9/29/2022

Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, September 29, 2022

 


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ROSIE JIMENEZ, PRESENTE!

REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE FOR ALL 

COMMUNITY SPEAK OUT

Saturday, October 1, 1pm

24th and Mission Street Bart Plaza, San Francisco

 

Dear Friends,

 

La Lucha Sigue/The Struggle Continues! Rosie Jimenez died on October 1, 1977 from a back alley abortion after the Hyde Ammendment took away federal funds for the procedure. She was a low-income student, struggling mother of three, and could not afford to have another child. This story is not new. Now, with the loss of Roe v. Wade, stories just like Rosie will be even more horrendous with the criminalization to this healthcare right. We honor her and want to fight like hell for free, quality, safe abortion with no apology!

We, the People, Overrule SCOTUS

 

We Demand:

 

·      No forced sterilization!

·      Repeal the Hyde Amendment; full access to abortion

·      Uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act

·      End racism in reproductive health care!

·      Affordable childcare, Reunite immigrant families

·      Solidarity against bigotry and homophobia/transphobia 

 

We Stand For:

 

·      Restore & expand Roe v. Wade; safe, legal abortion on demand without apology

·      Repeal the Hyde Amendment

·      Overturn state barriers to reproductive choices

·      Stop forced sterilization

·      No to caged kids, forced assimilation, & child welfare abuses

·      End medical & environmental racism; for universal healthcare

·      Defend queer & trans families

·      Guarantee medically sound sex education & affordable childcare

·      Sexual self-determination for people with disabilities

·      Uphold social progress with expanded voting rights & strong unions

 

For more information or to get involved

contact 415-864-1278 or reprojustice.sf@gmail.com

For national information: www.reprojusticenow.org

Social Media, FB, IG, and Twitter: sfreprojustice

Copyright © 2022 Freedom Socialist Party, All rights reserved.

Keeping you up to date on FSP events.

 

Our mailing address is:

Freedom Socialist Party

747 Polk Street

San Francisco, CA 94109


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The West Coast Book Tour

The West Coast Book Tour is about two revolutionaries from two different generations— one who was a part of the Revolutionary Movement in the 60's and one who became a revolutionary while serving his 18 year prison sentence in the 2000's. Hy Thurman's book "Hillybilly Nationalists" talks about his life growing up all the way up to the late 60's when he transitioned from a "gang" mentality to a revolutionary outlook on life. He is one of the living legends, who co-founded the Young Patriots Organization, which were white revolutionaries who organized with other legends like Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Original Black Panther Party and Jose "Cha Cha" Jimenez, the founder of the Young Lords Organization. He, along with those leaders went on to constitute the First Rainbow Coalition. 

Kwame Shakur's journey that he highlights in his autobiography "My Search for Answers, Truth, and Meaning" is a story of young Black man, who loses 18 years of his life to the penitentiary for a bank robbery that he caught at the tender age of 19. His book weaves together a brilliantly written story of how he went from a criminal mentality to a revolutionary one. Like Hy Thurman, he finds his cause in historical legends like Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton, whose first speech he read "Power Anywhere There's People", unbeknownst to him sets him on a revolutionary trajectory that he never takes a look back once discovering it. This journey takes him into the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, which avows to carry on the Original Black Panther Party and the Rainbow Coalition that Fred Hampton founded April 4th, 1969. Today, Kwame Shakur is one of the co-founder of the Second Rainbow Coalition which intends to take off where Fred Hampton, Jose "Cha Cha" Jimenez, and Hy Thurman left off. 

This book tour is an intersection and continuation of a vision of two generations, who have a similar Rainbow Coalition vision of revolutionary politics in the US— both past and present.


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Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice Demands Release of Political Prisoner

By Stephanie Pavlick and Kit Baril

Minneapolis, Minnesota – On September 1, Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice departed from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The march will pass through multiple cities, finally ending in Washington, DC on November 14. Rallies and prayer sessions will be held along the route. The walk is being coordinated by the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council to demand elder Leonard Peltier’s release from federal prison.

 

Leonard Peltier’s fight for justice

Leonard Peltier has been unjustly held as a political prisoner by the U.S. government for over 46 years, making him one of the world’s longest incarcerated political prisoners. He is the longest held Native American political prisoner in the world. Peltier was wrongly convicted and framed for a shooting at Oglala on June 26, 1975.

 

At the time, members of the Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were being endlessly terrorized and targeted by paramilitaries led by the corrupt, U.S.-government backed tribal chairman Dick Wilson. 64 people were killed by these paramilitaries between 1973 and 1975. The Lakota people called on the American Indian Movement (AIM) for protection, and Peltier answered the call. During the night of June 26, 1975, plainclothes FBI officers raided the AIM encampment at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. A shootout ensued, and two FBI officers, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, and one Native man, Joe Stuntz, were left dead.

 

In the ridiculous trial that followed, the two other Native defendants, Bob Robideau and Dino Butler, were completely exonerated. Peltier, on the other hand, was used to make an example. The FBI coerced a statement from a Native woman who had never met Peltier at the time she gave her statement. This false evidence was used to extradite Peltier from Canada, where he had fled after the shootout, and is used to imprison Peltier to this day.

 

The struggle continues

Leonard’s true “crime” is daring to fight back against the everyday oppression Native people face under the imperialist regime of the United States. Growing up on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota, Leonard lived through the U.S. government’s genocidal programs to forcibly assimilate Native peoples. Recently, Peltier opened up about his experiences in the Wahpeton Indian School. This was one of many boarding schools used to brutalize Native children into leaving behind their culture. Children were beaten constantly, especially for practicing any portions of their culture or speaking their language. Many didn’t make it out alive. This was part of the U.S. government‘s larger policy of intensifying attacks on the sovereignty of the First Nations. These experiences, among many more, led Peltier to become a member of the American Indian Movement to continue the fight back against genocide of Native peoples.

