Today, Friday, August 13, 2021, 7:00 P.M.
Wells Fargo Global Headquarters
420 Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94104
Host Contact Info: info@OilGasAction.org
As part of the #DefundLine3 Global Day of Action - join us in downtown San Francisco for Guerrilla Movies and Community Art Action on Friday, August 13th from 7pm - 10pm
Bring chairs, blankets, and people power as we host a guerrilla movie screening and mass action at Wells Fargo's headquarters to help stop the Line 3 pipeline.
7:00pm — Non-Violent Direct Action training (at 555 California, 1/2 block from Wells Fargo)
8:30pm — Movie screening on the Line 3 resistance movement
Post-movie — Creative action (details will be shared on the ground)
Given the ongoing public health risks of COVID - while this event is outdoors, we still encourage attendees to be mindful of social distancing and wearing of masks.
If you feel sick - please stay home.
RALLY TO #SEALTHEDEAL FOR CLIMATE, JOBS, CARE AND JUSTICE: SAN FRANCISCO, CA
JOIN US ON THIS NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE CALL ON OUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS TO SEAL THE DEAL AND PASS THE BIGGEST AND BOLDEST CLIMATE AND CARE INFRASTRUCTURE BILL IN HISTORY. WE CAN FUND CLIMATE SOLUTIONS, GROW THE CARE ECONOMY, FIGHT INEQUALITY, AND CREATE GREEN JOBS.
Thursday, August 19, 12:00 p.m.
Thursday, August 19, 12:00 p.m.
San Francisco Federal Building
90 7th St #2800
San Francisco, CA 94103
HOST: Megan Nguyen
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.
A BRILLIANT, BRAVE, BLACK POLITICAL JOURNALIST
PLEASE CALL AND EMAIL ON BEHALF OF KEVIN RASHID JOHNSON!
𝘼𝙡𝙡 𝙋2𝙋 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙙 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝘼𝙪𝙜𝙪𝙨𝙩. 𝙊𝙪𝙧 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙧𝙖𝙙𝙚 𝙍𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙙 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙣𝙚𝙚𝙙𝙨 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚. 𝙄𝙩 𝙞𝙨𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙞𝙡𝙨 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙗𝙚 𝙢𝙖𝙙𝙚 𝙤𝙣 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙗𝙚𝙝𝙖𝙡𝙛 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙨 𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙬. 𝙎𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙢𝙚 𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙡𝙞𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙍𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙙'𝙨 𝙘𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙬𝙞𝙘𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙚𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙘𝙩𝙚𝙙𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙖𝙡𝙠 𝙩𝙤 𝙝𝙞𝙢 𝙤𝙧 𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙝𝙞𝙢 𝙞𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙮 𝙬𝙖𝙮. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙥𝙞𝙜𝙨 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙢𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙤𝙬 𝙙𝙞𝙫𝙞𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙥𝙚𝙧 𝙪𝙨𝙪𝙖𝙡. - Shupavu Wa Kirima
𝙒𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙙𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙤𝙬𝙞𝙣𝙜:
1. 𝘼𝙣 𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙤𝙜𝙪𝙨 30 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙥𝙝𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙞𝙡.
2. 𝘼𝙣 𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙤𝙜𝙪𝙨 30 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙨𝙖𝙧𝙮 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙍𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙤𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙬𝙝𝙞𝙘𝙝 𝙩𝙤 𝙬𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙚.
3. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙞𝙢𝙢𝙚𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝘼𝙇𝙇 𝙤𝙛 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙮 𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙚 $400 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙤𝙣 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙖𝙘𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙩 𝙒𝙑𝘾𝙁 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙡𝙚𝙜𝙖𝙡 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙞𝙘𝙝 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙚𝙣𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙝𝙞𝙢 𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙪𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙘𝙖𝙨𝙚 𝙖𝙜𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙄𝙉𝘿𝙚𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨. 𝙄𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙩𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙮 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙖𝙡𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙙𝙮 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙬𝙚 𝙣𝙚𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙤𝙣 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙙𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙞𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙚𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙙 𝙞𝙩.
𝙏𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙠 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙤 𝙢𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙨𝙤𝙡𝙞𝙙𝙖𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙪𝙥𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩. 𝙄 𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪. 𝙒𝙚 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙊𝙉𝙇𝙔𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙙𝙚𝙛𝙚𝙣𝙨𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙙 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙧𝙖𝙙𝙚𝙨.
* 𝘼𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙚 𝘾𝙝𝙖𝙢𝙗𝙚𝙧𝙨-𝙎𝙢𝙞𝙩𝙝, 𝘿𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙊𝙝𝙞𝙤 𝘿𝙚𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙍𝙚𝙝𝙖𝙗𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 𝙥𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙩: 𝙈𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙨𝙖 𝘼𝙙𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙨 (𝙀𝙭𝙚𝙘𝙪𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝘼𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙩) 𝙫𝙞𝙖 𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙞𝙡: 𝙢𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙨𝙖.𝙖𝙙𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙨@𝙤𝙙𝙧𝙘.𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚.𝙤𝙝.𝙪𝙨 𝙤 614-752-1153.
* 𝙍𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡𝙙 𝙀𝙧𝙙𝙤𝙨, 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙣 𝙊𝙝𝙞𝙤 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝙁𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮, 𝙒𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙣 (𝙇𝙪𝙘𝙖𝙨𝙫𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙚) (740)259-5544 𝙙𝙧𝙘.𝙨𝙤𝙘𝙛@𝙤𝙙𝙧𝙘.𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚.𝙤𝙝𝙞𝙤.𝙪𝙨
*𝙅𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙥𝙝 𝙒𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨, 𝘿𝙚𝙥. 𝘿𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙑𝙞𝙧𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙖 𝘿𝙚𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙊𝙛 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙟𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙥𝙝.𝙬𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨@𝙫𝙖𝙙𝙤𝙘.𝙫𝙞𝙧𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙖.𝙜𝙤𝙫 (𝙋𝙧𝙤𝙭𝙮 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙃𝙖𝙧𝙤𝙡𝙙 𝙒. 𝘾𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙚, 𝘿𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘿𝙚𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙛𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨) (804)887-7982
*𝙅𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝙋𝙖𝙧𝙠, 𝙄𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝘾𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙖𝙘𝙩 𝘼𝙙𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙅𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙨.𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙠@𝙫𝙖𝙙𝙤𝙘.𝙫𝙞𝙧𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙖.𝙜𝙤𝙫
* 𝘾𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙡𝙚𝙣𝙚 𝘽𝙪𝙧𝙠𝙚𝙩𝙩, 𝘿𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝘿𝙊𝘾 𝙊𝙢𝙗𝙪𝙙𝙨𝙢𝙖𝙣 𝘽𝙪𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙪 (𝙄𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙣𝙖) (317) 234-3190 𝙊𝙢𝙗𝙪𝙙@𝙞𝙙𝙤𝙖.𝙞𝙣.𝙜𝙤𝙫 𝙍𝙞𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝘽𝙧𝙤𝙬𝙣, 𝙒𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙣 𝙒𝙖𝙗𝙖𝙨𝙝 𝙑𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙮 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝙁𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮, 𝙄𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙣𝙖 (812) 398-5050
* 𝙍𝙞𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝘽𝙧𝙤𝙬𝙣, 𝙒𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙣 𝙒𝙖𝙗𝙖𝙨𝙝 𝙑𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙮 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝙁𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮, 𝙄𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙣𝙖 (812) 398-5050
*𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙘𝙩 𝙑𝙞𝙧𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙖 𝘿𝙊𝘾 𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙞𝙚𝙨 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙖𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙑𝘼 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙤𝙣 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙧-𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙨 𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙪𝙥𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙑𝘼 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨. 𝙍𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙙 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙞𝙣 𝙑𝘼 𝙗𝙚𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙊𝙧𝙚𝙜𝙤𝙣, 𝙏𝙚𝙭𝙖𝙨, 𝙁𝙡𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙙𝙖, 𝙄𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙣𝙖, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙊𝙝𝙞𝙤.
Our mailing address is:
Kevin Rashid Johnson
P.O. Box 45699
Lucasville, OH 45699
THE RIBPP & PSO'S STATEMENT ON COMRADE KEVIN RASHID JOHNSON
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
All Power to the People!
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is a political theorist, artist, and advocate for prisoners’ rights who has spent almost his entire adult life incarcerated in various U.S. prisons. A founder of the Revolutionary Intercommunal Black Panther Party (and, before that, of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter), Rashid’s writings and litigation have made him the target of continual and ongoing repression from prison authorities.
Rashid, as he is known to friends and supporters, was recently transferred to Ohio from the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC). This is just the latest in a series of transfers between multiple correctional facilities and state jurisdictions, all made possible by the Interstate Compact Transfer Agreement. As such, although originally a prisoner of the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC), Rashid has been sent to Oregon, Texas, Florida, and Indiana, prior to his current captivity in Ohio.
This most recent transfer was initiated in an attempt to obstruct litigation Rashid is currently pressing against IDOC for its use of solitary confinement and treatment of prisoners while in solitary confinement. Rashid was told by IDOC officials a week prior to his transfer that if he persisted and did not drop the cases he would be transferred to someplace where he "would not like the conditions." This retaliatory transfer has made it impossible for Rashid to access legal property and materials needed to meet court deadlines, answer motions, and respond to the court. Prior to this transfer, Rashid warned IDOC that he would be seeking citations of contempt in regard to IDOC's attempt at entering false evidence and concealing other evidentiary material in one of Rashid's pending cases. (IDOC has been sanctioned previously for submitting false evidence and concealing evidence in Indiana's Southern District U.S. Federal Court and settled for over $100,000; see Littler v. Martinez.)
Rashid is being denied access to the phone, legal property, and to commissary where he would be able to purchase stationery to continue his litigation against the IDOC. It is clear and apparent at this point that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) is colluding with IDOC in their attempt to deny Rashid his right to pursue these cases.
Rashid is currently being held at the notorious Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, where, in April of 1993, nine prisoners were killed in an eleven-day standoff with prison staff. The legacy of racist, fascist brutality continues to thrive at SOCF. Mr. Johnson has been moved to the area of the prison where various white supremacist gangs are most concentrated.
It was there on Monday, August 2, 2021, that according to Rashid, Sgt. Joshua McAllister threatened him with the following statements:
“I’m an old school dirty cop. I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. We know how to set it up and make it look justified. You must not know about us. We are worse than the Klan… We have a unit where we execute inmates. We starve ‘em. We hang ‘em.”
That a prison official would be so bold in 2021, just one year after the Rebellion of Summer 2020, as to issue such threats to a Black prisoner, given the current climate around race relations and law enforcement, will not be tolerated. This needs to be understood. This is an example of the depravity and cruelty of the U.S. prison system and of many of those who work within it. Prisons frequently move incarcerated people out of public view, torturing, disappearing, and killing them without any visibility or accountability for their actions.
Rashid is a long-time political leader, writer, artist, activist and organizer. He is being targeted because of his political beliefs, his many published pieces documenting prison abuse and torture, and efforts at organizing for better conditions. Rashid, completely self-taught in the fields of law and political theory/practice, has become well known both nationally and internationally, as someone who is always willing to put himself on the line on behalf of his fellow incarcerated comrades, and marginalized and oppressed people
everywhere. It is for this reason that the ODRC, IDOC, and VADOC, in conjunction with other state/federal agencies, continue to try and silence Rashid through intimidation, torture, beatings, threats, and outright attempted murder.
WE WILL NOT STAND FOR IT! AND WE PETITION EVERYONE WHO SEES THIS STATEMENT TO JOIN WITH US IN SOLIDARITY AND DEFENSE OF THIS COURAGEOUS FREEDOM FIGHTER!
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED*,
DEMAND THE FOLLOWING:
· AN END TO THE 30 DAY RESTRICTION FROM COMMUNICATING VIA PHONE/EMAIL.
· AN END TO THE 30 DAY RESTRICTION FROM COMMISSARY THAT PREVENTS RASHID FROM ORDERING STATIONERY WITH WHICH TO WRITE.
· THE IMMEDIATE RETURN OF ALL OF HIS PROPERTY, INCLUDING THE $400 THAT WAS ON HIS TRUST ACCOUNT AT WABASH VALLEY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY AND HIS LEGAL PROPERTY, WHICH WILL ENABLE HIM TO CONTINUE WITH HIS CASES AGAINST THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS. IF HIS PROPERTY HAS ALREADY BEEN SENT, WE WANT TO KNOW ON WHAT DATE IT WAS SHIPPED AND WHAT FACILITY RECEIVED IT.
· WE DEMAND THAT SGT. JOSHUA MCALLISTER FACE IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE DISGUSTINGLY RACIST THREATS INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO HIS REMOVAL FROM HIS POST AT SOCF!
· LASTLY, WE DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION/INQUIRY INTO THE SUPPOSED J-1 UNIT AND ALL PARTIES INVOLVED.
DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN!
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
For further inquiries on how to assist in this cause, please contact comrade Shupavu Wa Kirima at:
Notes & citations:
Littler v. Martinez
*Organizations who are endorsing this statement: Revolutionary Intercommunal Black Panther Party (RIBPP), Panther Solidarity Organization (PSO)-Newark, PSO-Ridgewood, PSO-Boston, PSO-Richmond, PSO-Kansas City, Third World Peoples' Alliance (TWPA), Kersplebedeb Publishing, Newark Water Coalition, Ridgewood For Black Liberation, Tennessee Valley Mutual Aid, For The People (FTP)-STL, FTP-Chicago, FTP-Bloomington, FTP-Cleveland, FTP-Wichita, FTP-OK, Oklahoma People's Party, Autonomous Brown Berets of Oklahoma, Young EcoSocialists-New Jersey, Party For Communism and Revolution, Serve The People (STP)-Akron, IDOC Watch, Roanoke Jail Solidarity, Princeton Mutual Aid, San Francisco Bay View
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
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: 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.
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:
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
Truthout, July 31, 2021
I had the honor of working with the late Glen Ford for nearly 20 years. His passing has created a huge void not just for Black Agenda Report (BAR), the site we co-founded with the late Bruce Dixon, but for all of Black politics and left media. Ford identified his political and journalistic stance with both, having created the tagline: “News, commentary and analysis from the Black left” for BAR. He was the consummate journalist, a man who demanded rigorous analysis of himself and others, and he lived by the dictum of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. Ford co-founded a publication in line with his core values: He did not suffer fools gladly, succumb to corporate media and government narratives, or feel obligated to change his politics in order to elevate the Black face in a high place.
Ford spoke of learning this lesson the hard way. He told a story of regret, his ethical dilemma, when he gave one such Black person, Barack Obama, a pass in 2003. At that time, Ford, Dixon and I were all working at Black Commentator. Obama had announced his candidacy for the United States Senate and he was listed as a member of the Democratic Leadership Council (DCL), the right-leaning, corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Obama had also removed an antiwar statement from his website.
Ford and Dixon posed what they called “bright line questions” to Obama on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, single-payer healthcare and Iraq. His fuzzy answers should have flunked him, but Ford chose not to be seen as “a crab in a barrel,” one who pulled another of the group down. Obama was given an opportunity to comment in Black Commentator and Ford wrote, “[Black Commentator] is relieved, pleased, and looking forward to Obama’s success in the Democratic senatorial primary and Illinois general election.”
As he witnessed Obama’s actions on the campaign trail and eventually in office, Ford never again felt obligated to depart from his political stances or to defend a member of the group whose politics were not in keeping with the views of the Black left.
From that moment on, Glen Ford did not let up on Obama, just as he did not waver from his staunch opposition to neoliberalism and U.S. imperialism. Black Agenda Report became the go-to site for all leftists. BAR’s critique of Obama when he led the destruction of Libya was no less stinging than critiques of George W. Bush when the U.S. invaded Iraq. Ford declared that Obama and the Democrats were not the “lesser evil” that millions of people hoped for. Instead, they were just the more effective evil, and they were always in BAR’s journalistic sights.
