Vote 'NO' on the recall on Sept. 14! Stop the right-wing power grab!
We are hosting street meetings across the Bay Area. Join us:
East Bay - Monday 8/30, 12pm at Oscar Grant Plaza
San Jose - Friday 9/3, 5pm at the Tropicana shopping center
San Francisco - Saturday 9/4, 12pm at Dolores Park
The recall is, in reality, an attempted electoral coup
The PSL is not a supporter of Newsom nor the Democratic Party, but recognizes that the recall has been put on the ballot by a coalition of anti-immigrant, anti-worker, anti-environment and pro-death penalty forces backed by millions of dollars from the Trump-dominated national Republican Party and an array of corporate donors. They have spent many millions of dollars to impose an agenda that would harm the rights and interests of the working class, the vast majority of people, and the already devastated environment.
Read the full PSL statement on the recall election at:
Why We Go to Creech…
Shut Down Creech, Fall Action Week
Sun, Sept 26th - Sat, Oct 2ndPlease Join Us!
Why We Go to Creech…
Shut Down Creech, Fall Action Week
Sun, Sept 26th - Sat, Oct 2nd
Please Join Us!
Ajmal Ahmadi weeps alone in a room after 10 members of his family, including 6 children were killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 29, 2021. (Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times):
Did you hear about the 3 Afghan toddler girls whose flesh was ripped to pieces by a U.S. Drone Strike last Sunday? Striking in a Kabul NEIGHBORHOOD, the attack also killed 4 other children, including 2 more under 6 years old! The grief on Amal Ahmadi’s face tells it all! 10 civilian family members dead, 7 of them children, body parts everywhere, and bodies unrecognizable. It was a horrific and tragic scene.
And then there was last Friday’s U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar Province that U.S. officials claimed killed two “high profile" ISIS-K targets.” A witness reported, “…rickshaws were burning. Children and women were wounded and one man, one boy and one woman had been killed on the spot.”
OFFICIALS LIE...CHILDREN, WOMEN AND MEN DIE!
WE MUST UNITE TO STOP THIS RACIST U.S. DRONE TERROR IN THE SKY.
Information about Programs & Activities, Housing & Transportation, Camp Justice, Meals, and Sponsorship & Support can be found on our website at <http://shutdowncreech.blogspot.com>.
To: U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives
Sign Petition at:
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
Freedom for Major Tillery! End his Life Imprisonment!
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
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
By Alexander Clapp, August 27, 2021
ATHENS — Six years after finding themselves at the forefront of Europe’s political crisis over refugees, thousands of Greeks are now refugees in their own country.
On July 21, a small wildfire began burning over the northern half of Evia, an island around 30 miles northeast of Athens. Over the next 20 days — most of which exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 degrees Celsius — it swelled into a vast conflagration, sweeping from one coastline of Evia to another and racking up a staggering balance sheet of damage: 120,000 acres of burned forest, hundreds of millions of euros in economic loss, and the wholesale evacuation of dozens of villages and thousands of islanders. Two people were killed.
The devastation, though shocking, isn’t new: Swaths of Greece burn virtually every summer. This year’s destruction pales in comparison to the summer of 2007, when fires across the Peloponnese and southern Evia burned 670,000 acres of forest and farmland. And for human life, worse still was the summer of 2018, when the seaside town of Mati was razed by one of this century’s deadliest fires, killing 102 residents.
What sets this summer’s fires apart, however, is the Greek state’s explanation of why they’re happening. “The climate crisis,” as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in early August, “is here.” But after decades of privatization, austerity and boundless military spending, the state is in no position to combat it. In places like Evia, Greeks have been largely left to fend for themselves.
It’s a cautionary tale: Across southern Europe and beyond, countries — Turkey, Italy and Algeria among them — have struggled to respond to wildfires, as decades of underinvestment have withered the state’s ability to protect its citizens. In Greece as elsewhere, to have any chance of mitigating climate catastrophe, the state must reverse much of what it has done for the last 30 years — and commit to the patient, long-term task of investing in environmental resilience. Otherwise Athens, streaked by smoke, could become Europe’s first uninhabitable capital city.
The roots of this summer’s fires in Greece go back to the postwar period, when breakneck urbanization — spurred by flimsy, often illegal building sprees — lured tens of thousands from the countryside to Athens. Entire coastlines were despoiled with concrete for the sake of touristic development, while colossal tracts of countryside, long overseen by shepherds and olive farmers with stakes in the well-being of the land, were emptied of many of their handlers. Even more devastating, on a global scale, was the environmental damage committed by Greece’s ship-owning magnates, whose ceaseless transport of hydrocarbons, combined with a stranglehold over the country’s political system, made them some of the world’s most stupendous agents of planetary desecration.
Even so, at least until the late 1980s, the state played a large role in securing public welfare. But over the next decade, that started to change. In search of immediate profits, the government sold off chunks of the country’s public sectors, among them telecommunications, electricity and gas. Responsibilities once held by the state fell to private interests, whose priority was to turn a profit off them, or to private citizens, who were left to pick up the pieces.
Take Greece’s firefighting sector. Though nominally under the state’s care, it suffered from under-resourcing: In the ’90s, the government annually deployed a small force of just 4,500 permanent firefighters — aided by thousands of seasonal hires — to stamp out summer blazes. Little attempt was made to harness resources for the long-term care of forestland that might prevent the onset of fires in the first place. Exacerbating the problem, in 1998 the liberal administration, as part of its bid to decentralize government further, uncoupled the task of firefighting from that of forest management altogether. Efforts to stymie fires became tangled in bureaucracy.
It got worse. The financial crash of 2008 and the ruthless austerity that followed — insisted on by the European Union countries now dispatching troops of firefighters to Athens — forced the Greek government to operate within strict budgetary requirements. With only minimal control over its own finances, it stripped back the firefighting budget by more than €100 million, or $118 million. The result was considerable abandonment. In recent weeks, as their homes burned in Evia, residents threw up their arms in despair. “The state is absent,” said one villager. “We were fighting alone,” said another.
There’s a twist. Though severely constrained, the Greek government does have access to substantial sums — but it chooses to use them for other purposes. Most strikingly, the government spends lavish amounts defending its citizens against the supposed threat of Turkey, which has itself suffered extensive wildfires this summer, with at least 160,000 acres of woodlands destroyed along the country’s tourist-saturated southern coastline.
It’s a strange situation: Last year, the two countries, both NATO members, spent over €20 billion arming themselves not against the demonstrable damage of climate change — but largely against one another. Were the Greek government to shift just a tenth of its annual military budget into environmental protection, it could afford to send around 45,000 additional firefighters into places like Evia every summer.
More bizarre still is what, in recent years, is accelerating the arms race. Discovered over the past 15 years, extensive natural gas deposits trapped beneath the eastern Mediterranean, large parts of which Turkey claims rest within its maritime borders, have given new fodder to the decades-old conflict. The irony is close to grotesque: Citizens of two states have been forced to become volunteer firefighters as their governments funnel billions of euros into bolstering claims to the very thing responsible for setting their countries ablaze.
It is, of course, hardly within Greece’s power to solve the climate crisis. But a state that radically reallocates existing resources and puts itself on a war footing against the climate threat, rather than against its own neighbors, could set an example for the rest of the Mediterranean, and beyond. The alternative — scorched land, rising seas, evacuated villages — is certain doom.
Prosecutors said Friday that Christopher Taylor had been charged with fatally shooting Mauris DeSilva in July 2019, about nine months before he fatally shot another man.
By Michael Levenson, Aug. 27, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/27/us/christopher-taylor-police-officer-murder.html
A police officer in Austin, Texas, who was charged with murdering a man in April 2020 has been charged with murdering another man about nine months earlier, prosecutors said on Friday.
The latest indictments charge the officer, Christopher Taylor, 29, and another officer, Karl Krycia, 28, with murder and deadly conduct in the fatal shooting of Mauris DeSilva, 46, who had been holding a knife in the hallway of his condominium complex on July 31, 2019.
The charges came five months after Officer Taylor had been charged with fatally shooting Michael Ramos, 42, outside an Austin apartment complex on April 24, 2020.
