Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, October 12, 2021

Friday, October 15


People Vs. Fossil Fuels Solidarity Action


Friday, 10:00am – 12Noon


In person


Federal Courthouse

450 Golden Gate Ave.

(between Polk & Larkin Sts)

San Francisco


From October 11 to 15, thousands of people will take action at the White House, participate in civil disobedience, and demand that President Biden choose a side: People vs. Fossil Fuels.


This Friday we will take the message of the People Vs. Fossil Fuels week of action to our local federal building, in solidarity with the hundreds of activists that will be putting their liberty on the line in Washington, D.C.


Hosts: Extinction Rebellion SF Bay Area, Sunflower Alliance, Silicon Valley Climate Action Now, 1000 Grandmothers, Bay Area

Info: People Vs. Fossil Fuels Solidarity Action, Oct 15 | Facebook or People Vs. Fossil Fuels Solidarity Action : Indybay




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: spiritofmandela1@gmail.com


Please endorse now: http://spiritofmandela.org/endorse/



In solidarity,


Dr. A’isha Mohammad


Sekou Odinga


Matt Meyer


Jihad Abdulmumit


– 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.









Thursday, November 11, 2021, San Francisco


Timeline of Events:

12:30-1:00 P.M.

Meet at The Ferry Building, grab signs and get ready to march.

1:00-2:00 P.M.

March along the scenic Embarcadero, the route is two miles, flat and wheelchair accessible

2:00-3:30 P.M.

End at Aquatic Park near Hyde St. Pier for a short rally.

COP26 in Glasgow this November has the stated aim of “uniting the world to tackle climate change”.

Yet at the previous 25 COP conferences since 1995, world leaders have repeatedly failed to deliver on this.

We will not accept this failure—governments must act now!

Stop killing us” is the message from XR Global South groups already suffering the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. We must also provide a voice for the millions of species and future generations who cannot speak for themselves.

XR will continue demanding immediate action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency in the run up to, during and beyond COP26.

Join us. Together we will tell these leaders to listen.

Bring yourself, friends, colleagues, neighbors, schoolmates, children, and community for a demonstration to let the power that be know we are watching them.

We will march with signs, hand crafted puppets, banners, a safety team, and each other to call for our right to safe and healthy planet for future generations by Non-Violent Direct Action.




To: U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives

End Legal Slavery in U.S. Prisons

Sign Petition at:








Español  Português

On the anniversary of the 26th of July Movement’s founding, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research launches the online exhibition, Let Cuba Live. 80 artists from 19 countries – including notable cartoonists and designers from Cuba – submitted over 100 works in defense of the Cuban Revolution. Together, the exhibition is a visual call for the end to the decades-long US-imposed blockade, whose effects have only deepened during the pandemic. The intentional blocking of remittances and Cuba’s use of global financial institutions have prevented essential food and medicine from entering the country. Together, the images in this exhibition demand: #UnblockCuba #LetCubaLive

Please contact art@thetricontinental.org if you are interested in organising a local exhibition of the exhibition.






Glen Ford was the most brilliant, courageous and consistent writer and journalist in the Black radical and independent tradition, of his generation – from the Sixties until now.
Cornel West

Glen Ford was the consummate journalist, a man who demanded rigorous analysis of himself and others, and who lived by the dictum of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.
—Margaret Kimberley – co-founder, Black Agenda Report

Anyone who followed or knew Glen Ford was mentored by him. He is one of the few among us who lived by Amilcar Cabral’s iconic words: ’Tell no lies, claim no easy victories!’
Danny Haiphong

Glen’s transition to an ancestor has left a huge hole in our movement, not to mention in the hearts of so many of us.
—Ajamu Baraka

and get 15% off

OR Books



unsubscribe from this list      view email in browser
OR Books | 137 West 14th Street | New York, NY 10011



Kevin Rashid Johnson is Back in Virginia!


Rashid just called with the news that he has been moved back to Virginia. His property is already there, and he will get to claim the most important items tomorrow. He is at a "medium security" level and is in general population. Basically, good news.


He asked me to convey his appreciation to everyone who wrote or called in his support during the time he was in Ohio.


His new address is:


Kevin Rashid Johnson #1007485

Nottoway Correctional Center

2892 Schutt Road

Burkeville, VA 23922




Freedom for Major Tillery! End his Life Imprisonment!

