Medicare for All March and Rally in SF
Saturday, July 24th
Assemble at 10:00 AM at the Embarcadero Plaza
(1 Ferry Building)
March down Market Street to the Civic Center Plaza for post-march rally at 11:30 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.
Write in Support Of Daniel Hale, Drone Whistleblower Facing Up to ten Years in Prison
His Sentencing is July 27
For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Herb Mintz
Photos and Interviews: Steve Zeltzer
To view or participate, a Zoom registration is required.
After registration, participants will receive a Zoom invitation. Events are subject to change or cancellation due to COVID-19 related issues. Check our website at laborfest.net prior to each event or for a calendar of all events.
LaborFest is the premier labor cultural arts and film festival in the United States. LaborFest recognizes the role of working people in the building of America and making it work even in this time of COVID-19. The festival is self-funded with contributions from unions and other organizations that support and celebrate the contributions of working people.
Sincere Greetings of Peace:
The “In the Spirit of Mandela Coalition*” invites your participation and endorsement of the planned October 2021 International Tribunal. The Tribunal will be charging the United States government, its states, and specific agencies with human and civil rights violations against Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.
The Tribunal will be charging human and civil rights violations for:
• Racist police killings of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people,
• Hyper incarcerations of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people
• Political incarceration of Civil Rights/National Liberation era revolutionaries and activists, as well as present day activists,
• Environmental racism and its impact on Black, Brown, and Indigenous people,
• Public Health racism and disparities and its impact on Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, and
• Genocide of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people as a result of the historic and systemic charges of all the above.
The legal aspects of the Tribunal will be led by Attorney Nkechi Taifa along with a powerful team of seasoned attorneys from all the above fields. Thirteen jurists, some with international stature, will preside over the 3 days of testimonies. Testimonies will be elicited form impacted victims, expert witnesses, and attorneys with firsthand knowledge of specific incidences raised in the charges/indictment.
The 2021 International Tribunal has a unique set of outcomes and an opportunity to organize on a mass level across many social justice arenas. Upon the verdict, the results of the Tribunal will:
• Codify and publish the content and results of the Tribunal to be offered in High Schools and University curriculums,
• Provide organized, accurate information for reparation initiatives and community and human rights work,
• Strengthen the demand to free all Political Prisoners and establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission mechanism to lead to their freedom,
• Provide the foundation for civil action in federal and state courts across the United States,
• Present a stronger case, building upon previous and respected human rights initiatives, on the international stage,
• Establish a healthy and viable massive national network of community organizations, activists, clergy, academics, and lawyers concerned with challenging human rights abuses on all levels and enhancing the quality of life for all people, and
• Establish the foundation to build a “Peoples’ Senate” representative of all 50 states, Indigenous Tribes, and major religions.
Endorsements are $25. Your endorsement will add to the volume of support and input vital to ensuring the success of these outcomes moving forward, and to the Tribunal itself. It will be transparently used to immediately move forward with the Tribunal outcomes.
We encourage you to add your name and organization to attend the monthly Tribunal updates and to sign on to one of the Tribunal Committees. (3rd Saturday of each month from 12 noon to 2 PM eastern time). Submit your name by emailing: email@example.com
Please endorse now: http://spiritofmandela.org/endorse/
Dr. A’isha Mohammad
– Coordinating Committee
Created in 2018, In the Spirit of Mandela Coalition is a growing grouping of organizers, academics, clergy, attorneys, and organizations committed to working together against the systemic, historic, and ongoing human rights violations and abuses committed by the USA against Black, Brown, and Indigenous People. The Coalition recognizes and affirms the rich history of diverse and militant freedom fighters Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, Graca Machel Mandela, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, and many more. It is in their Spirit and affirming their legacy that we work.
HIROSHIMA APPEAL OF 2021
Stop ongoing drive for nuclear war and constitutional revision!
Appeal for endorsement for and participation in August 6 Hiroshima Grand Action on the 76th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing on Hiroshima!
No to ongoing preparation for nuclear attack and aggressive war on China!
We are facing an impending nuclear war in 2021, 76 years after the Atomic Bombing on Hiroshima.
Japan-US Summit Talk in April has confirmed the defense of Japan with all possible abilities including nuclear weapons, and the need of buildup of Japanese own defense capabilities as well as exercise of the so-called “right of collective self-defense” in case of emergency of Taiwan.
In line with this decision, the US forces are constructing anti-China missile network in the first line of archipelago from Okinawa to Philippine, and Japan Defense Forces are dispatching intensified troops to Okinawa mainland and South Western Islands, meanwhile Japan-US joint military exercises are frequently repeated in these sea areas.
We are firmly opposed to the ongoing drive for nuclear war on China, Japanese participation in it and constitutional revision to legitimate all these schemes of war.
Let’s stand up for independent action to open up a brilliant future of our own!
While a large number of people are losing their lives, being deprived of necessary medical treatment, the Suga administration is putting all priority on carrying out the Tokyo Olympic Games in shameless disregard of devastating medical collapse. Anger of Japanese people is boiling up against his politics for the profit of 1% “wealthy capitalists’ class” with ignoring 99% people suffering under the concentration of accumulated contradictions of the
capitalist society in its deepening crisis.
Enough is enough, a society in which people are squeezed, scrapped and thrown on the street to die!
What we urgently need now is to stand up for independent action to open up a future for us 99% people. In recent years we have witnessed encouraging examples of struggles: The longtime struggles by the people exposed to the “black rain” (contaminated rain just after the atomic bombing on Hiroshima) has won the suit recognizing the health disorders due to internal exposure to radiation; the conclusion of the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty has been achieved as a result of the efforts of the victims of atomic bombing and nuclear casualties of the world; nationwide struggle has been developed headed by Fukushima people against the concealment of nuclear exposure, emission of contaminated water and all the governmental nuclear policy; Hiroshima struggle against war and nuke has been tenaciously continued. All these struggles have been organized under the active initiative of atomic bomb victims, labor unions, peace organizations, students and young people themselves.
We call on you to join us in Hiroshima in solidarity with the world-wide independent struggles of the people, such as in Myanmar, Hongkong and elsewhere for the future of 99% people of the world!
Raise our voice against war and nuke on August 6th!
In line with the move to constitutional revision by the Abe and Suga administrations, a continuous attempt has been made to suppress demonstrations on the Hiroshima Day with an aim of crushing the fighting history on August 6th. Resisting this reactionary trend, represented typically by the recent city assembly decision of pseudo “Peace Promotion Law”, which in its essence intends to prohibit the rally and demo as disturbances of the August 6th commemoration ceremony, victims of the atomic bombing and many people have expressed their firm opposition, headed by Mr Mimaki, acting director of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations of Hiroshima, who warns that this repressive measure brings us back to the political situation in Japan at the time of the atomic bombing, when people was silenced by the war-time brutal regulation of freedom of speech.
The Hiroshima municipal authority is still shamelessly intending to invite Prime Minister Suga to the August 6th ceremony in Hiroshima.
Let’s stop ongoing drive for nuclear war and constitutional revision of the Suga administration!
Down with the Suga administration by the people’s anger of August 6th of Hiroshima!
Location: Higashi Ward Community Cultural Center
Testimony by the victims of A-bombed victims
Meeting of youth and students
Lecture on the victim of the “black rain” by Professor Emeritus Megu Otaki
Assembly in front of the A bomb Dome
After silent prayer, demonstration to oppose the participation of Prime minister Suga in the ceremony (destination of the demonstration is the Head office of the Chugoku Electric Power Company)
August 6th Hiroshima Grand Assembly
At the arena of the Prefectural General Gymnasium
Demonstration in Downtown Hiroshima to Peace Memorial Park
Bus study tour: visits to monuments and old battlefield commemorating of A bombing
Start from the east gate of Hiroshima Castle, reservation needed
August 6 Hiroshima Grand Action Organizing Committee
We hope all is well with you.
We are happy to announce that the video recording of "No Life Like It: A A Tribute to the Revolutionary Activism of Ernie Tate" is now available for viewing on LeftStreamed
Please share the link with your comrades and friends.
All the best,
Photo from San Francisco rally and march in support of Palestine Saturday, May 15, 2021
Stand with Palestine!
Say NO to apartheid!
Join the global movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Governor's Press Office
Friday, May 28, 2021
Governor Newsom Announces Clemency Actions, Signs Executive Order for Independent Investigation of Kevin Cooper Case
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that he has granted 14 pardons, 13 commutations and 8 medical reprieves. In addition, the Governor signed an executive order to launch an independent investigation of death row inmate Kevin Cooper’s case as part of the evaluation of Cooper’s application for clemency.
