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
On Monday 9 August speakers from Cuba, Bolivia and Britain will discuss recent events on the island: the misreporting, the role of US economic warfare and funding in fuelling unrest, and the urgent need for aid, solidarity and an international campaign against US intervention.
What’s going on in Cuba?
Monday August 9, 10:30 A.M. PST
(Need eventbrite app on smart phone)
SpeakersBárbara Montalvo Álvarez, Cuban ambassador to the UKCristina Escobar, Radio Havana, CubaOllie Vargas, Kawsachun News, BoliviaRichard Burgon MPGrahame Morris MPLen McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite the UnionRob Miller, Director, Cuba Solidarity Campaign
An economic crisis caused by the tightening of the US blockade, 243 additional US sanctions, and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to serious shortages in food, fuel, and medicines in Cuba. Rather than seeking to alleviate this suffering, the administrations of Donald Trump, and now Joe Biden, have sought to exploit the frustrations of the Cuban people in recent months. Cheered on by a right-wing Cuban American lobby in Florida, the international press hugely exaggerated the scale of protests on 11 July, while at the same time downplayed or ignored the role of the blockade and US funding of opposition groups and social media campaigns, and misrepresented pro-government demonstrations as opposition.
Panellists will reflect on what happened on 11 July, how it has been reported, and why an end to the US blockade, as demanded by 184 countries at the United Nations in June, should be a moral and humanitarian obligation for the US government and for anyone genuinely wanting to aid the Cuban people.
Find out more and register today
Read the CSC statement on events
Donate to the CSC COVID-19 Medical Appeal
We look forward to seeing you on 9 August.Yours in solidarity,The Cuba Solidarity Campaign team
Let Cuba Live Exhibition
On the anniversary of the 26th of July Movement’s founding, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research launches the online exhibition, Let Cuba Live. 80 artists from 19 countries – including notable cartoonists and designers from Cuba – submitted over 100 works in defense of the Cuban Revolution. Together, the exhibition is a visual call for the end to the decades-long US-imposed blockade, whose effects have only deepened during the pandemic. The intentional blocking of remittances and Cuba’s use of global financial institutions have prevented essential food and medicine from entering the country. Together, the images in this exhibition demand: #UnblockCuba #LetCubaLive
Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in organising a local exhibition of the exhibition.
What is a General Strike?
"A general strike is a strike action in which a substantial proportion of the total labor force in a city, region, or country participates.
General strikes are characterised by the participation of workers in a multitude of workplaces and tend to involve entire communities.
General strikes first occurred in the mid-19th century and have characterised many historically important strikes." (1)
· The U.S. Government is not serving its people
· The United States is the only developed country that requires zero paid time off for maternity leave (2)
· Unemployment rose to 14% in 2021 because companies refused to raise wages (3)
· Only 100 corporations are responsible for 71% of all global carbon emissions (4)
· Federal Minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009 (5)
· 40 million Americans live at, or below the national poverty line (6)
· Pharmaceutical companies are extorting patients for medications (7)
· And the average American is $90,460 in debt just to afford basic necessities like housing, food, clothes, education, and medical bills (8)
In an effort to combat this tyranny we propose a national Strike starting on October 15th, 2021.
This demonstration serves to show your company, and our country as a whole, that you deserve basic human rights.
Your labor is a bargaining tool and you are worth more than what society is offering you.
· 25% corporate tax rate (No loopholes)
· Free Healthcare for all
· 12 weeks paid paternity and maternity leave
· $20 minimum wage
· 4-day work week
· Stricter Environmental Regulations on Corporations (Bans on single use and micro plastics, and limited emissions)
If you support any or all of our goals, stand in solidarity with us on October 15th by taking off work.
What you can do:
· Abstain from going in to work starting on October 15th
· Do not participate in economic activity starting on October 15th
· Contact your Local Representatives to express our demands
· Spread the word and inform your family, friends, and colleagues about the strike
· Increase class consciousness by educating those around you through our learn page
If you plan on participating, sign the petition so others can get an idea of our collective strength.
Will I get Fired?
The law provides some protection for striking workers. Companies fire people for illegal reasons all the time, so please use caution and your own discretion when disclosing to your employer.
· NLRA Protects your right to strike even if you are
not a union member because you are engaging in concerted activity (9)
· Companies have tried to retaliate before, and it doesn't look good for them (10)
· For those of you who still express concerns here is a
"Basic Guide to the National Labor Relations Act"
· Even more information
if you are not convinced
Please contact the National Labor Relations Board to find out more about your unique situation.
What if I absolutely cannot take off?
You can still support the movement by spreading the word through the links below!
Facebook and Twitter
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Freedom for Major Tillery! End his Life Imprisonment!
On July 27th whistleblower Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison for exposing the US drone program. CODEPINK has known Daniel since he spoke at our Drone Summit in 2013. There are a few ways you can support Daniel at this time, and one way to do that is write him letters! Daniel loves receiving letters. Please return to this page in the future, as his address will change once he moves facilities to carry out his sentence.
Daniel E. Hale
William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Ctr.
2001 Mill Rd.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Please also visit standwithdanielhale.org, which is run by Daniel's core support team to see updates and other ways to support him.
Sign the petition at:https://www.codepink.org/danielhale?utm_campaign=daniel_hale_national&utm_medium=email&utm_source=codepink
DANIEL HALE SENTENCED TO 45 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR DRONE LEAK
“I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take — precious human life,” Hale said at his sentencing.
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
and here: https://socialistproject.ca/leftstreamed-video/no-life-like-it/
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:
I don’t usually do this. This is discussing my self. I find it far more interesting to tell the stories of other, the revolving globe on which we dwell and the stories spawn by the fragile human condition and the struggles of humanity for liberation.
But I digress, uncomfortably.
This commentary is about the commentator.
Several weeks ago I underwent a medical procedure known as open heart surgery, a double bypass after it was learned that two vessels beating through my heart has significant blockages that impaired heart function.