The killing of Mr. Ramos, who was Black and Hispanic, set off protests against police violence in Austin about a month before the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis catalyzed global demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism.
Mr. DeSilva had severe mental illness and had been holding a knife to his neck when people in the building called 911, according to a lawsuit filed by his father that accuses Officers Taylor and Krycia of knowing that Mr. DeSilva was experiencing a mental health crisis and yet still responding “as if this were the scene of a violent crime.”
Officer Taylor’s lawyers argued that he had been protecting himself after Mr. DeSilva refused to drop the knife and came within three or four feet of the officer.
“What happened was undoubtedly tragic, particularly if it is true the man was experiencing a psychiatric episode, but in no way was this murder,” the lawyers, Ken Ervin and Doug O’Connell, said in a statement.
They accused José Garza, a former federal public defender who was elected Travis County district attorney in November 2020, of “waging a war on police officers.”
Mr. Garza’s office responded by noting that, since January, 12 officers whose potentially criminal conduct had been reviewed by a grand jury did not end up facing charges.
Jason English, a lawyer for Officer Krycia, said in a statement, “While we are sorry any time that a life is lost, we do believe that the actions were reasonable under the facts and justified under the law.”
Officer Krycia has been placed on paid administrative duty, Austin’s police chief, Joseph Chacon, said. Officer Taylor remains on leave without pay in connection with the killing of Mr. Ramos, he said.
“APD respects the role the grand jury holds in the criminal justice process and will continue to cooperate with the District Attorney’s Office on this case,” Chief Chacon said in a statement that noted that the officers were presumed innocent.
Lawyers for Mr. DeSilva’s father, Denzil DeSilva, said the charges would begin to help him heal.
“Due to the excessive force used by Austin Police Department officers, Denzil lost a beloved son, and the world lost a talented scientist and researcher,” the father’s lawyers said in a statement.
Mr. DeSilva grew up in Sri Lanka and had a doctorate in biomedical engineering, according to the father’s lawsuit. He also suffered from “increasingly severe mental illness” during the last years of his life, which the Austin police knew about, according to the lawsuit.
In February 2015, Mr. DeSilva grabbed a knife and threatened to hurt himself, and the Austin police responded, taking him to a hospital. In May 2019, he required “an emotionally disturbed person” intervention by the police, and on July 7, 2019, just weeks before he was fatally shot, he was committed to emergency detention, according to the lawsuit.
On the day Mr. DeSilva was killed, a neighbor called 911 to report that Mr. DeSilva was having “another mental episode” and asked that a mental health officer be dispatched, according to the lawsuit. Several others who saw Mr. DeSilva holding a knife to his neck also called 911.
Austin had a mental health officer on duty at the time, but Officers Taylor and Krycia and two other officers responded instead, the lawsuit states. They spoke to building workers, reviewed security footage and knew that Mr. DeSilva was experiencing a mental health crisis, the lawsuit states.
After taking an elevator to the fifth floor with a building worker, the officers found Mr. DeSilva in the hallway, with his back to them, looking in a mirror with a knife to his neck, according to the lawsuit.
Officers Taylor and Krycia shouted at Mr. DeSilva to drop the knife, and he lowered it. Officers then shouted, “Hey, man,” and Mr. DeSilva took one step in their direction, the lawsuit states.
Another officer fired a Taser at Mr. DeSilva, and Officers Taylor and Krycia simultaneously fired multiple shots at Mr. DeSilva, striking him in the chest, the lawsuit states. Mr. DeSilva was pronounced dead at a hospital.
About nine months later, on April 24, 2020, Officer Taylor went to the parking lot of an apartment complex after a 911 caller reported that Mr. Ramos was sitting in a car with drugs and holding a gun, with a woman next to him, the police said.
After meeting outside the apartment complex, he and a number of other officers confronted Mr. Ramos.
Dashboard camera video released by the police last year shows officers repeatedly ordering Mr. Ramos to put his hands up and step out of the car. Mr. Ramos can be seen getting out with his hands up. Officers then tell him to lift up his shirt and turn around in a circle, which he did.
Mr. Ramos waves his hands and yells at the officers, asking at one point, “What’s going on?” He also yells, “I ain’t got no gun, dog!” with an expletive added.
An officer fired a bean bag at Mr. Ramos, striking him in the thigh, the authorities said. Mr. Ramos then got back into the car and drove forward as officers yelled at him not to leave.
Officer Taylor fired three rounds from his rifle at Mr. Ramos’s moving car, striking him, the police said. Emergency medical workers took Mr. Ramos to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Austin police confirmed after the shooting that Mr. Ramos had not had a gun. Mr. Ervin said that Officer Taylor planned to plead not guilty in the fatal shooting of Mr. Ramos.
Video from body cameras, doorbells and cellphones is revealing discrepancies between what police officers report and what actually happened.
By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Frances Robles, Aug. 28, 2021
Travis Price was charged with “hindering police” during the arrest of his brother. Body camera footage changed the narrative. Cornell Watson for The New York Times
The statement from the Rock Hill Police Department was unequivocal about what Travis Price did: He belligerently obstructed officers as they arrested his brother on a gun charge; he shoved them and knocked them with his body; he refused to follow orders.
He was charged with “hindering police,” and the congressman in his district in South Carolina piled on with a statement of his own, describing Mr. Price as a “suspect” who “rolls up and starts interfering with things.”
Fifteen days later, after Mr. Price spent about 36 hours in jail, the truth came out. Body camera videos of the June 23 incident showed that Mr. Price had been calmly following the instructions of officers in the seconds before one officer, Jonathan Moreno, pushed him against a kerosene tank outside a gas station and took him to the ground.
“He had done nothing wrong,” Kevin Brackett, the region’s top prosecutor, acknowledged during a news conference last month. Mr. Brackett announced that he was charging Mr. Moreno, who was fired from the Police Department, with assault and battery. And in a dramatic moment, Mr. Brackett called Mr. Moreno to the podium, where he apologized.
“I did make a mistake,” he said. “I’m here to own it and I’m here to make it right.”
There have long been instances in which the police have provided false accounts of arrests, but disparities between officers’ descriptions and what people see have become more common with the expansion of body cameras and cellphone videos and as police departments’ public accounts draw more scrutiny.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s initial description of George Floyd’s death, in May 2020, said he had died after a “medical incident during police interaction.” That account was challenged within hours as a teenager’s gruesome video of his death flooded the internet, igniting the largest protests in a generation.
Across the United States, people who have been the targets of false police statements are increasingly working to correct the record, sometimes investigating their own cases, interviewing witnesses and filing defamation lawsuits.
“There’s a widespread search for tools to make the police more accountable,” said Lyrissa Lidsky, the dean of the University of Missouri School of Law and an expert in defamation law. “These lawsuits are part and parcel of the search for police accountability tools.”
But, Ms. Lidsky said, winning lawsuits is difficult in many cases.
“People shouldn’t think that it’s easy to bring a defamation suit against the police, because it’s hard — really hard,” she said. Suing a city, government agency, police officer or member of Congress often comes with additional challenges for plaintiffs, such as the qualified immunity doctrine that shields government officials in some situations.
In many cases, citizens who are mentioned in a police department’s false account have sued over other matters, such as civil rights violations or negligence.
Last year, the Detroit City Council approved a $75,000 payment to the owner of two dogs that were shot and killed by a police officer during a drug raid.
A police supervisor wrote in a report that the officer had seen one of two pit bulls “charging” and “attempting to bite” the officers. The supervisor also reported that he examined the body camera video and “found no discrepancies” with that account.
But when the graphic body camera video was released, it showed that the officer had shot the dogs one after the other without any provocation in a hallway of the home. A puppy could later be seen walking over one of the bloody bodies.
In some cases, people have read false accounts of their interactions with the police and tried to set the record straight.
In Central Florida, Chris Cordero was driving his tan Saturn through his neighborhood in Lake Wales early this year when, he said, he noticed a police cruiser following him. Mr. Cordero, 37, grew nervous, and then the officer pulled him over. What could have been a routine traffic stop ended with Mr. Cordero on the ground, in handcuffs. He would face several years in prison, accused of assaulting a police officer.
