Wednesday, September 20, 2017

BAUAW NEWSLETTER, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2017


Kaepernick sports new T-shirt:




Love this guy!


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Steph Curry voices his support for Colin Kaepernick: "He definitely should be in the NFL"
Steph Curry is a Carolina Panthers fan, but before he watched the 49ers struggle against Carolina on Sunday, the Warriors star voiced support for Colin Kaepernick.
Curry posted an Instagram story during the game with the caption, "#FreeKaep.
Kaepernick remains without a team after his national anthem protests of the 2016 season. Kaepernick's replacement in San Francisco, Brian Hoyer, threw for just 105 yards and an interception as the 49ers trailed 23-0 late in the third quarter.
Before the game, Curry spoke to the Charlotte Observer about Kaepernick, offering a vocal support for the NFL quarterback:
"He definitely should be in the NFL. If you've been around the NFL, the top 64 quarterbacks, and he's not one of them? Then I don't know what game I'm watching.
"Obviously his stance and his peaceful protest when he was playing here kind of shook up the world, and I think for the better. But hopefully he gets back in the league – because he deserves to be here and he deserves an opportunity to play. He's in his prime and can make a team better."
http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/09/stephen-curry-support-colin-kaepernick-49ers-game-anthem-protest-warriors-nba-nfl 



https://twitter.com/ThompsonScribe/status/906989325233086466/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fftw.usatoday.com%2F2017%2F09%2Fstephen-curry-support-colin-kaepernick-49ers-game-anthem-protest-warriors-nba-nfl

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Prison Radio UPDATE:

Please sign this petition:
Release all the records and files regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case!
https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/release-mumia-abu-jamal-case-record
A ruling to implement Judge Leon Tucker's recent order to release Mumia's court documents could be made as soon as May 30, 2017. Please call or e-mail the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office now to pressure them to follow the court's order to release all the records and files regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case.
Phone: 215-686-8000

Judge Orders DA to Produce Complete File for Mumia's Case

Dear Friend,

This just in! Judge Leon Tucker of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia has ordered the District Attorney of Philadelphia to produce the entire case file for Cook v. the Commonwealth- the case file in Mumia Abu-Jamal's criminal conviction, by September 21st.

The DA's office has to produce the entire file for "in camera" review in Judge Tucker's chambers. This mean Judge Tucker thinks that a thorough review of all the relevant files is in order! Or in other words, what has been produced under court order from the DA'a office has been woefully deficient.

Judge Tucker worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the late 90's, so he knows what is in -and not in- files. Cook v. the Commonwealth comprises at least 31 boxes of material held by the DA. Will they turn over "all information and the complete file" for Mumia's case, as Judge Tucker has ordered?

This in camera review by Judge Tucker himself means that an independent jurist will personally inspect the documents the DA produces. See the order here.  Stay tuned for more information following September 21. This is just one step in a long walk to freedom. It is a step that has never been taken before.

OPEN the files. Justice Now!

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Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?


Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? (City Lights Open Media)
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
A Book Review by Robert Fantina

With the recent acquittal of two more police officers in the deaths of unarmed Black men, the question posed by the title of this book is as relevant as it ever was. Through a series of concise, clear essays, Mumia Abu-Jamal details the racism against Blacks, comparing today's behaviors with the lynchings that were common in the south prior to the decade of the sixties. He points out the obvious: The passage of Civil Rights legislation hasn't changed much; it simply changed the way racism operates.

The ways in which the white establishment has worked to oppress Blacks is astounding. After the Civil War, when slavery was no longer legal, "whites realized that the combination of trumped-up legal charges and forced labor as punishment created both a desirable business proposition and an incredibly effective tool for intimidating rank-and-file emancipated African Americans and doing away with their most effective leaders."

Abu-Jamal states that, today, "where once whites killed and terrorized from beneath a KKK hood, now they now did so openly from behind a little badge." He details the killing of Black men and women in the U.S. with almost complete impunity.

There are two related issues Abu-Jamal discusses. The first is the rampant racism that enables the police to kill unarmed Blacks, as young as 12 years old, for no reason, and the second is the "justice" system that allows them to get away with it.

One shocking crime, amid countless others, occurred in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2012; a police officer was acquitted in the deaths of two, unarmed Blacks, after leaping onto the hood of their car and firing 15 rounds from his semi-automatic rifle into the car's occupants. That is 137 shots, at point blank range, into the bodies of two unarmed people.

If this were an anomaly, it would be barbaric, but it is not: it is common practice for the police to kill unarmed Blacks, and, on the rare occasions that they are charged with a crime, for the judges and juries to acquit them.

In the U.S., Black citizens are disproportionally imprisoned. With for-profit prisons on the rise, this injustice will only increase.

Abu-Jamal relates story after story with the same plot, and only the names are different. An unarmed Black man is stopped by the police for any of a variety of reasons ranging from trivial (broken tail light), to more significant (suspect in a robbery). But too often, the outcome is the same: the Black man is dead and the police officer who killed him, more often than not white, is either not charged, or acquitted after being charged.

The Black Lives Matter movement formed to combat this blatant injustice, but it will be an uphill battle. As Abu-Jamal says, "Police serve the ownership and wealth classes of their societies, not the middling or impoverished people. For the latter, it is quite the reverse." As a result, people of color suffer disproportionately, too often winding up on the wrong side of a gun.

What is to be done? Abu-Jamal refers to the writings of Dr. Huey P. Newton, who calls not for community policing, but for community control of the police. Abu-Jamal argues forcefully for a new movement, "driven by commitment, ethics, intelligence, solidarity, and passions; for without passion, the embers may dim and die."

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? is powerful, disturbing, well-written, and an important book for our day.

Robert Fantina is the author of Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy. His articles on foreign policy, most frequently concerning Israel and Palestine, have appeared in such venues as Counterpunch and WarIsaCrime.org.
New York Journal of Books, July 2017

http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/Black-lives


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Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:


A) EVENTS, ACTIONS 
AND ONGOING STRUGGLES

B) ARTICLES IN FULL


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A) EVENTS, ACTIONS AND ONGOING STRUGGLES


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No to War Call to Action

October 6 marks the 16th anniversary of the longest foreign war in U.S. history.  Instead of ending it, Trump has announced an escalation of the war on Afganistan. Join us in protest during the week of October 2 - 8.  See the call by leading U.S. antiwar activists: http://notowar.net/no-to-war-call-to-action/


Endorse the Week of action:http://notowar.net/endorse-no-to-war-2017/

Add Your Action to the List of Actions:
http://notowar.net/post-your-action/

For more information:
http://notowar.net/
No to endless war & occupation!
No to white supremacy!
Hands off N. Korea, Iran and Venezuela!
Stop attacks on Immigrants and Muslims!
Bring all the troops home now and close the bases!

October 6, 2017, marks the 16th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan – the longest foreign war in U.S. history.

The Afghan war, which has been a thoroughly bipartisan effort, was originally railed against by Donald Trump when he was running for president. He claimed to be against U.S. troop involvement in Afghanistan. Now he is moving forward with a “secret” plan of escalation that will also include Pakistan.  He says the secrecy is to keep the “enemy” from knowing his plans, but it also keeps the U.S. people from knowing what he is doing in our name and from judging the human costs for the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States
What we do know is that military escalation has repeatedly failed to bring peace in Afghanistan. It has caused more destruction and more deaths of civilians and soldiers alike and has cost trillions of dollars that could be spent on meeting basic needs here at home while repairing the destruction we have carried out abroad.
Trump also emboldens the war machine here in the US against Black and Brown people and immigrants by fanning white supremacy and xenophobia and continuing the militarization of the police and ICE to incite racially-motivated violence and justify repression, including mass incarceration and mass deportations. US wars of aggression and militarism abroad go hand-in-hand with increased state repression and militarization of the police state here at home.
Trump’s new escalation comes at a time when there is no end in sight to the continuous wars, including drone and mercenary warfare, throughout the region and when he is threatening military action against Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, Iran and other countries.
Therefore, we the undersigned antiwar leaders in the U.S. are calling for non-violent protests in cities across the country during the week of the 16th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. We appeal to all antiwar organizations in the United States and around the world to join us.
  • John Amidon, Kateri Peace Conference, VFP
  • Jessica Antonio, BAYAN USA
  • Bahman Azad & Alfred Marder, US Peace Council
  • Ajamu Baraka, Black Alliance for Peace
  • Medea Benjamin, Code Pink
  • Toby Blome, Code Pink, Bay Area
  • Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition
  • Reece Chanault, US Labor Against the War
  • Bernadette Ellorin – International League for People’s Struggle
  • Sara Flounders, International Action Center
  • Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Nuclear Power & Weapons in Space
  • Larry Hamm, People’s Organization for Progress
  • Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
  • Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report
  • Ed Kinane, Upstate Drone Action
  • Matthew Hoh – Veterans for Peace
  • Joe Lombardo & Marilyn Levin, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
  • Judith Bello, Upstate Drone Action
  • Jeff Mackler, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • Maggie Martin, About Face: Veterans Against the War (formerly IVAW)
  • Ray McGovern, Former CIA Analyst and Presidential Advisor
  • Michael McPhearson, Veterans For Peace
  • Nick Mottern, Knowdrones.com
  • Malik Mujahid, Muslim Peace Coalition
  • Elsa Rassbach, Code Pink & UNAC, Germany
  • Bob Smith, Brandywine Peace Community
  • David Swanson, World Beyond War
  • Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait
  • Ann Wright, Code Pink & Veterans For Peace
  • Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
  • Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
(organizations are listed for identification purposes only)

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GLOBAL ACTION AGAINST MILITARY BASES
Week of:  7 October 2017
It's time to resist!  TOGETHER!

 

For decades, determined activists around the world have been resisting occupation, militarism, and foreign bases on their lands.  Their struggles have been courageous and persistant.  Uniting our resistance into a global action for peace and justice will make our voices louder, our power stronger and more radiant. 

This fall, during the first week of October, we invite your organization to plan an anti-militarism action in your community as part of the first annual Global Action Against Military Bases. As we resist together to abolish war and stop the desecration of Mother Earth, we create a world where every human life has equal value and a safe environment in which to live. This is the beginning of an annual effort that will better unite our work and strengthen our connections with each other. Will you join us in this united effort to resist war?


Background:
On October 7, 2001, in response to the events on September 11, the United States and Great Britain launched the "Enduring Freedom" mission against Afghanistan. These military forces began their assault on a country already battered by the Soviet invasion and years of a devastating civil war. Following 9/11, a new doctrine of Permanent Global Warfare was established, and its destabilizing impacts have drastically worsened since that fateful day.

We live in an increasingly more volatile world with ever- expanding global wars. Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan are just some of the hot spots. War has become a strategy for global domination. This perpetual state of war is having a devastating impact on our planet, impoverishing communities and forcing massive movements of people fleeing from war and environmental degradation.  

Today, in the Trump era, global warfare is intensifying rapidly. The US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreements accompanies a destructive energy policy that ignores science and eliminates environmental protections, with consequences that will fall heavily on the future of the planet and all who live on it. 
The use of such weapons as the MOAB, "the mother of all bombs," clearly shows the ever more brutal course of the White House. In this framework, the richest and most powerful country, which possesses 95% of the world's foreign military bases, regularly threatens military intervention against other major powers.  This pushes Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and other countries to grotesquely expand their own militaries, leading to worsening global tensions and instability.
It is time to unify all those around the world who oppose war. We must build a network of resistance to US bases, in solidarity with the many years of active resistance movements in Okinawa, South Korea, Italy, the Philippines, Guam, Germany, England, and elsewhere.

On October 7, 2001, the world's richest country began its perpetual military assault and occupation of Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest nations. We propose the week of October 7, 2017 as the first annual GLOBAL ACTION AGAINST MILITARY BASES. We invite all communities to organize solidarity actions and events sometime during the first or second week of October. Each community can independently organize a resistance that meets their own community's needs. We encourage community organizing meetings, debates, public speaking events, vigils, prayer groups, signature gathering, and direct actions. Each community can choose its own methods and locations of resistance: at military bases, embassies, government buildings, schools, libraries, public squares, etc. To make this possible, we need to work together as a united front, giving strength and visibility to every initiative. Together we ARE more powerful.

As Albert Einstein said: "War cannot be humanized. It can only be abolished." Will you join us?  Let's make this possible, together.

With the deepest respect,

First signatories
NoDalMolin (Vicenza – Italy)
NoMuos (Niscemi – Sicily – Italy)
SF Bay Area CODEPINK (S. Francisco – USA)
World Beyond War (USA)
CODEPINK (USA)
Hambastagi (Solidarity Party of Afghanistan)
STOP the War Coalition (Phiilippines)

Environmentalists against War (USA)

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CODEPINK Fall Action at Creech:  
Oct. 5 to Oct. 12    (All welcome!)
(Oct. 7 is the 16th Anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan)

SHUT DOWN CREECH: Spring 2018: Apr. 8-14.  (National Mass Mobilization to Resist Killer Drones)


(Thanks to Sandy Turner, from Ukiah, CA, for sharing this link!)

The Pentagon and CIA now have Brett Velicovich, their own drone veteran and CEO of an "online drone retail store" (Dronepire, Inc. and Expert Drones) , to glorify drone killing. Shameful that NPR couldn't ask the very difficult and important questions.  Lots of public education is needed to help people separate fact from fiction!

Would love for someone to do research on this guy!

Please listen to this interview (filled with misinformation), and consider joining us at Creech in the fall and/or spring to be a voice against the slaughter.  
(Dates below).

Life As A 'Drone Warrior'


NPR interview "with Brett Velicovich about his memoir, Drone Warrior, which details his time hunting and killing alleged terrorists using drones in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places."


http://www.cbsnews.com/news/drone-warrior-author-brett-velicovich-hunting-terrorists/


PS:  We should have a massive letter writing and phone calling to NPR for this totally biased and dangerous misrepresentation!


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@NWDCResistance
4 likeSolidarity Statement from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners



https://www.facebook.com/NWDCResistance/

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Labor Studies and Radical History

4444 Geary Blvd., Suite 207, San Francisco, CA 94118

415.387.5700

http://www.holtlaborlibrary.org/mayday.html

Hours

(call 415.387.5700 to be sure the library is open for the hours you are interested in. We close the library sometimes to go on errands or have close early) suggested)

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed on all major holidays and May Day 
We can arrange, by request, to keep the library open longer during the day or open it on weekends. Just ask.

Services

  • Reference Librarian On-site
  • Email and Telephone Reference
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Online Public Access Catalog 
  • Microfilm Reader/Printer
  • DVD and VCR players
  • Photocopier
  • Quiet well-lighted place for study and research 
For an appointment or further information, please email: david [at] holtlaborlibrary.org 

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Support:




CONTRIBUTE 
Thank you for being a part of this struggle.

Cuando luchamos ganamos! When we fight we win!

Noelle Hanrahan, Director
Facebook
Twitter
Website
To give by check: 
PO Box 411074
San Francisco, CA
94141

Stock or legacy gifts:
Noelle Hanrahan
(415) 706 - 5222

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MEDIA ADVISORYMedia contact: Morgan McLeod, (202) 628-0871
mmcleod@sentencingproject.org
NEW REPORT FINDS RECORD NUMBER OF PEOPLE SERVING
LIFE SENTENCES IN U.S. PRISONS
Washington, D.C.— Despite recent political support for criminal justice reform in most states, the number of people serving life sentences has nearly quintupled since 1984. 

A new report by The Sentencing Project finds a record number of people serving life with parole, life without parole, and virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, equaling one of every seven people behind bars. 


Eight states  Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Utah  have at least one of every five prisoners serving a life or de facto life sentence in prison. 
The Sentencing Project will host an online press conference to discuss its report Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences, on Wednesday, May 3rd at 11:00 a.m. EDT.   
Press Conference Details
WHAT: Online press conference hosted by The Sentencing Project regarding the release of its new report examining life and long-term sentences in the United States. REGISTER HERE to participate. The call-in information and conference link will be sent via email.  
WHEN: 
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. EDT 
WHO: 
  • Ashley Nellis, The Sentencing Project's senior research analyst and author of Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences
  • Evans Ray, whose life without parole sentence was commuted in 2016 by President Obama
  • Steve Zeidman, City University of New York law professor and counsel for Judith Clark—a New York prisoner who received a 75 year to life sentence in 1983
The full report will be available to press on Wednesday morning via email.

Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.

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When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression

BAY AREA ANTI-REPRESSION COMMITTEE

When they knock on your front door: Preparing for Repression
 BY 

Mothers Message to the NY/NJ Activist Community 

In order to effectively combat the existing opportunism, hidden agendas and to better provide ALL genuinely good willed social justice organizations and individuals who work inside of the New York and New Jersey metropolitan areas... with more concrete guidelines; 

The following "10 Point Platform and Justice Wish List" was adopted on Saturday, May 13, 2017    during the "Motherhood: Standing Strong 4 Justice" pre-mothers day gathering which was held     at Hostos Community College - Bronx, New York.......

"What We Want, What We Need" 

May, 2017 - NY/NJ Parents 10 Point Justice Platform and Wish List 

Point #1 - Lawyers and Legal Assistance:  Due to both the overwhelming case loads and impersonal nature of most public defenders, the Mothers believe that their families are receiving limited options, inadequate legal advise and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in gaining access to experienced "pro-bono" and/or activist attorneys as well as the free resources provided by non-profit social justice and legal advocacy groups.

