Wednesday, March 21, 2018


*Bay Area—Assemble at 11:00 A.M. at Lake Merritt Ampitheater



A Summit to fight the Prison Industrial Complex

Saturday April 7th, 10am - 3pm
City College, Mission Campus
1125 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

RSVP today. Space limited!
Facebook to stay updated and spread the word!


Hosted by the No New SF Jail coalition, this event will bring together organizational partners and community activists working to stop the violence of the prison industrial complex in San Francisco. Summit presenters and participants will discuss interrelated topics such as jail construction, gang injunctions, justice for community members murdered by police, tasers, bail reform, increased policing on our streets, and more. Interactive workshops, trainings, and panel discussions will allow for participants to share information and strategize between campaigns. Our goal is to strengthen connections between our organizations and efforts in order to better address the interlocking impacts of imprisonment, policing, surveillance, courts, and prosecution in San Francisco. Join us!

Lunch provided. Donations accepted.

Current Sponsors Include: Asian Law Caucus, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Communities United Against Violence, Oakland Power Projects, DSA - Justice Committee, American Friends Service Committee, Critical Resistance Oakland, Californians United for a Responsible Budget.

Accessibility: Venue will be wheelchair accessible. Childcare and interpretation provided upon request, please contact us regarding this and other accessibility needs by March 31st.

Sponsorship: Would your organization like to join as a sponsor? Please contact us and fill out this quick survey.

Contact: nosfjail@curbprisonsp - 5104440484 - http s://
News mailing list 


Cindy Sheehan and the Women's March on the Pentagon

A movement not just a protest

By Whitney Webb
WASHINGTON—In the last few years, arguably the most visible and well-publicized march on the U.S. capital has been the "Women's March," a movement aimed at advocating for legislation and policies promoting women's rights as well as a protest against the misogynistic actions and statements of high-profile U.S. politicians. The second Women's March, which took place this past year, attracted over a million protesters nationwide, with 500,000 estimated to have participated in Los Angeles alone.
However, absent from this women's movement has been a public antiwar voice, as its stated goal of "ending violence" does not include violence produced by the state. The absence of this voice seemed both odd and troubling to legendary peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose iconic protest against the invasion and occupation of Iraq made her a household name for many.
Sheehan was taken aback by how some prominent organizers of this year's Women's March were unwilling to express antiwar positions and argued for excluding the issue of peace entirely from the event and movement as a whole. In an interview with MintPress, Sheehan recounted how a prominent leader of the march had told her, "I appreciate that war is your issue Cindy, but the Women's March will never address the war issue as long as women aren't free."
War is indeed Sheehan's issue and she has been fighting against the U.S.' penchant for war for nearly 13 years. After her son Casey was killed in action while serving in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan drew international media attention for her extended protest in front of the Bush residence in Crawford, Texas, which later served as the launching point for many protests against U.S. military action in Iraq.
Sheehan rejected the notion that women could be "free" without addressing war and empire. She countered the dismissive comment of the march organizer by stating that divorcing peace activism from women's issues "ignored the voices of the women of the world who are being bombed and oppressed by U.S. military occupation."
Indeed, women are directly impacted by war—whether through displacement, the destruction of their homes, kidnapping, or torture. Women also suffer uniquely and differently from men in war as armed conflicts often result in an increase in sexual violence against women.
For example, of the estimated half-a-million civilians killed in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, many of them were women and children. In the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the number of female casualties has been rising on average over 20 percent every year since 2015. In 2014 alone when Israel attacked Gaza in "Operation Protective Edge," Israeli forces, which receives $10 million in U.S. military aid every day, killed over two thousand Palestinians—half of them were women and children. Many of the casualties were pregnant women, who had been deliberately targeted.
Given the Women's March's apparent rejection of peace activism in its official platform, Sheehan was inspired to organize another Women's March that would address what many women's rights advocates, including Sheehan, believe to be an issue central to promoting women's rights.
Dubbed the "Women's March on the Pentagon," the event is scheduled to take place on October 21—the same date as an iconic antiwar march of the Vietnam era—with a mission aimed at countering the "bipartisan war machine." Though men, women and children are encouraged to attend, the march seeks to highlight women's issues as they relate to the disastrous consequences of war.
The effort of women in confronting the "war machine" will be highlighted at the event, as Sheehan remarked that "women have always tried to confront the war-makers," as the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives of the men and women in the military, as well as those innocent civilians killed in the U.S.' foreign wars. As a result, the push for change needs to come from women, according to Sheehan, because "we [women] are the only ones that can affect [the situation] in a positive way." All that's missing is an organized, antiwar women's movement.
Sheehan noted the march will seek to highlight the direct relationship between peace activism and women's rights, since "no woman is free until all women are free" and such "freedom also includes the freedom from U.S. imperial plunder, murder and aggression" that is part of the daily lives of women living both within and beyond the United States. Raising awareness of how the military-industrial complex negatively affects women everywhere is key, says Sheehan, as "unless there is a sense of international solidarity and a broader base for feminism, then there aren't going to be any solutions to any problems, [certainly not] if we don't stop giving trillions of dollars to the Pentagon."
Sheehan also urged that, even though U.S. military adventurism has long been an issue and the subject of protests, a march to confront the military-industrial complex is more important now than ever: "I'm not alarmist by nature but I feel like the threat of nuclear annihilation is much closer than it has been for a long time," adding that, despite the assertion of some in the current administration and U.S. military, "there is no such thing as 'limited' nuclear war." This makes "the need to get out in massive numbers" and march against this more imperative than ever.
Sheehan also noted that Trump's presidency has helped to make the Pentagon's influence on U.S. politics more obvious by bringing it to the forefront: "Even though militarism had been under wraps [under previous presidents], Trump has made very obvious the fact that he has given control of foreign policy to the 'generals.'"
Indeed, as MintPress has reported on several occasions, the Pentagon—beginning in March of last year—has been given the freedom to "engage the enemy" at will, without the oversight of the executive branch or Congress. As a result, the deaths of innocent civilians abroad as a consequence of U.S. military action has spiked. While opposing Trump is not the focus of the march, Sheehan opined that Trump's war-powers giveaway to the Pentagon, as well as his unpopularity, have helped to spark widespread interest in the event.

Different wings of the same warbird

Sheehan has rejected accusations that the march is partisan, as it is, by nature, focused on confronting the bipartisan nature of the military-industrial complex. She told MintPress that she has recently come under pressure owing to the march's proximity to the 2018 midterm elections—as some have ironically accused the march's bipartisan focus as "trying to harm the chances of the Democrats" in the ensuing electoral contest.
In response, Sheehan stated that: 
"Democrats and Republicans are different wings of the same warbird. We are protesting militarism and imperialism. The march is nonpartisan in nature because both parties are equally complicit. We have to end wars for the planet and for the future. I could really care less who wins in November."
She also noted that even when the Democrats were in power under Obama, nothing was done to change the government's militarism nor to address the host of issues that events like the Women's March have claimed to champion.
"We just got finished with eight years of a Democratic regime," Sheehan told MintPress. "For two of those years, they had complete control of Congress and the presidency and a [filibuster-proof] majority in the Senate and they did nothing" productive except to help "expand the war machine." She also emphasized that this march is in no way a "get out the vote" march for any political party.
Even though planning began less than a month ago, support has been pouring in for the march since it was first announced on Sheehan's website, Cindy Sheehan Soapbox. Encouraged by the amount of interest already received, Sheehan is busy working with activists to organize the events and will be taking her first organizing trip to the east coast in April of this year. 
In addition, those who are unable to travel to Washington are encouraged to participate in any number of solidarity protests that will be planned to take place around the world or to plan and attend rallies in front of U.S. embassies, military installations, and the corporate headquarters of war profiteers.
Early endorsers of the event include journalists Abby Martin, Mnar Muhawesh and Margaret Kimberley; Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly; FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley; and U.S. politicians like former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Activist groups that have pledged their support include CodePink, United National Antiwar Coalition, Answer Coalition, Women's EcoPeace and World Beyond War.
Though October is eight months away, Sheehan has high hopes for the march. More than anything else, though, she hopes that the event will give birth to a "real revolutionary women's movement that recognizes the emancipation and liberation of all peoples—and that means [freeing] all people from war and empire, which is the biggest crime against humanity and against this planet." By building "a movement and not just a protest," the event's impact will not only be long-lasting, but grow into a force that could meaningfully challenge the U.S. military-industrial complex that threatens us all. God knows the world needs it.
For those eager to help the march, you can help spread the word through social media by joining the march's Facebook page or following the march's Twitter account, as well as by word of mouth. In addition, supporting independent media outlets—such as MintPress, which will be reporting on the march—can help keep you and others informed as October approaches.
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, and 21st Century Wire among others. She currently lives in Southern Chile.
MPN News, February 20, 2018


Mark your calendar:  Sept. 30-Oct. 6, SHUT DOWN CREECH: 
Mass Mobilization to STOP KILLER DRONES.

Join CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, and other activists for a week of resistance in the "killer drone fields" of Creech Air Force Base!

With this week's 50th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, where the U.S. military slaughtered over 500 villagers in Vietnam, it is a time to reflect.  The U.S. Killer Drone Program is as covert as ever, but continues to brutally kill people in the poorest communities of the world, as the they go about their daily lives, driving on a road, praying in a mosque, eating with their family, studying in school, attending a wedding party or funeral.  The ongoing U.S. drone attacks represent modern day mini-My Lai massacres…relentless and barbaric, "hunting" people who have no ability to defend themselves.  

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Martin L. King Jr.'s assassination, April 4, I am reminded of his words of truth:  "The greatest purveyor of violence in the world:  my own country..."  Sadly, it has only gotten worse.  We refuse to adapt to it.

Join us for all or part of the week of peaceful nonviolent resistance.  
Stay in the Goddess Temple guest house or bring your tent and gear and sleep under the beautiful Nevada desert skies.  Collaborate with activists, and join our daily am & pm vigils during rush hour commute, when thousands of military flood into and out of Creech AFB, a key command center of the U.S. killer drone program.  The day hours between vigils allow opportunities for desert walks, camaraderie with other peacemakers, and nature retreats in the beautiful desert….an opportunity for replenishing our souls and brainstorming inspirations for resistance.

Not too late to join us, and hope to see you there!

Maggie, Eleanor, Cecile, Ann Wright, GG, Michael Kerr, Pamela, Mary Dean, Renay, Susan Witka, and Toby

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


by Rachel Wolkenstein


Rally and March to Free Mumia
Saturday, April 28, 2018, 12:00 Noon
Oscar Grant Plaza, Oakland, CA

Other Regional and International Actions to Free Mumia
Detroit, Michigan: National Conference to Defeat Austerity, Saturday, March 24. 10:00 A.M.—5:00 P.M.  St. Matthew’s—St. Joseph’s Church, 8850 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202. For more information:
Houston, Texas: Banner Drop for Mumia, Monday, March 26, 5:30 P.M.—6:30 P.M.  Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement will do a banner drop over Houston’s busiest freeway for Mumia, on Dunlavy Bridge, over Highway 59.
New York City: Break Down Walls and Prison Plantation: Mumia, Migrants and Movements for Liberation, Friday, March 23. 6:00 P.M. Community Supper 7:30 PM, Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 179th Street, New York, NY 10033
Jericho Amnesty Movement 20th Anniversary, Saturday, March 24. Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 W. 179th St, New York, NY, Dinner from 5:00 P.M.—6:00 P.M. Downstairs Program from 6:30 P.M.—9:00 P.M. in Sanctuary.
Sunday, March 25: March and Rally, Gather 12:00 P.M., U.S. Mission (799 UN Plaza: 1st Ave. and 45th St.), March 1:00 P.M., to Times Square for 2:00 P.M. Rally, Buses to Philadelphia: Leaving NYC March 27, 5:30 A.M. from 147 West 24 St. For information email or call 212-330-8029.
Vallejo, CA, Saturday, March 24: 1:00 P.M.—4:00 P.M., Vallejo JFK Library, 505 Santa Clara Street, Vallejo, CA 94590, Contact Info: New Jim Crow Movement (Vallejo), 707-652-8367,
Toronto, Canada, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!, Saturday, March 24, 1:00 P.M., Across the street from the U.S. Consulate
360 University Avenue, 
Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, March 25, Freedom Park RDD, Poetry. Hip Hop. Kwaito. Drama. Local Organizer: Pastor Rev, Contact Info: +27 649 240514


DateSaturday March 24
Time5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
iCal Import this event into your personal calendar.
Location Details
Red Bay Coffee Roastery, Bar & Garden, 3098 E 10th St, Oakland (Near Fruitvale Bart)
Event TypeTeach-In
Organizer/AuthorCalifornia Coalition for Women Prisoners
Emailinfo [at]
Phone415-255-7036 x 4
Drop LWOP Town Hall will feature a panel of formerly incarcerated women describing the injustice of the Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) sentence which condemns over 5,000 people in California prisons to a living death sentence. With food from Mamacitas Cafe, a raffle, and items for sale made by people living inside women's prisons. Donations Requested: $5-20. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Added to the calendar on Sunday Feb 25th, 2018 8:27 PM


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

Saturday March 24, 2018

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


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

To endorse, email

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

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

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

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

For information on housing, please email Sharon at 

If you need child care, please email your request to 

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

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

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



Tell the Feds: End Draft Registration

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

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

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

484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, California 94610 ~ 510-488-3559

















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

Room 1108, Criminal Justice Center
1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia

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

Castille is a former PA Supreme Court

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

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

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

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

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


International Letter in Support of Mumia Abu-Jamal

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Art by Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard Peltier!

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

By Leonard Peltier

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

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



More Artwork by Kevin Cooper



From Clifford Conner

Dear friends and relatives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in struggle and solidarity,


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





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

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

By Jake Johnson, December 18, 2017



























Addicted to War:

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









Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:

Love this guy!








Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:










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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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




1) Offshore Oil and Gas Operators Want Less Regulation, but Surprise Inspections Find 
"Serious Safety Problems
"Public Citizen, a nonprofit group, compiled a database of campaign contributions to Mr. Angelle, who ran for governor in Louisiana in 2015, and compared it with a list of the companies fined by his agency in the last five years. The group found that Mr. Angelle had accepted more than $140,000 in campaign contributions from companies his agency has regulated."
 MARCH 18, 2018

An oil rig worker in 2006. An increase in lift-related accidents in the offshore drilling industry last year led to surprise inspections from Interior Department officials. CreditAlex Brandon/Associated Press


Faced with questions about its commitment to safety, the Interior Department sent teams to the Gulf of Mexico last week to inspect giant cranes used in offshore oil and gas operations that are a significant source of accidents.
More than 50 inspectors, traveling on helicopters, conducted surprise inspections on about 40 offshore platforms and drilling rigs, said Jason Mathews, the head of offshore safety management for the Gulf of Mexico at the department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
The results were still being compiled, he said, but the inspectors found serious problems, including some that were potentially life threatening. "There are still some major incidents that are occurring, and we need to figure out why," Mr. Mathews said on Friday.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had discussed plans for the inspection push this month after the safety bureau issued an alert to offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf. It warned about a series of "potentially catastrophic crane and lifting incidents" that occurred late last year on platforms and drilling rigs.

No one was killed or injured in those crane incidents, but lifting-related accidents are the second-largest cause of offshore fatalities, outnumbered only by fires and explosions, agency records show. The cranes are used to move workers and supplies from the Gulf up to the decks of the platforms.
The Interior Department and its offshore safety bureau have been under a spotlight since the agency was ordered by President Trump to re-evaluate regulations enacted during the Obama administration in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010, which killed 11 offshore workers and created the largest marine oil spill in drilling history. Many offshore oil and gas operators, and other Gulf Coast businesses that serve them, complained that the regulatory response to the accident had been excessive.
The focus of the regulatory review has been two safety rules that govern offshore drilling and the production of oil and gas. But the deregulatory push has also meant that progress has slowed, if not stopped, on finalizing other safety rules, including a 2015 proposal to enact new standards for offshore crane safety.
The New York Times reported this month that several of the independent companies seeking the regulatory rollbacks had been cited for workplace safety violations in recent years at a rate much higher than the industry average.
The recent crane accidents included one on Nov. 29, when the 110-foot arm of a crane made a "loud pop" and then "fell uncontrollably" to the side of the rig, according to an internal agency incident report. The crane had just been used to lift four workers between a supply ship and a drilling rig working 50 miles offshore. Before the arm came to a rest, it punched a hole in a fuel tank and caused a diesel fuel spill that left a 50-yard-wide sheen for five miles, the report said.
In another incident in mid-December, a bundle of tubing weighing hundreds of pounds fell as it was being lifted by a crane. A large pipe slipped out and dropped 120 feet, missing workers who were on a ship below, the agency said.
One worker did die in December on a drilling ship in a lift-related accident when a pipe-moving device — not a crane — crushed him.
"No one wants to face the family of a worker who dies or is severely injured because we didn't do our jobs correctly, or because we failed to recognize that the risks present on site were beyond acceptable bounds," Brian Salerno, then the head of the offshore safety agency, said in remarks to industry officials in July 2015 after the new crane safety rules were proposed.
"So let's see what we can do to reverse those trends," he said.
But the problem has only worsened since then, according to Interior Department records released to The Times. The rate of lift-related offshore accidents last year increased by more than 4 percent, reaching the second-highest annual level in the past decade. On average, there was one incident for every 13.5 offshore platforms or drilling rigs, according to agency data.
Arena Offshore was among the companies that had multiple lift-related accidents. In one, a worker was severely injured when he was pinned against a handrail as crews were using a crane to lift a 10,000-pound construction tool house. The operator of the crane could not see the area where the offshore worker was standing, investigators found.
In another case, involving Energy XXI, a motor failed, making it impossible to control the crane. A basket carrying four workers swung out of control, injuring three of them, an incident report says.
Arena Offshore, Energy XXI and Fieldwood Energy, which has also been cited in recent crane accident investigations, had joined with other offshore companies in 2016 to lobby the Interior Department to weaken certain offshore federal regulations, records show.
Last week's inspections, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, resulted in noncompliance notices for some offshore operators, which could result in fines, Mr. Mathews said. Among the serious and potentially life-threatening problems detected was a crane on a Fieldwood facility in the Gulf's shallow waters that was being used in a way that exceeded its design specifications.
Arena Offshore and Energy XXI did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Fieldwood, which last month filed for bankruptcy, said, "We are constantly evaluating and enhancing our safety program and culture to ensure the safety of our employees and the environment."
The crane inspections are part of a broader effort to make safety inspections more focused on risks rather than routine scheduling, meaning inspectors concentrate on known hazards like gas leaks, or on companies that have a history of safety violations. The risk-based approach has been suggested to the Interior Department for several years by the Government Accountability Office.
Mr. Zinke and Scott Angelle, who now leads the offshore safety agency, announced this month that a risk-based program was formally in place, but questions remain about the agency's commitment to safety.
Last month, a group of 19 Senate Democrats wrote to Mr. Zinke questioning why the agency had issued a stop-work order for a study by the National Academy of Sciences that was looking at ways to reduce offshore accidents.
"The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill demonstrated how devastating a leak can be from an improperly inspected and managed offshore rig," the senators, led by Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, wrote.
Public Citizen, a nonprofit group, compiled a database of campaign contributions to Mr. Angelle, who ran for governor in Louisiana in 2015, and compared it with a list of the companies fined by his agency in the last five years. The group found that Mr. Angelle had accepted more than $140,000 in campaign contributions from companies his agency has regulated.
"What are the penalties now going to be for these companies where the agency finds violations?" asked Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. "The contributions and closeness between Mr. Angelle to the industry suggest they will get a slap on the wrist at best."
Mr. Angelle rejected the criticism as unfounded, through a spokesman, and said his agency was committed to safe operations in the Gulf.
"Scott Angelle has been adamant and quite vocal in his communications to both staff and industry that any Outer Continental Shelf exploration, development and production must be done safely and in an environmentally sustainable manner," Guy Hayes, an agency spokesman, said in a statement.

2) 'Rewilding' Missing Carnivores May Help Restore Some Landscapes
By   MARCH 16, 2018
The gray wolf's reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s has been a success story of a carnivore's rewilding helping an entire ecosystem.CreditJohn and Karen Hollingsworth/United States Fish and Wildlife Service

If you're lucky, you can spot a gray wolf in Yellowstone National Park. But a century ago, you'd have been hard pressed to find any there. Poisonings and unregulated hunting obliterated nearly all of these majestic canines from Canada to Mexico, their original home range.
Then the rewilding began.
Since their reintroduction to Yellowstone and Idaho in the 1990s, gray wolves have done so well that they're reclaiming other parts of the northern Rockies.
In the places where they returned, wolves tidied up explosive deer and elk populations, which had eaten valleys barren. That helped bring back trees and shrubs. Birds and beavers, as well as the animals that live in dams, also returned. The wolves ate coyotes, freeing up their prey for others. Bears and raptors came back for carrion. With more trees controlling erosion, the flows of some rivers were less chaotic, forming pools that became new habitats.
"We're just uncovering these effects of large carnivores at the same time their populations are declining and are at risk," said William Ripple, an ecologist at Oregon State University. He's found that if you rewild some carnivores, or return them back to lost ranges, a cascade of ecological bounty may follow.

But not always. Nearly half of carnivore reintroductions fail, and understanding where rewilding may or may not work is critical to getting it right.
Lions and tigers and bears — along with gray wolves and 21 other species of large, terrestrial carnivores — roam this planet. Extinction and declining populations threaten most of them. Recently, scientists and conservationists have been hoping that rewilding will result in ecological benefits like those seen with gray wolves.
So, Dr. Ripple and Christopher Wolf, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab, analyzed hundreds of potential rewilding sites from a database of protected areas around the planet where large carnivores have disappeared. They focused on big places with small human footprints, available prey and buffer zones where animals may traverse safely. Their analysis revealed 130 potential sites suitable for rewilding and an additional 150 spots with little human activity to consider preserving. Their results, published Wednesday in Royal Society Open Science, suggest that with proper attention and care to ensure these carnivores' survival, rewilding programs could restore lost ecosystems worldwide.
But it won't be as simple as finding a dot on a map.
Their paper mentions just two specific reintroduction sites where rewilding would likely work out as planned. They suggest it could be possible to put gray wolves in Olympic National Park in Washington and sending endangered red wolves, which once roamed the southeast, into Everglades National Park. These places have space for reproduction and development, prey and humans who may tolerate them.
But for many other locations, especially in developing countries, people still hunt some animals for bushmeat or body parts used in traditional medicine. Fences limit range. Humans compete for prey or kill carnivores that threaten their lives, agriculture or livestock. Not all corridors are safe. These places may better serve as guideposts, directing researchers to spots for further investigations into what's really happening on the ground.
The biggest hurdle will be finding humans willing to live alongside and support efforts to keep big carnivores around, said Thomas Newsome, an ecologist studying human-predator interactions at the University of Sydney who was not involved in this study. That would mean supporting efforts to stop the activities that killed many large carnivores in the first place. And even for gray wolves, that hasn't been easy: Some people don't want them, and others still hunt wolves outside park boundaries in Yellowstone and in Alaska.
Perhaps the solution is rethinking what it means to be humans in a natural world, said Layla AbdelRahim, an anthropologist who has studied human understanding of wilderness. We must recognize our role as partners with the environment, rather than dominators, to maintain functioning ecosystems, she said.
Rewilding will be a significant trend in preserving ecosystems where all species matter, said Dr. Ripple. "Humans are just figuring out what the interconnectedness in nature is all about."


3)  "Killed, Shovel in Hand': Afghan Farmers Are Latest Victims of a Chaotic War
 MARCH 18, 2018

A protest on Saturday in Chaparhar against the killing of civilians during an operation by Afghan security forces. CreditGhulamullah Habibi/EPA, via Shutterstock

CHAPARHAR, Afghanistan — There was no military curfew in the villages, but, as a precaution, the farmers still informed the local police outpost that they would be in their fields before dawn, with lanterns and shovels, to channel water to their crops.
In a chaotic war of many players on both sides and with civilians bearing the brunt, the advance notice did not save their lives.
On Saturday morning, an elite unit of the Afghan intelligence agency descended on two villages in Chaparhar district in the eastern province of Nangarhar, killing as many as eight farmers in their fields, local elders said.
Provincial officials at first denied that civilians had been killed in the raid. But when villagers carried the bodies to the district center hours later, with nearly 200 protesters accompanying them and chanting, "Death to the government" and "Death to America," senior officials privately acknowledged that government forces had caused the casualties.

Making things worse, the police guarding the district compound opened fire on the protesters, killing one and wounding two others.
Afghanistan has experienced a rise in violence in recent weeks even before the official start of what is expected to be another bloody fighting season, when violence intensifies as the cold weather relents. In two weeks, 170 security forces have been killed, according to local news reports. The government says more than 500 insurgents were killed in about the same period.
Fighting has raged across the country, with some of the heaviest coming in the western province of Farah, where insurgents are once again at the gates of its capital city and in the northern Faryab Province, where dozens of local militia fighters have surrendered to the Taliban. More than 100 advisers from the American-led NATO coalition have arrived in Faryab to help.
The increase in violence is bound to once again test the resolve of the country's government, which recently presented an extensive peace offer to the Taliban. Even as President Ashraf Ghani and his international allies prepare mechanisms for what they see as an opening for talks, with American officials reporting signals of willingness from some Taliban leaders, they are wary of another bloody year ahead.
Last year, 3,438 civilians were killed and 7,015 wounded, according to the United Nations. As the war spreads across the country, often deep into populated villages, the effects are taking a heavy toll on civilians. When the violence is perpetuated by friendly forces, it highlights the deadly bind in which civilians find themselves.
"It was 4 a.m. My two brothers were out to channel the water, and we had informed the security post that we would be out watering our plots," said Mohammed Israr, whose two brothers were killed in Mano, one of the villages attacked. "I was upstream, and the helicopters came and fired at my brothers. They were killed, shovel in hand."
Mr. Israr said that a bit farther from their plot, five others who were taking a break for morning prayer, putting their lanterns by the mosque, had also been targeted. They had also informed the local security forces before going to the fields, he said.
Capt. Tom Gresback, a spokesman for the American-led NATO coalition, said, "As a result of our alignment of air power, we will maintain relentless pressure on the Taliban using a variety of aircraft to conduct daily strikes, including B-52s" and other aircraft. "These strikes continue to support a capable Afghan ground force," he added.


4)  Chris Hayes: What 'Law and Order' Means to Trump
 MARCH 17, 2018

Donald Trump is not subtle. While normal political language functions through implication and indirection, Mr. Trump luxuriates in saying the quiet part loud. But in doing so, Mr. Trump exposes what drives the politics of the movement he commands. That is most evident in the way he talks about crime and punishment.
No president since Richard Nixon has embraced the weaponized rhetoric of "law and order" as avidly as Mr. Trump. "When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order to our country," he said during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016. "I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country to get the job properly done. In this race for the White House, I am the law and order candidate."
Time and again, the president denounces "illegals" and "criminals" and the "American carnage" they wreak on law-abiding Americans. He even advised an audience of police officers to rough up suspects they were arresting.
Yet this tough-guy stance disappears when the accused are in the president's inner circle. In defending Rob Porter, the White House senior aide accused of abuse by both of his ex-wives, the president wondered whatever happened to due process while praising a man accused of giving his wife a black eye. (Mr. Porter denies the abuse.)
It's no surprise that Mr. Trump's critics pounced. Where was this concern for due process, they asked, when the president and his supporters chanted "Lock her up" about Hillary Clinton, who hadn't even been formally accused of a crime? Where was his devotion to due process when he called for the Central Park Five to be executed, and then, after their exoneration, still maintained that they were guilty?
As tempting as it is to hammer Mr. Trump for his epic hypocrisy, it is a mistake. The president's boundless benefit of the doubt for the Rob Porters and Roy Moores of the world, combined with off-with-their-heads capriciousness for immigrants accused of even minor crimes, is not a contradiction. It is the expression of a consistent worldview that he campaigned on and has pursued in office.
In this view, crime is not defined by a specific offense. Crime is defined by who commits it. If a young black man grabs a white woman by the crotch, he's a thug and deserves to be roughed up by police officers. But if Donald Trump grabs a white woman by the crotch in a nightclub (as he's accused of doing, and denies), it's locker-room high jinks.
This view is also expressed by many of the president's staff members, supporters and prominent allies. During the same week that the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, repeatedly vouched for Rob Porter's integrity, Mr. Kelly also mused that hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants who did not fill out the paperwork for DACA protections had refused to "get off their asses."
A political movement that rails against "immigrant crime" while defending alleged abusers and child molesters is one that has stopped pretending to have any universalist aspirations. The president's moral framework springs from an American tradition of cultivating fear and contempt among its white citizens against immigrants, indigenous people and people of color, who are placed on the other side of "the law." It's a practice that has taken on new strength at a time when many white people fear they may be outnumbered, outvoted and out of time.
This is the opposite of what we like to tell ourselves is the traditional American civic creed: one symbolized by a blindfolded Lady Justice who applies the law without fear or favor to whoever may come before her. It is one of Mr. Trump's most insidious victories that he has given his supporters permission to drop any pretense of insisting that their actions and views should conform to this principle.
If all that matters when it comes to "law and order" is who is a friend and who is an enemy, and if friends are white and enemies are black or Latino or in the wrong party, then the rhetoric around crime and punishment stops being about justice and is merely about power and corruption.
And this is what "law and order" means: the preservation of a certain social order, not the rule of law. It shouldn't have taken this long to see what has always been staring us in the face. After all, the last president to focus so intensely on law and order, Richard Nixon, the man who helped usher in mass incarceration, was also the most infamous criminal to occupy the Oval Office. The history of the United States is the story of a struggle between the desire to establish certain universal rights and the countervailing desire to preserve a particular social order.
We are now witnessing a president who wholly embraces the latter. America can have that kind of social order, or it can have justice for all. But it can't have both.