In his report, the officer, David Colt Black, said he had pulled Mr. Cordero over because he was not wearing a seatbelt and had ignored a stop sign. The officer said Mr. Cordero got out of his car and immediately charged at him.
“Cordero continued approaching me with closed fists, yelling, ‘You can’t stop me, you don’t have the right,’” the officer wrote, adding: “Cordero continued to charge towards me with closed fists.”
He said Mr. Cordero kept resisting arrest and seemed to be reaching for a weapon in his waistband, and so he used his elbow to deliver a swift strike to the side of Mr. Cordero’s head. Mr. Cordero was arrested and taken into custody.
But Mr. Cordero said he never charged the officer and was certain that the strike to his head was unprovoked. He decided to conduct his own investigation.
“I had to go door-to-door, because they were trying to give me from four to seven years in prison,” he said. “The officer said I charged his vehicle and I tried to attack him. I know I didn’t. I got out of the car and remained there.”
Mr. Cordero’s door-knocking produced quick results. He obtained a doorbell security video from the house across the street. The footage was from a bit of a distance, and it was hardly clear what was happening, but it was obvious that Mr. Cordero had not done what he had been accused of.
Video in hand, he started making phone calls, accusing the officers of brutality and of making racist slurs. Within a day, Officer Black submitted a supplemental report saying that he realized, after watching the surveillance footage, that his “perception was altered due to the high stress of the incident.”
“Based upon the video, I could see Cordero did not get as close to me as I originally thought he did,” Officer Black wrote, acknowledging that what happened did not justify a charge of assault on a law enforcement officer.
Officer Black later told investigators that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from an incident several years ago when he had been beaten by a suspect and required hospitalization. After the revelations in Mr. Cordero’s case, Officer Black resigned from the department and began treatment, according to an investigative report by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators closed the case with no action, and the prosecutors did not charge the officer.
“He lied on a report,” Mr. Cordero said. “What did I do wrong? Nothing. I told the truth.”
Sara Jones, a lawyer who initially helped Mr. Cordero with the case, said she believed him from the start, because his account of being sucker-punched from behind during a traffic stop mirrored what she had heard from other clients.
“That is what made me believe he was telling the truth before I even saw the video,” Ms. Jones said.
The Lake Wales Police forwarded a reporter’s request for comment on the investigation to Officer Black’s father, a deputy chief at the department, who did not respond. Officer Black did not respond to a request for an interview.
In the case of Mr. Price in South Carolina, the Police Department never explained the false statement it gave reporters about what happened during the arrest. Mr. Price is suing the City of Rock Hill and Representative Ralph Norman, the Republican congressman, saying that both slandered him in their public statements.
A day after The New York Times contacted him, Mr. Norman’s office updated the statement on his blog and Facebook page to remove the false information.
Mr. Price, a father of two who works at a chemical plant, said he worried about what would have happened if there had not been a public outcry that led to the release of the body camera footage. Whose story would people have believed?
“How they degraded my name, it just ain’t right,” he said. “I just don’t want, everywhere I go, people looking at me all different, and it’s already that way. I want my character to still be the same.”
Mike Baker, Lucy Tompkins, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio and Will Wright contributed reporting.
Afghanistan Live Updates, August 30, 2021
Footage showed the site of a U.S. military drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan. The strike targeted a vehicle carrying explosives, a Defense Department official said.EPA, via Shutterstock
Hours after a U.S. military drone strike in Kabul on Sunday, Defense Department officials said that it had blown up a vehicle laden with explosives, eliminating a threat to Kabul’s airport from the Islamic State Khorasan group.
But at a family home in Kabul on Monday, survivors and neighbors said the strike had killed 10 people, including seven children, an aid worker for an American charity organization and a contractor with the U.S. military.
Zemari Ahmadi, who worked for the charity organization Nutrition and Education International, was on his way home from work after dropping off colleagues on Sunday evening, according to relatives and colleagues interviewed in Kabul.
As he pulled into the narrow street where he lived with his three brothers and their families, the children, seeing his white Toyota Corolla, ran outside to greet him. Some clambered aboard in the street, others gathered around as he pulled the car into the courtyard of their home.
It was then that they say the drone struck.
The missile hit the rear end of the Corolla in the narrow courtyard inside the walled family compound, blowing out doors, shattering windows and spraying shrapnel. Mr. Ahmadi and some of the children were killed inside his car; others were fatally wounded in adjacent rooms, family members said. An Afghan official confirmed that three of the dead children were transferred by ambulance from the home on Sunday.
Mr. Ahmadi’s daughter Samia, 21, was inside when she was struck by the blast wave. “At first I thought it was the Taliban,” she said. “But the Americans themselves did it.”
Samia said she staggered outside, choking, and saw the bodies of her siblings and relatives. “I saw the whole scene,” she said. “There were burnt pieces of flesh everywhere.”
Among the dead was her fiancé, Ahmad Naser, 30, a former army officer and contractor with the U.S. military who had come from Herat, in western Afghanistan, in the hopes of being evacuated from Kabul.
A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command said on Sunday that the U.S. military had carried out a drone strike against an Islamic State Khorasan vehicle planning to attack Hamid Karzai International Airport. The group had claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at the airport on Thursday.
On Monday, Capt. Bill Urban, the spokesman, reaffirmed an earlier statement that the military hit a valid target, an explosives-laden vehicle. He also repeated that the military was investigating claims of civilian casualties.
Mr. Ahmadi was a technical engineer for the local office of Nutrition and Education International, an American nonprofit based in Pasadena, Calif. His neighbors and relatives insisted that the engineer and his family members, many of whom had worked for the Afghan security forces, had no connection to any terrorist group.
They provided documents related to his long employment with the American charity, as well as Mr. Naser’s application for a Special Immigrant Visa, based on his service as a guard at Camp Lawton, in Herat.
“He was well respected by his colleagues and compassionate towards the poor and needy,” Steven Kwon, the president of NEI, said of Mr. Ahmadi in an email. He wrote that Mr. Ahmadi had just recently “prepared and delivered soy-based meals to hungry women and children at local refugee camps in Kabul.”
Najim Rahim, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting
By Jake Johnson
—Common Dreams, August 30, 2021
Relatives and neighbors of the Ahmadi family gathered around the incinerated husk of a vehicle hit by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 30, 2021.
The largest Muslim civil rights organization in the United States demanded Monday that the Biden administration immediately put in place a "moratorium on drone warfare" after the U.S. killed at least 10 Afghan civilians—including half a dozen children—with an airstrike in Kabul over the weekend.
"Enough is enough," Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement. "For more than ten years, our government's drone strikes have killed thousands of innocent people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and elsewhere in the Muslim world—destroying family homes, wedding parties, and even funeral processions. The civilian casualties in Kabul are simply the latest victims of this misused technology."
Mitchell said the Biden administration should impose a temporary moratorium on the U.S. drone program—which is largely shrouded in secrecy—"until the government establishes strict oversight rules that would prevent these tragedies by severely limiting and transparently accounting for our military's use of drone warfare."
According to press reports and accounts from relatives and witnesses, the 10 people reportedly killed by the U.S. airstrike in Kabul on Sunday were all members of a single extended family—and at least three of the child victims were girls just two years old or younger.
"This is the latest in 20 years of innocent lives taken and children orphaned in Afghanistan and covert drone warfare around the world," Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said Monday. "Impunity for these attacks continues to create a never-ending cycle of violence and retribution. Where should these victims go to seek justice?"
The Biden administration has yet to take responsibility for killing the civilians with its drone strike, which purportedly targeted an explosive-laden vehicle that the U.S. military claims ISIS-K was planning to use in another attack on Kabul's international airport.
"The U.S. went into Afghanistan seeking revenge and bombing civilians," Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group CodePink, tweeted Monday. "Twenty years later, the U.S. is leaving Afghanistan seeking revenge and bombing civilians."
Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the U.S. Joint Staff for Regional Operations, said during a press briefing on Monday that the Pentagon is "aware" of reports of civilian deaths in Kabul and that an investigation is underway.
