Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, October 30, 2021

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.



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:





Mumia Abu Jamal Appeal Denied!



We regret to share with you some alarming news on the continued case of Political Prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)—The Pennsylvania Superior Court has challenged Mumia Abu-Jamal’s latest effort for an overturned conviction and new trial—nearly 40 years after he was convicted of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.


The high court said Abu-Jamal’s appeal was untimely, adding that the lower court shouldn’t have reinstated any part of his appeal because it lacked jurisdiction.


This fifth appeal attempt—filed in 2016—was based on a federal ruling involving former Philadelphia District Attorney Ron Castille, who later became a state Supreme Court justice and ruled on a death penalty appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Castille had an “unconstitutional risk of bias” as the district attorney.




And, they pointed to a letter Castille penned to the governor in 1990, urging the death penalty be used to send a “clear and dramatic message to all police killers that the death penalty in Pennsylvania actually means something.”


The Pennsylvania Superior Court concluded that “the 1990 letter cannot create a reasonable inference that Justice Castille had a personal interest in the outcome of the litigation,” court documents say. “There is no evidence that Castille had ever personally participated in the prosecution of Abu-Jamal.


“The 1990 letter is not evidence of prior prosecutorial participation. It is evidence that while acting as an advocate, District Attorney Castille took a policy position to advance completion of the appellate process for convicted murderers: ‘I very strongly urge you immediately to issue death warrants in each and every one of these cases. Only such action by you will cause these cases to move forward in a legally appropriate manner.’ He was not arguing that the law should be changed or should be ignored. Rather, he simply took a position to facilitate collateral review of death sentences which was subscribed to by many prosecutors at the time.” But, the state Superior Court noted, Castille didn’t list Abu-Jamal, and they say Abu-Jamal didn’t file a new petition, using the letter as an argument, in time.


“Further,” the decision reads, “the 1990 letter was dated June 15th. At that time, Abu-Jamal’s direct appeal was still pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. … As such, Abu-Jamal was not even in the class of litigants that District Attorney Castille was referencing in the letter. The 1990 letter therefore cannot create a reasonable inference that Justice Castille was personally biased against Abu-Jamal.”




Pa. Supreme Court denies widow’s appeal to remove Philly DA from Abu-Jamal case


Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder of Faulkner in 1982. Over the past four decades, five of his appeals have been quashed.


In 1989, the state’s highest court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s death penalty conviction, and in 2012, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.


Abu-Jamal, 66, remains in prison. He can appeal to the state Supreme Court, or he can file a new appeal.


KYW Newsradio reached out to Abu-Jamal’s attorneys for comment. They shared this statement in full:


“Today, the Superior Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider issues raised by Mr. Abu-Jamal in prior appeals. Two years ago, the Court of Common Pleas ordered reconsideration of these appeals finding evidence of an appearance of judicial bias when the appeals were first decided. We are disappointed in the Superior Court’s decision and are considering our next steps.


“While this case was pending in the Superior Court, the Commonwealth revealed, for the first time, previously undisclosed evidence related to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case. That evidence includes a letter indicating that the Commonwealth promised its principal witness against Mr. Abu-Jamal money in connection with his testimony. In today’s decision, the Superior Court made clear that it was not adjudicating the issues raised by this new evidence. This new evidence is critical to any fair determination of the issues raised in this case, and we look forward to presenting it in court.”



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) The Surprising History of Roe v. Wade

By Joshua Prager, Oct. 29, 2021

Joshua Prager is the author of “The Family Roe: An American Story.”

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Before the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that abortion was legal in all 50 states, the case did nothing for the women of Texas, where it began. A federal panel in Dallas ruled that Texas’ anti-abortion laws were unconstitutional. But the panel was concerned about interfering in state affairs. And so although it granted doctors and women the legal right to perform and have abortions, they could still be prosecuted.


“Apparently, we’re free to try them,” Dallas County’s District Attorney Henry Wade told the press, “so we’ll still do that.” Fearing the consequences, a hospital refused to abort the pregnancy of a 15-year-old girl who said she had been raped by her father.


A half-century later, another court has refused to block the enforcement of another unconstitutional law that is, in effect, forcing Texas women to carry unwanted pregnancies. And on Monday, that court, the highest in the land, will hear oral arguments about that law — Texas’ Senate Bill 8, which deputizes private citizens to enforce a ban on abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.


The extremity of that law recalls what the majority opinion in Roe termed the “seemingly absolute convictions” that abortion inspires. But when Justice Harry A. Blackmun wrote those words in 1973, that absolutism was largely contained. Though there were, of course, Americans — Catholics predominant among them — who opposed the legalization of abortion absolutely, the public reception of Roe was largely positive. For example, while a Wall Street Journal editorial wondered “whether the court stepped too far into the legislative arena,” it declared Roe “a reasonable balance on an exceedingly difficult question.”


Most of the country moved on. From the time Roe was decided in January 1973 until year’s end, abortion clinics opened in 34 states, and at least 745,000 women reportedly had abortions in compliance with Roe — the procedure tax-deductible and covered by most insurance companies. When the Senate next convened to vet a potential Supreme Court justice, no one so much as asked the judge, John Paul Stevens, his opinion of Roe.


Had they asked him, he likely would have answered honestly — something that’s impossible to do in such hearings today. People were generally much more open about Roe back then. They were openly conflicted about it, too, even its protagonists. Months after she filed Roe, the feminist lawyer Linda Coffee, who was a religious Baptist, confided her hope that abortion would become “sort of obsolete.” She added that while she did not believe the law ought to restrict abortion until the point of fetal viability, the standard established in the Roe decision, she “would have little personal sympathy for a woman who used abortion at any stage as contraception or to avoid personal responsibility.”


The defendant Ms. Coffee named in Roe, Mr. Wade, the Dallas County district attorney, was secretly a liberal democrat who, as his son Kim recalled to me, did not oppose legalizing abortion. And the plaintiff, Jane Roe, a Dallas waitress named Norma McCorvey, later campaigned against Roe after a religious rebirth. Even then, she privately felt that abortion ought to be legal through the first trimester — a position that she articulated to me from her hospital bed at the end of her life and that she first expressed to a Baptist news service days after Roe. “It’s hard to determine when human life begins,” she said in January 1973, in her very first media interview. “I wouldn’t want to wait over three months for any abortion, because I might be ending a human life after that time.”


Activists on both sides of Roe had also agreed that choice and life had their limits. Dr. Mildred Jefferson, a surgeon and a future president of the National Right to Life Committee, publicly stated months after Roe was filed that she thought of herself as being less “against abortion” than “for the sanctity of life.” What upset her most was not abortion, she said, but that her fellow doctors were performing them. And at the time of Roe, Dr. Curtis Boyd of Texas, a committed Christian who is today among the largest providers of third-trimester abortions in the country, would perform no abortion past 16 weeks.


The Roman Catholic Church also once drew a line there; it was at roughly 16 weeks that movement of the fetus was discernible, and in 1211, Pope Innocent III wrote that abortion could be ruled a homicide only if it terminated a pregnancy after this period of “quickening.”


This canon law stipulated for all but three of the next 658 years, until 1869, when Pope Pius IX wrote in a papal bull that any woman who had an abortion would be censured. A priest and canon lawyer named Thomas Carr then determined (at the behest of the Irish church), that the pope had thus negated the distinction between abortions early and late. A 1917 papal codification of canon law agreed, and it was settled: The church would henceforth prohibit abortion from the moment of conception.


The Bible, meanwhile, said nothing of abortion. And just as the pro-life were left to intuit its prohibition from Scripture, so were the pro-choice left to intuit its legality from the U.S. Constitution. Ms. Coffee initially suggested that the right to abortion might be grounded in any of six amendments. The Supreme Court settled on the 14th, ruling that its due process clause guaranteed a right to privacy, which in turn secured a right to abortion. That analysis has been assailed ever since, not least by feminists, including the future Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who believed that the right to abortion ought to be grounded not in privacy but in equality.


Some critics of Roe thus dismiss it as jurisprudentially flawed. But some of their arguments against it are no more sure-footed, such as the contention that women who have abortions suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress called post-abortion syndrome. Though the medical community has debunked this syndrome — C. Everett Koop, the pro-life surgeon general under President Ronald Reagan, determined that the psychological toll of abortion on women was, from a public health perspective, “minuscule” — it is nonetheless expressly invoked in the Mississippi abortion law that the Supreme Court will rule on this term in deciding the fate of Roe.


That law draws the line between legal and illegal abortion at 15 weeks; the Texas law draws it at six. Roe, of course, draws it at viability, the point at roughly 24 weeks when a fetus can survive outside the womb. That Roe constitutionalized viability owed in part to happenstance; only months before the 1973 ruling, a district judge in Connecticut became the first judge in the country to attach constitutional significance to viability, and several justices on the Supreme Court, including Lewis Powell and Potter Stewart, mentioned it to Justice Blackmun, who then inserted viability into his third and final draft of the Roe decision.


Critics of Roe thus say that the viability threshold is arbitrary. But arbitrariness has marked the battle lines in Roe for decades. And it should not be politically disadvantageous to acknowledge that no matter how far along the 40 or so weeks from conception to birth, there is a philosophical argument that can be made to end a pregnancy or mandate its continuation. Abortion is fraught for good reason: The humanity of the fetus and the reasons a pregnant woman might want to abort it are both viable considerations. Not that long ago, Ms. McCorvey grappled with that clash. So did Mr. Wade and Ms. Coffee and Dr. Jefferson and Dr. Boyd and the Catholic Church.


It is a dangerous thing when an issue that demands nuance comes instead to engender absolutes. It is a mark of polarization. And it has led our country exactly here — to a moment when a state has turned citizens against citizens in the hope of catching them exercising a right that has been constitutionally established for nearly 50 years.



2) The Constitution Was Made for Us, Not the Other Way Around

By Jamelle Bouie, Oct. 29, 2021


Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

As flawed and incomplete as the American Revolution was, there is no question that it unleashed an impulse toward democracy and political equality that has shaped our history and continues into the present. That impulse, however, is in tension with the Constitution, which not only structures American democracy but arguably was written to constrain it.


I write, on occasion, about the need to reform the structures of American government, from the Electoral College to the Senate itself. The immediate (and obvious) response from readers is often to ask “why?”


After all, the barrier to constitutional amendment is impossibly high. There is almost no chance that a two-thirds majority of Congress (and a three-fourths majority of the states) would, for example, vote to require direct popular election of the president and vice president. And the final clause of Article 5 of the Constitution — “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate” — is an insurmountable obstacle to ending the distortions caused by equal state representation in that chamber.


It is equally difficult, if not impossible, to imagine much in the way of reform to the unwritten parts of the American political order. The Supreme Court’s power of judicial review — which does not exist in the Constitution — is virtually untouchable. The two-party system is similarly resistant to change, for the simple reason that incumbent lawmakers would have to vote to radically transform the landscape in which they operate.


Yes, the odds of serious reform are low to the point of nonexistent, right now and for the foreseeable future. And yet I still think it’s worth it to make the case.


I should say that I am inspired here by the political scientist Robert Dahl, whose illustrious and influential career spanned most of the 20th century. Dahl was preoccupied with the democratic ideal, the actual mechanics of democracy and the profound distance between the two in even the most mature democratic states. Or, as he wrote in his 1998 book “On Democracy,” “In almost all, perhaps all, organizations everywhere there is some room for some democracy; and in almost all democratic countries there is considerable room for more democracy.”


An American, Dahl applied this maxim to his own country, writing, at the start of the new millennium, a book-length critique of our political institutions called “How Democratic is the American Constitution?”


Dahl, who was then in his late 80s, did not think that constitutional change of any kind was on the horizon. “My reflections lead me to a measured pessimism about the prospects for greater democratization of the American Constitution,” he wrote. “Changes … that would be desirable from a democratic point of view seem to me to have very little chance of coming about in the indefinite future.”


Still, Dahl made the argument. Not for the sake of change to the Constitution as much as for the sake of “changes in the way we think about our constitution.”


