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>.
Mobilize and Defend Our Reproductive Rights
On October 2, we're marching in every single state ahead of the Supreme Court reconvening on October 4. Women's March and more than 90 other organizations, including National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood, SHERO Mississippi, Mississippi in Action, Access Reproductive Care-Southeast, The Frontline, Working Families Party, and SisterSong, are organizing a national call to mobilize and defend our reproductive rights.
Abortion has never been fully accessible, but we are at the risk of losing our reproductive freedom completely. The call to action is clear, and urgent. The relentless attacks from Texas to Mississippi are ramping up quickly. Anti-choice extremists have a deep desire to return to a time when there was more clear and effective domination and control over queer and trans folks, women, and people of color; they want to revive those old values and societal norms to the point of re-acceptance. The authoritarian agenda of reproductive control is fueled by misogyny and racism - and we must challenge it, together.
On October 2, we’re going to send the Supreme Court and lawmakers across the country a clear, unified message. The attack on our reproductive rights will not be tolerated.
We have this opportunity to invite all the people that know us and love us into this important movement and work united as we build something better for our families and communities. As a small powerful group tries to come for our human rights over and over again, we’ll never let go of our vision of reproductive justice; for unfettered abortion access and everything we need to support and grow our families to thrive and live healthy lives.
This is your fight. This is our fight. This impacts all of us. Take the pledge today.
Rise up wherever you are on October 2.
To: U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives
Sign Petition at:
Link to Registration:
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!
Jalil Muntaqim in the 2000 documentary, "Jalil Muntaqim: Voice of Liberation" by Freedom Archives on Vimeo
I call upon all those who identify themselves as progressive to recognize the U.S. prison system is an institution generally operated by white supremacists. This has been my experience in both California and New York State prison systems. In fact, on December 4th and 5th, 2016, the New York Times did a two day expose informing NYS prison system is run by white racists. However, among the many prison systems that function as a bastion of white supremacy, Lucasville, Ohio, is one of the worst in the country.
It is under these conditions that Kevin Rashid Johnson, a staunch advocate for the abolition of prisons is presently being threatened with the loss of his life. Being held in 23 hour lockdown, Rashid, is now in the worst condition of his life, locked away in a system of rabid racists that hate him for being a New Afrikan, a brilliant artist, a revolutionary and anti-capitalist imperialist. Since being transferred to Lucasville Rashid has been threatened, his personal property damaged and/or not given to him and must constantly be vigilant from being assaulted or murdered either by prison guards or their flunkies who mindlessly function as tools of white supremacy.
I am petitioning to the entire Progressive community to unite, to band together and say to the world… we will not permit Lucasville to murder Kevin Rashid Johnson. I am asking every single one of you to call the Governor of Ohio and demand Rashid be immediately transferred out of the notorious Lucasville prison. I ask that all of you contact the major Ohio newspapers and news outlets and urge them to find out why Kevin Rashid Johnson’s life is being threatened. We, collectively, need to shine a spotlight on Kevin Rashid Johnson, and let all know Rashid belongs to the people, that progressive people around the world support him and refuse to sit idle and let Rashid be murdered in Lucasville, Ohio!!!
To contact Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine: Call the governor’s office at 614-466-3555.
You will be prompted to go to his website to write out your message at:
Do that, but ALSO LEAVE A PHONE MESSAGE:
Tell the governor to transfer Kevin Johnson, A787991, out of Lucasville Prison immediately before he is murdered!
Remember: We Are Our Own Liberators
Jalil A. Muntaqim
Jalil A. Muntaqim, legendary analyst, theorist and stategist, author of We Are Our Own Liberators, veteran of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, co-founder of the Jericho Movement, born in Oakland, raised in San Francisco, survived 49 years in prison, from 1971 to Oct. 7, 2020. Learn about his current campaign at SpiritofMandela.organd join in preparations for the International Tribunal on Oct. 22-25, when “We Charge Genocide” again.
My letter on behalf of Rashid:
“I am very concerned about the health and safety of Mr. Johnson currently at Lucasville prison. Not only is he being held in 23-hour-lockdown, his belongings withheld from him, but he is being threatened with murder by guards. This is intolerable! He must be transferred immediately from that notoriously racist prison. Just in the last year he has been transferred from Virginia, to Oregon, Texas, Indiana and now, Ohio.
“There are many who are aware of what is happening to Mr. Johnson and who support his writings on the injustices prison inmates experience in this racist prison system.
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 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙘𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙣𝙤𝙩 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 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙨𝙪𝙥𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙑𝘼 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨. 𝙍𝙖𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙙 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙮 𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙖𝙧𝙘𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙞𝙣 𝙑𝘼 𝙗𝙚𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙛𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙊𝙧𝙚𝙜𝙤𝙣, 𝙏𝙚𝙭𝙖𝙨, 𝙁𝙡𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙙𝙖, 𝙄𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙖𝙣𝙖, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙊𝙝𝙞𝙤.
Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 45699
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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
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.”
A massive flood protection system built around New Orleans helped save it from flooding during Hurricane Ida. Surrounding communities, which weren’t so lucky, want their own system.
By Richard Fausset, Sophie Kasakove and Christopher Flavelle, Sept. 4, 2021
"In the working-class bayou country south and west of New Orleans, local government officials have been trying for decades to secure federal funding for a system similar to the one in New Orleans, to little avail."
William Lowe and his family were getting to and from his house in LaRose, La., by boat. Credit...Johnny Milano for The New York Times
LAROSE, La. — After Hurricane Katrina, an ambitious and expensive system of levees, walls, storm gates and pumps was installed around New Orleans to protect against the kind of flooding and horror that so deeply scarred the city, and the nation, in 2005. And when Hurricane Ida hit last week, exactly 16 years later, those hopes were largely fulfilled. The flooding was minimal.
But 60 miles away, in the small community of Larose, the situation was different. In William Lowe’s neighborhood, storm surge from Ida overtopped a modest levee maintained by the Lafourche Parish government near his elevated house, sending water from a nearby canal up over his floorboards. Days later, his neighborhood was still waterlogged, and he and his family were getting to and from the house by boat.
“You’ve got lives destroyed down here,” said Mr. Lowe, 49, choking back tears. “You go to the Dollar General, you’ve got people standing outside bawling, because they’ve got nothing.”
In the working-class bayou country south and west of New Orleans, local government officials have been trying for decades to secure federal funding for a system similar to the one in New Orleans, to little avail.
And as Ida moved north, bringing more death and destruction to places like New York City, advocates for the project in coastal Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes were left to wonder about its fate at a time when bigger and better-known places are ever-more-likely to be competing for storm protection funding.
As sea levels rise and a warming ocean brings more fearsome storms, the fight over hurricane protection in Southern Louisiana is only the latest example of a growing dilemma for the United States: which places to try to save, and how to decide.
Until recently, that question may have seemed like the plot of a dystopian movie, or at least a problem to leave for future generations. But as disasters become more severe, the cost of rebuilding has skyrocketed. Extreme weather has caused more than $450 billion in damage nationwide since 2005; the number of disasters causing more than $1 billion in damage reached 22 last year, a record.
The Government Accountability Office has warned those costs may be unsustainable. Yet the demand keeps increasing: When the Federal Emergency Management Agency introduced a new program to help cities and states prepare for disasters, the requests far outstripped the amount of money available.
The increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes poses another dilemma: Even if the money could be found for projects to protect places like Larose, are such efforts a good way to spend public money, especially as the need for climate resilience around the country is growing and coastlines disappear further every year?
“A lot of these places aren’t going to be around that much longer,” said Jesse Keenan, a professor at Tulane University who focuses on how to adapt to climate change. As worsening disasters push more people to leave those towns, he said, the number of people who stand to benefit from storm-protection systems declines, making those systems harder to justify.
“It’s going to be hard for a lot of those projects to pencil out,” Dr. Keenan said.
Officials in Louisiana, a state still suffering from the repeated drubbings meted out by last year’s record storm season, do not see it that way. They argue that investing now in projects like the one in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes will save the federal government money in the long term by reducing the cost of cleanup, with fewer disaster relief claims filed by businesses and families, and fewer insurance claims under the National Flood Insurance Program.
It is a shift from a reactive stance to a proactive one, said Reggie Dupre, executive director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District. Mr. Dupre said the government needed to shift its thinking fast on the Louisiana coast. Hurricane Ida devastated the buildings and infrastructure in his parish, mostly as a result of heavy wind. But if it had gone a few miles west, he said, the storm surge would have also taken many lives.
“We don’t want to wait,” Mr. Dupre said. “We don’t want to have body bags all over the place.”
The project, known as Morganza to the Gulf, is designed, advocates say, to protect 250,000 people against flooding. But unlike the New Orleans system, the Morganza system has yet to get significant federal money, despite first being approved by Congress in 1992. Local officials have already spent nearly $1 billion building portions of it, in anticipation that the federal government will eventually provide its promised $2 billion share of the cost.
The levee system received its first $12.5 million in federal funding this year after years of discussion over how much it would cost versus how many people it would benefit.