Ford was always an uncompromising defender of Black people and never shrank from explaining the mechanisms which place that group at or near the bottom of all positive metrics and at or near the top of all the negative. He was one of the first to amplify the term “mass incarceration” in his unsparing analysis of the United States and its dubious distinction as the nation with more people behind bars than any other: more than two million, with half of those being Black, a cohort which makes up one-quarter of all the incarcerated in the world. Black Agenda Report can be counted on to give this information consistently and with no punches pulled.
Glen Ford was a committed socialist, a Vietnam-era military veteran and a member of the Black Panther Party. He spent part of his childhood and youth in Columbus, Georgia, in the days of apartheid in the United States. Those life experiences shaped his work and left a legacy that anyone who considers themselves a leftist ought to follow.
He worked in the media throughout his adult life and served as a Capitol Hill, White House and State Department correspondent for the Mutual Black Network. In 1977, he co-found “America’s Black Forum,” which was the first nationally syndicated, Black-oriented program on commercial television.
Now the number of media outlets is very small, thanks in large part to Bill Clinton’s 1996 Telecommunications Act. Just six corporations control 90 percent of all media we read, watch, and hear, and that means that there are very few working journalists, and an even smaller number with Ford’s experience and worldview. The most “successful” of those who fall into the category of journalists are mostly scribes, repeating the narratives which are favored by politicians and the corporate media.
We desperately need left media and journalists like Glen Ford. Any reader of Black Agenda Report won’t expect The New York Times or The Washington Post to tell them what is happening in Haiti or Cuba. Thanks to Ford’s consistent analysis, they understand that even those who want to be well informed seldom are unless they also read Black Agenda Report.
Glen Ford will be missed by all who knew him and by all BAR readers. He and journalists of his ilk are small in number and irreplaceable.
Glen Ford ¡presente!
—Truthout, July 31, 2021
Jacobin, August 5, 2021
Daniel Hale in the 2016 documentary National Bird. (Independent Lens / PBS)
On July 27, 2021, Judge Liam O’Grady sentenced drone whistleblower Daniel Hale to three years and nine months in federal prison. The courtroom was packed with supporters, including friends, whistleblowers who themselves had faced criminal prosecution, peace activists, and press freedom advocates. As U.S. marshals took Hale away, a housemate of his shouted out, “We’ll see you soon, Dan.” Soon, nearly everyone in the packed gallery of the courtroom was standing, waving goodbye to Hale. “Thank you,” was heard again and again, as people called out to the former soldier who had risked everything to expose the brutality of the United States’ global assassination program.
Three days later, while the Department of Justice and Office of the Director of National Intelligence were tweeting about National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, Hale was being transferred to the Northern Neck Regional Jail. He is currently being held in a room with one hundred people, deprived of a mattress, a blanket, a change of clothes, and visitors.
Under any circumstances, such conditions of confinement are abhorrent. No society that values the inherent dignity of human beings would subject anyone to them, regardless of what they were convicted of. That Hale’s “crime” is telling the truth about U.S. war crimes compounds the outrageousness of the situation. Even the federal judge who sent Hale to prison acknowledged that Hale had shown great courage in his attempts to alert the public to the drone war’s human toll.
The emergence of a whistleblower
Hale was convicted under the Espionage Act. His crime consisted of taking classified information about the U.S. drone program and giving it to journalist Jeremy Scahill. This information later formed the basis for a series of articles published by the Intercept called “The Drone Papers.”
Thanks to Hale’s disclosures, the public learned that, during one five-month period in Afghanistan, 90 percent of those killed by U.S. air strikes were not the intended targets. In addition to classified documents about the United States’ global assassination program, Hale also disclosed unclassified (but still not publicly available) guidelines for the U.S. terror watch list. As a direct result, individuals were able to successfully challenge their placement on the No-Fly List.
In the run-up to the sentencing, Hale wrote a handwritten letter to the judge explaining his actions. (I also submitted a letter to the judge, at the request of Hale’s lawyers.) Similarly, during the hearing itself, Hale, often on the verge of tears, delivered a seventeen-minute speech to the court. Both Hale’s letter and his speech were deeply moving portraits of how his conscience brought him to take action against the United States’ global assassination program.
As Hale explained, the first part of his life was particularly rough. In 2009, facing homelessness, he joined the U.S. military. He had opposed U.S. wars, but he believed that newly elected president Barack Obama was winding them down. Besides, he had few choices given his economic realities. The military discovered Hale had a knack for learning languages and taught him Mandarin.
In 2012, at age twenty-four, Hale was sent to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to work as a signal intelligence analyst. Bagram was a key part of the “kill chain,” and Hale’s role was to track the location of cell phones believed to belong to “enemy combatants.” This locating of phones allowed the U.S. government to track their possessor with drones, which were equipped with cameras and could be used to surveil their day-to-day life. Drones, however, are used to not only watch but also to kill.
Just days after his arrival, Hale witnessed for the first time what that looked like. A suspected member of the Taliban had gathered with others in the early morning to drink tea. His companions were armed, but, as Hale pointed out, carrying arms was uncommon neither for people where he grew up nor in the regions of Afghanistan outside of government control. However, because they were military-age, armed, and in the vicinity of the United States’ target, that subjected them to guilt by association sufficient for a summary death sentence.
As Hale explained:
“Despite having peacefully assembled, posing no threat, the fate of the now-tea-drinking men had all but been fulfilled. I could only look on as I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden, terrifying flurry of hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering purple-colored crystal guts on the side of the morning mountain.”
That memory stuck with Hale. He says not a day went by without him questioning his justifications:
“By the rules of engagement, it may have been permissible for me to have helped to kill those men—whose language I did not speak, customs I did not understand, and crimes I could not identify—in the gruesome manner that I did. Watch them die. But how could it be considered honorable of me to continuously have laid in wait for the next opportunity to kill unsuspecting persons, who, more often than not, are posing no danger to me or any other person at the time?”
Another incident haunted Hale. He had been surveilling a car bomb maker when his superiors became concerned their subject was fleeing to Pakistan. It was their last chance to kill him.
As the bomb maker was driving, the decision was made to fire on his car. It was a cloudy day. The missile missed the car. Hale watched in real time as the man pulled over and got out. But someone else exited the car as well: a woman, his wife.
Hale had no idea their target wasn’t alone. She pulled something out of the car and left it behind as they sped off, but Hale couldn’t make out what it was from the drone camera before it moved on. Days later, Hale learned what was left behind: her two daughters, age five and three. The five-year-old had died from shrapnel wounds after the missile attack on the car; the younger sibling was severely dehydrated but still alive. Hale recounts that his commanding officer had expressed disgust at this incident, but “not for the fact that we had errantly fired on a man and his family, having killed one of his daughters.”
When reflecting on this incident, which Hale recalls whenever someone justifies drone warfare, he asks himself, “How could I possibly continue to believe that I am a good person, deserving of my life and the right to pursue happiness?”
A crisis of conscience
Barack Obama had joked about killing the Jonas Brothers with drones at a 2010 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. But by May 2013, mounting controversy about the program, especially after the killing of a U.S. citizen, meant that Obama was forced to make substantive remarks. As it happened, Hale was at a farewell party for those soldiers who, like him, would soon be returning home and leaving the Air Force. Yet Hale was “transfixed” by Obama on television.
Obama assured Americans the drone program was fine, as “near-certainty” was taken that civilians would not be killed in a strike, and only someone who was an “imminent threat” would be targeted with lethal force. Hale “came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe,” and that his “participation in the drone program [had] been deeply wrong.”
And what was all of this for? The U.S. government claims it was to keep us safe from terrorism, but as Hale watched the war unfold in Afghanistan, he “became increasingly aware that the war had very little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors.” As Hale wrote in his letter to the judge:
“It did not matter whether it was, as I had seen, an Afghan farmer blown in half, yet miraculously conscious and pointlessly trying to scoop his insides off the ground, or whether it was an American-flag-draped coffin lowered into Arlington National Cemetery to the sound of a twenty-one-gun salute. Bang, bang, bang. Both serve to justify the easy flow of capital at the cost of blood—theirs and ours. When I think about this, I am grief-stricken and ashamed of myself of the things that I’ve done to support it.”
Hale soon became involved with antiwar activism, speaking alongside Scahill at an event and at the activist group CODEPINK’s Drone Summit. Present at the summit were family members of those killed by U.S. drones. Hale apologized to them.
One speaker, Fazil bin Ali Jaber, traveled all the way from Yemen to tell of the drone strike that killed his brother and cousin. As Fazil recounted the story, Hale sat in the audience. On the day of that strike, Hale had been on duty in Afghanistan, where he watched the entire ordeal unfold on a computer screen.
Hale hated the idea of “taking advantage of my military background to land a cushy desk job,” but he couldn’t say no to a job offer from defense contractor Leidos. Soon, despite his public antiwar activism, Hale was hired at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), adding data to government maps of China. Socializing after work, Hale’s coworkers elected to watch videos of lethal drone strikes—for entertainment. As Hale recounted, such viewing of “war porn” had also been commonplace among soldiers in Afghanistan.
Hale was rocked by a crisis of conscience, finally concluding that “to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person.” It was then that Hale contacted an investigative reporter he had a relationship with—presumably Scahill—and “told him that I had something the American people needed to know.”
At the sentencing, Hale further expounded on his views. He explained to the judge that he believed killing was always wrong, hence his opposition to the death penalty, but that “killing the defenseless was especially wrong.” In response to claims his disclosures harmed national security, he brought up the fact that Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen cited the killing of innocents by U.S. bombings on a phone call to police. While nothing could justify his murderous actions, it was clear that terrorism spawned as a result of U.S. policy also weighed heavy on Hale’s conscious.
Hale made it clear to the judge exactly why he was in the docket.
“I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take: precious human life. 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.”
A farce of a trial
The proceedings against Daniel Hale were farcical from start to finish. Had he gone to trial, Hale would have been prohibited from challenging the classification of the documents he disclosed, mentioning how common leaks were and how rarely they were prosecuted, bringing up his “good motives” for disclosing the documents, or even asserting that someone else could have committed the crime unless he could name a specific person with access to the documents and a relationship with the journalist who published them.
After being stripped of any meaningful chance for a defense, Hale pled guilty to one of the five counts against him. He did so without any promise of a plea bargain. Usually under such circumstances, prosecutors would move to dismiss the remaining charges. Yet in Hale’s case, the prosecution refused to do so, meaning they could potentially force Hale to go to trial on the remaining charges if the judge’s sentence failed to satiate their vindictiveness (the remaining charges were dismissed with prejudice after sentencing). The prosecution was hell-bent on making an example out of Hale by throwing the book at him, to dissuade other future, potential whistleblowers.
Hale was initially released on his own recognizance pending sentencing. But one day, his probation officer summoned him for what Hale thought was a routine visit. Instead, Hale was taken into custody. A court-appointed therapist had expressed concern about Hale’s mental health, putting Hale in violation of the terms of his supervised release. Out of supposed concern for Hale’s mental well-being, he was locked away—in solitary confinement. Given what we know about the deleterious effects of solitary confinement on mental health, this was a particularly perverse move.
On top of that, according to the defense’s sentencing memo, the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center where Hale was held did not have counseling services. So, Hale’s detention, supposedly for his mental well-being, disrupted his ability to access counseling.
In the run-up to sentencing, Hale’s defense sought to force the government to disclose whether they actually had evidence that Hale’s drone disclosures caused harm to soldiers or anyone else. The government chafed at this request, arguing that they were not required to show someone actually harmed national security to prove someone violated the Espionage Act. The defense responded that, while it may not be required to garner a conviction, it is relevant in determining a sentence. One does not have to physically harm someone to be guilty of assault, but whether an assault caused grave physical injury would certainly factor into what sentence was given.
The judge ruled for the prosecution. Although the prosecution successfully fought not to turn over evidence of harm to the defense, they argued that Hale’s refusal to accept that his actions caused “exceptionally grave damage” justified imposing a longer sentence.
The prosecution made an all-out effort to demonize Hale. Hale had always insisted he was not the story, fearing that a focus on him would distract from victims of drone attacks. His friends had to stage an intervention to get him to see how his case had ramifications for other whistleblowers. While Hale appears in Sonia Kennebeck’s documentary, “National Bird,” he was working as a dishwasher and living in relative obscurity at the time of his 2019 arrest.
Yet according to prosecutors, Hale’s actions were driven by “vanity.” Hale viewed journalists as “rock stars.” In the prosecution’s version of events, Hale decided to obtain employment at the NGA with the intent of stealing documents, in order to impress a journalist and further his own nonexistent journalism career. (As the defense pointed out, given that he was working on spatial mapping of China, Hale had no idea he would have access to a computer containing classified information about the U.S. drone program, thus making the premeditation theory implausible.) The prosecution also, in one document, compared Hale to a heroin dealer who argued his distribution of narcotics aided the community. During the sentencing hearing, the prosecution flat-out asserted that Hale had aided ISIS.
The prosecution—led by Gordon Kromberg, who has gained infamy for being at the center of a number of controversial national security prosecutions, making troubling remarks about Muslim Americans, and referring to the occupied Palestinian West Bank as “Judea and Samaria”—sought a sentence of at least nine years. This would have been the longest sentence ever given for disclosing information to the media by a civilian court. If served in full, it would have been the longest sentence ever served for that crime.
The prosecution’s justification rested not just on their demonization of Hale or the fact that he believed his actions were “legally wrong, but morally right.” They made clear that this draconian sentence was needed because past prosecutions had failed to deter future whistleblowers. They wanted no more people of conscience to come forward.
This demonization of whistleblowers is a standard prosecution trick. Oftentimes, it works. Yet the judge in Hale’s case surprised many with some of his remarks. When sentencing Hale, he started off by noting the outpouring of letters he received, especially those from veterans and journalists. Judge O’Grady acknowledged that many people believe Hale to be courageous and conscientious, then affirmed his own feelings about that belief. O’Grady’s statements seemed to accept Hale was a whistleblower and that the drone program was resulting in unnecessary civilian deaths.
Yet, the judge argued, Hale could have been a whistleblower without giving documents to a journalist. In the judge’s mind, it was the giving of documents, not the speaking out against the drone war, that was a crime and the reason why Hale was here.
The Espionage Act makes no distinction between spies who steal information for hostile foreign governments and government employees who share information of public interest with the press, journalists, or even members of the public. It broadly criminalizes the unauthorized sharing or retention of “national defense information.”
The letter of the law requires an individual to have “reason to believe” their actions would harm national security, but the courts have virtually read this requirement out of the law. Because the government says the release of classified information could harm national security, the legal reasoning goes, any government employee who releases classified information has reason to believe their actions will be harmful.
The government is not required to prove a whistleblower intended to harm national security, nor is it even required to prove such harm occurred. In fact, the government argues—and the courts agree—that the documents do not even need to have been properly classified. Therefore, any giving of classified information to a journalist violates the Espionage Act. Given that the crime itself is the disclosure, the contents of the documents, the public interests served by their release, and the whistleblower’s motives for their disclosure are irrelevant. Juries are barred from hearing about them.
The Espionage Act was passed during World War I. According to human rights attorney and Espionage Act expert Carey Shenkman, the first two thousand people prosecuted under the act were prosecuted for simply opposing the war. Later Supreme Court rulings would make such prosecutions impossible, but the Espionage Act would continue to loom large over free speech.
