavery were replaced with Black Codes governing free black people — making the criminal-justice system central to new strategies of racial control.
    These strategies intensified whenever black people asserted their independence or achieved any measure of success. During Reconstruction, the emergence of black elected officials and entrepreneurs was countered by convict leasing, a scheme in which white policymakers invented offenses used to target black people: vagrancy, loitering, being a group of black people out after dark, seeking employment without a note from a former enslaver. The imprisoned were then "leased" to businesses and farms, where they labored under brutal conditions. An 1887 report in Mississippi found that six months after 204 prisoners were leased to a white man named McDonald, dozens were dead or dying, the prison hospital filled with men whose bodies bore "marks of the most inhuman and brutal treatment ... so poor and emaciated that their bones almost come through the skin."
    Anything that challenged the racial hierarchy could be seen as a crime, punished either by the law or by the lynchings that stretched from Mississippi to Minnesota. In 1916, Anthony Crawford was lynched in South Carolina for being successful enough to refuse a low price for his cotton. In 1933, Elizabeth Lawrence was lynched near Birmingham for daring to chastise white children who were throwing rocks at her.
    It's not just that this history fostered a view of black people as presumptively criminal. It also cultivated a tolerance for employing any level of brutality in response. In 1904, in Mississippi, a black man was accused of shooting a white landowner who had attacked him. A white mob captured him and the woman with him, cut off their ears and fingers, drilled corkscrews into their flesh and then burned them alive — while hundreds of white spectators enjoyed deviled eggs and lemonade. The landowner's brother, Woods Eastland, presided over the violence; he was later elected district attorney of Scott County, Miss., a position that allowed his son James Eastland, an avowed white supremacist, to serve six terms as a United States senator, becoming president pro tempore from 1972 to 1978.
    This appetite for harsh punishment has echoed across the decades. Late in the 20th century, amid protests over civil rights and inequality, a new politics of fear and anger would emerge. Nixon's war on drugs, mandatory minimum sentences, three-strikes laws, children tried as adults, "broken windows" policing — these policies were not as expressly racialized as the Black Codes, but their implementation has been essentially the same. It is black and brown people who are disproportionately targeted, stopped, suspected, incarcerated and shot by the police.
    Hundreds of years after the arrival of enslaved Africans, a presumption of danger and criminality still follows black people everywhere. New language has emerged for the noncrimes that have replaced the Black Codes: driving while black, sleeping while black, sitting in a coffee shop while black. All reflect incidents in which African-Americans were mistreated, assaulted or arrested for conduct that would be ignored if they were white. In schools, black kids are suspended and expelled at rates that vastly exceed the punishment of white children for the same behavior.
    Inside courtrooms, the problem gets worse. Racial disparities in sentencing are found in almost every crime category. Children as young as 13, almost all black, are sentenced to life imprisonment for nonhomicide offenses. Black defendants are 22 times more likely to receive the death penalty for crimes whose victims are white, rather than black — a type of bias the Supreme Court has declared "inevitable."
    The smog created by our history of racial injustice is suffocating and toxic. We are too practiced in ignoring the victimization of any black people tagged as criminal; like Woods Eastland's crowd, too many Americans are willing spectators to horrifying acts, as long as we're assured they're in the interest of maintaining order.
    This cannot be the end of the story. In 2018, the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit I direct, opened a museum in Montgomery, Ala., dedicated to the legacy of slavery and a memorial honoring thousands of black lynching victims. We must acknowledge the 400 years of injustice that haunt us. I'm encouraged: Half a million people have visited. But I'm also worried, because we are at one of those critical moments in American history when we will either double down on romanticizing our past or accept that there is something better waiting for us.
    I recently went to New Orleans to celebrate the release of several of our Angola clients, including Matthew — men who survived the fields and the hole. I realized how important it is to stay hopeful: Hopelessness is the enemy of justice. There were moments of joy that night. But there was also heaviness; we all seemed keenly aware that we were not truly free from the burden of living in a nation that continues to deny and doubt this legacy, and how much work remains to be done.
    Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and the author of "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption."

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    3) In Hong Kong Protests, Tear Gas and Violence End a Period of Calm
    By Raymond Zhong and Steven Lee Myers, August 24, 2019
    "We don't want to be monitored; we want human rights," said Calvin Wong, a 24-year-old demonstrator. "Maybe people in the mainland accept this, but people in Hong Kong will not."...Chinese state-run news outlets criticized Hong Kong's rail operatorthis past week for sending trains to take protesters home after a standoff with the police at a subway station late Wednesday.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/world/asia/hong-kong-protests.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    The police in Hong Kong said that protesters had started fires and hurled bricks at officers on Saturday. The authorities said that the use of force had been required to disperse the crowd.CreditCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times


    HONG KONG — Violence returned to the streets of Hong Kong on Saturday, as the police fired tear gas and protesters threw stones and gasoline bombs, signaling the end of a period of relative calm in the city.
    The clashes in the district of Kwun Tong, in eastern Kowloon, were a marked departure from the peaceful, if sometimes tense, gatherings that had taken place over much of the last two weeks.

    Just a day earlier, antigovernment demonstrators had held hands across Hong Kong, forming human chains to demand greater democracy in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.

    The police had granted authorization for the march in Kwun Tong.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

    Before officers wielding batons charged at a crowd Saturday afternoon in Kwun Tong, protesters had used bamboo rods and other objects to put up barricades outside a police station. Some protesters had pulled down and dismantled lampposts that they said contained high-tech surveillance equipment.

    "We don't want to be monitored; we want human rights," said Calvin Wong, a 24-year-old demonstrator. "Maybe people in the mainland accept this, but people in Hong Kong will not."
    In a statement, the police said that protesters had started fires and hurled bricks at officers, and that the use of force had been required to scatter the crowd.

    Officers also fired tear gas in the Wong Tai Sin area Saturday evening; the police said the action was a response to protesters obstructing roads and aiming laser pointers at officers.

    The demonstrations in Hong Kong began in June over an unpopular bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. The proposal has since been shelved, but protesters are calling for it to be fully withdrawn. The movement's demands have expanded to include other issues, such as amnesty for arrested protesters and an investigation into police violence.
    Last weekend was the first in many weeks in which the demonstrations did not involve tear gas or clashes between protesters and the police. Organizers estimated that at least 1.7 million people marched peacefully through the city center under heavy rain last Sunday. The enormous turnout prompted Hong Kong's top leader, Carrie Lam, to say that she intended to start listening more to the community.

    On Saturday, as demonstrators assembled in Kwun Tong, Mrs. Lam wrote on Facebook that the calm had made it an opportune moment for dialogue.
    "I don't expect that dialogue will be able to easily untangle this knot, stop the demonstrations or provide a solution to the problem," she wrote. "But continuing to fight is not a way out."
    Less than two hours after Mrs. Lam's post appeared, the police were firing tear gas in Kwun Tong.
    In the afternoon, a group of protesters squared off with officers on the wide main road outside the police station. A smaller group of demonstrators retreated into an open-air shopping center after helmeted officers approached from several sides.

    There, the protesters hurled debris and other objects, including a bottle that landed among a crowd of police officers and journalists. The bottle burst into flames upon impact, and the officers responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas in the partly covered area.
    Afterward, protesters continued throwing debris and pulled up metal drain covers to create barricades, but they dispersed after the police began moving toward them.
    The authorities had granted authorization for a march in Kwun Tong on Saturday, the 12th straight weekend of demonstrations. But at midday, Hong Kong's subway operator halted train service along a stretch near the protest route, forcing those who wanted to join the rally to walk from more distant stations.

    The subway operator said the move had been intended to ensure the safety of passengers and employees, but supporters of the protest movement called it a concession to pressure from Beijing.
    Chinese state-run news outlets criticized Hong Kong's rail operatorthis past week for sending trains to take protesters home after a standoff with the police at a subway station late Wednesday.
    That night, after a rally at the train station in the satellite town of Yuen Long, a large crowd of demonstrators barricaded themselves inside the station as officers with riot gear approached. The protesters heckled the officers and shined laser pointers at them, and the scene grew tense.

    But after an hour or so, station employees began announcing that trains were coming to take demonstrators back to the city. The protesters started moving away from the barricades and boarding the trains. There was no violence.
    On Thursday, however, state news media in mainland China accused Hong Kong's subway operator of "working hand in glove with rioters."
    "Once violence is indulged, then public safety is no longer being taken seriously," read an article in People's Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper.