“I don’t really believe that people understand how many people live down there,” said State Representative Tanner Magee, who represents Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes.
He said people outside of the area also don’t understand how much of the nation’s oil — almost one-fifth — is refined in the state, much of it along the coast.
“It’s a working coast, it’s not like it’s some beach town in Florida,” Mr. Magee said.
Those who have been living for years without protection in Southern Louisiana have understood for a while that they are on the wrong side of the cost-benefit equation.
“It’s the same scenario year after year after year,” said Michael Jiles, a pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Plaquemines Parish and the former director of public services for the parish.
The locally funded levees are not enough to protect Mr. Jiles’s neighborhood and the surrounding areas, where residents see their homes flood again and again.
It is no mystery to Mr. Jiles why his neighborhood has not received the same protections as New Orleans to the north, or the neighboring parish of St. Bernard, which is protected by a flood wall.
“Population and economic power,” he said, adding that in his part of Plaquemines Parish, on the east side of the Mississippi River, many residents live below the poverty level.
Garret Graves, a Republican congressman from Louisiana, said the federal government’s approach to funding protection projects after Katrina was to “really focus on the population centers.” Most of Plaquemines lacked the population density to rank high on that scale.
And there was an incentive to protect New Orleans, Mr. Graves said. As residents decided whether to rebuild or move, the federal government approved the hurricane protection system as a way to persuade them to stay.
“The White House really felt an obligation to make it clear to people that there wasn’t going to be a Katrina Version 2,” Mr. Graves said. He said Ida might push the federal government to fund similar projects outside that system.
The contrast between the two Louisianas — inside and outside the protection system — is stark. Just after Hurricane Isaac in 2012, Mr. Jiles took a break from cleaning out his waterlogged house to stand on the levee separating Plaquemines, submerged in several feet of flood water, from neighboring St. Bernard Parish, which was dry.
Standing on the levee, Mr. Jiles recalled, he could “see both worlds.”
Without adequate protection, the community will not survive, Mr. Jiles said. People began leaving the area after Hurricane Katrina, promising to return if the levees were raised. With every storm, more people left.
“Gradually it’s going to be eliminated,” Mr. Jiles said.
The same is happening in other coastal parishes, said David Muth, director of gulf restoration at the National Wildlife Federation.
“The numbers speak for themselves: People are voting with their feet about where they want to live,” Mr. Muth said. The cycle is self-perpetuating: As more people leave, “it becomes harder and harder to justify massive investments in storm risk reduction,” he said.
‘We have to be realistic’
The state has acknowledged that not every community can be saved.
In 2016, officials began the process of relocating the residents of Isle de Jean Charles, a village in southern Terrebonne Parish that has lost most of its land to rising seas and erosion. Using a $48 million grant from the Obama administration, the state is building a new site for the village, called The New Isle, some 30 miles to the north.
The project is the first federally funded relocation project in response to climate change, and was designed to be a model for other communities to follow. The effort has not always gone smoothly. But the first residents could move in as soon as December, according to Marvin McGraw, a spokesman for the state.
And two years ago, Louisiana released a sweeping blueprint for its coastal communities, which envisioned the government paying some people who live outside federal levees to move further inland. That strategy also called for new investments in cities further from the coast, to better prepare those cities for an infusion of new residents.
“We have to be realistic about the current and future effects of coastal land loss and plan today to develop Louisiana’s next generation of communities,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said at the time.
Whether the right solution is building more protection or paying for people to move, the communities in coastal Louisiana deserve help, even if that assistance doesn’t meet strict cost-to-benefit ratios, said Andy Horowitz, a history professor at Tulane who wrote a book about Katrina.
“We might think instead about our values as a country,” Dr. Horowitz said. “We can build public works that protect people. We can support them in a humane way to move somewhere safer. Or we can leave them to suffer and die.”
Satellite and aerial survey images show oil spreading off the coast of an oil and gas hub in Louisiana.
By Hiroko Tabuchi and Blacki Migliozzi, Sept. 4, 2021
Cleanup crews are working to contain what experts called a substantial oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to an examination of satellite and aerial survey images, ship tracking data and interviews with local officials and others involved in the spill response.
The spill, one of multiple plumes spotted off the Louisiana coast in the wake of Hurricane Ida, was identified in satellite imagery captured Thursday by the space technology companies Planet Labs and Maxar Technologies.
A black expanse and rainbow sheen of oil spanning at least 10 miles was spreading in coastal waters about two miles off Port Fourchon, an oil and gas hub. An aerial survey image of the spill was captured Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The powerful hurricane, which swept through one of the nation’s largest chemical, petroleum and natural gas hubs when it made landfall on Sunday, has heightened concerns over the vulnerability of the region’s fossil fuel infrastructure to intensifying storms, which are linked to global warming driven by emissions from oil and gas.
It was unclear how much oil had spilled into the Gulf, according to a person with direct knowledge of the cleanup. The spill, possibly from an old pipeline no longer in use that was damaged by the storm, was first spotted on Monday from reconnaissance flights led by a number of Gulf Coast producers, and was reported to the Coast Guard, said the person who was not authorized to speak publicly about the cleanup effort.
By Saturday morning, two more boats appeared to join the cleanup. James Hanzalik, assistant executive director of Clean Gulf Associates, a nonprofit oil spill cooperative set up by the industry, confirmed Friday afternoon that a leak was ongoing and that a cleanup was underway.
Lt. John Edwards of the U.S. Coast Guard said that the spill was believed to be crude oil from an old pipeline owned by the Houston-based oil and gas exploration company, Talos Energy. A cleanup vessel hired by Talos was using skimmers to recover the oil and had placed a containment boom in the area to try to contain the spread, he said. Talos Energy declined to comment on the record.
Coast Guard boats had not yet made it to the site, Lt. Edwards said, but the agency had been told by Talos that just 42 gallons of material had so far been recovered from the water. The agency has launched a preliminary investigation, he added.
Several experts who studied the flyover and satellite images said the spill appeared to be ongoing and significant.
“It’s a substantial leak that requires further investigation,” said Oscar Garcia-Pineda, a scientist at Water Mapping, a Gulf Breeze, Fla.-based consultancy, who has led research into the use of satellite and aerial images for oil spills. “I see an indication of thick heavy oil, which is the main dark feature, surrounded by a rainbow sheen,” he said. The flyover image from Wednesday appeared to show the leak starting underwater.
The area was known for being dense with pipelines, and in the past powerful storms have caused mudslides that can damage pipes or even the foundations of platforms that hold equipment that pumps oil and gas out of the seabed, he said.
Cathleen E. Jones, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who has been participating in flyovers to assess storm damage, said the images suggested very thick oil was leaking, and that more investigation was needed.
“In a case like this where you clearly have thick oil, you can calculate the area, but what you don’t know is how thick it is,” she said. But based on the color, she said, “that’s a very, very thick slick.”
The likely origin of the Talos spill was first spotted by John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at The Citizen Lab, a research center based at the University of Toronto, who had been scrutinizing the images of Ida’s damage.
“The fact that it was possible to find this spill is owed to the fact that NOAA made aerial imagery publicly available,” he said. “Had NOAA not made that public, it would have been a lot harder to uncover what is clearly an unfolding environmental problem.”
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that there appeared to be a long oil slick off the Louisiana shore, several miles east of the Talos spill. It was unclear whether that slick was related.
Flyover and satellite imagery showed multiple other slicks along the Louisiana coast. The person with knowledge of the cleanup said that it was possible that leaks from other sources were also contributing to the plume.
The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which regulates offshore oil and gas platforms, said in a media update that as of Friday morning, workers had been evacuated from 133 production platforms and six drilling rigs. More than 90 percent of oil and gas production in the Gulf was still shut down, the agency said.
The bureau’s update did not mention the ongoing cleanup. After inspections are carried out, production from facilities with no damage “will be brought back online immediately,” it said. Calls to the bureau, as well as the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, were not answered.
A spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency, Janie Acevedo-Beauchamp, referred questions to the Coast Guard, which handles spills in coastal waters. The E.P.A. remained “committed to deploying resources at our disposal to help communities impacted by the storm,” she said.
Naomi Yoder, a staff scientist with Healthy Gulf, an environmental group based in New Orleans, said the spill was the latest sign that the pollution unleashed by the hurricane was widespread. “The corporations that are poisoning our communities must be held accountable, and must reverse this catastrophe,” she said.
A report published earlier this year by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that since the 1960s, federal regulators have allowed oil and gas producers in the Gulf to leave some 18,000 miles of pipeline on the seafloor. Those pipelines, about 97 percent of the decommissioned ones in the area, are often abandoned without cleaning or burial.
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan destroyed an oil platform about 10 miles off the Louisiana coast. It triggered what is still the longest oil spill in United States history.
After being cited for a rip in her jeans on the first day of school, Sophia Trevino has led a protest seeking changes to the district’s dress code, which she says unfairly targets girls.