5)  'Testilying' — a Stubborn Police Problem
Police lying persists, even amid an explosion of video
evidence that has allowed the public to test officers' credibility.
"Yet interviews with officers suggest the prevalence of cameras alone won't end police lying. That's because even with cameras present, some officers still figure — with good reason — that a lie is unlikely to be exposed. Because plea deals are a typical outcome, it's rare for a case to develop to the point where the defendant can question an officer's version of events at a hearing."
 MARCH 18, 2018

Kimberly Thomas was arrested on gun charges in the Bronx that were later dropped. "For 396 days I have been fighting for my life, my freedom and my sanity," she said. CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times

Officer Nector Martinez took the witness stand in a Bronx courtroom on Oct. 10, 2017, and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God.
There had been a shooting, Officer Martinez testified, and he wanted to search a nearby apartment for evidence. A woman stood in the doorway, carrying a laundry bag. Officer Martinez said she set the bag down "in the middle of the doorway" — directly in his path. "I picked it up to move it out of the way so we could get in."
The laundry bag felt heavy. When he put it down, he said, he heard a "clunk, a thud."
What might be inside?
Officer Martinez tapped the bag with his foot and felt something hard, he testified. He opened the bag, leading to the discovery of a Ruger 9-millimeter handgun and the arrest of the woman.

But a hallway surveillance camera captured the true story: There's no laundry bag or gun in sight as Officer Martinez and other investigators question the woman in the doorway and then stride into the apartment. Inside, they did find a gun, but little to link it to the woman, Kimberly Thomas. Still, had the camera not captured the hallway scene, Officer Martinez's testimony might well have sent her to prison.
When Ms. Thomas's lawyer sought to play the video in court, prosecutors in the Bronx dropped the case. Then the court sealed the case file, hiding from view a problem so old and persistent that the criminal justice system sometimes responds with little more than a shrug: false testimony by the police.
"Behind closed doors, we call it testilying," a New York City police officer, Pedro Serrano, said in a recent interview, echoing a word that officers coined at least 25 years ago. "You take the truth and stretch it out a little bit."
An investigation by The New York Times has found that on more than 25 occasions since January 2015, judges or prosecutors determined that a key aspect of a New York City police officer's testimony was probably untrue. The Times identified these cases — many of which are sealed — through interviews with lawyers, police officers and current and former judges.
In these cases, officers have lied about the whereabouts of guns, putting them in suspects' hands or waistbands when they were actually hidden out of sight. They have barged into apartments and conducted searches, only to testify otherwise later. Under oath, they have given firsthand accounts of crimes or arrests that they did not in fact witness. They have falsely claimed to have watched drug deals happen, only to later recant or be shown to have lied.
No detail, seemingly, is too minor to embellish. "Clenched fists" is how one Brooklyn officer described the hands of a man he claimed had angrily approached him and started screaming and yelling — an encounter that prosecutors later determined never occurred. Another officer, during a Bronx trial, accused a driver of recklessly crossing the double-yellow line — on a stretch of road that had no double-yellow line.
In many instances, the motive for lying was readily apparent: to skirt constitutional restrictions against unreasonable searches and stops. In other cases, the falsehoods appear aimed at convicting people — who may or may not have committed a crime — with trumped-up evidence.
In still others, the motive is not easy to discern. In October 2016, for example, a plainclothes Brooklyn officer gave a grand jury a first-person account of a gun arrest. Putting herself in the center of the action, the officer, Dornezia Agard, testified that as she approached a man to confront him for littering, he suddenly crouched behind a van, pulled from his waistband a dark object — later identified as a gun — and threw it on the ground.
"P.O. Agard testified that she heard a hard metal object hit the ground," according to a letter the Brooklyn district attorney's office wrote summarizing her testimony.
But prosecutors lost faith in her account in July 2017, after learning from other officers that she was not among the first officers on the scene. Officer Agard had arrived later as backup, according to the letter, which noted that the gun charges against the man were later dismissed. The prosecutors did not address why Officer Agard claimed to be a witness, or why the other officers present seem to have allowed her to process the arrest.
Police lying raises the likelihood that the innocent end up in jail — and that as juries and judges come to regard the police as less credible, or as cases are dismissed when the lies are discovered, the guilty will go free. Police falsehoods also impede judges' efforts to enforce constitutional limits on police searches and seizures.
"We have 36,000 officers with law enforcement power, and there are a small handful of these cases every year," said J. Peter Donald, a spokesman for the Police Department, the nation's largest municipal force. "That doesn't make any of these cases any less troubling. Our goal is always, always zero. One is too many, but we have taken significant steps to combat this issue."

Shrouded, but Persistent

The 25 cases identified by The Times are almost certainly only a fraction of those in which officers have come under suspicion for lying in the past three years. That's because a vast majority of cases end in plea deals before an officer is ever required to take the witness stand in open court, meaning the possibility that an officer lied is seldom aired in public. And in the rare cases when an officer does testify in court — and a judge finds the testimony suspicious, leading to the dismissal of the case — the proceedings are often sealed afterward.
Still, the cases identified by The Times reveal an entrenched perjury problem several decades in the making that shows little sign of fading.
So far in 2018, a Queens detective has been convicted of lying in a drug case and a Brooklyn detective has been arrested amid accusations that he fabricated the results of a photo lineup. These cases returned the phenomenon of police lying to the public eye, leaving police officials to defend the integrity of honest officers.
Kevin Richardson, the Police Department's top internal prosecutor, said he believes so-called testilying is nearing its end. "I think it's a problem that's very much largely on its way out," he said.
Indeed, it's tempting to think about police lying as a bygone of past eras: a form of misconduct that ran unchecked as soaring street violence left the police overwhelmed during the 1980s and early 1990s and that re-emerged as police embraced stop-and-frisk tactics and covered up constitutional violations with lies.
But false testimony by the police persists even as crime has drastically receded across the city and the Police Department has renounced the excesses of the stop-and-frisk years.
Some policing experts anticipate that the ubiquity of cameras — whether on cellphones, affixed to buildings or worn by officers — will greatly reduce police lying. For the moment, however, video seems more capable of exposing lies than vanquishing them.

Memory and Manipulation

In two recent cases, The Times found, officers appear to have given false accounts about witness identifications. These cases are particularly troubling because erroneous identifications by witnesses have been a leading cause of wrongful convictions.
After a 2016 mugging near a Brooklyn subway station, the police arrested a group of four people, one of whom was found to be in possession of the victim's wallet. In preparing the case, prosecutors sought to pin down a few basic facts. Had the police brought the victim, who was punched and had his wallet taken, to positively identify the four suspects after they were taken into custody? If so, what had the victim said?
Getting a straight answer from the arresting officer, Chedanan Naurang, proved nearly impossible. It had been Officer Naurang's quick thinking that had made the arrest possible: Having lost the suspects at one subway station, he followed a hunch and drove one stop down the line, where he caught up with the four men after they got off the train.
But certain details Officer Naurang gave prosecutors kept shifting over the next year, according to a February 2017 letter that prosecutors wrote in which they summarized his fluid story.
Officer Naurang said at one point that the identification had occurred inside a police station when the victim passed by the holding cells, saw the men and confirmed their involvement in the crime.
A few weeks later, he backtracked. No, the victim had actually never gotten to see the suspects at the police station, Officer Naurang explained. Instead, the victim had gotten a chance to view them on the street, shortly after their arrest. That's when the victim got out of the police vehicle in which he had been waiting, Officer Naurang said, and pointed to one of the four men, identifying him as an attacker.
This version of events, however, was at odds with the recollection of the police officer who had driven the victim to the scene of the arrest. That officer, Christopher McDonald, told prosecutors that the victim had remained in the back seat while viewing the four suspects. And Officer McDonald said that the victim couldn't say whether they were his assailants. He thought he recognized their clothing, but wasn't sure.
Because of Officer Naurang's changing story, prosecutors dropped the case against the men as part of a deal in which all four pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a second mugging they were accused of the same night.
Another case in which the police gave false information about a witness identification came after a carjacking in Brooklyn in 2015. In that case, the police began to focus on two suspects based on an anonymous tip and a fingerprint. A detective, Michael Foder, testified that he had then prepared two photo lineups — one for each suspect.
Each consisted of the suspect's photograph printed on a sheet of paper, alongside the mug shots of "fillers" — people of vaguely similar appearance with no connection to the crime. The hope was that the victim, a livery cabdriver, might recognize the suspect's photo and pick him out — an outcome that prosecutors regard as a strong indicator of a suspect's guilt.
That's what happened, Detective Foder testified, when the victim came to the precinct to view the photo lineup for one suspect in November 2015 and returned in February 2016 to view one for the second suspect.
But the photo lineups that Detective Foder had prepared — and were submitted as evidence in federal court — were fabrications. It was a federal prosecutor who first realized that many of the mug shots used in the lineups were not yet available at the time Detective Foder claimed to have shown them to the victim. The reason? The mug shots of some of the fillers had yet to be taken.
The lineup that was said to be from November 2015 included filler photographs that were not taken until December. And the one he claimed to have administered in February featured photos that were taken in March.
Last month, Detective Foder was indicted on federal perjury charges. The indictment accuses him of lying to "conceal the fact that he had falsified documentation" related to the photo lineups. Detective Foder's lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on the detective's behalf.

Justifying a Search

Detective Foder's actions appear to be aimed at tilting the scales toward guilt.
But more often, The Times found, false statements by the police seem intended to hide illegal searches and seizures, such as questionable car stops or entries into apartments that result in officers finding guns or drugs. If the truth were to emerge that the case began with an illegal police search, the evidence would likely be thrown out and the case dismissed.
The story that Christopher Thomas, a plainclothes police officer, told a grand jury in December 2014 sounded plausible enough. As he approached a parked car with a flashlight in hand, he said, he saw a man in the driver's seat pull a firearm out of his waistband and stick it between the car's center console and the front seat. The driver was indicted on gun-possession charges.
But by July 2015, as video of the encounter was about to emerge, Officer Thomas started backtracking. In conversations with the assistant district attorney on the case, Officer Thomas acknowledged that he had not seen the driver pull the gun from his waistband. In fact, he said, he had never seen the driver with his hand on the gun.
"He stated to the A.D.A. that he did not know why he had testified to those facts before the grand jury," according to an email prosecutors later sent to a defense lawyer. This email, as well as several similar letters that prosecutors sent in other cases, were provided to The Times by Cynthia Conti-Cook, a Legal Aid Society lawyer who has been compiling a database of police misconduct allegations.
The video undermined Officer Thomas's original claim of having seen the gun at the outset. It shows Officer Thomas and his partner approach the car and shine their flashlights inside. Their demeanor on the video suggests that they had seen nothing so far to cause alarm. One of the two officers — either Officer Thomas or his partner — is so unconcerned that he bends down for about seven seconds, and appears to tie his shoe.
Brooklyn prosecutors dismissed the gun case and, according to the prosecutors' email, informed the Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau about the problems with Officer Thomas's account. An internal police disciplinary process led to Officer Thomas losing 30 vacation days and being placed on dismissal probation for a year, according to a person familiar with the case.
He is now a sergeant in a narcotics unit.
Officer Thomas is not the only officer to have tried to withdraw earlier testimony as soon as video of an encounter emerged, or was about to.
"I misspoke when I was in grand jury," Sean Kinane, an officer with the 52nd Precinct in the Bronx, testified in federal court in 2016. That was all the explanation he gave, or was asked to give, for why he was recanting his earlier testimony about witnessing what appeared to be narcotics transactions in the moments before he stopped a heroin dealer in the street.
That claim, if true, would have given the police justification to stop the man, who was discovered to be carrying 153 glassine envelopes of heroin and eight bags of crack cocaine. But after the drug dealer managed to get a video recording of the encounter, Officer Kinane's story changed. He had misspoken.
Reached by telephone for comment, Detective Kinane — he was promoted in 2017 — hung up.

'No Fear of Being Caught'

Many police officials and experts express optimism that the prevalence of cameras will reduce police lying. As officers begin to accept that digital evidence of an encounter will emerge, lying will be perceived as too risky — or so the thinking goes.
"Basically it's harder for a cop to lie today," the Police Department's top legal official, Lawrence Byrne, said last year at a New York City Bar Association event, noting that there were millions of cellphones on the streets of New York, each with a camera. "There is virtually no enforcement encounter where there isn't immediate video of what the officers are doing."
As more police encounters are recorded — whether on the cellphones of bystanders or the body-worn cameras of officers — false police testimony is being exposed in cases where the officer's word might once have carried the day. That is true for run-of-the-mill drug cases as well as for police shootings so notorious that they are seared into the national consciousness.
Yet interviews with officers suggest the prevalence of cameras alone won't end police lying. That's because even with cameras present, some officers still figure — with good reason — that a lie is unlikely to be exposed. Because plea deals are a typical outcome, it's rare for a case to develop to the point where the defendant can question an officer's version of events at a hearing.
"There's no fear of being caught," said one Brooklyn officer who has been on the force for roughly a decade. "You're not going to go to trial and nobody is going to be cross-examined."
The percentage of cases that progress to the point where an officer is cross-examined is tiny. In 2016, for instance, there were slightly more than 185 guilty pleas, dismissals or other non-trial outcomes for each criminal case in New York City that went to trial and reached a verdict. There were 1,460 trial verdicts in criminal cases that year, while some 270,304 criminal cases were resolved without a trial.
To be sure, officers are sometimes called to testify before trial at so-called suppression hearings in which the legality of police conduct is evaluated. But those are rare. In Manhattan, about 2.4 percent of felony criminal cases have a suppression hearing, according to data from the Manhattan district attorney's office. The rate for non-felony cases is slightly more than one-tenth of 1 percent.