During the McCarthy era, the act was again amended. As support flagged for his floundering conspiracy theories about traitors in the State Department, Senator Joseph McCarthy singled out the case of a failed attempt to prosecute a State Department official for allegedly giving information to a leftist foreign affairs journal that was widely read in government. The offense Hale pled guilty to was the product of these amendments. During the Vietnam War, it was used in an attempted prosecution of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo for liberating the Pentagon Papers.
For decades, the law sat mostly dormant—until the “war on terror.” As the U.S. government journeyed to the dark side, embracing surveillance, extrajudicial executions, torture, and the types of war crimes that are the hallmarks of protracted military occupations, conscientious whistleblowers came forward to the press. The Espionage Act became the go-to weapon to silence them.
Daniel Hale’s prosecution was fundamentally political. All prosecutions of whistleblowers under the Espionage Act are. Leaking of government secrets, especially to influence policy, is “a routine aspect of government life.” Government workers leak information all the time, and the vast majority of them are not punished anywhere near as severely as Hale. His crime was not leaking secrets, but the specific secrets he leaked: exposing the official U.S. proclamations about the drone program as lies.
In spite of a judge’s assertion to the contrary, it is precisely Hale’s opposition to the U.S. drone program that has condemned him to three years and nine months in a federal prison. Hale had seen firsthand what it means to kill by remote control. And he watched our government lie about it—lie that the killing was sanitary, that it was precise, that it kept us safe. Could anything justify such senseless violence? The U.S. government justifies it by citing national security concerns, but, as Hale came to learn, a more central motivation was to line the pockets of weapons manufacturers. It was murder for profit.
Hale was willing to risk his own freedom to tell us this story. And this is what the government seeks to conceal from us by turning the Espionage Act into a cudgel against truth-tellers.
Hale’s revelations did not damage national security. His prosecution, however—like the wars and cult of secrecy it was intended to protect—damaged our democracy.
—Jacobin, August 5, 2021
A slowdown in the network, which influences weather far and wide, could spell trouble. “We’re poking a beast,” one expert said. “But we don’t really know the reaction we’ll cause.”
By Heather Murphy, Aug. 5, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/05/us/gulf-stream-collapse.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
Miami, where the Gulf Stream passes relatively close to the coastline. Credit...Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
The water in the Atlantic is constantly circulating in a complex pattern that influences weather on several continents. And climate scientists have been asking a crucial question: Whether this vast system, which includes the Gulf Stream, is slowing down because of climate change.
If it were to change significantly, the consequences could be dire, potentially including faster sea level rise along parts of the United States East Coast and Europe, stronger hurricanes barreling into the Southeastern United States, reduced rainfall across parts of Africa and changes in tropical monsoon systems.
Now, scientists have detected the early warning signs that this critical ocean system is at risk, according to a new analysis published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.
“I showed that this gradual slowing down of the circulation system is associated with a loss of stability,” said Niklas Boers, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, “and the approaching of a tipping point at which it would abruptly transition to a much slower state.”
Alex Hall, the director of the Center for Climate Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study, said that although the findings did not signal to him that any collapse of that ocean system might be imminent, the analysis offered a crucial reminder of the risks of interfering with currents.
“We’re poking a beast,” he said. “But we don’t really know the reaction we’ll cause.”
Studying ocean systems is difficult for many reasons. One challenge is that there’s only one Earth, said Andrew Pershing, director of climate science at Climate Central, an organization of scientists and journalists focused on climate change. Consequently, researchers can’t easily compare two oceans — one ocean dealing with the effects global warming caused by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and another ocean that hasn’t had to contend with that problem.
Dr. Pershing praised the analytical workarounds that the scientists came up with in order to study the ocean-spanning tangle of currents, which are known as Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC. By parsing more than a century of ocean temperature and salinity data, Dr. Boers showed significant changes in multiple indirect measures of AMOC’s strength.
“The work is fascinating,” he said.
Dr. Pershing said that analysis supported the idea that the AMOC has gotten weaker over the course of the 20th century. It’s a critical area to study because AMOC epitomizes the idea of climatic “tipping points” — hard-to-predict thresholds in Earth’s climate system that, once crossed, have rapid, cascading effects far beyond the corner of the globe where they occur.
“The big challenge is, what do we do with that information?” he said of the new study.
Susan Lozier, a physical oceanographer and dean at the College of Sciences at Georgia Tech, said that there was no doubt that climate change is affecting oceans. There is wide consensus in her field that sea levels are rising and oceans are warming, she said.
She also called Dr. Boers’ study “interesting,” but said she wasn’t convinced that the findings showed that circulation in that ocean system is slowing. “There are lots of things to worry about with the ocean,” she said, such as the more definitive concerns involving sea-level rise.
Relentless waves of the virus, combined with crises caused by conflict and climate change, have left tens of millions of people around the world on the brink of famine.
By Christina Goldbaum, Photographs by Joao Silva, Aug. 6, 2021
Thembakazi Stishi, left, at her home. When she lost her father to Covid-19, she also lost her main source of food.
EAST LONDON, South Africa — Even as thousands died and millions lost their jobs when the Covid-19 pandemic engulfed South Africa last year, Thembakazi Stishi, a single mother, was able to feed her family with the steady support of her father, a mechanic at a Mercedes plant.
When another Covid-19 wave hit in January, Ms. Stishi’s father was infected and died within days. She sought work, even going door to door to offer housecleaning for $10 — to no avail. For the first time, she and her children are going to bed hungry.
“I try to explain our situation is different now, no one is working, but they don’t understand,” Ms. Stishi, 30, said as her 3-year-old daughter tugged at her shirt. “That’s the hardest part.”
The economic catastrophe set off by Covid-19, now deep into its second year, has battered millions of people like the Stishi family who had already been living hand-to-mouth. Now, in South Africa and many other countries, far more have been pushed over the edge.
An estimated 270 million people are expected to face potentially life-threatening food shortages this year — compared to 150 million before the pandemic — according to analysis from the World Food Program, the anti-hunger agency of the United Nations. The number of people on the brink of famine, the most severe phase of a hunger crisis, jumped to 41 million people currently from 34 million last year, the analysis showed.
The World Food Program sounded the alarm further last week in a joint report with the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, warning that “conflict, the economic repercussions of Covid-19 and the climate crisis are expected to drive higher levels of acute food insecurity in 23 hunger hot spots over the next four months,” mostly in Africa but also Central America, Afghanistan and North Korea.
The situation is particularly bleak in Africa, where new infections have surged. In recent months, aid organizations have raised alarms about Ethiopia — where the number of people affected by famine is higher than anywhere in the world — and southern Madagascar, where hundreds of thousands are nearing famine after an extraordinarily severe drought.
For years, global hunger has been steadily increasing as poor countries confront crises ranging from armed groups to extreme poverty. At the same time, climate-related droughts and floods have intensified, overwhelming the ability of affected countries to respond before the next disaster hits.
But over the past two years, economic shocks from the pandemic have accelerated the crisis, according to humanitarian groups. In rich and poor countries alike, lines of people who have lost their jobs stretch outside food pantries.
As another wave of the virus grips the African continent, the toll has ripped the informal safety net — notably financial help from relatives, friends and neighbors — that often sustains the world’s poor in the absence of government support. Now, hunger has become a defining feature of the growing gulf between wealthy countries returning to normal and poorer nations sinking deeper into crisis.
“I have never seen it as bad globally as it is right now,” Amer Daoudi, senior director of operations of the World Food Program, said describing the food security situation. “Usually you have two, three, four crises — like conflicts, famine — at one time. But now we’re talking about quite a number of significant of crises happening simultaneously across the globe.”
In South Africa, typically one of the most food-secure nations on the continent, hunger has rippled across the country.
Over the past year, three devastating waves of the virus have taken tens of thousands of breadwinners — leaving families unable to buy food. Monthslong school closures eliminated the free lunches that fed around nine million students. A strict government lockdown last year shuttered informal food vendors in townships, forcing some of the country’s poorest residents to travel farther to buy groceries and shop at more expensive supermarkets.
An estimated three million South Africans lost their jobs and pushed the unemployment rate to 32.6 percent — a record high since the government began collecting quarterly data in 2008. In rural parts of the country, yearslong droughts have killed livestock and crippled farmers’ incomes.
The South African government has provided some relief, introducing $24 monthly stipends last year and other social grants. Still by year’s end nearly 40 percent of all South Africans were affected by hunger, according to an academic study.
In Duncan Village, the sprawling township in Eastern Cape Province, the economic lifelines for tens of thousands of families have been destroyed.
Before the pandemic, the orange-and-teal sea of corrugated metal shacks and concrete houses buzzed every morning as workers boarded minibuses bound for the heart of nearby East London. An industrial hub for car assembly plants, textiles and processed food, the city offered stable jobs and steady incomes.
“We always had enough — we had plenty,” said Anelisa Langeni, 32, sitting at the kitchen table of the two-bedroom home she shared with her father and twin sister in Duncan Village.
For nearly 40 years, her father worked as a machine operator at the Mercedes-Benz plant. By the time he retired, he had saved enough to build two more single family homes on their plot — rental units he hoped would provide some financial stability for his children.
The pandemic upended those plans. Within weeks of the first lockdown, the tenants lost their jobs and could no longer pay rent. When Ms. Langeni was laid off from her waitressing job at a seafood restaurant and her sister lost her job at a popular pizza joint, they leaned on their father’s $120 monthly pension.
Then in July, he collapsed with a cough and fever and died of suspected Covid-19 en route to the hospital.
“I couldn’t breathe when they told me,” Ms. Langeni said. “My father and everything we had, everything, gone.”
Unable to find work, she turned to two older neighbors for help. One shared maize meal and cabbage purchased with her husband’s pension. The other neighbor offered food each week after her daughter visited — often carrying enough grocery bags to fill the back of her gray Honda minivan.
But when a new coronavirus variant struck this province in November, the first neighbor’s husband died — and his pension ended. The other’s daughter died from the virus a month later.
“I never imagined it would be like this,” that neighbor, Bukelwa Tshingila, 73, said as she wiped her tear-soaked cheeks. Across from her in the kitchen, a portrait of her daughter hung above an empty cupboard.
Two hundreds miles west, in the Karoo region, the pandemic’s tolls have been exacerbated by a drought stretching into its eighth year, transforming a landscape once lush with green shrubs into a dull, ashen gray.
Standing on his 2,400-acre farm in the Karoo, Zolile Hanabe, 70, sees more than his income drying up. Since he was around 10 and his father was forced to sell the family’s goats by the apartheid government, Mr. Hanabe was determined to have a farm of his own.
In 2011, nearly 20 years after apartheid ended, he used savings from working as a school principal to lease a farm, buying five cattle and 10 Boer goats, the same breed his father had raised. They grazed on the shrubs and drank from a river that traversed the property.
“I thought, ‘This farm is my legacy, this is what I will pass onto my children,’” he said.
But by 2019, he was still leasing the farm and as the drought intensified, that river dried, 11 of his cattle died, the shrubs shriveled. He bought feed to keep the others alive, costing $560 a month.
The pandemic compounded his problems, he said. To reduce the risk of infection, he laid off two of his three farm hands. Feed sellers also cut staff and raised prices, squeezing his budget even more.
“Maybe one of these crises, I could survive,” Mr. Hanabe said. “But both?”
By Bryce Covert, August 6, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/06/opinion/covid-delta-vaccines-unvaccinated.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Guest%20Essays
On a July day in downtown Lowell, Mass., the first sunny Saturday of the month, people began to line up for a block party. Food trucks offered everyone a free empanada or egg roll. A D.J. played music. There were kid-friendly activities, too, like a touch-a-truck station with a fire truck and an ambulance.
The party wasn’t just a way to have a good time. The real motivation was to get people in the community vaccinated against Covid-19. Nestled between the food trucks were ones offering Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
In the minds of the public health and community organizers who staged it, it was a roaring success. Sixty-four people got vaccinated within six hours. Hannah Tello, a community health data manager at the nonprofit Greater Lowell Health Alliance, noted that it was eight to 10 times as many vaccinations as what their mobile clinics had been doing; their most successful day before this administered 12.
The people who got shots at the party “were not people who were resistant,” Dr. Tello told me. Outreach workers went to a nearby park and invited the homeless people there to get free food and, if they wanted, a vaccination, and many took them up on the offer in such a low-stakes, nonmedical setting.
An elderly woman who cares for two people with disabilities had tried and failed to schedule vaccinations for all three of them at the same time. This time, she succeeded. A woman who was able to vaccinate all the other eligible people in her family hadn’t been able to get it herself because she has four young children she wasn’t allowed to take to the vaccination center. That day her children played cornhole while she got the shot.
The party organizers also reached about 250 other attendees, many of whom had conversations about their concerns. Some were worried that the vaccines cost money, even though they’re free to all. They were concerned they would need some sort of documentation, which they don’t. One woman hadn’t gotten the shot yet because she has an intense fear of needles; she did it that day after 25 minutes of talking it through. “Her getting her shot is just as important as the people who lined up outside our clinics a few months ago,” Dr. Tello said. “No one is less deserving of having access.”
The country’s vaccination campaign has lagged since April, and that has allowed for a spike in cases, particularly in largely unvaccinated areas. Vaccinations have risen lately in response to the spread of the Delta variant, but rather than keeping its foot on the gas and throwing every idea, every resource at the problem, the White House has started to shift the blame onto those who still haven’t gotten a shot. President Biden grumbled that he has struck a “brick wall” in persuading more Americans to get the shot. Last week, taking aim at those he called “unvaccinated, unbothered and unconvinced,” he said, “If you’re out there unvaccinated, you don’t have to die. Read the news.”
There are plenty of Americans who have been inundated with misinformation about the vaccines. Many are staunchly opposed to getting it for a variety of reasons, from personal health concerns to conspiracy theories. But that doesn’t describe everyone who is unvaccinated — not by a long shot. And there are plenty of things we can do to reach them if we’re serious about spending the time and the money.
Instead, the current approach is to argue that access has increased and it’s everyone’s individual responsibility to get a shot — and if you don’t, it’s on you. Once again, we have taken the cruelly American, ruggedly individualistic tactic of making this about personal responsibility, not about a systemic response, just as we did in combating the virus itself.
“It’s not a public health strategy for any condition to just blame somebody into treatment and prevention,” said Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician and public health advocate. Telling the unvaccinated that they’re being selfish “really runs counter to all the work it’s going to take to convince those folks to be vaccinated, to trust us that we have their best interests in mind.”
It’s also shortsighted. If some people continue to struggle with getting vaccinated, the virus will continue to run rampant, threatening a rebound in economic activity and giving the coronavirus a chance to mutate yet again. The refrain we’ve heard throughout is still true: We’re not safe until we’re all safe.
Those who aren’t yet vaccinated are much more likely to be food insecure, have children at home and earn little. About three-quarters of unvaccinated adults live in a household that makes less than $75,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely as the vaccinated to have had insufficient food recently. Many of them have pressing concerns they can’t just put aside because they need to get a vaccination.
Access is far more widespread than it was at the beginning of the year. Many cities now offer multiple venues for getting it without needing an appointment. But about 10 percent of the eligible population still lives more than a 15-minute drive from a vaccine distribution location. And even if there’s a site down the road, it usually requires taking time off work — not just to get the shot but also potentially to recover from the side effects — arranging transportation and figuring out child care.
“Missing out on a few hours of work seems very easy to us, but in fact it could be the matter of having food for the family versus not,” said Ann Lee, the chief executive of the nonprofit Community Organized Relief Effort. For these people, when they’re weighing whether to get a vaccination or potentially forgo some wages, “the wages are going to win out.”