The investigation will review trial and appellate records in the case, the facts underlying the conviction and all available evidence, including the results of the recently conducted DNA tests previously ordered by the Governor to examine additional evidence in the case using the latest, most scientifically reliable forensic testing.
The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here:
The California Constitution gives the Governor the authority to grant executive clemency in the form of a pardon, commutation or reprieve. These clemency grants recognize the applicants’ subsequent efforts in self-development or the existence of a medical exigency. They do not forgive or minimize the harm caused.
The Governor regards clemency as an important part of the criminal justice system that can incentivize accountability and rehabilitation, increase public safety by removing counterproductive barriers to successful reentry, correct unjust results in the legal system and address the health needs of incarcerated people with high medical risks.
A pardon may remove counterproductive barriers to employment and public service, restore civic rights and responsibilities and prevent unjust collateral consequences of conviction, such as deportation and permanent family separation. A pardon does not expunge or erase a conviction.
A commutation modifies a sentence, making an incarcerated person eligible for an earlier release or allowing them to go before the Board of Parole Hearings for a hearing at which Parole Commissioners determine whether the individual is suitable for release.
A reprieve allows individuals classified by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as high medical risk to serve their sentences in appropriate alternative placements in the community consistent with public health and public safety.
The Governor weighs numerous factors in his review of clemency applications, including an applicant’s self-development and conduct since the offense, whether the grant is consistent with public safety and in the interest of justice, and the impact of a grant on the community, including crime victims and survivors.
While in office, Governor Newsom has granted a total of 86 pardons, 92 commutations and 28 reprieves.
The Governor’s Office encourages victims, survivors, and witnesses to register with CDCR’s Office of Victims and Survivors Rights and Services to receive information about an incarcerated person’s status. For general Information about victim services, to learn about victim-offender dialogues, or to register or update a registration confidentially, please visit:
www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/ or call 1-877-256-6877 (toll free).
Copies of the gubernatorial clemency certificates announced today can be found here:
Additional information on executive clemency can be found here:
Questions and comments may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Bezos has at least $180 Billion!
9 minutes 29 seconds
Resources for Resisting Federal Repression
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
- Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312
- San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or email@example.com
- Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963
If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:
Know Your Rights Materials
The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides.
- Know Your Rights During Covid-19
- You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement
- Operation Backfire: For Environmental and Animal Rights Activists
WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office
We also recommend the following resources:
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
Surveys of food deliverers and others who work for app-based services illustrate the hazards they have faced during the pandemic.
By Patrick McGeehan, July 15, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/15/nyregion/nyc-gig-workers-pay.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
They zipped around New York City on bikes, bringing restaurant meals to customers too fearful to venture out. Others drove for Uber and Lyft, ferrying different passengers, never knowing if they might be risking their health.
Throughout the pandemic, gig workers have been considered essential to helping New York function even as many residents sheltered at home. People who lost jobs during the pandemic took on gig work as a way to make some money.
But despite that, many gig workers say they are left too vulnerable to the coronavirus and have not been fairly compensated.
Though the minimum wage in New York City is $15 an hour, many residents who work for app-based services like UberEats, DoorDash and Lyft earn less than half that and cannot pay rent and other expenses, according to surveys of gig workers in the city. But a large share are immigrants, many of them undocumented, who feel they have few other options, the surveys show.
“The face of this work force has changed significantly and become predominantly immigrant,” said Maria C. Figueroa, director of labor and policy research at the ILR School at Cornell University.
Ms. Figueroa, who conducted a survey of more than 500 gig workers in the city this spring, said many immigrants lost jobs in restaurants, stores and construction last year and turned to making deliveries for app-based companies. “We asked them, why did you take this job?” she explained. “They said this was the only job available.”
After factoring in the costs of buying their own smartphones, electric bikes and other gear, delivery workers in New York City were earning between $6.57 and $7.87 per hour, not counting tips, Ms. Figueroa said. She said tips were excluded because of their unpredictability in a system where gratuities often go directly to the app company and workers often complain that they are shorted.
“There are a lot of cases of irregularities in the payment of tips,” she said.
Ms. Figueroa cited the example of a worker named Jonan who was promised a $70 tip for delivering a large order of bagels and coffee to an office building in Manhattan last month. “He received $2.50 from the app,” she recounted, and got no more even after appealing to the restaurant and the app’s worker center.
One of the main appeals of gig work is supposed to be the flexibility; it allows workers to set their own hours and work part time to earn money on the side. Many New Yorkers seem to rely on gig jobs to make ends meet.
A separate survey of gig workers conducted last summer by the Community Service Society of New York, an anti-poverty group, concluded that about one-fifth of all employed New Yorkers were involved in gig work to some degree. That is a higher share than the society had estimated in 2019 and, it says, higher than the estimates of government agencies, which generally do not exceed 10 percent.
Most app-based workers said gig work was their primary source of income, though most said they would prefer to have permanent, full-time jobs, said Debipriya Chatterjee, senior economist for income inequality at the Community Service Society and one of three authors of a recently released report on the findings.
“Gig work is not just a side hustle for New Yorkers,” she said.
The society’s survey also found that gig workers were “significantly more likely” than regular employees to have suffered health and financial problems during the pandemic, Ms. Chatterjee said. More than one-third (38 percent) of gig-based workers reported that they or a family member had been infected with Covid-19, compared with about one-fourth (26 percent) of regular employees, she said.
Pedro Acosta, a longtime driver for Uber who lives in East New York, Brooklyn, said he stopped driving for two months last year after contracting the virus and having trouble breathing.
Mr. Acosta, 53, a married father of six, said, “Everybody in my family had the virus,” including his mother, his brother and his three sisters. A brother-in-law sought treatment for Covid and “never came out of the hospital” before he died, he said.
During his hiatus, Mr. Acosta said he “begged for food” for the first time in his working life at a food pantry operated by a church near his home. He also had to defer his rent payment for a while last year.
A spokeswoman for DoorDash called the findings in the surveys “flawed and misleading’‘ and added that “nationally, Dashers earn over $25 per hour they’re delivering and $33 per hour in Manhattan.’‘
Still, food and housing insecurity are bigger problems for gig workers, Ms. Chatterjee said, citing findings of the survey, which was part of an annual report issued by the Community Service Society. This year, it included questions about gig work, given the growing presence of app-based services, including for-hire vehicles, personal shopping, and food and package delivery.
Nearly half of gig workers said they worried all or most of the time about meeting their expenses, compared with less than one-fourth of regular employees, according to the survey. By last summer, 43 percent of app-based gig-workers said they had fallen behind on their rent or mortgage payments, compared with just 17 percent of regular employees.
Gig workers were also more than twice as likely as regular employees to lack health coverage, to have struggled to fill a prescription or delayed medical care, Ms. Chatterjee said. More than half of gig workers reported having at least three hardships — health, housing or food — during the pandemic, compared with less than one-quarter of regular employees, the survey found.
Navara Campbell, who lives in northern Manhattan, said she had repeatedly been robbed while working for app-based delivery services, including Amazon. She said she quit one gig because it involved pushing heavy items like cases of bottled water on a cart through city streets.
Working conditions at app-based services have been the subject of much debate among lawmakers in New York and across the country.
In California, a law known as AB5 went into effect in early 2020 requiring many gig workers for app-based businesses like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to be reclassified as employees rather than independent contractors.
But Uber and Lyft refused to comply and funded a public referendum that was approved by voters and exempted drivers like those working for those companies from some mandated employee benefits while granting them other protections.
Lyft has set up political action committees in New York and Illinois to head off legislation similar to California’s that would force app-based companies to classify their drivers as employees, qualifying them for all the benefits regular employees receive, such as workers’ compensation and paid sick leave.
In Albany, bills have been introduced that would address some of the concerns of worker advocates, but a proposed bill that would have allowed gig workers to organize got bogged down before the latest session ended. That bill, which had the support of some of the big app companies, was controversial because it could have pre-empted protections granted to gig workers at the local level.
The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission adopted several years ago a minimum wage of $17.22 an hour, after expenses, for yellow cabdrivers and drivers for ride-hail apps. A set of bills pending in the City Council would provide several more protections for delivery workers, including a minimum wage and faster payment from the apps.
Cesar Vargas, deputy chief of staff for Councilman Carols Menchaca, one of the bills’ sponsors, said they had support from Speaker Corey Johnson and were being discussed with representatives of the app companies.