By Isabella Grullón Paz, Sept. 4, 2021
Every Friday, Sophia Trevino, 13, expresses her objection to dress codes by wearing a protest T-shirt to school. Credit...Audra Melton for The New York Times
Sophia Trevino carefully picked her outfit the night before her first day of eighth grade last month. Two hours before bedtime, and with her mother’s help, she went through her closet and selected a white Los Angeles T-shirt, a new pair of black distressed jeans and Air Force 1 sneakers. Sophia, 13, of course checked with her friends that the outfit was cute; they said it was. Her parents didn’t think twice about the clothes.
But a teacher making sure students were in compliance with the dress code at Simpson Middle School in Cobb County, Ga., did not find her outfit appropriate. Lined up with other students as they came into the school, Sophia was asked to put her hands down by her thighs to measure if the rip in her jeans was lower than her fingertips. It was not. She and 15 other girls were written up before first period.
Every Friday since then, Sophia and other students at Simpson Middle School, about 25 miles north of Atlanta, have worn T-shirts that denounce dress codes as “sexist,” “racist” and “classist.” In protesting the rules, some parents and students have used the Cobb County School District’s laissez-faire policy on face coverings — the district leaves it up to parents if their children wear masks at school — as a cudgel. If adhering to a public health measure is optional, they say, why can’t students opt out of a dress code they see as discriminatory?
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Cobb County School District said that the district’s rules for student dress “encourage a focus on learning for all 110,000 students in Cobb, not on what students prefer to wear.”
The student dress code “includes a minimum standard of dress and exists, per the policy, so students dress in a way which is ‘consistent with the formality of school,’” she added.
Eruptions over dress codes are in no way unique to Sophia’s school; there have been many similar conflicts over the years, often citing racial or sexual bias baked into the policies. In 2019, Houston parents chafed at a principal’s guidance on how they should dress to pick up their children from school that many said was inflected with racism and classism. The year before, a teenage girl in Florida was removed from class because she wasn’t wearing a bra.
According to a 2020 study written in part by Todd A. DeMitchell, a professor at the University of New Hampshire who has researched the litigation of dress codes in public schools, the focus on covering girls’ bodies contributes to the very problem that dress codes seek to address: the inappropriate sexualization of female students.
In an analysis of dress codes at 25 New Hampshire public schools, the researchers found that most had policies specifically targeting girls, with policies on covering breasts, cleavage, collarbones and shoulders. The study notes that some of the garments prohibited in many school policies, such as tank tops and strapless shirts, are “prohibited because they are considered ‘sexy.’”
“The problem with this theme is the ascribing of ‘provocation’ to female clothing,” the study reads. “In other words, the dress choice of females is presumed to be designed to attract attention from males.”
Sabrina Bernadel, a fellow at the National Women’s Law Center, agrees that dress codes are disproportionately restrictive toward women and girls.
“Dress codes are definitely sexist,” she said. “They put the onus on girls to not be distracting or not call attention to themselves instead of putting the onus on all students to respect everyone’s body.”
Ms. Bernadel said that when it comes to students being punished for dress code violations, Black and brown girls get written up the most, followed by Black boys, then white girls, then white boys. For Black girls, the issue is not necessarily around their clothes, but their bodies, which tend to be perceived at early ages as more developed or “adult.”
In the short term, disciplinary actions resulting from getting “dress coded” can lead to less instruction time, hindering academic performance. In the long term, code violations can make girls, and especially Black girls, feel “ashamed of how they express themselves and also what they look like,” Ms. Bernadel said.
The up-to-you policy on mask wearing in Cobb County schools reflects one part of the patchwork of masking policies nationwide. In much of the country, it is up to local officials whether masks are required in schools, and most school districts that require face coverings set the rule for all students regardless of age or vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all students, teachers and staff members in schools wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.
“Cobb County says that parents are best suited to decide about whether their child wears a mask, but that they are not best suited to decide what the child wears on their bodies,” Sophia wrote in a petition on Change.org that has over 2,000 signatures.
“I don’t think you can pick and choose that reasoning,” Sarah Trevino, Sophia’s mother and a lawyer in the Atlanta area, said of the county’s stance that parents can choose whether their children wear masks. “If you’re going to use that reasoning whether to put a strip of cloth over your child’s face, it should be the same reasoning if you’re going to put a strip of cloth over their thigh.”
According to the Simpson Middle School dress code, “all shorts, skirts and dresses must be fingertip length” — meaning when students holds their arms at their sides, their longest finger must still touch fabric. The code also specifies that “no skin may be exposed above the fingertip.”
Sophia said her main issue with the dress code was that it singled out girls and made them responsible for boys’ actions.
“In school, they think that the boys are just drooling over our shoulders and our thighs,” Sophia said. “They aren’t. They don’t care. And even if they do, that’s not our fault. That’s theirs.”
The language in the Cobb County School District’s website used to match the language found in the Simpson Middle School dress code; for its part, the middle school confirmed that it uses language from the district’s rule book. But late last month, after the protest had attracted media attention, the district appeared to have replaced the rules as previously posted online with a dress code that makes no explicit reference to the “fingertip” rule. The district spokeswoman denied that either the district’s or Simpson Middle School’s dress code had changed.
Like many school dress codes, the Cobb County School District’s policy emphasizes the avoidance of distractions to learning. “All students shall be required to maintain the level of personal hygiene necessary to ensure a healthful school environment,” the policy reads, “and to refrain from any mode of dress which proves to contribute to any disruption of school functions.”
With her petition and the Friday protests, which she says have been joined by 50 to 60 students since they began, Sophia hopes to get the school district’s dress code changed to something gender-neutral and inclusive. Her solution? A dress code that is simply “shirts, bottoms, shoes.”
Such a policy would allow tops that show the abdomen, midriff, neck lines and cleavage and bottoms could expose legs, thighs and hips. Any outfit would need to cover the groin, buttocks and nipples.
She said that her protest and her proposed dress code haven’t received “too much” backlash, and that teachers and members of the community seem to be supportive of her efforts. Sometimes, though, she has to shoot dirty looks at teachers who she thinks are judging her.
The decals, with messages such as “Stop Hate” and “Black Lives Matter,” are part of the league’s efforts to show solidarity with players who have protested against racism and police brutality.
By Michael Levenson, Sept. 5, 2021
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn wore a helmet with the message "Stop Hate" before a playoff game in January. Credit...Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press
The N.F.L. will allow players to display messages of social justice on their helmets and will stencil the slogans “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” on the end zones at every field as part of an effort to show solidarity with the protest movements against racism and police brutality, league officials said.
As the league prepares for the first game of the season on Thursday, an N.F.L. spokesman said that players would be allowed to choose a decal with one of six messages to place on the back of their helmets: “End Racism,” “Stop Hate,” “It Takes All of Us,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Inspire Change” and “Say Their Stories.”
Last season, the N.F.L. also allowed players to display messages such as “Stop Hate” and “Black Lives Matter” on their helmets, as well as the names of Black people, such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery, whose deaths set off widespread protests.
The efforts represent a continued shift for the league, which in the past had been criticized as slow to support, or hostile to, players who had demonstrated against racism and police violence.
About 70 percent of active players on the league’s rosters are Black and league officials have been trying to show unity with those who have demonstrated against injustice, particularly after the murder of Mr. Floyd in May 2020.
“It’s an opportunity to highlight messages that are important to the league, players and personnel and our communities,” Brian McCarthy, the N.F.L. spokesman, said on Saturday. “We’ve seen tremendous work done by our players to make an impact, and we can increase that through the high-visibility platform that the N.F.L. provides.”
The efforts have been shadowed by the specter of Colin Kaepernick, the onetime quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, who in 2016 began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans.
Mr. Kaepernick and others who knelt during the anthem set off an intense backlash by some fans and conservatives, including former President Donald J. Trump, who accused them of being unpatriotic.
Mr. Kaepernick left the 49ers in 2017 and has not been signed by any team since. In 2019, he reached a multimillion-dollar settlement over his claim that the league had spurned him because of his protests.
That year, the N.F.L. also began a program called Inspire Change that directs donations to groups focused on police-community relations, criminal justice reform, education and economic advancement. Last year, the N.F.L. said it was nearly tripling the size of its commitment to the program, pledging to spend up to $250 million over 10 years.
Amid the protests set off by Mr. Floyd’s death, Roger Goodell, the N.F.L. commissioner, released a videotaped message last year condemning racism and the systemic oppression of Black people. His message came one day after a group of players had released their own video calling on the league to send just such a message and to “admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting.”
“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to N.F.L. players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” Mr. Goodell said in his message. “We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter.”
Last year, the league also honored Mr. Floyd, Ms. Taylor, Mr. Arbery and others through an initiative called “Say Their Stories.”
Mr. McCarthy said on Saturday that there had been no change in the league’s stance about kneeling during the anthem. Players are “strongly encouraged” to stand for the anthem, he said, but the N.F.L. does not plan to take action against those who choose instead to kneel, raise a fist or remain in the locker room.
“We’ve never fined one player” for kneeling, he said. “No player has ever been disciplined.”