Those who are unvaccinated are also likely to work in essential jobs like agriculture and manufacturing that don’t allow them to step away from work. They work long hours and may prioritize time with their families or communities when they finally get a break. People who have multiple jobs may find it impossible to schedule a shot in between all of their shifts.
And yet 43 percent of the unvaccinated say they definitely or probably would get it or are unsure, according to Julia Raifman, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Public Health.
“We pretty quickly exhausted those who were easiest to reach and vaccinate,” Tara Smith, a public health professor at Kent State, told me. “This next phase is more difficult, but I don’t think it’s impossible to continue to get more people vaccinated. We just have to get creative.”
A block party doesn’t work in every community, particularly more rural ones. For those places, an event could be staged at a church or a county fair. Anything that allows people to discuss their concerns with experts and get vaccinated on the spot erases dangerous lag time. Dr. Tello’s organization found that many disappeared in the time between an educational conversation and a vaccination appointment weeks later.
Another way to take the vaccines to people for whom the logistics are complicated is to do it at workplaces. Ms. Lee’s organization held a vaccination drive at a construction site in Washington, D.C., and vaccinated 165 people. “They wanted to get vaccinated. There was just no way some of these day laborers were going to take off of work and maybe get sick,” Ms. Lee said. In January, Riverside, Calif., began a program to take vaccines into the fields to reach agricultural workers.
There are plenty of other smart places to distribute vaccines. Take them to food pantries, where low-income and food-insecure people show up by necessity on a regular basis. Do vaccinations at shopping centers where everyone goes to buy food. Vaccine drives could also be held on the first day of school for parents and older children alike; it’s late in the game, since it takes weeks for full immunity, but it’s better than missing them entirely.
Going door to door can also reach people, particularly those who are homebound. The Central Falls Housing Authority in Rhode Island offered shots to its public housing residents at the end of last year, and by January, 80 percent had been vaccinated. In Los Angeles, Ms. Lee’s team contacts the homebound first to talk through any concerns and again a week later to administer a vaccine. Vaccines could even be paired with Meals on Wheels deliveries.
To address transportation issues, the White House collaborated with Uber and Lyft to give free rides up to $25 to and from vaccination sites. But those companies don’t operate in every community, particularly outside cities. The government could also give grants to community organizations that can give people free rides to vaccination sites. “If you have a bus at a church, you can get a grant,” Dr. Boyd suggested.
We have to mandate paid leave so workers can take at least two days to get a shot and recover without jeopardizing their incomes. The Biden administration has offered tax credits to employers with fewer than 500 employees to cover the cost of offering paid leave for getting vaccinated, which he expanded this month. Some states, including New York, have mandated it. But everywhere else, it’s up to an employer to offer it, and if existing paid leave benefits are any guide, it’s the lowest-wage workers who are least likely to get it. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released an emergency temporary standard in June that requires employers to provide paid time off to get vaccinated and recover, but it applies only to health care workers, despite the fact that a draft version included everyone.
Short of that, community organizations can send people home from getting vaccinated with enough food for their families if they have to miss work for a day or two. When Ms. Lee’s organization did testing in the Navajo Nation, it gave people two weeks of food in case they got a positive result and had to quarantine. It’s now sending people home with food as well as diapers, formula and hygiene kits with things like shampoo and tampons.
Parents also need child care — not just for getting their shots but also if they experience side effects. The government is working with four large child care providers to offer free care, but those centers may not be available to everyone, nor will all parents feel comfortable sending their children to an unfamiliar setting. Instead, we could give them money to pay their trusted source of child care and also offer care at vaccination centers.
State and local officials can kick-start some of this on their own. But the real money, and the power to set the agenda, comes from the White House and Congress. “If the federal government said, ‘We are really concerned, we see that low-income people have not had access to the vaccine, and we’re putting forth a huge effort to bring it to them in their workplaces and homes,’” Dr. Raifman said, “that would be a compelling message that would mobilize people across the country.” Federal funding needs to be filtered down to the local level as quickly as possible. There’s a lot of money for vaccinations, but it has to get to the organizations that are deeply embedded in their communities and ready to pull this off.
Dr. Tello’s organization plans to repeat the block party this summer, this time as a back-to-school event, handing out free backpacks and school supplies as well as flu shots alongside the Covid vaccines. And it will be timed so that those who got their first shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at July’s party can get their second dose on the spot. “Sometimes,” she said, “you have to make it too convenient so that people can’t say no.”
Exporting soldiers has become a vast industry in Colombia, fueled by the country’s long U.S.-backed war, limited opportunity at home and growing demand abroad.
“Colombia’s modern civil conflict was ignited by the assassination of a left-wing presidential candidate in 1948. Over time, the conflict grew into a complex war between the government, left-wing insurgents, right-wing paramilitaries and drug-trafficking organizations, all while Colombia received billions of dollars in military support from the United States, its staunch ally.”
By Julie Turkewitz and Anatoly Kurmanaev, Aug. 7, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/07/world/americas/haiti-assassination-colombia-mercenaries.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=World%20News
BOGOTÁ, Colombia — In Haiti, investigators continue to search for the mastermind behind the hiring of more than 20 former Colombian soldiers for a mission that ended in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, plunging the already troubled island nation into crisis.
But 1,000 miles away, in Colombia, the arrest of 18 of those veterans in Port-au-Prince has torn open a debate over the way the nation treats its ex-soldiers, who are the products of a civil conflict that has lasted 73 years and created the second largest military in Latin America.
Each year, 10,000 servicemen retire from that war, according to Colombia’s defense ministry, but most are rank-and-file soldiers who leave with small pensions, little education — a few are illiterate — and limited experience navigating the civilian world. With few opportunities at home, thousands have sought work abroad, and over the last decade, former Colombian soldiers have become crucial participants in a growing and little-regulated global mercenary industry in which companies and governments hire them to do their bidding.
Their sheer numbers, their experience and their willingness to work for relatively little pay, experts say, has made them singularly valuable to recruiters around the world.
“We are the machines of war, that’s what we’ve been trained for,” said Isaías Suache, 44, a former commando and head of a Colombian veterans’ association. “We don’t know what to be apart from that.”
About two dozen retired Colombian commandos traveled to Haiti earlier this year after a fellow serviceman promised them security jobs paying $2,700 a month, nearly seven times their $400 pensions.
In interviews, their families have asserted that most of them believed they would be doing legal work protecting an important person.
What actually happened in Haiti is still hazy. President Moïse’s wife, who was injured during the July 7 assassination, has told The New York Times that her husband’s killers spoke Spanish. But it’s still unclear how many former soldiers participated in the murder. The investigation in Haiti has been plagued by irregularities and violations of due process, leaving many people there and in Colombia concerned that the truth will never be known.
Colombian officials have portrayed the soldiers’ decisions to travel to Haiti as individual choices with tragic consequences. In an interview, Defense Minister Diego Molano said that lack of opportunity at home “in no way can be an excuse to commit criminal activity.”
But in the weeks since the assassination, Colombian veterans have urged the country to reconsider how it treats its soldiers and examine why so many have chosen to go abroad following their service. The soldiers’ discontent, some veterans and security experts say, opens a window for shady actors who want to hire them, potentially threatening global security.
Despite a 2016 peace deal between the Colombian government and the country’s largest rebel group, the conflict shows no signs of ending — and today the military is training and deploying a new generation of soldiers to fight both old and new factions in the country’s war.
If opportunities at home don’t improve, some veterans warn, those men will be funneled right into an increasingly voracious global mercenary industry that has the potential to unleash more destabilizing operations around the world.
“Support us,” said Raúl Musse, 50, the head of another Colombian veterans’ association. “Help us so that people care about our futures.”
Colombia’s modern civil conflict was ignited by the assassination of a left-wing presidential candidate in 1948. Over time, the conflict grew into a complex war between the government, left-wing insurgents, right-wing paramilitaries and drug-trafficking organizations, all while Colombia received billions of dollars in military support from the United States, its staunch ally.
The bulk of the war has been fought by the country’s rank-and-file servicemen, who often come from rural and working-class backgrounds. But upon retirement, typically around age 40 and after 20 years of service, many have said that they were given few tools to succeed in civilian life.
The $400 monthly retirement pension offers little more than subsistence living in cities like Bogotá. The signature education component of the military’s reintegration program is a year of technical training in industries like cooking and construction. But after losing those military benefits, many soldiers are forced deep into debt to pay for homes for their families.
A 2019 veterans’ law, supported by President Iván Duque, was intended to address some of those issues. It created a fund that grants credits to soldiers who seek higher education, among other benefits.
Mr. Molano, the defense minister, defended the program.
“Of course more can always be done,” he said. “But compared to other Colombians,” he added, the veterans’ treatment is “adequate.”
Many former soldiers, though, said they needed more, now. Some leave the military without knowing how to read or write. Others lack basic computer skills.
Over the last decade, the veterans’ desperation has collided with a ballooning global demand for private security, particularly in the Middle East, said Sean McFate, an expert on the mercenary industry and a professor at Georgetown University.
In recent years, Colombian soldiers have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan to work for U.S. contractors, and to the United Arab Emirates, where many became hired guns for the country in its intervention in Yemen. Some Colombians have killed and others have been killed during these missions, said Mr. McFate.
Some soldiers make as much as $5,000 a month.
“It totally changed my life,” said William Amaya, 47, a former soldier who worked for the United Arab Emirates for two years. He said he used the money to get a university education and open a business.
The Haiti operation and the focus on the involvement of former Colombian soldiers has come at a particularly complex time for Colombia’s veterans.
Public support for the military, once high, has declined as the armed forces have come under scrutiny for human rights abuses, including allegations that officials ordered the killing of thousands of civilians in the 2000s. That scandal is being investigated by the country’s war court.
At the same time, veterans are facing an increasingly difficult work environment, with Colombia’s economy hobbled by the pandemic — just as the United Arab Emirates’ involvement in Yemen has wound down, cutting the country’s demand for hired guns.
Many men who went to Haiti had applied repeatedly for jobs in the U.A.E., their families said, but were never called up.
So when the opportunity in Haiti became available, the men jumped. Many went without knowing what country they would be working in, whom they were working for, how long they would be gone or exactly what the mission was.
“We have three children,” said Lorena Córdoba, the wife of Mario Antonio Palacios, who left for Haiti in early June. “There was no money.”
Sofía Villamil and Edinson Bolaños contributed reporting from Bogotá, Colombia.
A review of earlier research shows giraffes have the markings of social creatures, including friendships, day care and grandmothers.
By Cara Giaimo, Aug. 7, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/07/science/giraffes-social-behavior.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Science
Giraffes seem above it all. They float over the savanna like two-story ascetics, peering down at the fray from behind those long lashes. For decades, many biologists thought giraffes extended this treatment to their peers as well, with one popular wildlife guide calling them “aloof” and capable of only “the most casual” associations.
But more recently, as experts have paid closer attention to these lanky icons, a different social picture has begun to emerge. Female giraffes are now known to enjoy yearslong bonds. They have lunch buddies, stand guard over dead calves and stay close with their mothers and grandmothers. Females even form shared day care-like arrangements, called crèches, in which they take turns babysitting and feeding each others’ young.
Observations like these have reached a critical mass, said Zoe Muller, a wildlife biologist who completed her Ph.D. at the University of Bristol in England. She and Stephen Harris, also at Bristol, recently reviewed hundreds of giraffe studies to look for broader patterns. Their analysis, published on Tuesday in the journal Mammalia, suggests that giraffes are not loners, but socially complex creatures, akin to elephants or chimpanzees. They’re just a little more subtle about it.
Dr. Muller’s sense of giraffes as secret socialites began in 2005, when she was researching her master’s thesis in Laikipia, Kenya. There to collect data on antelopes, she found herself drawn to the ganglier ungulates. “They are so weird to look at,” she said. “If somebody described them to you, you wouldn’t believe they even really existed.”
After noticing that the same giraffes tended to spend time together — they looked “like teenagers hanging out,” she said — Dr. Muller started to read up on their lifestyles. “I was really surprised to see that all the scientific books said that they were completely non-sociable,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, hang on. That’s not what I see at all.’”
In an ecosystem full of trumpeting elephant matriarchs and fast-paced cooperative lion hunts, it makes sense that the complexities of giraffe sociality have been harder to spot, said Kim VanderWaal, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota who has also studied them. Giraffes don’t communicate in ways that are obvious to us, and live quiet social lives low on visibly pally behaviors like grooming or cooperative territorial defense. The use of digital cameras, which help with tracking individuals by spot pattern, and social network analysis, which can reveal hidden associative patterns, have made it easier to tease out their relationships.
Giraffe society seems to be built around strong pair bonds, especially between mothers and their young, which coalesce into kinship groups, Dr. Muller said. Watching females stay close to the body of a deceased calf for many days, forgoing food and water, drove home for Dr. Muller “how strong the attachments could be within a group,” she said.
But it’s been difficult to budge their detached reputation, she said.
For this latest paper, she and Dr. Harris reviewed over 400 studies, pulling together all of the evidence. The result is “a solid scholarly review,” and supports the idea that “giraffe societies are way, way more complex than most biologists think,” said Fred Bercovitch, a conservation scientist at the Anne Innis Dagg Foundation, who was not involved with the study.
It also lays out a number of avenues for further research. While reading through the studies, Dr. Muller noticed that giraffe females tend to live long past their childbearing years. In other socially complex animals, including humans and killer whales, post-reproductive individuals help younger generations thrive by providing wisdom and care.
This phenomenon, called the grandmother hypothesis, should be tested in giraffes, Dr. Muller said. If it’s true, this would have conservation implications, as older giraffes are often culled or trophy hunted. It would also provide more evidence that giraffes experience sophisticated forms of fellowship. The existence of those calf-care crèches might even qualify giraffes as cooperative breeders, like beavers or scrub jays, Dr. Muller said.
Others are more cautious. “Giraffe social structure is complex,” and researchers are just beginning to understand it, said Dr. VanderWaal, who was also not involved in the study. “I think more research is needed before we conclude that giraffes live in cooperative societies.”
But all agree that we should continue craning our necks until we have a better view. Giraffes are “one of the most recognizable animals in the world,” Dr. Muller said. “And we’re only just starting to scratch the surface.”
For years, influencing political outcomes has been the priority. Some are calling for more emphasis on basic organizing.
By Noam Scheiber, Aug. 8, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/08/business/economy/afl-cio-labor-unions-trumka.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
Richard Trumka’s 12 years as A.F.L.-C.I.O. president coincided with the continued decline of organized labor but also moments of opportunity, like the election of a devoutly pro-labor U.S. president. With Mr. Trumka’s death last week, the federation faces a fundamental question: What is the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s purpose?
For years, top union officials and senior staff members have split into two broad camps on this question. On one side are those who argue that the A.F.L.-C.I.O., which has about 12 million members, should play a supporting role for its constituent unions — that it should help build a consensus around policy and political priorities, lobby for them in Washington, provide research and communications support, and identify the best ways to organize and bargain.
On the other side of the debate are those who contend that the federation should play a leading role in building the labor movement — by investing resources in organizing more workers; by gaining a foothold in new sectors of the economy; by funding nontraditional worker organizations, like those representing undocumented workers; and by forging deeper alliances with other progressive groups, like those promoting civil rights causes.
As president, Mr. Trumka identified more with the first approach, which several current and former union officials said had merit, particularly in light of his close ties to President Biden. Liz Shuler, who has served as acting president since Mr. Trumka’s death and hopes to succeed him, is said to have a similar orientation.