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Point #2 - First Response Teams: The Mothers felt that when their loved ones were either killed or captured by the police that they were left in the hands of the enemy and without any support, information or direction on how to best move forward and therefore; WE WANT and NEED community activists to help us develop independently community controlled & trained first response teams in every borough or county that can confirm and be on the ground within 24 hours of any future incident.

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Point #3 - Security and Support At Court Appearances: The Mothers all feel that because community activist support eventually becomes selective and minimal, that they are disrespected by both the courthouse authorities, mainstream media and therefore;   WE WANT and NEED community activists to collectively promote and make a strong presence felt at all court appearances and; To always provide trained security & legal observers... when the families are traveling to, inside and from the court house.

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Point #4 - Emotional/Spiritual Healing and Grief and Loss Counseling: After the protest rallies, demonstrations, justice marches and television cameras are gone the Mothers all feel alone and abandoned and therefore;                                                                             WE WANT and NEED for community activists to refer/help provide the families with clergy, professional therapy & cultural outlets needed in order to gain strength to move forward. 

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Point #5 -  Parents Internal Communication Network: The Mothers agreed as actual victims, that they are the very best qualified in regards to providing the needed empathy and trust for an independent hotline & contact resource for all of the parents and families who want to reach out to someone they can mutually trust that is able understand what they are going through and therefore;           WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in providing a Parents Internal Communication Network to reach that objective.

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Point #6 -  Community Offices and Meeting Spaces: The Mothers agreed that there is an extreme need for safe office spaces where community members and family victims are able to go to for both confidential crisis intervention and holding organizing meetings and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                                 WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in securing those safe spaces inside of our own neighborhoods.   

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Point #7 - Political Education Classes and Workshop Training: The Mothers agreed in implementing the "each one, teach one"   strategy and therefore;                                                                                                                                                                                         WE WANT and NEEDfor community activists to help us in being trained as educators and organizers in Know Your Rights, Cop Watch, First Response, Emergency Preparedness & Community Control over all areas of public safety & the police in their respective neighborhoods.

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Point #8 - Support From Politicians and Elected Officials: The Mothers believe that most political candidates and incumbent elected officials selectively & unfairly represent only those cases which they think to be politically advantageous to their own selfish personal success on election day and therefore;                                                                                                                                WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us in either publicly exposing or endorsing these aforementioned political candidates and/or elected officials to their constituents solely based upon the uncompromising principles of serving the people.

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Point #9 - Research and Documentation: The Mothers believe that research/case studies, surveys, petitions, historical archives, investigative news reporting and events should be documented and made readily available in order to counter the self-serving  police misinformation promoted by the system and therefore;                                                                                                                          WE WANT and NEED for community activists to help us by securing college/university students, law firms, film makers, authors, journalists and professional research firms to find, document & tell the people the truth about police terror & the pipeline to prison.

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Point #10 - Grassroots Community Outreach and Information: The Mothers believe that far too much attention is being geared towards TV camera sensationalism with the constant organizing of marches & rallies "downtown"  and therefore; WE WANT and NEED for community activists to provide a fair balance by helping us to build in the schools, projects, churches and inside of the subway trains and stations of our Black, brown and oppressed communities where the majority of the police terror is actually taking place. 



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My Heartfelt "Thank You!"

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Several days ago I received a message from both of our lawyers, Bob Boyle and Bret Grote, informing me that the latest lab tests came in from the Discovery Requests.  

And they told me that the Hepatitis C infection level is at zero and as of today I'm Hepatitis C free. 

This is in part due to some fine lawyering by Bret and Bob who—remember—filed the suit while I was in the throes of a diabetic coma, unconscious and thus unable to file for myself.  
But it's also due to you, the people.  Brothers and sisters who supported our efforts, who contributed to this fight with money, time, protests and cramming court rooms on our behalf, who sent cards, who prayed, who loved deeply.  

I can't thank you all individually but if you hear my voice or read my words know that I am thanking you, all of you. And I'm thanking you for showing once again the Power of the People. 

This battle ain't over, for the State's cruelest gift is my recent diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver. With your love we shall prevail again.  I thank you all. Our noble Dr.'s Corey Weinstein, who told us what to look for, and Joseph Harris who gave me my first diagnosis and who became the star of the courtroom by making the mysteries of Hep C understandable to all.  An internist working up in Harlem, Dr. Harris found few thrills better than telling his many Hep C patients that they're cured.  

This struggle ain't just for me y'all. 

Because of your efforts thousands of Pennsylvania prisoners now have hope of healing from the ravages of Hepatitis C. [singing] "Let us march on 'til victory is won." So goes the old Negro Spiritual, "The Black National Anthem." 

We are making it a reality. I love you all.

From Prison Nation,
This is Mumia Abu-Jamal

Prison Radio, May 27, 2017

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Court order to disclose DA files in Mumia Abu-Jamal's legal case [video]

This 9-minute video gives background on new revelations about conflict of interest -- an appeals judge who had previously been part of the prosecution team -- in upholding the 1982 conviction of journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal on charges of killing a police officer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17Tp5NlllLU

A ruling to implement a judge's recent order for "discovery" could be made on May 30.

Judge Tucker granted discovery to Mumia Abu-Jamal pursuant to his claims brought under Williams v Pennsylvania that he was denied due process because his PA Supreme Court appeals from 1998-2008 were decided by Ronald Castille, who had previously been the District Attorney during Mumia's 1988 appeal from his conviction and death sentence, as well as having been a senior assistant district attorney during Mumia's trial.

The DA is given 30 days—until May 30, 2017—to produce all records and memos regarding Mumia's case, pre-trial, trial, post-trial and direct appeal proceedings between Castille and his staff and any public statement he made about it. Then Mumia has 15 days after receiving this discovery to file amendments to his PCRA petition.

This date of this order is April 28, but it was docketed today, May 1, 2017.

This is a critical and essential step forward!

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Dear Friend,

For the first time- a court has ordered the Philadelphia DA to turn over evidence and open their files in Mumia's appeal.   In a complacency shattering blow, the District Attorney's office is finally being held to account.  Judge Leon Tucker of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court ordered the DA to produce all of the documents relevant to former PA Supreme Court Justice's role in the case. Castille was first a supervisory ADA during Mumia's trial, then District Attorney, and finally as a judge he sat on Mumia's appeals to the PA Supreme Court. 

This broad discovery order follows just days after the arguments in court by Christina Swarns, Esq. of the NAACP LDF, and Judith Ritter, Esq. of Widner Univ.

During that hearing, Swarns made it clear that the District Attorney's practice of lying to the appellate courts would not be tolerated and had been specifically exposed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the Terrence Williams case, which highlights Ronald Castile's conflict, the Supreme Court in no uncertain terms excoriated the office for failing to disclose crucial evidence.  Evidence the office hid for years.  This is an opportunity to begin to unravel the decades long police and prosecutorial corruption that has plagued Mumia's quest for justice.  

In prison for over thirty six years Mumia Abu-Jamal has maintained his innocence in the death of Philadelphia Police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9th 1981.  

"The Commonwealth  must  produce  any  and  all  documents  or  records  in  the  possession  or  control  of  the Philadelphia  District  Attorney's  Office   showing   former   District   Attorney   Ronald   Castille's   personal   involvement   in the  above-captioned  case  ... and public statements during and after his tenure as District Attorney of Philadelphia."

It is important to note that the history of the District Attorney's office in delaying and appealing to prevent exposure of prosecutorial misconduct and the resulting justice.  At every turn, there will be attempts to limit Mumia's access to the courts and release.   it is past time for justice in this case.  
Noelle Hanrahan, P.I.

Prison Radio is a 501c3 project of the Redwood Justice Fund. We record and broadcast the voices of prisoners, centering their analyses and experiences in the movements against mass incarceration and state repression. If you support our work, please join us.

www.prisonradio.org   |   info@prisonradio.org   |   415-706-5222

Thank you for being a part of this work!

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Kevin "Rashid" Johnson Packed Off to Florida!

Rashid: I'm off to Florida and a new phase of reprisals for publicizing abuses in US prisons

July 14, 2017

Readers are urged to share this story widely and write to Rashid right away; mail equals support, and the more he gets, the safer he'll be: Kevin Johnson, O-158039, RMC, P.O. Box 628, Lake Butler FL 32054

by Kevin 'Rashid' Johnson
http://sfbayview.com/2017/07/rashid-im-off-to-florida-and-a-new-phase-of-reprisals-for-publicizing-abuses-in-us-prisons/

Packed off to Florida

Following Texas prison officials planting a weapon in my cell on March 26, 2017, then stealing most of my personal property on April 6, 2017, in an ongoing pattern of retaliation for and attempts to repress my writing and involvement in litigation exposing and challenging abuses in Texas prisons, including their killing prisoners, I was unceremoniously packed off to the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) on June 22, 2017.
This transfer came as outside protests mounted against the abuses, and Texas officials became more and more entangled in a growing web of their own lies invented in their efforts to cover up and deny their reprisals against me, and also while a contempt investigation was imminent upon a motion I filed in a federal lawsuit brought by relatives of one of the prisoners they'd killed – a killing I'd witnessed and publicized.
Florida, notorious for its own extremely abusive prisons, readily signed on to take up Texas's slack. And being an openly corrupt system unaccustomed to concealing its dirt, FDC officials shot straight from the hip in expressing and carrying on efforts to repress and act out reprisals for my exposing and challenging prison abuses.

The Welcoming Committee

Following a four-hour flight from Texas to Florida, I was driven in a sweltering prison van from an airport just outside Jacksonville, Florida, to the FDC's Reception and Medical Center (RMC) in Lake Butler, Florida. I was forced to leave most all my personal property behind in Texas.
Upon reaching RMC, I was brought from the van, manacled hand and foot into an enclosed vehicle port, where I was met by a mob of white guards of all ranks. I was ordered to stand in a pair of painted yellow footprints on a concrete platform as the guards crowded around me.

I was ordered to stand in a pair of painted yellow footprints on a concrete platform as the guards crowded around me. "This is Florida, and we'll beat your ass! We'll kill you!" said the spokesman.

Their "chosen" spokesman, a tall goofy guard, R. Knight, stepped forward and launched into a speech consisting of threats and insults. He emphasized that I was "not in Virginia or wherever else" I'd been. That "this is Florida, and we'll beat your ass! We'll kill you!" He assured my "Black ass" that my tendency to protest "won't be tolerated here."
He went on and on, like an overseer explaining the plantation's code of decorum and the "place" to a newly arrived Black slave. The analogy is apt. "You will answer us only as 'no sir' and 'yes sir,' 'no ma'am' and 'yes ma'am.' You forget this and we'll kick your fucking teeth out," he barked.
I was then taken through the various stages of being "processed" in: fingerprinted, examined and questioned by medical staff etc. Knight took possession of my property and stole a number of documents and all my writing supplies (five writing tablets, four ink pens, 19 envelopes, stamps), all my hygiene supplies (deodorant, shampoo, two bars of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers) and so on.
All these items that I brought with me from Texas were inventoried and logged by Texas officials. Knight logged and inventoried me as receiving from him only my watch, some legal papers, 15 envelopes and my eyeglasses.
Next, I was taken into an office and sat before a Sgt. L. Colon, RMC's "gang (or STG, Security Threat Group) investigator." He proceeded in the same hostile terms. He explained that he knew all about me and his displeasure with my published articles about prison abuses, and he assured that FDC would put an end to it. He admitted his purpose was to put an STG profile on me, refer it to FDC's central office in Tallahassee to be upheld, and I would then be put on STG file, which in turn would be used to stop my writings.
He proceeded to ask about me being a "Black Panther leader" and, using a thoroughly amateur interrogation method, attempted to have me characterize myself and my party as a gang. When his efforts failed, he charged me with being a "bullshitter." I told him only that I am a member of a constitutionally protected, non-violent communist party and whatever false stigma he wanted to try and invent against me and us was typical of fascist governments and we'd address it publicly and in court. Our "interview" was terminated.

Another nurse did my medical history check, remarking that my blood pressure reading was extremely high, 145/103. Although she had all my medications sitting there in front of her, and I told her I had not received my dose that day, she refused to provide them and did nothing.

Upon arriving in Florida, I had not received my hypertension medications since the prior morning. The sweltering heat was aggravating my condition. During the intake process a routine blood pressure check was done and my reading was around 145/103. The nurse who did the reading passed me on to another nurse who did my medical history check, remarking that my reading was extremely high. Although she had all my medications sitting there in front of her, and I told her I had not received my dose that day, she refused to provide them and did nothing.

Barbaric housing

Following completing the intake process, I was walked a substantial distance across the prison yard carrying my bag of property in handcuffs and the sweltering midday heat, dizzy from my elevated blood pressure.
I was led to K-building, the solitary confinement unit, where I was put into a cell, K-3-102, which had no bunk in it and had a commode that had to be flushed by guards from outside the cell – often they would not flush it when it needed to be and I asked them to. The commode had otherwise been obviously left unflushed for long periods, because inside the bowl was and is a thick, yellowed layer of calcium and waste residue and it reeked of fermented urine and feces.
Just before I entered the cell, it was wet-mopped, not to sanitize it, but to cover the entire floor with water that would not, and did not, dry for over a day afterward due to the extreme humidity and lack of air circulation in the cells. There is no air conditioning in the cell blocks and, unlike in Texas, FDC prisoners may not have in-cell fans.
My cell was infested with ants which would find their way into my bed as I slept on the floor. I received numerous bites from them and I believe also roaches that frequently crawled into the cell. At night, in the pitch black cells – and even when the lights were on – mice and huge, two-inch-long cockroaches, along with the "regular" smaller breed of roaches, ran into and explored the cell.

My cell was infested with ants which would find their way into my bed as I slept on the floor. I received numerous bites from them. At night, even when the lights were on, mice and huge, two-inch-long cockroaches, along with the "regular" smaller breed of roaches, ran into and explored the cell.

The K-building lieutenant, Jason Livingston, posted a special note outside my cell door stating I was on a heightened security status, that I and the cell were to be specially searched any time I exited or entered the cell, that I was to be specially restrained and the ranking guards had to accompany me to and from any destination outside the cell. The pretense was that I was an extreme physical threat.
I was denied my hypertension medications until I briefly fell unconscious on the evening of June 24, 2017.
Following sending word out to an attorney and others about my conditions and experiences, who apparently raised complaints on my behalf, I was moved to a "regular" cell, K-1-204, on June 30, 2017, with a bunk and a commode I can flush. I was repeatedly confronted by various guards who've commented that I'm no dangerous person and they don't understand why I've been profiled or treated as though I am.
A week later FDC officials would come clean, exposing on the record their actual motives for my mistreatment, and "special" security status.

Solitary confinement for publicizing abuses

My readers and others will recall when, in January 2017, I was given a disciplinary infraction by Texas officials for a statement I wrote about suffering their abuses that was published online. When confronted about such retaliatory acts by a PBS reporter, Ms. Kamala Kelkar, TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark initially lied, denying that I received any such infractions, until Ms. Kelkar emailed him a copy of the charge I'd received. He then suddenly changed his story, lying yet again to claim the infraction had been overturned, then declined to answer any further questions.[i]
Clark knew enough to deny and try to cover up such acts of retaliation against a prisoner exercising his right to freedom of speech. Florida officials, however, have come right out admitting and exposing such actions.[ii]
On July 6, 2017, I was confronted by RMC classification officer Jeremy Brown, who notified me that I am to be formally reviewed for placement on Close Management I status, which is the FDC's name for solitary confinement. The reason he gave for this review was the exact STG pretext Sgt. L. Colon told me on my first day was going to be created to justify suppressing my writings about prison abuses.
Brown served me written notification stating my CMI review was based upon my alleged "documented leadership in a Security Threat Group that is certified by the Threat Assessment Review Committee in Central Office." Remember, this is the very same illegal basis upon which California prison officials were indefinitely throwing prisoners in solitary confinement which prompted three historic mass prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 and was abolished upon the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the practice in 2015.

My assignment to solitary confinement is for "documented leadership in a Security Threat Group" … This is the very same illegal basis upon which California prison officials were indefinitely throwing prisoners in solitary confinement which prompted three historic mass prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 and was abolished upon the settlement of a class action lawsuit against the practice in 2015.

But FDC officials went much further in supporting "comments" to state their true motives for devising to put me in solitary and for my mistreatment up to that point.
As Colon had threatened, an STG label was invented against the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, a party about which Colon admitted he and the FDC had no prior knowledge. The reason the party was designated an STG and gang was because (get this!) I'd written articles while in Oregon and Texas prison systems that were published online about abuses in the prisons which generated concern and perfectly legal protests from the public, which was characterized as my gang following that "caused disruption in the orderly operations" of the prisons.
The notice went on to admit, as I've long contended in my writings, that these writings are the actual reason I've been transferred from state to state – illegal retaliatory transfers – which was characterized as STG activities.
Passing mention was made that I'd received disciplinary infractions while in Oregon and Texas, but no attempt was made to show those infractions bore any connection to my party affiliation. In fact, those who have followed my writings and the series of official reprisals – which is now being admitted by FDC officials – know those infractions were fabricated retaliations, many of which I was prevented from contesting.
So, according to FDC officials, I am a confirmed gang leader because I publicize prison abuses through articles that are posted online and my gang members and followers are members of the public who read my articles and make complaints and inquiries of officials, which acts are characterized as presenting disruptions to prison operations – or in other words throwing a monkey wrench in their business-as-usual abuses.