This impairment was fixed by extremely well trained and young cardiologist who had extensive experience in this intricate surgical procedure.
I tell you I had no clue whatsoever that I suffered from such disease. Now to be perfectly honest, I feel fine.
Indeed, I feel more energetic than usual!
I thank you all, my family and friends, for your love and support.
Onwards to freedom with all my heart.
Questions and comments may be sent to: email@example.com
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.
Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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:
Center for Constitutional Rights
Civil Liberties Defense Center
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Grand Jury Resistance Project
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
Tilted Scales Collective
Daniel Hale, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst, was sentenced to 45 months in prison Tuesday, July 27, 2021, after pleading guilty to leaking a trove of government documents exposing the inner workings and severe civilian costs of the U.S. military’s drone program. Appearing in an Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom, the 33-year-old Hale told U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady that he believed it “was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.”
“I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take—precious human life,” Hale said. “I couldn’t keep living in a world in which people pretend that things weren’t happening that were. Please, your honor, forgive me for taking papers instead of human lives.”
In delivering his judgement, O’Grady said that Hale was “not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people” and that he “could have been a whistleblower…without taking any of these documents.”
Though the nearly four-year sentence fell short of the maximum sentence of 11 years behind bars sought by federal prosecutors, the conviction marked another victory for the U.S. government in an ongoing crackdown on national security leaks that has spanned multiple presidential administrations.
Hale was indicted by a grand jury and arrested in 2019 on a series of counts related to the unauthorized disclosure of national defense and intelligence information and the theft of government property. In addition to documents related to how the government chooses its drone strike targets—and information detailing how often people who are not the intended targets of those strikes are nonetheless killed—Hale was also linked to the release of a secret, though unclassified, rulebook detailing how the U.S. government places individuals in its sprawling system of watchlists. Long shrouded in secrecy, the release of the rulebook has been celebrated by advocacy groups as a triumph of the post-9/11 era.
Since his indictment more than two years ago, government filings have strongly implied that The Intercept was the recipient of Hale’s disclosures. In a statement on Tuesday, Intercept Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed said, “Daniel Hale will spend years in prison for leaking documents that the government implied were published by The Intercept. These documents revealed the truth about the U.S. government’s secretive, murderous drone war, including that the killing of civilians was far more widespread than previously acknowledged. The Intercept will not comment on our sources. But whoever brought the documents in question to light undoubtedly served a noble public purpose.”
She added: “Hale was also charged with disclosing a secret rule book detailing the parallel judicial system for watchlisting people and categorizing them as known or suspected terrorists without needing to prove they did anything wrong. Under these rules, people, including U.S. citizens, can be barred from flying or detained in airports and at borders while being denied the ability to challenge government declarations about them. The disclosure of the watchlisting rule book led to dozens of legal actions and important court victories for the protection of civil liberties.”
As has become standard practice in the U.S., Hale was charged under the Espionage Act, and he pleaded guilty to one count in March. Under the highly controversial 1917 law, defendants cannot point to their efforts to inform the public about government actions and operations as a defense for leaking classified information. President Barack Obama weaponized the anti-spying law as a tool to hammer government employees who were sources for national security stories, particularly those that were unflattering for the government. The Trump administration continued the practice and now, so too, has the Biden administration.
“In today’s sentencing, the court did reject the prosecution’s extreme demands, but Hale’s prison sentence is nonetheless another tragic example of how the government misuses the Espionage Act to punish alleged journalistic sources as spies, a practice that damages human rights, press freedom, and democracy,” Reed added in her statement.
Hale’s support team, in a statement following the sentencing, said: “everyone agrees #DanielHale is not a spy. He is a deeply honorable man who is being punished simply for acting on his conscience and telling the truth.”
Ahead of his sentencing this week, Hale filed an 11-page handwritten letter to the court detailing the motivations behind his actions. In vivid detail, Hale recalled his own experience locating targets for American drone strikes. By some estimates, U.S. drone operations abroad, conducted by both the military and the CIA, have killed between 9,000 and 17,000 people since 2004, including as many as 2,200 children and multiple U.S. citizens. Those estimates, however, undercount the true cost of remote American warfare—as Hale noted in his letter to the court last week, the U.S. military has a practice of labeling all individuals killed in such operations as “enemies killed in action” unless proven otherwise.
“With drone warfare, sometimes nine-out-of-ten people killed are innocent,” Hale said on Tuesday. “You have to kill part of your conscience to do your job.”
In their sentencing filing, Hale’s defense lawyers said that he had “felt extraordinary guilt for having been complicit in what he viewed as unjustifiable killings” through his involvement in the drone program and argued that his disclosures were compelled by a sense of moral duty. In motions filed in the past week, government prosecutors sought to rebut this picture, painting Hale as a self-interested egomaniac who risked his freedom to ingratiate himself with the journalists he admired and compared his justifications to those of a heroin dealer.
In arguing that Hale should receive a maximum sentence of more than a decade in prison, the government repeatedly referred to secret evidence—unavailable for public review—purporting to show that the Islamic State had circulated Hale’s disclosures online, thus putting American lives at risk. Harry P. Cooper, a former senior official in the CIA and noted agency expert on classified materials who reviewed the documents and provided a declaration in Hale’s case, offered a starkly different interpretation.
“The disclosure of these documents, at the time they were disclosed and made public, did not present any substantial risk of harm to the United States or to national security,” Cooper said in a sworn declaration. “In short, an adversary who has gained a tactical advantage by receiving secret information would never publicize their possession of it.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg dismissed that reasoning, arguing that Hale’s case in fact deserved a harsher sentence than other prior whistleblower cases on the convoluted basis that, unlike in those cases, it was difficult to substantiate what harm his disclosures had actually done. “We do not know whether this information already has been or will be used in the future by terrorists or other foreign adversaries,” Kromberg wrote. “What we can be sure of is that Hale’s actions risked damage to the safety and security of Americans in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.”