The end-zone slogans, he said, will be featured during every game, except for those that honor specific causes. For example, during a “Salute to Service” game honoring the military, “End Racism” will be replaced with “Salute to Service” in one end zone, and “It Takes All of Us” will remain on the other end zone, he said.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Black national anthem, which the N.F.L. played before games in the opening week of last year’s season, will once again be played before the start of this season’s first game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, Mr. McCarthy said. The song will also be played at the Pro Bowl, the Super Bowl and the N.F.L. draft, he said.
George Atallah, a spokesman for the players’ union, the N.F.L. Players Association, said on Saturday, “Our membership continues to not only care about these issues, but have been putting in the time and effort to effectuate change in their communities.”
A preliminary analysis said that it was “possible to probable” that explosives were in the car and that drone operators took only a cursory scan of the courtyard before launching an attack.
By Eric Schmitt, Published Sept. 5, 2021, Updated Sept. 6, 2021
Neighbors and relatives stood near the damage last week after a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military’s top officer asserted last week that a drone attack on a sedan near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, was a “righteous strike” that foiled a plot by the Islamic State in the waning hours of the immense evacuation effort.
The officer, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that secondary explosions after the drone strike last Sunday supported the military’s conclusion that the car contained explosives — either suicide vests or a large bomb. General Milley said that military planners took proper precautions beforehand to limit risks to civilians nearby.
But the military’s preliminary analysis of the strike and the circumstances surrounding it offer much less conclusive evidence to support those claims, military officials acknowledge. It also raises questions about an attack that friends and family members of the car’s driver say killed 10 people, seven of them children.
So far, there is no ironclad proof that explosives were in the car. The preliminary analysis says it was “possible to probable” that was so, according to officials who have been briefed on the assessment. Drone operators and analysts scanned the cramped courtyard where the sedan was parked for just a few seconds. Seeing no civilians, officials said, a commander ordered the strike, only for a grainy live-video feed to show other figures approaching the vehicle seconds later as the Hellfire missile raced closer to its target.
But military officials say that the initial analysis also supports a very strong circumstantial case of an imminent and serious threat to the airport, a case that American planners built over eight hours last Sunday, monitoring the movements of the sedan and eavesdropping on the communications of the suspected plotters.
With each passing hour, American analysts watched with dread as successive pieces of a plot to conduct a complex attack appeared to be “lining up,” as one senior military official briefed on the investigation said. Chatter that the airport would again be a target was intensifying, with President Biden publicly warning that another attack was “highly likely.”
The commander overseeing the drone strike faced a difficult decision: Take the shot while the sedan was parked in a relatively isolated courtyard, or wait until the sedan drove even closer to the airport — and denser crowds — increasing the risk to civilians.
According to four United States officials briefed on the preliminary military analysis or parts of it, this is how the strike unfolded.
At about 9 a.m. last Sunday, a white sedan, probably a Toyota Corolla, pulled out of a compound about five kilometers northwest of Hamid Karzai International Airport. Based on information from informants, electronic eavesdropping and imagery from U.S. surveillance aircraft, intelligence analysts believed the compound was a safe house for planners and facilitators for Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the terrorist group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.
It was just three days after a suicide bomber for the affiliate had detonated an unusually large 25-pound explosive vest at the Abbey Gate entrance to the airport, spraying deadly shrapnel in a 70-foot radius and killing 13 U.S. troops and more than 170 Afghan civilians.
American intelligence analysts had intercepted messages from ISIS-K plotters that another major attack against the airport was in the works. An attack was imminent that Sunday, two days before the United States was set to end its evacuation effort.
Thus, any vehicle coming or going from the compound that morning piqued the analysts’ interest. But operators paid special attention to the white sedan on the black-and-white feed from an MQ-9 Reaper drone soaring over Kabul.
Communications intercepted from the safe house indicated that the plotters there were directing the car on some kind of circuitous mission in the Afghan capital. The driver was instructed to meet a motorcyclist. Moments later, the car did just that.
This pattern continued for several hours, as the sedan made different stops in Kabul, sometimes picking up and dropping off passengers.
Just before 4 p.m., the sedan pulled into a compound unknown to the Americans, about eight to 12 kilometers southwest of the airport. A few minutes later, the driver and three other men loaded several wrapped packages into the trunk of the car. To the analysts watching the video feed, the men appeared to be straining to lift and gingerly carry heavy packages — as one would with explosives.
The driver and the men got into the sedan and drove away, heading north as the driver dropped the men off along the way. By about 4:45 p.m., the driver, now alone, pulled into a small courtyard about 2.5 kilometers west of the airport, just south of the original safe house. Another man came out to greet him.
At this point, the tactical commander controlling the armed Reaper drones had to make a quick decision. His authority to strike had been delegated by Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command in Tampa, Fla. Military officials declined to identify the commander’s identity, rank or organization, but said he is an experienced operator who has carried out multiple drone strikes in multiple theaters where the military has fought.
The rules of engagement allowed the military to conduct a strike if the operators and intelligence analysts had “reasonable certainty” that they had a legitimate ISIS-K target and they assessed there was a “reasonable certainty” that no women, children or other noncombatant civilians would be killed or injured.
The operators quickly scanned the close confines of the courtyard and saw only the one other man talking to the driver. The commander concluded this was the best time and place to take the shot. If the Americans waited and the vehicle wove through busy city traffic or approached the airport, the risk to civilians would be much greater — either from a drone strike or the detonation of suicide vests or a huge car bomb.
The Americans took the shot. The Hellfire struck its target in less than a minute. As the missile closed in, the drone operators could see on the video feed that other figures were approaching the sedan.
The Hellfire, with a warhead containing 20 pounds of explosives, ripped into the car, creating the first explosion at 4:50 p.m. A few seconds later, an even larger fireball bloomed. Officials say a preliminary assessment by bomb experts concluded that it was “possible to probable” that explosives in the sedan had caused the second explosion, not a gas tank or something else.
The military analysis acknowledged that at least three civilians were killed. General Milley told reporters that at least one other person killed was “an ISIS facilitator.”
But other Pentagon officials also say they have little information on the driver, identified by colleagues and family members as Zemari Ahmadi. His neighbors, colleagues and relatives said he was a technical engineer with Nutrition and Education International, a charity based in Pasadena, Calif., and had no ties to ISIS-K.
Military officials concluded Mr. Ahmadi was an ISIS-K facilitator largely because of his actions as the driver from the moment the white sedan pulled out of the safe house until the strike killed him.
Immediately after the attack, any chatter from ISIS-K went silent. To protect their operational security, members of the group go dark after a drone strike like the one last Sunday, knowing that American officials will be listening. That silence continued through Friday, a senior U.S. military official said.
John F. Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said last week that an in-depth investigation into the strike was underway. It will be based on more detailed analyses of the video feeds of the strike and its aftermath, and other intelligence. Investigators do not have access to the strike site, which like the rest of Kabul is under Taliban control.
Meantime, senior military officials insist the drone strike prevented more American and Afghan casualties.
In a news conference on Monday, General McKenzie, the head of the Central Command, gave no details about the circumstances surrounding the strike other than to say that it dealt a crushing blow to ISIS-K as it sought to deliver one last attack before the U.S. withdrawal.
General Milley echoed those comments a few days later. “At this point, we think the procedures were correctly followed, and this was a righteous strike,” he told reporters. “Were there others killed? Yes, there are others killed. Who they are, we don’t know.”
By Terri Gerstein, Sept. 6, 2021
Ms. Gerstein is a fellow at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and the Economic Policy Institute. She spent more than 17 years enforcing labor laws in New York State, working in the state attorney general’s office and as a deputy labor commissioner.
Edward Keating/The New York Times
A few years ago, a part-time minimum wage worker at an upstate New York McDonald’s suspected a gas leak. When he alerted his supervisors, they told him to ignore it or he’d be fired. Instead, he called the fire department, and two things happened. Firefighters found the leak and shut the restaurant for the rest of the day. And the worker was fired.
I enforced workplace laws in New York State for the better part of two decades, and this case stands out to me, because it so clearly exemplifies why all of us should care about workers’ rights. When people have bad working conditions and no voice on the job, it’s obviously bad for them. But the impact of rotten jobs — those with low pay, long hours, bad treatment, or no worker voice — radiates far beyond the workers themselves. Other people’s rotten jobs affect our collective health, safety and well-being.
This powerful connection between work life and broader public welfare has been undeniable in the pandemic, as workplace clusters of employees with the coronavirus have often led to community spread. Many meatpacking employees, for instance, were required to work close together without adequate protection. The result? They brought the highly contagious virus home to their family, neighborhood and community.
A study published in May in the journal Food Policy found that the presence of a large beef-packing facility in a county, relative to comparable counties without such plants, increased per capita Covid-19 infection rates by 110 percent. The study estimated that 334,000 Covid infections in the United States were attributable to beef, pork and chicken processing plants.
In health care, countless examples demonstrate how conditions for workers, both bad and good, affect patient outcomes. Inadequate staffing ratios in hospitals and nursing homes cause stress and difficulties for workers; they also hurt patient care, as shown by numerous studies. For example, researchers who examined data from 161 Pennsylvania hospitals found a significant association between high nurse-patient ratios and infections of the urinary tract and surgical sites.