Major Tillery and his family have set up a new Change.org petition to submit to the Board of Pardons in support his petition to commutation of his sentence to parole while maintaining his legal fight for exoneration and overturning of his conviction.
Major's commutation petition focuses on both his factual innocence as well as his decades of advocacy for other prisoners while serving almost 40 years as a lifer, over 20 of those years in solitary.

Please circulate and support the petition:





Great news for Kevin Cooper, an innocent man 

on San Quentin's death row:




Contact: Governor's Press Office


Friday, May 28, 2021


(916) 445-4571


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:





"The State of Mumia" May 12, 2021

I don’t usually do this. This is discussing my self. I find it far more interesting to tell the stories of other, the revolving globe on which we dwell and the stories spawn by the fragile human condition and the struggles of humanity for liberation.

But I digress, uncomfortably.

This commentary is about the commentator.

Several weeks ago I underwent a medical procedure known as open heart surgery, a double bypass after it was learned that two vessels beating through my heart has significant blockages that impaired heart function.

This impairment was fixed by extremely well trained and young cardiologist who had extensive experience in this intricate surgical procedure.

I tell you I had no clue whatsoever that I suffered from such disease. Now to be perfectly honest, I feel fine.

Indeed, I feel more energetic than usual!

I thank you all, my family and friends, for your love and support.

Onwards to freedom with all my heart.

—Mumia Abu-Jamal

Demand Mumia's Freedom:

Governor Tom Wolf -1(717) 787-2500  Fax 1 (717) 772-8284
Office of the Governor
508 Main Capitol Building
HarrisburgPA  17120    
After calling the governor, send an online communication about our concerns.   https://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/#PhoneNumber
Let us know what there response was, Thank you.  Mobilization4Mumia@gmail.com


Questions and comments may be sent to: info@freedomarchives.org



This beautiful and powerful exhibit is ongoing 

and can be viewed online at:



A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Video at:


Screen shot from video.




Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests. 

The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page. 

Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.

Emergency Hotlines

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: 

National Hotline

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. 

WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective






1) Sirhan Sirhan murdered a Kennedy. He could spend less time in prison than this California man

By Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Oct. 11, 2021

Ruchell Magee (second from right) has been in prison for 50 years, while the shooter of President Ronald Reagan is free.
Ruchell Magee (second from right) has been in prison for 50 years, while the shooter of President Ronald Reagan is free.

On June 5, 1968, Sirhan Sirhan approached Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, brother of former president John F. Kennedy, just after midnight at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He then pulled a gun and shot Kennedy in the head and upper body at close range.


On March 30, 1981, John Hinkley Jr. walked up to then-President Ronald Reagan outside of a Washington, D.C., hotel with gun in hand. He fired multiple shots, striking Reagan in the chest, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the side, District of Columbia police Officer Thomas Delahanty in the neck and White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head, leaving him partially paralyzed.


Hinkley spent 35 years in a mental hospital before being granted conditional release. On Sept. 27, he was freed from court supervision entirely at the age of 66. Sirhan, meanwhile, was deemed eligible for parole on Aug. 27, after 53 years of imprisonment.


In light of the prospect of two would-be presidential assassins walking the Earth as free men, it’s worth inquiring why similar consideration isn’t being given to Ruchell Magee, a Black man who has been imprisoned in California for more than 50 years.


Magee has neither committed nor been convicted of murder. He was first eligible for parole in 1981, but has been denied release ever since. He is 82 and housed at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. At his most recent parole hearing in July, Magee was denied parole for another three years. He will be 85 at his next scheduled hearing.


Magee is no threat to society. He has housing, financial and emotional support networks in place to help him readjust to life on the outside, and yet he remains behind bars.




Magee came to California in late 1962, a refugee from the Jim Crow justice system of Louisiana. Within six months he would be sentenced to life in prison for a $10 robbery where no bodily harm occurred. Magee maintained his innocence, arguing that he was illegally imprisoned over a disagreement gone wrong.


Although Magee never went past seventh grade in school, he studied law in prison and learned to file legal documents in an attempt to have his conviction reversed. Instead, he was retried and convicted a second time.