But as the federation contemplates its future, there is one inescapable fact that may color the discussion: Mr. Trumka’s approach did not appear to be resolving an existential crisis for the U.S. labor movement, in which unions represent a mere 7 percent of private-sector workers.
“American workers’ level of collective bargaining coverage is not comparable to that of any other similar democracy,” said Larry Cohen, a former president of the Communications Workers of America. “If you’re not there to grow, you’re in trouble. You’re just playing defense. You’ll be here till someone turns the lights out.”
Funding for a department specifically dedicated to organizing dropped substantially during Mr. Trumka’s presidency, to about 10 percent by 2019, according to documents obtained by the website Splinter.
Ms. Shuler said in an interview on Friday that the department’s budget did not reflect other resources that go toward organizing, like the millions of dollars that the A.F.L.-C.I.O. sends to state labor federations and local labor councils, which can play an important role in organizing campaigns.
Although the rate of union membership fell by about 1.5 percentage points during Mr. Trumka’s tenure to under 11 percent, his influence in Washington helped lead to several accomplishments. Among them were a more worker-friendly revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, tens of billions of dollars in federal aid to stabilize union pension plans and a job-creating infrastructure bill now moving through Congress.
The economic rescue plan that Mr. Biden signed in March sent hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to state and local governments, which public sector unions, increasingly the face of the labor movement, considered a lifeline.
But the cornerstone of Mr. Trumka’s plan to revive labor was a bill still awaiting enactment: the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act. The legislation would make unionizing easier by forbidding employers from requiring workers to attend anti-union meetings and would create financial penalties for employers that flout labor law. The federation invested heavily in helping to elect public officials who could help pass the measure.
During an interview with The New York Times in March, Mr. Trumka characterized the PRO Act as, in effect, labor’s last best hope. “Because of growing inequality, our economy is on a trajectory to implosion,” he said. “We have to have a way for workers to have more power and employers to have less. And the best way do that is to have the PRO Act.”
Ms. Shuler echoed that point, arguing that labor will be primed for a resurgence if the measure becomes law. “We have everything in alignment,” she said. “The only thing left is the PRO Act to unleash what I would say is the potential for unprecedented organizing.”
But so far, placing most of labor’s hopes on a piece of legislation strongly opposed by Republicans and the business community has proved to be a dubious bet. While the House passed the bill in March and Mr. Biden strongly supports it, the odds are long in a divided Senate.
When asked whether the A.F.L.-C.I.O. could support Mr. Biden’s multitrillion-dollar jobs plan if it came to a vote with no prospect of passing the PRO Act as well, Mr. Trumka refused to entertain the possibility that he would have to make such a decision.
“I don’t see that happening,” he said in the interview. “This president and this administration understand the power of solving inequalities through collective bargaining.”
An alternative approach might have made building power outside Washington more of a priority by expanding the ranks of union members and increasing the leverage of workers who are not union members.
In the view of Mr. Cohen, the former communications workers leader, one advantage of a large investment in organizing is that it allows the labor movement to place bets in a variety of industries and workplaces where workers are increasingly enthusiastic about unionizing, but where traditional unions don’t have a large presence — like the video game industry and other technology sectors.
Such funding can help support workers who want to help organize colleagues in their spare time, as well as a small cadre of professionals to assist them. “You have 100 people who you pay $25,000 per year, and 15 people full time, and the people can build something where they live,” Mr. Cohen said.
Stewart Acuff, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s organizing director from 2002 to 2008 and then a special assistant to its president, said the federation’s role in organizing should include more than just directly funding those efforts. He said it was essential to make adding members a higher priority for all of organized labor, as he sought to do under Mr. Trumka’s predecessor.
“We were challenging every level of the labor movement to spend 30 percent of their resources on growth,” said Mr. Acuff, who has criticized the direction of the federation under Mr. Trumka. “That didn’t just mean organizers. It meant using access to every point of leverage,” like pressuring companies to be more accepting of unions.
Mr. Acuff also said that the A.F.L.-C.I.O. must be more willing to place long bets on organizing workers that may not pay off with more members in the short term, but that help build power and leverage for workers.
He cited the Fight for $15 and a Union, a yearslong campaign to improve wages for fast-food and other low-wage workers and make it easier for them to unionize. The campaign, which has received tens of millions of dollars from the Service Employees International Union, has succeeded in many ways even though it has produced few if any new union members. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. has supported the Fight for $15 but not provided direct financial backing.
Mr. Cohen and Mr. Acuff both cited the importance of building long-term alliances with outside groups — like those championing civil rights or immigrant rights or environmental causes — which can increase labor’s power to demand, say, that an employer stand down during a union campaign.
At times during his tenure, Mr. Trumka sought to cultivate such alliances, but he was often stymied by resistance within the federation.
Amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, for example, Mr. Trumka tried to throw the weight of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. behind civil rights causes, including a speech he made in Ferguson, Mo., after a young Black man, Michael Brown, was shot to death by a police officer there in 2014.
But Mr. Trumka faced a backlash on this front from more conservative unions, who believed the proper role of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. was to focus on economic issues affecting members rather than questions like civil rights.
“There were some unions — not just the building trades — who felt like that work was not what we should be focusing on,” Carmen Berkley, a former director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department, said in an interview last year.
Since Mr. Trumka’s death, labor leaders have begun to discuss what the federation’s organizing and political challenges mean for the choice of a successor. Under its constitution, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. executive council will meet within three weeks to choose a successor to serve out Mr. Trumka’s term, which expires next year.
A leading candidate will be Ms. Shuler, who as secretary-treasurer became acting president on Mr. Trumka’s death. If the council selects Ms. Shuler to fill out Mr. Trumka’s term, it could propel her to the presidency next year and cement the federation’s direction, a prospect that some reformers within the labor movement regard with concern.
A number of these reformers back Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, as the federation’s next president. Ms. Nelson has argued for diverting much of the tens of millions of dollars the labor movement spends on political activities to help more workers unionize.
But Ms. Shuler insists that deciding between investing in organizing and the federation’s other priorities is a false choice.
“I don’t think that they are mutually exclusive,” she said. “The way modern organizations work, you no longer have heavy institutional budgets that are full of line items. We organize around action. We identify a target where there’s heat.” Then, she said, the organizations raise money and get things done.
In 1968, he and John Carlos raised their fists during an Olympic medal ceremony. Their demonstration still inspires athletes, artists and marginalized people everywhere.
By Adam Bradley, Aug. 6, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/06/t-magazine/the-timeless-appeal-of-tommie-smith.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage
Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) raising gloved fists during the medal ceremony for the 200-meters at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, on October 16, 1968. Silver medalist Peter Norman of Australia (left) stands by. Credit...John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Shutterstock
Glenn Kaino’s “Bridge,” a 100-foot-long sculpture made from gold-painted casts of Smith’s arm, was part of the exhibition “With Drawn Arms: Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith,” seen here at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Ga., in 2018. Credit...Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times
Ralph Chaplin’s illustration “The Hand That Will Rule the World,” from the Industrial Workers of the World publication, “Solidarity,” June 30, 1917. Credit...via Labor Arts
Hank Willis Thomas’s “All Power to All People” sculpture in Philadelphia, 2017. Credit...Matt Rourke/Associated Press
THE STREET VENDORS along 125th Street in Harlem sell all manner of things: perfume and watches, shea butter and cellphone accessories, paperback books and, of course, T-shirts. One memorable shirt shows three athletes on the medal stand: a white man looking straight ahead and two Black men with heads bowed and arms outstretched, their black-gloved fists raised high in the air. It’s a familiar image, even 53 years after the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, at which the American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos staged one of the most iconic protests of the last century.
On a summer afternoon in 2014, a 70-year-old Smith made his way past the vendors, walking alongside his wife, Delois, and an unlikely second companion, the conceptual artist Glenn Kaino, a fourth-generation Japanese American four years younger than Smith’s eldest son. They were headed to the Studio Museum to see Kaino and Smith’s first collaborative work, “Bridge” (2013), an elevated, undulating pathway forged from gold-painted castings of Smith’s iconic right arm. As they passed the Apollo Theater, Kaino noticed the tees.
“Hey, do you know who’s on this shirt?” he asked an unsuspecting vendor.
“John Smith,” the vendor responded.
“Nope,” Kaino said as the Smiths looked on in amusement. “You know who you have standing before you? You have that man,” he continued, pointing to the slender figure at the center of the T-shirt and then to the older man standing beside him, 6-foot-3 and still physically commanding. “This is Tommie Smith.”
It is a measure of the efficacy of Smith and Carlos’s symbolic act that for a time it all but enveloped their individual identities. “When Tommie created the symbol, the value of that moment became abstracted from him as a person,” Kaino explains. “And the appropriation and the use of that symbol from a global sense to represent courage, to represent protest, to represent unity and defiance, all of those things — by the way that symbolic value is created, it necessarily abstracted the symbol from its author.”
What happens when a person becomes a symbol? Smith and Carlos would both see their careers as athletes overshadowed by the moment. The years, decades really, after their defiant act brought struggle and sometimes suffering: hate mail and death threats, broken marriages and psychic pain. Two days after the medal ceremony, longtime Los Angeles Times sports columnist John Hall wrote that “Tommie Smith and John Carlos do a disservice to their race — the human race.” Even many of those that celebrated Smith and Carlos’s act did so under the mistaken belief that they had given the Black Panther salute — something that, for his part, Smith never intended.
What happens when a symbol becomes a person again? The last decade, a time of expanding awareness of racist violence and trauma in the United States, has prompted a dramatic reassessment of Smith. Once pilloried, he’s now lionized. People build statues of him. In 2019, the United States Olympic Committee, the same body that had suspended him from the Olympic team in 1968, inducted him into its Hall of Fame. The Smithsonian collected the clothes he wore on the medal stand: his singlet and his shorts, his track suit and his suede Puma cleats. And, in this new era of protest, a generation of athletes, many of whom claim Smith as a direct inspiration, are channeling the outsized attention that the public directs to sports toward urgent social and political concerns — police brutality, mental health, voting rights and more.
What happens when a person begins forging new symbols, built upon the defining symbol of his youth? The 49-year-old Kaino, with Smith’s active partnership, has produced multiple works of art inspired by the 1968 protest — installations and sculptures, and now an Emmy-nominated documentary, “With Drawn Arms” (2020), which Kaino co-directed with Afshin Shahidi, that charts Smith’s evolution in the public consciousness from pariah to paragon. Kaino understands the art they make together as both a matter of aesthetics and a mechanism for restorative justice. A vivid example of this work is “19.83 (Reflection)” (2013), a full-scale re-creation of the Olympic podium plated in gold; when properly lighted, it casts three ghostly reflections on the wall behind it. “Invisible Man (Salute)” (2018), when approached from behind, appears to be a traditional statue of Smith with raised fist; after walking around it, though, one is confronted by a mirrored front surface, which creates the illusion that the monument has vanished from sight. Both works play with presence and absence, a tribute to how Smith, once banished, defiantly endures.
Kaino admits that he knew Smith “first as a symbol.” After learning in high school about Smith and Carlos’s demonstration, Kaino grasped onto their act as an example of the kind of impact — and the kind of art — he hoped to make. As Kaino’s career flourished, he kept a photograph of the demonstration taped to his iMac. “That symbol, that image works on a number of different levels: emotionally, artistically, politically,” he explains. “And it is my aspiration as an artist to have my work function on a number of different levels, too. So that picture was the high bar — an impossibly high bar.”
Kaino connected with Smith serendipitously after a friend and collaborator working in his studio, Michael Jonte, noticed the image and said, matter-of-factly, “Oh, that’s Coach Smith.” Smith had coached Jonte on the track team at Santa Monica College before moving south, to Stone Mountain, Ga. Soon Jonte and Kaino were on a flight to Atlanta. For Kaino, it was a near-spiritual pilgrimage. He had no specific intention in mind, certainly no vision of what their collaboration and friendship would become. “I never meet someone with the assumption that I deserve their story,” Kaino says. He went, instead, “to try to learn his story; to try to earn his story.”
Smith may not consider himself an artist (“Glenn makes the art,” Smith says, “he has the mind for it.”), but he thinks like one. As a child of nine or 10 years old, working in the California cotton fields with his family, he was drawn to discarded things. “Something laying on the ground or hanging out of a tree,” he says. “I wondered sometimes how a soda pop can got that far out in the boonies. So I’d pick the can up, take it home, and throw it under the house so it had a place to stay.” Through collection, he exercised a curatorial eye and a preservationist instinct. He saw the beauty and the dignity in broken things.
In his years of training his body to achieve world-class speed (at one time, he held 11 world records), Smith exercised his mind as well. In hearing Smith describe his race preparation and execution, Kaino recognized his own artistic praxis. “I’ll make drawings, but I’ll imagine the whole thing and then as we [Kaino and his team] execute them, we’re bringing to life what’s already in our head, that we’ve already imagined,” Kaino says. This exercise of the imagination — whether in athletics or in art — is the foundation of the pair’s shared partnership. “He understands me,” Smith says of Kaino. “I can tell him something and he’ll take it and make it better. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun work. It’s like training to compete.”
NINETEEN SIXTY-EIGHT was a shattering year in America. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April; Bobby Kennedy, in June. Overseas, 17,000 American soldiers, many of them Black and brown, died in Vietnam; at home, the antiwar movement surged, culminating in violent clashes with law enforcement in Chicago during August’s Democratic convention; the segregationist George Wallace, running as a third-party candidate, was in September polling at 20 percent nationally and would go on to capture five Southern states in the general election; and the summer Olympics in Mexico City, pushed to the fall on account of the heat, was already being called, in the words of a September 30 Sports Illustrated cover story, “The Problem Olympics.”
In Mexico City, the government executed a brutal crackdown on student protesters demonstrating against the corrupt regime of President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. In the United States, Black American athletes threatened a boycott of the games. A group led by the young Black activist and scholar Harry Edwards with the support of key athletes, including Smith, had founded the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) in October 1967. “There are going to be more protests in the future,” Edwards said before the Games. “Black athletes in America have been used as symbols of a nonexistent democracy and brotherhood.” Shortly before his assassination, King lent his support to the movement. As the OPHR’s name suggested, its aim was to fight for human rights on a global scale, from inequality in the United States to apartheid in South Africa and Rhodesia. “A lot of people’s lives were on the line then,” Smith says.
The greatest misinterpretation of Smith and Carlos’s protest was that it was somehow about Black separatism. Instead, Smith insisted, then and now, it was about human rights through the particulars of Black people’s struggle. The Black Panther Party was similarly mis-portrayed as “hating whitey,” even as it was building grass-roots coalitions across racial divides. In forging his antiracism movement, the Rainbow Coalition in Chicago, Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers, modulated the Panther slogan “All Power to the People” to be “All Power to All People,” underscoring a common cause. Like the Black Panthers, Smith and Carlos were not ideologically or personally opposed to working with white people; rather, they were against white supremacy, expressed individually or institutionally. That ecumenical spirit was on display on the medal stand with the white Australian silver medalist — Peter Norman — who wore an OPHR button in solidarity with Smith and Carlos and voiced his support to them in words, offering a model of allyship and common cause. Smith knew that the most powerful statement he could create was not in language but in action. “I needed to make a symbol of strength, of power. I needed something to make whole. Not stand up and just do nothing. I needed a movement.” That movement began with a clenched fist.