From 'Dropsy' to 'Testilying'

Several officers, all working in the Bronx and Brooklyn, candidly described in interviews how the practice of lying runs like a fault line through precincts. "You're either a 'lie guy' or you're not," said the Brooklyn officer. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he described how he avoided certain officers and units in his precinct based on his discomfort with the arrests they made.
Earlier in his career, he said, a supervisor and a detective had each encouraged him to lie about the circumstances of drug arrests. Another time, he said, he had worked with an officer who, after discovering drugs while searching a suspect without cause, turned to the other officers present with a question — "How did we find this?" — and sought their help devising a false story.
Countless police officers have struggled with that question — "How did we find this?" — ever since 1961, when the Supreme Court ruled, in Mapp v. Ohio, that state judges must throw out evidence from illegal searches and seizures. Before this ruling, New York City officers could stop someone they thought might be dealing or using drugs, search their pockets and clothing, describe the encounter truthfully, and not worry that a court would throw out the drugs that they had discovered, even though the stop and search had been, strictly speaking, illegal. That changed with the Mapp decision, which greatly expanded the reach of the Fourth Amendment.
Immediately following the Mapp case, police officers saw many narcotics cases get dismissed. Then they made what one judge called"the great discovery." If they testified that the suspect had dropped a bag of drugs on the ground as the police approached, courts would generally deem those arrests legal.
Within a year of the Mapp decision, courts in New York City were seeing a marked increase in what became known as "dropsy" testimony — in some units "dropsy" cases increased more than 70 percent, according to one 1968 study.
There was little reason to think drug users had grown more skittish. Rather, the influx of these cases was understood to be a sign that police officers were lying in a substantial number of cases. Ever since, courts in New York have been plagued with officers lying about how they came to discover that a suspect was carrying drugs or guns.
By 1994, a commission appointed to investigate police corruption noted that lying to make cases stick was common enough for "testilying" to become a well-known portmanteau.
The report by the Mollen Commission noted a few established patterns of falsehoods. Officers who illegally searched a car might later say they discovered contraband in "plain view." Or an officer who found a gun or drugs in someone's clothing during an illegal search, might falsely claim to have seen "a bulge in the person's pocket."
Just like the dropsy testimony a few decades earlier, these stories of "plain view" and "suspicious bulges" became scripts that many police officers stuck to. They were rarely challenged, not even as officers in New York City began repeating them tens and then hundreds of thousands of times as police stops of mainly black and Latino men skyrocketed during the years Michael Bloomberg was mayor.

Embellished Narratives

In recent years, the number of times police stopped and frisked pedestrians has declined precipitously. But certain plainclothes units, such as the so-called anti-crime teams, still engage in an aggressive style of policing that relies heavily on stop-and-frisk tactics. These teams make a disproportionate number of gun arrests, but they are also responsible for a substantial number of dubious stops of pedestrians and drivers, police officers and legal experts said in interviews.
Several uniformed patrol officers said they have long suspected that the track record of plainclothes anti-crime teams for making weapons and drug arrests was bolstered by illegal searches and a tolerance for lying about them.
These officers described a familiar scene: a group of black men ordered out of a vehicle for little reason and made to sit on the curb or lean against the bumper, as officers search the vehicle for guns and drugs.
"Certain car stops, certain cops will say there is odor of marijuana. And when I get to the scene, I immediately don't smell anything," said Officer Serrano, one of the few officers interviewed who was willing to speak on the record. "I can't tell you what you smelled, but it's obvious to me there is no smell of marijuana."
Mr. Serrano's testimony about a secret station-house recording he made was crucial evidence in a landmark stop-and-frisk trial in 2013. He and nearly a dozen other current and former officers are currently suing the Police Department over what they describe as arrest quotas.
"It's the anti-crime teams, the plainclothes officers, everyone knows they will violate the law, get what they want and then write it to fit the narrative," said Edwin Raymond, a police sergeant who is also a plaintiff in the arrest-quota case. "The narratives will be embellished to fit the parameters of probable cause, if need be."

'A Surreal Journey'

To be sure, there are other motives for lying, other than to cover up illegal searches.
Some police officers have said they faced pressure from commanders to write more tickets or make more arrests. A decade ago, narcotics detectives were found to have falsely accused people of dealing drugs in order to meet arrest quotas.
And there is pressure to solve — or at least close — cases. That may have motivated Officer Martinez's gun-in-the-laundry-bag-in-the-doorway story.
What appears to have actually happened is that Officer Martinez and other officers searched inside the apartment for evidence from a nearby shooting. They had good reason to focus on that apartment. The victim, after being shot, had rushed there, along with others. Crime-scene photos taken by the department's Evidence Collection Team suggest that a gun was found inside the apartment, in or near a laundry bag on the floor.
But whose gun was it? That was not clear. A number of people had been in the apartment in the preceding hours. And Ms. Thomas, who lived more than a mile away and arrived about an hour after the shooting, was one of the few people there when Officer Martinez showed up.
There is little, if any, evidence tying Ms. Thomas to the gun other than Officer Martinez's false testimony that placed her in the doorway with the laundry bag in her arms. Prosecutors acknowledged that DNA testing indicates that Ms. Thomas did not handle the gun. Moreover, court papers that prosecutors filed after the case fell apart noted that the police appear to have focused on Ms. Thomas while ignoring other potential suspects. Several other people had entered the apartment shortly before Ms. Thomas — "none of whom are questioned by the police," the prosecutors' papers noted.
As for Officer Martinez's false story of the laundry bag in the doorway, the prosecution's legal papers noted only that "there are clear inconsistencies" between Officer Martinez's "recollection of events and the video."
"At no time in this video is there a laundry bag in the defendant's hands," the prosecution's legal papers noted. "Neither is there a bag in the doorway of the apartment, and at no time is the arresting officer observed moving a bag before entering the apartment."
By the time prosecutors officially dropped the case in November 2017, Ms. Thomas had already appeared in court 16 times, according to a tally of appearances kept by one of her lawyers, Alexandra Conlon, of the Bronx Defenders. On the last appearance, Ms. Thomas, 39, asked to address the court. "For 396 days I have been fighting for my life, my freedom and my sanity," she said. "This has been such a surreal journey that I don't wish on anyone."
Officer Martinez remains in good standing at the 41st Precinct. Shortly after the case was dismissed, he was promoted to detective and given his gold shield. When a reporter attempted to interview him in January about his testimony in the case, he declined to comment, saying, "That's not something I can speak about directly with you."
Nate Schweber contributed reporting. Susan Beachy, Doris Burke and Jack Begg contributed research.


6)  Nashville Demolition Blues
  MARCH 18, 2018

NASHVILLE — There's a mechanized tyrannosaur biting a hole in the roof of my mother's last house. It moves hesitantly, lifting its heavy head and widening its serrated jaws before clamping down, then nosing around a little bit, finding purchase between bites, backing up and moving forward to accommodate its long reach, its powerful orange neck swinging right and left to bump walls that stubbornly refuse to fall. I stand at the edge of the yard and watch my mother's house reduced to rubble.
It stood directly across the street from mine — I could see it from the window of my home office — but I almost missed the demolition. Between the nail guns of the framing crew five doors down and the blaring radio of the masonry crew on the other side of the street, more than half the house was gone before I even noticed. You would think the noise of a whole house falling into dust would make an instant impression, but I have lived with so much construction noise, and for so many years, I've gotten good at tuning it out.
There's a kind of heartbreak that comes of watching whole swaths of houses scraped from a neighborhood, but this particular heartbreak is in no way tied to issues of historic preservation. The original houses were small brick rectangles, less lovely than a double-wide mobile home. Built after World War II for working-class servicemen buying on the G.I. Bill, each house followed one of two simple floor plans, with small variations — a covered stoop on some, a gable on others — to make them distinguishable from one another.
When my husband and I moved here in 1995, we had a small son and a baby on the way. Back then, there were only a handful of young families on this block. Most of the houses were occupied by the original postwar owners aging in place or by couples buying starter homes. As families grew, they mostly moved away, and a new young couple would take their place.
It's a neighborhood of old shade trees, a quiet street with no through traffic. When our boys took their first solo rides on two-wheeler bikes, all the dog-walking and stroller-pushing neighbors would cheer them along their route, helping them up after the inevitable crash and comforting them till one of us could catch up.
Is it any wonder that we refused to move away? As our families grew, we would close in the garage, add a little room off the back, dormer the low attic — anything to keep from leaving our friends. My husband and I added on twice: a family room after our third child was born, an extra bedroom when my father needed help between chemotherapy treatments. One of our older neighbors would watch these amendments underway and shake his head: "There y'all go again, driving up my property taxes." When he moved to a condo across the county line, a single mom with an infant promptly bought his house.
Over the years, our neighborhood became uncommonly close. Our children roamed in packs, our dogs drank from one another's water bowls, our holiday caroling ended in too much wine and children hyped on Christmas cookies and insufficient supervision.
The simplicity of the original houses meant that if a couple divorced, it was almost always possible for one of the parents to buy the other out, and the kids could stay here with us, a steady support system during a season of cataclysmic change. Older neighbors died, and we prayed at their funerals and checked on their grieving spouses. When my mother was no longer able to live on her own, it was nothing less than a miracle that the rental house across the street became available. She couldn't afford an assisted-living facility, but here she didn't need one. We assisted her.
In time, "adding on" came to mean extensive whole-house makeovers. But these 70-year-old houses were already crumbling, unsuited for renovations on such a scale, and that's when my neighbors began to tear their own houses down. If you need more room and don't want to move — and if property values have grown so high that moving makes less sense anyway — why not tear a wobbly old house down and move in with your parents while a new house rises in its place?
I love my neighbors, and I'm always relieved when a family here decides to stay. But I didn't understand that when our oldest neighbors began to die, real estate developers would swoop in to tear the old houses down, building monstrous new houses on spec and cashing out in a metropolitan area growing by a hundred people a day.
My old neighborhood isn't recognizable anymore, and neither is this city, my home for more than 30 years. There are reasons to celebrate growth, and I don't want to be like the cranky old neighbor who complained that we were driving up his property taxes without acknowledging that we were also increasing his property's value. I know it's nothing less than a luxury to live here. Most people would love to live in a place where the biggest problem is that the old trees keep dying, their roots covered in concrete and cinder block.
But something crucial is lost when a community becomes a place where people can't afford to live in the same county where they work. Something important is lost when a neighborhood becomes a place where only the well off live — where a single parent will never again buy a house, where a schoolteacher will never again buy a house, where there's no little rental house for a lonely widow to move into, right across the street from her daughter.

7)  Austin Struck by Fourth Explosion Only Hours After Televised Appeal to Bomber
 MARCH 18, 2018

Authorities near the scene of an explosion on Sunday that injured two people in Austin, Tex. Three other explosions in the city this month killed two people and seriously wounded another.CreditNick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman, via Associated Press


AUSTIN, Tex. — An explosion on Sunday night injured two people in a neighborhood in southwest Austin, just hours after law enforcement officials made an unusual direct appeal to whoever was responsible for several deadly package explosions this month that have kept the capital of Texas on edge.
The authorities said they responded to Dawn Song Drive after reports of an explosion around 8:30 p.m. A short time later, two men in their 20s were taken to a hospital with serious injuries, the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said.
The Austin police chief, Brian Manley, told reporters early Monday that it was "very possible" that the explosion "was activated by someone either handling, kicking or coming in contact with a tripwire that activated the device," a manner far different from the first three explosions, which were triggered by the handling of packages.

On Sunday evening, Chief Manley said the police were asking residents within a half-mile radius of the explosion to stay indoors until officers could conduct a search for bombs.

What We Know About the Austin Bombings 

Four bombings have been reported this month in the capital of Texas.