Magee spent the next few years attempting to legally free himself from what he believed to be a corrupt justice system. His knowledge of the law and his behavior in court (he frequently disrupted proceedings to level charges of racism) made him a thorn in the side of the court.


Those same qualities, however, endeared him to other prisoners who could not afford legal counsel.


This is how Magee wound up on the witness stand of a Marin County courthouse on Aug. 7, 1970. He was testifying in support of a fellow San Quentin Prison inmate when 17-year-old Jonathan Jackson entered the courtroom with a satchel full of guns. Jackson took several hostages, including the judge and prosecutor. His goal was to free his brother George and two other inmates — collectively known as the “Soledad Brothers” — who were charged with killing a prison guard.


Magee, meanwhile, after eight years of legally trying to overturn his unjust conviction, seized on the moment to free himself. He joined with Jackson in the armed escape and fled the courthouse. Prison guards on the scene opened fire at Jackson’s getaway vehicle. The sole survivors of this volley were the prosecutor, who was left paralyzed, and Magee.


Magee was charged along with activist Angela Davis with conspiracy, kidnapping and murder. Worldwide support aided Davis’ acquittal on all charges. Murder charges were eventually dropped against Magee, but he was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison.


And he’s still there.


The longer a person lives, the more medical care they need. This is as true for prisoners as anyone else. In Magee’s case, his care will come from an overburdened and understaffed prison medical system. According to the Public Policy Institute, older prisoners may be a contributing reason for California’s astounding prison health care costs, currently the highest in the nation, at more than three times the national average.


The recidivism rate for prisoners in the U.S. decreases as prisoners get older. It is estimated to be at 5% for persons 50 to 64 and less than 1% by the age of 65, according to Prison Legal News.


Sirhan Sirhan isn’t the only older murderer to be recently granted parole in California. Just weeks ago, David Weidert, who served 40 years for burying a developmentally disabled man alive, was approved for parole.


If these men are considered safe for release, what threat does Magee’s continued incarceration protect us from?


Years ago, Magee took the name Cinque, after the captured African leader of the 1839 rebellion on the slave ship Amistad that killed the ship’s captain. U.S. courts ruled that Cinque and his fellow captives had a right to rebel and fight for their freedom — and the group was freed to return to Africa. Former U.S. President John Quincy Adams supported this result.


Two of Robert Kennedy’s sons, meanwhile, support Sirhan Sirhan’s bid for freedom.


Magee does not have the support of former presidents or their families. His only chance at freedom lies with the common sense of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who can release Magee whenever he chooses.


Magee poses no threat to the citizens of California. And his freedom should be given no less consideration than that of the perpetrators of two of America’s most infamous acts of violence.


Thandisizwe Chimurenga is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author.



2) The Hospital Occupation That Changed Public Health Care

The Young Lords took over Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx on July 14, 1970. Their demand? Accessible, quality health care for all.

By Emma Francis-Snyder, October 11, 2021

Featuring The Young Lords


Screen shot from video

On July 14, 1970, members of the Young Lords occupied Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx — known locally as the “Butcher Shop.” A group of activists, many of them in their late teens and 20s, barricaded themselves inside the facility, demanding safer and more accessible health care for the community.


Originally a Chicago-based street gang, the Young Lords turned to community activism, inspired by the Black Panthers and by student movements in Puerto Rico. A Young Lords chapter in New York soon formed, agitating for community control of institutions and land, as well as self-determination for Puerto Rico. Their tactics included direct action and occupations that highlighted institutional failures.


Through archival footage, re-enactments and contemporary interviews, the documentary above shines a light on the Young Lords’ resistance movement and their fight for human rights. The dramatic takeover of Lincoln Hospital produced one of the first Patient’s Bill of Rights, changing patients’ relationship with hospitals and doctors nationwide.



3) Sally Rooney Declines to Sell Translation Rights to Israeli Publisher

The author of “Beautiful World, Where Are You” turned down an offer from an Israeli publisher to translate the novel to Hebrew, citing her support for Palestinians “in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”

By Elizabeth A. Harris, Oct. 12, 2021


“I simply do not feel it would be right for me under the present circumstances to accept a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the U.N.-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people,” Sally Rooney said.