Most Americans revere the Constitution. Some even believe that it is divinely inspired. Few want fundamental change. But despite the way we often talk about it, the Constitution was not actually chiseled on stone tablets. “The Framers were not philosophers searching for a description of an ideal system,” wrote Dahl. “Nor — and we may be forever grateful to them for this — were they philosopher kings entrusted with the power to rule. They were practical men, eager to achieve a stronger national government, and as practical men they made compromises.”


To think about the framers as practical men making practical choices should lead us to think of their Constitution in practical terms. Does it serve us well? Does it meet the democratic standards of the present day? Does it, Dahl asks, help us “maintain the democratic system; protect fundamental democratic rights; ensure democratic fairness among citizens; encourage the formation of democratic consensus; and provide a democratic government that is effective in solving problems?”


Now the usual, and frankly facile, response to these kinds of questions is that the United States is a “republic” and not a “democracy.” This, I’ve argued before, is nonsense. When James Madison critiqued “pure democracy” in Federalist No. 10, he meant direct democracy, “a society consisting of a small number of persons, who assemble and administer the government in person.” A republic, by contrast, was government by representation. “The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic,” wrote Madison, “are first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; second, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of the country, over which the latter may be extended.”


To say that the present-day United States should be “more democratic” is to say that it should have greater representation and political equality, not that it should refashion itself into an Athenian-style assembly. Madison, for his part, would become an important figure in the democratization of American politics as the founder, with Thomas Jefferson, of the Republican (or Democratic-Republican) Party.


It is not for nothing that, toward the end of his long career as a practical politician, Madison defended in no uncertain terms the concept of political equality. Here he is, in 1821, criticizing the views of his younger self as they had been expressed at the Philadelphia Convention 34 years earlier.


Under every view of the subject, it seems indispensable that the Mass of Citizens not be without a voice, in making the laws which they are to obey, & in chusing the Magistrates, who are to administer them, and if the only alternative be between an equal & universal right of suffrage for each branch of the Govt. and a confinement of the entire right to a part of the Citizens, it is better that those having the greater interest at stake namely that of property & persons both, should be deprived of half their share in the Govt. than, that those having the lesser interest, that of personal rights only, should be deprived of the whole.

All of this is to say that I do not write about structural reform because I believe it will happen in my lifetime, although, of course, no one knows what the future will bring. I write about structural reform because, like Dahl, I want to think expansively about (and readers to think expansively about) American democracy, to understand that it is, and has always been, bigger than the Constitution.


If there is anything else useful in these arguments, it’s in how they make the lines of political conflict as clear as possible. There are, we cannot forget, Americans who do not believe in political equality and the democratic ideal, Americans with a narrow and circumscribed vision of “freedom” and “liberty.” A debate over reform can, in the course of the argument, drag those views out of the shadows and into the open.


I am fond of the expression, from the Gospel of Mark, that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” I think it captures a basic truth: that our rules and institutions exist for us and our flourishing, not for their own sake. And if those rules and institutions do not work, if they constrain our aspirations or violate our sense of justice, then it is the role of people like me to agitate for at least a little change.



3) For First Time in Public, a Detainee Describes Torture at C.I.A. Black Sites

In a sentencing hearing, Majid Khan, a Pakistani who lived in suburban Baltimore before joining Al Qaeda, detailed dungeonlike conditions and episodes of abuse.

By Carol Rosenberg, Published Oct. 28, 2021, Updated Oct. 29, 2021


“The more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” said Majid Khan, who is now cooperating with the government.
“The more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” said Majid Khan, who is now cooperating with the government. Credit...Center for Constitutional Rights

GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A suburban Baltimore high school graduate turned Al Qaeda courier, speaking to a military jury for the first time, gave a detailed account on Thursday of the brutal forced feedings, crude waterboarding and other physical and sexual abuse he endured during his 2003 to 2006 detention in the C.I.A.’s overseas prison network.


Appearing in open court, Majid Khan, 41, became the first former prisoner of the black sites to openly describe, anywhere, the violent and cruel “enhanced interrogation techniques” that agents used to extract information and confessions from terrorism suspects.


For more than two hours, he spoke about dungeonlike conditions, humiliating stretches of nudity with only a hood on his head, sometimes while his arms were chained in ways that made sleep impossible, and being intentionally nearly drowned in icy cold water in tubs at two sites, once while a C.I.A. interrogator counted down from 10 before water was poured into his nose and mouth.


Soon after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003, Mr. Khan said, he cooperated with his captors, telling them everything he knew, with the hope of release. “Instead, the more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” he said.


The dramatic accounting capped a day in which eight U.S. military officers were selected to serve on a jury, which will deliberate Friday on his official sentence in the range of 25 to 40 years, starting from his guilty plea in February 2012.


But the sentence is largely symbolic, a military commission requirement.


Unknown to the jurors, Mr. Khan and his lawyers reached a secret deal this year with a senior Pentagon official in which his actual sentence could end as early as February and no later than February 2025 because Mr. Khan had become a government cooperator upon pleading guilty.


Jurors were told that in 2012 Mr. Khan pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, including murder in violation of the law of war, for delivering $50,000 of Al Qaeda money from Pakistan to an Al Qaeda affiliate in early 2003. The money was used in a deadly bombing of a Marriott hotel in August 2003, while Mr. Khan was a prisoner of the C.I.A. He has said he did not know how the money would be used.


He also admitted to plotting a number of other crimes with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, notably by wearing a suicide vest in a failed effort in 2002 to assassinate the president of Pakistan at the time, Pervez Musharraf, a U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.


Sentencing was delayed for nearly a decade to give Mr. Khan time and opportunity to cooperate with federal and military prosecutors, so far behind the scenes, in federal and military terrorism cases. In the intervening years, prosecutors and defense lawyers clashed in court filings over who would be called to testify about Mr. Khan’s abuse in C.I.A. custody, and how.


In court on Thursday, Mr. Khan read from a carefully worded 39-page account that did not identify C.I.A. agents or the countries and foreign intelligence agencies that had a role in his secret detention at black sites — information that is protected at the national security court. He expressed remorse for hurting people through his embrace of radical Islam and Al Qaeda, but also found a way around a labyrinth of U.S. intelligence classifications to realize a decade-long ambition to tell the world what U.S. agents had done to him.


But the sentence is largely symbolic, a military commission requirement.


Unknown to the jurors, Mr. Khan and his lawyers reached a secret deal this year with a senior Pentagon official in which his actual sentence could end as early as February and no later than February 2025 because Mr. Khan had become a government cooperator upon pleading guilty.


Jurors were told that in 2012 Mr. Khan pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, including murder in violation of the law of war, for delivering $50,000 of Al Qaeda money from Pakistan to an Al Qaeda affiliate in early 2003. The money was used in a deadly bombing of a Marriott hotel in August 2003, while Mr. Khan was a prisoner of the C.I.A. He has said he did not know how the money would be used.


He also admitted to plotting a number of other crimes with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, notably by wearing a suicide vest in a failed effort in 2002 to assassinate the president of Pakistan at the time, Pervez Musharraf, a U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.


Sentencing was delayed for nearly a decade to give Mr. Khan time and opportunity to cooperate with federal and military prosecutors, so far behind the scenes, in federal and military terrorism cases. In the intervening years, prosecutors and defense lawyers clashed in court filings over who would be called to testify about Mr. Khan’s abuse in C.I.A. custody, and how.


In court on Thursday, Mr. Khan read from a carefully worded 39-page account that did not identify C.I.A. agents or the countries and foreign intelligence agencies that had a role in his secret detention at black sites — information that is protected at the national security court. He expressed remorse for hurting people through his embrace of radical Islam and Al Qaeda, but also found a way around a labyrinth of U.S. intelligence classifications to realize a decade-long ambition to tell the world what U.S. agents had done to him.


“To those who tortured me, I forgive you,” he said, noting that while he was in custody he had rejected Al Qaeda, terrorism, “violence and hatred.”


“I hope in the day of judgment that Allah will do the same for you and for me. I ask forgiveness from those whom I have wronged and I have hurt.”


It was an emotional day for Mr. Khan. His father, Ali, and a sister, both U.S. citizens, sat behind the court in a gallery, seeing him in person for the first time since he left the United States and joined Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks. They were 50 feet from him and did not seem to recognize the now balding middle-age man with a gray goatee when he first entered the court.


After many minutes he caught their eyes, then waved. His father looked startled. Mr. Khan craned his neck frequently during the proceedings to see his family — and at one point formed a heart with his hands.


He juxtaposed his remarks of contrition with previously unheard details of what happened to him at the hands of the United States, the country his parents and siblings adopted by becoming citizens even as he did not.


His father wept through long stretches of the descriptions, at times hiding his head in his hands, while his sister, also tearful, tried to comfort him. The jury of Marine, Navy and Army officers watched and listened soberly, but displayed no emotion.


He received beatings while nude and spent long stretches in chains — at times shackled to a wall and crouching “like a dog,” he said, or with his arms extended high above his head and chained to a beam inside his cell. He was kept in darkness and dragged, hooded and shackled, his head slamming into floors, walls and stairs as he was moved between cells.


Before the C.I.A. moved him from one prison to another, he said, a medic inserted an enema and then put him in a diaper held in place by duct tape so he would not need a bathroom break during flights. Guards moving him would hood him, aside from the time he had his face duct taped.


While held in a Muslim country, he said, his captors allowed him to pray. But at times the Americans did not.


Earlier accounts released by his lawyers said he was so sleep deprived for a time that he began to hallucinate. He described the experience: images of a cow and a giant lizard advancing on him inside a cell while he was chained to a beam above his head. He tried to kick them away but lost his balance, causing his chains to jerk him.


Mr. Khan gained attention with the release of a 2014 study of the C.I.A. program by the Senate Intelligence Committee that said, after he refused to eat, his captors “infused” a puree of his lunch through his anus. The C.I.A. called it rectal refeeding. Mr. Khan called it rape.


The C.I.A. pumped water up the rectum of prisoners who would not follow a command to drink. Mr. Khan said this was done to him with “green garden hoses. They connected one end to the faucet, put the other in my rectum and they turned on the water.” He said he lost control of his bowels after those episodes and, to this day, has hemorrhoids.


He spoke about failed and sadistic responses to his hunger strikes and other acts of rebellion. Medics would roughly insert a feeding tube up his nose and down the back of his throat. He would try to bite it off and, in at least one instance, he said, a C.I.A. officer used a plunger to force food inside his stomach, a technique that caused stomach cramps and diarrhea.


The intelligence agency declined Thursday to comment on the descriptions offered in the hearing but noted that the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program ended in 2009.


Lawyers sought permission to bring Mr. Khan’s wife and daughter, who was born after his capture, to the court, but the commander of the military’s Southern Command, which oversees prison operations, opposed their attendance. Like Mr. Khan, who acquired permanent resident status as a boy in the United States but never became a U.S. citizen, his wife and daughter are citizens of Pakistan.


Mr. Khan began by telling the jury that he was born in Saudi Arabia and was raised in Pakistan, the youngest son of eight siblings, until his father acquired a gas station in Maryland and moved the family to the United States when he was 16. He went on to graduate from a high school in suburban Baltimore and was working for a telecommunications contractor that managed the Pentagon phone system at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks.


He described the attacks and the death of his mother months earlier in 2001 as a turning point in his life.


Until then, he said, he had straddled two worlds: his traditional Pakistani family life and that of an American teenager who “smoked weed occasionally and had my share of girlfriends,” both of which he hid from his mother. After she died, he said, he was drawn to practicing Islam.


He rejected the explanation that Muslims had carried out the attack, “thinking that this was just another way the universe was kicking me while I was down, making me question my faith in Islam.”


During a family trip to Pakistan in 2002 — in which both he and his sister found spouses in arranged marriages — he encountered relatives, cousins and an uncle who had in earlier years joined the jihad in Afghanistan and had ties to Al Qaeda.


“I was lost and vulnerable, and they went after me,” he said, including by showing him “propaganda videos” about the detention operation at Guantánamo, the base where he would be transferred for trial in 2006.