In a statement, Amnesty International USA executive director Paul O'Brien said that the Biden administration "has a responsibility to the families of those killed to name the dead, acknowledge its actions, investigate, and provide reparations."
The Pentagon is notorious for dramatically undercounting the number of civilians killed in U.S. military operations overseas. And when the U.S. government does admit to killing civilians, it often refuses to provide any compensation to the victims' families.
"The United States has been killing civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Somalia for years, under the guise of the so-called 'war on terror,' with impunity," said O'Brien. "For two decades, the United States has carried out strikes with no accountability to the public for how many civilians were killed."
The latest airstrike in Kabul, O'Brien argued, could be "a glimpse into the future U.S. involvement in Afghanistan if the Biden administration pushes ahead with an 'over the horizon' counter-terrorism program that does not prioritize civilian protection."
Earlier this year, the Biden administration quietly implemented temporary restrictions on drone strikes outside of "conventional battlefield zones" such as Afghanistan. But such limits did not stop U.S. military's Africa Command (AFRICOM) from launching a lethal drone strike in Somalia in July, the first attack on that country of Joe Biden's presidency.
As the withdrawal of U.S. troops continues apace ahead of the August 31 exit deadline, it appears that Biden is prepared to keep carrying out drone strikes in Afghanistan in the future. In a statement Friday after the U.S. launched a drone strike targeting two "planners and facilitators" of the deadly attack on Kabul's airport, Biden declared, "This strike was not the last."
By Andy Horowitz, August 31, 2021
Dr. Horowitz, who lives in New Orleans, is the author of “Katrina: A History, 1915-2015.”
The collapsed Karnofsky Shop building, a historic New Orleans jazz site, on Monday, after Hurricane Ida ripped through the area. Credit...Mickey Welsh, via Reuters
As a boy, Louis Armstrong worked for the Karnofsky family. The Karnofskys’ tailor shop on South Rampart Street in New Orleans became a second home to him, and the family helped him buy his first cornet. On Sunday night, the Karnofsky building, long neglected by the city and a succession of private owners who promised to restore it, finally collapsed under the force of Hurricane Ida’s winds.
I live in New Orleans, but I saw the news on my phone, as I scrolled from the safety of a rented apartment in Birmingham, Ala. My family and I arrived on Friday. We are among the Louisianans who could afford to evacuate. We got here by driving I-59 to I-20, which is to say, we relied on the comparatively well-funded public infrastructure of interstate highways to get out of harm’s way.
Our less wealthy neighbors rely on streetcars and buses to get around, modes of public transportation that burn less gas and therefore contribute less to the rising seas and stronger storms that imperil us all. But there is limited regional bus or train service around New Orleans, and they largely were left to experience Hurricane Ida, one of the strongest to make landfall in Louisiana’s history, firsthand.
The reports I got from those who stayed, by necessity or obligation, were mixed. My wife’s cousin, a surgeon at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, said that for the first time in recent memory, the emergency room was quiet. A doctor friend in Thibodaux, 60 miles southwest of the city, texted to say that a floor of his hospital had lost power and staff were having to manually pump air into the lungs of intubated Covid patients as they moved them to a floor with a working generator. When he got a break, he texted again to say, “I mean this is traumatizing.”
The big story, for New Orleans, is that the levees held. This was a huge relief, a vindication of the work the Army corps did to build what it calls a “risk reduction system” for the city and its suburbs after Hurricane Katrina. Still, the system is less ambitious than the one Louisianans lobbied for after Katrina, and the protection it offers grows weaker every day, as the wetlands that buffer the city from the Gulf of Mexico get wetter.
It could not save the Karnofsky building from the wind, it did not prevent the failure of the New Orleans’s sewer system and it did not stop the region’s electrical transmission towers from toppling, leaving the hundreds of thousands of people who remain in the region without power for the foreseeable future. But it kept the Gulf of Mexico out of the city, which was its job.
The situation in Thibodaux, LaPlace and other towns east of the city is much worse. In this region along the Mississippi River — variously called the petrochemical corridor or Cancer Alley — people live with the constant threat of flooding, toxic emissions and other costs of our technological achievement.
LaPlace, where a storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain during Hurricane Isaac flooded 7,000 homes in 2012, has long lobbied for flood protection; Congress approved $760 million for a project in 2018. But it isn’t slated for completion until 2024, and the levees that residents knew would protect them weren’t anywhere near finished. As I write, there are people there standing in water up to their chests, waiting for rescue.
Houma, a city of more than 30,000 people near the coast, endured 150-mile-per-hour winds for hours. So too did many smaller communities, places like Isle de Jean Charles, Cocodrie, Chauvin and Golden Meadow, where Native people and other Louisianans make a life fishing and, often, working for the same oil and gas companies whose pipelines and emissions imperil their homes. Many houses along the coast are built on pilings, 10 feet or more in the air, because floods are so frequent. It is difficult to imagine what might be left.
Hurricane Ida’s lesson, therefore, is not that Louisiana’s storm protections are good enough. Its lesson is that investments in infrastructure save lives.
Nobody in Louisiana needed another hurricane to teach us this. Because of repeated hurricanes and coastal erosion, the population of Cameron Parish, on the state’s western border, is nearly half what it was in 2000; depending on how you look at it, this is either despite or because of an enormous new liquid natural gas facility in the parish.
Many residents of Lake Charles, just north of Cameron, remain in dire straits since last summer’s Hurricane Laura. Relatively little attention or recovery aid followed that Category 4 hurricane. The Trump administration bears much of the blame for not getting people the resources they need, but it did not help that it is growing ever harder for journalists and citizens to keep up with the floods, storms, wildfires and other dystopian manifestations of our changed climate. That’s why I worry the attention paid to Louisiana after Hurricane Ida will be short lived, too.
New Orleanians understood why the Biden White House gave Louisiana a D+ on the national “infrastructure report card” it released in April. With increasing regularity, for example, clouds have been dumping water into our bowl-shaped city faster than our drainage pumps can take it out. Earlier this summer, President Biden came to tour a linchpin of the city’s water system, called the Carrollton Water Plant, which supplies drinking water to much of New Orleans. “Infrastructure is all about making life livable for ordinary people,” he said outside the plant, stumping for the infrastructure bill that has since passed the Senate and awaits action in the House of Representatives.
A few days after the president’s visit, a problem in the electrical grid — unrelated to the gas shortage that was then vexing much of the South — caused a loss of power at the Carrollton Plant, prompting the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board to issue a “precautionary boil water advisory” for a large section of the city.
This too is a familiar problem here. Mostly you hope you hear about the warning before you have made your coffee or brushed your teeth. If you don’t, you can console yourself knowing that the precautions usually turn out to be unnecessary — even if it is hard to shake the fact that not long ago, two people died nearby after drinking water that contained Naegleria fowleri, which is known as the brain-eating amoeba.
And even before Hurricane Ida blew through, the city’s hospitals were filled to capacity.
Yet through it all, New Orleanians continue to prove themselves capable of making beautiful moments. From an unfamiliar apartment in Birmingham, I think of Joe Krown playing a piano mounted in the back of a pickup truck or Kermit Ruffins advertising “shots for shots”: a free drink at his Mother-in-Law Lounge to people from the neighborhood who got their Covid vaccine.
I think, too, of the brass band staying limber by practicing on the front porch around the corner every week, with my neighbors dancing on the lawn, six feet apart. On a drizzling afternoon this winter, I walked over with my daughter, who was 4 then, just as the band was packing up. She cried because we had missed the music. The trumpeter saw her tears, called for all the instruments to come out of their cases, and the band played her request: “What a Wonderful World.”
The truth is that it’s hard to live in Louisiana. The truth is also that it’s hard to live in many places these days, and Louisiana has the benefit of being comparatively easy to love. In fact, it seems everybody loves New Orleans enough to want to come for a long weekend, because seemingly every block now has an Airbnb — or two or three — driving up housing costs, especially in neighborhoods on higher ground.
Evidently fewer people love New Orleans enough to insist, once they get back home, that their congressional representatives vote for the climate, infrastructure or social welfare legislation that might give this city a few extra decades, or expand the number of people who can make a viable life here, or anywhere else in the United States.