According to FDC officials, I am a confirmed gang leader because I publicize prison abuses through articles that are posted online and my gang members and followers are members of the public who read my articles and make complaints and inquiries of officials, which acts are characterized as presenting disruptions to prison operations.

For this I am to be thrown into solitary, which means any future posting and publishing of writings by me about prison abuses will be characterized as my continuing to engage in STG or gang activities, and any legal public protests as my gang members threatening prison security.
I didn't make this up, it's all in writing; read it HERE (scroll down to "SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS"). This is where taxpayers' monies are going in financing these ubiquitous gang busting units. And should you protest, you will be labelled a gangster yourself. I won't belabor the point.
Dare to struggle, Dare to win!
All Power to the People!
[i] Kamala Kelkar, "Resistence Builds Against Social Media Ban in Texas Prisons," PBS NewsHour Weekend, Jan. 29, 2017, 5:23 p.m. EST
Send our brother some love and light – and share this urgent story widely. The more people who write to him now, the safer he'll be: Kevin Johnson, O-158039, RMC, 7765 S. Cr. 231, P.O. Box 628, Lake Butler FL 32054.

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Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin "Rashid" Johnson featuring exchanges with an Outlaw Kindle Edition

by Kevin Rashid Johnson (Author), Tom Big Warrior (Introduction), Russell Maroon Shoatz(Introduction)

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Major Battles On
For over 31 years, Major Tillery has been a prisoner of the State.
Despite that extraordinary fact, he continues his battles, both in the prison for his health, and in the courts for his freedom.
Several weeks ago, Tillery filed a direct challenge to his criminal conviction, by arguing that a so-called "secret witness" was, in fact, a paid police informant who was given a get-out-of-jail-free card if he testified against Tillery.
Remember I mentioned, "paid?"
Well, yes--the witness was 'paid'--but not in dollars. He was paid in sex!
In the spring of 1984, Robert Mickens was facing decades in prison on rape and robbery charges. After he testified against Tillery, however, his 25-year sentence became 5 years: probation!
And before he testified he was given an hour and a ½ private visit with his girlfriend--at the Homicide Squad room at the Police Roundhouse. (Another such witness was given another sweetheart deal--lie on Major, and get off!)
To a prisoner, some things are more important than money. Like sex!
In a verified document written in April, 2016, Mickens declares that he lied at trial, after being coached by the DAs and detectives on the case.
He lied to get out of jail--and because he could get with his girl.
Other men have done more for less.
Major's 58-page Petition is a time machine back into a practice that was once common in Philadelphia.
In the 1980s and '90s, the Police Roundhouse had become a whorehouse.
Major, now facing serious health challenges from his hepatitis C infection, stubborn skin rashes, and dangerous intestinal disorders, is still battling.
And the fight ain't over.
[©'16 MAJ  6/29/16]
Major Tillery Needs Your Help and Support
Major Tillery is an innocent man. There was no evidence against Major Tillery for the 1976 poolroom shootings that left one man dead and another wounded. The surviving victim gave a statement to homicide detectives naming others—not Tillery or his co-defendant—as the shooters. Major wasn't charged until 1980, he was tried in 1985.
The only evidence at trial came from these jailhouse informants who were given sexual favors and plea deals for dozens of pending felonies for lying against Major Tillery. Both witnesses now declare their testimony was manufactured by the police and prosecution. Neither witness had personal knowledge of the shooting.
This is a case of prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption that goes to the deepest levels of rot in the Philadelphia criminal injustice system. Major Tillery deserves not just a new trial, but dismissal of the charges against him and his freedom from prison.
It cost a lot of money for Major Tillery to be able to file his new pro se PCRA petition and continue investigation to get more evidence of the state misconduct. He needs help to get lawyers to make sure this case is not ignored. Please contribute, now.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
    Financial Support: Tillery's investigation is ongoing, to get this case filed has been costly and he needs funds for a legal team to fight this to his freedom!
    Go to JPay.com;
    code: Major Tillery AM9786 PADOC
    Tell Philadelphia District Attorney
    Seth Williams:
    Free Major Tillery! He is an innocent man, framed by police and and prosecution.
    Call: 215-686-8711 or

    Write to:
    Major Tillery AM9786
    SCI Frackville
    1111 Altamont Blvd.
    Frackville, PA 17931

      For More Information, Go To: Justice4MajorTillery/blogspot
      Call/Write:
      Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq. (917) 689-4009RachelWolkenstein@gmail.com





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      Commute Kevin Cooper's Death Sentence

      Sign the Petition:
      http://www.savekevincooper.org/pages/petition.php


      Urge Gov. Jerry Brown to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence. Cooper has always maintained his innocence of the 1983 quadruple murder of which he was convicted. In 2009, five federal judges signed a dissenting opinion warning that the State of California "may be about to execute an innocent man." Having exhausted his appeals in the US courts, Kevin Cooper's lawyers have turned to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to seek remedy for what they maintain is his wrongful conviction, and the inadequate trial representation, prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination which have marked the case. Amnesty International opposes all executions, unconditionally.

      "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." - Judge William A. Fletcher, 2009 dissenting opinion on Kevin Cooper's case

      Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for more than thirty years.

      In 1985, Cooper was convicted of the murder of a family and their house guest in Chino Hills. Sentenced to death, Cooper's trial took place in an atmosphere of racial hatred — for example, an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the N*****!" was hung outside the venue of his preliminary hearing.

      Take action to see that Kevin Cooper's death sentence is commuted immediately.

      Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence.

      Following his trial, five federal judges said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing."

      Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.

      Tell California authorities: The death penalty carries the risk of irrevocable error. Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted.

      In 2009, Cooper came just eight hours shy of being executed for a crime that he may not have committed. Stand with me today in reminding the state of California that the death penalty is irreversible — Kevin Cooper's sentence must be commuted immediately.

      In solidarity,

      James Clark
      Senior Death Penalty Campaigner
      Amnesty International USA

        Kevin Cooper: An Innocent Victim of Racist Frame-Up - from the Fact Sheet at: www.freekevincooper.org

        Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the gruesome murders of a white family in Chino Hills, California: Doug and Peggy Ryen and their daughter Jessica and their house- guest Christopher Hughes. The Ryens' 8 year old son Josh, also attacked, was left for dead but survived.

        Convicted in an atmosphere of racial hatred in San Bernardino County CA, Kevin Cooper remains under a threat of imminent execution in San Quentin.  He has never received a fair hearing on his claim of innocence.  In a dissenting opinion in 2009, five federal judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals signed a 82 page dissenting opinion that begins: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." 565 F.3d 581.

        There is significant evidence that exonerates Mr. Cooper and points toward other suspects:

          The coroner who investigated the Ryen murders concluded that the murders took four minutes at most and that the murder weapons were a hatchet, a long knife, an ice pick and perhaps a second knife. How could a single person, in four or fewer minutes, wield three or four weapons, and inflict over 140 wounds on five people, two of whom were adults (including a 200 pound ex-marine) who had loaded weapons near their bedsides?

          The sole surviving victim of the murders, Josh Ryen, told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the culprits were "three white men." Josh Ryen repeated this statement in the days following the crimes. When he twice saw Mr. Cooper's picture on TV as the suspected attacker, Josh Ryen said "that's not the man who did it."

          Josh Ryen's description of the killers was corroborated by two witnesses who were driving near the Ryens' home the night of the murders. They reported seeing three white men in a station wagon matching the description of the Ryens' car speeding away from the direction of the Ryens' home.

          These descriptions were corroborated by testimony of several employees and patrons of a bar close to the Ryens' home, who saw three white men enter the bar around midnight the night of the murders, two of whom were covered in blood, and one of whom was wearing coveralls.

          The identity of the real killers was further corroborated by a woman who, shortly after the murders were discovered, alerted the sheriff's department that her boyfriend, a convicted murderer, left blood-spattered coveralls at her home the night of the murders. She also reported that her boyfriend had been wearing a tan t-shirt matching a tan t-shirt with Doug Ryen's blood on it recovered near the bar. She also reported that her boyfriend owned a hatchet matching the one recovered near the scene of the crime, which she noted was missing in the days following the murders; it never reappeared; further, her sister saw that boyfriend and two other white men in a vehicle that could have been the Ryens' car on the night of the murders.

        Lacking a motive to ascribe to Mr. Cooper for the crimes, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Cooper, who had earlier walked away from custody at a minimum security prison, stole the Ryens' car to escape to Mexico. But the Ryens had left the keys in both their cars (which were parked in the driveway), so there was no need to kill them to steal their car. The prosecution also claimed that Mr. Cooper needed money, but money and credit cards were found untouched and in plain sight at the murder scene.

        The jury in 1985 deliberated for seven days before finding Mr. Cooper guilty. One juror later said that if there had been one less piece of evidence, the jury would not have voted to convict.

        The evidence the prosecution presented at trial tying Mr. Cooper to the crime scene has all been discredited…         (Continue reading this document at: http://www.savekevincooper.org/_new_freekevincooperdotorg/TEST/Scripts/DataLibraries/upload/KC_FactSheet_2014.pdf)

             This message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. July 2015


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        B. ARTICLES IN FULL


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        1)   The Forgotten Victims of Agent Orange
        By Viet Thanh Nguyen and Richard Hughes, September 15, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/opinion/agent-orange-vietnam-effects.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region


        Phan Thanh Hung Duc, 20, lies immobile and silent, his midsection covered haphazardly by a white shirt with an ornate Cambodian temple design. His mouth is agape and his chest thrusts upward, his hands and feet locked in gnarled deformity. He appears to be frozen in agony. He is one of the thousands of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.
        Pham Thi Phuong Khanh, 21, is another such patient. She quietly pulls a towel over her face as a visitor to the Peace Village ward in Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, starts to take a picture of her enlarged, hydrocephalic head. Like Mr. Hung Duc, Ms. Khanh is believed to be a victim of Operation Ranch Hand, the United States military's effort during the Vietnam War to deprive the enemy of cover and food by spraying defoliants.
        Perhaps Ms. Khanh does not want strangers to stare at her. Perhaps she feels ashamed. But if she does feel shame, why is it that those who should do not?
        Over the years, there have been both American and Vietnamese plaintiffs in Agent Orange court cases in the United States. Possibly the only one that could be considered a victory for the plaintiffs was an out-of-court settlement of $180 million in the 1980s for about 50,000 American veterans. Many more never benefited from the case because their illnesses did not show up for years.
        These American veterans have fought for decades to get medical treatment and compensation for birth defects and ailments presumed to be Agent Orange-related diseases. Records from Agent Orange lawsuits indicate that both the military and the chemical companies involved were well aware, early on, of the dangers of dioxin, so much so that our government terminated the program three years before the war's end.
        Our government has acknowledged some of its responsibility to its veterans. In 2010, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki added three Agent Orange-related diseases to the V.A.'s compensation list, and Congress allocated $13.3 billion to cover the costs. An enterprising Senate aide slipped in $12 million for Agent Orange relief in Vietnam, only a small portion of which was for health. These disparities in funding are unconscionable, as is the American government's illogical refusal to acknowledge that Agent Orange has caused the same damage to the Vietnamese as it has to Americans.
        Pham Van Truc is another Vietnamese victim of Agent Orange. With his crippled, birdlike limbs and patches of scaly skin, he had as his only blessing, it seemed, exceptionally devoted parents who cared for him, night and day, all 20 years of his life and who were devastated when he died in March. His mother, Nguyen Thi May, 66, had pleaded for a solution to just one of Mr. Truc's afflictions, such as testicles that had not descended or the attendant pain unrelieved by ineffective medicines.
        In regards to cases like this, our government's one concession to responsibility for the ravages of Agent Orange is environmental remediation. Over $100 million has been allocated to clean up the Da Nang airport, one of 28 "hot spots" for defoliant contamination in Vietnam.
        By contrast, only $20 million has been allocated for victims.
        The most common American bureaucratic excuse for this disparity is that a definitive connection between Agent Orange and the illnesses has not yet been made. But the evidence is overwhelming: Vietnamese soldiers, from both sides, with perfectly healthy children before going to fight, came home and sired offspring with deformities and horrific illnesses; villages repeatedly sprayed have exceptionally high birth-deformity rates; and our own Department of Veterans Affairs now lists 14 illnesses presumed to be related to Agent Orange.
        The reason for official American reluctance is not lack of scientific evidence. The problem is the distance between American policy makers and the Vietnamese people. Vietnamese victims are too far removed from the American public, and too reminiscent of an unpopular war. Agent Orange victims are also among the most visually disturbing consequences of the Vietnam War. Few who look at photographer Philip Jones Griffiths's powerful book of photographs "Agent Orange: 'Collateral Damage' in Vietnam" have the stomach to do so twice. It is easier to keep one's distance, to not look at all.
        The reason for American reluctance to look or act is not even about money, as one might suspect. A solution for the Vietnamese would cost what one congressional aide wryly referred to as "decimal dust," or, by one estimate, $35 million a year for 10 years. Given a Vietnamese Red Cross estimate of three million victims, the amount of aid is approximately $12 a year per victim and a decade of help — merely one-fifth the time that has elapsed since Operation Ranch Hand reached its apex in 1967. Such funding would provide prostheses, wheelchairs and orthopedic surgery; speech therapy and rehabilitation; basic feeding, bathing and sleeping equipment; an enhanced case management system and medical staff training; and stipends to families providing full-time care.
        That $350 million is an inconsequential amount compared to what it cost to produce, transport and deploy the herbicides in the first place. But the legacy of Agent Orange is not about science or economics. It's about human decency. Americans created Agent Orange here in a laboratory, shipped it overseas and dumped it with abandon, where it continues to shatter thousands of people's lives. Denying the reality of the need can only take an unacceptable toll here in the United States.



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        2)  The day that destroyed the working class and sowed the seeds of Trump
        By Salena Zico, September 16, 2017
        http://nypost.com/2017/09/16/the-day-that-destroyed-the-working-class-and-sowed-the-seeds-for-trump/


        CAMPBELL, OHIO — Forty years ago, on Sept. 19, thousands of men walked into the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube along the Mahoning River before the early shift.
        Like every fall morning, they were armed with lunch pails and hard hats; the only worry on their minds was the upcoming Pittsburgh Steelers game on "Monday Night Football." The only arguing you heard was whether quarterback Terry Bradshaw had fully recovered from the dramatic hit he took from a Cleveland Browns player the season before.
        It was just before 7 a.m., and the fog that had settled over the river was beginning to lift. As the sun began to streak through mist, the men made their way into the labyrinth of buildings where they worked.
        In the next hour their lives would change forever.
        From then on, this date in 1977 would be known as Black Monday in the Steel Valley, which stretches from Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio eastward toward Pittsburgh. It is the date when Youngstown Sheet and Tube abruptly furloughed 5,000 workers all in one day.
        The bleeding never stopped.
        Within the next 18 months, US Steel announced that the nation's largest steel producer was also shutting down 16 plants across the nation including their Ohio Works in Youngstown, a move that eliminated an additional 4,000 workers here. That announcement came one day before Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. said they were cutting thousands of jobs at their facilities in the Mahoning Valley, too.
        Within a decade 40,000 jobs were gone. Within that same decade, 50,000 people had left the region, and by the next decade that number was up to 100,000. Today the 22 miles of booming steel mills and the support industries that once lined the Mahoning River have mostly disappeared — either blown up, dismantled or reclaimed by nature.
        If a bomb had hit this region, the scar would be no less severe on its landscape.
        "The domino effect of Black Monday went on forever," said Gary Steinbeck of nearby Warren, Ohio. Steinbeck was working up the river that day from the rolling plant at H.K. Porter, which also later went out of business. "The word spread quickly. Back then there weren't any cellphones or social media. Good news travels fast, bad news travels at the speed of light. We knew within the hour the guys down the river were hurting, we knew within a day families were hurting, we knew within a week the whole region was suffering," he said.
        "Those numbers only reflect the jobs that were lost in the plant; the ripple effect was equally devastating. Grocery stores, pizza shops, gas stations, restaurants, department stores, car dealerships, barber shops all saw their business plummet and they started closing," said Steinbeck.
        Steinbeck was only 25 on Black Monday — but he said he knew then that the blow to his hometown would not be felt the same way in Washington.
        News reports from the days and weeks following Black Monday showed that the White House, larger business community and economic experts were detached from the potency of what was happening here. They thought the overall economic impact was exaggerated, that it would not be the calamity Steinbeck and everyone else in Youngstown knew it would be.
        "No one never calculated the cultural tragedy as part of the equation either," Steinbeck said. "They didn't just dismantle the old mills, they dismantled the societal fabric of what made Youngstown, Youngstown."