“I went willingly to Al Qaeda,” he said. “I was stupid, so incredibly stupid. But they promised to relieve my pain and purify my sins. They promised to redeem me, and I believed them.”



4) After Supreme Court Lifts Stay, Oklahoma Executes Inmate

The prisoner, John Marion Grant, convulsed and vomited as he was put to death by lethal injection. The court also cleared the way for another execution next month.

By Adam Liptak, Oct. 28, 2021

The two inmates had argued to the Supreme Court that Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol, which uses three chemicals, could subject them to excruciating pain.
The two inmates had argued to the Supreme Court that Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol, which uses three chemicals, could subject them to excruciating pain. Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday lifted a stay of execution that a federal appeals court had granted to two Oklahoma death row inmates, clearing the way for the men to be put to death by lethal injection.


One of them, John Marion Grant, who was convicted of murdering a prison cafeteria worker in 1998, was executed on Thursday, a few hours after the Supreme Court ruled.


Like other executions in the state, this one — the first in six years — did not go smoothly, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Grant, who was strapped to a gurney, convulsed and vomited as the first chemical, a sedative, was administered. After several minutes of this, members of the execution team wiped vomit from his face and neck.


The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said the execution was carried out in accordance with protocols and “without complication.”


Mr. Grant and the other inmate, Julius Jones, had argued that the state’s lethal injection protocol, which uses three chemicals, could subject them to excruciating pain.


They also objected on religious grounds to a requirement imposed by a trial judge that they choose among proposed alternative methods of execution, saying that doing so would amount to suicide.


As is the court’s custom, its brief order gave no reasons. The three more liberal members of the court — Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — dissented, also without providing reasons. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch did not participate in the case, presumably because he had considered an aspect of it when he was a federal appeals court judge.


Mr. Jones, who was convicted of killing a man in 1999 in front of the man’s sister and daughters during a carjacking, is set to be put to death on Nov. 18.


The Supreme Court has been skeptical of challenges to lethal injection protocols and requires inmates to demonstrate that they would be subjected to “a substantial risk of severe pain.” Inmates challenging a protocol must also propose an alternative.


“A prisoner must show a feasible and readily implemented alternative method of execution that would significantly reduce a substantial risk of severe pain and that the state has refused to adopt without a legitimate penological reason,” Justice Gorsuch wrote in 2019, summarizing earlier decisions.


The two inmates proposed four alternatives but declined to choose among them on religious grounds. That failure caused Judge Stephen P. Friot, of the Federal District Court in Oklahoma, to remove them from a lawsuit brought by several inmates challenging the protocol.


A divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit granted a stay of execution to Mr. Grant and Mr. Jones, saying they were not required to “check a box” choosing how they were to die.


“We find nothing in the relevant case law that specifically requires a prisoner to designate a method of execution to be used in his case by ‘checking a box’ when the prisoner has already identified in his complaint the very same alternative methods given as choices on the form,” the majority wrote in an unsigned order.


In dissent, Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich wrote that inmates must do more than propose “a conditional, hypothetical or abstract designation.” An inmate must, he wrote, “designate an alternative method that can be used in his case.”


Calling the appeals court’s decision a “grievous error,” John M. O’Connor, Oklahoma’s attorney general, filed an emergency application asking the Supreme Court to lift the stay.


In opposing that request, the inmates’ lawyers wrote that Judge Friot had drawn an improper distinction between prisoners willing to choose a particular alternative method of execution and those who would not.


Oklahoma has a history of botched executions.


In 2014, Clayton D. Lockett appeared to moan and struggle during an execution that took 43 minutes. Doctors concluded that Mr. Lockett had not been fully sedated.


In 2015, Charles F. Warner underwent an 18-minute execution in which officials mistakenly used the wrong drug to stop his heart. Later that year, Richard E. Glossip, a death row inmate who challenged the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol before the Supreme Court, was granted a stay of execution after the state’s supplier of lethal injection drugs sent prison officials the wrong drug.


Next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about a Texas inmate’s request that his pastor be able to touch and pray aloud with him in the death chamber.



5) Family Members Separated at Border May Each Get Up to $450,000

After the Trump administration separated migrant parents from children at the southern border, President Biden pledged to make it up to the families.

By Miriam Jordan, Oct. 28, 2021

In 2018, Milka Pablo, 35, and her 3-year-old daughter, Darly, were reunited after four months apart.
In 2018, Milka Pablo, 35, and her 3-year-old daughter, Darly, were reunited after four months apart. Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Migrant families separated at the border by the Trump administration may be eligible to each receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for the damage inflicted on them by the policy, according to several people familiar with the matter.


Some families could receive as much as $450,000 for each member who was directly affected, the sources said. However, negotiations between the Biden administration and lawyers representing the families are not over, and many might get far less, they said.


About 5,500 children were separated from parents at the southern border under President Donald J. Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, mainly in the spring of 2018. Most were from Central America, but the measure also affected people from Brazil, Mexico and Romania, among other countries.


“There is no question that the Biden administration is doing the right thing by providing meaningful monetary compensation, given that the U.S. government deliberately brutalized these families, including babies and toddlers,” said Lee Gelernt, the lead negotiator on behalf of the families and deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrant rights project.


“But ultimately,” he added, “the Biden administration will be judged on whether it provides a pathway for these families to remain in the United States, to allow them to once and for all try to put this trauma behind them.”


In one set of negotiations, the lawyers have alleged that the United States government, including the Homeland Security Department, had wronged the families by separating parents from children, and that they should be entitled to financial compensation. In parallel negotiations, the A.C.L.U. is trying to reach a settlement with the government that would provide, among other things, a pathway to remain in the United States and social services for the families.


The family separation policy was a key component of the Trump administration’s crackdown on unauthorized immigration. The goal was to create a powerful deterrent for those hoping to come to the United States — and it affected even families who may have been legally entitled to asylum due to persecution in their home countries.


The policy was first made public with a memo in April 2018. Later it surfaced that families had been separated as early as 2017 as part of a pilot program conducted near El Paso, Texas. About 1,000 of the 5,500 families have yet to be reunited because the parents were deported to their home country.


Under the policy, Border Patrol agents criminally charged parents with illegally entering the United States, imprisoned them and placed their children in government-licensed shelters around the country. Images and audio recordings of children weeping after being forcibly removed from their parents drew widespread condemnation.


In June 2018, a federal judge in California ordered the government to rescind the policy and promptly reunify families, saying that the practice “shocks the conscience” and violates the Constitution. Government officials struggled to meet a series of court-ordered deadlines to reunite families.


Reunions were marked by heartbreak and confusion: Many young children did not recognize their parents after months apart. Some cried, rejecting their parents. Children who had been potty-trained before the separation had regressed to diapers.


President Biden pledged to make it up to the families after taking office.


In February, his administration formed a task force, with representatives of the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and State, to reunite migrant families that remained separated and determine how to make amends for the harm caused by the policy.


In recent months, a few dozen parents who were deported after separation from their children have been allowed to enter the United States, with permission to remain here for two years. The government has allowed entire families, including siblings, to come.


Only a minority of the families may be eligible for financial compensation, according to sources familiar with the talks. Many have not filed an administrative complaint to the government for fear of reprisal, and lawyers are still negotiating to secure compensation for them.


The maximum $450,000 per family member that is under discussion was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.


Following a federal court order last year, Seneca Family of Agencies, a social services provider, has been coordinating counseling for parents and children reunified in the United States.


“What we have seen is that families desperately need mental health services and are eagerly receiving them,” said Mark Rosenbaum, the lead counsel in the case, who sought the services for the families.


The scope of the services is under negotiation as part of the settlement, as is the question of whether or not additional services should be provided.


Joselaine Cordeiro of Brazil and her son, James, then 14, were among the first migrant families separated at the border in 2017. They were apart for more than nine months. She remained in immigration detention and he lived at a government-run shelter for children.


Ms. Cordeiro, 35, became the second named plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that the A.C.L.U. brought against the family separation policy; the A.C.L.U. and its partners have accomplished much of the work of identifying relatives all over the world.


After filing an asylum claim, Ms. Cordeiro got permission to work in the U.S. She is now employed as a housekeeper in the Boston area. Her son cannot work because he lacks any legal status, and she cannot afford to pay for him to attend community college.


“If there’s some financial help, it would make a huge difference,” she said.


“This separation caused me depression that has impeded me from working consistently,” she added. “I have been trying to be strong.”


Eileen Sullivan contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.



6) Review: ‘Colin in Black & White’ Finds Kaepernick Before He Took a Knee

This inventive Netflix docudrama, created by Colin Kaepernick and Ava DuVernay, is a coming-of-age story in the rearview mirror of an activist adulthood.

By James Poniewozik, Oct. 27, 2021

Jaden Michael stars as a young Colin Kaepernick in “Colin in Black & White,” about the early life of the athlete and activist.
Jaden Michael stars as a young Colin Kaepernick in “Colin in Black & White,” about the early life of the athlete and activist. Credit...Ser Baffo/Netflix

Kaepernick, a creator and executive producer, also appears in the series.
Kaepernick, a creator and executive producer, also appears in the series. Credit...Netflix

Even if you don’t watch football, you probably know Colin Kaepernick. You likely have seen images of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback kneeling through the national anthem, a protest against racism that spread among athletes in many sports. You may have seen him as a hot topic on cable news, a target in political rallies or an icon in Nike ads.


The season when Kaepernick began his protest, in 2016, was his last in the N.F.L. — he and others have accused the league of blackballing him — but he has become more famous in not playing the game than he ever did on the field.


So it might surprise you how little screen time that part of Kaepernick’s life takes up in “Colin in Black & White,” which arrives Friday on Netflix. A quick montage in the third episode shows the athlete being trashed by Fox News commentators and former President Donald Trump. (Kaepernick’s 2019 settlement with the N.F.L. included a confidentiality agreement.)


Instead, the “Colin” of the title is Kaepernick as a high school athlete, whose road to football and discovery of his identity are the main subjects of this earnest but breezy docudrama.


If you react to the word “docudrama” the way I do, this is where I should tell you to stick with this one. The genre conjures up memories of clunky Frankenfilms that shoehorn wooden, expository re-enactments into heavily voiced-over real-life footage. These works fail at the “-drama” part, taking the “docu-” down with it.


Kaepernick and his co-creator, Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), instead give us a fresh, entertaining take on the genre that emphasizes character and story as much as message. Most of the six-episode limited series is a scripted coming-of-age reminiscence about young Colin (Jaden Michael), growing up biracial with two white adoptive parents, Rick (Nick Offerman) and Teresa (Mary-Louise Parker), in small-town Turlock, Calif.


A talented multisport athlete, Colin has his pick of baseball scholarship offers but really wants to play football, though coaches worry that he’s too gangly and fragile. He also wants the stuff other teens want: popularity, friends, a date. But this typical tale is complicated by his dawning awareness of his difference in a milieu that a white friend calls “Whitey Whiteville.”


His co-star is the adult Kaepernick, who narrates vignettes that connect his young experience to America’s racial history. The first compares the N.F.L. “combine,” where would-be pros are prodded and assessed by coaches, with slave auctions, where human bodies were likewise inspected, measured and objectified. “They say they want you to be an animal out there,” he says. “And you want to give them that.”


DuVernay shoots the scene with piercing directness. Players appear to step out of a viewscreen and into a living diorama of an auction block. Kaepernick is suited in all black and gestures with a notebook, like an activist professor-deacon.


While Kaepernick’s later protest gets only a brief mention, it informs the whole narrative. “Colin in Black & White” speaks loudest in the distance between the young Colin’s dreams and the adult Kaepernick’s indignation.


The effect is less like documentary than a socially minded network-TV sitcom, in the mold of “black-ish” or the new “Wonder Years.” (Although whether this particular show could have aired on network TV is questionable, considering that ABC once shelved an episode of “black-ish” that touched on Kaepernick’s protests.)