Instead, we’re told to be resilient, which usually means that we should attempt to find individual solutions to our structural problems.
Standing in front of the Carrollton Water Plant last May, Mr. Biden joked to reporters, “I’m taking up a collection.” If Louisiana’s vulnerability were unique, maybe charity would be enough.
But if you live near a coast yourself, I counsel solidarity today. Or, for that matter, if you drink water from the public supply, take medicine produced by federally funded research and development, entrust your children to a public school or your parents to a nursing home, or simply enjoy the occasional convenience of a bridge that does not fall, you might take an interest in that infrastructure bill.
At $1 trillion, it offers a modest down payment on our collective needs — shoring up the roads and bridges like those that my family and I will use to return home whenever the power comes back on and schools reopen. Take an interest though, too, in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package Congress is also considering, which gets a little closer to the scale of the problems before us.
Structural problems need structural solutions. Don’t give charity to Louisiana because it’s unique. Demand that Congress take meaningful action, because Louisiana is not unique, and you may be next.
The law, which prohibits most abortions after six weeks and went into effect on Wednesday, was drafted by Texas lawmakers with the goal of frustrating efforts to challenge it in federal court.
By Adam Liptak, J. David Goodman and Sabrina Tavernise, Published Sept. 1, 2021, Updated Sept. 2, 2021
"the Texas law, which makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape, bars state officials from enforcing it and instead deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it.
"The patient may not be sued, but doctors, staff members at clinics, counselors, people who help pay for the procedure, and even an Uber driver taking a patient to an abortion clinic are all potential defendants. Plaintiffs, who do not need to live in Texas, have any connection to the abortion or show any injury from it, are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win. Prevailing defendants are not entitled to legal fees."
A “Bans Off Our Bodies” protest at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Wednesday. Credit...Montinique Monroe for The New York Times
The Supreme Court refused just before midnight on Wednesday to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions, less than a day after it took effect and became the most restrictive abortion measure in the nation.
The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent.
The majority opinion was unsigned and consisted of a single long paragraph. It said the abortion providers who had challenged the law in an emergency application to the court had not made their case in the face of “complex and novel” procedural questions. The majority stressed that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of the Texas law and did not mean to limit “procedurally proper challenges” to it.
But the ruling was certain to fuel the hopes of abortion opponents and fears of abortion rights advocates as the court takes up a separate case in its new term this fall to decide whether Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to the procedure, should be overruled. It also left Texas abortion providers turning away patients as they scrambled to comply with the law, which prohibits abortions after roughly six weeks.
All four dissenting justices filed opinions.
“The court’s order is stunning,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”
“The court has rewarded the state’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state’s own creation,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “The court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.”
Chief Justice Roberts wrote that he would have blocked the law while appeals moved forward.
“The statutory scheme before the court is not only unusual, but unprecedented,” he wrote. “The legislature has imposed a prohibition on abortions after roughly six weeks, and then essentially delegated enforcement of that prohibition to the populace at large. The desired consequence appears to be to insulate the state from responsibility for implementing and enforcing the regulatory regime.”
The chief justice underscored the tentative nature of the majority’s ruling. “Although the court denies the applicants’ request for emergency relief today,” he wrote, “the court’s order is emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constitutionality of the law at issue.”
Justice Elena Kagan criticized the court’s practice of deciding important issues in rushed decisions without full briefing or oral argument — on what Supreme Court specialists call its “shadow docket.”
“Today’s ruling illustrates just how far the court’s ‘shadow-docket’ decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process,” she wrote. “That ruling, as everyone must agree, is of great consequence.”
“Yet the majority has acted without any guidance from the court of appeals — which is right now considering the same issues,” she wrote. “It has reviewed only the most cursory party submissions, and then only hastily. And it barely bothers to explain its conclusion — that a challenge to an obviously unconstitutional abortion regulation backed by a wholly unprecedented enforcement scheme is unlikely to prevail.”
“In all these ways,” Justice Kagan wrote, “the majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this court’s shadow-docket decision making — which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent and impossible to defend.”
The Texas law, known as Senate Bill 8, amounts to a nearly complete ban on abortion in Texas because 85 to 90 percent of procedures in the state happen after the sixth week of pregnancy, according to lawyers for several clinics. On Tuesday night, clinics were scrambling to see patients until the minute the law went into effect, with six-hour waits for procedures in some places. By Wednesday, the patient lists had shrunk, clinic workers said in interviews.
The law is the latest battle over abortion rights in the United States. In recent years, anti-abortion campaigners have found success through laws in state legislatures, and a broad swath of the South and the Midwest now has limited access to abortions.
Texas has about 24 abortion clinics, down from roughly 40 before 2013, when the State Legislature imposed a previous round of restrictions. It was not immediately clear on Wednesday if every one of them was complying with the law, which the Republican governor signed in May, but many, in interviews, said they were.
In the emergency application urging the justices to intervene, abortion providers in the state said the new law “would immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas,” and most likely force “many abortion clinics ultimately to close.”
Supreme Court precedents prohibit states from banning abortion before fetal viability, the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, or about 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. The law in Texas says doctors cannot perform abortions if a heartbeat is detected, activity that starts at around six weeks, before many women are even aware they are pregnant.
Many states have passed such bans, but the law in Texas is different. It was drafted to make it difficult to challenge in court.
Usually, a lawsuit seeking to block a law because it is unconstitutional would name state officials as defendants. However, the Texas law, which makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape, bars state officials from enforcing it and instead deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it.
The patient may not be sued, but doctors, staff members at clinics, counselors, people who help pay for the procedure, and even an Uber driver taking a patient to an abortion clinic are all potential defendants. Plaintiffs, who do not need to live in Texas, have any connection to the abortion or show any injury from it, are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win. Prevailing defendants are not entitled to legal fees.
That novel formulation has sent clinics scrambling.
Dr. Jessica Rubino, a doctor at Austin Women’s Health Center, a small, independent clinic in the state capital, said that at first, she wanted to defy what appeared to be an unconstitutional law. But she said she concluded that doing so would put her staff at risk.
“If this was a criminal ban, we’d know what this is and what we can and cannot do,” Dr. Rubino said. “But this ban has civil implications. It requires a lawyer to go to court. It requires lawyers’ fees. And then $10,000 if we don’t win. What happens if everybody is sued, not just me?”
She added: “My staff is nervous. They’ve been asking, ‘What about our families?’”
Dr. Rubino said her clinic had “struggled so much to come up with any plan to take care of anyone” under the new law, and on Wednesday was sorting out what the new policies would be. For example, she wondered, if someone knows they are more than six or seven weeks pregnant — roughly the new legal limit — should the clinic advise them to go out of state and not waste money on an ultrasound?
Doctors who are sued, even if the suit is dismissed, have to report the lawsuits when they renew licenses or obtain hospital admitting privileges, according to Amy Hagstrom Miller, the chief executive at Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas.
There was little indication of the shifting legal ground outside the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston, the group’s only location in the city that provides abortion services. A blue bus offering free pregnancy tests from an anti-abortion group, a regular presence, sat across the street. But inside, the effect was clear: Dr. Bhavik Kumar, a staff physician, said he had seen six patients by Wednesday afternoon, down from his usual 30.
At Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth, the last patient appointment was completed at 11:56 p.m. on Tuesday, said Marva Sadler, the organization’s senior director of clinic services. She said doctors started early on Tuesday morning and treated 117 patients, far more than usual.
“It was absolutely organized chaos,” said Ms. Sadler, who had come from San Antonio to help out. “Patients were waiting upward of five and six hours to have their procedures done.”
She said patients were waiting in their cars, and also in the waiting room. Some were told to come back later. On Wednesday, she said, the clinic was in uncharted waters. Of the 79 people on the schedule, she estimated that about 20 would be able to eventually complete their procedures. Many, she said, would be too far along in their pregnancies to be treated under the new law.
“People are confused,” she said. “They don’t know where to go. They don’t know what this law is.”