        The Manhattan radical

        At first the Mahoning Valley did not give up hope, none of them did. In fact they did something remarkable: The entire community fought back by forming a local initiative that consisted of faith leaders, local politicians and even a couple of radical activists, most notably Staughton Lynd, a formidable figure in the '60s social justice movement.
        "The response in this community took the country and the community members themselves by surprise," said Lynd from his basement in his Niles, Ohio, home in Trumbull County.
        On the night of Black Monday, Lynd remembers an emergency meeting was called by the Central Labor Union and a plan was endorsed to send petitions to President Jimmy Carter encouraging him to stop steel imports and put an ease on regulations that were hurting the industry. At the time, newer plants in China and Japan, which had better technological capabilities, were outstripping American production.
        "By Friday over 100,000 signatures had been collected and chartered buses went to Washington to deliver them to the president," said Lynd.
        Three hundred men, local elected officials and faith leaders all traveled on five buses to the White House. The mood on the drive was somber, and the late Sen. John Glenn stood on the US Capitol steps, along with other elected officials, as the men waved signs that read "Save the Steel Industry."
        Carter never even bothered to send out an aide to receive the petitions when they arrived. Amazingly, the president who was a well-known supporter of the working class never even acknowledged them.
        Lynd is flanked by hundreds of labor movement and anti-war buttons on the wall behind him. At 87 he is trim, soft-spoken and humble. As if in reflection of his Quaker upbringing, his home is modest, and so is he. He really doesn't look the part of a '60s radical.
        Lynd came to Youngstown unconventionally. The son of noted sociologists, he grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side, attended Harvard and taught at Yale, but his path here was never through an elite bubble. He was considered a radical peaceful protestor who traveled to North Vietnam with the activist Tom Hayden at the peak of the war to object to it, lived in communes after he was asked to leave the Army and made a difference during the fight for civil rights in Mississippi by coordinating an alternative education system for blacks called the Freedom Schools.
        Despite his academic pedigree, his radical outlook placed him in Chicago right out of law school with a wife, who he'd met at Harvard, three small children and no job.
        "We met some steel workers from Youngstown, Ohio, who were like people I'd never met in my life. They were active in the American Civil Liberties Union. They opposed race prejudice, which was a very serious thing in that industry both on the shop floor and in the community at a time. My wife, Alice, and I felt that we were probably never going to meet people like this again in our lives. Why not move there, try to be helpful?" he explains.
        Lynd, the Manhattan-born academic from Harvard, immediately became part of the fabric in the working class community as a labor lawyer.
        "I can remember it as if it were yesterday, the phones in the office were ringing before we even got in the door," he said of Black Monday.
        By the next day, the community had put together quite an effort with the so-called Ecumenical Coalition, which was local churches and six local unions. "Not much help from the national union," Lynd said.
        In the end, after years of fighting everything, they tried but failed, said Lynd. "All of these things we did just came together — not in a victory, but we gave them a hell of a fight. The history of Youngstown cannot be told without saying we gave them one hell of a fight."

        Youngstown sure died hard 

        Scant remainders of the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube still stand. Where 20,000 men once worked at its peak, now just 19 employees grind out a living in the vast cavernous buildings along the river.
        The old Campbell works is now Casey Industrial, and Paul Ulam manages the crew. To step inside the old rolling mill is to step back in time; almost everything is still intact. The machines are still standing, so are the men's lockers, the cranes are still overhead and old wooden block floors are still lining the vast footage of the buildings.
        "We have the original lathes. A lot of these machines were all original," Ulam said. The 57-year-old lives right over the state line in New Castle, Pa. He applied to work here at the mill right after high school.
        "I came down here for my interview on September 19, 1977. The guy at the guards desk told me to 'go home kid, it's all over,' " he said.
        It was only in 2001 that Ulam was hired to work at Casey Industrial. His 19 men rebuild motors for the cranes that cling to the roofs of steel mills like giant praying mantises across the country.
        "We do it for customers who still use them," said Ulam who supervises for the operation.
        Outside, the only thing you hear is the long-long-short-long whistle of a CXS train as it approaches a cross signal — all of the other tracks that crisscross the compound are so overgrown with weeds the rails are nearly buried.
        The visual is haunting, the silence eerie. If you grew up around here you still expect to see the dozens of smoke stacks fill the skyline with plumes of white, you still expect to catch the scent of sulfur, you still expect to hear the roar of men and machines working or catch sight of the sparks made by the welders or the orange glow of molten iron.
        The events of Black Monday forever changed not only the Steel Valley, but her people and eventually American culture and politics. Just last year the reverberations were felt in the presidential election when many hard-core Democrats from this area broke from their party to vote for Donald Trump, a Republican who promised to bring jobs back to the Heartland.
        Even today, after the election, the Washington establishment still hasn't processed or properly dissected its effects. Economic experts predicted that the service industry would be the employment of the future. Steel workers were retrained to fill jobs in that sector, which was expected to sustain the middle class in the same way that manufacturing did.
        It did not. According to a study done by the Midwest Center for Research the average salary of a steel worker in the late 1970s was $24,772.80. Today, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor statistics, the medium household income in the Mahoning Valley is $24,133.
        There was also a push for Americans to be more mobile. Lose your job in Youngstown? Fine, move to Raleigh or Texas. No one calculated that the tight-knit people of Youngstown didn't want to leave their town.
        They liked Youngstown. To Washington and New York that seemed odd.
        "At its very heart were the tight knit communities and neighborhoods that made up the Mahoning Valley. For generations families lived within blocks of each other. I am the grandson and son of steel workers, I took so much pride in everything I did at my job," said Steinbeck.
        "We all did. We had decent homes, maybe had two cars, we went on vacation to Lake Geneva or Lake Erie, as we made more money we bought boats, we went fishing and we traveled more broadly. We gave back to America's economic engine what it gave us — a dignified way of life and investment for the future," he said.
        That way of life has been dismantled, he said. "People fell out of the unemployment statistics, they lost political power, they lost their juice," he said.
        Today the regional chamber lists the largest employers in the Mahoning Valley as the Catholic Diocese, the GM plant in Lordstown, local government agencies, regional hospitals and Youngstown State University. An estimated 64,321 people live in Youngstown, nearly 100,000 less than in the late 1960s.
        Even so, "Youngstown's decline is not a story of the decline of the people. They never gave up, even when they gave up. Not in their heart," Steinbeck said.
        For a man who has spent 40 years of his life trying to bring jobs back, Steinbeck has only one wish: "That young people understand what happened here, so the same mistakes do not happen again to their kids, or their kids' kids."
        For a man who has spent 40 years of his life fighting for social justice, Lynd, too, only has one wish: that it be noted in history that Youngstown didn't take this lying down.
        "A steel worker named John Barbero once told me, 'Youngstown sure died hard.' It should be noted he said it with pride," said Lynd.



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        3)  Where Tourism Thrives in Mexico, Bloodshed and Poverty Are Blocks Away
        "But in an interview with El Universal newspaper, Mr. de la Madrid also said the nation needed to do a better job redistributing tourism profits throughout society. 'The enemy of Mexico is poverty and inequality,' he said."
         SEPT. 16, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/world/americas/los-cabos-mexico-crime-tourism.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=rank&module=
        package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront


        LOS CABOS, Mexico — In recruiting foot soldiers, the drug gang did not have to look hard to find 18-year-old Edwin Alberto López Rojas. He, in fact, had been looking for them.
        He admired the traffickers' lifestyle and power. And the money he stood to make promised admission to the ranks of the international elite who cavorted in the luxury resorts mere blocks — yet a universe away — from the poor neighborhoods where he grew up in Los Cabos, a tourism mecca at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula.
        On July 28, he told relatives, the Jalisco New Generation criminal organization gave him a car, cash and some drugs to push. Eight days later he was dead, shot by an unidentified assailant on the street.

        His death is among hundreds that have bloodied this once-peaceful area — homicide cases are up more than threefold this year compared with last, a surge that has stunned residents, bedeviled officials and alarmed leaders in the booming tourism industry. A similar wave of violence has also jolted the state of Quintana Roo on the Caribbean coast, which is home to tourism hot spots like Cancún, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
        The sharp rise in killings prompted the United States State Department last month to heighten its travel warnings for Quintana Roo and the state of Baja California Sur, home to Los Cabos.
        The bloodshed here has not targeted tourists and has mostly occurred out of their view, in the poorer quarters of San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, the main towns in the municipality of Los Cabos. Much of it stems from a battle among criminal groups for control of trafficking routes in the Baja California Peninsula and for dominance of local criminal enterprises, particularly the drug trade servicing tourists.
        But the violence, community leaders and social workers say, is also a symptom of the grave problems that afflict the region's underclass, reflecting longstanding government neglect. While the authorities have for decades thrown their weight behind the development of the tourism sector, many of the needs of the poor and working class have languished, they say.
        Los Cabos, they say, risks following the same path as Acapulco, the Pacific Coast city that was once a major vacation destination but has been devastated by drug violence.
        "If they continue covering up the problems, things aren't going to get better," said Silvia Lupián Durán, the president of the Citizens' Council for Security and Criminal Justice in Baja California Sur, a community group. "It's a breeding ground for worse things."
        There is much at stake. Last year, Los Cabos had more than 2.1 million visitors, 75 percent of them international travelers and the majority of those from the United States, said Rodrigo Esponda, the managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board. The average cost of a hotel room is around $300 per night.
        For most of its modern history, the region was sleepy and isolated, accessible only by boat or private plane. But with the completion of the Transpeninsular Highway in the 1970s and the expansion of the local airport, development exploded — and with it came a rise in migration as Mexicans poured in to work in construction and as chambermaids, bellhops, cooks, waiters, bartenders and landscapers.
        In 1990, the municipality's population was about 44,000. By 2015, it had climbed to about 288,000, with many people working in jobs that directly or indirectly supported tourism.
        "There was no sane planning for where all the working people were going to live," said Ramón Ojeda Mestre, the president of the Center for Integral Studies of Innovation and Territory, a consultancy in Cabo San Lucas.
        Most of those working-class migrants have settled in gritty neighborhoods carved out of desert scrubland that stretches north from the narrow coastal strip where the hotels, golf courses, nightclubs and marinas are concentrated.
        In many of these neighborhoods, the best homes are simple one- or two-room cinder-block structures with corrugated metal roofs. The worst, often in illegal settlements called "invasions," are assembled from scrap building materials and tarps, tree branches, sticks and even cardboard. By the municipality's estimates, about 25,000 people live in such settlements.
        Overcrowding is common, and public services are spotty or nonexistent.
        Most of the neighborhoods have no sewer systems, and many homes are not hooked up to the municipal water supply. Even those that are connected often find their pipes empty: Demand has far outpaced supply, forcing the rationing of municipal water delivery and compelling residents to buy water at inflated prices from tanker trucks that ply the unpaved roads.
        "There's a first world, and there's a fifth world," said Homero González, a political organizer, during a recent visit to the Caribe neighborhood, a settlement in Cabo San Lucas. Roving packs of dogs wandered among piles of rubble, drifts of trash and the husks of stripped cars within a few miles of the manicured grounds of the resorts where many residents work.
        As living standards go in these communities, Maria Salazar isn't doing so badly. She lives with her four children and her boyfriend in a one-room, cement-block house in the Real Unidad neighborhood in Cabo San Lucas. She is a community leader and peddles homemade flavored ices and candy to help make ends meet; her boyfriend brings in $14 a day as a freelance construction worker. They don't have plumbing of any sort, though after years of pirating electricity, they were finally connected to the regional grid.
        "I heard a lot about 'the change,' 'the change,'" she scoffed, referring to the last round of regional elections in 2015. "And now we're seeing the change: all these massacres."
        Municipal officials blame past administrations. In an interview, Álvaro Javier Ramírez, the director of planning and urban development, acknowledged that over the years the authorities had put a disproportionate emphasis on supporting the tourism sector.
        "Historically, cash is king," Mr. Ramírez said. He added, referring to previous municipal governments: "They ignored the needs of the working-class neighborhoods. The shortfalls are many."
        The inequalities gnaw at the working-class population, though any inclination to lobby the authorities to fix the problems is undermined by a sense that the system is rigged. This is the fertile environment of discontent in which criminal gangs have seeded their operations, recruiting members, buying allegiances and cultivating markets, community leaders say.
        "If the young people don't have anything to work toward, they will look for other options," said a close relative of Edwin López, the murdered teenager, requesting anonymity for fear of retribution by public officials and the drug gangs. "We need a government here that worries more for the urban population than for the tourist zone."
        In the first seven months of this year, the government opened 232 homicide investigations in Baja California Sur, most of them in Los Cabos, and some involving multiple victims. During the same period last year, there were 65 homicide investigations. In a nation that has seen homicides surge to record levels this year, Baja California Sur now has the fifth highest rate among Mexico's 32 states.
        The jump in killings in Los Cabos — accompanied by a rise in other crimes — has pitched residents into a state of fear they say they have never felt before.
        No neighborhood, it appears, has been hit as hard as El Zacatal, in San José del Cabo, where homicides have become depressingly familiar.
        A recent drive through the area with Concepción Gárate, a hairdresser and longtime resident, became a guided tour of bloodshed. She pointed out the convenience store where four people were killed, the house that was strafed by gunmen, another house where gunmen murdered a family.
        "A barber was cutting hair there," she said, pointing to a barbershop. "They killed him while he was cutting hair!" The tour continued: two dead in front of a school, three in a taqueria, three others in a tire repair shop, one in a carpenter's workshop.
        "El Zacatal is hell," Ms. Gárate said.
        Leaders of the tourism industry and public officials have tried to forestall damage to the area's appeal to visitors, particularly after the State Department advisory, pointing out that tourists have not been the target of the homicides.
        But from time to time the violence has interrupted vacation idylls. In August, gunmen stormed a beach near a resort where rooms can go for thousands of dollars a night, killing three people in what the authorities said was score-settling between rival criminal groups.
        The federal government has deployed hundreds of marines and federal police officers to the municipality to confront the violence, and the national tourism secretary, Enrique de la Madrid, has announced a plan to create a special police force to help patrol tourism destinations, including Los Cabos, though the plan remains on the drawing board.
        But in an interview with El Universal newspaper, Mr. de la Madrid also said the nation needed to do a better job redistributing tourism profits throughout society. "The enemy of Mexico is poverty and inequality," he said.
        The precariousness of lives in Los Cabos's poor sections was starkly illustrated this month when Tropical Storm Lidia lashed the area, flooding neighborhoods, destroying scores of poorly built homes and killing at least six people.
        The killings seemed to stop for a bit after the storm, but the peace was momentary. Days later, a 22-year-old man was shot and killed in San José del Cabo, steps from an elementary school. The drumbeat of murder continued.

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        4) Rare White Giraffes Cause a Stir in Kenya
        By SEPTEMBER 16, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/world/africa/rare-white-giraffe-kenya.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=9&pgtype=sectionfront


        A villager in Kenya was herding animals one day recently when he came upon a head-turning sight. A ghostly creature with a mighty long neck was grazing off in the distance.
        Upon closer inspection, the vision was revealed to be a female reticulated giraffe — tall, majestic and preternaturally white — and she was accompanied by a smaller apparition: a pale baby giraffe.
        The sightings in June, in Garissa County near the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy, sent the villager scurrying off to tell rangers, the founder of the Hirola Conservation Program said on Thursday. The news has been ricocheting across continents and making headlines ever since.
        Conservationists who hurried to the site managed to capture what is believed to be the first known video footage of white giraffes, said Abdullahi H. Ali, who founded Hirola and has been working to conserve the critically endangered hirola antelope in the eastern part of the country.
        "We spent almost 20 minutes with the beautiful animals and had the pleasure of getting close-up photos and video of the duo," he said by email. "To our surprise, one normal color reticulated giraffe also was among the mother and calf. You can actually compare the difference."
        Hirola said on its website: "They were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence. The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signaling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes."
        The white giraffes displayed the characteristics of a genetic condition known as leucism, which inhibits pigmentation in skin cells, Dr. Ali said. The condition occurs across the animal kingdom. Birds, lions, fish, peacocks, penguins, eagles, hippos, moose and snakes have all displayed the trait.
        Leucism is not albinism, however: Animals with albinism produce no melanin throughout their entire bodies. Animals with leucism may have darker pigment in their soft tissue, and their eyes retain a normal color. The eyes of animals with albinism are usually red.
        The baby giraffe, Hirola said, was not totally white, but its tinges of color seemed to be "fading away, leaving the baby white as it approaches adulthood."
        It was unclear if, under the hot African sun, the giraffes' skin was vulnerable to damage, Dr. Ali said. The rangers did not get close enough to examine the mother and baby, but he added: "I think they will be O.K. They seemed to be in excellent shape."
        The communities in the area were "excited" about the rare sightings of leucistic giraffes, Dr. Ali said, and they were banding together to protect them.
        Giraffes, which can grow to 20 feet and are the world's tallest land mammals, have been declared "vulnerable" to extinction because of poaching and a loss of habitat, according to the Red List of Threatened Species published in 2016 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
        The giraffe population had declined by 40 percent over the past three decades and stood at about 97,600 at the time the findings were released. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the animals are extinct in at least seven countries in Africa and can live up to 25 years in the wild. But more than half of all giraffe calves die before they're six months old because they're often the targets of predators like lions, hyenas, wild dogs and crocodiles.
        Dr. Ali said his team would like to follow and monitor the white giraffes seen in Kenya to document their life spans.