The series can be sitcom-y to a fault, with its riffs on Teresa’s cooking and Rick’s fondness for Christian rock, though Offerman and Parker ground their characters well. But its treatment of race in family, school and sport is more nuanced.


Colin’s parents are fiercely supportive and protective of his ambitions, and they’re regularly reminded of how the world can view white parents with a biracial son. (On a baseball road trip, a stranger asks them what country Colin is from. He was born in Wisconsin.)


But they’re not entirely prepared for the specifics — the first episode involves finding a Black stylist to put Colin’s hair in cornrows — and they sometimes ignore or rationalize the double standards he increasingly encounters. When a coach demands that Colin cut his hair, citing a rule that does not seem to apply to white players, they defend the decision. “You look like a thug,” Teresa says.


Colin chafes against these slights with a teenager’s sense of injustice, though he shows little sign of being a budding protester so much as a competitor who wants his shot. He’s a composed, driven kid, good-natured and popular, who knows what he wants and learns to weather disappointment. Michael is a gem, giving the young Colin an easy charm and vulnerability that contrast with the media images of Kaepernick as either demonized or iconized.


Of course, as the adult Kaepernick’s presence reminds you, this is autobiography, not an outside assessment. It’s showing you its subject the way that he wants to present himself, and it has a definite thread of self-justification.


But in the end, its tone isn’t tendentious so much as encouraging, even sweet, and hopeful in a hard-earned way. It’s an argument, but not necessarily the kind you’d expect. It seems less to be aimed at persuading or refuting Kaepernick’s older critics than to be speaking to the next generation of kids like him. (Indeed, the generally wholesome tone is closer to that of a young-adults’ show than that of a gritty streaming series.)


That this message comes from someone whose football career seemingly ended after he put his own power to use is left unspoken in this open-eyed but optimistic series. “Colin in Black & White” may not be the story that you were expecting about Kaepernick’s protest. But it shows how much he loved the sport he risked being driven out of when he took a knee.



7) Lawyer Who Won $9.5 Billion Judgment Against Chevron Reports to Prison

Steven Donziger, an environmental activist who won what is considered the largest ever lawsuit against an oil company, was found guilty of contempt of court in July.

By Isabella Grullón Paz, Oct. 27, 2021

The lawyer Steven Donziger embracing his son Matthew outside the U.S. District Court in Manhattan after a hearing this month.
The lawyer Steven Donziger embracing his son Matthew outside the U.S. District Court in Manhattan after a hearing this month. Credit...Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Steven Donziger, the environmental and human rights lawyer who won a $9.5 billion settlement against Chevron over oil dumped in Indigenous lands in the Amazon rainforest, surrendered himself to the federal authorities on Wednesday to begin a six-month prison sentence.


Mr. Donziger was found guilty in July of six counts of criminal contempt of court for withholding evidence in a long, complex legal fight with Chevron, which claims that Mr. Donziger fabricated evidence in the 1990s to win a lawsuit he filed against the oil giant on behalf of 30,000 Indigenous people in Ecuador. The convictions were preceded by Mr. Donziger’s disbarment last year.


Late Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Donziger turned himself in to a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., where he will serve his six-month sentence. He had already spent more than 800 days under home detention after the court cited flight-risk concerns, his lawyer, Ronald L. Kuby, said on Wednesday.


“After 100 pages of legal briefing, the appellate court today denied my release in 10 words,” Mr. Donziger said on Twitter on Tuesday. “This is not due process of law. Nor is it justice.”


“We will get through this,” he added.


Representatives for Chevron did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


On July 31, 2019, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, a former corporate lawyer, tried to charge Mr. Donziger with contempt of court based on his refusals in 2014 to give the court access to decades of client communications on devices like his phone and his computer. That year, Judge Kaplan supported Chevron’s complaint in a 500-page ruling finding that Mr. Donziger and his associates had engaged in a conspiracy and criminal conduct by ghostwriting an environmental report used as a crucial piece of evidence and bribing a judge in Ecuador.


After the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute the case, Judge Kaplan took the rare step of appointing a private law firm, Seward & Kissel, to prosecute Mr. Donziger in the name of the U.S. government, Mr. Kuby said.


Seward & Kissel has represented many oil and gas companies throughout the years, including Chevron in 2018.


Misdemeanor criminal contempt carries a maximum sentence of one year. If the penalty is more than six months for this type of charge, Mr. Kuby said, a defendant would get a trial by jury. Even after multiple objections by Mr. Donziger, Judge Loretta A. Preska lowered the sentencing to six months — it had previously been set to a year — and denied Mr. Donziger’s request for a jury trial.


In July, Judge Preska found Mr. Donziger guilty of all charges. On Oct. 1, Mr. Donziger was sentenced to six months in prison, a day after he asked the court to consider an opinion by independent United Nations experts that found his court-ordered home confinement of more than two years a violation of international human rights law.


Judge Preska agreed to not incarcerate Mr. Donziger immediately, giving him a chance to appeal the conditions of his bail. In a court order on Oct. 12, Judge Preska declared that if Mr. Donziger’s appeal failed, he would have to surrender himself within 24 hours of the decision.


In 1993, Mr. Donziger sued the Chevron Corporation for oil spills that had a detrimental effect on the Amazonian region of Ecuador. Mr. Donziger has argued that Texaco, which was acquired by Chevron in 2001, cut through the Amazon, spilled oil into pristine rain forests and left behind a toxic mess.


At the time, Chevron said Mr. Donziger fabricated facts for his own ends, blaming the company for pollution mostly caused by Petroecuador, the national oil company that was once a partner of Texaco and continues to produce oil in the region.


Chevron has long argued that a 1998 agreement that Texaco signed with Ecuador after a $40 million cleanup absolves it of liability. It contends that Ecuador’s state-run oil company is responsible for much of the pollution in the oil patch that Texaco left in the 1970s.


Correction: Oct. 27, 2021

An earlier version of this article misstated the month and year that Steven Donziger was found guilty of contempt of court. He was found guilty in July 2021, not August 2019. He was charged in 2019.



8) A World Running on Empty

By Paul Krugman, Oct. 29, 2021

Peter Cziborra/Reuters

It’s been a troubled few months on the economic front. Inflation has soared to a 28-year high. Supermarket shelves are bare, and gas stations closed. Good luck if you’re having problems with your home heating system: Replacing your boiler, which normally takes 48 hours, now takes two or three months. President Biden really is messing up, isn’t he?


Oh, wait. That inflation record was set not in America but in Germany. Stories about food and gasoline shortages are coming from Britain. The boiler replacement crisis seems to be hitting France especially hard.


And one major driver of recent inflation, in America and everywhere else, has been a spike in energy prices — prices that are set in world markets, on which any one country, even the United States, has limited influence. Donald Trump has been claiming that if he were president, gas would be below $2 a gallon. How exactly does he imagine he could achieve that, when oil is traded globally and America accounts for only about a fifth of the world’s oil consumption?


In other words, the problems that have been crimping recovery from the pandemic recession seem, by and large, to be global rather than local. That’s not to say that national policies are playing no role. For example, Britain’s woes are partly the result of a shortage of truck drivers, which in turn has a lot to do with the exodus of foreign workers after Brexit. But the fact that everyone seems to be having similar problems tells us that policy is playing less of a role than many people seem to think. And it does raise the question of what, if anything, the United States should be doing differently.


So why does the whole world seem to be running on empty?


Many observers have been drawing parallels with the stagflation of the 1970s. But so far, at least, what we’re experiencing doesn’t look much like that. Most economies have been growing, not shrinking; unemployment has been falling, not rising. While there have been some supply disruptions — Chinese ports have suffered closures as a result of Covid outbreaks, in March a fire at a Japanese factory that supplies many of the semiconductor chips used in cars around the world hit auto production, and so on — these disruptions aren’t the main story.


Probably the best parallel is not with 1974 or 1979 but with the Korean War, when inflation spiked, hitting almost 10 percent at an annual rate, because supply couldn’t keep up with surging demand.


Is demand really all that high? Real final sales (purchases for consumption or investment) in the United States hit a record high but are roughly back to the prepandemic trend. However, the composition of demand has changed. During the worst of the pandemic, people were unable or unwilling to consume services like restaurant meals, and they compensated by buying more stuff — consumer durables like cars, household appliances and electronics. At their peak, purchases of durable goods were an astonishing 34 percent above prepandemic levels; they’ve come down some but are still very high. Something similar seems to have happened around the world.


Meanwhile, supply has been constrained not just by clogged ports and chip shortages but also by the Great Resignation, the apparent reluctance of many workers to return to their old jobs. Like inflation and shortages of goods, this is an international phenomenon. Reports from Britain, in particular, sound remarkably like those from the United States: Large numbers of workers, especially older workers, appear to have chosen to stay at home and perhaps retire early after having been forced off their jobs by Covid-19.


While the problems may be global, the political fallout is local: Shortages and inflation are clearly hurting Biden’s approval rating. But what could or should U.S. policymakers be doing differently?


As I’ve already suggested, energy prices are largely out of U.S. control.


A few months ago, there were widespread claims that enhanced unemployment benefits were discouraging workers from accepting jobs. Many states rushed to cancel these benefits even before they expired at a national level in early September. But there has been no visible positive effect on labor supply.


Should current shortages inspire caution about Democratic spending plans? No. At this point, the Build Back Better agenda, if it happens at all, will amount to only about 0.6 percent of G.D.P. over the next decade, largely paid for by tax increases. It won’t be a significant inflationary force; if anything, more spending on infrastructure would help alleviate inflationary pressures over time.


Other things might help. I’ve argued in the past that vaccine mandates, by making Americans feel safer about going to work and buying services rather than goods, could play a role in unclogging supply chains.


What’s left? If inflation really starts to look as if it’s getting embedded in the economy, the Federal Reserve should head it off by tightening policy, eventually by raising interest rates. It’s important to realize, however, that raising rates too soon could turn out to be a big mistake, since the Fed won’t have much room to cut rates if demand weakens.


The most important point, however, may be not to overreact to current events. The fact that shortages and inflation are happening around the world is actually an indication that national policies aren’t the main cause of the problems. They are, instead, largely inevitable as economies try to restart after the epic disruptions caused by Covid-19. It will take time to sort things out — more time than most people, myself included, expected. But a frantic attempt to restore the status quo on inflation would do more harm than good.



9) Oklahoma to Continue Lethal Injections After Man Vomits During Execution

It was the state’s first lethal injection since 2015, when it halted executions after using the wrong drug in one instance and allowing a prisoner to regain consciousness in another.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Published Oct. 29, 2021, Updated Oct. 30, 2021

The Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.
The Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. Credit...Nick Oxford/Reuters

The director of Oklahoma’s prison system said on Friday that he did not plan to make any changes to the agency’s lethal injection protocols, a day after a man vomited while shaking for several minutes during the state’s first execution since 2015.


The man, John Marion Grant, was the first person executed by Oklahoma since prison officials made severe mistakes in previous executions, including using the wrong drug in one instance and, in another, allowing a prisoner to regain consciousness.


Mr. Grant, 60, was convicted of stabbing a prison cafeteria worker to death in 1998.


Reporters who have witnessed executions said vomiting was extremely rare in their experience, but Scott Crow, the director of Oklahoma’s prison system, said that the doctor who had been monitoring the execution told him it was “not a completely uncommon occurrence” for someone to vomit while being sedated.


Sean Murphy, an Associated Press reporter who witnessed Mr. Grant’s death, had told other reporters on Thursday night that it appeared Mr. Grant had convulsed about two dozen times after being administered a sedative, the first of three drugs used in the execution. Mr. Murphy said it was unclear whether Mr. Grant was conscious, though he was breathing. Before the other drugs were administered, the doctor entered the execution chamber to wipe vomit from the face of Mr. Grant, who was strapped to a gurney.


In a virtual news conference on Friday, Mr. Crow largely confirmed Mr. Murphy’s account, though he said that Mr. Grant had been “dry heaving” before he vomited, not convulsing, and that Mr. Grant had done so fewer than 10 times.