The immediate question for the justices was not whether the Texas law is constitutional, but whether it may be challenged in federal court. The law’s defenders say that, given the way the law is structured, only Texas courts can rule on the matter and only in the context of suits against abortion providers for violating the law.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was provisional. The challenge to the law remains pending in the lower federal courts, and they are poised to sort through the complex issues in the case.
As the law came into force, Democrats assailed it and pledged to fight to retain abortion rights in Texas and nationwide. In a statement, President Biden said the measure “blatantly violates” the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade.
In its next term, which starts in October, the Supreme Court is set to decide whether Roe v. Wade should be overruled in a case from Mississippi concerning a state law banning most abortions after 15 weeks that has been blocked by the courts.
The Texas case, which was on the court’s “shadow docket” without a full briefing or oral arguments, leapfrogged the one from Mississippi.
The Texas and Mississippi laws are among many measures enacted by Republican-controlled state legislatures intended to test the durability of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe’s core holding and said states may not impose an “undue burden” on the right to abortion before fetal viability.
The lawmakers behind the various state-based measures are betting that the Supreme Court’s recent shift to the right will lead it to sustain the new laws. The court now includes three members appointed by President Donald J. Trump, who had vowed to name justices prepared to overrule Roe v. Wade.
One of them, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, replaced Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a cautious supporter of abortion rights. Another, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who viewed access to abortion as essential to women’s autonomy and equality.
Two months after Senate Bill 8 was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, abortion providers in Texas filed suit in federal court, naming, among others, every state trial court judge and county court clerk in Texas.
The defendants responded that they were not proper parties and were, in any event, immune from being sued.
A federal trial judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case and scheduled a hearing on whether to block the law. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, canceled the hearing.
The challengers said they were at minimum entitled to a decision on their request for the law to be temporarily suspended.
By David Cole and Daniel Mach, September 2, 2021
Mr. Cole is the national legal director of the A.C.L.U., and Mr. Mach is the director of its Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/02/opinion/covid-vaccine-mandates-civil-liberties.html
Do vaccine mandates violate civil liberties? Some who have refused vaccination claim as much.
At the A.C.L.U., we are not shy about defending civil liberties, even when they are very unpopular. But we see no civil liberties problem with requiring Covid-19 vaccines in most circumstances.
While the permissibility of requiring vaccines for particular diseases depends on several factors, when it comes to Covid-19, all considerations point in the same direction. The disease is highly transmissible, serious and often lethal; the vaccines are safe and effective; and crucially there is no equally effective alternative available to protect public health.
In fact, far from compromising civil liberties, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties. They protect the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities and fragile immune systems, children too young to be vaccinated and communities of color hit hard by the disease.
Vaccine requirements also safeguard those whose work involves regular exposure to the public, like teachers, doctors and nurses, bus drivers and grocery store employees. And by inoculating people from the disease’s worst effects, the vaccines offer the promise of restoring to all of us our most basic liberties, eventually allowing us to return safely to life as we knew it, in schools and at houses of worship and political meetings, not to mention at restaurants, bars, and gatherings with family and friends.
Here’s why civil liberties objections to Covid vaccine mandates are generally unfounded.
Vaccines are a justifiable intrusion on autonomy and bodily integrity. That may sound ominous, because we all have the fundamental right to bodily integrity and to make our own health care decisions. But these rights are not absolute. They do not include the right to inflict harm on others.
While vaccine mandates are not always permissible, they rarely run afoul of civil liberties when they involve highly infectious and devastating diseases like Covid-19. Although this disease is novel, vaccine mandates are not. Schools, health care facilities, the U.S. military and many other institutions have long required vaccination for contagious diseases like mumps and measles that pose far less risk than the coronavirus does today.
In the United States alone, more than 39 million people have been infected with Covid-19 and more than 600,000 people have died. People with intellectual and physical disabilities are more likely to contract Covid-19, and they have much higher rates of hospitalization and death. Children’s hospitals in Georgia, Louisiana and other states are reporting high admissions of infected patients, and many are running out of beds.
Even though the F.D.A. and independent medical experts have found Covid-19 vaccines to be extremely safe and highly effective, a sizable portion of the eligible population has chosen not to be vaccinated. In this context, Covid-19 vaccine mandates — much like mask mandates — are public health measures necessary to protect people from severe illness and death. They are therefore permissible in many settings where the unvaccinated pose a risk to others, including schools and universities, hospitals, restaurants and bars, workplaces and businesses open to the public.
While limited exceptions are necessary, most people can be required to be vaccinated. Any vaccination mandate should have exceptions for those for whom the vaccine is medically contraindicated, such as people who have allergies to it. The absence of such exceptions would directly undermine the public health goals of a mandate, although other mandatory precautions, like masking, social distancing, regular testing or working remotely, may be appropriate. Where a vaccine is not medically contraindicated, however, avoiding a deadly threat to the public health typically outweighs personal autonomy and individual freedom.
What about those who object to vaccination on religious grounds? Like personal autonomy, religious freedom is an essential right, but not an unfettered license to inflict harm on others. As the Supreme Court explained more than 75 years ago in Prince v. Massachusetts: “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death.”
In the employment context, federal law requires religious accommodations in some circumstances, but not if they would cause an “undue hardship” to the employer. Refusing a Covid-19 vaccination poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others in the workplace, and likely amounts to an undue hardship unless the employer can devise some other accommodation for the employee, such as working from home.
Some have objected that in practice, vaccine mandates may have disparate effects on disadvantaged communities or individuals. Such concerns need to be taken seriously. But they don’t justify refusals to be vaccinated.
Every effort should be made to ensure that vaccines are equally available to all without obstacles posed by cost, race, immigration status, geography or job responsibilities. Some undocumented people reportedly have been turned away from vaccination sites because they lack a government ID, for instance, while others have confronted obstacles related to cost, transportation or additional requirements imposed by vaccination clinics.
Public health officials should take concrete steps to counter vaccine hesitancy among communities of color whose past discriminatory treatment has understandably sown mistrust. Employers imposing mandates should afford workers paid time off as needed to obtain a vaccine and to manage potential side effects. And people should be permitted to offer written proof of vaccination rather than requiring proof via a smartphone app, so as not to disadvantage those who can’t afford a smartphone.
But where vaccines are widely available, equity concerns actually argue in favor of vaccine mandates, precisely because disadvantaged communities have been disproportionately harmed by this disease. These are reasons to make the vaccine easier to get, not for opposing vaccine mandates altogether.
The real threat to civil liberties comes from states banning vaccine and mask mandates. Even though most Covid-19 vaccine mandates do not infringe civil liberties, several states, including Florida, Iowa, South Carolina and Texas, have banned vaccine mandates or mask mandates — and sometimes both — in the name of freedom. But these bans directly endanger the public health and make more deaths from the disease inevitable. They trample the rights of the most vulnerable, who want to participate in society without putting their health at grave risk.
We care deeply about civil liberties and civil rights for all — which is precisely why we support vaccine mandates.
By Samuel Moyn, September 3, 2021
Mr. Moyn is a professor at Yale and the author of the forthcoming book “Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War.”
In a speech on Tuesday, President Biden identified his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan with his desire to end the “forever war.” But he also promised that America will “maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and in other countries.” The reality today, he said, is that “we don’t need to fight a ground war to do it.”
In this, Mr. Biden’s speech made explicit what was already obvious. With the last American troops now out of the country, it is clearer what America’s bequest to the world has been over the past 20 years: a disturbing new form of counterterrorist belligerency, at once endless and humane. This has transformed American traditions of warmaking, and the withdrawal from Afghanistan is, in fact, a final step in the transformation.
The desire to fight more-humane war would not have made sense to prior generations of Americans. Originating in constant and pitiless wars against Native people, American fighting was brutal even before it went abroad. Similar violence was later extended against Filipinos in the country’s first overseas imperial counterinsurgency. Air war only intensified American traditions of brutality, and in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, few limits were respected, either in principle or practice. Asian foes were regularly compared to Native Americans — and were legitimate targets of the same violence — by commentators and soldiers.