“I simply do not feel it would be right for me under the present circumstances to accept a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the U.N.-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people,” Sally Rooney said. Credit...Ellius Grace for The New York Times

The Irish novelist Sally Rooney said on Tuesday that she would not allow the Israeli publishing house that handled her previous novels to publish her most recent book, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” because of her support for Palestinian people and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.


In an email, Ms. Rooney said that she was proud to have her first two books, “Normal People” and “Conversations With Friends,” published in Hebrew. “Likewise, it would be an honor for me to have my latest novel translated into Hebrew and available to Hebrew-language readers,” she said. “But for the moment, I have chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house.”


She added that she knew some would disagree with her decision, “but I simply do not feel it would be right for me under the present circumstances to accept a new contract with an Israeli company that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the U.N.-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.”


Her Israeli publisher, Modan Publishing House, said in an email that when it inquired about “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” which was published in English in September, it was told that she wasn’t interested in publishing it in Israel. It said it was not given an explanation.


In her email, Ms. Rooney cited a report published this year by Human Rights Watch that said the actions of the Israeli government meet the legal definition of apartheid, and she expressed her support for the B.D.S. movement, which aims to harness international political and economic pressure on Israel. Supporters say the goal of the B.D.S. movement is to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, while critics, including many Israelis, say its real aim is the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Ms. Rooney’s decision was previously reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.


Ms. Rooney is not the first prominent author to decline an offer to publish in Israel. Alice Walker said in 2012 that she would not allow a Hebrew translation of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Color Purple.” Ms. Walker, who was born in Georgia in 1944, said at the time, “I grew up under American apartheid and this,” she added of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, “was far worse.”


Deborah Harris, a literary agent whose company handles major authors looking to be translated and published in Israel, described Ms. Rooney’s decision as painful and counterproductive.


“When it’s ice cream or when it’s cement, or whatever else it is, it’s one thing, but when it comes to culture, I just have a very, very hard time seeing how this can be productive in changing anything,” Ms. Harris said. “What literature is supposed to do is reach into the hearts and minds of people.”


Those likely to read Ms. Rooney’s work in Israel, Ms. Harris added, are not those who support the policies to which she likely objects. “Her audience here are people who are in total support of a Palestinian state,” Ms. Harris said.


Ms. Rooney’s books have been successful both critically and commercially. Her second novel, “Normal People,” was longlisted for the Booker Prize and made into a television series by BBC Three and Hulu, for which Ms. Rooney was nominated for an Emmy. A TV series based on “Conversations With Friends” is expected to be released next year. All this has come to Ms. Rooney quickly. The author, 30, is sometimes described as more famous than the books she’s written, or as the first great millennial novelist.


“Beautiful World, Where Are You” follows the friendship of two young women, Eileen, an editorial assistant at a literary magazine, and Alice, a novelist whose career raced into fame and success, much in the way that Ms. Rooney’s did. The book has been on the New York Times best-seller list for hardcover fiction for four weeks.


In her statement, Ms. Rooney said that in making this decision not to publish again with Modan, she was “responding to the call from Palestinian civil society,” and she expressed solidarity with Palestinian people “in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality.”


She added that the Hebrew-language translation rights to the novel are still available, and that if she can find a way to sell them and adhere to the B.D.S. movement’s guidelines, “I will be very pleased and proud to do so.”



4) The Most Important Global Meeting You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Is Now

Countries are gathering in an effort to stop a biodiversity collapse that scientists say could equal climate change as an existential crisis.

By Catrin Einhorn, Oct. 14, 2021

Former forestland in Kalimantan, Indonesia, on the island of Borneo, this year.

Former forestland in Kalimantan, Indonesia, on the island of Borneo, this year. Credit...Galih/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As 20,000 government leaders, journalists, activists and celebrities from around the world prepare to descend on Glasgow for a crucial climate summit starting late this month, another high-level international environmental meeting got started this week. The problem it seeks to tackle: A rapid collapse of species and systems that collectively sustain life on earth.


The stakes at the two meetings are equally high, many leading scientists say, but the biodiversity crisis has received far less attention.


“If the global community continues to see it as a side event, and they continue thinking that climate change is now the thing to really listen to, by the time they wake up on biodiversity it might be too late,” said Francis Ogwal, one of the leaders of the working group charged with shaping an agreement among nations.