But some gig workers are not sure that their situation would improve if they were reclassified as employees, with bosses setting their schedules for them.
“I love being an independent contractor and I will fight for it,” Mr. Acosta said. One of the best aspects of driving for Uber, he said, was that it allowed him to take one of his children to school or to a medical appointment without losing an entire day’s pay.
And his earnings from Uber have recently been boosted by a shortage of drivers and the financial incentives Uber has offered to try to entice drivers back onto the streets, allowing him to support his family.
“Right now,” he said, “it’s good because a lot of drivers are not working.”
By Khaleda Rahman, July 13, 2021
Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964
The daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. has hit back at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy after he invoked the words of the late civil rights activist while decrying critical race theory.
McCarthy tweeted a clip from his appearance on The Rubin Report on Monday, where he referenced a line in King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech.
"Critical Race Theory goes against everything Martin Luther King Jr. taught us—to not judge others by the color of their skin," McCarthy wrote alongside the clip from the show. "The Left is trying to take America backward."
But Dr. Bernice King responded to the tweet, advising the Republican leader to study her father's teachings more closely.
"Rep. McCarthy, I encourage you to study my father's teachings & words well beyond the last lines of 'I Have A Dream,'" she wrote. "This nation has yet to firmly commit to the intensive, multi-faceted work of eradicating racism against Black people. You should help with that."
Bernice King also included an image of her father's book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? and urged McCarthy to "please read this."
"In this book, written after 'I Have A Dream,' my father writes about racism in detail," she wrote in another tweet. "He shares about "white backlash" and the need for white people to commit to ending racism. Today, this would be called dangerous. It was called dangerous then. My father was assassinated."
She added that when her father "shared his dream that we, his four children, would one day not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character, he was beckoning people to end racism, not deny its existence."
In another tweet, she added: "If only people would invoke my father to: Eradicate racism, militarism & poverty. Ensure just, equitable housing & lending practices. Provide livable wages. End healthcare disparities. Prevent voter suppression. Work for true peace, which includes justice."
By Sara Hendren, July 16, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/16/opinion/cities-reopening-time.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — For decades, a stretch of Memorial Drive here that runs along the Charles River has been closed to automobiles on Sundays for the warmer half of the year. In the absence of cars on a four-lane thoroughfare beside the water, all kinds of other street uses blossom: skateboards, bicycles, hoverboards, strollers, wheelchairs and walkers, people on feet and on wheels now moving slowly enough to witness the late spring goslings, the ever-present sea gulls or the rarer magic and grace of a heron feeding along the water’s edge. A towering line of stately, centenarian sycamores forms an unbroken canopy over several blocks.
This section of Memorial Drive is formally called “Riverbend Park” during its weekend closures, but it’s not a park in any physical, structural sense. It’s an open public space transformed into a park without any construction. State park employees arrive in trucks in the morning and again in the evening at junctures in the road, placing gates, cones, and signs that cut off traffic. By dusk, the gates disappear, and traffic returns. That’s it — a park that is “found” from what’s already there.
It happens in cities everywhere: design, or redesign, created by time. A weekend clock turns an open street into something else entirely — a time structure organized outside commuter efficiency or traffic flows. Urban planners sometimes call it “temporal zoning.”
In 2020 and 2021, in response to the need for outdoor recreation during the pandemic, the city of Cambridge added Saturday hours for Riverbend Park, doubling its recreational time. Two luxurious weekend days of an open street from April to November — a provisional state of the built environment, like hundreds of other pandemic-led pilot projects happening right now all over the world. Each of these urban innovations carries with it a question: Can this last? Should it?
As cities across the world open up, urban planners and architects — and the rest of us — are looking around, asking whether our streets and buildings will be, or should be, the same again. But whatever we decide, there’s one transformational tool for building the cities that’s right in front of us, calling for more sustained attention: the design of time. We can creatively reorganize our collective hours and days in ways that help more people enjoy our cities and institutions. Time might be our most valuable resource for building the environments we want.
Covid-19 brought about temporal designs of other kinds. Starting in spring 2020, cities from New York to Bethesda to Berkeley repurposed city streets for outdoor dining, allocated by hours of the day. Retail shops everywhere, from grocery stores to booksellers, dedicated “seniors-only” browsing hours to vulnerable customers. In London and other cities, crosswalk signals were extended in length, an accommodation for more pedestrians in a season of fewer transit rides. It took responsiveness under duress to refashion the streets and spaces of our lives. Some of that ingenuity used the invisible tool of the clock.
Riverbend Park in Cambridge and “found” parks like it are created from a declaration, or more precisely a reclamation, of time — without expensive construction or risky permanent changes. Our collective clock got reset in a crisis, showing us that our time might be spent differently. The pandemic may ultimately force us — or beckon with an invitation — to see the clock as a resource for the cities we want, one that’s always been right in front of us: an undersung and powerful utility on a designer’s tool belt.
Designing with time may seem like an abstract concept best left to civic planners and public officials, but it’s important to remember: Sometimes the designer is an ordinary citizen.
In 1974, Isabella Halsted lived on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, one of the “river roads” that connects downtown Boston to its outskirts. She saw the Charles River every day — blocked by the constant traffic. This river — the city’s jewel, girded by plenty of green space — is mostly experienced at the pace of a car, rushed and blurry. But Ms. Halsted, who had grown up in nature, wanted more of that waterfront and green space to be present in its quieter, slower form — for herself and for her whole city. So she sent out several hundred postcards asking her fellow city residents whether they might support a novel idea: to close one section of the street to traffic on Sundays.
She formed the Riverbend Park Trust the following year. The group got permission to try out the idea, and held an enormous picnic in the street to celebrate. A small group of volunteers worked to raise the money to cover the basic expenses of Riverbend in its early form: portable toilets and park rangers. The Trust lobbied the Metropolitan District Commission to approve Riverbend one year at a time, before the idea’s momentum was sufficient to make it permanent. Since 1985, it has been managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Time has long been a way to rethink the design of cities and spaces. There are lightweight versions — a baseball diamond that is designated as an off-leash dog park in early morning hours, for example. Some shopping malls open their doors before regular retail hours, allowing people to walk their corridors for exercise — a safe and smooth passage especially appealing to older adults.
Time can also be a transformative tool for redesigning spaces with more ambitious goals in mind, making the built world more accessible and equitable. Many museums have made adjustments to their modes of physical access — ramps and elevators and audio tour apps — but meaningful accessibility might also call for a creative shift in time. At the Smithsonian Institution museums in Washington, D.C., for example, a time-based program called Morning at the Museum makes exhibits much more friendly to patrons with disabilities, especially those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Ordinarily an exhibition is designed to be visually and aurally dynamic, with plenty of interactive sounds and lights. But when community research made it clear that some people with autism spectrum conditions found these features difficult to be around, staff members realized they were excluding a constituency that would enjoy the museum more without these intense sensory experiences. Instead of redesigning the architecture or software to make a permanent change, Access Smithsonian, the institution’s office for accessibility, designed a clock-bound structure to accommodate these sensory needs. On dedicated weekend days, one of the museums opens early for visitors with disabilities of any kind — an open door to whoever needs it, says Ashley Grady, the senior program specialist who oversees the program. The Morning at the Museum staff makes adjustments to some exhibit features — turning down the sound or dimming the lights and offering targeted pre-visit prep materials. For a set number of hours, a museum offers a particular welcome to an overlooked population.
In Mexico City, Gabriella Gomez-Mont, who ran the wide-ranging and experimental Laboratory for the City between 2013 and 2018, used time structures to recover play space for children. The city was home to more than two million children as of 2015, and its green spaces and parks are unevenly distributed. Ms. Gomez-Mont’s group worked with residents in a pilot neighborhood to recapture play space for kids where no built structure was available. They tried a time experiment once a week: one street closed to cars and open to children’s play for four hours at a time. Just like Riverbend Park, the idea had to start small — temporary, built to address the needs of local residents, while planting the seed of more substantive change. The group eventually opened eight “playing lanes” throughout the city, created a replication manual for other neighborhoods, and generated data to advocate for more sustainable play space in the future.
In this way, a city might change its shape to adjust to its citizens’ changing needs. Multiple, imaginative uses of public space could be made from what’s already in front of us. In 2020, cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago also opened play streets for children in lieu of traditional indoor summer camps. But open streets for children could be more than just a stopgap amenity for pandemic emergencies.