Those traditions hardly evaporated after Sept. 11, 2001. The Middle East was sometimes treated as a new frontier; Osama bin Laden was reportedly code-named Geronimo by the forces who killed him in 2011. But by that point American culture was already giving rise to a newer tradition — one that continues to characterize the war on terror.
The groundwork was laid after the Vietnam War, which had left many Americans ashamed of their country’s overseas violence. At the same time, global activism pushed to make the laws of war, either ignored or permissive before, more humane in content and honored in practice. In the 1970s, for the first time, the obligation not to target civilians — especially in aerial bombardment — was put on paper, along with a new requirement to strike only when the expected military advantage outweighed collateral damage.
Humanitarian groups began to monitor the ethics and law of fighting. Human Rights Watch, for example, began to do so in 1980s conflicts in Latin America. Even more important, the reputational damage caused by Vietnam led some within the U.S. military to conclude that fighting more humanely and legally was vital. Law became more and more central to the warrior’s code. As the political theorist Michael Walzer remarked, our armed forces had discovered “the usefulness of morality,” which was “something radically new in military history.”
By the end of the Cold War, the die was cast. The 1991 gulf war was the first international conflict that Human Rights Watch examined for violations of the law of war and the first in which military lawyers helped pick targets.
But these developments occurred as antiwar energy, which Vietnam inspired, dissipated. And the rise of legal probity restricted humanitarians and militaries to bickering about whether the United States was following the rules well enough, rather than whether the wars should be fought in the first place.
More humane war became a companion to an increasingly interventionist foreign policy. Earlier wars had not needed to appear humane to win legitimacy from the public, but new ones returned in an altered moral climate. By the post-Cold War era, both American political parties were committed to a more principled use of American power. Doctrines like democracy promotion and human rights became elaborate rationales for doubling down on militarism.
Then came the years after Sept. 11. The specter of torture, like the treatment of detainees at black sites and the detentions at Guantánamo, crystallized a moral sensibility according to which it mattered most to dissidents within George W. Bush’s administration as well as a growing chorus of critics outside not where war went and how long it lasted but whether the laws governing the conduct were respected.
In the wake of the release of the Abu Ghraib photos in April 2004, humanitarian concern helped remove the bug of torture and other indignities from the program of endless war, thereby rebooting it: After all, a critique of a war focused on its egregious conduct can lead to a different and improved version of that war, rather than its end. That is precisely what happened.
In the first years of his presidency, Barack Obama capitalized on the emphases of the years just before. After running as a peace candidate in 2008, he promised in his critical first months to treat prisoners well and earned plaudits for doing so. His administration deleted noxious memos permitting torture and left the ones permitting war.
But it is easier not to mistreat prisoners if you no longer capture them. Mr. Obama vastly expanded the war on terror in scope, taking it beyond the two countries on which Mr. Bush had focused to more than 10, relying on drone strikes and special forces raids. He also went beyond Mr. Bush in formalizing a humane framework for endless war, announcing in policy that it was not the brutal war of the past but one corrected by the new sensibility.
Astonishingly, Mr. Obama even went beyond what the new laws of war required, promising never to strike off battlefields if there was any risk of collateral damage, a standard that was revealing of a new moral sensibility even if it was — like so many such rules — never adhered to in practice.
In his Nobel Peace Prize address at the end of his first year as president, Mr. Obama offered an almost metaphysical case for America fighting forever, while promising to do so humanely: “We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes,” he explained. But its humane conduct was “a source of our strength.”
To a striking and unanticipated extent, the humanization of American might is something even President Donald Trump was forced to retain. True, he called in 2016 to “bring back waterboarding,” but to the extent that he tried he was held in check. (“He better bring his own bucket,” Michael Hayden, the former director of the C.I.A., remarked.) And while Mr. Trump decreased transparency around drone strikes and loosened top-down authority, other humane requirements largely remained in place.
It is natural to think that humane war is an oxymoron, and understandable to indict “dirty wars.” But that is to miss that a “humane” form of control and surveillance is taking place beyond America’s borders, with death and injury increasingly edited out of public view. And the improved humanity of our wars, ostensible and real, is not without its vices. Old empires justified brutal acts in the service of human civilization and progress. Our version of “humanity” helps compensate for our wars’ extension in time and expansion in space.
When defending withdrawal from Afghanistan, Mr. Biden made clear that he has no plans to give up counterterrorism. The infrastructure of drone and missile strikes and special forces raids is indeed ramping up again after the fall of Afghanistan, an antiseptic Frankenstein monster loosed even as the gory laboratory that birthed it closes down.
The continuation of America’s war on terror — with strikes from afar and from overhead and in visits to Afghanistan and many other places for the indefinite future — has many authors. But the attempt to make America’s military ways less obviously brutal has contributed decisively to making our wars more acceptable to many and difficult to see for others. That is a syndrome we are only pretending to stop.
Jackie Johnson was indicted by a grand jury in Glynn County, Ga., on charges of “violation of oath of public officer” and “obstruction and hindering a law enforcement officer.”
By Alyssa Lukpat, Published Sept. 2, 2021, Updated Sept. 3, 2021
Jackie Johnson, then the district attorney of Glynn County, Ga., during a trial in 2013. Credit...Phil Skinner/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press
A grand jury indicted a former prosecutor in Georgia on Thursday, accusing her of “showing favor and affection” to one of the men now charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery and for directing police officers not to arrest another suspect.
The prosecutor, Jackie Johnson, a former district attorney in Glynn County, had recused herself from the case involving Mr. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was confronted by three white men while jogging through their neighborhood.
The fatal encounter, which stoked national outrage, was recorded on a cellphone video by William Bryan, who filmed Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael fatally shooting Mr. Arbery. All three have been charged with murder.
Ms. Johnson is charged with “violation of oath of public officer” and “obstruction and hindering a law enforcement officer,” according to the indictment, which the state attorney general’s office released on Thursday.
The indictment says Ms. Johnson failed “to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity” by not disclosing that she had sought the assistance of another district attorney before recommending that he take over the case. Ms. Johnson recused herself because Gregory McMichael had worked in her office.
She also “knowingly and willfully” directed two Glynn County police officers not to arrest Travis McMichael, “contrary to the laws of said state,” the indictment said.
“Our office is committed to ensuring those who are entrusted to serve are carrying out their duties ethically and honestly,” the state attorney general, Chris Carr, said in a statement, adding that the state was continuing to investigate Mr. Arbery’s case.
It is now being led by a fourth prosecutor, whom Mr. Carr appointed in May 2020.
George E. Barnhill of the Waycross Judicial Circuit, the district attorney who replaced Ms. Johnson, later stepped aside because his son worked for Ms. Johnson. He advised that the McMichaels were protected by the state’s citizen’s arrest law and self-defense statutes and should not be held responsible for the killing.
The third prosecutor, from a smaller county office, was removed after the state attorney general determined he was not equipped to handle the sprawling case.
In February 2020, the McMichaels armed themselves with a shotgun and a handgun and chased Mr. Arbery in a pickup truck, later telling investigators they thought he looked like a man suspected in a rash of break-ins in the area.
As they followed Mr. Arbery, they yelled, “Stop, stop, we want to talk to you,” according to Gregory McMichael’s account in a police report. Mr. Arbery was fatally shot by Travis McMichael after Mr. McMichael got out of the truck, the authorities said.
Ms. Johnson was voted out of office later that year, largely as a result of criticism over her handling of cases including Mr. Arbery’s.
The deadly flooding in the Northeast, on the heels of destruction from Louisiana to California, shows the limits of adapting to climate change. Experts say it will only get worse.
By Christopher Flavelle, Anne Barnard, Brad Plumer and Michael Kimmelman, Sept. 2, 2021
“The pattern of damage reflects the relationship between climate exposure and racial inequality: impacts were more apparent in low-income communities of color, which, because of historic inequalities, are more prone to flooding, receive less maintenance from city services, and frequently experience lax housing code enforcement. Most of those killed in New York City drowned when floodwaters rushed into their basement apartments. Many such apartments do not meet safety requirements, but have proliferated as affordable housing for the working poor and undocumented immigrants who may fear complaining to authorities about safety violations.”