    The high-tech lampposts that protesters targeted on Saturday had been installed as part of a government program to collect more real-time data throughout the city over the next three years. In a discussion paper published this month, the government said that 50 lampposts had been put on the streets so far, including 10 in Kwun Tong's town center.
    Hong Kong officials had said over the past week that the lampposts did not have facial recognition capabilities, and that they did not store personal data.

    Francis Fong, a member of a committee advising the Hong Kong government on the project, said that the lampposts automatically pixelated faces and license plates in the still images they took.
    Still, Mr. Fong said, "the biggest issue is the lack of trust between the government and Hong Kong people."

    Ezra Cheung and Austin Ramzy contributed reporting.

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    4) 'Stand Your Ground' Trial in Florida Ends With Manslaughter Verdict
    Michael Drejka said he had feared for his life when he killed Markeis McGlockton in an argument over a parking spot.
    By Adeel Hassan, August 24, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/us/michael-drejka-stand-your-ground.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage

    Michael McGlockton, with a photo of his son, Markeis McGlockton.CreditTamara Lush/Associated Press


    In a test of the self-defense law known as "Stand Your Ground," a Florida jury on Friday night found Michael Drejka guilty of manslaughter for killing Markeis McGlockton after an argument over a parking spot escalated outside a convenience store in Clearwater, Fla., last summer. 
    After the death of Mr. McGlockton, who was black and unarmed, officials did not arrest Mr. Drejka, who is white, for three weeks, citing the state's self-defense laws.
    The citing of the law, as well as the races of the men, reminded many of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in Sanford, Fla., in 2012. 

    Prosecutors in Pinellas County, Fla., eventually charged Mr. Drejkawith one count of manslaughter. He did not testify in the trial, according to The Associated Press, and the six-person jury deliberated for about six hours on Friday.

    The maximum sentence Mr. Drejka could face is 30 years in prison. He had been free on bond since September 2018, but a judge remanded him to jail after the verdict, according to court records.
    On July 19, 2018, Mr. McGlockton, 28, was in the convenience store with his 5-year-old son while his girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, and two small children were sitting in a car parked in a handicapped space. Mr. Drejka, 49, approached the car and started arguing with Ms. Jacobs about parking in the space without a handicap permit, according to the sheriff. 
    In grainy surveillance footage of the scene, Mr. McGlockton leaves the store, approaches Mr. Drejka and shoves him to the ground. Mr. McGlockton then appears to take a few steps back from Mr. Drejka, who pulls out a gun while sitting on the pavement and shoots Mr. McGlockton once in the chest. 
    Mr. McGlockton was seen stumbling back into the store, clutching his wound. He collapsed next to his son and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
    Originally passed in 2005, the law allows people to use deadly force without first trying to retreat from a dangerous situation if they "reasonably believe" that their lives are threatened. The law received support from the National Rifle Association but was vigorously opposed by law enforcement officers.

    A majority of states have adopted laws that are similar to Florida's, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Violence.

    In 2017, the Florida Legislature strengthened the law, shifting the burden of proof to prosecutors: Defendants are no longer required to offer evidence, typically by taking the stand, to prove their claim to Stand Your Ground. 
    After Mr. Martin was killed, the police invoked the Stand Your Ground law when they initially declined to arrest George Zimmerman, who had fired the weapon. Mr. Zimmerman argued that he acted in self-defense but did not offer a Stand Your Ground case. He was acquitted when a jury found he was justified in pulling the trigger.
    Critics of the law say it is a shoot-first law that inflames already violent confrontations, and the Trayvon Martin case brought renewed scrutiny to racial profiling.
    "You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son," President Barack Obama said at the time. "Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."

    The six jurors had to decide whether Mr. Drejka feared being killed and justifiably shot Mr. McGlockton after he knocked him to the pavement. In the video, which was shown at the trial, it is clear Mr. McGlockton was stepping away from the confrontation. But Mr. Drejka has told the authorities he was fearful that he was going to be struck again.
    Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.

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    5) Police Photoshopped His Mug Shot for a Lineup. He's Not the Only One
    By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, August 24, 2019
    When witness descriptions made no mention of a suspect's facial tattoos, the police airbrushed them away for an identification lineup. The practice goes beyond one case.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/us/police-photoshop-tattoos.html
    Tyrone Allen's facial tattoos were removed in a photograph shown to four bank tellers in a robbery case.

    When the police arrested a suspect in a series of bank holdups in Portland, Ore., they took his mug shot and prepared to show it to witnesses in a photo array alongside images of five similar-looking men.
    But there was a problem: The suspect had at least a half-dozen facial tattoos, but according to surveillance video and bank tellers, the robber had none.
    This was nothing a little Photoshop could not fix.
    The police used editing software to remove the tattoos from the picture of the suspect, Tyrone Allen, and presented his revised face to four tellers, at least two of whom identified him as the bank robber. Prosecutors in Portland said Mr. Allen may have applied makeup before the robberies and that investigators simply mimicked the possible disguise.
    Mr. Allen's lawyer is asking a judge to throw the identifications out, The Oregonian reported this month, publicizing a practice that has drawn outrage from activists who say the police unfairly changed Mr. Allen's appearance to match witness accounts.

    Court records and interviews with police departments across the country show this was not an isolated episode of officers airbrushing aside a discrepancy. Some of the nation's largest police departments regularly use Photoshop and other editing tools in cases where suspects have a distinguishing tattoo, scar, bruise or other mark.
    Criminal justice experts say there can be good reasons for touching up photos. For instance, adding a suspect's birthmark to pictures of the other people in the array — known as fillers — can make lineups fairer by ensuring that the perpetrator does not stand out.
    Modifying the features of the suspect, however, is less common and has concerned lawyers who say investigators are encouraging positive identifications and changing the appearance of the person they are asking witnesses to identify.
    "Law enforcement took these photos of a defendant who did not match the description of eyewitnesses, and then altered the photo to more closely match the witness description," said Mat dos Santos, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. "If you can't do a good photo lineup, the answer is not to change the photos; the answer is a photo lineup just shouldn't be done."
    Margaret Bull Kovera, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who studies witness identification and evidence, said though it could be nearly impossible to find five filler photos that look similar to a suspect with an obvious scar or face tattoo, changing a suspect's mug shot was unacceptable. And she said she worried that the police could alter photos in other ways, like making a suspect look thinner if they believed that the person gained weight after committing a crime.

    "That's not O.K.," Professor Kovera said. "You can't alter the face of the suspect."
    Among the police departments that do sometimes touch up a suspect's photo is the country's largest, the New York Police Department, often as a last resort.
    "All efforts are made to alter the filler photos, not the subject's photo," said Sgt. Mary Frances O'Donnell, a spokeswoman for the department. When confronted with a suspect whose scars or tattoos would stand out from the filler images, the department's photo unit adds the same feature to the five filler photos "to ensure photo arrays are fair and impartial," she said, adding that investigators document all changes.
    Officials at other police departments, including in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, said they keep their hands away from Photoshop.
    "Adding or removing tattoos is not something we do," said Detective Donny Moses, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department.
    "We don't tamper with them at all," he said of photos for arrays. "We would get killed in the courts as well as the media. That's something we don't mess with."
    In some cases, doing nothing about distinguishing marks may hurt suspects the most. A state appeals court in New Jersey last year tossed out an identification in which a witness had selected a man as the perpetrator because he was the only person with face tattoos in a photo array.
    In a study published in 2016, researchers in the United States and England asked witnesses to watch someone with a distinctive feature commit a crime. When researchers then produced a photo array in which only one person had the distinctive feature, witnesses were more likely to identify that person as the perpetrator — even when it was not the same person from the video.

    "In essence, the unfair lineup made people more likely to confuse the guilty perpetrator with an innocent suspect," said Melissa Colloff, a psychology lecturer at the University of Birmingham in England and an author of the study.
    Experts generally agree that finding filler photos with similar identifiable markings is the ideal solution, although a 2004 surveyof 220 police departments, including many of the nation's largest, found that nearly a third did not do anything about unique marks.
    According to a training manual issued by the Justice Department in 2003, when a suspect has a unique feature that a witness did not mention seeing — as in the Portland case — the police should add it to the filler photos but "should not alter the suspect's photo." 
    In these circumstances, the Miami-Dade Police Department takes a novel approach. Detectives use Adobe Photoshop to add the suspect's tattoo or scar to two of the five filler photographs, creating an array in which half of the photos have the feature and half do not.
    In a memorandum to federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in 2017, Sally Q. Yates, then the deputy attorney general, said the police could cover a suspect's unique mark with a black box and place a similar box on the filler photos, the modern equivalent of what has long been done with Band-Aids for in-person police lineups. Ms. Yates said all changes should be documented.
    Marc Garth Green, the deputy chief of the Seattle Police Department, said the department's photography lab followed that advice: adding suspects' identifying marks to filler photos but never changing the appearance of a defendant.
    "We want a true, fair and accurate representation of the person we believe it to be," Mr. Garth Green said. "Then the victim can make their decision."