A found park, a welcoming museum, streets that shift their shapes for children: These are designs built with time as the sculpting tool. Ordinary people like Isabella Halsted have been able to reshape time, and make our public spaces more truly public. What other worlds might be possible, inside or outside a pandemic? Who else might take up the cause of a small shift in the clock, a rescue of time outside the machine of efficiency?
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who signed the bill on Thursday, said the initiative was among three others that would move the state “closer to a holistic criminal justice system.”
By Derrick Bryson Taylor, July 16, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/16/us/illinois-police-deception-interrogation.html?action=click&module=In%20Other%20News&pgtype=Homepage
Illinois on Thursday became the first state to bar police officers from lying and using other deceptive tactics when interrogating juveniles.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Robert Peters and Representative Justin Slaughter, both Democrats, was signed into law by the Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, in a news conference. The bill takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
The new law targets commonly used deceptive interrogation tactics, such as making false promises of leniency and false claims about the existence of incriminating evidence. False confessions have played a role in about 30 percent of all wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence, according to the Innocence Project. Researchers found in recent studies that people under 18 are two to three times more likely to falsely confess than adults.
Mr. Pritzker also signed three other bills, which his office said were intended to collectively advance the rights of the most vulnerable people in the state’s justice system. The bills included measures to encourage restorative justice practices, ease reducing sentences after convictions and address mass incarceration.
“An essential tenet of good governance is recognizing the need to change the laws that have failed the people they serve,” Mr. Pritzker said in a statement. “Together, these initiatives move us closer to a holistic criminal justice system, one that builds confidence and trust in a system that has done harm to too many people for far too long.”
Kim Foxx, Chicago’s top prosecutor, said on Twitter on Thursday that the day was “about putting words into action as we continue to work to correct the wrongs of the past — wrongs inflicted by law enforcement, including prosecutors.”
Rebecca Brown, the director of policy at the Innocence Project, described the law as a victory in false-confession reform, and noted the organization’s championing of electronic recording of interrogations.
“This law is a breakthrough in safeguarding against the wrongful convictions of young people, and an opportunity to establish interrogation techniques that stem from seeking truth and justice within law enforcement agencies across the country,” Ms. Brown said in a statement.
Among the victims of wrongful conviction attending Thursday news conference was Terrill Swift, whose conviction was vacated in 2011 after 15 years in prison on charges of raping and murdering a Chicago woman, Nina Glover. The judge said that although Mr. Swift and three other men had initially confessed in great detail, DNA recovered from semen in the victim’s body cast significant doubt on the confessions.
“This bill, I truly believe could have saved my life,” Mr. Swift said at the news conference. “When it was first brought to me, it touched me in that sense, that it could have saved my life. But the reality is, I can’t get what I got back. So moving forward I want to try and help make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
Mr. Swift said that the bill was a great step, but that more work needed to be done, adding “so many brothers and sisters” were still wrongfully imprisoned. “And we can all agree that one day in prison wrongfully is too long,” he said.
Earlier this year, a similar bill was introduced in New York, and last month, Oregon passed its own police deception bill to protect minors. That bill now awaits a signature from the governor.
Text by Anton Troianovski, Photographs by Nanna Heitmann, July 17. 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/17/world/europe/russia-siberia-fires.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage
Forest fire on the road between Magaras and Berdigestyakh, in Siberia, Russia.
“If we don’t have the forest, we don’t have life,” said Maria Nogovitsin.
MAGARAS, Russia — The call for help lit up villagers’ phones at 7:42 on a muggy and painfully smoky evening on Siberia’s fast-warming permafrost expanse.
“We urgently ask all men to come to the town hall at 8,” read the WhatsApp message from the mayor’s office. “The fire has reached the highway.”
A farmer hopped on a tractor towing a big blue bag of water and trundled into a foreboding haze. The ever-thickening smoke cut off sunlight, and the wind whipped ash into his unprotected face. Flames along the highway glowed orange and hot, licking up the swaying roadside trees.
“We need a bigger tractor!” the driver soon yelled, aborting his mission and rushing back to town as fast as his rumbling machine could take him.
For the third year in a row, residents of northeastern Siberia are reeling from the worst wildfires they can remember, and many are left feeling helpless, angry and alone.
They endure the coldest winters outside Antarctica with little complaint. But in recent years, summer temperatures in the Russian Arctic have gone as high as 100 degrees, feeding enormous blazes that thaw what was once permanently frozen ground.
Last year, wildfires scorched more than 60,000 square miles of forest and tundra, an area the size of Florida. That is more than four times the area that burned in the United States during its devastating 2020 fire season. This year, more than 30,000 square miles have already burned in Russia, according to government statistics, with the region only two weeks into its peak fire season.
Scientists say that the huge fires have been made possible by the extraordinary summer heat in recent years in northern Siberia, which has been warming faster than just about any other part of the world. And the impact may be felt far from Siberia. The fires may potentially accelerate climate change by releasing enormous quantities of greenhouse gases and destroying Russia’s vast boreal forests, which absorb carbon out of the atmosphere.
Last year, the record-setting fires in the remote Siberian region of Yakutia released more carbon dioxide than did all the fuel consumption in Mexico in 2018, according to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service in Reading, England.
Now, Yakutia — a region four times the size of Texas, with its own culture and Turkic language — is burning again.
On some days this month, thick smoke hung over the capital, Yakutsk, the coldest city in the world, making residents’ eyes water and scraping their throats. Outside the city, villagers are consumed by the battle with fire, shoveling trenches to keep it away from their homes and fields, quenching their thirst by digging up the ice sheets embedded in the ground.
Life here revolves around the northern forest, known as the taiga. It is the source of berries, mushrooms, meat, timber and firewood. When it burns, the permafrost below it thaws more quickly, turning lush woods into impenetrable swamps.
Some forest fires are normal, but scientists say they have accelerated to an extraordinary pace in the last three years, threatening the sustainability of the taiga ecosystem.
“If we don’t have the forest, we don’t have life,” said Maria Nogovitsina, a retired kindergarten director in the village of Magaras, population of about 1,000, 60 miles outside Yakutsk.
As many villagers have done recently, Ms. Nogovitsina made an offering to the earth to keep the fires away: She tore up a few Russian-style pancakes and sprinkled the ground with fermented milk.
“Nature is angry at us,” she said.
For their part, the people of Yakutia are angry, too. They say the authorities have done too little to fight the fires, a sign that global warming may carry a political cost for governments.
Four days of travels in Yakutia this month revealed a near-universal sentiment that the Russian government did not grasp the people’s plight. And rather than accept official explanations that climate change is to blame for the disaster, many repeat conspiracy theories, among them that the fires were set on purpose by crooked officials or businesspeople hoping to profit from them.
“I haven’t seen it, but that’s what people are saying,” Yegor Andreyev, 83, a villager in Magaras, said of the widely circulating rumors of unnamed “bosses” burning the forests to further various corrupt schemes. “There’s no fires in Moscow, so they couldn’t care less.”
In Magaras, Mayor Vladimir Tekeyanov said he was applying for a government grant to buy a drone, GPS equipment and radios. Riding a bulldozer through the charred woods outside the village, a forest ranger, Vladislav Volkov, said he was blind to the extent of the fires because of a lack of aerial surveillance. It was only when he retrieved a broken-down tractor left behind a few days earlier that he discovered a new fire raging in the vicinity.
“The fire doesn’t wait while you’re waiting for spare parts,” he said.
Russia, in some ways, might benefit from climate change because warmer weather is creating new fertile territory and is opening up the once-frozen Arctic Ocean to greater trade and resource extraction. But the country is also uniquely vulnerable, with two-thirds of its territory composed of permafrost, which warps the land, breaks apart roads and undermines buildings as it thaws.
For years, President Vladimir V. Putin rejected the fact that humans bear responsibility for the warming climate. But last month, he sounded a new message in his annual call-in show with the Russian public, warning that the thawing permafrost could lead to “very serious social and economic consequences” for the country.
“Many believe, with good reason, that this is connected primarily to human activity, to emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere,” Mr. Putin told viewers. “Global warming is happening in our country even faster than in many other regions of the world.”
Mr. Putin signed a law this month requiring businesses to report their greenhouse gas emissions, paving the way toward carbon regulation in Russia, the world’s fourth-largest polluter. Russia hosted John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, for talks in Moscow this week, signaling it is prepared to work with Washington on combating global warming despite confrontation on other issues.
Yet Russia’s fight is running up against familiar banes: rigidly centralized government, a sprawling law enforcement apparatus and distrust of the state. As the wildfires spread in June, prosecutors launched criminal investigations of the local authorities for allegedly failing to fight the fires.