A city bus was stranded in Queens early Thursday after floodwater poured into an underpass. The storm prompted the first-ever flash flood emergency alert in New York City. Credit...Dakota Santiago for The New York Times
In Louisiana and Mississippi, nearly one million people lack electricity and drinking water after a hurricane obliterated power lines. In California, wildfire menaces Lake Tahoe, forcing tens of thousands to flee. In Tennessee, flash floods killed at least 20; hundreds more perished in a heat wave in the Northwest. And in New York City, 7 inches of rain fell in just hours Wednesday, drowning people in their basements.
Disasters cascading across the country this summer have exposed a harsh reality: The United States is not ready for the extreme weather that is now becoming frequent as a result of a warming planet.
“These events tell us we’re not prepared,” said Alice Hill, who oversaw planning for climate risks on the National Security Council during the Obama administration. “We have built our cities, our communities, to a climate that no longer exists.”
In remarks Thursday, President Biden acknowledged the challenge ahead.
“And to the country, the past few days of Hurricane Ida and the wildfires in the West and the unprecedented flash floods in New York and New Jersey is yet another reminder that these extreme storms and the climate crisis are here,” said Mr. Biden, who noted that a $1 trillion infrastructure bill pending in Congress includes some money to gird communities against disasters. “We need to do — be better prepared. We need to act.”
The country faces two separate but interlaced problems, according to climate and resilience experts.
First, governments have not spent enough time and money to brace for climate shocks that have long been predicted: everything from maintaining and fortifying electrical lines and storm water systems to clearing forests of undergrowth in order to reduce the ferocity of wildfires.
“We’re feeling all the effects of that deferred maintenance,” said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
But there’s a second, more sobering lesson: There are limits to how much the country, and the world, can adapt. And if nations don’t do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, they may soon run up against the outer edges of resilience.
“If we already can’t cope with where we are, then there’s little hope that it’s going to improve in a warming climate,” Dr. Dahl said.
The country’s vulnerability in the face of extreme weather was punctuated by the downpour that flooded the country’s largest city. New York City has invested billions of dollars in storm protection since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, investments that seemed to do little to blunt the impact of the deluge.
Rain poured down in furious torrents, turning the subway system into a kind of flume ride. Central Park recorded 7.19 inches of rain, nearly double the previous record set in 1927 for the same date, according to the National Weather Service, which issued the city’s first-ever flash flood emergency alert.
Ahead of the storm, city and state officials activated preparation plans: clearing drains, erecting flood barriers in the subway and other sensitive areas, warning the public. But the rainfall dumped more water, and faster, than what the city factored into its new storm water maps as an “extreme” flood event.
The pattern of damage reflects the relationship between climate exposure and racial inequality: impacts were more apparent in low-income communities of color, which, because of historic inequalities, are more prone to flooding, receive less maintenance from city services, and frequently experience lax housing code enforcement.
Most of those killed in New York City drowned when floodwaters rushed into their basement apartments. Many such apartments do not meet safety requirements, but have proliferated as affordable housing for the working poor and undocumented immigrants who may fear complaining to authorities about safety violations.
In one case, Tara Ramskriet, 43, and her son Nick, 22, drowned when water filled their basement apartment in the Hollis section of Queens so quickly family members could not pull them out against the flow and a wall collapsed, trapping them inside.
Neighbors were outraged, saying it took fatalities to bring city inspectors to the scene.
“This happens all the time,” said Jennifer Mooklal, 33, who lives across the street from the Ramskriets. “Even if it’s just rain, our basement gets flooded. We’ve been dealing with this problem for years and have been asking the city but no one is listening to us.”
Damage from extreme weather, and threats to human life, will only increase as the planet warms. For every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming, the atmosphere holds about 7 percent more moisture, scientists have found. That means much heavier rainfall when storms do occur.
Across the continental United States, the heaviest downpours have become more frequent and severe, according to the federal government’s National Climate Assessment. The Northeast has seen 50 percent more rainfall during the heaviest storms compared with the first half of the 20th century.
New York City is particularly vulnerable to flooding. Three-fourths of the city is covered by impervious surfaces like asphalt, which means runoff is channeled into streets and sewers rather than being absorbed by the ground.
And the city’s century-old subway system was not designed for a warming climate. Even on dry days, a network of pumps pours out 14 million gallons of water from its tunnels and stations. Heavy rains can overwhelm the system, as they did on Wednesday.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has invested $2.6 billion in resiliency projects since Hurricane Sandy inundated the city’s subways in 2012, including fortifying 3,500 subway vents, staircases and elevator shafts against flooding. Still, this week’s flash floods showed that the system remains vulnerable.
One reason is that city and federal officials focused on protecting against the kind of coastal storm surge that Sandy wrought, according to Amy Chester, managing director of Rebuild by Design, a nonprofit group that works on climate resilience.
But in the case of Hurricane Ida, the main threat was rainwater flowing downhill, not storm surge pushing in from the coast. So much water fell that it overwhelmed storm drains, overflowed riverbanks and poured into basements, from the hilly parts of Manhattan’s Washington Heights to the inland flats of Jamaica in Queens.
The investments that protect against storm surge differ from those that guard against extreme rain, Ms. Chester said.
Coping with severe rainfall means more places to absorb and hold water, whether that’s so-called green solutions like parks, or traditional structures like underground retention tanks. And it means increasing the capacity of the sewer system to handle a greater volume of water.
Because New York has mostly been spared the type of severe rainfall that occurred Wednesday, officials have made it less of a priority.
Other countries have heeded the warnings of climate scientists and acted.
In the Netherlands, where much of the country lies below sea level, the government strengthened flood design standards and in 2007 created a program called Room for the River, which in essence authorized the wholesale redesign and rebuilding of dozens of vulnerable watersheds around cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The goal was to prepare for the sort of one-in-10,000-year floods that Dutch scientists were warning might become more frequent.
In that country, government water boards have the ultimate authority over land use. If they determine an area is needed for flood protection, its residents must move.
Specific taxes are dedicated to water management. There is no national flood insurance program for residents in flood zones in the Netherlands because, the Dutch argue, the government’s job is to protect people from floods, not help homeowners rebuild in areas vulnerable to damage.
Among other things, Room for the River created dozens of new parks, enhancing underserved neighborhoods, resettling populations living in flood zones into new homes out of harm’s way, and girding the nation’s economy in the process.
It’s a different story in the United States, where efforts to adapt and mitigate American cities for severe storms and rising seas have been plodding. There are many reasons: Government’s reluctance to impose on private property, a legacy of racial and economic injustice, and a system of governance and regulation that often moves far slower than the hastening pace of climate change.
Jainey Bavishi, director of the New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Resiliency, said the city has spent more than $20 billion on resilience since Sandy and that work also includes some protections against extreme rainfall in addition to storm surge.
The city is about to break ground on a storm water retention system in Queens. And various other programs have been created to soak up more rainfall: incentives to cover roofs and traffic medians with grass, rain gardens and other more permeable surfaces to slow down and absorb rainwater.
The city’s Department of Environmental Protection, which handles drainage and sewage, has been quietly working on upgrades for the system, improving and widening the catchment basins under storm grates, designing systems to separate storm water runoff from sewage, and even rushing out before storms to unclog drains.
But storm water upgrades for the entire city amount to a massive, multiyear and multibillion-dollar project. It hasn’t attracted federal attention and support, particularly under former President Donald J. Trump when climate change preparation was not a priority. So far, officials have upgraded the storm water capacity of just a fraction of the city.
The rules that govern federal disaster money have also complicated the city’s efforts to deal with extreme rain. Of the $20 billion that New York City has spent on resilience since Sandy, $15 billion came from the federal government, and much of that money had to be linked to Sandy, which meant focusing on storm surge and sea-level rise, Ms. Bavishi said.
“We know that intense precipitation is a risk,” she said. “Last night’s storm underscored that cities need access to proactive federal funding to get this work done.”
Even with the right projects designed and funding in hand, climate change is outpacing the speed at which American communities can fortify themselves.
“It’s happening faster than we’ve anticipated,” said Dr. Dahl of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who is 43. “I didn’t expect all of this to happen at this point in my lifetime.”