    In the Portland case, investigators came to believe that Mr. Allen may have used makeup to cover his tattoos after an anonymous informant told the police that his unnamed roommate had said Mr. Allen was the robber, Paul Maloney, an assistant United States attorney in Oregon, wrote in a court filing.
    "Investigators compared defendant's photo to the surveillance image and saw enough similarities in the immutable facial features to include defendant in the photo array, knowing that tattoos are easily concealed with makeup," Mr. Maloney wrote.
    Sgt. Brad Yakots, a spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, said investigators then used "digital makeup" to "help prevent misidentifying the suspect."
    "I basically painted over the tattoos," a forensic technician at the bureau testified in court, according to The Oregonian.
    Mr. Allen's lawyer argued that the identifications should be suppressed.
    "Presumably, investigators believed that showing the tellers Mr. Allen's real face would decrease the likelihood of a positive identification, so they simply chose to make Mr. Allen look different than he actually does," the lawyer, Mark Ahlemeyer, wrote in his motion.
    The judge has not decided whether to allow the photo array identification as evidence, and the ruling could set a precedent for the use of Photoshop on mug shots.
    Prosecutors in Oregon pointed to a California ruling in 2015, in which a judge allowed the introduction of a photo array in which police had used editing software to add hooded sweatshirts to six photos.

    One of the bank tellers who identified Mr. Allen as the robber in the photo array told the police she was "100 percent" sure it was him, prosecutors said.
    "The face is really clear," she said. "I'll never forget that face."


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    6) Tainted Water, Ignored Warnings and a Boss With a Criminal Past
    How a long line of questionable decisions led to the crisis over lead contamination in Newark
    By Nick CorasanitiCorey Kilgannon and 


    Newark told residents this month to drink bottled water, but only after receiving a warning from federal officials about lead leaching into tap water.CreditCreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times


    NEWARK — In the year after receiving test results showing alarming levels of lead in this city's drinking water, Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark made a number of unexpected decisions. 
    He mailed a brochure to all city residents assuring them that "the quality of water meets all federal and state standards." 
    He declared the water safe and then condemned, in capital letters on the city's website, "outrageously false statements" to the contrary. 

    And he elevated an official to run the city's water department who had served four years in prison for conspiring to sell five kilograms of cocaine.

    The moves were the latest in a long line of questionable actions that have created one of the biggest environmental crises to hit a major American city in recent years. This month, the city told tens of thousands of Newark residents to drink bottled water, but only after receiving a stern warning from federal officials about lead leaching into tap water from aging pipes.
    The water emergency has torn at the fabric of Newark, recalling the public health crisis over lead contamination in Flint., Mich., and highlighting the decay of the nation's infrastructure, particularly in poorer cities.
    It has sowed anger, anxiety and confusion among residents, who question whether the city's negligence has endangered its youngest citizens. More than 13 percent of the children in New Jersey afflicted with elevated lead levels in 2017 were in Newark, which accounted for only 3.8 percent of the state's children.
    The crisis could also cast a shadow over the presidential campaign of Senator Cory Booker, who served as Newark's mayor from 2006 to 2013. 
    In 2013, an agency that Mr. Booker had revamped to handle much of the city's water operations was gutted over a scandal involving kickbacks, no-show contracts and millions of dollars in wasted public funds. Eight officials were later charged in federal indictments, six of whom pleaded guilty.

    Some advocacy groups claim that the scandal distracted Newark officials from monitoring the water supply, possibly setting the stage for the current lead crisis.

    An investigation by The New York Times, based on dozens of interviews and hundreds of pages of public records, reveals blunders at all levels of government in safeguarding Newark's water infrastructure. City officials brushed aside warnings and allowed the system to deteriorate, while state and federal regulators often did not intervene forcefully enough to help prevent the crisis. 
    "There clearly has been a systemic failure," said Erik Olson, a senior director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that has sued the city over the lead levels. "Residents of Newark are the ones harmed by the top-to-bottom failures of government."
    In fact, as the crisis has grown in recent weeks, officials have turned on one another, in an apparent effort to shift blame.
    In an interview, Mayor Baraka defended his performance and lashed out at federal environmental officials, saying they had repeatedly refused to give the city money to pay for new pipes and bottled water.
    "We have been getting no love from them, from that place at all," Mr. Baraka said, adding that he was not criticizing the federal scientists on the ground in Newark.

    Mr. Baraka defended his decision to appoint Kareem Adeem as acting director of the water department in November, overseeing a system that provides water to 400,000 people in the city and surrounding communities.
    In 2011, Mr. Adeem was released from federal prison after serving four years for conspiring to sell five kilograms of cocaine, according to court records.
    Mr. Adeem, who worked lower-level jobs in the department before prison, received the $130,000-a-year position but does not have a college degree. He was deputy director of the department before becoming acting director. 
    "His knowledge of this stuff is unparalleled," Mr. Baraka said. "There's no one else in the city who has the level of information, and I have full confidence that he knows what he's doing."
    For his part, Mr. Adeem said he and his team were working hard to address the crisis.
    "Early on in my life, I made some bad choices," he said. "I got a second chance. And I'm going to take full advantage of my second chance, helping my city that I love."
    Judith Enck, a former E.P.A. regional administrator whose territory included New Jersey, said officials who run municipal water systems are typically engineers.

    "It's not an easy job," she said. "There are a lot of regulatory requirements. Someone is in a better position if they've got an engineering background and some management experience."

    Newark, with 285,000 people, is the largest city in New Jersey, but also one of the poorest in the country. It has long struggled with lead contamination, both in the water and from paint in homes.
    No concerns have been raised about the source of the water — reservoirs in northern New Jersey. The lead has leached into the tap water from 15,000 antiquated service lines that connect water pipes to homes and businesses.
    City and state officials have known for years that the infrastructure was a major risk, but they lacked the funding to replace the aging service lines. 
    So, the city turned to an approved chemical, sodium silicate, that prevents corrosion and the leaching of lead from pipes into water. For more than two decades, it worked as expected, and no tests showed elevated levels of lead.
    Then in 2016, the chemical seemed to stop working.
    Here is what appeared to have happened, according to interviews and public records: The year before, the city had tinkered with the water, increasing its acidity to tamp down on possible carcinogens. 
    But the increased acidity seemed to reduce the effectiveness of the sodium silicate.
    Elevated lead levels were found in water in nearly half of the public and charter schools in Newark. City and state officials maintained that findings in the schools were caused largely by internal plumbing and poor maintenance.

    Yet beginning in 2017, New Jersey switched its water testing requirements, forced some cities to test twice a year for contaminants instead of once every three years. 
    The first test results to show sharply elevated lead levels in Newark were delivered to the city in July 2017 through a letter of "non-compliance" from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
    A coalition of national and local groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, sent a letter to the city demanding more information and urgent measures in response to the results.
    They were met with public silence.
    Mr. Baraka said in the interview that after the July 2017 letter, Newark began extensive testing as required by state law. 
    He said the city also notified any homes that had tested positive for lead. 
    But he maintained that the city simply did not know the extent of the leaching to warrant further actions, like distributing filters to homes.
    "We didn't know if there was a widespread problem, or if there's a specific problem in people's homes," Mr. Baraka said. "That's why the protocols are in place. So you can continue to do the testing."

    In January 2018, the second consecutive test results from the state found similar lead levels in Newark's water, leading to renewed calls from local activists and national groups for transparency and action.
    But Mr. Baraka played down the warnings. In the city's annual water quality brochure, which is required by federal law to be mailed to residents each year, he wrote that the high-lead readings were only in older homes. 
    "Many of you have heard or read the outrageously false statements about our water but please know that the quality of our water meets all federal and state standards," the mayor wrote on the first page of the 12-page brochure
    Buried on the fifth page, in a single paragraph, was more extensive information about the consecutive tests showing elevated lead levels.
    A month later, a consultant from CDM Smith, a company hired by Newark to conduct a study of the water, sent an email to top officials at the water department, including Mr. Adeem, stating that the chemical the city had been using for nearly 20 years to prevent leaching appeared to be failing.
    By this point, the water had become an election issue. Mr. Baraka's re-election opponent, Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, said the lead levels showed a failure of leadership. 
    Mr. Baraka dismissed the warnings and rejected comparisons to Flint.
    In a statement in capital letters on the city's website, he railed against "absolutely and outrageously false statements" about the city's water. (That statement was deleted in October 2018.)