“The people who were occupied with fighting forest fires were close to getting arrested,” said Aleksandr Isayev, a wildfire expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk. “Their activities were put on hold.”
Then, earlier this month, people in Yakutia were furious after Russia’s Defense Ministry sent an amphibious plane to Turkey to help the geopolitically pivotal country battle wildfires. It took another five days until the Russian government announced it was sending military planes to fight fires in Yakutia as well.
“This means that Moscow hasn’t noticed yet,” said Aleksandr N. Fedorov, deputy director of the Melnikov Permafrost Institute in Yakutsk.
One recent Friday evening, volunteers in the village of Bulgunnyakhtakh, south of Yakutsk, piled into trucks and an open trailer and bumped through the mosquito-infested forest for two hours. They filled up water trucks at a pond and drove to a cliff side overlooking the majestic Lena River, where they realized they had gone the wrong way: The fire was in the valley down below.
Some of the men clambered down the slope, while others tried to connect fire hoses together to reach them.
“There’s no firefighters here,” one man muttered. “No one knows how to use these things.”
Working through the light northern night with backpack pumps, the volunteers appeared to be containing the small fire, which they had feared could threaten their village. But to Semyon Solomonov, one of the volunteers, one thing was clear: Any victory over the ravages of the changing climate would be temporary.
“This is not a phase, this is not a cycle — this is the approach of the end of the world,” Mr. Solomonov said. “Mankind will die out, and the era of the dinosaurs will come.”
New data underline how heat waves can hurt people, especially the poorest workers, in unexpected ways.
“The lowest-paid 20 percent of workers suffer five times as many heat-related injuries as the highest-paid 20 percent of workers, the researchers found.”
By Christopher Flavelle, Published July 15, 2021. Updated July 17, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/15/climate/heat-injuries.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Climate%20and%20Environment
Extreme heat causes many times more workplace injuries than official records capture, and those injuries are concentrated among the poorest workers, new research suggests, the latest evidence of how climate change worsens inequality.
Hotter days don’t just mean more cases of heat stroke, but also injuries from falling, being struck by vehicles or mishandling machinery, the data show, leading to an additional 20,000 workplace injuries each year in California alone. The data suggest that heat increases workplace injuries by making it harder to concentrate.
“Most people still associate climate risk with sea-level rise, hurricanes and wildfires,” said R. Jisung Park, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles and the lead author of the study. “Heat is only beginning to creep into the consciousness as something that is immediately damaging.”
The findings follow record-breaking heat waves across the Western United States and British Columbia in recent weeks that have killed an estimated 800 people, made wildfires worse, triggered blackouts and even killed hundreds of millions of marine animals.
But the new data, described in congressional testimony on Thursday, underline how heat waves can also hurt people in unexpected ways.
For example, extreme heat isn’t just a threat to outdoor workers, but also those who work indoors in places like manufacturing plants and warehouses. Those additional injuries mean lost wages and higher medical bills for low-income workers across a huge range of industries, widening the pay gap as temperatures rise.
To understand the link between extreme heat and worker injuries, Dr. Park, along with his co-authors, Nora Pankratz and A. Patrick Behrer, obtained California workers’ compensation injury reports from 2001 through 2018 and built a database of more than 11 million injuries showing the date and ZIP code for each.
The authors combined those reports with the temperature highs for each day and place. They then looked to see whether the number of injuries increased on days with higher temperatures, and by how much.
That strategy offers a new way to estimate the number of heat-related injuries, rather than just relying on the cause of injury listed in workers’ compensation injury reports. Those reports showed an average of about 850 injuries per year that were officially classified as caused by extreme temperature, but the new data suggests that tally is far too low.
On days when the temperature was between 85 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the researchers found that the overall risk of workplace injuries, regardless of the official cause, was 5 to 7 percent higher than days when the temperatures were in the 60s. When temperature tops 100 degrees, the overall risk of injuries was 10 to 15 percent greater.
That points to a high number of heat-related injuries that are listed in other categories. The researchers found that extreme heat is likely to have caused about 20,000 extra injuries a year, or 360,000 extra injuries over the 18-year period they studied.
“This is roughly eleven times the number of workplace concussions, and at least nineteen times the annual number of workplace injuries the worker compensation microdata records as caused by extreme temperatures,” the authors wrote.
The findings are set to be made public as a working paper on Monday. Dr. Park previewed his findings on Thursday during a hearing by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
The additional workplace injury risks that come from high temperatures aren’t spread evenly. The lowest-paid 20 percent of workers suffer five times as many heat-related injuries as the highest-paid 20 percent of workers, the researchers found.
That difference could reflect the type of work that low-paid workers do, compared with their higher-paid counterparts, Dr. Park said. For example, in manufacturing, high temperatures increase injuries by about 10 percent, and 15 percent for workers in wholesale trade jobs. People in those industries are more likely to be exposed to hazardous conditions in the first place, and so difficulty concentrating can translate to getting hurt.
By comparison, workers in finance, insurance or health care saw no strong connection between temperatures and injuries. That could reflect the greater prevalence of air-conditioning in those workplaces, and also the absence of hazards: If somebody who sits at a desk all day struggles to concentrate because of the heat, “there aren’t real safety consequences,” Dr. Park said.
The gap in heat-related injuries between low-paid and high-paid workers could also reflect living conditions.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego reported this week that low-income neighborhoods around the United States tend to be significantly warmer than wealthier neighborhoods during the summer. The susceptibility of low-income workers to heat-related injuries could stem from a lack of air-conditioning and higher temperatures at home, Dr. Park said.
Income isn’t the only way that heat-related injuries are unevenly distributed among American workers. Hot days are three times as dangerous for men as for women, the data show, perhaps because men are more likely to work in places with hazardous conditions. And for workers in their 20s and 30s, the added risk from higher temperatures is about twice as great as for workers in their 50s and 60s.
The findings also contain a sliver of good news.
The link between extreme heat and workplace injuries weakened after 2005, the researchers found. That’s also the year that California started requiring employers to take steps to protect workers from severe heat, such as providing water, shade and rest breaks for outdoor workers on days hotter than 95 degrees.
While that doesn’t prove that California’s rules led to the reduction in heat-related injuries, it raises the possibility that employers and governments can reduce the effect of extreme heat on worker safety, the authors said.
But only so much. After 2005, the link between temperature and injuries didn’t disappear — it fell by about one-third.
One message for lawmakers, Dr. Park said, is that governments should do more to reduce emissions of planet-warming gases such as carbon dioxide, to curb future temperature increases. But in the meantime, workers need more protection from the effects of high temperatures, he said.
“Not only should we be engaging in aggressive climate mitigation — that is, transitioning away from fossil fuels,” Dr. Park told the committee on Thursday. “Policymakers may also want to think proactively about climate adaptation.”
World-Outlook.Com, July 15, 2021
The following is a Facebook post released in Cuba July 12, 2021. The author, Ernesto Limia Díaz, is First Vice-president of the Writers Association of UNEAC (National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba).
World-Outlook is publishing it to amplify the voice of Cuba’s revolutionary leadership in confronting a barrage of lies and disinformation unleashed in recent days by the U.S. government, the Democratic and Republican parties, and the big business media as Washington has tried to foment a social explosion and destabilize Cuba. We publish it in solidarity with revolutionary Cuba, which is facing serious challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a vicious U.S. economic war intensified under the Trump and Biden administrations.
The article below is published by the author’s permission. Translation, subheadings, and footnotes are by World-Outlook.com.
Havana, July 12, 2021—I detect a certain tendency to misrepresent our president’s speech, saying he incited a confrontation between Cubans.
First it is useful to clarify, that [President] Díaz-Canel clearly defined three groups involved in the demonstrations that occurred in various locations:
· Revolutionaries affected by the hardships,
· People who have fallen for the cock-and-bull tales broadcast by the mendacious media in Miami, and,
· A hard core of counter-revolutionary provocateurs.
Unlike other nearby countries, including the United States, they were no images circulating in the media, “Escafandras” or clubs; no one was killed like in Colombia, or blinded by rubber bullets like in Chile, nor were people beaten like in the United States during the Black Lives Matter protests. The world could witness a most unheard-of image: a president in the eye of the hurricane chatting, discussing, explaining…
Nowhere else on this planet would something like be seen. His attitude is admirable, as admirable is the effort by the nation, and despite the efforts of its powerful neighbor, which seeks to strangle it, so as to present itself as its “savior” and impose its will on Cuba.