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        5)  This Season, Western Wildfires Are Close By and Running Free
         SEPT. 16, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/us/wildfires-western-states.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=
        rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront


        TROUTDALE, Ore. — Some fires suddenly exploded in size. One in Montana doubled in 24 hours, charring 78 square miles overnight — an area bigger than Brooklyn. Already burning fires started new ones, shooting embers like artillery barrages, including one that apparently jumped several miles across the Columbia River into Washington from Oregon, breaching a natural firebreak that long seemed impregnable.
        Extreme fire behavior — difficult to predict and dangerous to fight — has been the watchword of the 2017 season across the West. More large, uncontrolled wildfires were burning in 10 Western states in early September than at any comparable time since 2006.
        And those fires have leaned in, menacing more lives and property, by their size and their proximity, than in any recent season. Two firefighters died in Montana, and dozens of buildings and homes have been destroyed in California. About 150 hikers had to be rescued in Oregon when a fire encircled them. Evacuation orders — residents told to be ready to flee at a moment's notice — reached to within 15 miles of downtown Portland. One of the largest fires ever recorded in Los Angeles County roared down from a canyon near Burbank, leapt a highway and forced hundreds of residents, from Burbank into Los Angeles itself, from their homes.
        For Jerry and Cheri Brown, the disturbing and surprising contours of the season hit home this month when they stepped outside their motor home, which was parked on the banks of the Columbia River, where they were volunteering as hosts at a campground about an hour east of Portland.

        It was raining fire, or close to it, they said. Small sticks and pine cones, smoking and still too hot to touch, were landing around them, whirled there by winds blasting from the Eagle Creek fire just to the east near Multnomah Falls, a place that has not seen a major wildfire in living memory.
        Then, as they looked toward the Cascade Range slopes that rise steeply from the river, they saw the fire surge toward them through the Douglas fir, cedar and hemlock.
        "I looked at her and she said, 'Go now,' " said Mr. Brown, 74, a retired truck assembly worker, describing the scramble of their escape. "Scariest thing I've ever seen," Ms. Brown added, standing alongside her husband in an evacuation camp across the river in Washington.
        From California to Utah and Montana, thousands of others have also been forced to flee, and evacuation orders were still in place late last week for 23 active fires in four states, with nearly 21,000 firefighters in the field across the region.
        Still, at least so far, the year is not a record, with 8.3 million acres burned as of mid-September. More than 10 million acres burned in 2015, the worst fire season in decades. But much of that land, as in previous years, was far from population centers, in remote areas of Alaska or western rangelands.
        In stark contrast, this year's fires are licking at people's back doors or, in some cases, consuming the doors altogether. While some of that is because the fires are closer to major cities, there is another factor.
        "As the West becomes more and more populated, we're seeing more and more homes being built in these areas; the baby boomers retire and they're building these homes all over, in natural parts of the landscape," said Jessica Gardetto, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Land Management. "We're going to see more summers like this."
        Closer proximity to fire also means more bad air, as well as danger. Winds sent choking smoke from the fires into urban areas from Denver to Southern California. Seattle and Boise, Idaho, have already had more days of "unhealthy" air this year, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency — many of those in the last few weeks — than in any year since 2007. Visiting college football coaches have worried about how the smoke might affect the performances of their players.
        Changes in forest management have also fanned the flames, specialists say. Many areas of the West — where timber cutting has declined and even the thinning of trees for fire safety is sometimes contested by conservation groups — are choked with younger smaller trees that can burn readily, patches of thick undergrowth or blighted areas where insects or disease have left dead trees standing in place.
        "There's just a lot of stuff to burn," said Janean Creighton, an associate professor of forest ecosystems and society at Oregon State University.
        The devastation at places like the Columbia Gorge here in Oregon, which is a treasured hiking spot for Pacific Northwest residents, has also created a deeper emotional impact, Professor Creighton said, especially coming as the nation has been slammed with hurricane disasters in Texas and Florida.
        "People that might not necessarily think about the fire season that much are really getting hit with the reality," Professor Creighton said. The damage, she added, "is much more social this year than ecological, if that makes sense."
        Shifting patterns in Western climate and weather also caught forecasters off guard.
        Early models of the fire season said that last winter's big mountain snows, which lasted deep into summer in higher elevations, would probably keep many places damp. But then a severe heat wave settled in over a vast area from Montana to Northern California and across the Pacific Northwest, and some places went more than 100 days with no measurable rainfall. Most of Montana is suffering an extended drought. The heat and drought dried out grasses and shoots that had been nourished by the winter snows, turning them into tinder.
        "The long-range weather models that we had through the spring and toward summer, they were just flat-out wrong," said Bryan Henry, a meteorologist at the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates wildfire response. What forecasters predicted, based on experience, "was completely the opposite of what actually happened."
        In places like Garfield County, in Montana's northeast corner, people were on their own as fires roared through, before government agencies could arrive.
        Mary Brown, who runs about 1,400 cattle in Garfield, said neighbors gathered on her ranch as the fire approached, and managed to save her home and barn by surrounding the buildings with pickup trucks saddled with water tanks, generators and hoses.
        The youngest to help was 12, she said. They sprayed the grass as the fire roared around them. "People literally put themselves in harm's way to save the ranches," said her brother-in-law, Colter Brown.
        Oregon has also been at the bull's-eye of the season's fury, with nearly a third of large active fires in the nation burning here as of late last week.
        That one of the biggest of those fires, in the Columbia Gorge near Multnomah Falls west of Portland, is believed to have been caused by humans — the result of teenagers playing with fireworks, fire officials said — has made the hurt worse for many people. Heat, drought, wind and a changing climate prepared the scene, but carelessness pushed the button. Multnomah Falls is one of the most visited tourist spots in the Pacific Northwest.
        "It's kind of like a family member has died," said Maggie Rose, who lives in Troutdale with her husband, Don.
        The fate and future of the extensive trail system through the Columbia Gorge — the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico also passes through the fire zone — is uncertain for now. Erosion from rain and snowmelt is now the risk there, with the great threat looming not so much from fire, but from the winter and spring to come, with little undergrowth to hold the soil in place.
        "It'll be a long road back," said Steve Kruger, the executive director of Trailkeepers of Oregon, a hiking and trail advocacy group.
        But the wave of disasters unfolding around the nation and the world in recent weeks also put the Western fires in context for many people. The loss of life has been relatively low, and so has the devastation to cities and towns. Other places in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean are suffering more from hurricane damage, or in Mexico from the strong earthquake off the Pacific Coast.
        Jeanette Denmark, 58, who lives in Boring, Ore., southeast of Portland, has family members in Houston and near Orlando, and she held her breath as the various disasters unfolded. But the fires missed Boring, she said, and her family members elsewhere were also fine.
        "We got lucky," she said, as she smoked a cigarette on the street, a break from her job in Troutdale.

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        6)  Protests Flare in St. Louis for Second Night After Ex-Officer's Acquittal
        "Protesters also converged on West County Center, a suburban mall about 20 miles from St. Louis and chanted, 'You can't stop revolution' and 'No justice, no profits.'"
         SEPT. 16, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/us/st-louis-protests-jason-stockley.html?rref=
        collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fus&action=click&contentCollection=us&region=
        stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=9&pgtype=sectionfront


        ST. LOUIS — On edge after a night of protests that led to dozens of arrests and a broken window at the mayor's home, this city faced more demonstrations on Saturday after the acquittal of a white former police officer who shot and killed a black driver.
        Tensions here have seemed especially high, in part because the region has been at the center of the nation's debate over police treatment of black people. St. Louis is about 10 miles south of Ferguson, where unrest erupted three years ago after another police shooting.
        City and state law enforcement officials repeatedly struck a note of warning on Saturday, promising that they would not tolerate violence during the protests.
        Just after 9 p.m., a two-hour march that had meandered through University City, a St. Louis suburb, came to a peaceful end. However, about two hours later, when the police ordered a group to disperse, some people in the group would not let the officers make it to their vehicles safely and several individuals began throwing bricks and water bottles filled with paint thinner and gasoline, the police said in a statement.
        Several officers had minor injuries, at least five police vehicles and about 23 businesses were vandalized, and 10 people were arrested, the police said.
        At a news conference earlier Saturday night, Lawrence O'Toole, the city's acting police chief, said that most of the demonstrations had been peaceful and that officers were committed to allowing peaceful protesters to speak out
        Saturday morning, about 200 people had gathered in a park in University City to march. Joan Bray, 72, a former state lawmaker who was in the crowd, said she was distressed "that the verdict was so inevitable," adding, "It's so sided to the police."
        Protesters also converged on West County Center, a suburban mall about 20 miles from St. Louis and chanted, "You can't stop revolution" and "No justice, no profits."
        A few stores closed their security gates but reopened after the demonstrators had passed. Police officers stood indoors nearby.
        The demonstrations continued at various retail sites in the afternoon. Protesters marched through the Chesterfield Mall, another suburban shopping center west of St. Louis, and then to the Taste of St. Louis, an outdoor exhibition for local restaurants.
        Mike Kociela, the producer of the Taste of St. Louis, welcomed the marchers. Some protesters were allowed to take the microphone at the bandstand.
        "We love you. Whether you love us back is irrelevant," Cori Bush, 41, an African-American activist from the suburb of Florissant, told the mostly white patrons. "We are not trying to take anyone hostage. We are here to let you know that black lives matter."
        The band U2 canceled a concert scheduled for Saturday night at the Dome at America's Center in St. Louis because the city's police department could not provide enough officers for security, a statement on the band's website said.
        "We cannot in good conscience risk our fans' safety by proceeding with tonight's concert," said the statement with Live Nation, the concert promotion company.
        Other local events were also canceled or postponed. PeaceFest, which was planned for the campus of Harris-Stowe State University on Saturday, was postponed until Oct. 28, and the university said its campus would be closed until Monday. The St. Louis Symphony canceled a performance scheduled for Saturday, as did the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. A Sunday evening concert by the pop singer Ed Sheeran was also canceled.
        Josh Hawley, the attorney general of Missouri, said in a statement that he expected the authorities to prosecute those who engaged in violence.
        The St. Louis Police Department lauded its officers on Twitter for showing "great restraint" and said "agitators" had damaged property during the protests on Friday.
        After a group called Resist STL posted a video by a television station of police officers pushing an older woman and then stepping over her after she fell, the department tweeted on Saturday that she had "failed to obey officers' orders" and was charged with "interfering."
        At a news conference on Saturday, Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri praised the police and warned: "Everybody should be out there making good choices. If you riot, we're going to cuff you. If you assault a law enforcement officer, we're going to arrest you."
        He added: "Vandalism is not protest. Vandalism is a crime."
        Members of the National Guard were on standby on Friday night and Saturday, Mr. Greitens said.
        Late on Friday, officers gave orders for the crowd to disperse, and used tear gas and pepper balls, the police said, after demonstrators threw bricks and bottles at them.
        Some protesters pelted a police bus with rocks, the police said. Thirty-three people were arrested Friday on charges including failure to disperse and interfering.
        The authorities said that 11 law enforcement officers from several departments had been injured; none of the injuries were life-threatening.
        About 1,000 protesters marched through the streets to the home of Ms. Krewson, where at least one window was shattered after something was thrown at it.
        Within minutes, the police ordered protesters to disperse, and a long line of officers in riot gear arrived and marched toward the crowd, pushing protesters away.
        This region had been bracing for weeks for the outcome of the trial, in which Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis officer, had been charged with murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a driver he chased after believing to have observed a drug deal, according to defense lawyers.
        Prosecutors, who had waited five years to charge Mr. Stockley in the 2011 shooting, described Mr. Stockley in court as an out-of-control officer who chased Mr. Smith for three miles at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour, shot him for no reason and then planted a .38-caliber revolver in Mr. Smith's car.
        Prosecutors pointed to Mr. Stockley's remark to his partner, captured on a recording device inside the police car during the chase, as evidence of premeditation: "Going to kill this" person, Mr. Stockley had said, using an expletive, "don't you know it."
        But Mr. Stockley's defense lawyers said the officer had acted reasonably in fatally shooting a suspect in a drug deal that the officer had tried to stop before the car chase took place. Defense lawyers have said that the officer believed Mr. Smith was armed, and was reaching for a gun — the weapon that was found in his car after the shooting. Mr. Smith was shot five times.
        The case, a bench trial, ended almost a month ago, but Timothy Wilson, a judge with the St. Louis Circuit, issued his verdict on Friday. Judge Wilson said he was "simply not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt."
        The judge also voiced doubts, in his 30-page ruling, that a gun had been planted on Mr. Smith, writing "that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly."
        After the verdict was announced, the St. Louis branch of the N.A.A.C.P. called for the Department of Justice to review the case, The Associated Press reported. But a Department of Justice spokeswoman said the department had looked at the case in 2012 and 2016 and decided not to prosecute.

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        7)  Why Fox doesn't want Americans to see NFL players protesting about race
        By Ameer Hasan Loggins, September 14, 2017
        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/14/fox-americans-nfl-players

        Did you notice that during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, Philadelphia Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins firmly raised his fist, as a symbolic gesture of black opposition to various forms of systemic oppression? No? Did you see Rodney McLeod and Chris Long alongside Jenkins in solidarity with the cause in which he is standing for? No? You are not alone. Viewers at home did not see any of this – not by accident, but by design.
        Fox kept the cameras off of the players, blacking out their protest against racial injustice. While Fox screened an interview before the game with a black player – Michael Bennett – about why he was protesting, the fact that the network hid the actual protest irked many NFL fans.
        I understand that we are talking about the same Fox network, whose earliest successes came via shows like America's Most Wanted and Cops. Programs that served not only as cheap forms of first generation Reality TV, but they also were highly effective at spreading uncritical narratives of the police as being heroic public servants, that viewers could watch on a weekly basis, cemented as dependable good guys always catching the deviant bad guys.
        The birth of Fox network – having the power to carve out space to create Fox News –was an offshoot of Rupert Murdoch's decision to build a television empire around his 1993 $1.6bn purchase of the rights to broadcast the NFL's NFC games from CBS.
        Murdoch exclaimed: "We're a network now. Like no other sport will do, the NFL will make us into a real network." And Murdoch predicted: "In the future there will be 400 or 500 channels on cable, and ratings will be fragmented. But football on Sunday will have the same ratings, regardless of the number of channels. Football will not fragment."
        Murdoch wanted a news program that was an answer to the widely viewed CBS program 60 Minutes, and he wanted Fox's hour-length news show to tap into the viewing audience spillover from the NFL football games.
        The concept of producing an hour-long news show yielded to the idea of creating an entire cable network – a niche news network that targets viewers who feet the rest of the media was too liberal and left leaning. Murdoch wanted to do this right, so he brought in Roger Ailes.
        Before his time shaping Fox News as its CEO, Rodger Ailes was a media consultant/political strategist for Richard Nixon during his 1968 presidential campaign. We are talking about the same Richard Nixon campaign that saw the, "antiwar left and black people," as his "enemies."
        According to former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman, a part of Nixon's political strategy was to publicly "associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities."
        Ehrlichman continued by saying, "We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."
        During his time working with George H W Bush's 1988 presidential campaign, Roger Ailes was the architect behind the attack ad known as the "Revolving Door", in which the Bush campaign played on historically entrenched stereotypes surrounding black men as the hyper aggressive, libidinally driven, criminals via William "Willie" Horton, a convicted rapist.
        While the commercial shows various men walking in and out of prison, implying that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis of not being tough on crime, the goal was to associate Dukakis with Horton, a criminal, leaving Bush's campaign manager Lee Atwater saying: "By the time we're finished, they're going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis's running mate."
        It worked.
        Ailes and Bush finished off Dukakis by besmirching the Democratic presidential nominee's allegiance to America, by literally magnifying the former Massachusetts governor's vetoing of a bill that imposed fines on teachers if they did not lead their classes in the pledge of allegiance.
        Dukakis justified his veto on the grounds that the pledge recitation requirement was unconstitutional, violating the teachers first amendment rights, "a claim he supported with a Massachusetts supreme court advisory opinion to that effect,' and Board of Education v Barnette, a 1943 supreme court case holding that requiring public school students to recite the Pledge violated their right to freedom of expression."
        Given this history, I understand all too well why Fox has chosen to blackout the black NFL players protesting police brutality, as well as the white players willing to show solidarity and allyship to their black teammates.
        I understand why Fox is unwilling to recognize that NFL players taking a knee, sitting, or raising a fist during the playing of the first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner are exercising their first amendment rights. It's impossible not to understand.

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        8)  Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict
        Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers
        Drug companies and doctors have been accuse of fueling the opioid crisis, but some question whether insurers have played a role, too.
        "Right now...it is easier for most patients to get opioids than treatment for addiction."
         SEPT. 17, 2017
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/17/health/opioid-painkillers-insurance-companies.html?hp&action=
        click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=
        top-news&WT.nav=top-news

        This article was written through collaboration between The New York Times and ProPublica, the independent, nonprofit investigative journalism organization.
        At a time when the United States is in the grip of an opioid epidemic, many insurers are limiting access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications.
        The reason, experts say: Opioid drugs are generally cheap while safer alternatives are often more expensive.