Eliza May said she was watching a TV show in her home when she heard what sounded like a transformer blowing up in her backyard. "It sounded like when the transformers go out, but it was five times magnified that," said Ms. May, who lives about 200 feet from where the explosion was said to have occurred.
Another neighbor, Lori Goodgame, said the explosion caused her house to shake. Her first thought was that lightning had hit her home. "There was a huge boom," Ms. Goodgame said.
Moments later, dozens of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks swarmed her street, Ms. May said. Police officers ordered neighbors — who had come outside to see what happened — to return to their homes, she said.
Investigators from the F.B.I. and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded to the neighborhood known as Travis Country, which is about five miles southwest of downtown Austin and in a different area from the three previous explosions. Bomb technicians with the A.T.F. were conducting a secondary sweep, officials said.
Because the device exploded after nightfall, the chief said, the police could not fully inspect the scene and would have to wait until sunrise on Monday to better examine it. It was not immediately clear if Sunday's explosion was directly connected to the three previous bombings.
"We have not had an opportunity to really look at this blast site to determine what has happened," Chief Manley said at an evening news conference. "It's obvious that there's been an explosion, and it's obvious it's caused significant injuries to two people."
At a news conference before Sunday's explosion, the Austin police made a rare public appeal for the bomber or bombers responsible for the first three explosions to contact the police so officials could learn more about the "message" behind the attacks.
"These events in Austin have garnered worldwide attention, and we assure you that we are listening," Chief Manley said in addressing the unknown bomber or bombers at the earlier news conference. "We want to understand what brought you to this point, and we want to listen to you."
Chief Manley told reporters that he hoped the person or people responsible were watching, and that they would get in touch by calling 911 or reaching out online. He said investigators had not established a motive for the explosive packages.
"There's the message behind what's happening in our community, and we're not going to understand that until the suspect or suspects reaches out to us to talk to us about what that message was," Chief Manley said. "We still do not know what ideology may be behind this and what the motive was behind this."
Before Sunday, three separate bombings this month in the eastern and northeastern parts of the city left two people dead and a third seriously wounded. In each case, the victims handled packages that were left on their doorsteps and were outfitted with homemade but sophisticated explosive devices.
Officials said the first bombing, on Haverford Drive on March 2, and two more on March 12, on Oldfort Hill Drive and Galindo Street, were connected. None of the packages were mailed. Instead, they were apparently placed directly near the doors of homes for the victims to find. In two cases, the bombs detonated when the victims picked them up; in the third, the package exploded after it had been carried inside and opened.
More than 500 federal agents are assisting the investigation from agencies including the F.B.I. and the A.T.F. Fred Milanowski, the A.T.F. special agent in charge of its Houston division, said he believed that the same person built all three devices.
"Every bomber that makes these leaves a signature," Mr. Milanowski said. "Obviously, once they find something successful for them, they don't want to deviate from that because they don't want something to blow up on them."
Mr. Milanowski said a degree of skill was required to assemble, transport and deliver the devices without an accidental explosion. He declined to identify the materials that were used to make them.
"It wouldn't be a typical household that would have all these components, but I would say that all the components are commercially available," he said.
Since March 12, the day when two bombings occurred, anxious residents have reported hundreds of suspicious packages to the authorities; Austin police officers have responded to 735 such calls. Officials have continued to urge residents to call 911 if they receive a package that they were not expecting and that did not appear to have been delivered by the Postal Service or a legitimate commercial service like U.P.S. or FedEx.
Law enforcement officials said they were looking for possible links to similar residential package bombings across the country.
"The scope goes beyond just Austin," said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation. "We're looking for anyone that could have been involved in making bombs in the past in Texas, and really anywhere in the United States."
Asked at the news conference whether investigators were looking for links to bombings elsewhere, Chief Manley said they were pursuing all avenues. "We are not going to rule anything out until we have a reason to rule it out," he said, "because when we do that, it narrows our focus and we may limit considering things that we should be considering."
Over the past 30 years or so, package bombings have killed or wounded more than two dozen people across the country, excluding those connected to the Unabomber case. Many of the attacks have been solved by the authorities; they often stemmed from domestic disputes, and sometimes involved pipe bombs in packages wrapped like holiday presents.
The bombings in Austin have alarmed black leaders because the two people killed were African-American and the seriously wounded victim was a 75-year-old Hispanic woman. Law enforcement officials said that they did not have conclusive evidence that race played a role in the bombings, but that they were continuing to explore the possibility.
Nelson E. Linder, the president of the Austin branch of the N.A.A.C.P., said on Sunday evening that he did not know the race of the two men injured in the latest explosion. "It's important for the whole city to understand this is a danger, and I think tonight kind of confirms that," Mr. Linder said. "I think that's what this means tonight, that this whole city is at risk."
Investigators are examining connections between the two black victims, who both belonged to prominent African-American families. Officials said investigators were also looking into the possibility that the bomb that wounded the Hispanic woman may have been intended for someone else, but that nothing definitive had been established.
Chief Manley said on Sunday that the combined rewards offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case had been increased to $115,000, from $65,000.
A concert featuring the Roots that was part of the South by Southwest festival in Austin was canceled on Saturday after the concert venue received a bomb threat in an email, the authorities said. No device was found, and the police later arrested a man on a charge of making a terroristic threat. The police said the man, Trevor Weldon Ingram, 26, was not a suspect in the package bombings.

8) Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys
"The new data shows that 21 percent of black men raised at the very bottom were incarcerated, according to a snapshot of a single day during the 2010 census. Black men raised in the top 1 percent — by millionaires — were as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000."
 MARCH 19, 2018
Will Jawando was raised in a low-income household in Silver Spring, Md. A lawyer and a former Obama White House staffer, he is among the rare black boys who reached the top fifth of the income distribution as an adult.T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children.

White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households.
Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.
According to the study, led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard and the Census Bureau, income inequality between blacks and whites is driven entirely by what is happening among these boysand the men they become. Black and white girls from families with comparable earnings attain similar individual incomes as adults.
"You would have thought at some point you escape the poverty trap," said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and an author of the study.
Black boys — even rich black boys — can seemingly never assume that.
The study, based on anonymous earnings and demographic data for virtually all Americans now in their late 30s, debunks a number of other widely held hypotheses about income inequality. Gaps persisted even when black and white boys grew up in families with the same income, similar family structures, similar education levels and even similar levels of accumulated wealth.
The disparities that remain also can't be explained by differences in cognitive ability, an argument made by people who cite racial gaps in test scores that appear for both black boys and girls. If such inherent differences existed by race, "you've got to explain to me why these putative ability differences aren't handicapping women," said David Grusky, a Stanford sociologist who has reviewed the research.
A more likely possibility, the authors suggest, is that test scores don't accurately measure the abilities of black children in the first place.
If this inequality can't be explained by individual or household traits, much of what matters probably lies outside the home — in surrounding neighborhoods, in the economy and in a society that views black boys differently from white boys, and even from black girls.
"One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea," said Ibram Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. "But for whatever reason, we're unwilling to stare racism in the face."
The authors, including the Stanford economist Raj Chetty and two census researchers, Maggie R. Jones and Sonya R. Porter, tried to identify neighborhoods where poor black boys do well, and as well as whites.
"The problem," Mr. Chetty said, "is that there are essentially no such neighborhoods in America."
The few neighborhoods that met this standard were in areas that showed less discrimination in surveys and tests of racial bias. They mostly had low poverty rates. And, intriguingly, these pockets — including parts of the Maryland suburbs of Washington, and corners of Queens and the Bronx — were the places where many lower-income black children had fathers at home. Poor black boys did well in such places, whether their own fathers were present or not.
"That is a pathbreaking finding," said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard sociologist whose books have chronicled the economic struggles of black men. "They're not talking about the direct effects of a boy's own parents' marital status. They're talking about the presence of fathers in a given census tract."
Other fathers in the community can provide boys with role models and mentors, researchers say, and their presence may indicate other neighborhood factors that benefit families, like lower incarceration rates and better job opportunities.
The research makes clear that there is something unique about the obstacles black males face. The gap between Hispanics and whites is narrower, and their incomes will converge within a couple of generations if mobility stays the same. Asian-Americans earn more than whites raised at the same income level, or about the same when first-generation immigrants are excluded. Only Native Americans have an income gap comparable to African-Americans. But the disparities are widest for black boys.
"This crystallizes and puts data behind this thing that we always knew was there because we either felt it ourselves or we've seen it over time," said Will Jawando, 35, who worked in the Obama White House on My Brother's Keeper, a mentoring initiative for black boys. Even without this data, the people who worked on that project, he said, believed that individual and structural racism targeted black men in ways that required policies devised specifically for them.
Mr. Jawando, the son of a Nigerian father and a white mother, grew up poor in Silver Spring, Md. The Washington suburb contains some of the rare neighborhoods where black and white boys appear to do equally well. Mr. Jawando, who identifies as black, is now a married lawyer with three daughters. He is among the black boys who climbed from the bottom to the top.
He was one of the 20 million children born between 1978 and 1983 whose lives are reflected in the study. Using census data that included tax files, the researchers were able to link the adult fortunes of those children to their parents' incomes. Names and addresses were hidden from the researchers.
Previous research suggests some reasons there may be a large income gap between black and white men, but not between women.
Other studies show that boys, across races, are more sensitive than girls to disadvantages like growing up in poverty or facing discrimination. While black women also face negative effects of racism, black men often experience racial discrimination differently. As early as preschool, they are more likely to be disciplined in school. They are pulled over or detained and searched by police officers more often.
"It's not just being black but being male that has been hyper-stereotyped in this negative way, in which we've made black men scary, intimidating, with a propensity toward violence," said Noelle Hurd, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia.
She said this racist stereotype particularly hurts black men economically, now that service-sector jobs, requiring interaction with customers, have replaced the manufacturing jobs that previously employed men with less education.
The new data shows that 21 percent of black men raised at the very bottom were incarcerated, according to a snapshot of a single day during the 2010 census. Black men raised in the top 1 percent — by millionaires — were as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000.
At the same time, boys benefit more than girls from adult attention and resources, as do low-income and nonwhite children, a variety of studies have found. Mentors who aren't children's parents, but who share those children's gender and race, serve a particularly important role for black children, Ms. Hurd has found. That helps explain why the presence of black fathers in a neighborhood, even if not in a child's home, appears to make a difference.
Some of the widest black-white income gaps in this study appear in wealthy communities. This fits with previous researchthat has shown that the effects of racial discrimination cross class lines. Although all children benefit from growing up in places with higher incomes and more resources, black children do not benefit nearly as much as white children do. Moving black boys to opportunity is no guarantee they can tap into it.
"Simply because you're in an area that is more affluent, it's still hard for black boys to present themselves as independent from the stereotype of black criminality," said Khiara Bridges, a professor of law and anthropology at Boston University who has written a coming paper on discrimination against affluent black people.
This dynamic still weighs on Mr. Jawando. He has a good income, multiple degrees and political aspirations — he is running for county council in Montgomery County, where he grew up. But in his own community, he is careful to dress like a professional.
"I think if I'm putting on a sweatsuit, if I go somewhere, will I be seen as just kind of a hood black guy?" he said. "Or will people recognize me at all?" Those small daily decisions — to wear a blazer or not — follow him despite his success. "I don't think you escape those things," he said.


This study makes it possible to look in greater detail at interrelated disparities that researchers have long studied around income, marriage rates and incarceration. Here are some of the other findings.
There's a large gap in the marriage rates of white and black Americans, even after accounting for income.
One reason income gaps between whites and blacks appear so large at the household level is that black men and women are less likely to be married. That means their households are more likely to have a single income — not two. For this reason and others, many point to differences in family structure as a primary driver of racial income inequality. If black children don't have married parents, the argument goes, they're more likely to grow up with fewer resources and less adult attention at home.
This study found, however, that broad income disparities still exist between black and white men even when they're raised in homes with the same incomes and the same family structure.
The income gap exists for black and white boys if they had one parent in the house or two.
As this chart shows, a black man raised by two parents together in the 90th percentile — making around $140,000 a year — earns about the same in adulthood as a white man raised by a single mother making $60,000 alone.
The high mobility rate for Asian-Americans is partly about immigration.
Asian-Americans earn more in adulthood than whites who were raised in families with similar incomes. But that advantage largely disappears when the researchers look only at children whose parents were born in the United States. Non-immigrant Asian-Americans fare about as well in the economy as whites. (The study did not divide immigrant mothers into smaller groups by origin, collapsing potentially significant differences between, say, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans.)
The worst places for poor white children are almost all better than the best places for poor black children.
In previous work, some of these same researchers looked at how the prospects for poor children vary depending on where they grow up. The middle map above shows those earlier results: Poor children appeared to have less opportunity in the Southeast and more in the Northern Great Plains. With the new data, it's now possible to look at the effects of geography separately for blacks and whites.
Poor white children struggle in parts of the Southeast and Appalachia. But they still fare better there than poor black children do in most of America. In effect, the worst places for whites produce outcomes that are about as good as the best places for blacks. These new maps also suggest that part of the reason the Southeast looks bad for all children, in the middle map, is that the region is home to many black children who fare particularly poorly there.
Very few nonwhite Americans started at the very top.
African-Americans made up about 35 percent of all children raised in the bottom 1 percent of the income distribution. They made up less than 1 percent of the children at the very top. This picture captures both a source of racial inequality and a consequence of it. White children are more likely to start life with economic advantages. But we now know that even when they start with the same advantages as black children, white boys still fare better, only reinforcing the disparities seen here.

The Real Starting Positions

The ladder charts so far have shown equal numbers of black and white boys raised by rich or poor families — what would happen, in other words, if we started with 10,000 boys, and half were black and half white.
In reality, whites and blacks are not represented equally across the income spectrum. More than two-thirds of black boys are raised by poor or lower-middle-class families, while more than half of white boys are raised by rich or upper-middle-class families. The chart below depicts boys from every income quintile – not just the top or bottom ones – proportioned according to their real starting places in life.
Note: Data does not include unauthorized immigrants


9)  Supreme Court Won't Hear Challenges to Arizona's Death Penalty Law
 MARCH 19, 2018

The Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 after a four-year moratorium.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request that it take a fresh look at whether the death penalty is constitutional anywhere in the nation.
The court also refused to consider a narrower question in the same case: Whether Arizona's capital sentencing system, which appears to make virtually all murderers eligible for the death penalty, violates the Constitution.
In a 2015 dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer had urged his colleagues to revisit the death penalty, saying that "it is highly likely" that it violates the Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishments. He said that there was evidence that innocent people have been executed, that death row exonerations were frequent, that death sentences were imposed arbitrarily and that the capital justice system was warped by racial discrimination and politics.
Only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the 2015 dissent, and the issue does not seem to have gained traction in the intervening years.

Justice Breyer on Monday also issued a statement on the narrower challenge, saying that Arizona's capital sentencing system may well be unconstitutional and inviting a further challenge with more evidence. Justices Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Justice Breyer's statement.
The case concerned Abel Daniel Hidalgo, who agreed to kill Michael Cordova, whom he did not know, for $1,000 payment from a gang member. He committed the murder at an auto body shop in 2001, and he also killed Jose Rojas, a bystander who happened to be present.
When the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 after a four-year moratorium, it upheld capital sentencing systems which sought to reserve the penalty for the worst offenders by insisting that juries find "aggravating factors" before a death sentence may be imposed.
Arizona's system includes so many possible factors, its critics say, that it does almost nothing to cull the worst offenders from others. Around 98 percent of convicted murderers, they say, are eligible for the death penalty there.
Mr. Hidalgo pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death after a jury found that he had killed in exchange for money, committed multiple homicides and had committed another serious crime.
Justice Breyer wrote that the record in the case, Hidalgo v. Arizona, No. 17-251, as too thin to adequately evaluate the argument that the state's approach was unconstitutional.
Using public records requests, Mr. Hidalgo's lawyers had obtained information about 860 first-degree murder cases in one Arizona county. They showed that essentially every defendant was eligible for the death penalty under the state's sentencing laws.
"That evidence is unrebutted," Justice Breyer wrote. "It points to a possible constitutional problem. And it was assumed to be true by the state courts below. Evidence of this kind warrants careful attention and evaluation."
But the state courts had rejected Mr. Hidalgo's request for a hearing to develop and test the evidence, Justice Breyer wrote. The Supreme Court would be in a better position to consider the constitutionality of Arizona's sentencing system, he wrote, after a more rigorous empirical inquiry.