[President] Díaz-Canel did not call for mayhem, or for anyone to be mistreated. He did not call for lynchings or police repression, which is common in this hypocritical world, where they speak of freedom only to impose the dictatorship of the powerful.
[President] Díaz-Canel called on us not to allow a “soft” coup to succeed, which sought to serve as a pretext for a statement by the Organization of American States (OAS) calling for a “humanitarian” military intervention, as they have done elsewhere.
It’s worthwhile recalling at this time what [José] Martí said to Gonzalo de Quesada more than a hundred years ago: “And once the United States gets in Cuba, who will remove them?” It’s up to the revolutionaries and the Cuban people, patriots and rulers of our own destiny, to prevent it. This is no time for naivete, a destabilizing operation against our country has been underway for some time, and simply letting it succeed would be paid for in blood. Examples abound.
Regarding confrontations between Cubans: there were in the 19th century, between patriots and Autonomistas;and also from 1898 to 1902, between supporters of independence and Anexionistas [annexationists]; and there were confrontations after the Republic was born, albeit deformed by the Platt Amendment, between patriots and supporters of the Platt Amendment; and there were during the revolution of 1930, defeated by our “illustrious” neighbor; and there was the year after the centenary of the Apostle (José Martí), when the streets and mountains of Cuba ran red with the blood of revolutionaries, in order to overthrow a bloodthirsty tyrant who brought grief and shame to our homeland.
The class struggle exists and will exist, it is the struggle between the bourgeoisie and its forces, arrayed against a revolution of the downtrodden, by the downtrodden, and for the downtrodden.
We must engage in discussions, win people over, provide perspectives, seek solutions all of us together, with young people leading the charge, all while facing an unremitting siege, which will only intensify. This generation of revolutionaries will not allow the conquests that our forefathers bequeathed us to be torn from our hands.
We are neither intolerant nor irresponsible. Despite foreign attacks and provocations, we have remained calm and acted with prudence. That’s not a sign of weakness. It’s evidence of confidence and strength. But have no doubt: should it be necessary, we are ready to give our own life for the ideals of justice and social equality for which so many men and women already gave their lives, ever since the Father of our Homeland proclaimed: “Independence or death!” in Demajagua, and freed his slaves, inviting them into the vanguard of the Army of Independence.
—World-Outlook.Com, July 15, 2021
 President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel gave a speech on July 11, 2021, in response to protests in Cuba. An article in the July 12 edition of the Cuban daily Granma reported on that speech. See “We Will Defend the Revolution Above All Else” published July 12, 2021, on World-Outlook.com
 “Escafandras” or “diving or space suit” refers to a sarcastic remark by Fidel Castro saying the riot squad in the United States and Latin America appeared like astronauts.
 José Martí, Cuba’s national hero, founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party in 1892 to fight Spanish colonial rule. He organized the relaunching of the independence war in 1895, and was killed in battle that same year.
 Liberal Party advocates of home rule under Spanish domination but not independence.
 Supporters of U.S. seizure of Cuba as a colony.
 Imposed by U.S. occupation forces in 1901, the Platt Amendment gave the U.S. government the right to intervene in Cuba.
 The author is referring to Cuban revolutionary leader Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, a former plantation owner who freed his slaves and led the Ten Years’ War (1868-1878), the first of three independence wars against Spain.
By James Hannaham, Published July 13, 2021, Updated July 15, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/13/books/review/william-gardner-smith-stone-face.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage
William Gardner Smith (1927-1974), author of “The Stone Face.” Credit...Dominique Berretty/Gamma-Rapho, via Getty Images
When William Gardner Smith submitted what would be his final novel, THE STONE FACE (New York Review Books, paper, $16.95), to a French publisher, his friend and biographer LeRoy Hodges recalled, the editor told Smith it was “very courageous to have written the book, but we can’t publish it in France.” How could a courageous novel by an established writer have met with such immediate dismissal? In America, “The Stone Face” (1963) had been accepted by Farrar, Straus, like Smith’s three previous novels. Why not France?
The answer is more complicated than the rejection. In 1951, Smith, a Black journalist and novelist from Philadelphia, joined the celebrated cadre of African American expatriates who made France their home in the mid-20th century. He was a close friend of Richard Wright, and often shared the illustrious company of James Baldwin, Chester Himes and others. Smith, for his part, was a wunderkind. Before leaving Temple University, he’d established himself as a journalist for the Black-owned Pittsburgh Courier. Farrar, Straus published his first novel, “The Last of the Conquerors,” in 1948, when he was only 21 years old. Like his peers, he felt France would provide a safe haven from the bigotry and violence he had experienced at home; he may also have hoped that the move would save his marriage. While abroad, he made his living as an editor and a correspondent for Agence France-Presse in Paris, and helped start a TV station in Ghana.
Smith’s fiction belies a lifelong skepticism. His books, now mostly out of print, are sometimes referred to as protest novels, and while they tackle social issues, they’re far from prescriptive; none ever provides an easy answer. “The Last of the Conquerors” details the experiences of a Black soldier in Germany after World War II who realizes that he has found more acceptance in what was enemy territory than he ever did in his own country. “The Stone Face” represents the maturing of a voice determined to confound preconceived notions about patriotism, Blackness and sanctuary, and accordingly the story takes no prisoners, so to speak.
The Algerian War began in 1954, three years after Smith arrived in France. As a reporter, Smith knew the details of the conflict and couldn’t ignore the parallels he saw between his treatment by whites at home and the anti-Arab sentiments he witnessed in his adopted country. With semi-autobiographical overtones, “The Stone Face” traces the journey of Simeon Brown, a journalist and aspiring painter who, like Smith, hails from Philadelphia. Brown has lost an eye in a racially motivated attack and comes very close to avenging his mutilation, but his gun jams. Shaken, he moves to France, claiming, “I left to prevent myself from killing a man.”
Brown quickly jumps into the buoyant Black expatriate lifestyle, and takes up with a Jewish woman, a Polish refugee haunted by memories of the Nazi camps. He can’t help noticing that while he enjoys exceptional good will from his host nation, the French treat Algerians with a casual bigotry he immediately recognizes. What’s more, the Arabs notice him noticing. “How does it feel to be a white man?” asks an Algerian he has accidentally gotten into trouble with the law.
Like Smith’s expatriate pals, Brown’s brethren warn him against getting involved in French politics lest he seem ungrateful, get deported, or worse. This very issue makes one Black expat in the story do bizarre mental gymnastics to avoid making the connection Brown makes so easily. “Algerians are white people,” Brown’s closest Black émigré pal warns. “A black man’s got enough trouble in the world without going about defending white people.” Still, the empathetic Brown’s intensifying friendships with two Algerians — Ahmed, a student, and Hossein, the man he originally wronged, who turns out to be an Algerian militant — draw Brown deeper into the struggle. And then it blows up.
In real life, on Oct. 17, 1961, the French police killed an estimated 100 to 300 Algerian protesters. (Official reports, which surfaced only in 1998, put the number closer to 40.) According to some accounts, the authorities tied a number of people’s hands behind their backs and threw them into the River Seine to drown. The international press downplayed the incident, and the French government suppressed and censored it in the media for decades. It isn’t clear whether Smith witnessed any of the events of Oct. 17 firsthand. In the novel, he shifts the date of the violence to Oct. 1, perhaps to avoid suggesting too exact a parallel. However, Brown’s harrowing account of this event proves to be the climax of “The Stone Face,” which takes its title from Smith’s description of a portrait of the face of indifference and hatred that Brown struggles to complete.
“Simeon,” Smith writes, “saw old men clubbed after they had fallen to the ground, sometimes by five or six policemen at a time, their bodies beaten after the men were dead. In scenes of terrible sadism, Simeon saw pregnant women clubbed in the abdomen, infants snatched from their mothers and hurled to the ground. Along the Seine, police lifted unconscious Algerians from the ground and tossed them into the river.”
This passage would be the only depiction of the massacre in literature until Didier Daeninckx’s novel “Meurtes Pour Mémoire” (“Murder in Memoriam”) was published more than 20 years later, in 1984. Now, “The Stone Face” has been reissued by New York Review Books, with an introduction by Adam Shatz, and it will finally appear in France this year, when Éditions Christian Bourgois will publish a translation in October, on the 60th anniversary of the massacre.