    In the interview, Mr. Baraka said he has sought to draw a distinction between Newark's source water in its reservoirs and water that may have later been contaminated by lead from water mains.
    "All I've been trying to do is make sure people have the facts," Mr. Baraka said. "We can disagree and go back and forth on how that messaging was crafted."
    He was re-elected with an overwhelming majority in June 2018. A month later, the city received its third consecutive letter of noncompliance from the state, saying that for 18 consecutive months, Newark's water was above the federal action level.
    In December, the city hired Mercury Public Affairs, a public relations firm that was also contracted by former Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan during the Flint water crisis. The $225,000 contract was intended to combat the negative publicity over contaminated water.

    Mr. Booker is promoting his environmental achievements as a pillar of his presidential bid, but his tenure as Newark's mayor ended with a scandal that the current water crisis has dragged back into public eye.
    The Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation was a public-private agency he revamped and stocked with leadership to handle expanded water operations. But several of the agency's leaders skimmed money and obtained kickbacks, leaving it poorly managed, according to court records and interviews.

    "Officials were concerned with taking money, not running a professional water department by hiring chemists and engineers who know how to meet E.P.A. requirements," said Brendan O'Flaherty, a Columbia University economist who served briefly in Mr. Booker's mayoral administration. "They left behind a seriously depleted department that made the sort of mistakes responsible for the current crisis."
    A 2014 report by the New Jersey comptroller outlined rampant abuse of public funds and scant oversight.
    The atmosphere was such that staff members felt they "could do their own thing," Linda Watkins-Brashear, the agency's former director, later told investigators. She is now in federal prison, one of eight people charged in the scandal.
    Mr. Booker came under intense criticism for failing to supervise the troubled agency, but he was never implicated in the scandal.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Booker's campaign, ‭Sabrina Singh, said Mr. Booker had fought for years for clean drinking water and improved urban infrastructure "from Newark City Hall to the Capitol."
    She said the earlier scandal was unrelated to the current crisis.
    "There is just no connection between the people who defrauded Newark residents at the Newark Watershed a decade ago and the very real water crisis impacting Newark residents today — other than they both share one word in common — 'water'," she said.

    Still, critics claimed the scandal likely compromised water operations going forward. Newark officials now say that some water testing records were lost during this tumultuous period in the city's water stewardship.
    It was around the time that the watershed agency was mired in scandal that acidity levels started increasing, for reasons that remain unclear. Acidity levels were in safe territory until 2015, when a sharp acceleration corroded pipes, leading to lead leaching.
    "The first rule of corrosion control is to never let acidic water contact lead pipe" said Marc Edwards, a professor of engineering at Virginia Tech. 
    He added, based on data in reports by CDM, the consultants,"There was acidic water in the Newark system for quite some time."
    Andrew Pappachen, a longtime director of public works in Newark who retired last year, said the city had monitored the water chemistry carefully during the Booker years, stored records carefully and kept acidity levels safe.

    Last October, spurred by alarming test results, officials from city, state and federal agencies moved quickly to try to coordinate a rapid response. Yet that effort soon turned to squabbling and finger pointing.

    Newark officials issued an emergency declaration to allow them to purchase and distribute water filters for faucets in homes, according to an internal memorandum. The emergency declaration was never made public. 
    Then, in May, officials added a new chemical to the water — orthophosphate — that has proved helpful at preventing leaching. The chemical would take roughly six months to be effective. 
    At the state's urging, the city began testing in homes to see if the orthophosphate was working its way into the water. As a precaution, the state also asked the city to test, for the first time, whether water filters were removing lead. 
    But the tests revealed two of three filters studied were not properly removing the lead. E.P.A. officials responded by sending a letter on Aug. 9 that threatened penalties "should the state and city not promptly undertake" distribution of bottled water and other actions.

    Gov. Philip D. Murphy and Mayor Baraka then agreed to distribute bottled water, even as their aides began questioning why the E.P.A. had recommended filters that were now in doubt.
    "We've gone above and beyond by providing the filters," CatherineMcCabe, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection. "We're going above and beyond again in figuring out what's wrong with the filters, although that is really something that E.P.A. should be full time focused on."

    After a week when state and city officials scrambled to distribute thousands of cases of bottled water and test hundreds of filters, the E.P.A. sent in field technicians and opened its local labs to speed up testing. 
    In a statement, the agency noted that the city and state had primary responsibility for safeguarding the water. "We continue to work together to find a longer-term solution to address the risks," it said.
    For their part, Newark residents will be picking up water for at least another month, until further testing shows lower lead levels.
    "This is just a mess. I didn't even know they were giving out free water until my sister called me to tell me," said Adunola Clement, 45, as she picked up water on a recent week. "I don't know what's going on, but they are going to have to do something to fix this."
    Christina Goldbaum contributed reporting. Susan Beachy contributed research.
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    7) Giraffes Get New Protections, but Will It Be Enough?
    International trade of giraffes will now be regulated, but habitat loss and bush meat poaching remain the predominant threats to the species.
    By Rachel Nuwer, August 23, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/science/giraffes-endangered-protections.html

    Giraffes on the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya earlier this month. CreditCreditGoran Tomasevic/Reuters


    Giraffes are a threatened species and many of their populations are endangered and declining. 
    But until now, no international regulations governed their trade. On Thursday, at a conference in Geneva, countries overwhelmingly agreed to add giraffes to the list of animals protected by the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. 
    While trade in giraffes will still be allowed, countries will be required to take measures to ensure it does not detrimentally affect populations.
    "Giraffes are one of the most emblematic species in Africa, but until now, they were not protected on the international level," said Col. Abba Sonko, head of Senegal's CITES delegation. Senegal, along with the Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, Mali and Niger, nominated giraffes for inclusion in the convention. "We realized their populations are decreasing year to year, so we wanted to list the species in CITES to increase protections," he said.

    Some experts question, however, whether regulating trade will make a meaningful difference for giraffes.

    "Many people have talked about this being a nice political move with a lot of emotions behind it, but it doesn't appear to be as scientifically robust as maybe it should be," said Julian Fennessy, co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's giraffe and okapi specialist group and a co-founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Windhoek, Namibia. "We need to focus more on boots and resources on the ground, especially in East and Central Africa, to stop giraffe decline."
    Giraffe populations have decreased by 40 percent across Africa since 1985, with about 100,000 left today. Senegal, like many West African countries, has lost all of its giraffes.
    "Maybe giraffes lived in Senegal 40 years ago, but it's been a long time," Colonel Sonko said.
    Divided into nine subspecies, giraffes are primarily threatened by habitat loss. In Central and East Africa, they are also vulnerable to poaching for domestic consumption.
    What role, if any, international trade plays in the species' decline is less certain. No one knows how many live giraffes or giraffe parts are traded internationally each year, because countries previously were not required to track or share data.

    A United States trade database, one of the few sources of information, indicates that about 40,000 giraffe specimens representing at least 3,700 animals were imported between 2006 and 2015. Most were bone carvings, followed by hunting trophies and skins.

    More than 90 percent came from legal sources, according to Fred Bercovitch, an ecologist at Kyoto University in Japan and executive director of Save the Giraffes, a nonprofit based in San Antonio.
    But about 50 of the imports came from Nubian giraffes, a critically endangered subspecies, said Dr. Bercovitch, who served as a scientific adviser on the CITES proposal. 
    "It's pretty shortsighted for conservationists to say illegal trade is not a big deal because it's only killing a few animals each year," he said. "These are endangered species."
    Not all of Africa's giraffes are in trouble. Southern African populations have doubled since 1985 and are stable. Much of that success is attributed to trophy hunting and the financial incentives it provides to set aside land and protections for animals, said Francois Deacon, an ecologist at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa. About half of South Africa's 30,000 giraffes, for example, live on privately owned game farms. "Trophy hunting has helped to increase our numbers," he said.
    The new CITES listing, Dr. Deacon added, might scare away hunting clients who interpret it as meaning all giraffes are in trouble. "With the emotional side of it, people don't think logically," Dr. Deacon said.
    At the CITES conference, representatives of Southern African countries — including Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) — spoke against the CITES proposal, arguing that their giraffe populations are not endangered and are already being sustainably managed.