The history of the clenched fist as an emblem of protest stretches back centuries and across continents. In the visual arts, it is ambiguous in the way that most potent symbols are — it demands context and interpretation. The photographer and curator Francesca Seravalle traces the first work of art to depict a fist clenched in protest to be Honoré Daumier’s “The Uprising” (1848), a painting inspired by the revolution to overthrow Louis-Philippe’s French monarchy. When it comes to work produced in the United States, Seravalle cites a 1917 political cartoon published in the Industrial Workers of the World’s journal, “Solidarity,” which depicts a cluster of factory workers in a ditch with raised fists coming together to form a collective fist rising above the ground.
Smith and Carlos’s protest did not invent the raised fist, but it may well have apotheosized it — distilling it to a forceful and seductive expression of intention. Determining how precisely to project that intention was the product both of planning and improvisation. The scene into which Smith and Carlos entered was festooned with potent symbols: the elevated platforms, the medals, the flags, the anthem, the Olympic rings. Into this crowded symbolic field, Smith and Carlos introduced their own vocabulary of meaning.
Conferring with Carlos in the brief time between the end of the race and the medal ceremony, Smith refined his vision, which had been evolving since the OPHR first proposed a potential boycott of the Games the previous year. In his memoir, Carlos recalls it this way: “Tommie nodded his head with a dead-serious look on his face and then we started talking about the symbols we would use. We had no guide, no blueprint. No one had ever turned the medal stand into a festival of visual symbols to express our feelings.” This was their festival of symbols: Smith and Carlos (as well as Norman) wore pin-back buttons emblazoned with the symbol of the OPHR; they removed their shoes to expose their black socks, a symbol of Black poverty; they donned a pair of black gloves — Smith wearing the right-hand one and Carlos the left — to stand for universal human rights; Smith also wore a black scarf to represent Black pride while Carlos wore a beaded necklace to commemorate Black people killed by lynching. This incomplete list speaks to their clear intentions. But symbols are slippery, subject not simply to interpretation but to manipulation. The agent of them has limited control after introducing them into the world.
One of the distortions that Smith most vehemently rejects is that his actions were somehow un-American. When “The Star-Spangled Banner” began, Smith turned toward the flag, not away from it. “It wasn’t about the flag,” Smith says. “A lot of us Black and brown folks have died fighting for that flag, so I’m proud of that flag, OK? I’m proud of that flag because of what we did to make it our flag.” He bowed his head and closed his eyes not out of disregard for the flag of his nation, but out of reverence, and focused attention on the cause for which he raised his fist, the cause for which he showed his shoeless feet and black socks: that whatever else human rights is, it is also somehow Black.
“I always wanted to do something in my life to make people happily understand,” Smith says. “I called that pose more than once the Cry for Freedom,” he explains, sounding very nearly like a performance artist giving a name to his work.
PERFORMANCE ART, a term that wouldn’t achieve widespread usage until the 1970s, offers a lens through which to view Smith’s actions. Before tens of thousands assembled at Estadio Olímpico Universitario, in front of ABC cameras broadcasting the Olympics live and in color for the first time in history, he and Carlos staged a symbolic intervention. Occupying a public space intended for other purposes; disrupting the orderly exercise of established ritual and convention; recasting and recontextualizing inherited symbols; holding a fixed pose that taxed the body — all of these acts were the result of both political will and aesthetic vision. Performance art is not a medium or a prescribed practice but a mode — art, often spontaneous, unscripted and in the context of community, born in action. What Yoko Ono, one of the early innovators of performance art, once said of her own work applies here as well: “I thought art was a verb rather than a noun.”
Art is bound up with the Olympic Games in more direct, intimate and particular ways than it is with any other sporting event. The father of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, was an amateur artist himself as well as an art collector. He insisted that the Games include juried competitions in five areas — sculpture, painting, architecture, literature and music — for which artists presented sports-themed works with winners awarded medals as in any other event. (De Coubertin, competing under a pseudonym, took home the gold himself in the inaugural literature competition at the 1912 games.) At their peak, the competitive art events drew over a thousand entrants from across the globe. The last arts competitions were held in London in 1948, after which they were abandoned for not aligning with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) tightened rules on amateurism.
In spite of this, the connection between art and the Olympics remains, and has been of particular importance to Black Americans, for whom the Games offered one of the first global platforms to display their excellence to the world. Four years after the Mexico City games, at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the Black American artist Jacob Lawrence was among 29 artists commissioned to design official posters. His contribution depicts five Black relay runners, rendered in Lawrence’s stylized figural flatness and bold colors, their faces contorted by effort and exhaustion as they push toward the finish line. The image pays tribute to the struggles and triumphs of Black athletes throughout the history of the modern Games. More explicit in its critique of the Games, the Black Panther illustrator Emory Douglas’s graphic illustration “The Olympics,” also from 1972, exposes the nightside of Black athletic triumph. In a series of comic-book panels, Douglas illustrates an Afro’ed runner, “USA” emblazoned across his chest, winning a race, mounting the podium with both arms held aloft while waving the flag. In the final, devastating panel, his arms are raised again, this time while he’s held at gunpoint by a white policeman. In the years since, Douglas has illustrated Smith and Carlos’s protest directly, most recently in 2014 with a mural he did with Richard Bell in Brisbane, Australia, titled “We Can Be Heroes.”
Smith and Carlos’s protest lives on in the culture for other artists, too. In addition to Kaino’s longstanding collaborative work with Smith, there’s the Afro-Brazilian artist Paulo Nazareth’s 2019 work “DRY CUT (from BLACKS IN THE POOL – Tommie),” a larger-than-life aluminum cutout sculpture of Smith holding his raised-fist pose, which sat outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza in April of that year. And a monumental 23-foot statue by the Portuguese American sculptor and muralist known as Rigo 23 rests on the San José State campus, where both Smith and Carlos once were students.
The most familiar images of the protest, however, are photographs — the best known of which was shot by legendary Life photographer John Dominis. The image captures several things that other images do not. It is the closest; Dominis was only 20 feet away. It is also the most direct, showing the three men’s faces nearly in full. And Dominis framed it to capture the entirety of the symbolic display, down to the stocking feet and up to the brooding night sky.
“I believe when he made that gesture, he was doing it not only for the people but as the people,” says Hank Willis Thomas, another artist who has drawn upon Smith’s protest for inspiration. Willis Thomas’s 2017 sculpture “All Power to All People,” for instance, is a grand tribute to a humble symbol of Black life: the Afro pick, the handle of which is crowned with a clenched black fist. The work pays homage to Smith and Carlos, to the Black Panther Party and to everyday Black folk for whom the comb was both a functional object and an expression of style and pride. “The fist was never meant to belong to anyone,” Willis Thomas says. “The more that it’s used, the longer it lives. And I think that Tommie Smith is immortal because of that gesture.”
Smith achieved many physical feats that October day: winning his preliminary heat despite pulling his groin muscle; competing in the final later that day, injured and without the benefit of having warmed up; winning the 200-meter gold in a world record time of 19.83 seconds, besting his own previous record of 20.00. All of that is remarkable. But how did he remain so resolute on the medal stand for the minute and a half that it took to play “The Star-Spangled Banner”? After propelling his body so swiftly in motion — faster than any man had ever traveled over that distance — he now held it still, though not at rest — his muscles tensed, he maintained his form just as scrupulously as he had during the race. How did he stay so still, willing himself to take the shape of a symbol? “Oh my goodness. No one has ever asked me that before,” he says. Then, he shifts to the third person — and who could blame him, now nearly a lifetime removed from that young man who he once was? “It was a divine motion that took a man and created an image,” he says. “It was no longer Tommie Smith standing; it was the efforts of God that held me.”
IN THE LEAD-UP to this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, the IOC braced for high-profile and potentially widespread political protests — against police brutality and human rights abuses, and in solidarity with marginalized people everywhere. Approaching the Games, the IOC updated its charter three times in 18 months, all in an effort to contain and curtail potential demonstrations by competitors, particularly on the medal stand. Two weeks before the opening ceremony, Smith told the Los Angeles Times that he supported any athlete choosing to protest. “I do think the athletes have a right to say whatever is on their mind, whether it’s agreeable to those who are watching or it’s thought of negatively,” he said. “We are human beings.”
Black women athletes have shaped the story line of these Games, spotlighting issues of intersectionality rather than race matters alone. In the month before the Games, tennis player Naomi Osaka, 23, sparked conversation on mental health when she withdrew from Wimbledon after tournament organizers threatened to expel her if she continued refusing post-match news conferences, which she said triggered social anxiety and depression. The next month, Osaka, whose mother is from Japan and father is from Haiti, lit the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony, thereby carrying that conversation forward. Simone Biles, 24, one of the most celebrated Olympic athletes alive, withdrew during the team all-around on account of mental health concerns that threatened to expose her to physical danger during competition. Though neither athlete raised her fist, their choices of self-preservation as well as their willingness to speak frankly about their well-being stand out as acts of social courage. “You have to be careful about fighting until the end because the end is different for everyone,” Smith said when asked about Biles’s decision to leave the competition. (She would return to capture bronze, her record-tying seventh medal, on the balance beam.)
For all the anticipation about seeing medal-stand protests and symbolic gestures, these Olympics have delivered something quite different: a call for the public to understand athletes not as physical embodiments of national pride but as complex and, at times, conflicted individuals. The closest these Games have given us to a Smith and Carlos moment might have been from Raven Saunders, silver medalist in the shot put, a 25-year-old queer Black woman from Charleston, South Carolina. She kept her arms in front of her during the anthem, but afterward, while photographers took pictures of the athletes on the podium, she raised her arms above her head and crossed them in an X. “It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” she later explained.
Perhaps it comes down to this: The symbolic spectacle that Smith and Carlos staged on the medal stand in 1968 can never be reproduced. Its genius and beauty rest in its singularity. Those 90 seconds 53 years ago were a grand display of performance, of art and of performance art. What today’s athletes and artists can — and have — taken from that moment, however, is what Kaino calls the “aesthetic aspects of protest”: the clothing and the emblems, the gestures and the flourishes that draw attention to an imperative need. What remains from Smith and Carlos’s act is irreducible. After 1968, no athletic protest is likely to shock so many for so long. “They’ve kind of retired the singularity of Tommie’s moment,” Kaino says. “It strikes me as the symbol that might always be the most defiant one because they don’t make the context like they used to.” In standing still, Tommie Smith the athlete fell out of time, universal in his particulars. Tommie Smith the man, however, is with us still — called once again to forge symbols of perseverance and hope for a troubled world.
Charles H. Loeb defied the American military’s denials and propaganda to show how deadly radiation from the strike on Hiroshima sickened and killed.
By William J. Broad, Aug. 9, 2021
As a war correspondent in World War II, Charles H. Loeb advanced with U.S. troops into the Philippines, survived a kamikaze attack and filed a number of detailed reports from Japan, including ones on Hiroshima’s bombing and the nation’s formal surrender. Here he gazes on Manila’s ruins. Credit...Loeb family photo
One of Mr. Loeb’s own photographs of the war’s devastation. He used a Speed Graphic, the standard camera of U.S. Army photographers, to record not only battlefield images but portraits of Black soldiers and sailors proud to be serving their country in time of war. Black newspapers ran many of the photos. Credit...Loeb family photo
Mr. Loeb and a military policeman examining a guest register left in the ruins of the Manila Hotel, a deluxe lodging that the Japanese set aflame during the battle for the city’s liberation. The shell of the historic building survived the blaze and the hotel was later reconstructed. Credit...Loeb family photo
A child received treatment at a temporary hospital set up at Shin Kozen Elementary School in Nagasaki after the city’s atomic bombing on Aug. 9, 1945, three days after the leveling of Hiroshima. Credit...Yasuo Tomishige/The Asahi Shimbun, via Getty Images
“Loeb Reflects On Atomic Bombed Area,” read the headline in The Atlanta Daily World of Oct. 5, 1945, two months after Hiroshima’s ruin.
In the world of Black newspapers, that name alone was enough to attract readers.
Charles H. Loeb was a Black war correspondent whose articles in World War II were distributed to papers across the United States by the National Negro Publishers Association. In the article, Mr. Loeb told how bursts of deadly radiation had sickened and killed the city’s residents. His perspective, while coolly analytic, cast light on a major wartime cover up.
The Page 1 article contradicted the War Department, the Manhattan Project, and The New York Times and its star reporter, William L. Laurence, on what had become a bitter dispute between the victor and the vanquished. Japan insisted that the bomb’s invisible rays at Hiroshima and Nagasaki had led to waves of sudden death and lingering illness. Emphatically, the United States denied that charge.
But science and history would prove Mr. Loeb right. His reporting not only challenged the official government line but also echoed the skepticism of many Black Americans, who, scholars say, worried that race had played a role in the United States’ decision to drop the experimental weapons on Japan. Black clergy and activists at times sympathized openly with the bomb’s victims.
“They were willing to question the main narrative,” said Alex Wellerstein, a historian who glimpsed this skepticism while researching his recent book, “Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States.”
Mr. Loeb’s questioning never got the recognition it deserved. While hailed as a civic leader in Cleveland, his hometown, and more widely as a pioneering Black journalist, he was unappreciated for having exposed the bomb’s stealthy dangers at the dawn of the atomic age. His insights, until now, were lost to history.
The Radiation Lies
In his article, Mr. Loeb told of a press tour of Hiroshima that had crossed paths with a military investigation of the atomic victims by American scientists and doctors. The study had been ordered by Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves of the U.S. Army, who directed the making of the bomb, and led by his deputy, Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Farrell. One scientist was surprised to hear General Farrell tell the investigative team in an early briefing that its mission was to “prove there was no radioactivity.”
General Groves, historians say, wanted the bomb to be seen as a deadly form of traditional warfare rather than a new, inhumane type. An international treaty in 1925 had banned the use of germ and chemical weapons. The head of the Manhattan Project wanted no depiction of atom bombs as uniquely terrible, no public discussion of what became known as radiological warfare.
Historians say General Groves understood the radiation issue as early as 1943 but kept it so compartmentalized that it was poorly known by top American officials, including Harry S. Truman. At the time he authorized the Hiroshima bombing, President Truman, scholars say, knew almost nothing of the bomb’s radiation effects. Later, he spoke of regrets.
Shortly after the atomic strike of Aug. 6, 1945, The Times began covering the radiation dispute between Japan and the United States. In September, the headline of Mr. Laurence’s Page 1 article said scientific readings at the American test site “Confirm That Blast, and not Radiation, Took Toll,” contradicting “Tokyo Tales” of ray victims. The next day, The Times ran an article with a Toyko dateline in which General Farrell’s investigative team, as the headline stated, found “No Radioactivity in Hiroshima Ruin.”
General Groves and his aides, it turns out, were telling only half the story, as Mr. Loeb came to detail in his reporting.
Exploding atom bombs emit two kinds of radiation. In the first seconds, the expanding fireball sends out colossal bursts of neutrons and gamma rays powerful enough to speed through the air for miles and still penetrate steel, concrete and human bodies. They break chromosomes and upend the body’s cellular machinery, causing sickness, cancer and death. These disrupters vanish instantly and are hard to measure directly.
Atomic detonations also generate a second, more persistent and detectable wave. The split atoms of nuclear fuel produce hundreds of different kinds of radioactive fragments, including Strontium-90 and Cesium-137. They can emit their own deadly rays for years. The particles ride the churning mushroom cloud into the sky, travel on the wind for hundreds of miles, and rain back to earth as radioactive fallout. Detecting them is easy. The clicking sounds of Geiger counters reveal the radiating particles.
At Hiroshima, the American scientists did find detectable fallout — but not at ground zero. Downwind, they found it had produced a minor trail of weak radioactivity that led to the city’s edge and a dense bamboo forest.