“I will agree inmate Grant’s regurgitation was not pleasant to watch,” Mr. Crow said. “But I do not believe that it was inhumane.”


Mr. Grant’s reaction to the sedative drew comparisons to Oklahoma’s execution of Clayton D. Lockett in 2014, which lasted for 43 minutes. Mr. Lockett appeared to writhe in pain after medical staff failed to ensure that the sedative flowed directly into his bloodstream.


In both cases, prison officials administered a sequence of three drugs, beginning with midazolam, the sedative. In 2015, the Supreme Court narrowly allowed Oklahoma to continue using the drug, but legal challenges have continued. A federal judge in Oklahoma has set a trial for February in a long-running lawsuit filed by death row prisoners over whether the drugs risk subjecting them to an unconstitutional amount of pain and suffering.


“Our argument has always been that midazolam should not be used in carrying out executions, and the state’s response is that the drug will do the trick,” said Dale Baich, a lawyer for the prisoners in the lawsuit. “And over and over and over again, we’ve learned that it just doesn’t work.”


Some states, as well as the federal government — which executed 13 people under President Donald J. Trump after a 17-year moratorium — use a single drug, pentobarbital, in executions. But many states, including Oklahoma, have had difficulty obtaining the drug, in part because companies do not want to be associated with capital punishment.


Mr. Crow, the prison director, was steadfast on Friday in arguing that the execution had been carried out “without complication” because Mr. Grant’s reaction did not inhibit the process and that it was humane because Mr. Grant was sedated when he was vomiting, according to the doctor. Mr. Grant was declared unconscious about six minutes after he was given the sedative; he was then given the two drugs that paralyzed him and stopped his heart. Mr. Grant stopped breathing about eight minutes after the process began.


In a statement, the daughter of Gay Carter, the prison cafeteria worker whom Mr. Grant was convicted of killing, said her family was “starting to get justice” for her death.


“The death penalty is about protecting any potential future victims,” the daughter, Pamela Gay Carter, said in the statement, noting that Mr. Grant had killed her mother while serving a prison sentence for armed robbery convictions. “Even after Grant was removed from society, he committed an act of violence that took an innocent life.”


For much of the day on Thursday, it was unclear whether Mr. Grant’s execution would happen, amid a last-minute legal fight. Then, in the afternoon, the Supreme Court lifted a stay of the execution, clearing the way for it to take place.


Mr. Crow said Mr. Grant was “verbally abusive” to prison staff throughout the day and grew more agitated as his execution neared. Journalists said they could hear him shout “Let’s go” several times before a curtain was raised, allowing witnesses to see him, and that he then shouted profanities.


Mr. Murphy, one of the five reporters who witnessed Mr. Grant’s death, said at a news conference that he had witnessed about 14 executions and had never seen someone vomit during one. He also reported that a retired Associated Press journalist who had witnessed more than 400 executions said he could remember only one of those people vomiting.


Dr. Joel Zivot, a professor at Emory University, said it was possible Mr. Grant’s vomiting had been caused by an acidic solution in which the sedative was suspended. He said it was a rare outward reaction that could signify the distress he argues many people feel as they are paralyzed and then killed by lethal injection.


“What’s so sinister about this is how it’s designed to be outwardly bland,” said Dr. Zivot, who opposes executions. “This is just another example of what, generally, is always happening — we just don’t always see it.”


Maurie Levin, a lawyer in Texas who has worked on death penalty cases for nearly three decades, said the execution showed the importance of states being more transparent about where they get the lethal drugs they use and how they carry out executions.


“By no means do I want to hold up Texas as a paragon, but Oklahoma has a uniquely horrific and irresponsible track record,” she said. If Oklahoma wasn’t “put on notice” by the state’s botched executions in 2014 and 2015, she said, “I don’t know what notice means.”


The next person scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma is Julius Jones, who was convicted of killing a man in 1999 in front of the man’s sister and daughters while stealing his car. The state has set his execution for Nov. 18. Mr. Jones, who has maintained his innocence and said he was framed by a friend who testified against him, has a clemency hearing scheduled for next week.



10) Pulled Over

The Demand for Money Behind Many Police Traffic Stops

An investigation into traffic stops across America and the deaths of hundreds of motorists at the hands of police.

By Mike McIntire and Michael H. Keller, Published Oct. 31, 2021, Updated Nov. 1, 2021


Nick Oxford for The New York Times

An officer in Windsor, Va., doused Second Lt. Caron Nazario with pepper spray at a stop last December.

An officer in Windsor, Va., doused Second Lt. Caron Nazario with pepper spray at a stop last December.

Busted taillights, missing plates, tinted windows: Across the U.S., ticket revenue funds towns — and the police responsible for finding violations.


Harold Brown’s contribution to the local treasury began as so many others have in Valley Brook, Okla.: A police officer saw that the light above his license plate was out.


“You pulled me over for that? Come on, man,” said Mr. Brown, a security guard headed home from work at 1:30 a.m. Expressing his annoyance was all it took. The officer yelled at Mr. Brown, ordered him out of the car and threw him to the pavement.


After a trip to jail that night in 2018, hands cuffed and blood running down his face onto his uniform, Mr. Brown eventually arrived at the crux of the matter: Valley Brook wanted $800 in fines and fees. It was a fraction of the roughly $1 million that the town of about 870 people collects each year from traffic cases.


A hidden scaffolding of financial incentives underpins the policing of motorists in the United States, encouraging some communities to essentially repurpose armed officers as revenue agents searching for infractions largely unrelated to public safety. As a result, driving is one of the most common daily routines during which people have been shot, Tased, beaten or arrested after minor offenses.


Some of those encounters — like those with Sandra Bland, Walter Scott and Philando Castile — are now notorious and contributed to a national upheaval over race and policing. The New York Times has identified more than 400 others from the past five years in which officers killed unarmed civilians who had not been under pursuit for violent crimes.


Fueling the culture of traffic stops is the federal government, which issues over $600 million a year in highway safety grants that subsidize ticket writing. Although federal officials say they do not impose quotas, at least 20 states have evaluated police performance on the number of traffic stops per hour, which critics say contributes to overpolicing and erosion of public trust, particularly among members of certain racial groups.


Many municipalities across the country rely heavily on ticket revenue and court fees to pay for government services, and some maintain outsize police departments to help generate that money, according to a review of hundreds of municipal audit reports, town budgets, court files and state highway records.


This is, for the most part, not a big-city phenomenon. While Chicago stands out as a large city with a history of collecting millions from motorists, the towns that depend most on such revenue have fewer than 30,000 people. Over 730 municipalities rely on fines and fees for at least 10 percent of their revenue, enough to pay for an entire police force in some small communities, an analysis of census data shows.


A majority are in the South and Midwest, though clusters also appear outside New York City and Washington. They include Henderson, La., a town of about 2,000 people perched along Interstate 10 that collected $1.7 million in fines in 2019 — 89 percent of its general revenues — and where officers were accused of illegally receiving cash rewards for writing tickets. Oliver, Ga., with about 380 residents, gets more than half its budget from fines, but an investigation last year found that the local police had improperly written more than $40,000 in tickets outside their jurisdiction.


In Bratenahl, Ohio, the town government is so dependent on traffic enforcement that the police chief castigated his officers as “badge-wearing slugs” in an email when a downturn in ticket writing jeopardized raises. Ticket revenue helped finance sheriff’s equipment in Amherst County, Va.; a “peace officers annuity and benefit fund” in Doraville, Ga.; and police training in Connecticut, Oklahoma and South Carolina.


“The message goes out that if you want more training, then go ahead and write more traffic tickets,” said Gil Kerlikowske, a former police chief in Seattle and three other cities.


To show how a dependence on ticket revenue can shape traffic enforcement, The Times examined the practices of three states — Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia — where police traffic stops have set off controversy. What emerges is a tangle of conflicts and contradictions that are often unacknowledged or explained away.


Mayors of predominantly white suburbs in Ohio, for example, defended the ticket-blitzing of Black drivers from Cleveland as an acceptable, if unfortunate, side effect of vigorously patrolling brief sections of interstates within their borders.


Some officers in Oklahoma, insistent that public safety is their goal, no longer cite drunken motorists for driving under the influence, and instead issue less-serious tickets that keep the drivers out of district court and generate more money for the town.


And in a small Virginia town last December, just days after the police threatened and pepper-sprayed a Black and Latino Army lieutenant, Caron Nazario, over a license plate infraction — body-camera video released in April would elicit public outrage — elected officials questioned the chief on why ticket revenue was down for the year. He later reminded his officers to issue at least “two tickets per hour” during federally funded patrols.


Mr. Kerlikowske said that ticket quotas created bad incentives, but that there was value in police traffic enforcement focused on speeding, drinking and reckless driving — a “more important role than just, ‘you have a taillight out’ or ‘you have a tag light out.’” Using small violations as a pretext to search for more serious crimes was “a pretty weak excuse,” he said, given their rarity and the unnecessary risk that encounters could escalate.


A traffic signal citation in Euclid, Ohio, led to Richard Hubbard III, then 25, being beaten and Tased by an officer who was later fired, then reinstated by an arbitrator and is now facing assault charges. For Juanisha Brooks, a 34-year-old Defense Department employee, it was unlit taillights that prompted a Virginia state trooper to pull over, handcuff and arrest her — a traffic stop prosecutors later declared illegal.


And in Cashion, Okla., an officer chased, threw to the ground and Tased a 65-year-old grandmother who initially refused to accept an $80 ticket for a broken taillight. Ed Blau, a lawyer who represented the woman, Debra Hamil, said there was an entrenched financial motivation behind such traffic stops.


“You’ve got to fund the government somehow,” he said, “and that’s exactly how they do it: through fines and fees.”


The Money Machine


Newburgh Heights, a frayed industrial village of about a half square mile with 2,000 residents just south of Cleveland, doggedly monitors traffic on the short stretch of Interstate 77 that passes through.


Its 21 police officers cruise around looking for vehicles to pull over, and aim speed cameras from the Harvard Avenue overpass or from a folding chair beside the highway. This augments the town’s automated cameras.


All told, revenue from traffic citations, which typically accounts for more than half the town’s budget, totaled $3 million in 2019. Some of that money is processed through the Newburgh Heights Mayor’s Court, one of 286 anachronistic judicial offices that survive, mostly in small towns, across Ohio.


A 2019 report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio found that 1 in 6 traffic tickets in the state were issued in towns with mayor’s courts, which the A.C.L.U. called a “shadowy and unaccountable quasi-judicial system that wrings revenue from drivers.” The U.S. Supreme Court, as far back as 1927, flagged the inherent conflict in Ohio mayors imposing fines to pay “marshals, inspectors and detectives” who, in turn, generated cases.


The fixation on revenue has made mayor’s courts an enduring source of controversy. Years of complaints about tiny Linndale, population 160, raking in as much as $1 million annually from speed traps led to a ban on mayor’s courts in towns of under 200 residents. In Kirkersville, the police chief resigned, citing, among other things, pressure from the mayor on traffic enforcement.


Trevor Elkins, the mayor of Newburgh Heights, said his town’s increasing use of cameras has reduced the need for traffic stops, though the latter remain disproportionately high, according to state data. Either way, funding a significant police force — nearly triple the small-town average — is “really what our revenue goes for,” he said.


“That has gone into public safety, whether that is police, fire, building department and the service department,” the mayor said.


Publicly, mayors insist their courts are not used to generate money, yet privately that is often the focus of their concerns. The mayor’s court in Bratenahl, a wealthy suburb on Lake Erie, typically has more than twice as many traffic cases each year as there are residents in town, according to state records.


But that was not enough for Mayor John Licastro, who emailed his police chief in November 2018 that a “downturn in mayor’s court revenue” was exacerbating a budget crunch and employee raises could be affected.


Chief Richard Dolbow sent a blunt email to officers: “I will be looking at stats and scheduling to see what I should do to motivate the badge wearing slugs that have fallen short on the promise and jeopardized our financial raises that we have worked so hard to maintain.”