        Drugmakers, pharmaceutical distributors, pharmacies and doctors have come under intense scrutiny in recent years, but the role that insurers — and the pharmacy benefit managers that run their drug plans — have played in the opioid crisis has received less attention. That may be changing, however. The New York State attorney general's office sent letters last week to the three largest pharmacy benefit managers — CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx — asking how they were addressing the crisis.
        ProPublica and The New York Times analyzed Medicare prescription drug plans covering 35.7 million people in the second quarter of this year. Only one-third of the people covered, for example, had any access to Butrans, a painkilling skin patch that contains a less-risky opioid, buprenorphine. And every drug plan that covered lidocaine patches, which are not addictive but cost more than other generic pain drugs, required that patients get prior approval for them.
        In contrast, almost every plan covered common opioids and very few required any prior approval.
        The insurers have also erected more hurdles to approving addiction treatments than for the addictive substances themselves, the analysis found.
        Alisa Erkes lives with stabbing pain in her abdomen that, for more than two years, was made tolerable by Butrans. But in January, her insurer, UnitedHealthcare, stopped covering the drug, which had cost the company $342 for a four-week supply. After unsuccessfully appealing the denial, Ms. Erkes and her doctor scrambled to find a replacement that would quiet her excruciating stomach pains. They eventually settled on long-acting morphine, a cheaper opioid that UnitedHealthcare covered with no questions asked. It costs her and her insurer a total of $29 for a month's supply.
        The Drug Enforcement Administration places morphine in a higher category than Butrans for risk of abuse and dependence. Addiction experts say that buprenorphine also carries a lower risk of overdose.
        UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest health insurer, places morphine on its lowest-cost drug coverage tier with no prior permission required, while in many cases excluding Butrans. And it places Lyrica, a non-opioid, brand-name drug that treats nerve pain, on its most expensive tier, requiring patients to try other drugs first.
        Ms. Erkes, who is 28 and lives in Smyrna, Ga., is afraid of becoming addicted and has asked her husband to keep a close watch on her. "Because my Butrans was denied, I have had to jump into addictive drugs," she said.
        UnitedHealthcare said Ms. Erkes had not exhausted her appeals, including the right to ask a third party to review her case. It said in a statement, "We will work with her physician to find the best option for her current health status."
        Matthew N. Wiggin, a spokesman for UnitedHealthcare, said that the company was trying to reduce long-term use of opioids. "All opioids are addictive, which is why we work with care providers and members to promote non-opioid treatment options for people suffering from chronic pain," he said.
        Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, who led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under President Obama, said that insurance companies, with few exceptions, had "not done what they need to do to address" the opioid epidemic. Right now, he noted, it is easier for most patients to get opioids than treatment for addiction.
        Leo Beletsky, an associate professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University, went further, calling the insurance system "one of the major causes of the crisis" because doctors are given incentives to use less expensive treatments that provide fast relief.
        The Department of Health and Human Services is studying whether insurance companies make opioids more accessible than other pain treatments. An early analysis suggests that they are placing fewer restrictions on opioids than on less addictive, non-opioid medications and non-drug treatments like physical therapy, said Christopher M. Jones, a senior policy official at the department.
        Insurers say they have been addressing the issue on many fronts, including monitoring patients' opioid prescriptions, as well as doctors' prescribing patterns. "We have a very comprehensive approach toward identifying in advance who might be getting into trouble, and who may be on that trajectory toward becoming dependent on opioids," said Dr. Mark Friedlander, the chief medical officer of Aetna Behavioral Health, who participates on its opioid task force.
        Aetna and other insurers say they have seen marked declines in monthly opioid prescriptions in the past year or so. At least two large pharmacy benefit managers announced this year that they would limit coverage of new prescriptions for pain pills to a seven- or 10-day supply. And bowing to public pressure — not to mention government investigations — several insurers have removed barriers that had made it difficult to get coverage for drugs that treat addiction, like Suboxone.
        Experts in addiction note that the opioid epidemic has been changing and that the problem now appears to be rooted more in the illicit trade of heroin and fentanyl. But the potential for addiction to prescribed opioids is real: 20 percent of patients who receive an initial 10-day prescription for opioids will still be using the drugs after a year, according to a recent analysis by the C.D.C.
        Several patients said in interviews that they were terrified of becoming dependent on opioid medications and were unwilling to take them, despite their pain.
        In 2009, Amanda Jantzi weaned herself off opioids by switching to the more expensive Lyrica to treat the pain associated with interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder condition.
        But earlier this year, Ms. Jantzi, who is 33 and lives in Virginia, switched jobs and got a new insurer — Anthem — which said it would not cover Lyrica because there was not sufficient evidence to prove that it worked for interstitial cystitis. Ms. Jantzi's appeal was denied. She cannot afford the roughly $520 monthly retail price of Lyrica, she said, so she takes generic gabapentin, a related, cheaper drug. She said it does not manage the pain as well as Lyrica, which she took for eight years. "It's infuriating," she said.
        Ms. Jantzi said she wanted to avoid returning to opioids. However, "I could see other people, faced with a similar situation, saying, 'I can't live like this, I'm going to need to go back to painkillers,' " she said.
        In a statement, Anthem said that its members have to meet certain requirements before it will pay for Lyrica. Members can apply for an exception, the insurer said. Ms. Jantzi said she did just that and was turned down.
        With Butrans, the drug that Ms. Erkes was denied, several insurers either do not cover it, require a high out-of-pocket payment, or will pay for it only after a patient has tried other opioids and failed to get relief.
        In one case, OptumRx, which is owned by UnitedHealth Group, suggested that a member taking Butrans consider switching to a "lower cost alternative," such as OxyContin or extended-release morphine, according to a letter provided by the member. Mr. Wiggin, the UnitedHealthcare spokesman, said the company's rules and preferred drug list "are designed to ensure members have access to drugs they need for acute situations, such as post-surgical care or serious injury, or ongoing cancer treatment and end of life care," as well as for long-term use after alternatives are tried.
        Butrans is sold by Purdue Pharma, which has been accused of fueling the opioid epidemic through its aggressive marketing of OxyContin. Butrans is meant for patients for whom other medications, like immediate-release opioids or anti-inflammatory pain drugs, have failed to work, and some scientific analyses say there is not enough evidence to show it works better than other drugs for pain.
        Dr. Andrew Kolodny is a critic of widespread opioid prescribing and a co-director of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Dr. Kolodny said he was no fan of Butrans because he did not believe it was effective for chronic pain, but he objected to insurers suggesting that patients instead take a "cheaper, more dangerous opioid."
        "That's stupid," he said.
        Ms. Erkes's pain specialist, Dr. Jordan Tate, said her patient had been stable on the Butrans patch until January, when UnitedHealthcare stopped covering the product and denied Ms. Erkes's appeal.
        Without Butrans, Ms. Erkes, who once visited the doctor every two months, was now in Dr. Tate's office much more frequently, and once went to the emergency room because she could not control her pain, thought to be related to an autoimmune disorder, Behcet's disease.
        Dr. Tate said she and Ms. Erkes reluctantly settled on extended-release morphine, a drug that UnitedHealthcare approved without any prior authorization, even though morphine is considered more addictive than the Butrans patch. She also takes hydrocodone when the pain spikes and Lyrica, which UnitedHealthcare approved after requiring a prior authorization.
        Ms. Erkes acknowledged that she could have continued with further appeals, but said the process exhausted her and she eventually gave up.
        While Dr. Tate said Ms. Erkes had not shown signs of abusing painkillers, her situation was far from ideal. "She's in her 20s and she's on extended-release morphine — it's just not the pretty story that it was six months ago."
        Many experts who study opioid abuse say they also are concerned about insurers' limits on addiction treatments. Some state Medicaid programs for the poor, which pay for a large share of addiction treatments, continue to require advance approval before Suboxone can be prescribed or they place time limits on its use, both of which interfere with treatment, said Lindsey Vuolo, associate director of health law and policy at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Drugs like Suboxone, or its generic equivalent, are used to wean people off opioids but can also be misused.
        The analysis by ProPublica and The Times found that restrictions remain prevalent in Medicare plans, as well. Drug plans covering 33.6 million people include Suboxone, but two-thirds require prior authorization. Even when such requirements do not exist, the out-of-pocket costs of the drugs are often unaffordable, a number of pharmacists and doctors said.
        At Dr. Shawn Ryan's addiction-treatment practice in Cincinnati, called BrightView, staff members often take patients to the pharmacy to fill their prescriptions for addiction medications and then watch them take their first dose. Research has shown that such oversight improves the odds of success. But when it takes hours to gain approval, some patients leave, said Dr. Ryan, who is also president of the Ohio Society of Addiction Medicine.
        "The guy walks out, and you can't blame him," Dr. Ryan said. "He's like, 'Hey man, I'm here to get help. What's the deal?'"
        Have you had trouble paying for prescription drugs? Tell us about it at propublica.org/drugprices.

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        9)  Getting the Gulf of Tonkin Wrong: Are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick “Telling Stories” About the Central Events Used to Legitimize the US Attack Against Vietnam?
         
        This past spring I attended an advance screening of excerpts of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s documentary about the US War against Vietnam at Harvard, with these two in attendance, along with some Kennedy School “national security” types, who had evidently been recruited as “consultants.” (I was happy to see Peter Davis, the director of the truly commendable “Hearts and Minds” in the audience, to whom I had a chance to say “hello” before I left. Peter is himself a Harvard grad, is now writing novels and, happily, was acknowledged by Ken Burns as he began the post-screening discussion.)
        I was astonished to hear the “Narrator” in one of these excerpts refer to “retaliation for the Gulf of Tonkin.” I was doubly astonished when I heard Burns use this exact same phrase — “retaliation for the Gulf of Tonkin” — during the discussion and Q&A which followed the screening, and in a different context. [Was it on his mind for some reason?]
        What could he possibly mean?
        What could he possibly mean?
        “Retaliation” for Gulf of Tonkin?
        Professor Sut Jhally has done noteworthy work with the Media Education Foundation (MEF) in Western Mass on the uses of the term “retaliation” in major US media. MEF have produced at least one excellent DVD where they analyze how every attack by Israel on Palestinians is invariably framed as “retaliation.” Of course, this is often, in fact, not actually the case. Of course, if you “believe” that some entity (a person; a government; a “nation”; a “people…”) are “retaliating” (for an alleged attack) — rather than initiating attacks — then almost anything the “retaliator” does is justified, no?
        Framing the US attack on North Vietnam as “retaliation” in this PBS documentary, which purports to tell truths about this horrific war, is a fundamental, serious, and consequential defect, one which must raise the question of why, after all these years — and when the truth about the Gulf of Tonkin “incidents” has been known for years — Ken Burns and Lynn Novick would engage in this kind of (albeit strangely belated) pro-war propaganda. (Or is it better understood as indoctrination.)
        Burns and Novick are noted for specializing in the delivery of emotion-laden “stories.” Are they to be allowed to turn actually important, fundamental facts about the US war into a “story,” as well? But the movingemotional stories in this PBS series are tied together with a Meta-Narrative, if you will, of the *history* of the war in Vietnam. It is in this Meta-Narrative that we can discern and judge the extent to which Burns and Novick (and PBS) are actually revealing helpful truths for facing “our” history — and the history of this war — or not.
        Three days after the “second” of two supposed “incidents” in the Gulf of Tonkin, the LBJ administration secured an overwhelming rubber stamp in the US Congress for the infamous “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,” which would be used forever after as the fig-leaf for justifying continued US military intervention in Vietnam, as both supposedly constitutionally and politically “legitimate,” with all the attendant violence, massive destruction, and death.
        Isn’t this little bit of “history” rather important? Isn’t it rather important to get this right?
        Just three weeks after these alleged “incidents,” I. F. Stone had already reported much of the real story in his famous I. F. Stone’s Weekly, evidently based entirely on just the well-informed remarks of Senator Wayne Morse on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
        Wayne Morse, of Oregon, was one of only two senators to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution;  the other was, of course, Ernest Gruening, of Alaska.
        As it turns out, the US Central Intelligence Agency had been conducting “covert” attacks against the shoreline of North Vietnam for months (OPLAN 34-A). Finally, in early August of 1964, a mid-level NV naval officer may have been responsible for ordering NV patrol boats to pursue the USS Maddox out into international waters, as a result of it’s believed role in supporting these attacks (which was actually the case; the Maddox had a special [and unusual] NSA surveillance unit on board, and was also engaged in what were labeled “DeSoto Patrols,” moving into and out of territorial waters claimed by the Government of North Vietnam.) Among other things, these US/CIA attacks were designed to test and gain information about North Vietnamese radar and air defenses.
        So,  if there were, indeed, any “retaliation,” it would be more accurate to say that this was a case of “retaliation” by North Vietnames naval forces for repeated coastal aggression by the United States. (Likely deliberately conceived, at least in part, to provoke just this sort of response, which could then be used as the pretext for the broader intervention top “policy-makers” were seeking.) Because of the advanced surveillance by the NSA unit aboard the Maddox, they knew the patrol boats were approaching “at high speed” well ahead of time. The three PT boats involved were almost entirely destroyed, and the Maddox may have sustained “one bullet hole” during the incident. [Extensive materials on this topic can be found at the National Security Archive website.]
        Two days later, on the night of August 4, 1964, a “second attack” supposedly occurred, this time including the USS Turner Joy, as well.
        However, there was no second “attack.” 
        A relatively recent article published by the US Naval Institute reported the following:
        Analysis of the Evidence
        Historians have long suspected that the second attack in the Gulf of Tonkin never occurred and that the resolution was based on faulty evidence. But no declassified information had suggested that McNamara, Johnson, or anyone else in the decision-making process had intentionally misinterpreted the intelligence concerning the 4 August incident. More than 40 years after the events, that all changed with the release of the nearly 200 documents related to the Gulf of Tonkin incident and transcripts from the Johnson Library.
        These new documents and tapes reveal what historians could not prove: There was not a second attack on U.S. Navy ships in the Tonkin Gulf in early August 1964. Furthermore, the evidence suggests a disturbing and deliberate attempt by Secretary of Defense McNamara to distort the evidence and mislead Congress.
        I.F. Stone was actually onto this story years before some historians were able to use belatedly and reluctantly released classified documents to confirm the lies, deceptions and misrepresentations.  [See: I. F. Stone’s Weekly, following further “testimony” from McNamara in 1968.]
        Turbulent water may have been either misinterpreted — or misconstrued — as a North Vienamese PT boat torpedo launch. Among others, James Stockade, later an Admiral and eventually Ross Perot’s running mate when he ran for President, was flying missions over the Maddox and reported seeing zero evidence of any alleged “attack.” Stockdale would later emphasize that he would have had a far better view of the any alleged “engagement” from the air, in any case.
        An NSA cryptography publication ran what has been viewed by historians as an important analysis of all this based on hundreds of documents involving extensive declassified cable traffic.[See an oft-sited NSA study by Robert J. Hanyok.]
        Finally, John Prados, who has written important histories about the CIA and US covert operations abroad, produced a useful article on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of The Gulf of Tonkin “incidents” for the Washington-based National Security Archive in 2004.
        Naturally, if you’re interested in telling “stories,” you may not focus too carefully on the facts of the history and the context in which these “stories”  took place.
        But shouldn’t we demand that Burns and Novick (and PBS) get something as important as what did or didn’t happen in The Gulf of Tonkin — and was used as the pretext for ten years of war — right?