    "I think they felt they were being accused of having threatened populations, but nobody said that," said Sue Lieberman, vice president for international policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City. "You have to look at the species as a whole."
    Of the 127 parties who voted on the proposal, 83 percent supported it, including the United States. "We believe this to be a common-sense approach that will ensure that trade is sustainable and legal and that these iconic animals can continue to persist for generations to come," said Barbara Wainman, assistant director of external affairs at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
    The Trump administration indicated last spring that it was reviewing whether giraffes should be listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but no decision has been made. More recently, the administration moved to weaken the act's protections overall
    More will be needed to stop the decline of giraffes, Dr. Lieberman said, but the vote is a step in the right direction. "Adding giraffes to CITES is not going to 'save' the species, because there's lots of threats like habitat loss," she said. "But this will help us get a handle on the trade issue and draw attention to the fact that in large parts of Africa, giraffes are really declining."

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    8) A Child Bumps Her Head. What Happens Next Depends on Race.
    My black and Latino clients are accused of abuse when their kids have accidents.
    By Jessica Horan-Block, August 24, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/child-injuries-race.html

    Eleanor Davis


    When a child experiences a mild head injury and a parent seeks medical attention, what happens next in New York City seems to depend on the ZIP code and the color of the parent's skin.
    In April, the actress Jenny Mollen, wife of the actor Jason Biggs and resident of Manhattan's affluent West Village, announced on social media that she had accidentally dropped her 5-year-old son, causing a skull fracture and requiring treatment in the intensive care unit of a private Manhattan hospital's I.C.U.
    Three months earlier and several miles north in the Bronx, my client, a Latina mom, was folding laundry in her apartment when she saw her 9-month-old daughter and 7-year-old son bump heads while playing on the bed. The following day she noticed that her daughter had a bump on her head. She took the baby to her pediatrician, and a follow-up at the hospital showed two minor skull fractures with a small underlying bleed.
    This is where Ms. Mollen's and my client's stories diverge. According to Ms. Mollen's social media account of the incident, she and Mr. Biggs were met with compassion and sympathy by the hospital. Ms. Mollen publicly thanked the staff, saying she was "forever grateful."

    At the Bronx hospital, though, my client was met with suspicion, interrogation and accusations of child abuse, even after explaining her daughter's accidental head bump with her brother to the hospital staff. Emergency room staff members called the New York City Administration for Children's Services to report possible child abuse. A.C.S. workers and the New York City police interrogated her, as well as her husband and their 14-year-old daughter. At no time was this distraught mother told she could or should contact a lawyer. Nonetheless, when the baby was ready for discharge without requiring any medical treatment, A.C.S. told her parents that they could not take her home and that they must identify family members to care for her and her siblings. Otherwise, the children would be placed in the foster system with strangers. Though she was still regularly nursing the baby and no judge had reviewed this decision, my client had no choice but to comply. She left the hospital without her daughter.
    Two days later, as a family defense lawyer who represents parents against abuse charges in family court, I met her. She was terrified and shaking during our first conversation, and told me she had not seen her children in two days. The first thing she wanted to know was when they could come home. That day, without any evidence of wrongdoing, A.C.S. filed a petition in Bronx Family Court accusing her and her husband of child abuse by intentionally causing their daughter's skull fractures. A.C.S. asked the judge to issue an order to keep the children out of their parents' home and asked that they remain with a relative.
    To be clear, there's nothing to suggest that Ms. Mollen and Mr. Biggs abused their child or that they should have been investigated or charged with abuse. The outrage is not that they were treated with compassion and understanding — it's that low-income black and Latino parents in the Bronx are not.
    Though the words "skull fracture" are enough to bring chills to any parent of a young child, in reality mild skull fractures in young, mobile children commonly result from accidents and generally do not require treatment other than observation. And though parents can usually describe the event or provide information about how they believe a skull fracture was caused, it is not uncommon for a parent to notice increasing head swelling or a bump hours or days after something happened, when the child's activities and movements are long forgotten.
    In my experience representing parents against abuse charges in the Bronx, I have repeatedly seen the mere existence of a skull fracture in a young black or Latino child brought to the hospital trigger a call to a state child abuse hotline, an investigation, a child abuse accusation in family court and the removal of children from parents. This is especially the case when a parent cannot tell the hospital exactly how the injury was caused because it may have occurred days before the symptoms arose or were noticed.

    In the past 18 months alone, we at Bronx Defenders have represented at least six parents charged with abuse based on a child's minor head injury.
    Research shows that black and Hispanic pediatric emergency room patients with minor head trauma are two to four times more likely to be evaluated and then reported (as suspected abusive head trauma) when compared with white, non-Hispanic patients. Once there are suspicions of abuse, black children are more likelyto receive invasive testing like full body X-rays.
    We have challenged child abuse allegations in the courtroom on several occasions, and it almost always turned out that A.C.S. had little medical evidence to support its contention that an isolated and mild skull fracture was from abuse rather than an unfortunate accident — even when the parent could not say how the fracture occurred. For family defense attorneys, the process of litigatinghearings to exculpate parents and reunite families can last weeks or months, during which time the family is traumatically separated. Even short stays in foster care have proven harmful to children, who can be placed with strangers and separated from siblings, family and other support systems. To address this harm, which is experienced disparately by low-income parents of color, A.C.S. needs to change its practice of presumptively separating children from their parents without adequate evidence that the child was harmed by a parent.
    In the case of my client, for example, I immediately consulted a New York City-based pediatric neurosurgeon to confirm that the baby's skull fracture was minor, plausibly accidental, and that her mom's story was consistent with the injury. It was then quickly exposed during my client's arraignment that A.C.S. had no firm medical evidence to support its charge of child abuse. In fact, A.C.S. admitted that though it had separated her from her children and filed abuse charges, it had not spoken to a neurologist, neurosurgeon or child abuse specialist, nor had it spoken to any doctor who provided conclusive evidence that the baby's skull fracture was anything other than an unfortunate accident. That day, over A.C.S.'s objections, the judge ordered that the children be returned home, and three months later, A.C.S. withdrew its charges and the case was dismissed.
    But none of this should have happened. All families deserve the sort of support and compassion that the Biggs/Mollen family received in a time of need.
    While a better-safe-than-sorry approach that accelerates child removals may sound like a responsible way to protect children, it ignores the harm and trauma children can experience when they are separated from their families and placed into foster care.
    New York City must grapple with how and why it has permitted a system to hurt children by believing some parents but not others.
    Jessica Horan-Block is a supervising attorney at the Bronx Defenders.
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    9) Mazel Tov, Trump. You've Revived the Jewish Left.
    'Only one political party is quite literally inciting white nationalists to shoot up our synagogues.'
    By Michelle Goldberg, August 24, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/24/opinion/sunday/trump-jews.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    Jewish groups protesting immigrant detention policies in Los Angeles this month.CreditCreditMark Ralston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


    On Aug. 11, more than 1,000 people marked Tisha B'Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, by occupying an Amazon Books store in Manhattan, protesting the technology behemoth's technical support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sitting on the floor, they read harrowing accounts of people in immigration detention and recited the Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning. One of their signs said, "Never again means never again."
    According to organizers, 44 people, including 12 rabbis and a member of New York's City Council, were arrested. It was one of over 50 Jewish-organized demonstrations against ICE held across the country that day.
    A few days later, a corrections officer drove a truck into a row of Jewish protesters who were blocking the entrance to a private prison in Rhode Island where migrants are being detained. Two of the protesters were hospitalized. That demonstration was one of at least 38 organized this summer by Never Again Action, a decentralized group formed two months ago to engage in nonviolent direct action against immigrant detention.

    Donald Trump might have thought he was going to lure Jewish voters to the Republican Party with his lock-step alliance with the Israeli right. Instead, by attempting to use American Jews as mascots for an administration that fills most of them with horror, he has spurred a renaissance on the Jewish left.