Because climate change and biodiversity loss are intertwined, with the potential for both win-win solutions and vicious cycles of destruction, they must be addressed together, scientists say. But their global summits are separate, and one overshadows the other.


“Awareness is not yet where it should be,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a biologist and climate researcher who has helped lead international research into both issues. He calls them “the two existential crises that humankind has elicited on the planet.”


Why biodiversity matters


Apart from any moral reasons for humans to care about the other species on Earth, there are practical ones. At the most basic level, people rely on nature for their survival.


“The diversity of all of the plants and all of the animals, they actually make the planet function,” said Anne Larigauderie, an ecologist who directs a leading intergovernmental panel on biodiversity. “They ensure that we have oxygen in the air, that we have fertile soils.”


Lose too many players in an ecosystem, and it will stop working. The average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes has fallen by at least 20 percent, mostly since 1900, according to a major report on the state of the world’s biodiversity published by Dr. Larigauderie’s panel, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. An estimated million species are threatened with extinction, it found.


Climate change is only one driver of biodiversity loss. For now, the major culprit on land is humans destroying habitat through activities like farming, mining and logging. At sea, it’s overfishing. Other causes include pollution and introduced species that drive out native ones.


“When you have two concurrent existential crises, you don’t get to pick only one to focus on — you must address both no matter how challenging,” said Brian O’Donnell, director of the Campaign for Nature, an advocacy group. “This is the equivalent of having a flat tire and a dead battery in your car at the same time. You’re still stuck if you only fix one.”


How it works


This week, environment officials, diplomats and other observers from around the world gathered online, and a small group assembled in person in Kunming, China, for the meeting, the 15th United Nations biodiversity conference.


The United States is the only country in the world besides the Vatican that is not a party to the underlying treaty, the Convention on Biological Diversity, a situation largely attributed to Republican opposition. American representatives participate on the sidelines of the talks, as do scientists and environmental advocates.


Because of the pandemic, the conference has been broken into two parts. While this virtual portion was largely about drumming up political will, nations will meet again in China in the spring to ratify a series of targets aimed at tackling biodiversity loss. The aim will be to adopt a pact for nature akin to the Paris Agreement on climate change, said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the executive secretary of the convention.


Last year, officials reported that the world’s nations largely failed to achieve the targets of the previous global agreement on biodiversity, made in 2010.


If the new commitments are not translated into “effective policies and concrete actions,” Ms. Mrema said this week at the meeting, “we risk repeating the failures of the last decade.”


What’s next


The working draft includes 21 targets that act as a blueprint for reducing biodiversity loss. Many are concrete and measurable, others more abstract. None are easy. They include, in summary:


Create a plan, across the entire land and waters of each country, to make the best decisions about where to conduct activities like farming and mining while also retaining intact areas.


Ensure that wild species are hunted and fished sustainably and safely.


Reduce agricultural runoff, pesticides and plastic pollution.


Use ecosystems to limit climate change by storing planet-warming carbon in nature.


Reduce subsidies and other financial programs that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, the estimated amount that governments spend supporting fossil fuels and potentially damaging agricultural practices.


Safeguard at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030.


In the lead-up to the conference, that last measure, pushed by environmentalists and a growing number of nations, has received the most attention and resources. Last month, nine philanthropic groups donated $5 billion to the effort, known as 30x30.


“It’s catchy,” said E.O. Wilson, an influential biologist and professor emeritus at Harvard University. He said he hoped 30x30 would be a step on the way to one day conserving half of the planet for nature.


Indigenous groups have watched with hope and worry. Some welcome the expansion, calling for a higher number than 30 percent, while others fear that they will lose the use of their lands, as has happened historically in many areas set aside for conservation.


The debate underscores a central tension coursing through the biodiversity negotiations.


“If this becomes a purely conservation plan for nature, this is going to fail,” said Basile van Havre, a leader, with Mr. Ogwal, of one of the convention’s working groups. “What we need is a plan for nature and people.”


With the global human population still increasing, scientists say that transformational change is required for the planet to be able to sustain us.


“We actually need to see every human endeavor, if you will, through the lens of biodiversity and nature,” Dr. Larigauderie said. Since everyone depends on nature, she noted, “everyone is part of the solution.”