Mr. Dolbow, who announced his retirement in August, did not respond to a request for comment. Mr. Licastro said, “The concern I expressed to the chief was because of a drop in revenue across the board, not just revenue from our mayor’s court.” That, he added, “affects all aspects of how we govern, including employee compensation.”


Bratenahl, with a population of 1,300 that is 83 percent white, uses its roughly 18 officers to patrol a strip of Interstate 90 that skirts the town’s border with Cleveland, where half the residents are Black. As a result, many days, the crowd in Bratenahl mayor’s court is mostly Black.


When Caitlin Johnson, a former journalist who had recently relocated to Bratenahl, tried to raise this issue at a public meeting, she said, the once-welcoming community turned cold. Bratenahl residents “love the police,” whom they view as a bulwark against big-city crime, she said.


“If you live there and you have a problem, any little thing, the police will be right there to help you,” said Ms. Johnson, who has since moved away. “But that is not the way that the people who pass through Bratenahl experience the police.”


Mayor Licastro said officers were simply following the law.


“We don’t choose who drives the Shoreway,” he said.


Mr. Elkins offered a similar defense of Newburgh Heights, where Black residents account for about 22 percent of the population yet often make up a majority at his mayor’s court. A Times analysis of more than 4,000 traffic citations there found that 76 percent of license and insurance violations, and 63 percent of speeding cases involved Black motorists.


“We don’t really control who drives through our community,” he said.


Public Safety and Profiteering


On April 19, 1995, Oklahoma State Trooper Charles J. Hanger, nicknamed “The Hangman” for his zeal in pursuing traffic violations, made one of the most famous of roadway stops.


Heading north on I-35, Trooper Hanger spotted a battered 1977 Mercury Grand Marquis with no license plate. Its driver was Timothy J. McVeigh who, about 90 minutes earlier, had detonated a truck full of explosives outside the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people in what then was the worst act of terrorism on American soil.


The McVeigh case holds mythic status among police officers, for whom it is a go-to rejoinder to concerns that many traffic stops are pretexts for raising revenue or searching, without cause, for evidence of other crimes. But researchers and some former police chiefs say that for every occasional lucky break, hundreds of innocent motorists are subjected to needless scrutiny, expense and potential danger.


“Because everybody on the road violates traffic laws, that allows the police, who are also in charge of criminal law enforcement, to investigate crime without meeting any of the standards required for criminal investigation,” said Sarah A. Seo, a law professor at Columbia University and the author of a history of traffic enforcement.


As early as the 1910s, Dr. Seo said, departments found that taking on traffic enforcement meant they could hire officers and expand their investigative powers. By 1920, traffic fines helped the Los Angeles police traffic division become “practically self-supporting,” according to an annual report at the time.


“We think that modern police departments and their power came from the need to fight crime,” Dr. Seo said. “Actually, it started with traffic enforcement.”


While tickets and the threat of punishment deter some would-be offenders, the need for municipalities to sustain that revenue model appears to be an incentive for many traffic stops today. An analysis of North Carolina court data by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that “significantly more tickets” were issued when localities experienced financial difficulties, suggesting they were “used as a revenue-generation tool rather than solely a means to increase public safety.”


Thirty-one states and Washington, D.C., required annual vehicle inspections before 1976, but many dropped them over time, saying they failed to deliver safety benefits. Indeed, the Government Accountability Office found that vehicle component failure figured in only a small percentage of crashes, and there was no evidence that things like broken taillights were significant factors.


Nevertheless, state and local governments continue to profit from catching violations that are largely unrelated to traffic safety.


In the 2019 fiscal year, Valley Brook, Okla., collected over $100,000 from tickets for “defective equipment” like Mr. Brown’s burned-out tag light, with citations issued, on average, nearly every day.


A majority of stops in this town of less than a half square mile occur along a four-lane road with the police station, the courthouse, a cannabis dispensary, a liquor store owned by the mayor’s wife, and three strip clubs. Valley Brook — which collects 72 percent of its revenues from fines, the highest in the state — encourages swift payments; in court one night in July, a local judge told people to call friends and family to get money for fines, or else face jail.


Chief Michael A. Stamp defended the police department’s practices. Because their jurisdiction covers only one block along the main roadway, he said, officers look for broken taillights or “wide turns” to catch more serious infractions.


“I put officers out on the street every single night for the sole purpose of drug and alcohol enforcement, because it’s such a big problem that we have here,” Chief Stamp said. He conceded the town’s dependence on traffic tickets, but added, “I will stand by the fact that what we are doing out here also saves lives.”


By some measures, Nicholas Bowser, 38, is exactly the kind of driver the chief says he wants to take off the road. Rather than pulling over around midnight on July 2, he led officers on a chase from Valley Brook to his home about a mile away. Upon his surrender, the police found a handgun at his feet and discovered his blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit.


That might have been enough to keep Mr. Bowser from driving for a while, or have a court-ordered breathalyzer installed in his truck. But the next day, he retrieved his truck from the impound. All he had to do was pay $2,185.11 in estimated fines and fees to Valley Brook.


Local police had charged him with “negligent driving” and “public intoxication” — lesser crimes than driving drunk, which must be transferred to district court. Some lawyers say that a 2016 law designed to prevent repeat offenders’ drunken-driving records from staying hidden in local court systems has incentivized towns to downgrade offenses, keeping the ticket — and the revenue.


“The law put a hole in cities’ pocketbooks,” said Bruce Edge, an Oklahoma defense lawyer specializing in drunken-driving cases. So they reduce the charges, he said. “They get the money, and the driver is not going to be the least bit unhappy.”


Chief Stamp acknowledged that they file drunken-driving incidents as “public intoxication” but said revenue was not a factor and noted that prosecutors hadn’t pursued previous D.U.I. cases they had sent.


In an interview, Mr. Bowser said, “I should have gotten a D.U.I.” This summer, after he requested a jury trial, Valley Brook dropped the charges against him and refunded about $2,000.


After details emerged of the case involving Mr. Brown, the security guard, those charges too were dismissed, the officer was disciplined and Chief Stamp called to apologize. Still, Mr. Brown sued the town, which he asserts has turned traffic enforcement into a ruthless profit-making enterprise.


“They are lawless,” he said.


A Culture of Quotas


When Lieutenant Nazario’s mistreatment by the police made national headlines in April, officials in Windsor, Va., fired one of the officers involved and called the case an aberration. But in many ways, the traffic stop was routine.


Windsor is one of nearly 100 Virginia communities to receive federal grants encouraging tickets. The annual grants, awarded by state authorities, ranged last year from $900 to the village of Exmore for nabbing seatbelt scofflaws to $1 million to Fairfax County for drunken-driving enforcement. Windsor got $15,750 to target speeders.


There is little doubt that these grants affect the economics, and frequency, of traffic stops. In an interview, Windsor’s police chief, Rodney Riddle, denied having ticket quotas, though he suggested the “bean counters” in town hall might welcome the money.


But in a January email to officers, obtained through an open-records request, the chief pushed for enough tickets to comply with the grant paying the hourly cost of patrols.


“Please remember,” he wrote, “that you are required to write a minimum of two tickets per hour while on grant time and there is zero tolerance.”


Jessica Cowardin, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, said the number of citations “is just one of many things we look at to evaluate how effective a grant is.” She added, “We do not require nor encourage grant-funded police departments to issue a prescribed number of traffic citations.”


Authorities in Virginia are well aware of the risks of tying traffic stops to money, whether from fines or grants. A state inspector general report in 2013 warned about providing incentives for police to conduct “excessive enforcement solely to generate additional revenue.”


The Virginia grants are a fraction of the roughly $600 million that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sends to states each year. Lucia Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, said it did not encourage or require quotas or targets for grant recipients.


But a review of state grant applications found that the number of traffic stops is a common performance measure. In Arkansas, for instance, the goal was “three vehicle stops per hour” during grant-funded patrols, while in Madison, S.D., officers were required to “obtain two citations per grant hour.”


Indiana officials boasted in their 2014 annual report that officers enforcing seatbelt laws averaged 3.26 stops per hour. One was in Hammond, where an officer on grant-funded patrol pulled over a Black family and ended up in a dispute with a passenger, Jamal Jones, after demanding he identify himself. Video shows officers smashing a car window and firing a Taser at Mr. Jones, who, according to a lawsuit he later filed, tried to retrieve a document to use for identification.


It was a traffic ticket.


For all the billions spent to promote ticket-writing by police, there is little evidence that it has helped achieve the grants’ primary goal: reducing fatal car crashes.


In 2019 there were 33,244 fatal crashes nationwide, up from 30,296 in 2010. Traffic safety experts say targeted enforcement works, but improvements in automobile technology and highway engineering account for much of the progress since the 1970s and ’80s, when annual fatal crashes routinely exceeded 40,000.


In the wake of the George Floyd protests, some municipalities and states are rethinking their approach to traffic stops. Berkeley, Calif., has proposed shifting away from police enforcement, in favor of an unarmed civilian corps; Virginia lawmakers prohibited stops initiated because of defective taillights, tinted windows and loud exhaust.


Fallout from the Nazario case moved Windsor to pursue ways to slow traffic “while reducing police and citizen contacts,” including electronic signs and rumble strips. The Windsor police also ended grant-funded patrols, saying it was “in the best interest of our agency and our community.”


When the town council presented a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year, it projected revenue increases from all major sources except one: traffic fines.


Arya Sundaram contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.



11) N.Y. Cabbies Stage Hunger Strike for More Aid: ‘We’re Not Backing Down’

After exploitative loans buried taxi drivers under crushing debt, some cabbies say the city’s $65 million rescue package does not go far enough.

By Brian M. Rosenthal, Nov. 1, 2021


“We've got one chance to make this right,” said Bhairavi Desai, president of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, pictured here outside City Hall in Manhattan in October.

“We've got one chance to make this right,” said Bhairavi Desai, president of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, pictured here outside City Hall in Manhattan in October. Credit...Dave Sanders for The New York Times

When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in March a plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to help New York’s taxi drivers, many praised the move. For years, officials had stood by as cabbies were channeled into exploitative loans that crushed them under mountains of debt. Finally, it seemed, the city was fixing an injustice.


But an influential group of drivers is now urging recipients not to accept the city’s help, pressing for a more ambitious — and expensive — bailout in a fight that has escalated into a hunger strike. Bhairavi Desai, the head of the group, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said she and a dozen others stopped eating on Oct. 20 to push the city into offering more aid.


“We’re not backing down,” Ms. Desai said.


Mr. de Blasio, whose relief effort recently began handing out modest grants to help drivers negotiate with lenders to reduce their loans, has not budged from that plan, despite pressure from the city’s entire congressional delegation and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, to increase the assistance.


The conflict is the latest turn in a yearslong saga over taxi medallions, the city permits that allow yellow cabs to pick up passengers on the street.


Medallions were an unremarkable tool of city bureaucracy until about two decades ago, when a group of taxi industry leaders began steadily and artificially inflating the price of a medallion to more than $1 million. To afford the permits, drivers took on hefty loans while lenders pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars.


The market collapsed in 2014, leaving drivers in debt, with many owing $500,000 or more. Hundreds went bankrupt. Several died by suicide. Industry leaders have long denied wrongdoing, blaming the crisis on ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, which entered New York near the bubble’s peak and eventually took some revenue from cabs.


Supporters of a more aggressive rescue plan have pointed out that the city played a role in the plight of the cabdrivers. During the bubble, the city exempted the industry from regulations and filled budget gaps by selling new medallions and running ads promoting them as an investment that was “better than the stock market.”


After a 2019 series in The New York Times revealed the exploitative lending practices, a flurry of proposals emerged to help the drivers, including a $500 million plan from a city task force and the threat of an $810 million lawsuit from the state attorney general, Letitia James, who wanted to give the money to the drivers.


But the pandemic struck, worsening the financial crisis for all cabdrivers and sapping the city’s budget, putting bailout plans on hold. By the time Mr. de Blasio announced his program this year, it had a modest price tag: $65 million, covered by the federal stimulus package.