The Justice Department also rejected Hale’s argument that he was providing a public service by revealing information about covert military operations that had killed civilians. “According to Hale, what he did was legally wrong but morally right,” prosecutors wrote. “In analogous circumstances, no one would award such a reduction to a heroin dealer who admitted that he violated the law by distributing heroin, but simultaneously asserted that by distributing the heroin he was helping society rather than harming it.”
Hale is a descendant of Nathan Hale, the American patriot who was hanged by the British for stealing documents in 1776. Addressing the court Tuesday, Hale quoted the words often attributed to his famed ancestor: “My only regret is that I have but one life to give to my country, whether here or in prison.” As he did in the letter he submitted to the court last week, Hale, in his appearance before the judge, focused his attention on the victims of U.S. foreign policy.
“I believe that it is wrong to kill,” Hale said, “but it is especially wrong to kill the defenseless.”
—The Intercept, July 27, 2021
New Jersey has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. The governor will sign a bill enabling new parents to receive free at-home wellness checks from registered nurses.
By Precious Fondren, July 29, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/29/nyregion/maternal-mortality-new-jersey.html?action=click&module=In%20Other%20News&pgtype=Homepage
New Jersey is one of the most dangerous states in the country for women to give birth, particularly Black women, who are seven times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications in the state than white women.
A new bill establishing a universal home nurse visitation program for newborns is designed to help address that. The bill, which Gov. Philip D. Murphy is set to sign on Thursday, is part of a broader plan to reduce the maternal mortality rate in the state, which experts say is the fourth highest in the country.
For every 100,000 live births in New Jersey last year, more than 26 women died because of pregnancy-related complications, according to America’s Health Rankings’ analysis of C.D.C. data. The data showed clear racial disparities.
“For Black women, they have the worst rates in the state, the state has among the worst rates in the country, and the country has among the worst rates in the world, so that’s put us in a place where we need to focus on changing this,” said Dr. Vijaya Hogan, a perinatal epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and a lead consultant on New Jersey’s plan.
The broader plan, known as Nurture New Jersey and spearheaded by the state’s first lady, Tammy Murphy, aims to decrease the state’s maternal mortality rates by 50 percent in five years.
“I can’t fathom that a mother could die due to maternity-related complications or the baby won’t live past its first birthday and that’s because of the color of somebody’s skin,” Ms. Murphy said. “We signed up to try and move the needle here in New Jersey, and make New Jersey a safer, more equitable and a fairer state for everyone.”
Under the home visitation program, which is voluntary, a registered nurse would come to the home of families with newborns for a free wellness check, regardless of parents’ income or insurance status. Research shows that the more support mothers have after birth, the better the outlook for them and their babies.
“This is a huge step in the right direction for moms, families and infants,” said Mr. Murphy, a Democrat. “Visits like this are proven to strengthen families’ shot at success and economic growth.”
While Oregon has a similar program, New Jersey will be the first state to offer home visits within the first two weeks after a birth. Adoptive parents will be eligible, as well as those who experience stillbirths. Families will be allowed up to three free home visits within three months and services are expected to become available within the year.
Even though she had a network of support when she gave birth to her daughter, State Senator Teresa Ruiz, a sponsor of the bill, said having a lactation specialist come to her home made her feel more secure about her transition into motherhood.
“I had a good structure of support all around,” she said, “and I can tell you that even with all of that, and understanding my rights and advocating for myself as best as I could, nothing gave me that sense of just ease until that nurse came to my house and said to me that what I was doing was right.”
Nurses will be specially trained to go into the home and assess both the mother and baby, checking for physical problems, issues with breastfeeding, postpartum mood disorder, and any social factors affecting the family. Ms. Ruiz said the home visit is also a chance for the nurse to connect families to other important resources they may need.
“I think back to when I was a new mother and had a community nurse come out, it was very helpful,” said Cecilia Zalkind, the president of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which pushes for polices that advance child welfare in New Jersey. “It really is to see how the family is doing, to offer assistance, and to give the parents some assurance that the baby is doing well.”
Suzanne Spernal, vice president of women’s services at RWJBarnabas Health, a network of health care providers in New Jersey, described the program as a “home run” that would provide key opportunities for early intervention.
“We know that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are one of the most underdiagnosed and under-treated complications of pregnancy, so this gives us a chance to do that assessment in the week or two following delivery,” Ms. Spernal said.
“We know that oftentimes when moms and families are experiencing some kind of life-threatening complication that they’ve had the symptoms for hours or days before they present to care,” she added. “This is an opportunity to intervene earlier so that we’re able to possibly circumvent some of these catastrophic adverse events for mom and baby.”
Brittany Rice, a birth care coordinator at the Birth Center of New Jersey, said the center already does after-birth follow-ups with its patients, but that new mothers can always benefit from extra help.
“If mom and baby are well-supported, everyone does better,” she said.
A new study looks at “the mortality cost of carbon”: lives lost or gained as emissions change over time.
By John Schwartz, July 29, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/29/climate/carbon-emissions-death.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Climate%20and%20Environment
What is the cost of our carbon footprint — not just in dollars, but in lives?
According to a paper published on Thursday, it is soberingly high, and perhaps high enough to help shift attitudes about how much we should spend on fighting climate change.
The new paper, published in the journal Nature Communications, draws on multiple areas of research to find out how many future lives will be lost as a result of rising temperatures if humanity keeps producing greenhouse gas emissions at high rates — and how many lives could be saved by cutting those emissions.
Most of the deaths will occur in regions that tend to be hotter and poorer than the United States. These areas are typically less responsible for global emissions but more heavily affected by the resulting climate disasters.
R. Daniel Bressler, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, calculated that adding about a quarter of the output of a coal-fired power plant, or roughly a million metric tons of carbon dioxide, to the atmosphere on top of 2020 levels for just one year will cause 226 deaths globally.