“It’s peculiar,” Smith reportedly said when the French publisher rejected “The Stone Face.” “You can do things in the States, you can say things in the States, that you can’t say in most other countries. And yet you feel so free in France, on an everyday level.” Yet Smith’s novel could’ve ignited controversy in the United States on multiple counts, depicting as it does the overwhelming violence of American racial dynamics; France’s brutality, including murder and sexual assault; and explicit romantic relationships between racial groups. He rips the romanticism off Black émigrés, making them look frightened and decadent, like “a new Lost Generation,” as Simeon’s friend Babe Carter puts it. Smith doesn’t even spare the ostensible victims of the story. In one scene, Hossein gets taken to task for spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric — admitting that he hates Jews more than he hates the French — in front of Brown’s Holocaust-survivor girlfriend. Smith would not have recognized a sacred cow if he’d had to milk it.
Yet no one batted an eyelash when the novel got published in America. The editors suggested a change to the hero’s trajectory at the end, but gave no hint that Smith had chosen any improper subject matter at all. (Literature was way ahead of television in 1963.) On the level of sheer verbiage, it turns out, America gets closer to being the democracy it claims it is. Perhaps this is what enabled Black American novelists to make a living criticizing America from the safety of France in the first place. Our appetite for scandal, outrage and gore almost always trumps our desire and ability to silence others.
Were a description of a massacre like the one at the heart of “The Stone Face” to appear in an American novel, its level of truth would merely become the subject of debate even if a viral video surfaced. Fiction for us is not the lie that tells the truth, as Camus put it, but the lie that could still be just a goddamn lie. For better or for worse, the cacophony permitted by the First Amendment both protects and damages the dangerous truths fiction can tell by drowning them out with meaningless noise. Posed with a hypothetical situation similar to Smith’s, in which a novel by an established author were to excavate new unpleasant truths about shameful American atrocities, my own publisher, Michael Pietsch, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, told me, “I can imagine a publisher thinking it would create a lot of attention, and that would help us sell it.”
James Hannaham will publish the multigenre book “Pilot Impostor” in November, and the novel “Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta” next year.
THE STONE FACE
by William Gardner Smith
Paper, 240 pp., New York Review Books, $16.95
The prosecutors’ use of information from a brutal interrogation had troubled Biden administration lawyers and was a source of tension with the chief prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay, who will retire soon.
"Mr. Nashiri’s lawyers protested the use of the C.I.A. information and added that the prisoner had made the disclosure as interrogators used a broomstick in a particularly cruel way, causing him to cry out."
By Carol Rosenberg, Published July 17, 2021, Updated July 18, 2021
Camp Justice at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay. Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Military prosecutors have asked to wipe from the record information gleaned from the torture of a detainee now held at Guantánamo Bay, reversing their earlier position that the information could be used in pretrial proceedings against the man.
By law, prosecutors in a military commission trial are forbidden to submit evidence derived from torture. But in May, the judge, Col. Lanny J. Acosta Jr., ruled that while juries could not see that type of evidence, judges could consider it in determining pretrial matters.
Biden administration lawyers were troubled by the decision because they would be expected to defend the use of such information before appeals courts. The ruling, the first known instance in which a military judge permitted prosecutors to use information gained through torture, also carries larger implications for all cases at Guantánamo.
The chief prosecutor at Guantánamo for a decade, Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, had cited a statement obtained through torture, clashing with senior administration officials who questioned his authority to do so. The dispute played a part in his unexpected decision to retire from the Army 15 months early, on Sept. 30.
The detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, is a Saudi man accused of orchestrating Al Qaeda’s bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole off Yemen in 2000, which killed 17 sailors.
At issue has been an effort by Mr. Nashiri’s lawyers to learn more about the reasons for a U.S. drone strike in Syria in 2015 that killed another man suspected of being a Qaeda bomber, Mohsen al-Fadhli. Pursuing a possible defense argument, they have sought to determine whether the United States has already killed men it considered to be the masterminds of the Cole bombing.
Prosecutors asked the judge to end that line of inquiry, pointing to a classified cable that reported that Mr. Nashiri had told C.I.A. agents as he was being interrogated at a black site in Afghanistan that Mr. Fadhli had had no involvement.
Mr. Nashiri’s lawyers protested the use of the C.I.A. information and added that the prisoner had made the disclosure as interrogators used a broomstick in a particularly cruel way, causing him to cry out.
The judge has yet to decide the overarching question of whether defense lawyers can continue to seek classified information about the drone attack. But he sided with the prosecutors, ruling that he could consider what Mr. Nashiri had said in deciding the matter. In response, defense lawyers filed an emergency appeal with a higher court, seeking a reversal. Government lawyers have yet to respond.
But Friday, prosecutors asked the judge, Colonel Acosta, to remove from the record information about the C.I.A. interrogation. Still, they asked him to retain the essence of his ruling, which found that there were occasions when a judge could consider such information while recognizing that “statements obtained through torture are necessarily of highly suspect reliability.”
Doing so, they wrote in a six-page filing, “can serve judicial economy” and “advance this case toward trial.” It was signed by General Martins and two other prosecutors.
Defense lawyers called the move insufficient and said they would continue to seek a reversal.
“Removing the sentences citing evidence obtained by torture, but not their motion saying the judge is free to use torture pretrial, or the judge’s ruling saying that it is lawful to do so, accomplishes little,” said Capt. Brian L. Mizer of the Navy, Mr. Nashiri’s lead military defense lawyer.
Mr. Nashiri, 56, has been held since 2002, spending four years in C.I.A. custody. His trial had been expected to start in February 2022, but that timetable is in doubt because the coronavirus pandemic has paralyzed progress in the pretrial proceedings at Guantánamo.
The judge has scheduled a two-week hearing in the case starting Sept. 20. The court last convened in January 2020.
By Laurence H. Tribe and Stephen I. Vladeck, Ju;ly 19, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/19/opinion/texas-abortion-law-reward.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Efforts in red states to pass increasingly restrictive limits on abortions have ramped up in the last few years as the composition of the Supreme Court has made it more likely that those laws will be upheld. But a new law in Texas that’s set to go into effect on Sept. 1 is especially worrisome.
Not only has Texas banned virtually all abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy (a point at which many women do not even know they’re pregnant), it has also provided for enforcement of that ban by private citizens. If you suspect that a Texan is seeking to obtain an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, not only will you be able to sue their provider to try to stop it, but if you succeed, you’ll be entitled to compensation. (And what’s known as the litigation privilege would likely protect you from a defamation claim even if you’re wrong.) The law, known as S.B. 8, effectively enlists the citizenry to act as an anti-abortion Stasi.
All of that would be problematic enough, but enlisting private citizens to enforce the restriction makes it very difficult, procedurally, to challenge the bill’s constitutionality in court. A lawsuit filed in federal court in Austin last week tries to get around those roadblocks. We believe that it should succeed. But if it fails, not only would that leave the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country impervious to constitutional challenge; it would also encourage other states to follow Texas’s lead not just on abortion, but on every contested question of social policy.
California could shift to private enforcement of its gun control regulations, never mind the Second Amendment implications of such restrictions. Vermont could shift to private enforcement of its environmental regulations, never mind the federal pre-emption implications. And the list goes on.
In the abstract, allowing citizens to help enforce the law is nothing new. Many states have so-called citizen suit or private attorney general provisions that allow people to help enforce a range of laws and rules governing consumer and environmental protection, government transparency and more. The federal government authorizes citizens to help bring certain fraud claims on behalf of the United States — and allows those citizens to share in any damages that the government receives. The critical point in both of those contexts is that citizens are supplementing government enforcement.
The Texas law, by contrast, leaves private enforcement as the only mechanism for enforcing the broad restrictions on abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy. It specifically precludes the state’s attorney general or any other state official from initiating enforcement. Under this new law, private enforcement supplants government enforcement rather than supplementing it. If this seems like a strange move, it is. And it appears to be a deeply cynical one, serving no purpose other than to make the abortion ban difficult to challenge in court.
When a state passes an unconstitutional law, the typical way to challenge it is to seek an injunction against the state officer in charge of enforcing the law. But as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the federal appeals court covering cases from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, held in 2001, when the state is not directly involved in enforcing a state law, none of the state’s executive officers are proper defendants to such a lawsuit.
Nor could challengers sue citizens who might in the future try to enforce the abortion restrictions, since there’s no way to prove that those citizens, specifically, will do so. At first blush, then, this law ingeniously insulates itself from challenge, something that would hardly have been necessary if its proponents were more confident that the six-week abortion ban is itself constitutional. But that’s where last week’s lawsuit comes in.