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        10)  St. Louis Cops Taunt Demonstrators with Chilling Chant After Clearing Streets
        Officers in riot gear were heard bellowing "whose streets, our streets."
        http://www.alternet.org/activism/st-louis-cops-taunt-demonstrators-chilling-chant-after-clearing-streets
        Police officers in riot gear gathered alongside a St Louis boulevard late on Sunday night, chanting “whose street, our street”, a common refrain used by those protesting the acquittal of a white former officer in the death of a black man, after successfully clearing the street of demonstrators and onlookers.
        Hundreds of officers had mobilized after another day of peaceful protests over the acquittal of Jason Stockley in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith. After nightfall there were reports of property damage and vandalism in the streets.
        Authorities said police made more than 80 arrests, after people ignored orders to disperse after the peaceful protests. The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Mayor Lyda Krewson told reporters early on Monday “the days have been calm and the nights have been destructive”. Krewson said that was “unacceptable” and that “destruction cannot be tolerated”.
        During the protests on Sunday night, several windows were broken at a Marriott hotel and at other nearby businesses. Concrete planters were knocked over and trash cans tossed into the street.
        A judge ruled on Friday that Stockley, a 36-year-old who left the St Louis department and moved to Houston three years ago, was not guilty in the 2011 death of Smith.
        Stockley shot Smith after Smith fled from Stockley and his partner on a high-speed chase as they tried to arrest him for a suspected drug deal. Stockley testified he felt endangered because he saw Smith holding a silver revolver when Smith backed his car toward the officers and sped away.
        Prosecutors said Stockley planted a gun in Smith’s car after the shooting. The officer’s DNA was on the weapon but Smith’s wasn’t. Dashcam video from Stockley’s cruiser recorded him saying he was “going to kill this motherfucker”. Less than a minute later, he shot Smith five times.
        Stockley’s lawyer dismissed the comment as “human emotions” during a dangerous pursuit. St Louis circuit judge Timothy Wilson, who said prosecutors didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley murdered Smith, said the statement could be ambiguous.
        The ruling set off raucous protests throughout the weekend. Another peaceful demonstration was expected on Monday. Early in the day, a racially mixed crowd of more than 150 blocked a busy street on the western edge of downtown.
        On Sunday, hundreds of people marched through downtown streets, the posh Central West End and the trendy Delmar Loop area of nearby University City. Protesters also marched through two shopping malls in a wealthy area of St Louis County. The protest began at the police headquarters downtown.
        Following the same pattern of the previous days, more than 1,000 people marched peacefully for several hours. By nightfall, most had gone home. The 100 or so demonstrators who remained grew increasingly agitated as they marched towards the core of downtown. Along the way, they knocked over planters, broke windows at a few shops and hotels and scattered plastic chairs at an outdoor venue.
        According to police, the demonstrators then sprayed an unknown substance on officers. One officer suffered a leg injury and was taken to a hospital. His condition wasn’t known.
        Soon afterwards, buses brought in additional officers in riot gear, and police scoured the downtown area deep into the night, making arrests. Later, officers in riot gear gathered alongside a city boulevard chanting “whose street, our street”, a common refrain used by the protesters, after successfully clearing the street of demonstrators and onlookers.
        Protest organizers said they were frustrated that a few people who have caused trouble at night could make it harder to spread their nonviolent message.
        State representative Bruce Franks, a Democrat who has participated in the peaceful protests, said those who are violent “are not protesters” but a group separate from those marching in organized demonstrations.
        Others, though, said they understood why some act out. Protest organizer Anthony Bell said that while he believes change is made through peaceful protests, such as those led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr, years of oppression has caused some to turn violent.
        “I do not say the demonstrators are wrong, but I believe peaceful demonstrations are the best,” Bell said.
        The recent St Louis protests have followed a pattern borne of months of angry and sometimes violent protests after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson: the majority of demonstrators, though angry, are law-abiding. But as the night wears on, a subsection emerges, a different crowd more willing to confront police, sometimes to the point of clashes.
        More than 50 people were arrested over the weekend, all late at night. It was after nightfall that people shattered a window at the home of Mayor Lynda Krewson on Friday, smashed about two dozen windows and threw trash cans and rocks at police in University City on Saturday, and knocked out windows downtown on Sunday.
        Many protesters believe police provoked demonstrators by showing up in riot gear and armored vehicles. Police said they had no choice but to protect themselves once protesters started throwing things at them.
        Democratic representative Michael Butler said police should target the agitators and allow others to continue demonstrating. He protested on Friday, and after that said police have been doing a poor job of identifying bad actors in the crowds.
        “There’s not been any learning from Ferguson,” Butler said.

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        10) Trump Threatens to ‘Totally Destroy’ North Korea





        • Leaders from around the globe are taking the lectern at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. It’s a particularly big moment for President Trump, who addressed the world gathering for the first time.
        • Mr. Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and called Iran a “rogue nation.” He also said the United States was “prepared to take further action” on Venezuela.
        • Secretary General António Guterres spoke about climate change, Myanmar and trust among nations.
        • Sign up for the Morning Briefing for United Nations news and a daily look at what you need to know to begin your day.

        Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea.

        If the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies, “we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” President Trump said in his address to the General Assembly.
        He denounced North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un, saying the nation “threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of life” as a result of its nuclear weapons program.
        “If the righteous many don’t confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph,” Mr. Trump said.
        Mr. Trump emphasized that it was against the interest of the entire world for North Korea — which he called a “band of criminals” — to obtain missiles and nuclear weapons.
        “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself,” he said of Mr. Kim.
        Mr. Trump accused Mr. Kim of overseeing a regime that has starved its people, brutalized an imprisoned American college student who was returned home in a coma, and assassinated Mr. Kim’s older brother, a potential rival, with poison chemicals.
        “If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons threatens the entire world,” Mr. Trump said.
        While he thanked Russia and China for supporting recent United Nations sanctions on North Korea, Mr. Trump also took an indirect swipe at them for continuing to do business with Mr. Kim.
        “It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world,” Mr. Trump said.
        The president said that America would act alone if needed. He emphasized an “America first” agenda, and said that while the United States would “forever be a great friend to the world and especially to its allies,” his primary responsibility was to Americans.
        “As president, I will always put America first, just like you as the leaders of your countries will always — and should always — put your countries first,” he said.
        — MEGAN SPECIA

        Trump denounces Iran as a ‘rogue nation.’

        After condemning North Korea, Mr. Trump pivoted to the next “rogue nation” — Iran.
        He called the Iran nuclear deal “an embarrassment” that is “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”
        Mr. Trump has long portrayed Iran as a sponsor of terrorism and has suggested that the United States may abandon the 2015 deal negotiated by the Obama administration and five other major powers that limited Iran’s nuclear activities. So far Mr. Trump has grudgingly accepted the nuclear agreement despite having described it as a disgrace.
        “It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction,” he said.
        The world’s nuclear inspectors recently declared that they had found no evidence that Iran is breaching the agreement. A meeting of the parties that negotiated the deal with Iran — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — will take place on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Wednesday.
        “The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” Mr. Trump told the United Nations on Tuesday. “It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.”
        Mr. Trump also called on the Iranian authorities to free the American citizens being held in Iranian prisons. At least four are incarcerated, and a fifth has been missing for a decade.
        — RICK GLADSTONE and MEGAN SPECIA

        Trump is ‘prepared to take action’ on Venezuela.

        Later in his speech, Mr. Trump turned his attention to the Americas.
        He excoriated the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who has turned increasingly repressive as the country’s economy has collapsed.
        Mr. Trump declared that the United States was “prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.” He said Mr. Maduro’s government had “destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.”
        “This situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch as a responsible neighbor and friend,” Mr. Trump said.
        Mr. Trump’s government has imposed economic sanctions on Mr. Maduro’s government but has not specified how it would exert further pressure. Last month, he caused a backlash among Latin American leaders by suggesting that he could order American military forces to intervene in Venezuela.
        Venezuela responded on Tuesday by criticizing what it called Mr. Trump’s “fatal obsession with Venezuela, a product of his white supremacist ideas.”
        “We’re ready to continue, on the political and diplomatic level, and on any level necessary, defeating the disastrous aggressions of the U.S. government,” the country’s government said in a statement.
        Mr. Trump in his address on Tuesday also vowed to continue pressuring what he called the “corrupt, destabilizing regime” in Cuba.
        “We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms,” he said.
        — RICK GLADSTONE, MEGAN SPECIA and NICHOLAS CASEY

        Trust ‘is being driven down,’ the secretary general warns.

        Opening the General Assembly session, Secretary General António Guterres gravely warned about nuclear peril and climate change, and offered pointed reminders about “stronger international cooperation.”
        “Trust within and among countries is being driven down by those who demonize and divide,” he said in a speech that included English, French and Spanish.
        President Trump could not be seen in the hall.
        To Myanmar’s government, Mr. Guterres issued a blunt directive. “The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations and allow unhindered humanitarian access,” he said.
        He added that he was encouraged by the remarks of Daw Aung San Suu Kyion Tuesday, but said that Rohingya people who have fled their homes must be allowed to return home in dignity.
        On climate change, Mr. Guterres referred to the hurricanes that recently ravaged the United States and the Caribbean, and called for the world to step up its promises, made under the Paris climate agreement, to contain carbon emissions.
        “We know enough today to act,” he said. “the science is unassailable.”
        On the rights of refugees and migrants, he assailed what he called “closed doors and open hostility” and called on countries to treat those crossing borders with “simple decency and human compassion.”
        — SOMINI SENGUPTA

        The long and the short of speech lengths.

        Speakers are supposed to take no more than 15 minutes, a voluntary limit that has been notoriously violated.
        The longest speech was Fidel Castro’s in 1960, at 4 hours and 29 minutes, which the Cuban leader began with these words: “Although we have been given the reputation of speaking at great length, the Assembly need not worry. We shall do our best to be brief, saying only what we regard it as our duty to say here.”
        The shortest speech, according to the United Nations Association-U.K., was one minute, in 1948, by Herbert Vere Evatt, foreign minister of Australia, who thanked the General Assembly for electing him president.
        — RICK GLADSTONE

        If the shoe fits, brandish it: famous speech props.

        Khrushchev’s shoe: In his 1960 General Assembly speech (the same year as Castro’s marathoner), the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev brandished a shoe as he expressed rage at the Philippine delegation for having accused the Kremlin of swallowing Eastern Europe. Whether Khrushchev actually banged the shoe on the podium — and whether it was even his shoe — has long been in dispute.
        Netanyahu’s bomb: In 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel displayed a cartoonish drawing of a bomb to illustrate his belief that Iran could not be trusted in negotiations and was capable of quickly developing nuclear weapons. Critics ridiculed the prop, which also created confusion in Israel.
        — RICK GLADSTONE

        When it’s time to speak, Brazil goes first.

        Brazil has almost always been the first to speak at the General Assembly, a tradition traced to the early days of the United Nations and the Cold War.
        According to Antonio Patriota, a former Brazilian ambassador to the United Nations, Brazil demonstrated deft diplomacy in presiding over the first few General Assembly debates. That, he said, convinced the two main powers — the United States and the Soviet Union — that Brazil should always speak first. The United States, the host country, has almost always gone second.
        There have been some notable exceptions. In 1983 and 1984, the United States went first and Brazil second. Last year, Chad went second because President Barack Obama was running late.
        — SOMINI SENGUPTA AND RICK GLADSTONE

        Qaddafi’s (very) brief tenure as a Trump tenant.

        In 2009, as Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya was making arrangements to speak at the General Assembly, he was desperate to find a property in the New York metropolitan area that would permit him to pitch his Bedouin tent.
        Colonel Qaddafi finally thought he had a willing landlord: Donald J. Trump, who owned a property in Bedford, N.Y., that was a possibility. The prospect created a storm of opposition among officials in Westchester County, and shortly after the tent was erected, the Trump Organization ordered it dismantled. “Mr. Qaddafi will not be going to the property,” the organization said.
        — RICK GLADSTONE

        What the U.S. pays for at the U.N.

        President Trump has said that the United States carries a disproportionate burden in keeping the world safe.
        So what does the United States shoulder at the United Nations?
        Washington is the organization’s largest single financial contributor, paying 22 percent of its $5.4 billion core budget. The United States also pays a slightly larger share of the United Nations peacekeeping budget, although this year its share of those costs dropped to 25 percent from 28 percent.
        Militarily, the United States shoulders virtually nothing. Of the roughly 97,000 soldiers and police officers serving on United Nations peacekeeping missions, 74 are American, according to figures released in June.
        The Trump administration has proposed significant cuts in its funding of the organization. A spokesman for the global body said such reductions would “simply make it impossible” for the United Nations to maintain essential operations like hosting Syria peace talks, monitoring nuclear proliferation and immunizing children.
        — SOMINI SENGUPTA

        Report on cost of refugees counters Trump view.

        As President Trump considers cutting the number of refugees allowed into the United States to the lowest level in decades, his administration is grappling with a new appraisal of what refugees add to the nation: tens of billions of dollars in taxes.
        One of the arguments for such a reduction is that refugees cost American taxpayers too much money. But a draft report commissioned by the administration found that refugees put a lot more money into government coffers than they take out: $63 billion from 2004 to 2014, according to the study, which was carried out by the Department of Health and Human Services and has been seen by The New York Times.
        The United Nations has repeatedly appealed to countries around the world to help resettle 1.2 million refugees fleeing war and persecution.
        — SOMINI SENGUPTA

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        11)  Justice Delayed: 10 Years in Jail, but Still Awaiting Trial





        DOTHAN, Ala. — Kharon Davis was 22 when he was charged with capital murder and booked into the county jail. Ten years later, he is still there, awaiting trial.
        He has had two judges, four teams of lawyers and nine trial dates, the first of which was in 2008. His case has outlasted a district attorney who served for nearly three decades. It defies any common understanding of the right to a speedy trial.
        As the case has languished, Mr. Davis, whose only prior offense was driving without a license, has been segregated from the jail’s general population for minor transgressions like unauthorized peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, and a couple of more serious ones, like fighting. His mother, Chrycynthia Davis, says she has been allowed to visit him just once in the last three years.
        Though he has not been found guilty, Mr. Davis has already served half of the minimum sentence for murder.
        The case, State of Alabama v. Kharon Torchec Davis, underscores how the country’s justice system can flounder at many levels, especially for poor defendants. And it exposes the loopholes in the constitutional protections that are supposed to ensure that both the victims and the accused receive timely justice.
        In capital murder cases, in which the defendant faces the death penalty, it is not unusual to spend two or three years behind bars awaiting trial if the defendant is not granted bail or is unable to afford it. But a decade is extreme. Mr. Davis’s wait is among the most protracted that The New York Times could find.
        Mr. Davis’s case has suffered from misplaced evidence, conflicts of interest, and restrictions on his ability to review his own legal documents in jail, according to interviews and a review of his case file. His lawyers and prosecutors share the blame for the delay, as does Mr. Davis himself. At a hearing early last year, for instance, Mr. Davis insisted on replacing his second team of court-appointed lawyers, saying he did not trust them, even though the judge warned that doing so would further delay his trial.
        “It is impossible to look at it,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University, of the case, “and not find it deeply, deeply troubling.”
        Mr. Davis maintains he is innocent and has declined offers of a plea deal. In February, after the election of a new district attorney who had a conflict of interest, the state attorney general took over the prosecution and dropped pursuit of the death penalty. Jury selection in the trial finally began on Monday.
        The basic facts of Pete Dwayne Reaves’s death are not in dispute. On a Friday night in June 2007, Mr. Davis and two other men drove to his apartment, looking to buy marijuana. The visit quickly went bad: Mr. Reaves was shot twice. He died from the gunshot wounds.
        One of Mr. Davis’s companions was a childhood friend, Kevin Bernard McCloud, who like Mr. Davis had no prior criminal record. The other was an older man, an acquaintance named Lorenzo Stacey, who had a rap sheet that included burglary and cocaine possession.
        All three men were charged with capital murder, but their cases had very different outcomes.
        Mr. Stacey, who was acquitted in 2009, maintained that he had stayed in the parking lot, and entered the apartment only after hearing the gunshots.
        Mr. McCloud’s lawyer said that his client heard Mr. Davis yell at him to get down and then felt a pain in the back of his neck. Mr. McCloud had been shot by a bullet that passed through him and struck Mr. Reaves. In 2011, Mr. McCloud took a plea deal, agreeing to testify against Mr. Davis in exchange for being spared the death penalty. He was sentenced to 99 years.
        Prosecutors have said that the three friends were wearing masks and intended to rob Mr. Reaves, and argued that Mr. Davis had fired a stolen 9-millimeter handgunIt was Mr. Stacey who told the police where to find the gun, claiming that Mr. Davis had hidden it behind a Dumpster, but no fingerprints were found on it.
        In a letter Mr. McCloud sent to Mr. Davis’s mother after he accepted the deal, he assured her that he would not do anything to hurt her son.
        The prosecutor at the time, Douglas A. Valeska, wanted him to “get on the stand and lie, and I’m not going to do that,” Mr. McCloud wrote. The judge has ordered that Mr. McCloud be transported to court for the trial. Mr. Valeska did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.
        In the summer of 2015, Mr. Davis’s lawyer, Derek Yarbrough, was looking through an evidence box from Mr. Stacey’s trial when he found something that could shape the outcome for his client: a forensic kit with the results of a gunshot residue test.
        The kit indicated that Mr. Davis had tested positive for residue. But it did not include further analysis needed to determine whether it came directly from a gunshot, or from an indirect source like a car seat. Mr. Davis’s current lawyers would not say whether that analysis has since been done.
        From the beginning, there was something peculiar about the way the Davis case ground through the legal system. His first lawyer, Benjamin Meredith, was the father of one of the investigating officers, Frank Meredith. At a preliminary hearing, the elder Mr. Meredith cross-examined his son.
        But it was four years before anyone raised a concern about the potential conflict of interest. In 2011, Mr. Valeska, the district attorney, finally brought it up. Judge Kevin Moulton, who had taken over the case in 2010, removed Mr. Meredith, who had initially been hired by Mr. Davis’s mother, but became a court-appointed lawyer when she could no longer afford the bill.
        Mr. Valeska did not respond to inquiries on why he waited so long.
        In all that time representing Mr. Davis, Benjamin Meredith had filed only two motions.
        More delays followed: Mr. Davis’s new lead counsel, Mr. Yarbrough, needed time to finish another murder case. The trial was postponed when the gunshot residue kit was found, and again when Mr. Davis’s lawyers said they needed more time. Finally, it was set for April 2016.
        Alabama’s method of handling indigent defense has long been criticized as deeply flawed, particularly in death penalty cases. It underwent some changes in 2011, but judges still handpick defense lawyers, and they are paid only $70 an hour — less than half the federal pay rate for capital defenders and far too low to attract experienced death penalty lawyers, said Lisa Borden, who oversees pro bono programs at the Baker Donelson law firm in Birmingham. In 2011, former judges on the state’s highest courts told the United States Supreme Court that capital defendants in Alabama faced “a lack of qualified counsel at all stages.”
        Particularly in rural communities like Dothan, the legal community can be small enough to make conflicts hard to avoid. The newly elected district attorney could not prosecute the case because he had previously represented one of the three men accused in the murder.
        By August 2015, Mr. Davis had lost faith in his lawyers, complaining of delays. Both Mr. Davis and the lawyers themselves asked that they be removed from the case.
        The judge determined that the lawyers were adequately representing Mr. Davis, and warned that new lawyers could delay the trial by another two to three years, but Mr. Davis insisted. His next lead counsel lasted six months before discovering that he had once represented a relative of the victim.
        _____
        In late 2015, when Mr. Davis had been in jail for eight years, his mother tried to help him herself, hiring a legal document preparation service for $100.
        The result, a rambling petition to a federal courtwent nowhere. But it was the first filing in Mr. Davis’s case to invoke his right to a speedy trial.
        The right to a speedy trial does not come with a clear definition of speed. Rather, the Supreme Court established in 1972 a four-part test for whether the right had been violated: the length of the delay, the reasons, the time and manner in which a defendant has asserted the right and the degree to which the defendant’s case might be harmed.
        Delays can sometimes benefit defendants, who may purposefully try to stall until witnesses die or memories fade. Defendants who cause their own delays may be deemed to have waived their right to a speedy trial.
        In Mr. Davis’s case, he knowingly delayed his trial by demanding new lawyers, but one of his stated reasons has been their failure to bring the case to trial.
        When Mr. Davis’s current lawyers, Thomas M. Goggans, Dustin Fowler and Christopher Williams, finally filed their own speedy trial motion, they focused on the four years when he was represented by Mr. Meredith, saying that delay was not their client’s fault.
        But Judge Moulton said Mr. Davis was entirely to blame: “All delays in this case are attributable to the defendant,” he wrote.
        He also said the claim was too late. “The defendant has waited 10 years to assert his right to a speedy trial in the form of a motion to dismiss, which comes approximately five months prior to the trial date,” he said.
        A clerk for Judge Moulton said he would not comment further on an active case.
        Judges must try to steer clear of situations that may be grounds for appeal, said William Lee Pfeifer Jr., an appellate lawyer in Alabama. “The judge is in a difficult position because he does not want a defendant going to trial with lawyers he doesn’t like or trust, or lawyers who have issues like conflicts of interest.”
        But ultimately judges, not defendants, control the court calendar.
        “The court has to gain control of the case and not let it petrify,” said Mr. Turley, the constitutional law expert. “This is like a railroad saying, ‘This is an awful train wreck.’ Well, the train belongs to the railroad.”
        _____
        The delays have been agonizing not only for Mr. Davis, but for the family of Mr. Reaves.
        “You can just imagine losing a child or a brother and then something like this happens, for more than 10 years,” said one of his four brothers, Malcolm Reaves. “It’s been so long.”
        Mr. Reaves suggested that the delays might be part of a defense strategy by Mr. Davis. “It’s all about buying time,” he said.
        Mr. Davis, though, insists that he would like nothing more than his day in court. In jail, he has been written up enough times, for offenses that include insulting guards, possessing pornography, and writing in his jail-issued Bible, to be kept in a segregated cell until 2021. “I’m in a position where you have to violate just to stay sane,” Mr. Davis wrote in a letter to The New York Times after a request for an interview went unanswered by jail officials.
        Ms. Davis contends that her son’s treatment has been abusive and that he has not regularly received prescribed medications for depression and anxiety. In 2013, his lawyers filed a motion complaining that the jail was not allowing him to review all his own case files.
        “My son has been locked away and kept from me for 10 years like an impounded dog or an unwanted animal,” Ms. Davis said.
        Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza, who runs the jail, did not respond to numerous phone calls and emails.
        In a letter to his mother in June of last year, Mr. Davis described his treatment as “some type of mockery.”
        “I feel like a foolish mascot,” he wrote, “parading to and from the courthouse.”