Even so, General Groves and his aides, during press tours in New Mexico and Japan of the atomic detonation points, directed attention to the low readings of Geiger counters as evidence of little or no radiation danger.
“You could live there forever,” Mr. Laurence of The Times quoted the general as saying of Hiroshima.
In contrast, Mr. Loeb addressed the fireball’s initial burst, not the nonexistent fallout at ground zero. He did so by reporting on the findings of Col. Stafford L. Warren, who before the war was a professor of radiology at the University of Rochester.
Colonel Warren was the Manhattan Project’s top physician. His stateside job was to protect bomb makers from radiation hazards and, in Japan, to lead the medical evaluation of the Japanese victims. As detailed in the 2020 book, “Atomic Doctors,” he threw himself into gleaning what information he could from the hospitals, their patients and surviving Japanese doctors. Repeatedly, he saw the ravages of bomb radiation: fever, diarrhea, lost hair, oozing blood. Patients who seemed to have mild cases would die suddenly.
James J. Nolan Jr., author of “Atomic Doctors,” said Colonel Warren was careful in his medical reports to downplay the ills. “Groves was his boss,” Mr. Nolan said in an interview. “He knew his audience.” The subtitle of Mr. Nolan’s book is “Conscience and Complicity.”
Mr. Loeb’s education most likely helped him discern the truth. At Howard University, one of the nation’s leading historically Black colleges and universities, he had taken a pre-med curriculum before turning to newspaper work and was familiar with the basics of physics and chemistry, anatomy and pathology, X-rays and lead shielding. What kept him from going to medical school, he recalled late in life, was lack of tuition, not interest.
It’s unclear where Mr. Loeb encountered Colonel Warren. It could have been at a news conference, a social occasion or both. In Tokyo, both men frequented the Dai-ichi Hotel, which was a billet for military officers and civilian correspondents.
That October, Mr. Loeb’s article was carried by The Atlanta Daily World as well as other Black-owned newspapers such as The Baltimore Afro-American, The Philadelphia Tribune and The Cleveland Call and Post, where he had worked before the war and later returned. The papers were part of a Black press group that had been founded early in the war by 22 publishers and saw large spikes in circulation as Black readers sought to learn about their soldiers.
Mr. Loeb described the correspondents returning from Hiroshima as “completely flabbergasted.” In contrast, his own article was unemotional. He numbered his conclusions, as if writing a scientific paper. Radiation was his third point, after blast and damage.
The former pre-med student ignored the Geiger counters and the official denials that had appeared in The Times and other papers. Instead, he noted the military study was “designed to lay to rest the wild speculation” about radiation victims in the devastated city and proceeded to substantiate the human suffering with hard facts.
First, Mr. Loeb introduced “Our Colonel Stafford Warren” — his use of the possessive pronoun evoking a sense of trust — as the bomb project’s “Chief Medical Officer.” The journalist said nothing of Colonel Warren’s denying the existence of radiation victims — the ostensible marching orders of the investigative team. Instead, he quoted the colonel as identifying the proximate cause of the gruesome ills.
Colonel Warren, the radiologist, Mr. Loeb said, judged that “a single exposure to a dose of gamma radiation (similar in effect to X-rays) at the time of the detonation” gave rise to the gruesome ills. His proposed cause was understated and almost clinical in nature but a radical departure from the blanket denials. Mr. Loeb, in closing the section, noted that Colonel Warren ruled out the possibility of sickness caused by “dangerous amounts of radio activity on the ground.”
Military censorship took out any attempt by reporters back then to portray human suffering. It allowed depictions of broken buildings, not broken bodies. Mr. Loeb’s article thus gave no details of the atomic victims.
But memories of Japan haunted him long after the war, according to his daughter Stella Loeb-Munson. She recalled him talking of melted faces, of skin hanging from wasted bodies. During an interview, Mrs. Loeb-Munson pointed to a photograph he took of a crumpled body on a sidewalk.
“It totally messed him up for years,” she said. Slowly he turned from sullen to angry. “He had to talk about it — he had to,” Mrs. Loeb-Munson said. “He was really messed up. He never really got over it.”
The Radiation Victims
A search of databases suggests that few if any journalists of Mr. Loeb’s day approached his level of detail and tight focus in telling of the radiation poisoning.
The Times sought to ignore the topic altogether. Beverly Deepe Keever, a professor of journalism, analyzed its coverage of the Hiroshima bombing and reported that out of 132 articles she examined, she could find only one that mentioned radiation.
Even so, by November 1945, a month after Mr. Loeb’s article, public awareness of the radiation issue had grown to the point that General Groves could no longer deny the toll of the bomb’s initial bursts. Instead, he described their impact on humans as “a very pleasant way to die.”
The Black press in subsequent months kept pounding away. The Baltimore Afro-American spoke of “thousands of radiation victims.”
The military itself soon cast light on the enormity of the misinformation campaign. In June 1946, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey said most medical investigators saw the radiation emissions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki as responsible for up to 20 percent of the deaths. If the bombings took roughly 100,000 to 200,000 lives — today considered a credible range — the radiation killed up to 40,000 people.
The rays also produced a dark legacy. Over decades, studies of the survivors revealed that they endured high rates of cancer, stroke, cataracts and heart disease. Babies in utero at the time of the bombings suffered poor development, epileptic seizures and reduced head size.
Mr. Loeb died in 1978 at 73. While getting no credit for his atomic scoop, he became known late in life among other journalists as the dean of Black newsmen. In 1971, he spoke of his long career in an oral history interview with Columbia University. Then 66 and managing editor of The Cleveland Call and Post, Mr. Loeb said that he regretted not going back to medical school but that he felt he probably did more social good as a journalist than he would have as a surgeon.
His great good fortune, he added, was marrying a woman who put personal goals ahead of money. “We’ll starve together,” he recalled his wife, Beulah Loeb, saying.
Mr. Loeb said nothing of his radiation article or what he had witnessed at Hiroshima but spoke at length about Black publishing and the community it served.
“One of our functions is to tell the Black side of any story,” he said, as Black readers were often skeptical of the white news media. Even when Black papers got scooped on big stories, he added, “our readers still buy our newspapers to see what we said about it.”
Black newspapers perform “a real service” not only for Black people but also, Mr. Loeb said, the press in general because they reliably present alternative points of view and fresh perspectives.
Many local governments and courts were not sure how to apply the extension of the protections, and dockets in some places overflowed with evictions.
By Neil MacFarquhar, Aug. 11, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/11/us/eviction-moratorium-vegas.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage
LAS VEGAS — Inside Courtroom 8A of Las Vegas Justice Court last week, the benches were packed with renters and landlords battling over evictions that continued at a brisk pace despite a last minute, two-month extension of the federal protections meant to keep people in their homes.
Vanessa Merryman, 41, was among the tenants ordered to leave her apartment. “I have never been homeless in my life,” she said through tears, slouched on a metal bench outside the courtroom as the scorching Las Vegas sun beat through the windows. She was shellshocked that the court session that upended her life lasted all of 15 minutes. “I do not know what I am going to do,” she said. “It is really scary.”
The federal moratorium on evictions — combined with billions of dollars in rent subsidies — was supposed to avert the scenario of millions of Americans being turned out of their homes after they lost their jobs during the pandemic and were unable to afford their rent.
Yet despite these efforts, many local governments and courts were not sure how to apply the extension, and desperate tenants continued to flood local government websites seeking rental assistance that was usually slow in coming.
“The lay of the land has been confusing at every level, not just to tenants, but also to landlords, court personnel and judges,” said Dana Karni, manager of the Eviction Right to Counsel Project in Houston. “While the extension of C.D.C. protections is much needed, the confusion that surrounds its existence waters down its impact.”
In extending the moratorium last week, the Biden administration hinged it to high local coronavirus infection rates — the idea being that protection was warranted in areas where the virus was surging. Clark County, including Las Vegas, was among hundreds of counties that meet the criterion for high infection rates, but the C.D.C. guidelines gave some leeway to judges to instead apply state laws, which at times allowed for evictions.
For many tenants, it was too late anyway. With state moratoriums expiring and the expectation that the federal guidelines would be gone soon, court dockets like those in Las Vegas overflowed with eviction cases. Tenants had to actively file for protection under the C.D.C. measures, but many of them were unaware of that. And as eviction proceedings rolled forward, some landlords won, citing reasons other than nonpayment of rent for seeking to remove tenants.
More than 1.4 million Americans expect to be evicted in the next two months, according to a survey completed by the U.S. Census Bureau in early July. For another 2.2 million people, the prospect is “somewhat likely.”
The areas bracing for the hardest hits are in high-population, high-rent states such as California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas, along with other states across the South including Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Organizations that advise low-income tenants from Atlanta to Houston to Las Vegas all said that they feared the fallout. “The volume is unlike anything we have ever seen before,” said Bailey Bortolin, the statewide policy director for the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers.
The moratorium is intended to help states buy time to distribute the aid. Congress allocated some $47 billion in rental assistance, but just $3 billion had been distributed by June, according to the Treasury Department. Many county governments, the branch usually designated to process applications, are straining to build systems from scratch to distribute the money even while the tempo of evictions increases.
Georgia has paid out just over $16 million from $989 million in federal rental assistance funds. Florida got $871 million, but has only disbursed $23.2 million.
In Clark County, home to most of Nevada’s population, the CARES Housing Assistance Program has distributed more than $162 million in rent, utilities and mortgage payments to more than 29,500 households since July 2020, but that’s still less than half the state’s full allocation.
Around 50,000 people are behind on rent and could face eviction in Clark County, where the state moratorium expired on June 1, said Justin Jones, a county commissioner.
“It would be devastating if we have that number of people evicted from their homes in the near future,” he said. “The reality is that we do not have anywhere for them to go.” Thousands of homeless people already crowd downtown Las Vegas and elsewhere in the county.
After the state moratorium expired, Nevada implemented a new law pausing evictions so long as the tenant had an application for rental assistance pending.
At the Las Vegas Justice Court, the largest of some 40 courts hearing eviction cases in Nevada, Hearing Master David F. Brown did not allow for much wriggle room. If tenants showed proof that they had applied for rental assistance, they could stay in their homes. If not, or if they had more than a year of late payments, the maximum amount covered by the assistance program, they were usually forced out. Nevada judges tended to emphasize state laws rather than the C.D.C. guidelines.
Dejonae King, 33, held back tears after she lost her eviction appeal. Ms. King was laid off from Walgreens and has been without a job for most of the pandemic. She had not paid the $253 weekly rent on her one-bedroom apartment since July 2020. “I thought the rules would protect me,” she said.
Ms. Merryman had managed to pay $10,000 in rent from government subsidies last year, but she lost her business and her boyfriend’s lengthy struggle with Covid interrupted her efforts to apply for more. It took her four months to reset her lost password for the website to apply for government payments.
Meanwhile, many landlords are caught in a vicious cycle, constantly in court but never quite made whole, said Susy Vasquez, executive director of the Nevada State Apartment Association, the largest organization for landlords.
Ron Scapellato, 54 a landlord in Clark County with 50 units and an air-conditioning business, said he soured on the moratorium after he watched some tenants spend their stimulus checks on new televisions rather than paying back rent. His mortgage and other bills continued to pile up, he said, so he went to court. “I understand that they do not want to throw people out, but I also want my rent,” he said.
The extension still might face legal challenges. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court questioned whether the C.D.C. had the authority to issue such a sweeping national mandate.
Because the federal moratorium technically lapsed for a few days, some landlords went ahead with evictions.
Hours before the reprieve from the White House, sheriff’s deputies arrived outside Hope Brasseaux’s house in Columbus, Ga., to implement an eviction order issued a month earlier. Ms. Brasseaux, an unemployed waitress, received just 12 hour’s notice. She applied for assistance toward her $700 monthly rent in the spring, but the government portal shows her request as still under review. “I wish it would have happened a day sooner,” she said of the two-month extension by the Biden administration.
In Nevada, evictions are designed to move faster than in most states, with renters in debt typically given seven days to pay what they owe or move out. Unique to the state, the onus is on the renter to initiate a court challenge, which can pause the process, but many residents do not know that.
Most evictions don’t make it to court, said Ms. Bortolin of the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers. “When people hear the word moratorium they think they don’t have to act,” she said. “Thousands of people in Nevada alone were evicted because they thought they could not be.”
The strain of the pandemic has been especially hard on hourly workers in Las Vegas. Unemployment in Clark County hit a high of almost 370,000 in April 2020, more than 33 percent. It remains at almost 10 percent, according to state labor statistics.
After the casinos shuttered last year, Stephanie Pirrone, 52, said her husband’s Lyft customers disappeared, while she lost her job at an Amazon returns center.
She and her husband, angered that their landlord chipped away at their $15,000 government rental assistance with late fees and other fines, decided to fight their eviction, but many of their neighbors did not, she said, “People are scared so they just move out.”
Tawana Smith, who in April 2020 lost her $45,000-a-year job managing a convenience store, has returned to Las Vegas Justice Court three times since last November to fight eight attempts at eviction.
The moratorium had blocked the first few attempted evictions, said Ms. Smith, whose five children range in age from 2 to 12.
But when the most recent notice appeared last week, she decided to relinquish the low, brown stucco house that her family has called home for almost two years, paying $1,400 in monthly rent.
The family tried unsuccessfully to raise the $5,000 needed to rent a different house by selling crafts and through a crowdfunding campaign. They now dread the next step, living in one hotel room, she said. Ms. Smith said she wanted to avoid getting the children settled in school and then pulling them out when one eviction notice or another eventually succeeded.
“We don’t want to fight anymore to stay here,” she said. “We want to put this madness behind us.”
Edgar Sandoval and Sophie Kasakove contributed reporting. Alain Delaquérière contributed research.
By Peter Beinart, August 11, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/11/opinion/biden-israel-nuclear-program.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
American politicians often warn that if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, it will spark a nuclear stampede across the Middle East. Allowing Tehran to get the bomb, Senator Robert Menendez, the current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, predicted in March 2020, could “set off a dangerous arms race in the region.” In an interview in December, President-elect Joe Biden cautioned that if Iran went nuclear, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt might too, “and the last goddamn thing we need in that part of the world is a buildup of nuclear capability.”
Such statements are so familiar that it’s easy to overlook their artifice. In warning that Iran could turn the Middle East nuclear, American politicians imply that the region is nuclear-free now. But it’s not. Israel already has nuclear weapons. You’d just never know it from America’s leaders, who have spent the last half-century feigning ignorance. This deceit undercuts America’s supposed commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, and it distorts the American debate over Iran. It’s time for the Biden administration to tell the truth.
American officials began hiding the truth about Israeli nuclear weapons after Israeli leaders hid the truth from them. In the early 1960s, writes Avner Cohen in his book “The Worst Kept Secret,” Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion repeatedly told President John F. Kennedy that the reactor Israel was building in the desert town of Dimona “was for peaceful purposes only.” When the United States sent inspectors to the site, the Israelis concocted an elaborate ruse, which included building fake walls to conceal the elevators that led to an underground reprocessing plant. By decade’s end, the die was cast. The C.I.A. concluded that Israel already possessed nuclear warheads.
So Richard Nixon and Prime Minister Golda Meir hatched a deal. Neither Israel nor the United States would acknowledge that Israel had nuclear weapons, and Washington would not pressure Israel to submit them to international oversight. For 50 years now, American presidents have abided by the bargain. Scholars believe that when Israel tested a nuclear weapon in the Indian Ocean in 1979, the Carter administration covered it up. In 2009, when a journalist asked Barack Obama if he knew of “any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons,” Mr. Obama responded, “I don’t want to speculate.”