The program provides individual medallion owners with up to $29,000 in grants that are meant to help them negotiate with their bank to lower their outstanding debt. The city has argued that because of the crisis, lenders are eager to agree to reduce the overall loan amounts in order to recoup some money from drivers who could otherwise default.


Thousands of drivers are potentially eligible. As of last week, 155 drivers had reached deals to restructure their loans, including some who contributed their own money as part of the deal, according to the city. Before entering the program, city data show, those drivers owed about $310,000 on average — less than many cabbies. Today, they owe about $180,000 on average.


In addition, about 1,000 other drivers have expressed interest in participating in the program, according to the city’s taxi commissioner, Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk.


“I’m confident that the people that have reached out are going to reach deals and achieve meaningfully debt relief, hopefully before the end of the year,” Ms. Heredia Jarmoszuk said. “I think the program is achieving what it set out to do, and that is identifying medallion owners who have unmanageable debt and getting them into monthly payments they can manage.”


The Taxi Workers Alliance has a sharply different view. The group, which says it represents about 20,000 drivers, has insisted since the day the plan was announced that the program does nothing to help drivers.


The grants are too small to persuade lenders to reduce loans by a meaningful amount, the group argues — and even if drivers get some debt relief on paper, it will not matter because they will still owe far more than they could ever hope to repay, it contends.


For months, Ms. Desai and her supporters have been pushing their own proposal, which calls for all lenders to agree to lower all medallion loans to $145,000 in return for a guarantee from the city that it will pay for any driver who defaults on a loan. The group estimates this will increase the city’s cost for the relief package by another $93 million.


Over time, the group has held increasingly dramatic demonstrations, blocking bridges and camping outside City Hall around the clock for 43 days straight, and counting.


The group also received a boost earlier this year when Randal Wilhite, a lawyer with a nonprofit organization working on the city relief fund, began speaking out against it, saying lenders were either not offering much debt relief or were refusing to participate altogether. Afterward, city officials asked that he stop working on the plan; the nonprofit ultimately suspended him from working on all its projects because he had spoken to the media.


The protest effort has also been fueled by the industry’s ongoing crisis. Passengers have begun returning to yellow cabs, but business is still far below where it was before the pandemic. In September, the last month for which city data is available, there were 50 percent fewer cabs operating than before the pandemic, and the industry made 52 percent less revenue, according to city data.


Among those joining in the group’s hunger strike is Richard Chow, a driver and the brother of Kenny Chow, a driver who faced enormous debt and died by suicide.


In an interview, Mr. Chow said he felt weak and dizzy but would push on until the city agrees to help the drivers.


In recent days, the group has received more support, as people have rallied around Mr. Chow and the others. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, recently visited the protesters at City Hall, as did the actor Kal Penn, among others.


One top ally is City Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez, who chairs the transportation committee and is close to Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor, who is likely to win the election this week. Mr. Adams, who declined to comment for this story, has indicated he might support increasing the aid package.


Ms. Desai said cabdrivers could not wait until next year.


“We’ve got one chance to make this right,” she said. “How are we ever going to build this level of political capital again?”



12) U.S. Military Jury Condemns Terrorist’s Torture and Urges Clemency

Seven senior officers rebuked the government’s treatment of an admitted terrorist in a handwritten letter from the jury room at Guantánamo Bay.

By Carol Rosenberg, Oct. 31, 2021

Camp Justice, at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, houses the court for detainees charged with war crimes.

Camp Justice, at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, houses the court for detainees charged with war crimes. Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — In a stark rebuke of the torture carried out by the C.I.A. after the Sept. 11 attacks, seven senior military officers who heard graphic descriptions last week of the brutal treatment of a terrorist while in the agency’s custody wrote a letter calling it “a stain on the moral fiber of America.”


The officers, all but one member of an eight-member jury, condemned the U.S. government’s conduct in a clemency letter on behalf of Majid Khan, a suburban Baltimore high school graduate turned Qaeda courier.


They had been brought to the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay to sentence Mr. Khan, who had earlier pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. They issued a sentence of 26 years, about the lowest term possible according to the instructions of the court.


At the behest of Mr. Khan’s lawyer, they then took the prerogative available in military justice of writing a letter to a senior official who will review the case, urging clemency.


Before sentencing, Mr. Khan spent two hours describing in grisly detail the violence that C.I.A. agents and operatives inflicted on him in dungeonlike conditions in prisons in Pakistan, Afghanistan and a third country, including sexual abuse and mind-numbing isolation, often in the dark while he was nude and shackled.


“Mr. Khan was subjected to physical and psychological abuse well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history,” according to the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times.


The panel also responded to Mr. Khan’s claim that after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003, he told interrogators everything, but “the more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” and so he subsequently made up lies to try to mollify his captors.


“This abuse was of no practical value in terms of intelligence, or any other tangible benefit to U.S. interests,” the letter said. “Instead, it is a stain on the moral fiber of America; the treatment of Mr. Khan in the hands of U.S. personnel should be a source of shame for the U.S. government.”


In his testimony on Thursday night, Mr. Khan became the first former prisoner of the C.I.A.’s so-called black sites to publicly describe in detail the violence and cruelty that U.S. agents used to extract information and to discipline suspected terrorists in the clandestine overseas prison program that was set up after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.


In doing so, Mr. Khan also provided a preview of the kind of information that might emerge in the death penalty trial of the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks, a process that has been bogged down in pretrial hearings for nearly a decade partly because of secrecy surrounding their torture by the C.I.A.


The agency declined to comment on the substance of Mr. Khan’s descriptions of the black sites, which prosecutors did not seek to rebut. It said only that its detention and interrogation program, which ran the black sites, ended in 2009.


More than 100 suspected terrorists disappeared into the C.I.A.’s clandestine overseas prison network after Sept. 11, 2001. The agency used “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and violence to try to have prisoners divulge Al Qaeda’s plans and the whereabouts of leaders and sleeper cells, but with no immediate plans to put its captives on trial.


President George W. Bush disclosed the existence of the C.I.A. program in September 2006, with the transfer of Mr. Khan and 13 other so-called high-value detainees to Guantánamo. President Barack Obama ordered the program shut down entirely after taking office in 2009.


Mr. Khan, 41, was held without access to either the International Red Cross, the authority entrusted under the Geneva Conventions to visit war prisoners, or to a lawyer until after he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay. He pleaded guilty in February 2012 to terrorism crimes, including delivering $50,000 from Al Qaeda to an allied extremist group in Southeast Asia, Jemaah Islamiyah, that was used to fund a deadly bombing of a Marriott hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, five months after his capture. Eleven people were killed, and dozens more were injured.


The clock on his prison sentence began ticking with his guilty plea in 2012, meaning the panel’s 26-year sentence would end in 2038.


But Mr. Khan, who has cooperated with the U.S. government, helping federal and military prosecutors build cases, has a deal that was kept secret from the jury that could end his sentence in February or in 2025 at the latest.


Under the military commission system that was set up after Sept. 11, even defendants who plead guilty and make a deal with the government must have a jury sentencing hearing. This was the case for Mr. Khan, whose sentencing was delayed by nearly a decade to give him time to work with government investigators and win favor in the form of early release from a jury sentence.


The clemency letter also condemned the legal framework that held Mr. Khan without charge for nine years and denied him access to a lawyer for the first four and half as “complete disregard for the foundational concepts upon which the Constitution was founded” and “an affront to American values and concept of justice.”


Although it is rarely done, a military defense lawyer can ask a panel for letters endorsing mercy, such as a reduction of a sentence, for a service member who is convicted at a court-martial.


But this was the first time the request was made of a sentencing jury at Guantánamo, where accused terrorists are being tried by military commission. A clemency recommendation is not binding, but it could send a powerful message to the convening authority of military commissions, the senior Pentagon official overseeing the war court, whose role is to review a completed case and an accompanying clemency petition from defense lawyers to decide whether to shorten a sentence. An Army colonel, Jeffrey D. Wood of the Arkansas National Guard, currently fills that role as a civilian.


In closing arguments, Mr. Khan’s military lawyer, Maj. Michael J. Lyness of the Army, asked the panel for a minimum sentence and then to consider drafting a letter recommending clemency.


The lead prosecutor, Col. Walter H. Foster IV of the Army, asked the panel to issue a harsh sentence. He conceded that Mr. Khan received “extremely rough treatment” in C.I.A. custody but said he was “still alive,” which was “a luxury” that the victims of Qaeda attacks did not have.


The jury foreman, a Navy captain, said in court that he took up the defense request and drafted the clemency letter by hand, and all but one officer on the sentencing jury signed it, using their panel member numbers because jurors are granted anonymity at the national security court at Guantánamo.


Ian C. Moss, a former Marine who is a civilian lawyer on Mr. Khan’s defense team, called the letter “an extraordinary rebuke.”


“Part of what makes the clemency letter so powerful is that, given the jury members’ seniority, it stands to reason that their military careers have been impacted in direct and likely personal ways by the past two decades of war,” he said.


At no point did the jurors suggest that any of Mr. Khan’s treatment was illegal. Their letter noted that Mr. Khan, who never attained U.S. citizenship, was held as an “alien unprivileged enemy belligerent,” a status that made him eligible for trial by military commission and “not technically afforded the rights of U.S. citizens.”


But, the officers noted, Mr. Khan pleaded guilty, owned his actions and “expressed remorse for the impact of the victims and their families. Clemency is recommended.”


Sentencing was delayed for nearly a decade after his guilty plea to give Mr. Khan time and opportunity to cooperate with federal and military prosecutors, so far behind the scenes, in federal and military terrorism cases. In the intervening years, prosecutors and defense lawyers clashed in court filings over who would be called to testify about Mr. Khan’s abuse in C.I.A. custody, and how.


In exchange for the reduced sentence, Mr. Khan and his legal team agreed to drop their effort to call witnesses to testify about his torture, much of it most likely classified, as long as he could tell his story to the jury.


The jurors were also sympathetic to Mr. Khan’s account of being drawn to radical Islam in 2001 at age 21, after the death of his mother, and being recruited to Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks. “A vulnerable target for extremist recruiting, he fell to influences furthering Islamic radical philosophies, just as many others have in recent years,” the letter said. “Now at the age of 41 with a daughter he has never seen, he is remorseful and not a threat for future extremism.”


The panel was provided with nine letters of support for Mr. Khan from family members, including his father and several siblings — American citizens who live in the United States — as well as his wife, Rabia, and daughter, Manaal, who were born in Pakistan and live there.



13) What if Everything You Learned About Human History Is Wrong?

In “The Dawn of Everything,” the anthropologist David Graeber and the archaeologist David Wengrow aim to rewrite the story of our shared past — and future.

By Jennifer Schuessler, Oct. 31, 2021

“The Dawn of Everything,” which began as an email exchange between the authors, aims to upend the narrative of social evolution undergirding best-sellers like “Sapiens” and “Guns, Germs and Steel.”  
“The Dawn of Everything,” which began as an email exchange between the authors, aims to upend the narrative of social evolution undergirding best-sellers like “Sapiens” and “Guns, Germs and Steel.”  Credit... Farrar, Straus and Giroux

One August night in 2020, David Graeber — the anthropologist and anarchist activist who became famous as an early organizer of Occupy Wall Street — took to Twitter to make a modest announcement.


“My brain feels bruised with numb surprise,” he wrote, riffing on a Doors lyric. “It’s finished?”


He was referring to the book he’d been working on for nearly a decade with the archaeologist David Wengrow, which took as its immodest goal nothing less than upending everything we think we know about the origins and evolution of human societies.


Even before the Occupy movement made him famous, Graeber had been hailed as one of the most brilliant minds in his field. But his most ambitious book also turned out to be his last. A month after his Twitter announcement, Graeber, 59, died suddenly of necrotizing pancreatitis, prompting a shocked outpouring of tributes from scholars, activists and friends around the world.