A study published this year found, on the other hand, that increased minimum wages reduced inspection violations, adverse health conditions, and mortality among nursing home residents, by decreasing turnover and improving continuity of care. And during the pandemic, researchers found that unionized nursing homes had lower Covid-19 mortality rates than those without unions.
Out on the highways, the low pay of truck drivers and long hours they work to earn more has created real dangers. In 2019, 5,005 people were killed and 159,000 injured in crashes involving large trucks.
Under federal rules, truck drivers are allowed to spend up to 11 hours per day driving, and up to 14 consecutive hours working. These drivers are generally not covered by federal overtime laws, so companies can require wildly long workweeks without busting their budgets.
The resulting fatigue is dangerous for everyone on the road. A scholarly review of N.T.S.B. investigations of transportation mishaps (including truck crashes) over more than a decade found that 20 percent identified fatigue as a probable cause or factor; another study on commercial vehicles specifically found that the risk of being in a “safety critical event” increased as work hours increased. When truck drivers are underpaid and overworked, it’s bad for them and also bad for us.
Researchers have found interesting connections between poor working conditions and seemingly unrelated social problems. For example, most people don’t think of the opioids crisis as a labor-related issue, but research has shown a connection between occupations with high workplace injury rates, like construction, and opioid overdose fatalities. (People get injured on the job; lacking sick days, they take opioids so they can work through the pain.)
At the same time, improved working conditions are correlated with a number of seemingly unrelated social benefits, from a reduction in the incidence of low-birth weight babies to a decrease in suicide rates. Unionization has been shown to increase civic participation, reduce the racial wealth gap and lessen racial resentment among white workers.
And when unionized workers fight for better conditions, the improvements often contribute to the benefit of all of us. Decades ago, the Association of Flight Attendants fought to ban smoking on airplanes. We all breathe easier because of that battle. More recently, teacher strikes and protests in a number of states in 2018 achieved not only higher salaries, but also increased education funding. Taking an approach called bargaining for the common good, teachers sought solutions that benefited not only themselves, but also students and the entire community.
Unionized workers fared much better during the pandemic: unions helped ensure that workers had the protective equipment they needed, paid sick days and more. And now, with vaccination as our national challenge, too many workers worry about not having paid sick days to get the vaccine or deal with side effects; those with adequate paid sick days or dedicated vaccination leave don’t face these barriers.
We should care about workers’ rights as a matter of social justice and basic humanity. These powerful and varied ripple effects suggest that everyone — not just low-wage workers or union activists — has skin in the game when we talk about raising the minimum wage or passing paid sick leave laws or making it easier for people to join a union. When new laws are considered, labor shouldn’t be seen as one more special interest group. It benefits all of us if the people doing essential work throughout our economy have good jobs, a collective voice and dignified treatment at work.
Those who served in the wars that began after Sept. 11, 2001, are struggling with health problems, trauma and feelings of displacement and alienation.
By Jennifer Steinhauer, Sept. 7, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/us/politics/afghan-war-veterans.html
WASHINGTON — Melissa Gauntner, a retired Army first sergeant, has at times been gripped with panic and has trouble socializing beyond close friends, the result of dual traumas: years of sexual assault and harassment in the military, and mine explosions she saw in Afghanistan.
Jen Burch, once an active runner, developed breathing problems after she was exposed to toxic burn pits in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Isiah James, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, keeps a knife in his shower, ever on guard.
Thousands of veterans who served in the wars that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks struggle with issues that are often invisible to those around them. Some are suffering from health problems and trauma, and others from feelings of displacement and alienation, which for many grew more intense as the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan last month and the Taliban regained control of the country.
“It is one of those things you have to leave in God’s hands,” Ms. Burch said of her health issues. “To someone looking at me, I look like a very healthy 34-year-old woman, and I am not.”
Watching Kandahar, where she had tried to make a difference, and then the entire country quickly fall to the Taliban exacerbated her pain.
“It all feels like a complete failure,” she said from her home in Washington, D.C. “I have my own demons from my time there, and I worry about other veterans and the defeat they must be feeling.”
Some veterans are wondering if the wars were worth it, said Bonnie Carroll, the founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a support organization for those grieving the death of a service member.
“In World War I and World War II, if you died, you most likely died on the battlefield,” she said. “But many of our loved ones are now bringing the war home with them and dying from suicide as a result of post-traumatic stress or illness as a result of exposures.”
Ms. Burch, who was a staff sergeant in the Air Force in Kandahar from 2010 to 2011, often walked by pits filled with garbage, equipment and other waste. She said the doctors who examined her in 2014 found ground glass nodules in her lungs, which must be monitored for cancer. She now regularly uses an inhaler.
U.S. officials estimate that more than 3.5 million service members who deployed were exposed to toxic smoke from the roughly 250 pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Biden has said that he believes toxic substances from burn pits contributed to the brain cancer of his son Beau, who served with the Delaware Army National Guard at Balad Air Base in Iraq and died of the illness in 2015.
Even as they struggle, veterans are having more open discussions about their experiences and mental and physical conditions.
“I was too close, too much in love with my war,” said Maj. Thomas Schueman, 38, a Marine Corps commander who is now studying at the Naval War College. As time passed and he realized that the war in Afghanistan was essentially lost, “I started to maybe come to terms with the reality,” he said. “I am still fighting a little bit of that war, inside.”
Julie Howell, an Army specialist from 2000 to 2005 who deployed to Iraq, said she was always going to join the military.
“My grandpa and grandma met at a U.S.O. dance,” she said.
She enlisted at 17 and became quickly disenchanted.
“I am just coming to terms with the sexual violence I experienced,” said Ms. Howell, 38, who lives in El Paso. “You expected your battle buddy to bring you back to your room, not take you to their room.”
She added, “I don’t think civilians have a clue about this, and part of that is our own silence.”
In interviews, scores of female veterans shared stories that were remarkably similar if distinct in the details: attacks or coercion by men they served with, sexual encounters they felt pressured to have, abuse suffered in formation the next day.
For the past 10 years, the military has tried to make progress against sexual assault in the ranks. The Pentagon and Congress are poised to change how sexual assault cases are adjudicated by taking their prosecution out of the hands of military commanders, which many survivors say would reduce retaliation and increase convictions.
Ms. Gauntner, 40, who retired this year after 21 years in the military and three combat deployments, described the harassment she repeatedly faced.
“I had a situation where I was roofied,” she said. “I had a platoon sergeant massage my shoulders when he was showing me to my room. I had my basic training drill sergeant ask me if I had ever been with a Black man. I had a platoon leader who put his hand up my skirt.”
Ms. Gauntner went through a therapeutic program “where they show you that not everyone is a threat,” she said. She left incredulous.
“It is exhausting to stay on guard all the time,” she said. “But it is needed.”
Mr. James, 40, said he joined the Army “because I was poor.” He served in the infantry from 2005 to 2013, twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan.
“There wasn’t a day that went by that I did not fire my weapon in combat,” he said.
Between his last two deployments, he was hospitalized in Germany for post-traumatic stress. He pondered suicide at least once back in Brooklyn. “When I got out of the service is when everything hit me,” he said.
“It’s not natural for a human being to take a life from another human being. It’s not natural to see children not as children but as a target,” said Mr. James, who is now a policy adviser for the Black Veterans Project. “I used to sleep with a gun under my pillow. For the first two years of marriage, I didn’t sleep in the bed; I slept on the couch to guard the door. I still carry those things with me. I was 90 percent disabled at 26 years old. People don’t understand how much fighting I have seen.”
Geoffrey Easterling was an officer in the 3rd Cavalry Division in Afghanistan. He said he loved his time in the military, but service members needed better basic mental health preparation.
“Right before we were deployed, I went to a service and the chaplain told us, ‘You’re going to go home and either want everyone to touch you and hug you, or everyone to leave you alone,’” he said. “That should be told to every soldier, to make sure those things are clear.”
Some veterans feel disconnected from community and lack a sense of purpose when they return home.
“When you tell a progressive you served in a war, they look at you as if you were a gang member, and they look for an explanation as to why you joined,” said Adam Weinstein, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute and a Marine veteran. “Conservatives will often shower praise on you and put you on a bizarre pedestal. Neither of those interactions feels particularly authentic.”
In military families, scholars find what they call secondary traumatic distress, symptoms of anxiety stemming from a service member’s combat-related trauma and complicated feelings about family traditions that compelled many to serve.
June Heston’s husband, Mike Heston, died in 2018 of cancer that doctors said was related to exposure to toxins during his deployment with the National Guard. “He was the soldier and if asked to go again would have,” she said. “It was hard for him, a man who loved his country and our military, to tell our son, ‘Do not join.’”
The number of calls to a crisis hotline for veterans has increased in recent weeks, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs said, adding that it was not clear whether it was related to the situation in Afghanistan.
“It’s entirely natural to feel a range of emotions about the latest developments in Afghanistan, and if you are feeling depressed, angry, heartbroken or anything else,” Denis McDonough, the secretary of veterans affairs, said in a statement.