By comparison, the lifetime emissions beyond 2020 levels of a handful of Americans (3.5, to be precise) will result in one additional heat-related death in this century.
Mr. Bressler also contrasted the effects of people in nations with big carbon footprints with those in smaller ones. While the carbon emissions generated by fewer than four Americans would kill one person, it would require the combined carbon dioxide emissions of 146.2 Nigerians for the same result. The worldwide average to cause that single death is 12.8 people.
The new paper builds on the work of William Nordhaus, a Nobel laureate who first determined what is known as the “social cost of carbon” — an economic tool for measuring the climate-related damage to the planet caused by each extra ton of carbon emissions. The concept has been a crucial part of policy debates over the expense of fighting climate change, because it is used to calculate the cost-benefit analysis required when agencies propose environmental rules. The higher the social cost of carbon, the easier it is to justify the costs of action.
The current version of the Nordhaus model — the “Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy,” or DICE — puts the social cost of carbon at about $37 per metric ton. The Obama administration’s estimates put the figure at $50 a ton, but the Trump administration cut the estimate to as little as $1. The Biden administration is working on its own social cost of carbon, expected early next year; a preliminary figure released in February roughly matched the Obama administration’s.
In his paper, Mr. Bressler incorporated recent public health research that estimates the number of excess deaths attributable to rising temperatures into the latest version of the DICE model. The resulting extended model produced a startlingly high figure for the social cost of carbon: $258 per metric ton.
He coined a term for the relationship between the increased emissions and excess heat deaths: the “mortality cost of carbon.”
Heat waves, which have been made more frequent and more potent by climate change, have been linked to illness and death, with profound effects in less affluent countries. The recent off-the-charts temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and Canada have already been linked to hundreds of deaths.
Others have tried to put numbers on the mortality associated with climate change and the added costs that it entails, most notably the Climate Impact Lab at the University of Chicago. Maureen Cropper, senior fellow at Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan environmental research organization in Washington, suggested that Mr. Bressler’s $258 estimate appeared to be too high, in part because of the way that the paper looks at how people around the world view the value of their own lives. She added that “although one may disagree with some of the author’s assumptions, it is important for researchers to continue the effort.”
Mr. Bressler acknowledged that there were areas of uncertainty in the paper, including those built into some public health research investigating excess deaths caused by heat. He also relied solely on heat-related deaths without adding other climate-related causes of death, including floods, crop failures and civil unrest. The result is that the actual number of deaths could be smaller, or greater. “Based on the current literature,” he said, “this is the best estimate.”
Richard Revesz, a professor at New York University School of Law, praised the new work, which extends research that he and others have done to view the social cost of carbon as the beginning of an understanding of the costs of climate change, not the full cost.
“It could well have a significant impact on climate change policies,” he said.
The new research also shows the stark difference between personal carbon footprints and the kind of change that can be achieved through actions at the scale of government and business. Having calculated that 4,434 metric tons of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere would result in one death during this century, Mr. Bressler said that simply taking one coal-fired power plant offline and replacing it with a zero-emissions alternative for just one year, would result in a “mortality benefit of saving 904 lives” over the century. “That would be a lot more impact than a personal decision,” he said.
But he added that he was not promoting one form of action over another.
“I’m just quantifying things,” he said, adding that ultimately, “you just have to reduce carbon.”
The discovery of multiple nooses has set off heated debates about the responsibility of companies and the ability of workers to speak their mind.
By Davey Alba, July 30, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/technology/amazon-nooses-warehouse.html?action=click&module=In%20Other%20News&pgtype=Homepage
WINDSOR, Conn. — The town of Windsor has developed a niche in the world of warehouses and manufacturing, taking advantage of wide open spaces and crisscrossing interstates in nearby Hartford. Walgreens has a large facility here, as does Dollar Tree.
So when Amazon approached the town last year with a proposal to add a large distribution center — adding up to 1,000 jobs — local officials considered it a great opportunity.
“There are other mayors and selectmen that would give their left arm to have Amazon in their town,” Mayor Donald Trinks said in a recent interview. “It was worthy of our attention and our support of the project.”
But instead of uplifting the community of nearly 30,000 people, more than a third of whom are Black, the development has sent the town up in arms.
On at least four separate occasions in the past three months, workers building the Amazon warehouse found ropes that looked like nooses at the construction site. Their discoveries have set off clashes involving Black workers, racial justice activists, town officials and the numerous companies involved, raising questions about the responsibility of out-of-town companies to be responsive to local concerns as well the ability of workers to challenge people in power.
The disagreements have spilled into coffee shops and bars, the local press and town hall meetings, generating coverage from national and international news organizations. A rally in the middle of town meant to promote unity turned instead into a shouting match between the mayor and a local activist, with protesters crying out, “Who hung the noose?” Another protest by racial justice activists is planned for Saturday.
The workers and activists say their concerns about the nooses are not being taken seriously enough by many officials and the companies, including Amazon, the developer and the construction firm tied to the project. And the workers say they worry that if they speak up more, they will face retribution.
Town officials, including the police chief and the mayor, say the nooses are a serious problem. But the police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have not pinned down the culprits. And some officials say the problem has been blown out of proportion by activists and the news media because of the public’s fascination with Amazon.
Representatives for Amazon and the other companies involved say they have done everything they can, delaying construction twice, adding security and cameras at the site and putting up $100,000 in award money for anyone who can provide information about the nooses. Those are unusual steps, particularly for Amazon, which often avoids getting caught up in local affairs. The companies also say their power is somewhat limited, because there are dozens of subcontractors that have a hand in the project and are not under their direct control.
Adding to the turmoil is disagreement about even some of the most basic facts of the case, like how many nooses have been found. The N.A.A.C.P., which has held multiple news conferences in Windsor, says there were up to eight nooses. The police say two were actual nooses, while the six others were ropes with the kind of loop often used in construction projects.