    New progressive Jewish groups are forming. Older ones, like New York's Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, one of the forces behind the Amazon action, are growing; once-sleepy organizing meetings have become standing room only. Jewish Currents, a left-wing Jewish publication founded almost 75 years ago, was reborn last year with a new cadre of writers and editors who speak to the millennial socialist zeitgeist.
    Obviously, American Jews have long leaned liberal, and have always been overrepresented in progressive movements. But there's a difference between leftists who happen to be Jewish and explicitly Jewish left-wing activism. "People who may not have been that close to Jewishness, they feel suddenly like it's very important to express who they are as Jews in the context of their activism and in the context of their collective memory," said Arielle Angel, the editor of Jewish Currents.
    Alyssa Rubin, a 25-year-old organizer with Never Again Action, told me that in college, she had little interest in Jewish communal life, much of which seemed to revolve around support for Israel. But in the months leading up to the 2016 election, as Trump spouted rhetoric that smacked of fascism and white nationalists grew giddy at their new relevance, "I had never thought about my Judaism more," she said. For the first time, anti-Semitism seemed an immediate, urgent threat.
    For Jews on the left, fear has been magnified by insult as Trump, the man who helped unleash a new wave of anti-Semitism, posed as the Jews' savior because of his devotion to the Israeli right.

    "It's infuriating and intolerable," said Sophie Ellman-Golan, 27, the former director of communications and digital outreach at the Women's March organization, who is now working on a project to mobilize Jews against white nationalism. Because the right purports to defend Jews even as it pursues policies that most Jews abhor, she argued, "it's imperative that we loudly speak for ourselves because if we don't the loudest voices that claim to speak on behalf of Jews will be right-wing evangelical Christians."
    There are, of course, plenty of established Jewish groups that make it their mission to speak for the community. But it's hard to overstate the degree to which left-wing Jews feel alienated from and betrayed by the Jewish establishment, which often seems more concerned with left-wing anti-Zionism and rhetorical overkill than with right-wing white nationalism.
    Never Again Action was born in reaction to the perceived failures of mainstream Jewish organizations to stand up to Trump. In June, after Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to migrant detention camps as "concentration camps," establishment Jewish outfits like the Jewish Community Relations Council rushed to condemn her. Rubin was incredulous. A militantly xenophobic government is building internment camps for members of ethnic out-groups, and Jewish leaders worried that critics of this project were disrespecting the memory of the Holocaust?
    "That compounded the outrage that a lot of Jews were feeling, that a mainstream Jewish institution would say something that just felt so out of touch," she said. "That in part led us to really want to not just say in words, but actually take action to show how the Jewish community actually feels about this moment."
    People involved in the new Jewish left recognize that left-wing anti-Semitism exists. But they generally don't believe it's a threat on par with right-wing Jew hatred.
    "No political party or movement is free of anti-Semitism," said Ellman-Golan, who had to deal with the fallout from anti-Semitism at the Women's March. But, she said, "only one political party is quite literally inciting white nationalists to shoot up our synagogues, drive cars into our peaceful protests, mail bombs to members of our community, burn black churches and mosques, and open fire on Latinx people."
    The Jewish left rejects the idea that anti-Zionism is equivalent to anti-Semitism, but even more than that, it rejects the idea that Israel is the guarantor of Jewish safety or the lodestar of Jewish identity. A central value of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, as well as for much of left-wing Jewish culture more broadly, is "doikayt," a Yiddish term that means "hereness."

    "Where we are is our home. This is what we fight for. This is where we seek kinship," said Audrey Sasson, JFREJ's executive director. The first post-relaunch issue of Jewish Currents featured an essay by the publisher, Jacob Plitman, called "On an Emerging Diasporism," which likewise celebrated the value of "hereness."
    For those primarily concerned about Jewish life in the diaspora, Israel, which has courted anti-Semitic nationalist leaders in Europe, isn't really an ally, much less an ideal. And Trump, who always speaks of American Jews as if they belong there, is a grotesque enemy. He tells Jews committed to life in America that they owe loyalty to Israel, which he sometimes calls, when speaking to American Jews, "your country." He says this, and expects Jews to react with gratitude.
    Instead, many are reacting with a redoubled commitment to multiracial democracy and solidarity. Jews have been taking to the streets because no amount of support for a foreign country can redeem what he's doing to this one.

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    10) Our Food Is Killing Too Many of Us
    Improving American nutrition would make the biggest impact on our health care.
    By Dariush Mozaffarian and Dan Glickman, August 26, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/26/opinion/food-nutrition-health-care.html
    Cheeseburgers at a White House picnic in 2018.CreditCreditAlex Edelman/Getty Images

    The Democratic debate on health care has to date centered around who should be covered and who should pay the bill. That debate, which has been going on for decades, has no clear answers and cannot be easily resolved because of two fundamental realities: Health care is expensive, and Americans are sick.
    Americans benefit from highly trained personnel, remarkable facilities and access to the newest drugs and technologies. Unless we eliminate some of these benefits, our health care will remain costly. We can trim around the edges — for example, with changes in drug pricing, lower administrative costs, reductions in payments to hospitals and providers, and fewer defensive and unnecessary procedures. These actions may slow the rise in health care spending, but costs will keep rising as the population ages and technology advances.
    And Americans are sick — much sicker than many realize. More than 100 million adults — almost half the entire adult population — have pre-diabetes or diabetes. Cardiovascular disease afflicts about 122 million people and causes roughly 840,000 deaths each year, or about 2,300 deaths each dayThree in four adults are overweight or obese. More Americans are sick, in other words, than are healthy.
    Instead of debating who should pay for all this, no one is asking the far more simple and imperative question: What is making us so sick, and how can we reverse this so we need less health care? The answer is staring us in the face, on average three times a day: our food.

    Poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the United States, causing more than half a million deaths per year. Just 10 dietary factors are estimated to cause nearly 1,000 deaths every day from heart disease, stroke and diabetes alone. These conditions are dizzyingly expensive. Cardiovascular disease costs $351 billion annually in health care spending and lost productivity, while diabetes costs $327 billion annually. The total economic cost of obesity is estimated at $1.72 trillion per year, or 9.3 percent of gross domestic product. 
    These human and economic costs are leading drivers of ever-rising health care spending, strangled government budgets, diminished competitiveness of American business and reduced military readiness.
    Fortunately, advances in nutrition science and policy now provide a road map for addressing this national nutrition crisis. The "Food Is Medicine" solutions are win-win, promoting better well-being, lower health care costs, greater sustainability, reduced disparitiesamong population groups, improved economic competitiveness and greater national security. 
    Some simple, measurable improvements can be made in several health and related areas. For example, Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers and hospitals should include nutrition in any electronic health record; update medical training, licensing and continuing education guidelines to put an emphasis on nutrition; offer patient prescription programs for healthy produce; and, for the sickest patients, cover home-delivered, medically tailored meals. Just the last action, for example, can save a net $9,000 in health care costs per patient per year.

    Taxes on sugary beverages and junk food can be paired with subsidies on protective foods like fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, plant oils, whole grains, yogurt and fish. Emphasizing protective foods represents an important positive message for the public and food industry that celebrates and rewards good nutrition. Levels of harmful additives like sodium, added sugar and trans fat can be lowered through voluntary industry targets or regulatory safety standards.

    Nutrition standards in schools, which have improved the quality of school meals by 41 percent, should be strengthened; the national Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program should be extended beyond elementary schools to middle and high schools; and school garden programs should be expanded. And the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which supports grocery purchases for nearly one in eight Americans, should be leveraged to help improve diet quality and health.
    The private sector can also play a key role. Changes in shareholder criteria (e.g., B-Corps, in which a corporation can balance profit versus purpose with high social and environmental standards) and new investor coalitions should financially reward companies for tackling obesity, diabetes and other diet-related illness. Public-private partnerships should emphasize research and development on best agricultural and food-processing practices. All work sites should demand healthy food when negotiating with cafeteria vendors and include incentives for healthy eating in their wellness benefits. 
    Coordinated federal leadership and funding for research is also essential. This could include, for example, a new National Institute of Nutrition at the National Institutes of Health. Without such an effort, it could take many decades to understand and utilize exciting new areas, including related to food processing, the gut microbiome, allergies and autoimmune disorders, cancer, brain health, treatment of battlefield injuries and effects of nonnutritive sweeteners and personalized nutrition. 
    Government plays a crucial role. The significant impacts of the food system on well-being, health care spending, the economy and the environment — together with mounting public and industry awareness of these issues — have created an opportunity for government leaders to champion real solutions.
    Yet with rare exceptions, the current presidential candidates are not being asked about these critical national issues. Every candidate should have a food platform, and every debate should explore these positions. A new emphasis on the problems and promise of nutrition to improve health and lower health care costs is long overdue for the presidential primary debates and should be prominent in the 2020 general election and the next administration.