Veterans grappling with the effects of 20 years of wars are reaching beyond the battlefield by running for office, trying to shape foreign policy and pushing legislation to enhance benefits. New organizations for veterans focused on community service, education and political engagement have begun to replace older and less diverse groups.
The wounds of this generation are deep, said Peter D. Feaver, a professor of political science at Duke University. “We should not pretend they are not.”
“But nor should we pretend this prevents society from moving forward or that it is paralyzing,” he added. “These are the same issues the Greatest Generation had to wrestle with, and what we have learned is that even wounded people can accomplish a great deal.”
Major Schueman said he had worked through his experiences with death and disappointment through literature like “The Things They Carried,” the 1990 Vietnam War rumination.
“I think young men that join the infantry want to validate themselves under fire. You don’t have time to feel. It comes down to Kipling’s ‘If—,’” he said, referring to the poem published in 1910. “If I can keep my head, right, I can have equanimity at all times in the middle of the storms.”
Seeing the current state of Afghanistan “causes an immediate emotional reaction,” Major Schueman said, “and then I have to immediately separate it. Because it is a spiral of doom, a cycle of death, and I cannot go there.”
A flurry of litigation by advocacy groups seeks to combat what they say is a rise in deceptive marketing by food giants.
By Andrew Jacobs, Sept. 7, 2021
Turkeys roam in 20 acres of fields at Gunthorp Farms, an independent family farm in northeast Indiana that has had trouble competing with agricultural giants. Credit...Kaiti Sullivan for The New York Times
Shoppers drawn to sustainable, humanely raised meat and dairy products could be forgiven for thinking the nation’s big food companies have turned away from the industrial farming practices that have long dominated American agriculture.
Consider the package labels and marketing claims for some of the country’s best known brands: Cargill turkeys are sourced from “independent family farmers,” Sargento cheeses contain “no antibiotics” and Tyson uses “humane and environmentally responsible production” to raise its chickens while providing workers “a safe work environment.”
But some claims may not be what they seem, according to a flurry of litigation by advocacy groups seeking to combat what they describe as a surge in deceptive marketing by food giants. The misleading labels, the plaintiffs say, seek to profit off consumers’ growing interest in clean eating, animal welfare and environmentally friendly agriculture — but without making meaningful changes to their farming and production practices.
Class-action litigation against food and beverage companies hit a record high last year, with 220 lawsuits filed in 2020, up from 45 a decade ago, according to a tally by the law firm Perkins Coie.
The mounting wave of legal activism in part reflects the frustration of advocates who have made little headway in recent years convincing federal regulators to increase their oversight of the nation’s food supply — or even to provide definitions for words like “healthy” or “all natural.” Big Food, advocates say, has eagerly exploited the regulatory vacuum.
According to the lawsuits and complaints, Cargill turkeys are actually produced by contract farmers who have no say in the way the birds are raised — and who often become mired in debt complying with Cargill’s strict husbandry requirements. Tyson’s “all natural” chickens, claims a lawsuit and a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission, are mass-produced in crowded sheds contaminated with antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and after slaughter, they are bathed in chemical disinfectants. The federal complaint also questioned Tyson’s “safe work environment” claims, noting that 39 Tyson processing plant employees have died of Covid-19 and 12,500 others had become infected, four times more cases than its biggest competitors.
In a statement, Tyson said it complied with all labeling regulations, and was transparent about environmental, animal welfare and workplace safety efforts.
Farmed versus wild salmon is another category with nebulous definitions that consumers find hard to parse.
And that antibiotic-free Sargento cheese? One of the two recently filed lawsuits against the company included lab tests that found trace amounts of antibiotics. Sargento declined to comment, but in court filings, it said the amount of antibiotics the plaintiffs claimed to have detected are so minute that it “represents the equivalent of less than half a teaspoon of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”
The Organic Consumers Association, the Family Farm Action Alliance and the Animal Welfare Institute, among the nonprofit organizations behind some of the litigation, say that misleading and exaggerated marketing dupes consumers into believing they are supporting companies whose practices align with their values. But deceptive marketing, they contend, has a more pernicious effect: It ensures the continued mistreatment of millions of cows, pigs and chickens raised by Big Agriculture while harming the livelihoods of small farmers committed to more humane animal husbandry.
“We don’t believe that companies should be able to profit from deceiving consumers about their practices,” said Jay Shooster, a lawyer whose firm, Richman Law & Policy, has filed several cases on behalf of advocacy groups. “Even if we can’t sue Tyson for abusing their chickens, at least we can sue them for misleading about how their chickens are treated.”
The companies say the complaints are meritless, noting that a number of cases have been dismissed. Pooja S. Nair, a corporate food lawyer with the firm Ervin Cohen & Jessup, said many are patently frivolous, among them some four dozen cut-and-paste lawsuits filed last year against vanilla flavored products.
The lawsuits, most of which were dismissed, claimed consumers were misled into thinking the flavoring comes from vanilla beans or vanilla extract “The landscape for businesses has become increasingly hostile,” she said. “It’s forcing companies to be more creative, and careful, in how they advertise their products.”
The legal fight over package labels represents a new front in the effort by environmental and animal welfare groups to increase corporate transparency and to prod large food companies to embrace less harmful practices. The litigation also seeks to harness consumers’ growing interest in sustainability by naming and shaming companies they accuse of “greenwashing” their brands.
“My family tries to eat as sustainably as possible, and we don’t mind paying a premium for products that are advertised as such, but it really raises my hackles when companies are dishonest about what they are selling,” said Dezzi Rae Marshall, a career counselor from Los Angeles who is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in June in California against Red Lobster. The lawsuit contends that much of the company’s shrimp and lobster are sourced from suppliers employing fishing practices that are not environmentally sustainable.
Red Lobster declined to comment on the litigation, but said it is committed to sustainability “to ensure there’s seafood to enjoy, now and for generations.”
Although many of the recently filed lawsuits are still winding their way through federal and state courts, the plaintiffs have been encouraged by a handful of favorable rulings. Other deceptive advertising cases have been settled before trial or through adjudication by the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau.
Last year, Ben & Jerry’s stopped describing the cows that provide the milk for their ice cream as “happy” after the company was sued by an advocacy group. In 2018, General Mills agreed to no longer promote its Nature Valley granola bars as “made with 100 percent natural whole grain oats,” bowing to plaintiffs who claimed the snack bars contained trace amounts of the herbicide glyphosate. And last month, the N.A.D. recommended that Butterball modify or drop the phrase “farmers humanely raise our turkeys every day” from its labels — although it said it was acceptable for the company to continue saying it has a “zero-tolerance policy against any form of animal mistreatment.”
Advocates say much of the litigation could be avoided through more stringent federal oversight. While they have been heartened by the Biden administration’s efforts to address exaggerated food marketing claims through the F.T.C. and the F.D.A., they say more systemic change is needed.
A bill introduced in Congress last month would overhaul front-of-package food labeling through a standardized system of symbols to convey whether a product is truly healthy. The measure also directs federal regulators to specifically define terms like “healthy,” and it would require companies to clearly explain how much “whole grain” is in a loaf of highly processed bread. The measure has the backing of nutritionists and healthy food advocates, but opposition from industry lobbyists is likely to complicate its passage in a narrowly divided Congress.
For now, advocates are trying to prod federal regulators through legal activism and public pressure. The Animal Welfare Institute, for instance, has been trying to draw attention to the U.S.D.A.’s role in approving the label descriptions for meat and egg products, which it does by reviewing documents submitted by companies seeking its approval. Inspectors with the Food Safety and Inspection Service, the U.S.D.A. agency charged with verifying labeling claims, only have jurisdiction over slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, not the farms where the animals are raised.
Since 2013, the institute has requested documentation from the F.S.I.S. for nearly 100 package label claims. In more than half of these cases, the agency has been unable to find any documentation to back up its decisions, according to a report. In its review of the files provided, the institute found that 28 percent of label claims lacked adequate substantiation.
The F.S.I.S. disputed the group’s findings, citing flaws in the institute’s requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Act.
Food marketing can be notoriously fuzzy. Without clear-cut definitions for words like “sustainable,” “humane” or “natural,” food companies have been using claims they know will resonate with Americans concerned with the environment, animal welfare and worker safety.
But companies that have been targeted by litigants say advocates and plaintiffs are sometimes seeking to forge definitions for words that no reasonable consumer would recognize.
Ivan Wasserman, a food lawyer in Washington D.C., said some of the demands can border on extortion. For every case that makes its way to court, he said dozens of others are quietly settled with monetary compensation — often without making changes to the contested label. Even cases that end up in court can strain credulity, he said, citing lawsuits claiming Kellogg’s Froot Loops and Quaker Oats’ Cap’n Crunch’s Crunchberries cereals deceived consumers into believing they contained actual fruit.
The lawsuits were dismissed.
“These cases can really have a chilling effect on speech,” Mr. Wasserman said. “And I think that’s damaging not only to the company, but also potentially for consumers, if companies are afraid of giving truthful and accurate information for a fear of being roped into a meritless lawsuit.”