“I don’t recall anything like this ever happening before,” Mr. Trinks said about his town. “I don’t know what the message is” that the perpetrators are trying to send, he said, “but it’s an offensive and disgusting statement.”
The site of the future Windsor Amazon fulfillment center — part of a huge building spree by the company — sits four miles from the center of town, near Interstate 91. It is surrounded by rolling farm fields with few buildings across the landscape, and is expected to serve the greater New York and Connecticut area.
As with many of its new warehouses, Amazon will not take ownership until the project is complete, which is expected next spring. Until then, the site is owned by Scannell Properties, a developer based in Indiana. Scannell has hired RC Andersen, a New Jersey company, to handle the construction, including hiring around three dozen subcontractors.
The steel frame of the building, which will end up standing five stories tall with 3.8 million square feet of space for Amazon goods, was rising by December.
The problems began a few months later. In late April, a local television reporter, acting on a tip, asked the town’s police chief whether his department would look into a noose found on the second floor of the rising building. The local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. was sent a similar tip as well as a photograph of the noose hanging.
By the time police officers arrived, the noose had already been taken down by the site’s safety team, said Donald Melanson, the Windsor chief of police.
Scot X. Esdaile, the president of the Connecticut chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., who had spoken to several Black workers about the nooses, said workers had told him that they felt the noose was taken down in an attempt to prevent the public from learning about it.
Robert Andersen, the president and owner of RC Andersen, said that was never the intention.
“We immediately contacted the police,” Mr. Andersen said. “Then from that point forward, we followed their lead on whatever we should do.”
The worker concerns grew over the next couple of days, when they found five more ropes that the police said “could be interpreted as nooses.” But the outrage really escalated two weeks later — after many people thought the problems at the site had been addressed — when workers found a seventh noose-like rope hanging from a beam.
It was “the discovery that drew the ear of many, many others that this had happened,” Chief Melanson said in an interview.
The N.A.A.C.P. held a news conference at the construction site the next day, on May 20, calling the acts “hate crimes.” The group said Amazon needed to do a better job of answering questions about what was happening at the site.
Carlos Best, a Black worker who had worked on the project until January, said during the news conference that racism at the site extended beyond the nooses. He had “personally heard racial remarks made toward my people, and other races as well,” he added. “It was a daily thing.”
Despite all the attention, workers reported an eighth noose a week later.
By that point, Amazon and Scannell had added security measures and said they were committed to holding the perpetrators accountable.
But many activists said this wasn’t enough. Keren Prescott and the Rev. Cornell Lewis, local community organizers who started groups called PowerUp CT and the Self Defense Brigade to advocate social justice, organized several demonstrations to demand that Amazon take stronger action to ensure the safety of Black construction workers. At one demonstration, Mr. Lewis, along with members from the Huey P. Newton Gun Club and the New Black Panthers showed up at the construction site, some of them carrying guns. Mr. Lewis said the activists were there to defend the Black workers and make them feel empowered to speak their mind.
Their anger intensified when the police made a startling statement: The department believed only two of the eight ropes were actually nooses — the first one they had investigated, and the last one.
Chief Melanson said a hangman’s noose has “a very specific knot” that tightens and “is made to withstand the strength of a human body.” He said the other ropes had a loop tied on the end that is used on construction sites for “many different reasons, like lashing down equipment.”
Ms. Prescott, the community organizer, said the police’s conclusion was “the biggest slap in the face.”
“Don’t make it seem as if Black people don’t work in construction,” Ms. Prescott said. “We know what typical knots and cables look like.”
Other local residents have also voiced their opposition to how the episodes at the construction site were being handled.
The nooses symbolize “one of the most detrimental issues to Black people in the United States,” Leroy Smith, a Windsor resident, said at one Town Council meeting. “To bring up that reminder, and to have this going on in 2021, is totally unjustifiable.”
Chief Melanson said that hundreds of people had been interviewed and that the department was still following leads. But he said the nooses, while serious symbols of hate, didn’t leave anyone physically harmed.
“Racism anywhere is wrong,” Chief Melanson said. “But I think it’s important to realize that there’s many other things where people are killed, and people shot, you know, with real victims.”
He added: “There’s a lot of people trying to do the right thing here, and blame needs to be placed on the people who hung the noose, not the people who are trying to stop it.”
Amazon, which has met several times with the N.A.A.C.P., said it would continue to provide enhanced security and free counseling for workers at the site.
“Hate, racism or discrimination have no place in our society and are certainly not tolerated by Amazon,” said Kelly Nantel, a company spokeswoman.
Mr. Lewis, however, is not satisfied. He said that he, Ms. Prescott and other activists had asked repeatedly for a meeting with Amazon and its construction partners, and that they had yet to secure one.
If they do not get a meeting, Mr. Lewis said he and other activists would occupy the construction site.
“They need to know we’re serious,” he said.
The administration made a last-ditch, failed appeal to Congress to extend the moratorium to buy more time to fix a dysfunctional rental aid program.
By Glenn Thrush, Matthew Goldstein and Conor Dougherty, July 31, 2021
Sheriff’s deputies speaking with an apartment manager about an apartment with an eviction order in Los Angeles. Credit...Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions is set to expire on Saturday after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while tens of billions in federal funding intended to pay their back rent sit untapped.
The expiration was a humbling setback for President Biden, whose team has tried for months to fix a dysfunctional emergency rent relief program to help struggling renters and landlords. Running out of time and desperate to head off a possible wave of evictions, the White House abruptly shifted course on Thursday, throwing responsibility to Congress and prompting a frenzied — and ultimately unsuccessful — rescue operation by Democrats in the House on Friday.
The collapse of those efforts reflected a cascade of breakdowns in the federal government’s attempts to get states to speed housing assistance to tenants. Hampered by a lack of action by the Trump administration, which left no real plan to carry out the program, Mr. Biden’s team has struggled to build a viable federal-local funding pipeline, hindered by state governments that view the initiative as a burden and the ambivalence of many landlords.