5) Justice Dept. to Investigate Reports of Abuse in Texas’ Juvenile Prisons

Accusations of excessive force, sexual misconduct, and the use of isolation and pepper spray prompted the inquiry into the treatment of incarcerated children.

By Katie Benner, Oct. 13, 2021

The Justice Department’s Texas investigation is part of a goal to overhaul the criminal justice system and address conditions in prisons.
The Justice Department’s Texas investigation is part of a goal to overhaul the criminal justice system and address conditions in prisons. Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it was investigating juvenile correctional facilities in Texas over allegations of physical violence, sexual abuse and other mistreatment of children held there.


The investigation, which will also examine the state’s use of isolation and chemicals like pepper spray, is part of a broader effort to overhaul the criminal justice system and address conditions in prisons, a goal that in recent years has had bipartisan support and was pursued by the Obama and Trump administrations before President Biden took office. And it follows other recent Justice Department investigations into adult correctional facilities in states including Georgia and New Jersey.


“Prison conditions and the conditions inside of institutions where young people are detained is a priority issue for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department,” Kristen Clarke, who leads the division, said at a news conference.


“No child who was sent to a Texas facility for treatment and rehabilitation should be subjected to violence and abuse, nor denied basic services,” she said.


The department opens its inquiries into correctional facilities based on public documents, news reports, social media posts and conversations with people involved in local prison systems that reveal instances of brutal violence and sexual abuse, neglect of the mentally ill, and other serious improprieties.


Ms. Clarke said that the Justice Department investigation into Texas’ five secure juvenile facilities came after at least 11 staff members were arrested and accused of sexually abusing the children in their care, with one arrest as recently as last week. Other staff members reportedly shared pornography with children and paid them in cash and drugs to assault their peers.


“There are also reports of staff members’ use of excessive force on children, including kicking, body-slamming and choking children to the point of unconsciousness,” Ms. Clarke said. She added that there was also an incident last February in which “a staffer reportedly pepper-sprayed a child and placed him in full mechanical restraints, including handcuffs, a belly chain, shackles and a spit mask, and then body-slammed him onto a bed.”


Ms. Clarke said the number of children and teenagers with serious self-injuries in Texas’ secure facilities in 2019 more than doubled from the previous year, and that at least two possible suicides were reported in recent years.


The Texas Juvenile Justice Department, which oversees one of the nation’s largest networks of youth correctional facilities, said that it would fully cooperate with the investigation.


“We all share the same goals for the youth in our care: providing for their safety, their effective rehabilitation, and the best chance for them to lead productive, fulfilling lives,” Camille Cain, the executive director of the Texas department, said in a statement.


While the U.S. Justice Department and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican, have opposed each other on several high-profile issues, including the state’s new law banning nearly all abortions, they have both sought to address the problems with the state’s juvenile prisons.


In July, Mr. Abbott asked the Texas Rangers, a division of the state’s Department of Public Safety, to investigate Juvenile Justice Department staff members over allegations of illegal conduct with incarcerated children.


“Child welfare is a bipartisan issue, and that makes it possible to see reform in a politically divided state,” said Brett M. Merfish, the director of youth justice at Texas Appleseed, a criminal justice and legal aid group.


Texas Appleseed worked with another group, Disability Rights Texas, on a complaint that detailed staff-on-youth sexual assault, physical abuse and gang activity at the facilities, as well as chronic understaffing and inadequate mental health care.


The advocacy groups sent their complaint to the Justice Department last fall, and Ms. Merfish said that she was encouraged by the investigation and hoped it signaled the beginning of real change.


“This isn’t a new problem in Texas,” Ms. Merfish said.


Chad E. Meacham, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said that many children are already traumatized when they enter the Texas criminal justice system.


Of the children who arrive at a complex for girls in his district, 86 percent have already survived domestic violence, parental substance abuse or mental illness, Mr. Meacham said. About 63 percent of the girls are immediately placed on suicide watch and more than 90 percent are deemed at risk of sexual exploitation, he said.


“We cannot expect them to thrive once they get out if they emerge from confinement after they’ve been traumatized by sexual abuse, excessive force or incessant isolation,” Mr. Meacham said.


The Justice Department investigation will focus on whether there is a pattern or practice of physical or sexual abuse of children in the Texas facilities, and whether there is a pattern or practice of harm resulting from the excessive use of chemical restraints like pepper spray, excessive use of isolation or a lack of adequate mental health services.