Still, he acknowledged that some of the recent litigation was not entirely outlandish, and said he had become increasingly emphatic in advising clients to avoid words like “natural” or “sustainable” on their labels. The flood of litigation has become so intense that Mr. Wasserman’s firm, Amin Talati Wasserman, recently opened an office in California, which has some of the country’s most stringent consumer protection regulations.
Jennifer Jacquet, an associate professor of environmental studies at New York University, said legal activism has become the single-most effective tool for holding companies accountable for questionable marketing claims. Professor Jacquet, an expert on seafood production, said the labeling rules for farmed salmon, for example, are so weak that companies do not have to disclose whether their fish are wild caught or raised with antibiotics in vast, tightly packed coastal enclosures that can have devastating effects on the surrounding ecosystems.
“Many of these sustainability claims are dubious and wildly overblown,” she said. “And given that labeling requirements are so pathetic, there really is little way for consumers to determine their truthfulness.”
The deceptive advertising claims against Cargill are typical of many recent cases. In a petition filed with the F.T.C., six advocacy groups took issue with the company’s prominent use of “independent family farmers” to describe the sourcing of the company’s turkey products. The phrase appears on the shrink-wrapped poultry marketed through its Shady Brook Farms and Honest Turkey brands, and cheery claims about the environment are a regular feature of the company's advertising campaigns.
Critics say production practices, however, can be less than idyllic. “Far from the bucolic family farms portrayed by Cargill’s marketing, Cargill’s actual production methods exploit contract farmers and slaughterhouse workers, systematically abuse animals and cause grave harms to the environment,” the complaint said.
In a statement, Cargill said the allegations were without merit, noting that the company’s marketing claims are vetted by the U.S.D.A. “Cargill conducts business in a legal, ethical and responsible manner,” it said.
The F.T.C. said it does not comment on pending complaints.
From a regulatory standpoint, the meaning of “family farmer” is far from clear. The U.S.D.A. says the words can describe any farm in which the operator, or their relatives, own at least half of the business — a category that includes more than 97 percent of the nation’s farms. But in 2018, the Small Business Administration said the contract farming arrangements that Cargill and other big poultry companies employ should be considered subsidiaries, not independent farming operations, when it comes to federal lending decisions.
Angela Huffman, a co-founder of the Family Farm Action Alliance, one of the complainants against Cargill, said contract farmers are often bound by mandates that dictate every step of production, from the breed of birds and feed they receive from Cargill to the type of equipment they must buy — requirements that she contended could saddle farm operators with crushing debts. Because Cargill and a handful of other companies dominate the turkey market, many contract farmers have few alternatives. “They are under the thumb of Cargill, and then customers who see the red barn and green grass on the label are duped into thinking they are supporting family farms,” she said.
For the nation’s dwindling band of independent poultry growers, the marketing strategies of corporate behemoths can have real-life implications. Greg Gunthorp, a fourth-generation farmer in northeast Indiana, prides himself on raising his turkeys in ways that resonate with consumers focused on sustainability. The birds spend much of their lives on pasture, where they can peck at grass and insects, and the Gunthorp family processes the turkeys themselves, without the use of disinfectants like chlorine.
But last Thanksgiving, one of Mr. Gunthorp’s longtime retail clients said they would no longer buy his turkeys. Shoppers, the retailer told him, were increasingly drawn to cheaper, brand-name turkeys making similar sustainability claims.
“Big Ag has co-opted and bastardized every one of our messages,” he said. “When they use a fancy label with absolutely meaningless adjectives, there’s just no way we can compete.”
Two decades after the attack on New York City, the Police Department is using counterterrorism tools and tactics to combat routine street crime.
By Ali Watkins, Sept. 8, 2021
Derrick Ingram was accused of speaking into a bullhorn near an officer at a protest. The police descended on his home with a response he said would have been appropriate for a terror attack. Credit...Laila Stevens for The New York Times
It was an unusual forearm tattoo that the police said led them to Luis Reyes, a 35-year-old man who was accused of stealing packages from a Manhattan building’s mailroom in 2019.
But the truth was more complicated: Mr. Reyes had first been identified by the New York Police Department’s powerful facial recognition software as it analyzed surveillance video of the crime.
His guilty plea earlier this year was not solely the result of keen-eyed detectives practicing old school police work. Instead, it was part of the sprawling legacy of one of the city’s darkest days.
Since the fall of the World Trade Center, the security apparatus borne from the Sept. 11 attack on the city has fundamentally changed the way the country’s largest police department operates, altering its approach to finding and foiling terror threats, but also to cracking minor cases like Mr. Reyes’s.
New Yorkers simply going about their daily lives routinely encounter post-9/11 digital surveillance tools like facial recognition software, license plate readers or mobile X-ray vans that can see through car doors. Surveillance drones hover above mass demonstrations and protesters say they have been questioned by antiterrorism officers after marches. The department’s Intelligence Division, redesigned in 2002 to confront Al Qaeda operatives, now uses antiterror tactics to fight gang violence and street crime.
Policing technology has always advanced along with the world at large. And the police have long used surveillance cameras to find suspects caught on video, publicizing images of people and asking the public for help identifying them. But both supporters and critics of the shift say it is almost impossible to overstate how profoundly the attacks changed American policing — perhaps most acutely in New York, which lost 23 of its own officers that day, and hundreds more from 9/11-related illnesses in the years since.
The Police Department has poured resources into expanding its surveillance capabilities. The department’s budget for intelligence and counterterrorism has more than quadrupled, spending more than $3 billion since 2006, and more through funding streams that are difficult to quantify, including federal grants and the secretive Police Foundation, a nonprofit that funnels money and equipment to the department from benefactors and donors.
Current and former police officials say the tools have been effective in thwarting dozens of would-be attacks. And the department has an obligation, they say, to repurpose its counterterrorism tools for everyday crime fighting.
“It’s what everybody would want us to be doing,” said John Miller, the deputy commissioner for the Police Department’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureaus, “instead of just saying, ‘Well, these were just for counterterrorism. So if it’s not a bombing we’re not going to use them. I’m sorry you got mugged.’”
But others say the prevalence of the department’s technological arsenal subjects ordinary New Yorkers to near-constant surveillance — a burden that falls more heavily on people of color. According to one estimate from a recent analysis by Amnesty International that was shared with The New York Times, a person attending a protest between Washington Square Park and Sixth Avenue — a common route through the park and into the city for protests after the death of George Floyd last summer — would be captured on the police department’s array of Argus video cameras for about 80 percent of their march.
Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and the heavy favorite to become the city’s next mayor, said in an interview that he intends to audit and re-evaluate how counterterrorism and surveillance resources are deployed and used in the city.
“I’m a believer in using technology to keep us safe,” said Mr. Adams, a former New York City police captain. “I don’t believe in using technology to dismantle our rights that exist in our country.”
‘We’ve created a monster’
Derrick Ingram remembers the laser — that red dot, hovering in his bedroom, trained there by an armed police officer posted across the courtyard from his apartment last summer.
“It was one of the most intense experiences,” he said.
The police had identified Mr. Ingram using facial recognition tools they applied to his Instagram profile, intercepted his phone calls and used drones to peer inside his apartment. Dozens of officers descended. The response seemed suited to a terror threat, Mr. Ingram said.
But Mr. Ingram, an organizer and activist, was not a terror suspect. Officers were seeking him in connection with his participation in a protest, where they said he spoke through a bullhorn near the ear of a patrolwoman, causing her temporary hearing loss. He would later be charged with assault of a police officer — a case that was subsequently dropped.
The intensity of the police operation was shocking, Mr. Ingram said.
“It kind of felt stupid. I felt like it was a waste of taxpayer money and funds,” Mr. Ingram said. “We’ve created a monster that’s kind of always existed within America, but we’ve given that monster — because of 9/11, because of other terrorist attacks and things that have happened — unquestionable, unchecked power.”
Safeguards meant to limit the police’s ability to monitor political activity were suspended. Thousands of additional cameras and license plate readers were installed around Manhattan, part of the Lower and Midtown Manhattan Security Initiatives.
Only recently — because of a law passed by the City Council last summer, to police officials’ dismay — did the breadth of the Police Department’s surveillance dragnet begin to become clear. The law, known as the POST Act, requires the department to provide a public accounting of its post-9/11 technological arsenal.
Police officials have proven reluctant to fully comply with the transparency requirements, and have historically kept such expenditures secret even from the city’s own comptroller. But according to figures maintained by the city’s Independent Budget Office, the Police Department’s spending on intelligence and counterterrorism nearly quadrupled between 2006 and 2021, up to $349 million from $83 million in 2006, the earliest year for which the office keeps data.
For a department that was running entire precinct houses on single computers at the time of the attacks, the expansion has been stunning, said Raymond W. Kelly, whose second stint as New York Police Department commissioner began just months after the attacks. Mr. Kelly led a frantic, rapid effort to bring the department up to speed.
“We brought in thousands of computers and lots of other technology to try to get the department into the 21st century,” Mr. Kelly said in an interview.