As a result, the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program, to date, disbursed only $3 billion — about 7 percent of what was supposed to be a crisis-averting infusion of cash.
Adding to the urgency, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh warned last month, when the Supreme Court allowed a one-month extension of the eviction moratorium to stand, that any further extensions would have to go through Congress. But there was little chance that Republicans on Capitol Hill would agree, and by the time White House officials asked, only two days remained before the freeze expired, angering Democratic leaders who said they had no time to build support for the move.
“Really, we only learned about this yesterday,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had publicly and privately urged senior Biden administration officials to deal with the problem themselves.
“What a devastating failure to act in a moment of crisis,” said Diane Yentel, the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which had pressed for an extension of the moratorium. “As the Delta variant surges and our understanding of its dangers grow, the White House punts to Congress in the final 48 hours and the House leaves for summer break.”
The federal eviction moratorium, put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November, was effective, reducing by about half the number of eviction cases that normally would have been filed since last fall, according to an analysis of filings by the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.
Advocates have argued it is also a public health imperative, because evictions make it harder for people to socially distance.
The lapse of the federal freeze is offset by other pro-tenant initiatives that are still in place. Many states and localities, including New York and California, have extended their own moratoriums, which should blunt some of the effect. In some places, judges, cognizant of the potential for a mass wave of displacement, have said they would slow-walk cases and make greater use of eviction diversion programs.
On Friday, several government agencies, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency, along with the Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs Departments, announced that they would extend their eviction moratoriums until Sept. 30.
Nonetheless, there is the potential for a rush of eviction filings beginning next week — in addition to the more than 450,000 eviction cases already filed in courts in the largest cities and states since the pandemic began in March 2020.
An estimated 11 million adult renters are considered seriously delinquent on their rent payment, according to a survey by the Census Bureau, but no one knows how many renters are in danger of being evicted in the near future.
Bailey Bortolin, a tenants’ lawyer who works for the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers, said the absence of the moratorium would lead many owners to dump their backlog of eviction cases into the courts next week, prompting many renters who received an eviction notice to simply vacate their apartments rather than fight it out.
“I think what we will see on Monday is a drastic increase in eviction notices going out to people, and the vast majority won’t go through the court process,” Ms. Bortolin said.
The moratorium had been set to expire on June 30, but the White House and C.D.C., under pressure from tenants groups, extended the freeze until July 31, in the hopes of using the time to accelerate the flow of rental assistance.
A crash effort followed, led by Gene Sperling, who was appointed in March to oversee Mr. Biden’s pandemic relief efforts, including emergency rental assistance programs created by coronavirus aid laws enacted in 2020 and 2021.
Mr. Sperling, working with officials in the Treasury Department, moved to loosen application requirements and increase coordination among the state governments, legal aid lawyers, housing court officials and local nonprofits with expertise in mediating landlord-tenant disputes.
In June, 290,000 tenants received $1.5 billion in pandemic relief, according to Treasury Department statistics released last week. To date, about 600,000 tenants have been helped under the program.
But administration officials concede the improvements have not progressed quickly enough. Over the past week, Mr. Sperling; Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council; Susan Rice, Mr. Biden’s top domestic policy adviser; and Ms. Rice’s deputy on housing policy, Erika C. Poethig, made a late plea for Mr. Biden to extend the freeze, according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.
Dana Remus, the White House counsel, expressed concerns that an extension could prompt the Supreme Court to strike down the administration’s broad use of public health laws to justify a range of federal policies, and her view prevailed, the officials said.
In a statement Friday evening, Mr. Biden sought to put the onus on local officials to provide housing aid, saying “there can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants.”
“Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we prevent every eviction we can,” he added.
In the past week, Wally Adeyemo, the deputy Treasury secretary overseeing the program, had sent letters to officials in several localities, including New York, warning that their share of the cash could be taken back if it was not spent by mid-September, according to two senior administration officials. The White House is especially concerned about the sluggish pace of spending in Florida.
Emily A. Benfer, a professor at Wake Forest University who specializes in health and housing law, said it was not entirely fair to blame the states, because many local governments had had to build their rental assistance programs from scratch.
It has also been difficult to gain buy-in from landlords, who are required to fill out complex financial forms and follow strict eligibility rules. Some simply do not want to, especially if they have more informal arrangements with tenants. In addition, many landlords and tenants, do not even know the aid program exists.
Big and small landlords are nearly unanimous in their disdain for the C.D.C.’s moratorium and the patchwork of state and local moratoriums that have augmented it.
“They just said ‘You cannot evict and that’s it,” said Shaker Viswanathan, 65, who owns 16 units in San Diego. “The tenants are the ones that they are trying to take care of, and not anybody else. We still have to make mortgage payments.”
If there is one point both tenants and landlords agree on, it is that gaining access to the money remains difficult, and the process must be streamlined.
“These applications are just a bear” said Zach Neumann, a lawyer who runs the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project in Denver, which has received dozens of calls and emails from renters panicked by the end of the freeze. “It adds a ton of time onto the process and that increases the risk for tenants.”
Evictions can be personal crises for all involved — so traumatic, in fact, that many tenants will often leave without resisting just to avoid the ordeal, according to marshals and sheriffs responsible for showing up at people’s doors, hauling out their belongings and locking them out.
Kristen Randall, a constable who oversees evictions in the Tucson area, has been reaching out to people on both sides to figure out what happens next.
It is a mixed, cloudy picture. Some landlords who are waiting for tenants to get rental assistance are in no rush to evict. Others are planning to take legal action next week to enforce judgments against tenants they have already taken to court.
Ms. Randall spent part of Friday visiting renters who faced imminent eviction.
“It has been an emotional day,” she said.
Ms. Randall repeated what she has been telling those tenants: “When you leave on your own, it is better than me showing up and locking you out.”