10)  In Brazil, 1,000 Protest Murder of Rio de Janeiro Councilwoman
 MARCH 18, 2018

Marchers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, protesting against the killing of the councilwoman and human rights activist Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes. CreditLeo Correa/Associated Press


At least 1,000 people marched in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday to protest the recent killing of Marielle Franco, a city councilwoman and human rights activist, according to The Associated Press.

Ms. Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were shot dead by assailants on Wednesday night while returning from an event focused on empowering young black women.
Ms. Franco had garnered attention for her role as a human-rights activist, arguing that the city's entrenched inequality and aggressive police culture were the cause of the violence that has afflicted Rio de Janeiro for generations.
Before her death, she had suggested on Twitter that the killing of a young man earlier that week had been the latest act of police brutality in the city.
In 2016, she was elected to the City Council, the only black female representative and one of seven women on the 51-seat Council.
"She broke barriers that many black women in the periphery thought were intractable," said Ilona Szabó, executive director of Igarapé Institute, which studies public safety policies. "She represented hope for so many women who never felt like they had a voice."
A mural of the slain councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro. CreditLeo Correa/Associated Press
Ms. Franco's death came just a month after President Michel Temer of Brazil signed a decree giving the military wide-ranging power to try to make Rio de Janeiro safer. The councilwoman had been a vocal critic of Mr. Temer's order, believing it would further exacerbate violence without addressing the main issues.
According to The Associated Press, protesters convened in the Mare slum in Rio de Janeiro, where Ms. Franco grew up, before marching along Avenida Brasil, the main north-south artery through the city.
Several carried banners reading "Marielle and Anderson Present Today and Always" and images of the councilwoman. Others expressed their grief and frustration over Ms. Franco's death.

11) Farmer Suicides Mark Tough Times for New York Dairy Industry
By , March 19, 2018

Fred Morgan's son, Cody Morgan, 23, and his grandson, Tucker Bailey, 4, at the family's dairy farm in Eaton, N.Y. Fred Morgan said he had considered committing suicide so that his family could receive a life insurance payout after he was unable to repay debts.

EATON, N.Y. — Fred Morgan was already deep in debt from rebuilding his milking barn after a fire when milk prices plunged in 2015, setting off an economic drought that is now entering its fourth year — the worst in recent memory for dairy farmers in New York State.
Mr. Morgan, 50, saw no way to save the dairy farm in central New York State that he took over as a teenager from his ailing father and ran with his wife, Judy, and their son, Cody.
With the farm operating at a loss and facing foreclosure, Mr. Morgan believed his only solution was his $150,000 life insurance policy. He said he planned on killing himself so his family could receive the payout.
"I'd sacrifice my life so my family could keep the farm," Mr. Morgan said. His wife persuaded him otherwise.
Mr. Morgan was hardly alone in his suicide plan. There has been a spate of suicides in the state as the dairy industry has nose-dived, resulting in the closing of hundreds of small farms. While the dairy industry nationwide is in the grips of an economic crisis — fueled by decreasing demand as customers turn to milk alternatives — the picture is particularly bleak in New York where dairy sales represent about half of total farm sales every year.
New York is the third largest milk-producing state in the country and low milk prices have not only devastated farmers financially — most are selling milk for less than it costs to produce — but also emotionally.
The situation has become so grim that NY FarmNet, a leading farm support group, has started running suicide prevention training for local agricultural service providers and lenders who deal with dairy farmers.
After a local dairy farmer took his life in January, Agri-Mark, a large cooperative that bought milk from the farmer, sent its 550 members in the state a list of suicide and mental health hotlines — along with the news that milk prices would drop even lower this year.
In providing the information, the co-op wanted "to get ahead of the curve" in offering vital services to its member farmers, said Doug DiMento, a spokesman for Agri-Mark, which owns Cabot and McCadam cheese.
It was one of at least three suicides of its member farmers in recent years, Mr. DiMento said.
Hal McCabe, the outreach director for FarmNet, believes the number of suicides is higher on the roughly 4,500 dairy farms across the state during this downturn, but the issue is hard to quantify, he said, because many have been reported as farming or hunting accidents.
There have been 81 work-related deaths on dairy farms reported from 2006 to 2016, with most of the victims the owners of smaller farms, according the state Department of Health.
Whatever the prevalence of suicides, there is no doubt about the widespread hopelessness afflicting the industry.
FarmNet's 24-hour hotline has been fielding an increased rate of calls from distressed farmers, Mr. McCabe said, and the agency has begun offering stress management training for its team of financial and other consultants who assist farmers.
"It's not unusual to get woken up in the middle of the night by a farmer who is potentially suicidal," Mr. McCabe said.
Farming overall is a stressful occupation and farmers have higher suicide rates than almost any other occupation. Those working in farming, fishing, and forestry were 3.4 times more likely than other American workers to commit suicide on the job, according to a 2016 study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Mr. Morgan's case, his wife was able to dissuade from taking such a tragic step and instead seek out the counsel of two FarmNet consultants — Judy Flint, a social worker, and Dewey Hakes, a financial consultant and former dairy farmer.
The Morgans, unable to repay six bank loans and debts to neighbors and suppliers, declared bankruptcy, restructured their finances to help pay off debts and have been seeing increased revenue after switching to producing organic milk, which they can sell at $43 per 100 pounds, or hundredweight.
That is about three times the going price for conventional milk, whose prices have dropped below $15 per hundredweight, down from peaks of over $25 in 2014.
Milk prices are calculated under federal guidelines and have been driven down by a combination of strong milk production and weak demand in both global and U.S. markets with many Americans turning to alternatives such as soy and almond drinks, said Dr. Andrew Novaković, who teaches agricultural economics at Cornell University.
In New York State, many smaller farms, facing financial hardships or run by aging owners, are closing at a rate of over 100 per year. Many of them become part of much larger operations.
So though about 550 dairy farms closed in the state from 2012 to 2017, the number of dairy cows has actually increased from 610,000 to 625,000 in that same period and milk production has risen steadily in recent years, according to the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets, which helps fund FarmNet.
With prices depressed, farmers looking to sell are having a hard time finding buyers.
"A lot of dairy farmers are thinking about closing, but with the prices down, nobody else has the money to buy their equipment and cattle, so you're between a rock and hard place," said Bill Kiernan, 75, a dairy farmer in Copake, N.Y., who runs Walt's Dairy, which has 400 Holstein cows on 768 acres.
Mr. Kiernan's two sons have helped the farm survive by taking construction jobs. When he received the suicide outreach information from Agri Mark, Mr. Kiernan said he "threw it in the garbage."
"Everyone was kind of upset about it — you'd think there would be more optimism," said Mr. Kiernan, who has seen the dark side of dairy farming.
In 2010, his neighbor, Dean Pierson, 59, a dairy farmer, shot all 51 of his milking cows and then turned the weapon on himself, leaving suicide notes on cow tag cards stating that he was "overwhelmed" by personal and financial issues.
Mr. Pierson, whose body was discovered by an Agri-Mark driver, had grown increasingly isolated and "had a lot of things to sort out," said Mr. Kiernan, who buried his neighbor's cows and now rents Mr. Pierson's farmland.
Mr. Pierson's isolation is common to dairy farmers, said Paul Fouts, 45, whose farm in Cortland, N.Y., is also struggling.
"You go into that barn and you're in your own little world," said Mr. Fouts, who wakes up at 2 a.m. every day to milk 410 Holsteins. "There may be days on end you don't go into town. It's easy to get consumed in your own problems."
Mr. Fouts said he would like to see his farm, which his grandfather started in 1937, taken over someday by his two teenage children. But he has exhausted his credit with his lender.
"This is my gamble," he said, pointing out recent improvements to his 750-foot long barn to try to increase his cows' productivity by making them more comfortable. Still, if his financial trajectory persists, he could operate at a $300,000 loss this year and be forced to fold.
"I'm not at the end of my rope, but the rope's getting short," he said.
Like Mr. Fouts, many dairy farmers run farms that have been in their family for generations and the shame of failing financially can be emotionally overwhelming, said Kate Downes, the program coordinator at NY FarmNet, which is based in Ithaca.
But admitting they need help is not always easy. Many farmers would never want their vehicles to be spotted outside mental health offices, said Ms. Downes, whose uncle took his life several years ago at his third-generation dairy farm in Jefferson County.
Farmers tend to work long hours with few breaks from the farm — or each other, if they are a family-run farm. And they often own guns, Mr. McCabe said.
Smaller problems can seem outsized, he said, before describing a recent call from a farmer who said he was suicidal over $27,000 worth of debt.
"You're not just losing your job and your house," he said. "You're losing your entire family history and legacy, through no fault of your own."
After declaring bankruptcy, the Morgans have seen their revenues increase after switching to producing organic milk.
Corey Kilgannon is a Metro reporter covering news and human interest stories. His writes the Character Study column in the Sunday Metropolitan section. He was also part of the team that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.  @coreykilgannonFacebook

12)  Deadline Is Today in McDonald's Labor Case That Could Affect Millions
 MARCH 19, 2018

A ruling against McDonald's in a case brought by the National Labor Relations Board could have enormous implications for the franchise business model, forcing corporations to bargain with unionized workers at disparate franchise locations. CreditRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press


The Trump appointee charged with enforcing federal labor rights is scrambling to head off a court ruling in a case against McDonald's that could redefine the accountability of companies for the labor practices of their franchisees.
The official, the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, has been exploring settlement terms with workers at the center of the board's complaint against McDonald's, according to lawyers involved in the case. A judge had halted the trial until Monday to give the agency a chance to do so.
If no settlement is reached and the judge were to rule against the company, the decision could have enormous implications for the franchise business model, affecting millions of workers in the fast-food industry and beyond. Corporations could be required to bargain with unionized workers at disparate franchise locations.
The National Labor Relations Board did not respond to a request for comment. A McDonald's spokeswoman said that "settlement discussions are a normal part of any litigation process."

The case was brought during the Obama administration, when the board was under Democratic control. Since President Trump's election, Republican members have regained a majority, steering the board away from a pro-labor orientation.
A central question in the trial is whether McDonald's is a so-called joint employer of workers directly employed by its franchisees. A parent company is considered a joint employer if it controls their working conditions, although the legal criteria for determining control in this context has shifted in recent years.
A finding that McDonald's is a joint employer would make the company liable for labor-law violations committed by its franchisees, and would require it to bargain with restaurant workers who unionize.
The workers in the case asserted that their bosses at McDonald's restaurants disciplined them, retaliated against them and in some cases fired them for taking part in protests beginning in 2012 in which they demanded a $15 hourly wage and a union. Roughly two dozen could be owed a monetary settlement, according to a lawyer involved.
The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, at the time an appointee of President Barack Obama, investigated their charges and issued complaints against McDonald's and its franchisees in 2014. A trial began in 2015 and continued through this year.
But in January, the labor board's new general counsel, appointed by President Trump, was granted a 60-day stay in the case — expiring Monday — to pursue settlement talks.
The general counsel, Peter B. Robb, argued that two labor board decisions in December, one of which changed the legal standard for determining joint employment, might have weakened aspects of the case against McDonald's and made a settlement more likely.
In his request for a stay, Mr. Robb said a settlement could "facilitate far more prompt and immediate remedial relief for the employees impacted by the alleged unfair labor practices."
Before the December decision by the board, a parent company like McDonald's could be considered a joint employer under federal labor law if it exerted indirect control over workers at a franchisee, or if it had the right to exercise control over workers that it nonetheless did not exercise.
After the board's decision in December, an employer had to have direct and immediate control over workers to be considered a joint employer.
At the time he sought a stay, labor groups argued that Mr. Robb's logic was specious because the board's case against McDonald's did not hinge on which definition of joint employment applied.
Lawyers for the Service Employees International Union and affiliated groups, which helped make the case against McDonald's and have advocated for the workers, argued that even if the general counsel preferred to seek a settlement, it made no sense to stop the trial, which was only days from concluding, in order to do so.
In a court filing, they argued that stopping the trial would give McDonald's an advantage by preventing union lawyers from cross-examining a key witness, and that it fostered "a game of hide-the-ball."
Then, last month, one of Mr. Robb's primary arguments for a pause in the trial abruptly deserted him when the labor board, on a procedural question, reversed its December decision narrowing the definition of a joint employer. At that point, the joint employer definition reverted to what it had been earlier in the trial.
Several Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey, stated in a March 7 letter to Mr. Robb that the board's reversal "eliminates whatever support may have existed for your efforts to settle the McDonald's case so near to the trial's close," and urged Mr. Robb to "swiftly resume and finish the trial."
But Mr. Robb's office pressed ahead with its efforts to reach a settlement before the stay expired. Last week, lawyers from the labor board's regional offices abruptly reached out to several former McDonald's workers involved in the case. In one instance, according to an email to a labor board lawyer from Micah Wissinger, a lawyer advocating the workers' cause on behalf of the union, a labor board lawyer called a worker and asked if she "was ok with $50k" for back pay as part of the settlement. The offer was conditional on her waiving her right to be reinstated in her old job.
Mr. Wissinger said that the calls created the impression that workers needed to accept the offers before they consulted with him or his colleagues or anyone else, and that at least two did.
"It was a done deal by the time we found out," Mr. Wissinger said. "They were completely cutting us out of the process."
Bloomberg reported on the aggressive settlement efforts over the weekend.
Jennifer Abruzzo, who served as deputy general counsel of the labor board until 2017, said settlement discussions that exclude lawyers who back the workers were a break with custom.
"That's unusual," Ms. Abruzzo said. "The charging party is the one that the regions typically go to. And the charging party in this instance is the S.E.I.U."