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        12)  Long Delays Cloud Police Department Disciplinary Trials
        "Constance Malcolm waited five years for Richard Haste, the officer who in 2012 shot and killed her unarmed son, Ramarley Graham, to face a departmental trial, after which he resigned. A Police Department lawyer promised her that internal trials for two other officers who were involved — Sgt. Scott Morris and Officer John McLoughlin — would follow soon after, Ms. Malcolm said, but six months later she said they still have not been scheduled. "




        When the New York City police officer who tackled the former tennis star James Blake steps into a dim departmental trial room this week, Mr. Blake will have waited more than 700 days to see the officer answer for his actions since a civilian oversight board found that he used excessive force.
        In the nearly two years that elapsed, Mr. Blake said he has canceled three plane tickets to New York because of trial delays and watched a plea deal he saw as soft fall apart for reasons that remain mysterious to many of the people involved. After the trial, Mr. Blake will wait again — likely for months — for the police commissioner to hand down a final ruling on the officer’s guilt and possible punishment. And in the end, details of the punishment could remain a secret.
        The process, long and byzantine as it is, is the easiest path to holding an officer accountable for many victims of police misconduct. Overwhelmingly, they face bigger obstacles to pursuing a complaint than Mr. Blake, who was thrown to a Midtown sidewalk by Officer James Frascatore two years ago after he was misidentified as a suspect in a credit card fraud ring.
        But new data obtained by The New York Times shows just how long it takes for the Police Department to decide on an allegation that the Civilian Complaint Review Board has substantiated. Among the 43 trial cases that concluded this year, complainants waited an average of 454 days, or roughly 15 months, for prosecutors and defense lawyers to rest their cases at trial. And after that, they waited another 201 days, or roughly seven months, for a departmental judge to get comments and issue a ruling, and for the police commissioner to decide whether to uphold the verdict.

        Mayor Bill de Blasio often cites the city’s progress in police reform, but the wait has stretched out under the current police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, who took over from William J. Bratton last September. Mr. O’Neill has taken 11 percent longer than Mr. Bratton to make a ruling after prosecutors and defense lawyers rest their cases: 186 days, on average, compared to 168 for Mr. Bratton, who was in his second stint as commissioner.
        Trial delays can undercut the review board’s prosecutions by making it more likely that witnesses or complainants disappear and cases goes stale. And they can sap whatever faith families have left in the departmental trial process.
        Constance Malcolm waited five years for Richard Haste, the officer who in 2012 shot and killed her unarmed son, Ramarley Graham, to face a departmental trial, after which he resigned. A Police Department lawyer promised her that internal trials for two other officers who were involved — Sgt. Scott Morris and Officer John McLoughlin — would follow soon after, Ms. Malcolm said, but six months later she said they still have not been scheduled. (Cases can be initiated by the board or the department, and in the Graham case, unlike Mr. Blake’s, the Police Department brought the prosecution.)
        “I have no closure,” she said.
        With the help of Communities United for Police Reform, an advocacy group, Mr. Blake recently met with Ms. Malcolm and relatives of Delrawn Small, who was fatally shot by an off-duty officer last year, and Sean Bell, who was fatally shot by officers in 2006. He said trial delays were debilitating.
        “I’ve had a lawyer working on it for two years, as opposed to most people who can’t afford to do that,” Mr. Blake said. “It can be considered a tactic for how these things don’t get settled at all.”
        Mr. Blake said Officer Frascatore’s trial was delayed once because the officer’s lawyer had jury duty, a second time because a review board prosecutor had changed jobs, and a third time because the review board thought it had a plea deal. But that deal — in which the officer would have lost 10 vacation days, Mr. Blake said — seemed insufficient to Mr. Blake, and it collapsed anyway.
        The city recently settled a potential civil claim from Mr. Blake by creating a fellowship at the review board in his name.
        “I respect what the C.C.R.B. is credited with trying to do,” he said. “Right now, it doesn’t seem like they’re actually accomplishing the mission.”
        The review board has sped up the part of adjudicating a complaint that they control: It took them just under five months, on average, to complete a full investigation last year, down from more than seven months in 2015.
        But once the review board substantiates an allegation, a case can slow down. The department has effectively stalled dozens of cases by asking the review board to reconsider its findings; in the second half of 2016 it waited nine months, on average, to submit a challenge. The review board also has to wait for an officer’s supervisor to prepare an evaluation.
        The department tried for a time to have review board prosecutors and defense lawyers begin plea negotiations before scheduling the first trial date, review board officials said. That sometimes slowed the process. Even now, though, cases can get stuck for months in plea negotiations. Striking a deal is one way for prosecutors to avoid departmental judges who can be skeptical of complainants, especially those with criminal records or those who have sued the city.
        The Police Department said every one of the hundreds of cases that Commissioner O’Neill has ruled on this year requires reviewing internal investigative findings and trial testimony. It said it was evaluating the review process “in an effort to resolve disciplinary matters in a fair and expeditious manner while recognizing the various issues of due process.”
        Jonathan Darche, the executive director of the review board, said in an interview that prosecutors were looking for ways to accelerate the trial process: reviewing the docket more often, drafting charges more quickly, and measuring delays in particular steps of the process.
        The review board only began prosecuting officers in departmental disciplinary proceedings in 2013; previously, only Police Department lawyers had that power. No police officers stood trial in review board cases in the year and a half before the change, whereas review board lawyers prosecuted 187 cases and secured 68 convictions in the year and a half after. Some cases, like Mr. Blake’s, likely would not have resulted in charges before.
        Under the new model, Mr. Darche said officers still had to be given opportunities to respond.
        It can be in an officer’s favor to let a case drag on. Witnesses sometimes stop cooperating, and the officers are still being paid and are even sometimes promoted while charges are pending, though that becomes more difficult, especially in high-profile cases. But Officer Frascatore’s lawyer, Stephen Worth, said the wait had been “particularly agonizing” in this case, with the officer being “publicly vilified” and threatened before he had a chance to give his account.
        The review board was expected to vote in August on rules limiting how long the Police Department could wait before challenging the review board’s findings. But that vote was delayed and is now planned for October.
        “Time is always the enemy of accountability in the disciplinary process,” said Christopher T. Dunn, the associate legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union. Of the new data on delays, he said: “It looks like it’s taking a very long time to get to a final resolution of the case. And that’s just going to be enormously frustrating for complainants.”

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        13)  When Will Black Lives Matter in St. Louis?






        ST. LOUIS — On Aug. 9, 2014, Mike Brown was killed by Darren Wilson, a police officer in the St. Louis suburb Ferguson, Mo. What followed were months of overwhelmingly nonviolent protests that were policed by law enforcement officers who wore riot gear, shook their batons at protesters and took joy-rides in heavily armored military vehicles. In November 2014, a grand jury decided not to indict Mr. Wilson, and a few months later federal investigators cleared him of any wrongdoing.
        Three years later, change the names to Anthony Lamar Smith and Jason Stockley, and here we are again.
        On Friday, a former St. Louis police officer named Jason Stockley was acquitted of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, after a high-speed chase.
        Just before he shot him, Mr. Stockley, who is white, told his partner he was “going to kill” him. In his decision in the bench trial, Judge Timothy Wilson of the St. Louis Circuit justified Mr. Stockley’s remark by writing that people “say all kinds of things in the heat of the moment.”
        Prosecutors had also suggested that Mr. Stockley planted a gun in Mr. Smith’s car after the chase ended, because the weapon contained his DNA, not Mr. Smith’s. But Judge Wilson, who has nearly 30 years of experience, expressed doubts about this, noting that “an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.”
        Welcome to St. Louis.
        Not only are the local court system and law enforcement community committed to reinforcing that black lives do not matter here, but the police also continue to escalate tensions and foment distrust between them and protesters.
        Around noon on Friday, my colleagues and I, along with other protesters, were marching peacefully through the streets of downtown St. Louis when we saw the police department bringing in hundreds of officers in riot gear. In an ostentatious show of force, they lined up along the street to face us, holding their shields and batons aloft so protesters could clearly see them.
        To say that these actions were unnecessary and exaggerated would be an understatement. They were clearly intended to make protesters fearful and to provoke unrest.
        Demonstrations continued over the weekend and more than 80 people were arrested. By Sunday night, as I and other lawyers and advocates worked to bail out protesters, stories were flooding in about the unscrupulous methods officers were using to engage protesters and ultimately arrest them. Officers had shot rubber bullets into crowds of people, hitting pedestrians and innocent bystanders. Some who took off running to escape the onslaught of rubber bullets were chased and tackled by officers. Videos have since surfaced all over social media that substantiate protesters’ accounts of police in riot gear cornering protesters and refusing to let them leave and go home, which resulted in numerous arrests.
        As if this weren’t problematic enough, St. Louis police officers were heard chanting, “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” This is a vile appropriation of a familiar chant that courageous demonstrators used in Ferguson. Can you imagine hearing police officers say those words as they advance on a crowd of protesters?
        That sentiment isn’t out of place in the St. Louis police department: Top brass echo it as well. At a news conference, Lawrence O’Toole, the acting police commissioner for the city of St. Louis, proclaimed that “police owned tonight.” This is the kind of “leadership” that forces people of color and poor people into survival mode in this region.
        In addition, our local officials lament the property damage that has occurred here, but not the grievances of the black community. On a Twitter post, Mayor Lyda Krewson labeled protesters alleged to have committed property damage downtown as “criminals.” Her and Mr. O’Toole’s willingness to speak out so emphatically against people who break windows, but not against police officers who kill citizens, is enraging for those of us in the black community and for our allies.
        These protests are about so much more than Jason Stockley. They are about the many other Jason Stockleys in the St. Louis metropolitan and county police departments, and the city’s refusal to acknowledge the pain that remains in this community before and since Aug. 9, 2014.
        These protests are about the continued predatory practices of the municipal court system here, which bleeds people dry in fines and fees. Some of our clients have taken out payday loans and borrowed against life insurance policies to pay such fines. Just last year, ArchCity Defenders reached a $4.75 million settlement in a debtors’ prison class action lawsuit against the city of Jennings, which borders Ferguson, for illegally jailing people who were unable to pay traffic tickets or minor ordinance violations.
        All of this is exhausting. The insensitivity. The mockery of real struggle and pain. The disregard. The arrogance.
        When will Black Lives Matter in St. Louis? Which local leaders will finally step up and stop the government from continuing its long, complicated and devastating history of racism? From our view, military tanks, tear gas, rubber bullets and dishonest narratives won’t be bridging this gap anytime soon.
        The Ferguson Commission and the Movement for Black Lives, a collective of more than 50 organizations representing black Americans, have outlined a number of policy recommendations that would positively affect the black community and poor people: end cash bail, demilitarize law enforcement and stop criminalizing poverty. St. Louis officials must take these demands seriously and be willing to implement them.
        Until then, St. Louis law enforcement officials will continue to find themselves locked in this pattern, wondering why black citizens take to the streets demanding that the police stop killing us.

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        14)  Mexicans Dig Through Quake Rubble Overnight as Death Toll Passes 200






        The death toll from the powerful earthquake that struck Mexico on Tuesday jumped to 217, government officials said Wednesday, as searchers worked desperately to find survivors in the ruins of collapsed structures.

        The new death toll was announced by Luis Felipe Puente, the country’s civil protection coordinator. He said that more than half the dead were found in Mexico City and nearby Morelos State.

        The Tuesday afternoon quake toppled dozens of buildings and led to the deaths of 21 children in a school that collapsed in Mexico City. The devastating temblor sent people fleeing into the streets and came just two weeks after another earthquake centered off Mexico’s southern coast rattled the capital.

        Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, said in a statement Tuesday night that emergency workers were being sent to affected areas so that “throughout the night we can continue aiding the population and eventually find people beneath the rubble.” “The priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people,” he said.

        The earthquake happened on the 32nd anniversary of a devastating 1985 quake that killed as many as 10,000 people and flattened 400 buildings in Mexico City. That quake led to a tougher new construction code in the capital.
        In addition to the widespread destruction from Tuesday’s quake, the country was also grappling with power failures affecting millions of people. Mr. Peña Nieto said the authorities were trying to restore electricity to 40 percent of residents in Mexico City and 60 percent in Morelos.
        In addition to the large number of bodies discovered in Mexico City and Morelos, people were also killed in the states of Guerrero, Mexico, Oaxaca and Puebla.
        Mexico City’s mayor, Miguel Ángel Mancera, said that about 40 buildings and structures collapsed at a different locations in the capital, with many high rises swaying after the quake. The quake, which struck around 1 p.m. and was centered about 100 miles from the capital, triggered at least 11 aftershocks, further rattling residents of the capital and surrounding areas.
        At the scene of the collapsed school, Colegio Enrique Rebsamen, in the southern part of the capital, the mood was one of anguish, as hundreds of volunteers clamored to unearth children they hoped to find alive. Dozens of workers carting megaphones called out contradictory instructions, while others yelled for resources like batteries, flashlights and diesel fuel.
        The epicenters of Tuesday’s earthquake and a larger one on Sept. 7 were more than 400 miles apart, but they both occurred in a region where one of the earth’s crustal plates, the Cocos, is sliding beneath another, the North American.
        Paul Earle, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey, said it was too early to say whether there was any connection between the two quakes. Although the first was much stronger, the one on Tuesday was much closer to Mexico City, causing more damage in the capital.

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        Posted by: bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com

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