“The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity,” out Nov. 9 from Farrar Straus and Giroux, may or may not dislodge the standard narrative popularized in mega-sellers like Yuval Noah Harari’s “Sapiens” and Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel.” But it has already gathered a string of superlative-studded (if not entirely uncritical) reviews. Three weeks before publication, after it suddenly shot to #2 on Amazon, the publisher ordered another 75,000 copies on top of the 50,000 first printing.


In a video interview last month, Wengrow, a professor at University College London, slipped into a mock-grandiose tone to recite one of Graeber’s favorite catchphrases: “We are going to change the course of human history — starting with the past.”


More seriously, Wengrow said, “The Dawn of Everything” — which weighs in at a whopping 704 pages, including a 63-page bibliography — aims to synthesize new archaeological discoveries of recent decades that haven’t made it out of specialist journals and into public consciousness.


“There’s a whole new picture of the human past and human possibility that seems to be coming into view,” he said. “And it really doesn’t resemble in the slightest these very entrenched stories going around and around.”


The Big History best-sellers by Harari, Diamond and others have their differences. But they rest, Graeber and Wengrow argue, on a similar narrative of linear progress (or, depending on your point of view, decline).


According to this story, for the first 300,000 years or so after Homo sapiens appeared, pretty much nothing happened. People everywhere lived in small, egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups, until the sudden invention of agriculture around 9,000 B.C. gave rise to sedentary societies and states based on inequality, hierarchy and bureaucracy.


But all of this, Graeber and Wengrow argue, is wrong. Recent archaeological discoveries, they write, show that early humans, far from being automatons blindly moving in evolutionary lock step in response to material pressures, self-consciously experimented with “a carnival parade of political forms.”


It’s a more accurate story, they argue, but also “a more hopeful and more interesting” one.


“We are all projects of collective self-creation,” they write. “What if, instead of telling the story about how our society fell from some idyllic state of equality, we ask how we came to be trapped in such tight conceptual shackles that we can no longer even imagine the possibility of reinventing ourselves?”


The book’s own origins go back to around 2011, when Wengrow, whose archaeological fieldwork has focused on Africa and the Middle East, was working at New York University. The two had met several years earlier, when Graeber was in Britain looking for a job after Yale declined to renew his contract, for unstated reasons that he and others saw as related to his anarchist politics.


In New York, the two men sometimes met for expansive conversation over dinner. After Wengrow went back to London, Graeber “started sending me notes on things I’d written,” Wengrow recalled. “The exchanges ballooned, until we realized we were almost writing a book over email.”


At first, they thought it might be a short book on the origins of social inequality. But soon they started to feel like that question — a chestnut going back to the Enlightenment — was all wrong.


“The more we thought, we wondered why should you frame human history in terms of that question?” Wengrow said. “It presupposes that once upon a time, there was something else.”


Wengrow, 49, an Oxford-educated scholar whose manner is more standard-issue professorial than the generally rumpled Graeber, said the relationship was a true partnership. He, like many, spoke with awe of Graeber’s brilliance (as a teenager, a much-repeated story goes, his hobby of deciphering Mayan hieroglyphics caught the eye of professional archaeologists), as well as what he described as his extraordinary generosity.


“David was like one of those Amazonian village chiefs who were always the poorest guy in the village, since their whole function was to give things away,” Wengrow said. “He just had that ability to look at your work and sprinkle magic dust over the whole thing.”


Most recent big histories are by geographers, economists, psychologists and political scientists, many writing under the guiding framework of biological evolution. (In a cheeky footnote assessing rival Big Historians’ expertise, they describe Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, as the holder of “a Ph.D on the physiology of the gall bladder.”)


Graeber and Wengrow, by contrast, write in the grand tradition of social theory descended from Weber, Durkheim and Levi-Strauss. In a 2011 blog post, Graeber recalled how a friend, after reading his similarly sweeping “Debt: The First 5,000 Years” said he wasn’t sure anyone had written a book like that in 100 years. “I’m still not sure it was a compliment,” Graeber quipped.


“The Dawn of Everything” includes discussions of princely burials in Europe during the ice age, contrasting attitudes toward slavery among the Indigenous societies of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, the political implications of dry-land versus riverbed farming, and the complexity of preagricultural settlements in Japan, among many, many other subjects.


But the dazzling range of references raises a question: Who is qualified to judge whether it’s true?


Reviewing the book in The Nation, the historian Daniel Immerwahr called Graeber “a wildly creative thinker” who was “better known for being interesting than right” and asked if the book’s confident leaps and hypotheses “can be trusted.”


And Immerwahr deemed at least one claim — that colonial American settlers captured by Indigenous people “almost invariably” chose to stay with them — “ballistically false,” claiming that the authors’ single cited source (a 1977 dissertation) “actually argues the opposite.”


Wengrow countered that it was Immerwahr who was reading the source wrong. And he noted that he and Graeber had taken care to publish the book’s core arguments in leading peer-reviewed scholarly journals or deliver them as some of the most prestigious invited lectures in the field.


“I remember thinking at the time, why do we have to put ourselves through this?” Wengrow said of the process. “We’re reasonably established in our fields. But it was David who was adamant that it was terribly important.”


James C. Scott, an eminent political scientist at Yale whose 2017 book “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States” also ranged across fields to challenge the standard narrative, said some of Graeber and Wengrow’s arguments, like his own, would inevitably be “thrown out” as other scholars engaged with them.


But he said the two men had delivered a “fatal blow” to the already-weakened idea that settling down in agricultural states was what humans “had been waiting to do all along.”


But the most striking part of “The Dawn of Everything,” Scott said, is an early chapter on what the authors call the “Indigenous critique.” The European Enlightenment, they argue, rather than being a gift of wisdom bestowed on the rest of the world, grew out of a dialogue with Indigenous people of the New World, whose trenchant assessments of the shortcomings of European society influenced emerging ideas of freedom.


“I’ll bet it has a huge significance in our understanding of the relationship between the West and the rest,” Scott said.


“The Dawn of Everything” sees pervasive evidence for large complex societies that thrived without the existence of the state, and defines freedom chiefly as “freedom to disobey.” It’s easy to see how such arguments dovetail with Graeber’s anarchist beliefs, but Wengrow pushed back against a question about the book’s politics.


“I’m not particularly interested in debates that begin with slapping a label on a piece of research,” he said. “It almost never happens with scholars who lean right.”


But if the book helps convince people, in the words of the Occupy slogan, that “another world is possible,” that’s not unintentional.


“We’ve reached the stage of history where we have scientists and activists agreeing our prevailing system is putting us and our planet on a course of real catastrophe,” Wengrow said. “To find yourself paralyzed, with your horizons closed off by false perspectives on human possibilities, based on a mythological conception of history, is not a great place to be.”



14) Roe Is as Good as Gone. It’s Time for a New Strategy.

By Kathryn Kolbert and Julie F. Kay, Nov. 1, 2021

Ms. Kolbert, the co-founder of the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued Planned Parenthood v. Casey before the Supreme Court in 1992. Ms. Kay is a human rights lawyer who argued against Ireland’s ban on abortion before the European Court of Human Rights.


Michael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock

For the first time in a generation, the Supreme Court appears likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. The end of Roe need not herald the end of an era of reproductive freedom. It may instead launch a new strategy that protects the fundamental human right to decide whether to have children and raise them in safety and dignity.


The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Monday in two separate cases challenging the new Texas law effectively banning abortion. The more direct nationwide threat to Roe, however, comes in December in a case challenging a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks.


To fully grasp what is at stake now, it’s worth looking back. In 1992, one of us, Ms. Kolbert, argued on behalf of Pennsylvania abortion providers in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which challenged abortion restrictions including a waiting period requirement, biased mandatory counseling, parental and spousal notification requirements and other obstacles to care. At the time many court watchers believed Roe was doomed. Justice Clarence Thomas had just joined the court, and at least four other justices appeared likely to vote to overturn the ruling.


More than two decades later, Justice John Paul Stevens’s memoir confirmed how close supporters of abortion rights were to losing Roe: Following the oral argument seven justices agreed that most of the onerous Pennsylvania abortion restrictions should be upheld. Justice Stevens wrote that he and Justice Harry Blackmun “assumed that the result would be explained in an opinion overruling Roe v. Wade.” Indeed, Chief Justice William Rehnquist then “circulated a draft opinion for the court on May 27, 1992, that met our expectation,” Justice Stevens wrote. The drafted opinion did not explicitly overrule Roe, but it “effectively repudiated its central holding.”


Thankfully, at the 11th hour, Justice Anthony Kennedy had a change of heart. He quietly worked with Justices David Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor to draft a joint opinion reaffirming Roe’s holding that a woman has the right to choose abortion until viability (usually at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy) and thereafter if necessary to protect her life or health. But the court reduced the high level of constitutional protection that Roe afforded, permitting states to impose restrictions on abortion so long as they do not constitute an “undue burden.” The court upheld most of the Pennsylvania restrictions, but fortunately, struck a provision requiring spousal notification.


In recent years, the courts have upheld more barriers to care under the Casey standard, effectively placing abortion out of reach for many women, particularly teenagers, those living in rural areas and low-income women — limitations that are disproportionately experienced by women of color.


Still, Casey supported legal abortion in all 50 states. Today, the votes are likely no longer there to save even this diminished version of Roe. The new ultraconservative-dominated Supreme Court is poised to give states the unfettered ability to ban most abortions.


In the cases on Monday, the Supreme Court will address whether the Justice Department and abortion providers have the ability to challenge the Texas law in federal court.


The more significant case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will be argued on Dec. 1. Dobbs, with its ban on most abortions even well before the point of fetal viability, poses the central question of whether Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey remain the law of the land.


Five justices — Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito —  are expected to eviscerate abortion access with their decision in Dobbs. None of these extremely conservative justices are likely to join a last-minute reprieve as happened in Casey.


When Roe falls, 26 states are likely or certain to ban abortion. Just 14 states and the District of Columbia will reliably continue permitting abortion, safeguarding women’s liberty.


“Save Roe” has been the rallying cry of abortion-rights groups for nearly 50 years. But we need to stop banging our heads against the Supreme Court’s marble walls. While the situation is dire, we do have the potential today to realign American politics and develop a new strategy that not only preserves but expands reproductive freedoms.


First, we must think and talk about this issue differently. While our opponents talk about protecting religious beliefs or the “pre-born,” we must highlight the rights of women themselves, and point out that enabling them to choose whether, when and with whom they have children is central to gender equality and essential to the ability to control one’s own life.


Such fundamental reproductive freedoms require more than just access to abortion. Rather, they require access to basic services that empower all families to have and raise their children when and how it is best for them, including affordable birth control and child care, equitable health care and an end to L.G.B.T.Q. discrimination. We need a framework for recognizing basic human rights that goes well beyond the privacy rights that Roe rests upon and aligns with the goals that women of color have pursued for decades through the reproductive justice movement.


All of this requires political power, and that means getting active in electoral politics. The right has used abortion as a wedge issue for over 40 years; we must likewise vote as if our lives depend on it in every election, not just once every four years. Reproductive rights supporters must insist that all elected officials — from school board members to state legislators to members of Congress — be champions for the cause.


We also need to make noise. We need to organize protests and boycotts well before state laws like the one in Texas come to a vote, let alone make it to the Supreme Court. Eight years ago, a Texas state senator, Wendy Davis, conducted an 11-hour filibuster that briefly stopped an anti-abortion law and started a run on pink sneakers. Creative, newsworthy resistance builds public awareness and support, rallying voter support from the Capitol steps to social media influencers. Those voting for abortion restrictions should pay a political price for doing so.


At the same time, we must help all who need critical reproductive health care services. The pandemic has exposed and worsened economic and racial inequities in getting health care. We must raise money for abortion funds to fill the gap for patients forced to travel. In states where abortion remains available, we must push for broad access to medication abortion by expanding telemedicine and encouraging student health services and urgent care centers to provide these essential services.


The cases before the Supreme Court this fall are cause for alarm. Let’s make them a rallying cry for demanding reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right — and not just a privilege dependent on your race, where you live, whom you sleep with or how you define your identity.