13)  Forgotten and Suffering in Puerto Rico
 MARCH 20, 2018

COMERIO, Puerto Rico — I live with my parents and older brother in this rural mountain town in the center of this island. Hurricane Maria made landfall here six months ago this week. The strong winds began to lash our area by 2 a.m. on Sept. 20. Our power and water had already been shut off for a day by then.
My family, along with about 200 other people, sought refuge at a high school in our town. Whenever the doors were opened to let others in, the wind would whip through the hallways. I was scared. A few of us gathered in a circle, joined hands and prayed, hoping it would bring us some sense of peace. Then chaos broke out.
The La Plata River, which cuts through Comerio, had swelled by more than 60 feet and was creeping ever closer to the school's front door. Fearing the worst, those of us sheltered on the first floor quickly scrambled up the stairs to the second floor, carrying the bedridden elderly with us.
In the end we were spared. Once the eye of the storm settled over us, things calmed down. Soon from the second floor we saw whole families walking toward the school. In all, about 100 more people arrived; wet, muddy, hugging one another and crying. A mother whose house had flooded told us how she and her kids narrowly avoided drowning. She had lifted her three children — all under the age of 5 — on to her shoulders and waded through the water until she reached higher ground. A woman fainted when she recounted how floodwaters had swept her house away.
On the second night we were finally able to go home. It was pitch black and raining. Our terrace roof was gone; a tree that had fallen on the back of the house caused some structural damage, and water had come in through the windows. But our home, built of concrete, still stood.
We were among the lucky ones.
Three days after Maria hit, the streets were still largely impassable. We set out on foot to the very river that was our source of terror during the storm, checking in on neighbors along the way. There was no electricity and no running water, so the river was now our sole source of water. We bathed in it, washed our clothes and dishes on its banks and carried back home as much of it as we could manage to boil for drinking and cooking.
It would be two weeks before the town supermarket reopened, and two more months before we could use our credit cards to shop there. We ran out of cash. The local bank remained closed until the end of November. Gas was scarce. Before the hurricane, I was working toward a master's degree in management and leadership at the University of Turabo. My studies were put on hold. When the university reopened in October, I had to go to neighboring towns that had power to contact my professors and my classmates, or to work on my assignments. Everything became complicated.
For about two weeks we didn't know if my older sister, Maran — who lives in Fajardo, a city in the eastern region of the island — had survived. She finally heard that the street to Comerio was clear and made her way to us. My dad screamed when he saw her. We all gathered around her, crying and hugging.
Since then, little has improved much. There's so much left to do. We're still fighting to get our lights back on. The local government hasn't come to meet with our neighborhood or give us updates. We're getting by with a generator my uncle on the mainland sent us. Other family members and friends have brought us much-needed water filters, batteries, food and tarps.
In total, some 1,500 homes in Comerio were destroyed and 2,400 others sustained significant damage. I began to volunteer with the recovery effort. We're in this together and we're all pitching in to help one another rebuild.
With $10,000 raised through crowdfunding and $5,000 from the Defend Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Fund, we rebuilt one house and repaired two others with damaged roofs. With the help of Coco de Oro and La Maraña, the organizations I volunteer with, we have raised money to begin work on the next eight houses. But there are 25 more houses in my neighborhood alone needing work and thousands more in all of Puerto Rico.
We're working collectively to lift ourselves out of this nightmare, but we can't do it on our own. I struggle to understand why the United States government continues to withhold the aid we were promised. We're tired of being treated like second-class citizens. The Trump administration must honor its commitment to Puerto Rico. Our hurricane-ravaged island may no longer be in the headlines, but we're still suffering, and we need help.

14) Fifteen Years Ago, America Destroyed My Country
 MARCH 19, 2018
A statue of Saddam Hussein in front of the burning National Olympic Committee in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003. CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

When I was 12, Saddam Hussein, vice president of Iraq at the time, carried out a huge purge and officially usurped total power. I was living in Baghdad then, and I developed an intuitive, visceral hatred of the dictator early on. That feeling only intensified and matured as I did. In the late 1990s, I wrote my first novel, "I'jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody," about daily life under Saddam's authoritarian regime. Furat, the narrator, was a young college student studying English literature at Baghdad University, as I had. He ends up in prison for cracking a joke about the dictator. Furat hallucinates and imagines Saddam's fall, just as I often did. I hoped I would witness that moment, whether in Iraq or from afar.
I left Iraq a few months after the 1991 Gulf War and went to graduate school in the United States, where I've been ever since. In 2002, when the cheerleading for the Iraq war started, I was vehemently against the proposed invasion. The United States had consistently supported dictators in the Arab world and was not in the business of exporting democracy, irrespective of the Bush administration's slogans. I recalled sitting in my family's living room with my aunt when I was a teenager, watching Iraqi television and seeing Donald Rumsfeld visiting Baghdad as an emissary from Ronald Reagan and shaking hands with Saddam. That memory made Mr. Rumsfeld's words in 2002 about freedom and democracy for Iraqis seem hollow. Moreover, having lived through two previous wars (the Iran-Iraq war of 1980 to 1988 and the Gulf War of 1991), I knew that the actual objectives of war were always camouflaged by well-designed lies that exploit collective fear and perpetuate national myths.
I was one of about 500 Iraqis in the diaspora — of various ethnic and political backgrounds, many of whom were dissidents and victims of Saddam's regime — who signed a petition: "No to war on Iraq. No to dictatorship." While condemning Saddam's reign of terror, we were against a "war that would cause more death and suffering" for innocent Iraqis and one that threatened to push the entire region into violent chaos. Our voices were not welcomed in mainstream media in the United States, which preferred the pro-war Iraqi-American who promised cheering crowds that would welcome invaders with "sweets and flowers." There were none.
The petition didn't make much of an impact. Fifteen years ago today, the invasion of Iraq began.
Three months later, I returned to Iraq for the first time since 1991 as part of a collective to film a documentary about Iraqis in a post-Saddam Iraq. We wanted to show my countrymen as three-dimensional beings, beyond the binary of Saddam versus the United States. In American media, Iraqis had been reduced to either victims of Saddam who longed for occupation or supporters and defenders of dictatorship who opposed the war. We wanted Iraqis to speak for themselves. For two weeks, we drove around Baghdad and spoke to many of its residents. Some were still hopeful, despite being drained by years of sanctions and dictatorship. But many were furious and worried about what was to come. The signs were already there: the typical arrogance and violence of a colonial occupying power.
My short visit only confirmed my conviction and fear that the invasion would spell disaster for Iraqis. Removing Saddam was just a byproduct of another objective: dismantling the Iraqi state and its institutions. That state was replaced with a dysfunctional and corrupt semi-state. We were still filming in Baghdad when L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, announced the formation of the so-called Governing Council in July 2003. The names of its members were each followed by their sect and ethnicity. Many of the Iraqis we spoke to on that day were upset with institutionalization of an ethno-sectarian quota system. Ethnic and sectarian tensions already existed, but their translation into political currency was toxic. Those unsavory characters on the governing council, most of whom were allies of the United States from the preceding decade, went on to loot the country, making it one of the most corrupt in the world.
We were fortunate to have been able to shoot our film in that brief period during which there was relative public security. Shortly after our visit, Iraq descended into violence; suicide bombings became the norm. The invasion made my country a magnet for terrorists ("We'll fight them there so we don't have to fight them here," President George W. Bush had said), and Iraq later descended into a sectarian civil war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands more, irrevocably changing the country's demography.
The next time I returned to Baghdad was in 2013. The American tanks were gone, but the effects of the occupation were everywhere. I had low expectations, but I was still disheartened by the ugliness of the city where I had grown up and horrified by how dysfunctional, difficult and dangerous daily life had become for the great majority of Iraqis.
My last visit was in April 2017. I flew from New York, where I now live, to Kuwait, where I was giving a lecture. An Iraqi friend and I crossed the border by land. I was going to the city of Basra, in the south of Iraq. Basra was the only major Iraqi city I had not visited before. I was going to sign my books at the Friday book market of al-Farahidi Street, a weekly gathering for bibliophiles modeled after the famous Mutanabbi Street book market in Baghdad. I was driven around by friends. I didn't expect the beautiful Basra I'd seen on 1970s postcards. That city had long disappeared. But the Basra I saw was so exhausted and polluted. The city had suffered a great deal during the Iran-Iraq war, and its decline accelerated after 2003. Basra was pale, dilapidated and chaotic thanks to the rampant corruption. Its rivers are polluted and ebbing. Nonetheless, I made a pilgrimage to the famous statue of Iraq's greatest poet, Badr Shakir al-Sayyab.
One of the few sources of joy for me during these short visits were the encounters with Iraqis who had read my novels and were moved by them. These were novels I had written from afar, and through them, I tried to grapple with the painful disintegration of an entire country and the destruction of its social fabric. These texts are haunted by the ghosts of the dead, just as their author is.
No one knows for certain how many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago. Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again. The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in the United States as a "blunder," or even a "colossal mistake." It was a crime. Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of Trumpism and a mostly amnesiac citizenry. (A year ago, I watched Mr. Bush on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," dancing and talking about his paintings.) The pundits and "experts" who sold us the war still go on doing what they do. I never thought that Iraq could ever be worse than it was during Saddam's reign, but that is what America's war achieved and bequeathed to Iraqis.


15)  U.S. Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing the West Bank
By Jonathan Cook
CounterPunch, March 20, 2018

Seemingly unrelated events all point to a tectonic shift in which Israel has begun preparing the ground to annex the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last week, during an address to students in New York, Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett publicly disavowed even the notion of a Palestinian state. “We are done with that,” he said. “They have a Palestinian state in Gaza.”

Later in Washington, Bennett, who heads Israel’s settler movement, said Israel would manage the fallout from annexing the West Bank, just as it had with its annexation of the Syrian Golan in 1980.

International opposition would dissipate, he said. “After two months it fades away and 20 years later and 40 years later, [the territory is] still ours.”

Back home, Israel has proven such words are not hollow.

The parliament passed a law last month that brings three academic institutions, including Ariel University, all located in illegal West Bank settlements, under the authority of Israel’s Higher Education Council. Until now, they were overseen by a military body.

The move marks a symbolic and legal sea change. Israel has effectively expanded its civilian sovereignty into the West Bank. It is a covert but tangible first step towards annexation.

In a sign of how the idea of annexation is now entirely mainstream, Israeli university heads mutely accepted the change, even though it exposes them both to intensified action from the growing international boycott (BDS) movement and potentially to European sanctions on scientific co-operation.

Additional bills extending Israeli law to the settlements are in the pipeline. In fact, far-right justice minister Ayelet Shaked has insisted that those drafting new legislation indicate how it can also be applied in the West Bank.

According to Peace Now, she and Israeli law chiefs are devising new pretexts to seize Palestinian territory. She has called the separation between Israel and the occupied territories required by international law “an injustice that has lasted 50 years.”

After the higher education law passed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his party Israel would “act intelligently” to extend unnoticed its sovereignty into the West Bank. “This is a process with historic consequences,” he said.

That accords with a vote by his Likud party’s central committee in December that unanimously backed annexation.

The government is already working on legislation to bring some West Bank settlements under Jerusalem municipal control—annexation via the back door. This month officials gave themselves additional powers to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem for “disloyalty.”

Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, warned that Israel had accelerated its annexation program from “creeping to running.”

Notably, Netanyahu has said the government’s plans are being coordinated with the Trump administration. It was a statement he later retracted under pressure.

But all evidence suggests that Washington is fully on board, so long as annexation is done by stealth.

The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a long-time donor to the settlements, told Israel’s Channel 10 TV recently: “The settlers aren’t going anywhere.”

Settler leader Yaakov Katz, meanwhile, thanked Donald Trump for a dramatic surge in settlement growth over the past year. Figures show one-in-ten Israeli Jews is now a settler. He called the White House team “people who really like us, love us,” adding that the settlers were “changing the map.”

The U.S. is preparing to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, not only pre-empting a final-status issue but tearing out the beating heart from a Palestinian state.

The thrust of U.S. strategy is so well-known to Palestinian leaders—and in lockstep with Israel—that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is said to have refused to even look at the peace plan recently submitted to him.

Reports suggest it will award Israel all of Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians will be forced to accept outlying villages as their own capital, as well as a land “corridor” to let them pray at Al Aqsa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

As the stronger side, Israel will be left to determine the fate of the settlements and its borders—a recipe for it to carry on with slow-motion annexation.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has warned that Trump’s “ultimate deal” will limit a Palestinian state to Gaza and scraps of the West Bank—much as Bennett prophesied in New York.

Which explains why last week the White House hosted a meeting of European and Arab states to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

U.S. officials have warned the Palestinian leadership, who stayed away, that a final deal will be settled over their heads if necessary. This time the U.S. peace plan is not up for negotiation; it is primed for implementation.

With a Palestinian “state” effectively restricted to Gaza, the humanitarian catastrophe there—one the United Nations has warned will make the enclave uninhabitable in a few years—needs to be urgently addressed.

But the White House summit also sidelined the UN refugee agency UNRWA, which deals with Gaza’s humanitarian situation. The Israeli right hates UNRWA because its presence complicates annexation of the West Bank. And with Fatah and Hamas still at loggerheads, it alone serves to unify the West Bank and Gaza.

That is why the Trump administration recently cut U.S. funding to UNRWA—the bulk of its budget. The White House’s implicit goal is to find a new means to manage Gaza’s misery.
What is needed now is someone to arm-twist the Palestinians. Mike Pompeo’s move from the CIA to State Department, Trump may hope, will produce the strongman needed to bulldoze the Palestinians into submission.


16) Austin Bombing Suspect Mark Conditt Blew Himself Up, Police Say

Investigators at the scene in Round Rock, just north of Austin. CreditTamir Kalifa for The New York Times

ROUND ROCK, Tex. — A suspect in the series of bombings that have terrorized the city of Austin, Tex., died early Wednesday, blowing himself up in his vehicle as officers closed in on him, the authorities said.
A law enforcement official identified the suspect as Mark Anthony Conditt, a 23-year-old white man.
Officials did not rule out the possibility that the man had accomplices.
“We do not understand what motivated him to do what he did,” said the Austin police chief, Brian Manley.
The first explosions hit African-American residents whose families are well-known in the city’s black community, though two white men were injured by an explosive triggered by a tripwire on Sunday. Chief Manley did not address any potential motive, including race.