In a wide-ranging 49-page complaint, an array of abortion providers and abortion rights groups in Texas have sued Texas state court judges, Texas state court clerks and an array of state health officials in challenging the new law. As the lawsuit notes, even if, under the law, state enforcement proceedings can be initiated only by citizens, those proceedings can’t actually accomplish anything without the participation of judges, clerks and health officials. Thus, although these potential defendants aren’t tasked with enforcing the law, and bear no responsibility for its enactment, the law can’t be enforced without them.
There is precedent for this approach. In 1948, for instance, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of racially restrictive covenants in real estate contracts by holding that, even though the contracts were agreements between private parties, they couldn’t be enforced without the cooperation of state court judges, which would itself violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection for all under the law. The same is true here — the citizens who would enforce the law are not themselves government actors, but the courts that would hear their suits are. It’s certainly an unusual way to challenge a state law — but it’s one that, in our view, is entirely appropriate.
But imagine if this challenge fails on procedural grounds. That would not just make it impossible for anyone to challenge one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. It would also set an ominous precedent for turning citizens against each other on whatever contentious issue their state legislature chose to insulate from ordinary constitutional review.
It’s not hard to see how such a fundamental inversion of how our constitutional system works would have damaging consequences both practically and legally that go far beyond the specific scope of abortion restriction in the nation’s second-largest state.
Later this year, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear what’s likely to be its most important abortion case since 1992, when it considers Mississippi’s ban on virtually all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. But the legal dispute that began in Texas last week is, in our view, the far more important one. Not only is the Texas ban a frontal assault on Roe v. Wade, it’s an assault on our legal system and on the idea that law enforcement is up to the government, not our neighbors.
Mr. Tribe is an emeritus professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School; Mr. Vladeck is a professor at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin.
Frustrated by more than a year of picking up people they say Greece has illegally pushed out, Turkish officials invited journalists to witness rescues firsthand.
By Carlotta Gall, July 18, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/18/world/europe/greece-migrants.html?action=click&module=In%20Other%20News&pgtype=Homepage
ABOARD A TURKISH COAST GUARD VESSEL — Wet and shaken, women and children were pulled aboard the Turkish patrol boat first, then the men and more children.
A 7-year-old girl in striped leggings, Heliah Nazari, shivered uncontrollably as she was set down on the deck. An older woman retched into a plastic bag.
They were two of 20 asylum seekers from Afghanistan who had been drifting in the dark, abandoned in rudderless rafts for four hours before the Turkish Coast Guard reached them.
Just hours earlier they had been resting in a forest on the Greek island of Lesbos when they were caught by Greek police officers who confiscated their documents, money and cellphones and ferried them out to sea.
“They kicked us all, with their feet, even the children, women, men and everyone,” said Ashraf Salih, 21, recounting their story. “They did not say anything, they just left us. They weren’t humane at all.”
The Turkish Coast Guard officials described it as a clear case — rarely witnessed by journalists — of the illegal pushbacks that have now become a regular feature of the dangerous game of cat and mouse between the two countries over thousands of migrants who continue to attempt the sea crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands as a way into Europe.
Since a mutual agreement broke down last year, Turkey and Greece have been at loggerheads over how to deal with the continuing flow of migrants along one of the most frequented routes used since the mass movement boomed in 2015.
Then, one million migrants, mostly Syrians fleeing the war in their country, led the surge into Europe. The flow is much reduced — 40,000 have arrived by sea into Europe so far this year — but it is now dominated by Afghans, raising fears that the escalating conflict there and the American withdrawal of troops could bring larger numbers.
For more than a year, Turkey has turned a blind eye to the migrants, allowing them to try the sea crossing to Greece. That country has resorted to expelling migrants forcibly, disabling their boats and pushing them back to Turkey when they are caught at sea.
Increasingly, Greece is even removing asylum seekers who have reached its islands, forcing them into life rafts and towing them into Turkish waters, as the compassion many Greeks had shown during earlier waves of migration has given way to anger and exhaustion.
The tactic of so-called pushbacks has been roundly denounced by refugee organizations and European officials as a violation of international law and of fundamental European values. The Greek government denies that it has pushed back any migrants, while insisting on its right to protect its borders.
“Numerous cases have been investigated, including by the European Union,” Notis Mitarachi, minister for migration and asylum in Greece, said last week, “and reports have found no evidence of any breach of E.U. fundamental rights.”
Philippe Leclerc, head of the United Nations refugee agency in Turkey, said his office had presented evidence, including “accounts of violence and family separations” to the Greek ombudsman, requesting the cases be investigated, without result.
The two countries are at an impasse, with Turkey demanding that Greece end the pushbacks first, and Greece demanding that Turkey first take back 1,400 migrants whose asylum requests have been rejected, Mr. Leclerc said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has been widely accused of precipitating the crisis, when in February last year he announced he was opening his country’s borders for migrants to travel to Europe.
Turkish officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to speak to the news media, said the step was taken to draw world attention to Turkey’s own burden in hosting some four million asylum seekers from other nations’ wars — more than 3.6 million Syrians, along with 400,000 other people from Afghanistan, Asia and the Middle East. It is the single largest refugee community in the world, and has taken over whole suburbs of Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.
But the action was interpreted in Greece as a kind of blackmail to extort money and other concessions from the European Union on a range of issues.
It led to clashes between migrants and Greek border guards on the Turkish-Greek border and caused the conservative Greek government to adopt aggressive new measures against migrants, including the pushbacks.
Greece has struggled to handle the influx of more than 100,000 asylum cases and overcrowded refugee camps on its islands while other European countries have done little to share the burden.
But Turkish officials stress that the numbers Greece is handling are nothing compared with the scale of the strain on Turkey. Resentment against the migrants in Turkey has grown as economic conditions have worsened, threatening Mr. Erdogan’s political standing. He, in turn, has railed against wealthier states shirking their responsibilities toward the world’s refugees and not doing enough to end the conflicts that cause them to flee.
Frustrated after more than a year of picking up thousands of migrants left by their Greek counterparts, the Turkish Coast Guard invited journalists recently on a patrol boat to witness what they said were the Greek violations.
“It is obvious they were pushed back,” Senior Lt. Cmdr. Sadun Ozdemir, the Northern Aegean group commander of the Turkish Coast Guard, said after his crew had rescued the 20 Afghans. “They did not come from the sky.”
He said the Greek vessel had probably towed the rafts deep into Turkish territorial waters before cutting them adrift, which he said was an additional violation.
One raft was overloaded and the thin bottom leaking, he said. “That boat could have sunk in one or two minutes, and possibly they do not know how to swim and they could have drowned.”
As often happens, the Turkish crew received an email from their Greek counterparts that migrants were drifting in the area — a seeming effort by the Greeks to mitigate loss of life but something the Turks say is an implicit sign of Greek culpability.
Tommy Olsen, who runs the Aegean Boat Report, a Norwegian nonprofit that tracks arrivals of migrants on the Greek islands, confirmed through photographs and electronic data that members of the group had been on the island of Lesbos that day.
A local photographer also took pictures of some of them in front of a Greek church, a landmark on the south of the island. Another photograph showed Mr. Salih and his mother resting beside the fence of a house, with the girl in striped leggings drinking juice and smiling.
The pushbacks also damage relations between the Greek and Turkish Coast Guards and interfere with work against drug and people trafficking, Commander Ozdemir said.
Commercial ships as well as navy and coast guard vessels pass through the northern Aegean and could easily hit the small rafts and boats, which have no lights or means of navigation, he added.
“This thing we call ‘pushback’ in English is a very innocent expression,” he said. But the action was anything but, he said, hoping to convey “how desperate the situation is.”
Interviews with migrants rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard in several incidents over the course of four nights revealed the scale of Greek violations and the growing desperation of migrants.
One group of 18 people, from Africa and the Middle East, were rescued after their engine broke down.
Muhammad Nasir, 29, said he had fled the war in Yemen after his father was killed. He was trying to join his uncle in Britain. He said he had been pushed back seven times by the Greek Coast Guard; this was his eighth attempt.
“For three months, I have been trying,” he said, his voice cracking. “I feel disappointed. I cannot stay in Turkey, I do not have a job and my family are waiting for me to help them.”
An Afghan teenager with an injured leg, Reyhan Ahmedi, 16, was picked up after six hours at sea alone after being expelled by Greece. He said he had fled his home in the town of Gereshk, in southern Afghanistan, as attacks from the Taliban escalated. When he got news that his home had been bombed and was unable to reach his parents, he decided to make a bid to reach Europe.
“I thought I should take myself away from Afghanistan and find a better future for myself,” he said. “I want to get an education.”