Feigning ignorance about Israeli nuclear weapons makes a mockery of America’s efforts at nonproliferation. Mr. Obama vowed to pursue a nuclear-free world. Yet to prevent public discussion of Israel’s arsenal, his administration helped squelch a United Nations conference on a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. The Biden administration continues to impose punishing sanctions on Iran in an attempt to force its government to accept inspections more stringent than those required by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Meanwhile, Israel, which has never signed the N.P.T., permits no inspections at all.
This hypocrisy leads many around the world to smirk when American diplomats claim to be defending the “rules-based order.” It also empowers those Iranians who claim Tehran has the right to match its regional rival.
Finally, the American government’s deceptive silence prevents a more honest debate at home about the dangers an Iranian nuclear weapon would pose. American politicians sometimes say an Iranian bomb would pose an “existential” threat to Israel. That’s a dubious claim, given that Israel possesses a nuclear deterrent it can deploy on air, land and sea. But many Americans find the claim plausible because, according to recent polling conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland, barely 50 percent know Israel has nuclear weapons. A higher percentage thinks Tehran has the bomb.
Even if an Iranian bomb wouldn’t existentially threaten Israel, the United States should still work to forestall one diplomatically. With negotiations with Tehran at risk of collapse, the Biden administration should commit to lifting the sanctions that are crippling Iran’s economy in return for verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear capacity. But if those efforts fail — and the Biden administration faces pressure to wage war rather than allow Iran to gain the capacity to build a nuclear weapon — it’s crucial that Americans make an informed decision about the risk a nuclear Iran poses to America’s closest ally in the Middle East. That’s harder when the American government never publicly admits that Israel has the means to deter a nuclear attack.
The Biden administration is not going to force Israel to give up its nuclear weapons. But that doesn’t mean it must undermine America’s global credibility and deceive its people by denying reality. Perhaps a more honest American discussion of Israel’s nuclear arsenal will breathe new life into the distant dream of a nuclear-free Middle East. Even if that doesn’t happen, it will be bracing, after a half-century of lying by omission, simply to hear America’s leaders tell the truth.
By Nadja Popovich and Winston Choi-SchagrinAug. 11, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/08/11/climate/deaths-pacific-northwest-heat-wave.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
During the deadly heat wave that blanketed Oregon and Washington in late June, about 600 more people died than would have been typical, a review of mortality data for the week of the crisis shows.
The number is three times as high as the states’ official estimates of heat-related deaths so far. It suggests that the true toll of the heat wave, which affected states and provinces across the Pacific Northwest, may be much larger than previously reported.
This week, the region is once again steeling itself for extreme heat.
The New York Times’ analysis, based on mortality data reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the two states, covers all causes of death, including Covid-19. But the public health agency’s initial calculations indicate that only about 60 deaths in the region were related to the coronavirus that week.
The figures are preliminary. C.D.C. officials said the death count could rise further in coming weeks as the states continue to report. “Consider it a floor,” said Lauren Rossen, a health statistician at the agency who works with the mortality data.
The Times’ estimate “is entirely consistent with a large body of knowledge indicating that days of extreme heat are dangerous and can lead to excess deaths,” said Greg Wellenius, a professor in environmental health at Boston University who has studied heat-related mortality.
Evaluating what are termed “excess deaths” — the number of deaths above what would have been typical for a given period of time, based on mortality rates in previous years — can provide a more complete picture of the effects of extreme heat than official counts of heat-related deaths. Those counts focus on the declared cause of death, for instance, heat stroke. But that can undercount other fatalities that might also have been related to the heat.
“When it’s really hot outside, deaths from heat stroke certainly increase,” said Kate Weinberger, an environmental epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, “but deaths from all sorts of other conditions increase as well,” including from cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Understanding the full consequences of extreme heat on mortality is important because it can help communities better plan for future heat waves, which are becoming more common. Heat deaths are largely preventable, said Kristie Ebi, a professor in the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington. “The more we understand about these deaths, the better we can prepare.”
During the last week of June, temperatures in the Pacific Northwest climbed more than 30 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average, smashing records and bringing life-threatening conditions to an area not used to such extreme heat.
An analysis by an international team of climate researchers found that such an intense heat wave would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change.
Washington state has officially reported that 95 people died from heat-related causes during the week of the heat wave, but investigations are continuing. Oregon has confirmed 96 heat-related deaths so far.
But the states’ excess deaths figures — nearly 450 extra deaths in Washington, and nearly 160 in Oregon, which has a little more than half the population of its northern neighbor — suggest the official figures severely underestimate the heat wave’s effect on mortality.
Even amid the Coronavirus epidemic, the spike in deaths reported by Washington was exceptionally large. More people in the state died during the week of the heat wave than during any other single week of the pandemic, according to the C.D.C. data.
Officials in British Columbia, just across the Canadian border, recently reported more than 400 heat-related deaths during the week of the heat wave — a stunning number closer in line with the excess-death estimate for Washington state. The province’s coroner service told the Times there were around 600 more deaths than would have been typical during the same period, but said the number could be incomplete.
Extreme heat disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, including older people, homeless people and those who work outdoors. Access to air-conditioning can be a life saver. A preliminary review of deaths during the heat wave in Multnomah County, Ore., which includes Portland, found that none of the 54 people who died had central air-conditioning.
“Not everyone can stay at home all day in an air-conditioned space,” Dr. Wellenius of Boston University said. “Not everyone can afford an air conditioner.”
Understanding the groups most at risk for heat-related death and where those deaths occurred can guide public health officials to better direct their resources, including where to set up cooling centers during future crises. That will require more detailed local analysis.
The New York Times excess deaths analysis is based on state-level mortality data published by the C.D.C. during the Coronavirus epidemic. The Times has previously used the data to gauge the impact of the virus.
Public health researchers regularly use excess deaths to measure the effects of catastrophic events like extreme heat. A recent study by Dr. Weinberger and Dr. Wellenius estimated that about 5,600 deaths nationwide could be attributed to elevated temperatures each year. That number is significantly higher than the 700 heat-related deaths per year officially estimated based on reported causes of death.
But deaths are only one measure of the heat wave’s impact on health. Though heat-related deaths disproportionately affect older people, high temperatures can make people of all ages sick and lead to hospitalizations.
An analysis made public last week reported a sharp rise in emergency department visits in the Pacific Northwest during the heat wave in late June. Between June 25 and June 30, nearly 3,000 emergency department visits were recorded for heat-related illness.
On June 28th alone, more than 1,000 heat-related visits to emergency departments were reported, compared with fewer than 10 visits during the same period in 2019.
Yet, researchers said the rapid analysis very likely underestimates the full impact of the heat. (They relied on a keyword search to identify heat-related emergency department visits that might miss some cases and did not capture visits to other sites where patients might seek care, such as urgent care centers.)
When temperatures rise, people can become severely ill, or even die, if the body is unable to effectively sweat and cool off. High humidity increases the risk, because sweat can’t evaporate as quickly. That can lead to an increase in internal body temperature, which can cause muscles and enzymes to stop working and organs to shut down.
Dr. Steven Mitchell, medical director for emergency services at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, described heat-related illness as a usually “rare phenomenon” in the city. During the heat wave, Harborview and its affiliated hospitals treated at least 100 patients for heat-related illness. Dr. Mitchell, who has worked at Harborview for 15 years, said that before this year he couldn’t remember treating a single case of severe heat illness or heat stroke.
The demands on hospital staff and equipment, including ventilators, during the heat wave reminded him of the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Mitchell said. “In an unprecedented year, this is once again unprecedented.”
By Devi Lockwood, August 13, 2021
Ms. Lockwood is the ideas editor at the website Rest of World and the author of the forthcoming book “1,001 Voices on Climate Change,” from which this essay is adapted.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/13/opinion/climate-change.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Guest%20Essays
Igloolik, Canada. Credit...Devi Lockwood
Devi Lockwood spent five years traveling the globe talking to people about changes they were seeing to their local water and climates. Here are some of the stories she heard.
A little more than 10,000 people live in Tuvalu. Generations ago, Polynesians navigated here by the stars, calling the sprinkles of land in the vast blue of the South Pacific home. With 10 square miles of total area, less than five miles of roads and only one hospital on the main island, Tuvalu is the fourth-smallest country in the world. Disney World is four times larger in area. Tuvalu’s capital city, Funafuti, sits about 585 miles south of the Equator.
By some estimates, Tuvaluans will be forced, by water scarcity and rising sea levels, to migrate elsewhere in the next 50 years. This mass exodus is already happening. Large Tuvaluan outposts exist in Fiji and New Zealand.
I came to Tuvalu with a question: What does it mean for a whole nation to become uninhabitable in my lifetime?
Tauala Katea, the director of Tuvalu’s meteorological service, sat in his office near the airport and tilted a monitor to show me an image of a recent flood when water bubbled up under a field by the runway. “This is what climate change looks like,” he told me.
“In 2000, Tuvaluans living in the outer islands noticed that their taro and pulaka crops were suffering,” he said. “The root crops seemed rotten and the size was getting smaller and smaller.”
Those two starchy staples of Tuvaluan cuisine are grown in pits dug underground. This crop failure was the first indication that something was wrong. The culprit was found to be saltwater intrusion linked to sea level rise.
The last 20 years have marked a period of significant change in the Tuvaluan way of life. Thatched roofs and freshwater wells are things of the past. The freshwater lens underneath the island, a layer that floats above denser seawater, has become salty and contaminated. Each home now has a water tank attached to a corrugated iron roof by a gutter. This rainwater is boiled for drinking and also used to wash clothes and dishes and for bathing.
Imported food is now commonplace. During my month in Tuvalu (from December 2014 to January 2015), I learned what climate change tastes like: imported rice, tinned corned beef, a handful of imported carrots and apples, the occasional local papaya, bananas and many creative uses for custard powder.
There is no normal anymore.
“We can try to adapt to climate change, all these changes,” Mr. Katea said, “or migrate.”
Igloolik, a community on a small island of the same name in northern Canada, is about 1,400 miles south of the North Pole. The only way to get in or out is by passenger plane, dog sled, snowmobile or — for a few weeks in summer, when the sea ice melts — boat. Around 1,700 people live there.
Marie Airut, an elder in her 70s , lives by the water. We spoke in her living room over cups of black tea. “My husband died recently,” she told me. But when he was alive, they went hunting together in every season; it was their main source of food.
“I’m not going to tell you what I don’t know. I’m going to tell you only the things that I have seen,” she said. In the 1970s and ’80s, seal holes would open in late June, an ideal time for hunting baby seals. “But now if I try to go out hunting at the end of June, the holes are very big and the ice is really thin,” she explained. “The ice is melting too fast. It doesn’t melt from the top, it melts from the bottom.”
When the water is warmer, the animals change their movement. Igloolik has always been known for its walrus hunting. But, she said, “I don’t think I can reach them anymore, unless you have 70 gallons of gas. They are that far now, because the ice is melting so fast. It used to take us half a day to find walrus in the summer, but now, if I go out with my boys, it would probably take us two days to get some walrus meat for the winter.”
Ms. Airut and her family used to make fermented walrus every year, “but this year I told my sons we’re not going walrus hunting. They are too far,” she said.
“I read my Bible every day, and I know things will change,” she said. “And I believe both of them are happening now, what is written and what I see with my own eyes.”
Francis Piugattuk had worked for 20 years as a wildlife technician at the Igloolik Research Center. When he was a child, polar bear sightings were infrequent.
“Even seeing tracks was an anomaly, a cause for excitement. And if people wanted to harvest polar bears, they would have to go long, long distances,” he said.
Mr. Piugattuk noted that up until 20 years ago, the only animals attracted to caches of walrus meat near town were arctic foxes. Now the community is setting up electric fences and trying to extract the fermenting meat before the polar bears can get to it. The bears are moving closer to human settlements as ice patterns change.
Elders, he told me, were able to live sustainably off the land by selling fox or seal pelts in exchange for rifles, boats and other materials. Today it’s only those in the wage economy who can afford to buy an outboard motor or ammunition.
“The cost of living is so great now that it’s not even viable to try to exist as a hunter,” he explained. “Those of us that do not hunt live on pasta and macaroni, rice, soup.”
Terry Uyarak, a hunter in his early 30s, has deep tan lines around his eyes in the shape of his sunglasses — the sign of a summer spent out on the land.
When he was younger, the ocean would freeze in late September. Now, come Halloween, he can still go boating. In the past, in late October, he would be driving a snowmobile.
“It’s changing quite rapidly. And I’m not old at all. I’m 31,” he said.
Tromso, Norway, is often the last stop for researchers before crossing the Arctic Ocean to Svalbard, the northernmost year-round settlement in the world, home to researchers of many nationalities.
Geir Wing Gabrielsen, a senior research scientist in environmental pollutants at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromso, has been researching Arctic animals for nearly four decades. In recent years, his focus has turned to plastic pollution, which, in Arctic waters, has become a symptom of how the warming climate is altering ocean currents and affecting Arctic animals.
In 1987, he started investigating the diet of the fulmar, a bird that can live for more than 40 years in the wild. Of the 40 birds he sliced open, four had plastic in their stomach. When he repeated the study in 2013, 35 did; some had more than 200 pieces of plastic in their stomachs, preventing the uptake of nutrients. In Europe, fulmars have been found on the beaches, starved to death because of the overload of plastic in their stomachs.
Part of the reason there’s so much plastic in the Arctic is that ocean currents are changing because of the warming effect caused by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This, in turn, pushes more plastic contamination and pollutants into the Arctic from points south.
Plastic is now found not only in Arctic surface waters but also on the ocean floor and in sea ice. Dr. Gabrielsen has witnessed other changes in the ecosystem. Fjords that used to be dominated by polar species now have Atlantic species. Species that used to be farther south, like capelin, herring, mackerel and Atlantic cod, are more prominent than polar cod.
When the Atlantic system drifts northward, pollution also enters the food chain. Fish eat the plankton, the seal eats the fish, the polar bear eats the seal and the toxicity accumulates in the body of the apex predator.
“We all agree to take care of our coastline, but nobody wants to take care of what’s going on far away from us, out at sea,” Dr. Gabrielsen said.
I wandered into the First Church of Otago in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, where I met Malcolm, who worked in a museum in the church devoted to the history of the congregation.
He told me that in 2006, an iceberg from Antarctica floated past Dunedin’s coast. The pieces most likely broke off from an ice shelf in 2000.
“It could be seen by people from Dunedin if they climbed up the hills and looked out to sea,” he said. It was white and bigger than a speck, but far enough off the coast that it didn’t come ashore.
This ice was a whisper from Antarctica — the faraway, suddenly nearby and in motion. Melting.
“Many people chartered airplanes to fly out over it and look at it,” Malcolm said. He pointed to a photograph taken by The Otago Daily Times in which a helicopter, insect-size in comparison, landed on the surface of the ice. “You can see it’s quite a huge thing,” he said.
I met Ren Hu, a Ph.D. student at the University of Wollongong, when I was cycling through Australia, but the story he wanted to share was about his hometown, close to the city of Nanjing in east-central China.
“When I was a kid, about 7 or 8 years old, in my hometown, the snow in winter could be very thick,” he told me, “and everyone made a very big snowman.” The memory of those winters made him smile.
But a few months earlier, he had returned to his hometown in the winter. Now the snowflakes fall less frequently and often melt without accumulating. Mr. Ren thinks of snow “like an endangered animal, because it’s very rare in my hometown,” he said. “My memories became a fairy tale.”