Ron Lieber contributed reporting.
In response to a lawsuit, a judge says an environmental review must take place before any action is taken to remove or hide the Depression-era murals that some consider offensive.
By Carol Pogash, Published July 29, 2021, Updated August 1, 2021
A California court this week ruled that Works Progress Administration frescoes depicting the life of George Washington cannot be removed from a local high school without an environmental review, thwarting the San Francisco Board of Education’s plans to cover up the hotly debated artwork.
Painted in the 1930s by Victor Arnautoff, a onetime assistant to Diego Rivera, the “Life of Washington” murals dominate the entryway to the school and have been the subject of debate for years. Critics, including parents and students, have said that high school students should not be forced to see the racism in the murals’ portrayal of enslaved African Americans and Native Americans. They wanted the frescoes painted over. Mural supporters, who included art historians, said that destroying them would be equivalent to book burning.
Arnautoff, who was a Communist, was born in Russia and taught at Stanford University. His murals depicted the first president as a slave owner and the young country as being responsible for the killing of Native Americans. But the American Indian Parent Advisory Council and other organizations at the school said that students should not be forced to see that history.
“When I as an Indigenous Pacific Islander look at the mural, I am hurt and offended,” wrote Faauuga Moliga, vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education, in a text. “I am certain most people of color who have viewed the mural at Washington feel the same as me.”
Two years ago, the school board decided to remove the murals from public view at the School, instead of painting over them — which the board had previously voted on doing.
In October 2019, the George Washington High School Alumni Association then sued the board and the school district over their decision.
On Tuesday, a Superior Court of California judge, Anne-Christine Massullo, said that San Francisco officials must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, which was “enacted to protect California’s environmental and historical resources,” and that the school district would not be allowed to remove the murals without first conducting an environmental impact review.
Public officials have to follow those procedures “before a decision is made,” Judge Massullo wrote in her ruling.
The judge said members of a committee organized by the school board to consider the future of the murals had made up their minds before organizing public meetings. “A PowerPoint presentation,” she wrote, “did not contain one reference to keeping the murals.”
The order came in response to the lawsuit by the alumni group, which for years has sought to save the work of art, arguing that the murals provide an immersive history lesson.
Lope Yap Jr., vice president of the George Washington High School alumni association, said he knew the committee appointed by the school board “was predetermined to take down the murals.” He continued, “I’m thankful the judge agreed with that perspective.”
Mr. Moliga said that he supports the environmental review, and that as part of it, the feelings of students and their parents should be considered. “I want analysis done on how the students and families at Washington are impacted by the mural’s inclusion in the school environment.”
When reached for comment, Laura Dudnick, a school district spokeswoman, said the school is getting ready for the fall semester and that since the judge just issued this ruling, “we haven’t had time to review it thoroughly.”
Correction: July 29, 2021
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to a mural at George Washington High School in San Francisco. It was not merely a Works Progress Administration-era project; it was an actual product of the W.P.A.
Six months after seizing power, the junta’s leader on Sunday extended a state of emergency for two more years. Protesters said they would persevere.
By Hannah Beech, Aug. 1, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/01/world/asia/myanmar-state-emergency.html
Six months to the day after Myanmar’s military staged a coup and imposed a reign of terror over the country, the junta’s leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said on Sunday that a national state of emergency would be extended for another two years.
The move, announced in a televised address, effectively ruled out any return to democracy before 2023 for Myanmar, which only last year was seen as a rare case in which an authoritarian regime had peacefully handed over some power to an elected government. It also contradicted the generals’ assurances, soon after the coup, that they were serious about bringing political freedoms back.
Later Sunday, the State Administration Council, as the junta calls itself, announced the formation of a new caretaker government with General Min Aung Hlaing as prime minister.
“From the beginning, we knew that they would not keep their promises and that they would get the political environment they wanted,” said Ko Aung Thu, a leader of the nationwide resistance to the coup. “If they extend the state of emergency until August 2023, we must continue to protest until they somehow fall.”
Since the Feb. 1 putsch, at least 940 people have died at the hands of Myanmar’s security forces, according to a tally kept by a monitoring group that closely tracks the killings. More than 5,400 people are in detention, including all of Myanmar’s senior elected leadership.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s 76-year-old civilian leader, has been charged with various crimes, including sedition, that could keep her imprisoned for the rest of her life. Her National League for Democracy party, which won two overwhelming mandates from the public during the short period in which the army shared power with civilians, was ordered to dissolve.
Myanmar is also being consumed by the coronavirus, a health disaster that has been exacerbated by the junta’s obduracy. The military has monopolized oxygen supplies, stalled vaccinations and kept lifesaving treatments from those who have opposed its rule.
A private trade in oxygen was made illegal. Bodies are piling up at crematoriums, witnesses said, even as the national health authorities, under the control of the junta, report suspiciously low death tolls each day. Officially, Myanmar reported 4,725 coronavirus cases and 392 deaths on Saturday.
Last week, the military announced on its television network that it was building a crematorium that would be able to burn up to 3,000 bodies a day.
Among those who have died of Covid-19 is U Nyan Win, one of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s closest confidants and a spokesman for her party, who was jailed after the coup. The virus has ripped through Myanmar’s inmate population; in one of its most notorious prisons, Insein, political detainees staged a protest on July 23 that soldiers quickly put down with force.
In his speech on Sunday, General Min Aung Hlaing, dressed in civilian clothes rather than his army uniform, said he was concerned about the pandemic. “Nothing other than individual life is of crucial significance,” he said. “That’s my policy.”
The junta, however, has all but halted a vaccination campaign and has reserved injections for its soldiers. In contrast, some ethnic armed groups in Myanmar that have fought the military for decades have carried out mass inoculations in territory that they control.
Representatives of some of those ethnic groups have joined members of Myanmar’s ousted elected government, along with civil society leaders, to form what they call the National Unity Government, which is operating in hiding.