    My NYT Comment:

    This article is just infuriating! Certainly good nutrition is essential to health. And making healthy food available to everyone is likewise, essential, as is time for daily exercise. But to imply that the bad eating habits of people results in "reduced military readiness" is preposterous! What would really help is to end military spending and using those trillions—the largest military budget ever in the world—for universal healthcare for all. And to tax the billion-dollar corporations that produce all those sugary, salty, greasy foods to fund nutrition in schools and in communities. And how about 100% taxes on the tobacco industry to pay for the care of all those sick and dying because of their products—not to mention the opioid crisis brought on by the huge profits earned by the pharmaceutical industry. This article also ignores the massive billions spent on advertising campaigns that convince us to eat, smoke and get addicted to that crap—we and our kids are bombarded with it on TV 24/7—and now, on social media too! Put the blame where it belongs, i.e., on corporate welfare for the rich who profit off of the sickness they produce in this country, not on their individual victims—many who can't even afford healthcare in the first place! —Bonnie Weinstein


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    11) Do Plants Have Something to Say?
    One scientist is definitely listening.
    By Ellie Shechet, August 26, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/26/style/can-plants-talk.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage

    Monica Gagliano, all ears in Central Park.CreditCreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

     

    Dr. Monica Gagliano says that she has received Yoda-like advice from trees and shrubbery. She recalls being rocked like a baby by the spirit of a fern. She has ridden on the back of an invisible bear conjured by an osha root. She once accidentally bent space and time while playing the ocarina, an ancient wind instrument, in a redwood forest. "Oryngham," she says, means "thank you" in plant language. These interactions have taken place in dreams, visions, songs and telekinetic interactions, sometimes with the help of shamans or ayahuasca.
    This has all gone on around the same time as Dr. Gagliano's scientific research, which has broken boundaries in the field of plant behavior and signaling. Currently at the University of Sydneyin Australia, she has published a number of studies that support the view that plants are, to some extent, intelligent. Her experiments suggest that they can learn behaviors and remember them. Her work also suggests that plants can "hear" running water and even produce clicking noises, perhaps to communicate.
    Plants have directly shaped her experiments and career path. In 2012, she says, an oak tree assured her that a risky grant application — proposing research on sound communication in plants — would be successful. "You are here to tell our stories," the tree told her.

    "These experiences are not like, 'Oh you're a weirdo, this is happening just to you,'" Dr. Gagliano said. Learning from plants, she said, is a long-documented ceremonial practice (if not one typically endorsed by scientists).

    "This is part of the repertoire of human experiences," she said. "We've been doing this forever and ever, and are still doing this."
    Dr. Gagliano knows that these claims, based on subjective experiences and not scientific evidence, can easily be read as delusional. She also knows that this could damage her scientific career — plant scientists in particular really hate this sort of thing. Back in 1973, an explosively popular book, "The Secret Life of Plants," made pseudoscientific claims about plants, including that they enjoy classical music and can read human minds. The book was firmly discredited, but the maelstrom made many institutions and researchers reasonably wary of bold statements about botanical aptitude.
    Regardless, last year Dr. Gagliano published a heady and meandering memoir about the conversations with plants that inspired her peer-reviewed work, titled "Thus Spoke the Plant."She believes, like many scientists and environmentalists do, that in order to save the planet we have to understand ourselves as part of the natural world. 
    It's just that she also believes the plants themselves can speak to this point.
    "I want people to realize that the world is full of magic, but not as something only some people can do, or something that is outside of this world," she said. "No, it's all here."

    As environmental collapse looms, we've never known so much about life on earth — how extraordinary and intricate it all is, and how loose the boundary where "it" ends and "we" begin.

    Language, for example, doesn't seem to be limited to humans. Prairie dogs use adjectives (lots of them) and Alston's singing mice, a species found in Central America, chirp "politely." Ravens have demonstrated advanced planning, another blow to human exceptionalism, by bartering for food and selecting the best tools for future use.
    The list goes on. Leaf-cutter ants not only invented farming a couple million years before we did, but they have their own landfills — and garbagemen. Even slime molds can be said to make "decisions," and are so good at determining the most efficient route between resources that researchers have suggested we use them to help design highways.
    But it may be plants whose capacities are the most head-rattling, if only because we tend to view them as d├ęcor. Plants can do a lot of things we can't. Trees can clone themselves into 80,000-year-old superorganisms. Corn can summon wasps to attack caterpillars. But research suggests we also have some things in common. Plants share nutrients and recognize kin. They communicate with each other. They can count. They can feel you touching them.
    So we know that plants respond to their environments in sophisticated, complex ways — "far more complex than most of us realized a few years ago," said Dr. Ted Farmer, a botanist at University of Lausanne in Switzerland and one of the first to defend the concept of inter-plant communication.
    Dr. Farmer is among those still "very" uncomfortable describing plants, which lack neurons, as "intelligent." But now it's "consciousness" — another word without a firm definition — that's really raising hackles in the scientific community.

    A group of biologists published a paper this summer with the matter-of-fact title "Plants Neither Possess nor Require Consciousness." The authors warned against anthropomorphism, and argued that proponents of plant consciousness have "consistently glossed over" the unique capacities of the brain.Though her book went unremarked upon, Dr. Gagliano's experiments and statements ascribing feelings and subjectivity to plants were among those critiqued, and she was categorized witheringly within "a new wave of Romantic biology."
    Versions of this debate have been simmering for years. In 2013, Michael Pollan wrote about Dr. Gagliano presenting the results of an experiment to an incredulous audience.
    That study is likely her most widely known. In it, she sought to discover whether plants, like animals, could demonstrate a basic type of learning called "habituation."
    The Mimosa pudica — you may know it as the "sensitive plant" — contracts its leaves when touched. So, in the experiment, potted mimosas were dropped a few harmless inches onto foam. At first, the leaves closed up immediately. But over time, they stopped reacting.
    It wasn't that they were fatigued, Dr. Gagliano wrote, because, when the pots were shaken, the leaves closed up again. And when the dropping test was repeated a month later, their leaves remained unruffled. 
    The plants had "learned" that the drop wasn't a threat, Dr. Gagliano argued. The plants remembered.
    And subsequent research has suggested that plants may indeed be capable of some type of memory. But Dr. Gagliano's conclusion didn't go over well at the time. Her framing of the data didn't help. She insists that she doesn't use metaphors in her work, and that "learning" is the best description we have for what took place, even if we don't know how the plants are doing it.

    This experiment was "a remarkable piece of work," Mr. Pollan said in an interview. "Humans do tend to underestimate plants, and she's one of a small group of scientists who are trying to change that story."
    "Monica is a brilliant young woman, and she's been a major idea generator in the field of plant sensory biology," said Dr. Heidi Appel, a scientist who found that rock cress produce more defensive chemicals when exposed to the stressful sound of a caterpillar chewing. "We're investigating things I don't think we would have otherwise." 
    But, in Dr. Gagliano's memoir, Dr. Appel said, "there's a commingling of science and spiritual experiences that I feel are best disentangled."
    "I think it's important to separate out what you can prove and what might be true in a more subjective way," Mr. Pollan said. "And I don't know where you draw the line, exactly."

    I met Dr. Gagliano at an outdoor cafe in Berkeley, Calif., next to a pot filled with bright, chubby succulents. I found myself watching it, wondering if its inhabitants were aware that we were debating their awareness.

    Dr. Gagliano grew up in northern Italy and is a marine ecologist by training. She spent her early career studying Ambon damselfish at the Great Barrier Reef.
    After months underwater observing the little fish, Dr. Gagliano said she started to suspect that they understood a lot more than she'd thought — including that she was going to dissect them. A professional crisis ensued.
    Plants were inching their way into her life. As Dr. Gagliano tells it, she'd been volunteering at an herbalist's clinic, and had begun using ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew that induces visions and emotional insights (and often nausea). She says that one day, sober, she was walking around her garden and heard, in her head, a plant suggest that she start studying plants.
    In 2010, she traveled to Peru for the first time to work with a plant shaman called Don M.

    To communicate with plants, Dr. Gagliano followed the dieta, or the shamanic method in the indigenous Amazonian tradition by which a human establishes a dialogue with a plant. The rules can vary, but it usually involves following a diet (no salt, alcohol, sugar or sex; some animal products may also be prohibited, depending on the culture) and drinking a plant concoction (sometimes hallucinogenic, sometimes not) in isolation for days, weeks or months. An icaro, or medicine song, is said to be shared by the plant, as well as visions and dreams, and the plant's healing knowledge becomes a part of the human. It's not fun, she warned.
    Dr. Gagliano worked with multiple plant shamans, or vegetalistas, in Peru. There she bathed in the foul-smelling pulp of an Ayahumatree, which then designed a scientific experiment for her, instructing her to "train young plants in a maze and give them freedom of choice." The Ayahuma also helped her diagram a 2017study investigating pea plants' use of sound to detect water.