Law enforcement officials cautioned that the bomber could have planted other explosives that have not yet detonated. “We still need to remain vigilant,” Chief Manley said. “We do not know where he has been in the past 24 hours.”
He added, “This investigation is still underway, so we cannot say that this was an individual acting on their own.”
In a tweet, President Trump praised law enforcement officials for their work in identifying and locating the suspect.
The suspect lived in Pflugerville, a suburb of 59,000 about 20 miles northeast of downtown Austin, a law enforcement official said.
“There were several leads that led us to this person,” including surveillance video, Chief Manley said.
Police and federal agents Wednesday morning entered the home of Mr. Conditt’s parents in Pflugerville, a white clapboard, two-story home with an American flag hanging on the front porch. His parents had not answered several knocks on the door from reporters, but later in the morning, the agents pulled up in two vehicles and they were allowed in.
Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, told a local television affiliate that Mr. Conditt lived with two roommates, who were cooperating with the investigation.
“Through those roommates, as well as being able to access social media accounts, as well as getting into the house and gathering information, we’re going to learn so much more over the next few hours,” Mr. Abbott said. “Before the sun sets today we will have so many other pieces of the puzzle.”
The suspect is believed to be responsible for at least six bombs that killed at least two people and wounded five. Four bombs detonated in various locations in Austin where they had been left. Another detonated at a FedEx distribution center in Schertz, Tex., near San Antonio, and a sixth was found, unexploded, in a FedEx facility near Austin’s airport.
The attacks started the morning of March 2, when a package bomb detonated on the porch of an Austin home, killing Anthony Stephan House, 39. That was followed 10 days later by two bombs that were found outside homes, one of which killed a 17-year-old boy.
The first three bombs were apparently detonated when they were picked up or jostled. Later, a package bomb exploded outside another Austin home, set off by a tripwire. The bombs at the FedEx centers were found on Tuesday.
“Within the past 24 to 36 hours, we started getting information on one person of interest,” Chief Manley said. “This person of interest ultimately moved to being a suspect.”
The suspect’s vehicle was traced to a hotel in Round Rock, just north of Austin, Chief Manley said, where a SWAT team surreptitiously surrounded the hotel and called other specialized units. But before those teams could arrive, the suspect drove away.
Officers followed the suspect, who stopped in a ditch off Interstate 35, and SWAT officers approached the vehicle on foot.
“The suspect detonated a bomb inside of the vehicle, knocking one officer back” and slightly injuring him, the police chief said. Another officer fired his gun at the vehicle.
Michael Luna, a guest at a Red Roof Inn near the confrontation, told a local news channel that he heard the explosion from the bomb, which sounded as if it had gone off 100 to 200 yards from him, when he was outside smoking a cigarette in the parking lot. Mr. Luna, who said he had been in the military, said that the explosion sounded like two grenades going off at the same time, and that he heard a pop afterward that may have been gunfire.
The portion of Interstate 35 near that confrontation was a traffic nightmare for hours as commuters moved at a glacial pace in the southbound lanes, many of them presumably unaware of what had happened. State troopers barred access at several ramps along that stretch of the highway.
By Wednesday morning, aerial video footage of the area from KVUE, a local television affiliate, showed a red SUV with blown-out windows next to a blue tarp, surrounded by investigators’ vehicles.
Mayor Steve Adler of Austin said that the city’s residents should continue to watch out for suspicious packages that the bomber may have planted before his death. He expressed hope that residents who had been brought closer together during the attacks would continue to watch out for each other as the threat receded.


17) Trump’s Bluster on the Opioid Epidemic
"More broadly speaking, many scholars have concluded that there is no good evidence that capital punishment deters crime."

President Trump has declared that his administration is getting seriousabout the opioid epidemic several times since taking office. But he has repeatedly failed to offer a substantive plan — and he has floated at least a few truly absurd ideas. He did it again this week.
Mr. Trump gave a rambling speech on opioids on Monday in which he offered few details about how he would increase access to substance abuse treatment and prevention to help the millions of Americans suffering from this disease. Some 64,000 people in the United States died of drug overdoses in 2016, including 481 in New Hampshire, one of the hardest hit states in the country, where Mr. Trump gave his speech.
The president went on at length about his preposterous proposal to fight the scourge of drugs by executing drug dealers — an idea that many experts say would not stand up in court and would do little to end this epidemic. He also reprised his cockamamie idea to build a wall along the nation’s southern border, arguing that it would “keep the damn drugs out,” and accused so-called sanctuary cities of releasing “illegal immigrants and drug dealers, traffickers and gang members back into our communities.”
It was Mr. Trump playing his greatest “law and order” hits — as usual, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.
Mr. Trump seems so enamored with autocrats and strongmen that he wants the United States to imitate governments like China and the Philippines by executing drug dealers, claiming such countries “don’t have a drug problem” because of their brutality. This is patently absurd. While it is hard to analyze the experience of many of these countries because they do not collect and publish reliable data about substance use, experts say it is clear that they have not eliminated drug abuse or the crime that often accompanies it. More broadly speaking, many scholars have concluded that there is no good evidence that capital punishment deters crime.
But we do have convincing evidence that ratcheting up the war on drugs, as Mr. Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, want to do, would not work. Since the early 1980s, the federal government and states have imposed increasingly harsh criminal penalties on drug dealers and users. Not only did they fail to stem drug use or the availability of illicit substances, but they may have contributed to their spread by taking resources away from treatment and prevention efforts. It is no wonder, then, that the per-gram retail price of heroin fell by about 85 percent between 1981 and 2012, according to a report published in 2016 by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Further, legal experts say it is unlikely that a law authorizing capital punishment for drug dealers would be considered constitutional, because the Supreme Court has previously struck down laws that allowed the use of the death penalty for crimes other than murder.
Mr. Trump’s other get-tough policies are also unlikely to help. The wall will not stop drugs — most imported illicit substances like heroin and methamphetamines already come in through legal border crossings. And his plans to penalize sanctuary cities, which choose not to participate in federal deportation crackdowns, would be counterproductive. That’s because law-abiding immigrants are less likely to identify and testify against drug dealers and gang members if they fear that helping law enforcement agencies could put them or their relatives at risk of being detained or deported.
Mr. Trump’s New Hampshire speech did contain a few good ideas — but only a few. He said that the administration would seek to reduce opioid prescriptions and expand access to medication-assisted treatment for those suffering from addiction. Experts, including a commission appointed by Mr. Trump last year, identified these and other solutions months ago, but the administration has taken little action and provided few details about how it would carry out these ideas.
There are a number of other good ideas that Mr. Trump and his team have done little to advance, like getting health insurance companies to cover mental health and substance abuse treatments as well as they cover other medical treatments, something required by federal law. He could also encourage 18 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to do so. This would make addiction treatment available to millions of additional people. Not only has he not sought to expand that program, but Mr. Trump and Republicans in Congress have proposed deep cuts to Medicaid, which covers about 38 percent of people with an opioid addiction, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Mr. Trump might be sincere in his concern for people suffering from this epidemic. But more than a year into his presidency, he is miserably failing them.


18) Their Pay Has Stood Still. Now Oklahoma Teachers Could Be the Next to Walk.

Students leaving Carver Middle School in Tulsa last week. Teachers in Oklahoma have not had a raise from the state in a decade and are threatening to strike on April 2.CreditBrandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

TULSA, Okla. — When she woke up one morning last week, Tiffany Bell, a teacher at Hamilton Elementary School here, had $35 in her bank account.
On take-home pay of $2,200 per month, she supports her husband, a veteran who went back to school, and their three children, all of whom qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a federal benefit for low-income families. The couple’s 4-year-old twins attend a Head Start preschool — another antipoverty program.
Money is so tight for Ms. Bell, 26, that she had to think twice before spending $15 on Oreos for a class project, in which her third graders removed differing amounts of icing to display the phases of the moon.
She knew it would be hard to support a family on a teacher’s salary. “But not this hard,” she said.

When West Virginia teachers mounted a statewide walkout last month, earning a modest raise, it seemed like an anomaly: a successful grass-roots labor uprising in a conservative state with weak public sector unions. But just a few weeks later, the West Virginia action looks like the potential beginning of a red-state rebellion.
In Arizona, teachers clad in red, the color of the teacher protest movement, have conducted a series of #RedforEd demonstrations demanding higher pay. In Kentucky, teachers have organized rallies to protest proposed cuts to their pensions.
And in Oklahoma, where teachers have not had a raise from the state in a decade, they have vowed to go on strike on April 2 if the Legislature does not act to increase pay and education budgets.
All three states are paragons of austerity-minded budgeting, guided by a belief that taxes should be as low as possible to encourage people to spend more and companies to move there and grow. But one result has been a cutback in education, a sector in which a large and popular work force is finding it has labor muscles to flex after all.
“We are hemorrhaging from a lack of funding,” said Larry Cagle, a Tulsa teacher and organizer of one of several Facebook groups pushing for a walkout. “If I get fired, I get fired. I will absolutely not back down.”
Oklahomans are not always averse to paying more for education. Local districts can use property taxes and bonds to pay for structures, and many of the school buildings are beautiful. Webster Middle and High School in Tulsa is a pristinely maintained Art Deco castle. In 2015, Tulsa voters passed a $415 million bond to invest in technology and the district’s physical infrastructure.
But most instructional costs are covered by the state, where laws and politics make it difficult to raise taxes. And it is inside the classroom that students and parents have noticed the impact of depressed state budgets.
Webster, where 88 percent of students come from low-income families, has cut its advanced foreign language courses, along with classes in drama and debate. Six miles away, Carver Middle School has rationed paper and there are not enough parts to go around in robotics class, students said.
About a fifth of Oklahoma school districts, mostly in rural areas, are trying an even more drastic way to save money: a four-day week. (They cannot cut the number of instructional hours, so the school days tend to be longer.)
Across the state, teachers say they make ends meet by selling their blood plasma, or by working second jobs as luggage handlers, Uber drivers or in lawn maintenance.
When teachers here last went on strike, in 1990 for four days, they won a raise and limitations on class sizes. But that was the last time the Oklahoma Legislature raised taxes. In 1992, anti-tax activists successfully organized a ballot referendum to require a three-quarters majority in both the state House and Senate to raise new revenue and today, Oklahoma is one of 13 states that require a supermajority to impose new taxes.
Research has found little direct relationship between tax cuts and indicators like job creation. Oklahoma’s economy did well between 2001 and 2014, in part because of a boom in oil and gas. More recently, the state’s economy slowed along with a decrease in oil prices.
But ever since the referendum passed, it has become an insurmountable barrier for attempts to increase school spending. The 1990 class size reductions were scrapped for lack of funds. Since 2008, Oklahoma has cut its per-pupil instructional funding by 28 percent — the largest cut in the nation, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning think tank.
The current budget situation is so dire that some superintendents and school boards are supporting, and even helping to organize, the proposed teacher walkout.
Deborah Gist, who as the hard-charging education commissioner in Rhode Island tried to weaken teachers’ seniority protections and often clashed with their union, is now Tulsa’s schools superintendent and is allied with the Oklahoma union — the Oklahoma Education Association — in a fight for more money.
Dr. Gist said she is unable to attract or retain effective educators because they can earn up to $20,000 more per year by moving to Texas or other neighboring states. Because so few licensed teachers are applying for jobs, Tulsa has relied on emergency certifications to hire more than 100 teachers who lack training in education.
“Our teachers in Oklahoma are going above and beyond every single day for an unacceptable and unsustainable salary that doesn’t even provide them with a living wage,” she said.
Teachers in Oklahoma earn $45,000 a year on average, the third-lowest in the country; only those in Mississippi and South Dakota earn less, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. They are doing better, though, than many workers in Oklahoma, which has the third-lowest cost of living and where the average teacher salary is about equal to the median household income.
But teachers, especially those in their 20s and 30s, say they live paycheck to paycheck, without the middle-class stability they expected when they chose teaching as a career, often taking on student debt along the way.
Becky Atherton Dukes, an art teacher at Carnegie Elementary School in Tulsa, pays $400 per month for health insurance for herself and her daughter. She and her husband, a house painter, are expecting a second child, and their day care costs will exceed Ms. Dukes’s pay. “I love my job,” she said. “But it would be nice to be able to afford a family vacation or have money for savings.”
Most here believe there is little hope of avoiding the walkout.
In 2016, voters rejected a ballot measure that would have increased education funding through an additional one percent sales tax. More recently, a legislative proposal called Step Up Oklahoma would have funded $5,000 raises by increasing gas and tobacco taxes and modestly raising production taxes on the energy industry. It was supported by Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, the teachers’ union and a coalition of business leaders.
On Feb. 12, 63 members of the state House of Representatives voted for it, and 35 against, short of the required 75 percent supermajority.
A quarter of Republicans and more than two-thirds of Democrats opposed the bill. The Platform Caucus, a group of Republican opponents, issued a statement saying the tax increases would have undone the benefits of President Trump’s tax cuts. “It is unfortunate that lawmakers and special interests are so quick to try and grab that money,” the caucus wrote.
Democratic opponents said the plan was too easy on oil and gas, while raising taxes too high on the wind industry. They also asked for an increase in income taxes on high earners.
Moderate Republicans say colleagues further to the right are wedded to an ideology that no longer makes sense.
“They just won’t raise taxes,” said Representative Earl Sears, a retired principal and the chairman of the House appropriations committee. “We’re at the point where we’ve cut so much, we now have to go in and make investments. If that means raising taxes, so be it.”
Mr. Sears also accused Democrats of wanting the schools crisis to continue, so they could run on the issue in future elections. “They really don’t want to give the Republican Party a victory,” he said.
Indeed, anger about education cuts has helped fuel something of a blue ripple in this Republican-dominated state, with Democrats flipping four legislative seats in special elections in 2017.
After the defeat of the bill, educators began to gather on Facebook and in person to share their frustration. Rank-and-file teachers pushed their union to support their demand that the state act before April 2 or face a work stoppage. The Oklahoma Education Association is now asking for a $10,000 raise for teachers, a $5,000 raise for school support staff and a $200 million increase in schools funding.
On March 12, Oklahoma teachers took their first steps toward a strike, beginning a “work to contract” protest in which teachers marched out of their schools when the last bell rang. They refused to tutor students, email with parents or grade papers after hours.
At Carver Middle School on Tuesday, students applauded as their teachers filed out of the building.
At Carnegie Elementary School, Ms. Dukes reluctantly canceled her students’ annual art show. In preparation, she had meticulously organized and labeled every pinch pot and collage in her classroom. But bringing the event to fruition would have required logging long hours after school and at home, work that she believes entitles her to a raise.
One of her colleagues, she said, had moved away from Oklahoma, and now earns the equivalent of $85,000 per year as a teacher.
Ms. Dukes laughed. “To get her American dream,” she said, “she had to move to China.”