Despite a climate of fear created by the military crackdown and the raging virus, a nationwide protest movement has sustained itself for half a year. Each day, across the country, people gather for demonstrations, often lasting just a minute or two, before dispersing to stay ahead of the soldiers. Images from the flash protests are uploaded onto social media, to continue the resistance on a virtual battleground.
Wary of political fallout from operating in a country under financial sanctions, which Western nations have imposed because of the violence, a number of multinational companies have pulled out of Myanmar, including the Norwegian mobile operator Telenor.
The American Embassy said on Sunday that the United States remained “firmly committed to supporting the people of Myanmar in their aspirations for a democratic, inclusive future,” saying they had shown “remarkable courage and conviction” since the coup.
General Min Aung Hlaing confirmed on Sunday that the military had annulled the results of the national elections held in November, claiming that the National League for Democracy, which badly beat the military’s proxy party, had committed electoral fraud. He also repeated his assurance that elections would one day be held again, though he gave no indication of when.
“Collective solidarity among all national peoples can overcome the Covid pandemic,” the general said in his speech. “And building a genuine, disciplined multiparty democratic system will be successful.”
Protesters said they would persevere against the junta.
“As their crackdown on protesters escalates, we must try to break the connection between them, the managers of violence, and the soldiers who are their implementers,” Mr. Aung Thu said.
Events in the genome of Welwitschia have given it the ability to survive in an unforgiving desert for thousands of years.
By Richard Sima, July 31, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/31/science/plant-leaves-welwitschia.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Science
The longest-lived leaves in the plant kingdom can be found only in the harsh, hyperarid desert that crosses the boundary between southern Angola and northern Namibia.
A desert is not, of course, the most hospitable place for living things to grow anything, let alone leafy greens, but the Namib Desert — the world’s oldest with parts receiving less than two inches of precipitation a year — is where Welwitschia calls home.
In Afrikaans, the plant is named “tweeblaarkanniedood,” which means “two leaves that cannot die.” The naming is apt: Welwitschia grows only two leaves — and continuously — in a lifetime that can last millenniums.
“Most plants develop a leaf, and that’s it,” said Andrew Leitch, a plant geneticist at Queen Mary University of London. “This plant can live thousands of years, and it never stops growing. When it does stop growing, it’s dead.”
Some of the largest plants are believed to be over 3,000 years old, with two leaves steadily growing since the beginning of the Iron Age, when the Phoenician alphabet was invented and David was crowned King of Israel.
By some accounts, Welwitschia is not much to look at. Its two fibrous leaves, buffeted by dry desert winds and fed on by thirsty animals, become shredded and curled over time, giving Welwitschia a distinctly octopus-like look. One 19th-century director of Kew Gardens in London remarked, “it is out of the question the most wonderful plant ever brought to this country and one of the ugliest.”
But since it was first discovered, Welwitschia has captivated biologists including Charles Darwin and the botanist Friedrich Welwitsch after whom the plant is named: It is said that when Welwitsch first came across the plant in 1859, “he could do nothing but kneel down on the burning soil and gaze at it, half in fear lest a touch should prove it a figment of the imagination.”
In a study published this month in Nature Communications, researchers report some of the genetic secrets behind Welwitschia’s unique shape, extreme longevity and profound resilience.
Jim Leebens-Mack, a plant biologist at the University of Georgia not involved in the study, said it “gives us a foundation for better understanding how Welwitschia does all the crazy stuff that it does.” The Welwitschia genome reflects the plant’s arid and nutrient-poor surroundings. And its genetic history seems to correspond with environmental history.
Approximately 86 million years ago, after a mistake in cell division, the entire Welwitschia genome doubled during a time of increased aridity and prolonged drought in the region — and possibly the formation of the Namib Desert itself, said Tao Wan, a botanist at the Fairy Lake Botanical Garden in Shenzhen, China, and lead author of the study. He said that “extreme stress” is often associated with such genome duplication events.
Dr. Leitch, a co-author of the study, added that duplicated genes are also released from their original functions, potentially taking on new ones.
However, having more genetic material comes with a cost, Dr. Wan said. “The most basic activity for life is DNA replication, so if you have a big genome, it is really energy consuming to maintain life,” especially in such a harsh environment.
To make matters worse, a large amount of Welwitschia’s genome is “junk” self-replicating DNA sequences called retrotransposons. “Now that junk needs to be replicated, repaired,” Dr. Leitch said.
The researchers detected a “burst” of retrotransposons activity one to two million years ago, most likely because of increased temperature stress. But to counteract this, the Welwitschia genome underwent widespread epigenetic changes that silenced these junk DNA sequences, through a process called DNA methylation.
This process, along with other selective forces, drastically pared down the size and energetic maintenance cost of Welwitschia’s duplicated library of DNA, Dr. Wan said, giving it “a very efficient, low-cost genome.”
The study also found that Welwitschia had other genetic tweaks hidden up its leaves.
The average plant leaf grows from the plant’s apexes, or the tippy-tops of its stem and branches. But Welwitschia’s original growing tip dies, and leaves instead pour out of a vulnerable area of the plant’s anatomy called the basal meristem, which supplies fresh cells to the growing plant, Dr. Wan said. A large number of copies or increased activity of some genes involved with efficient metabolism, cell growth and stress resilience in this area may help it continue to grow under extreme environmental stress. In a warming world, the genetic lessons Welwitschia has to offer may help humans breed hardier, less thirsty crops.
“When we see that the plant is able to live in this environment for so long and preserve its DNA and its proteins, I really feel like we can find hints for how to maybe improve agriculture,” Dr. Leebens-Mack said.
The study also underscores the importance of curiosity-driven research. When you encounter two leaves growing in a desert against all odds, kneel down in the burning soil and take a closer look.
“From weird things, you discover weird things that help you understand things that you didn’t know you didn’t understand,” Dr. Leitch said.