If investigators find evidence of violations, the department could mandate reforms.


Last month the Justice Department opened an investigation into unconstitutional abuses of prisoners in Georgia, prompted by allegations and videos of violence in facilities across the state and a riot at one prison that played out on social media.


The Justice Department has recently imposed reform plans on state prisons in Virginia and New Jersey.



6) Jon Gruden’s Emails Shocked Me. They Shouldn’t Have.

By Ryan Russell, October 13, 2021

Mr. Russell has played football for the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In emails written between 2011 and 2018, Jon Gruden, then an ESPN analyst and past and future N.F.L. head coach, said that the leader of the N.F.L. players union, who is Black, had “lips the size of Michelin tires,” and used homophobic and misogynist language to denigrate people in football including Roger Goodell, the N.F.L. commissioner. It says a lot about the culture of football that it took years for these emails to come to light. The emails shocked me, but when I look at the bigger picture, I realize they shouldn’t have.


As a former N.F.L. player who is Black and bisexual, I’m familiar with the culture that Gruden’s comments exemplify, and the complicity of silence within the sports industry that kept his emails under wraps. The culture runs deeper than just one head coach: Gruden’s emails are not just the hateful rant of a bigot, but a written history of the vast mistreatment of marginalized voices throughout the N.F.L.


The long delay in disclosing these emails, coupled with their conversational nature, suggests that others in the N.F.L. are, at best, tolerant of these divisive views. At worst, they share them.


Of course, the language and opinions of Jon Gruden are not the language and opinions of all coaches and football executives. Even so, some have not only shielded, but rewarded, this kind of behavior for years. Many in the league have learned nothing from Colin Kaepernick, the Black Lives Matter movement’s influence in sports, the advocacy of the W.N.B.A., Carl Nassib and so many others who have moved the world of sports forward.


Gruden’s resignation this week as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders on the heels of reporting on the emails is merely a reaction to damage that’s already been done. The N.F.L. has to take proactive steps in supporting its players, staff and spectators.


Too often, the burden of trying to fix the league’s shortcomings has been placed on the shoulders of players and players alone. In the conversation around the lack of openly L.G.B.T.Q. players, the question is always, “Are N.F.L. locker rooms ready for an L.G.B.T.Q. player?” It’s never, “What can N.F.L. officials do to make sure that players feel comfortable coming out?”


In the conversation around police brutality and systemic racism affecting Black people and people of color, the question was, “Will players kneeling during the national anthem hurt ticket sales or decrease views?” It wasn’t, “What can coaches and executives do to meaningfully support the causes their players care about?”


Rarely does the conversation focus on executives and owners, the real roots of the league’s continuing disappointments. After all, owners are the ones who hire coaches like Gruden, treating them as football royalty, giving them contracts worth tens of millions of dollars.


At the same time, executives like Goodell “perform” change, rather than actually carrying it out. They add phrases like “End Racism” and “It Takes All of Us” to end zones, but do little about the fact that in a league where hundreds of players are Black, only three head coaches are Black. The Grudens of the world publicly praise a player’s coming out — “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,” Gruden said in June when Nassib, a defensive end for the Raiders, announced that he was gay — as they use homophobic slurs in private. League officials claim they value equal opportunities for women when so many have been excluded from staff positions.


Talk and performative action is not enough. The remedy to a system that routinely reinforces racism, homophobia and sexism is change, inside and out and top to bottom. Every decision — from hiring coaches to signing players to funding and creating social initiatives — needs to be made with the serious and intentional desire to be diverse, inclusive and long-lasting.


Resignations, words painted onto fields, social media messaging and marketing are shallow and temporary. To fight years of systemic bigotry, we need years of intentionality and accountability. Fortunately, the N.F.L. has more than enough people and funding to make meaningful and long-lasting investments in making football a home to L.G.B.T.Q. people, both out and closeted, to Black people, to people of color and to women. The N.F.L. can and should be a home for everyone.


But the responsibility to create that home should not fall solely on the marginalized. Ultimately, the driving force behind creating an N.F.L. for all has to be those who have benefited from the league’s current culture. To do that, in the words of the N.F.L. end zone message, it takes all of us.