    In the memoir, she wrote that she also traveled to California to work with a health care professional who conducts vision quest ceremonies (that's when the oak tree spoke to her). She visited "the Diviner," a man trained by the Dagara people of Ghana and Burkina Faso to channel nature spirits.
    At a certain point, Dr. Gagliano began going solo, "working with" plants like basil in her own veggie patch.
    "Did you ever wonder if you were going insane?" I asked.
    "Absolutely," she said, and laughed. "I still do." But she believes she should be free to talk openly about these experiences.
    "Maybe we should admit that we hardly understand who we are, we hardly understand where we are at, we know very little compared to what there is to know," she said. "To be open to explore and learn, I think that is the sign of wisdom, not of madness. And maybe wisdom and madness do look very similar, at some point."

    As a white woman on a journey through sampled bits of sacred rituals, Dr. Gagliano speaks thoughtfully and often about the legacies of colonialism, capitalism and exploitative New Age trends, which certainly includes the rise in ayahuasca retreats. A term like "shaman" can now bring to mind its plunder by an unpopular modern archetype — the personal-growth-obsessed wellness devotee, dreamily trailing sage in circles around her unvaccinated children.

    But Dr. Gagliano's journey, her supporters say, is rooted in a desire to challenge dominant assumptions.
    "I have been working with the idea of plant intelligence for many years," said Dr. Luis Eduardo Luna, an anthropologist and ayahuasca researcher in Brazil who has collaborated with Dr. Gagliano. Back in 1984, he published a paper in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology detailing the concept of plants as teachers in the Peruvian Amazon. 
    Dr. Luna said he was excited to hear these ideas expressed by a scientist, rather than someone in the humanities.
    "Perhaps we are living in a much more interesting universe, perhaps we are living in a planet full of intelligent life," Dr. Luna said. "I think it's very important that we recover, somehow, this idea of the sacrality of nature, in the terrible situation in which we are today."
    "I'm really interested in the notion of plants as teachers, what we can learn from them as models," said Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, an author, botanist and SUNY professor, and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. "And that comes from my work with indigenous knowledge, because that is a fundamental assumption of indigenous environmental philosophy."
    Dr. Kimmerer doesn't see Dr. Gagliano's experiences as mystical processes so much as poorly understood ones.

    "Some of the medicines that people have made are sophisticated biochemistry over a fire," Dr. Kimmerer said. "You think, how in the world did people learn this? And the answer is almost always, 'The plants told us how to do this.' This is not a matter necessarily of walking in the woods and being tapped on the shoulder, but indigenous cultures have sophisticated protocols that are research protocols, in a sense, for learning from the plants. They involve fasting, ceremonial practices that bring one to a state of such openness to the conversations of other beings that you can hear them."
    "Have you ever had an experience like that?" I asked.
    "I have," she said, preferring to leave it mostly at that. "Suffice it to say, I have had experiences of intense focus and attention with plants where I came away knowing something that I didn't know before, and it's quite incredible. You feel like, 'Wow, where did that come from?'" 
    The problem with talking about these experiences, Dr. Kimmerer said, is that they "are grounded in a cultural context that is so different from Western science that they are easily dismissed."

    Reality has become rather strange lately. Tech billionaires are trying to colonize the moon. U.F.O.s appear to exist, in some capacity. Parents in conspiracy-minded Facebook groups are poisoning their autistic children with bleach. Reality TV has fused with politics. The future of the planet looks remarkably grim. (Or maybe we're in a simulation.)
    Dr. Gagliano's more subjective claims may feed, in an unnatural time, a spiking hunger for naturally sourced answers. People are looking for "wisdom from nature," Mr. Pollan said, when describing the rising interest in psychedelic compounds like ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms. The booming wellness industry is certainly packed with all things "natural" and "plant-based." The novel that won the most recent Pulitzer Prize was inspired by a giant redwood that produced a "religious conversion"; caring for houseplants seems to be a national obsession.

    Given this context, it's logical that critique over her approach hasn't stopped Dr. Gagliano from finding an audience. She spoke about plant intelligence at last year's Bioneers Conference, and was invited to speak at last year's Science and Nondualityconference, along with Deepak Chopra and Paul Stamets, a respected mycologist who believes that mushrooms are trying to communicate with humans through their hallucinogenic properties.
    This summer, Dr. Gagliano sat on a sold-out panel called "Intelligence Without Brains" at the World Science Festival. There I eavesdropped on a woman excitedly explaining Mr. Pollan's recent book on psychedelic therapy to her mom. Why had they come?
    "We're plant ladies!" said one, beaming. "There's a lot about plants that we don't know that might end up saving us, in some regard."
    Dr. Gagliano spoke about plants with pointed familiarity. In her telling, they became jaunty little characters; she used pronouns like "he" and "they" — never "it."
    At the festival, a young woman asked Dr. Gagliano how her scientific work had changed her understanding of the world.
    "The main difference is that I used to live in a world of objects, and now I live in a world of subjects," she said. There were murmurs of approval. "And so, I am never alone."

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    12) What Will Indefinite Detention Do to Migrant Kids?
    The evidence is clear: No detention center is safe and healthy for children.
    By Leah Hibel and Caitlin Patler, August 27, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/27/opinion/migrant-children-detention.html

    CreditCreditEric Gay/Associated Press


    The Trump administration last week announced a new regulationthat would allow the government to indefinitely detain migrant families who cross the border. If it goes into effect, it would terminate an agreement known as the Flores settlement that has been in place since 1997 to ensure that children are kept in the least restrictive setting possible, receive certain standards of care, have access to lawyers, and are generally released within 20 days. The effect would be to extend the well-documented suffering of migrant children in detention centers.
    Six children have died while in Border Control custody in this fiscal year alone. Reports have detailed inhumane conditions in immigration detention centers, with children sleeping on cement floors and suffering from hunger, inadequate health care, and a lack of toothbrushes and soap.
    While a recent appeals court ruled that the Trump administration must provide hygiene products at migrant facilities, this offers little comfort. Numerous studies have made it clear: No detention center is healthy and safe for children. If the new rule — which is now the subject of a legal challenge by a group of states and the District of Columbia — is carried out, it will increase the length of time children are detained and magnify the harmful effects.

    Detention centers are stressful, chaotic and unpredictable environments, especially for children. Developmental science tells us that children’s developing brains and bodies depend on a safe environment, rich with language and activities, where they canexplore, move, play and create during the day, and have calm restorative sleep at night.

    Many detention centers are not equipped to provide these necessities. Scientific evidence shows that the deprived setting of a detention camp will stunt child cognitive, social, emotional and language development, making it harder for them to learn, follow directions, connect with peers, and handle stress.
    In addition to lacking basic necessities, children at detention centers have reported being the victim of violence, including sexual violence. Children may also witness violence against their parents while detained with their families. These are traumatic experiences, and studies show children are more likely to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after being detained compared to before.
    Even when detention is not an immediate threat to safety, and children are placed with their families, detention centers do not provide the necessary stimulation for normal development. Simply providing food, hygiene and a place to sleep is not sufficient. Endangering children by placing them in detention centers is contrary to all available research evidence on child welfare.
    Young children are particularly susceptible to stress and trauma, and research shows that the longer the duration of the exposure, the worse the outcomes for the child
    What’s more, the administration’s plans to remove limitations on the length of children’s detentions will not only prolong exposure to trauma, they will severely limit lawyers’ ability to expedite hearings or even raise length of detention as a concern. Being released from detention also allows children greater access to lawyers and immigration legal services, which can make an enormous difference in their immigration proceedings. Contrary to statements by the government, the vast majority of people released from detention attend their future immigration court hearings.

    We don’t incarcerate children for other civil law infractions and we never jail American children when their family members commit a crime. The government should not be in the business of harming and traumatizing migrant children either. Instead, the government should be working to comply with the Flores settlement and to design immigration policies that keep children and families out of detention, provide the right to seek asylum, and create pathways to citizenship.

    Leah Hibel is associate professor of human development and family studies at the University of California, Davis, where Caitlin Patler is an assistant professor of sociology.

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    Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com

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          Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com



                        
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