He challenged the notion that the surveillance apparatus in New York troubled many residents; most Americans are used to having their pictures taken even while shopping in a department store, he said.
“Your picture was probably taken 30 times while you were in that store,” said Mr. Kelly. “I don’t think the average person has the concern about privacy that many of these activist groups have.”
In documents released earlier this year, the police acknowledged their use of a vast network of license plate readers, thousands of surveillance cameras, mobile X-ray vans and digital tools that are used to scrub social media profiles and retain deleted information. Much of the resulting data can be collected and stored without a warrant.
The tactics have become ubiquitous in criminal cases, including investigations of low-level crime. Asked to identify recent cases in which the police used such surveillance measures, public defenders from across the city said it was difficult to think of one that had not.
“My office defends tens of thousands of cases each year, and I would be shocked if we have a single case of any level of severity that did not include some form of surveillance technology,” said Elizabeth Vasquez, the director of the science and surveillance project at Brooklyn Defender Services.
Most often used, lawyers say, is the Police Department’s Domain Awareness System, which fuses data from several different surveillance tools — license plate readers, closed-circuit television streams, images that can be analyzed with facial recognition software, or phone call histories — and associates the data with a person or address.
The department has acknowledged that the platform was not developed as a crime-fighting tool, but rather, has been repurposed into one: “Originally designed as a counterterrorism platform, D.A.S. is now a program that aggregates a substantial quantity of the information N.Y.P.D. personnel use to make strategic and tactical decisions,” read a draft policy paper posted on the department’s website.
The police say safeguards exist around the information that the department collects — warrants, for example, are sometimes required to query stored data, and facial recognition software cannot be the sole reason for an arrest. But civil liberties advocates say the kaleidoscopic data network collected by the police has effectively turned the city into a surveillance state, even for law-abiding New Yorkers.
Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said her organization was already concerned with creeping police surveillance in the 1990s; not long before the attacks, the group had mapped out every camera they could find in the city. In hindsight, she said, the exercise would prove naïve.
“We made a map, and we had dots — we had pins at that time — where there were cameras. And when we did that, there were a couple of thousand,” Ms. Lieberman said. “We repeated the survey at some point after 9/11, and there were too many cameras to count.”
The remaking of the intelligence division
In the months and years after Sept. 11, the Police Department under Mr. Kelly set about building a system that would protect the city from another attack.
The department established a counterterrorism bureau and remade its intelligence division, including the so-called Demographics Unit — a secretive police unit that kept tabs on Muslim New Yorkers, even without evidence of a crime.
“The theory was, in the course of regular policing, police officers around the country would run across little bits of information that, when added to other kinds of information, would potentially reveal terrorist plots in the making,” said Faiza Patel, the director for the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program, which researches the intersection of civil liberties and surveillance. “In order to do that, they really lowered the threshold for information collection.”
The department still defends its practices, but later settled a lawsuit alleging it had illegally spied on Muslim New Yorkers, and officials say it no longer employs the kinds of demographic surveillance it used following the Sept. 11 attacks. Today, many of the division’s resources have returned to tracking gang conflicts and gun crime (it also maintains a division to track extremist groups).
Still, the scars from the surveillance of Muslim New Yorkers remain, and the policing methods behind it — data collection and intelligence-gathering — have stuck.
Mr. Ingram, the activist who was arrested after a Black Lives Matter protest against racism in policing, was one of several people involved in last summer’s demonstrations who said they were eventually interviewed by city and federal counterterrorism officers.
“When the definition of ‘terrorism’ becomes anyone you don’t agree with, that’s utterly terrifying,” said Hannah Shaw, who was arrested during a protest last summer and turned over to federal antiterrorism agents for questioning.
Police departments were already beginning to develop surveillance technology before the Sept. 11 attacks, said Fritz Umbach, a history professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“There’s certainly more police presence,” Mr. Umbach said. “That is an ongoing trend that predates 9/11. It continues for reasons that have nothing to do with terrorism.”
What has changed, he said, is the tools that police have at their disposal.
“Government funding developed these tools for war and then they get repurposed for policing,” he said. “And that’s a real issue.”
For those in law enforcement who lived through the pressure of a post-9/11 world in New York, the nexus between counterterror work and policing street crime seemed a natural progression.
“It’s hard to explain sometimes how difficult the work was early on, with all the threats that we were facing, and the expectation that we were going to stop every single thing,” said Carlos Fernandez, a former F.B.I. agent in charge of counterterrorism in New York City who worked closely with the Police Department after Sept. 11. “That was a very challenging environment to work in.”
The tools developed in the aftermath of the attacks proved to be useful in fighting street crime too, Mr. Fernandez said.
“I think to a large degree it’s been very beneficial,” Mr. Fernandez said. “But without the proper checks and balances, anything that’s good can also be used for bad reasons.”
Researchers took a deep dive into embryonic development to tease out the source of the tabby pattern in cats.
By James Gorman, Sept. 7, 2021https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/science/cat-stripes-genetics.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Science
A tabby cat’s distinctive stripes. Credit... Stephen Hyde / Alamy Stock Photo
Folklore is full of stories about the coat patterns of cats: How the tiger got its stripes. How the leopard got its spots. And scientists ask the same questions, although not necessarily about large predators. The research may focus instead on something like the mackerel tabby pattern in domestic shorthairs.
The question of how cat stripes and splotches are made touches on some of the deepest theoretical puzzles of biology. How does a blob of cells organize itself into a fruit fly, or a panda? What tells the bones in a limb to become a hand, or paw, or the ribbing of a leathery wing? What tells some skin cells to grow dark hair and others lighter hair?
A team of geneticists reported Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications that it had identified a gene in domestic cats that plays a key role in creating the traditional tabby stripe pattern, and that the pattern is evident in embryonic tissue even before hair follicles start to grow.
The inheritance of cat coats — how to breed for this or that pattern — is well known. But how patterns emerge in a growing embryo “really has been an unsolved mystery,” said Dr. Gregory S. Barsh, an author of the new report.
“We think this is really the first glimpse into what the molecules might be” that are involved in the process, he added.
The research team included Dr. Barsh, Christopher B. Kaelin and Dr. Kelly A. McGowan, all affiliated with the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Alabama and the Stanford University School of Medicine.
“It’s a very beautiful study,” said Hopi E. Hoekstra, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, who has collaborated with Dr. Barsh in the past but was not part of this research.
“It advances our understanding of one of the most fundamental questions in developmental biology: How do patterns form?” Dr. Hoekstra said.
Dr. Barsh said the theoretical basis of the team’s work dated back to a groundbreaking paper by Alan Turing, famous for his work in computer science and code breaking. Turing’s genius was not limited to computers, however. He wrote a paper called “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis” in 1952 that “really laid the groundwork for the entire field of mathematical biology,” Dr. Barsh said.
The paper describes what is called a reaction diffusion process in which two chemicals, one that stimulates gene activity and one that inhibits it, can result in regular, alternating patterns. Researchers who study the development of coat patterns have thought that this process could produce stripes in cat coats; Dr. Barsh said the team’s research had confirmed this hypothesis.
Further, he said, the study shows for the first time that the gene Dkk4 and the protein it produces are central to the process. Dkk4 is the inhibitor in the process.
The research depended on a collaboration with programs that trap feral cats, spay or castrate them and release them in order to reduce overpopulation and improve the health of feral cats. Many female cats that are spayed in these programs are pregnant. The embryos, at too early a growth stage to be viable, are usually discarded. For this study, the researchers collected the embryonic tissue and brought it to the lab.
From more than 200 prenatal litters, Dr. McGowan looked for patterns in the tissue at the different stages of growth in the embryos. She found a pattern of what she described as thick and thin areas of tissue in the top layer of the embryonic skin, never before reported. The regions, she said, “mimic what’s going on in the adult cat pigmentation patterns.” The same patterns that will appear in an adult cat’s coat as stripes or blotches appear first in the embryo before there is any hair or even hair follicles.
The team then looked for genes that might be active at that period in early embryonic growth.
When Dr. Kaelin looked at the tissue that showed the thick and thin tissue pattern that was the precursor of stripes, he said, “the one molecule that stood out from the rest was this Dkk4.” The full name of the protein and the gene is Dickkopf 4: The name is German for “thick head,” a characteristic the gene produced in frogs.
There were different amounts of Dkk4 in the thick and the thin tissue areas. The Dkk4 protein was inhibiting the genes that produce other signaling molecules known as Wnt proteins, Dr. Barsh said. Even more telling, when there was a mutation in the Dkk4 gene, the stripes became thinner, to the point that a plain pattern called Ticked emerged.
The authors emphasize that the patterns they investigated are only a “fraction of the pattern diversity that exists among domestic cat breeds.”
In the future, Dr. Barsh said, one target for the team will be to uncover how the tissue pattern translates to color when hair follicles grow.
Dr. Hoekstra said the work highlighted the value of domestic animals to science. “Cats are a fantastic model — easier to study than zebras or leopards — that have developed a dazzling array of spots, stripes and everything in between.”