 

Peltier is a lifelong liberation fighter who has sacrificed immensely for the movement. He is also a 77-year-old elder with numerous chronic health problems, exacerbated by his fight with COVID earlier this year. Despite his innocence and health problems, the U.S. government has refused repeated calls for clemency for Peltier. Throughout his years of imprisonment, many have demanded Peltier’s freedom, including Nelson Mandela and, most recently, a UN Human Rights Council working group.

 

The time for Leonard Peltier to finally be released from prison is now. Join the fight  to free Leonard Peltier, and to free all political prisoners!

 

There are many ways to support the march and strengthen the call to free Peltier. These include:

 

·      Joining all or part of the walk

·      Joining a rally

·      Sponsoring the caravan with a hot prepared meal

·      Dry food donations

·      Hosting lodging/camping

·      Driving a support vehicle

·      Raising awareness of Peltier’s cause locally

·      Promoting the caravan and rally

Monetary donations (can be sent via PayPal here)

Those interested in volunteering with the caravan can sign up here.

 

Learn more about Leonard Peltier and his case here:

http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/home/about-us/

 

Liberation News, September 3, 2022

https://popularresistance.org/leonard-peltiers-walk-to-justice-demands-release-of-political-prisoner/

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URGENT ACTION NEEDED!

We demand that ALL "illegal abortion" charges against Madison County, Nebraska women be dropped

 

In Madison County, Nebraska, two women- one the mother of a pregnant teenager who was a minor at the time of her pregnancy and is being charged as an adult- are facing prosecution for self managing an abortion. In an outrageous violation of civil liberties, Facebook assisted the police and county attorney in this case by turning over communication between the daughter and her mother regarding obtaining abortion pills which is not illegal in Nebraska. The prosecutor has used this information to charge the daughter, her mother, and a male friend who assisted them after the fact with illegal abortion along with additional trumped up charges of "concealing a body."

 

We demand that ALL charges be dropped against all three of them and we ask that you call the office of Madison County Attorney Joseph Smith at 402-454-3311 Ext. 206 with the following:

 

"I am calling to demand that all charges against Jessica Burgess, her daughter, and their friend be dropped. In your own words- no charges like this have ever been brought before. That is because criminalizing abortion is unjust and unconstitutional. We will not stand for any charges being brought against any pregnant person for the outcome of their pregnancy OR anyone who assists that pregnant person. Drop all charges NOW."

 

You can also email County Attorney Smith here.

 

If you pledged to #AidAndAbetAbortion- NOW is the time to stand up for these women in Nebraska as this could be any of us in the future.

 

About NWL

 

National Women's Liberation (NWL) is a multiracial feminist group for women who want to fight male supremacy and gain more freedom for women. Our priorities are abortion and birth control, overthrowing the double day, and feminist consciousness-raising.

 

NWL meetings are for women and tranpeople who do not benefit from male supremacy because we believe we should lead the fight for our liberation. In addition, women of color meet separately from white women in Women of Color Caucus (WOCC) meetings to examine their experiences with white supremacy and how it intersects with male supremacy to oppress women of color.

 

Learn more at womensliberation.org.

 

Questions? Email nwl@womensliberation.org for more info.


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Doctors for Assange Statement

 

Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition

‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong 


https://consortiumnews.com/2022/06/12/doctors-to-uk-assange-extradition-medically-ethically-wrong/

 

Ahead of the U.K. Home Secretary’s decision on whether to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, a group of more than 300 doctors representing 35 countries have told Priti Patel that approving his extradition would be “medically and ethically unacceptable”.

 

In an open letter sent to the Home Secretary on Friday June 10, and copied to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland, the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, the doctors draw attention to the fact that Assange suffered a “mini stroke” in October 2021. They note:

 

“Predictably, Mr Assange’s health has since continued to deteriorate in your custody. In October 2021 Mr. Assange suffered a ‘mini-stroke’… This dramatic deterioration of Mr Assange’s health has not yet been considered in his extradition proceedings. The US assurances accepted by the High Court, therefore, which would form the basis of any extradition approval, are founded upon outdated medical information, rendering them obsolete.”

 

The doctors charge that any extradition under these circumstances would constitute negligence. They write:

 

“Under conditions in which the UK legal system has failed to take Mr Assange’s current health status into account, no valid decision regarding his extradition may be made, by yourself or anyone else. Should he come to harm in the US under these circumstances it is you, Home Secretary, who will be left holding the responsibility for that negligent outcome.”

 

In their letter the group reminds the Home Secretary that they first wrote to her on Friday 22 November 2019, expressing their serious concerns about Julian Assange’s deteriorating health.

 

Those concerns were subsequently borne out by the testimony of expert witnesses in court during Assange’s extradition proceedings, which led to the denial of his extradition by the original judge on health grounds. That decision was later overturned by a higher court, which referred the decision to Priti Patel in light of US assurances that Julian Assange would not be treated inhumanely.

 

The doctors write:

 

“The subsequent ‘assurances’ of the United States government, that Mr Assange would not be treated inhumanly, are worthless given their record of pursuit, persecution and plotted murder of Mr Assange in retaliation for his public interest journalism.”

 

They conclude:

 

“Home Secretary, in making your decision as to extradition, do not make yourself, your government, and your country complicit in the slow-motion execution of this award-winning journalist, arguably the foremost publisher of our time. Do not extradite Julian Assange; free him.”

 

Julian Assange remains in High Security Belmarsh Prison awaiting Priti Patel’s decision, which is due any day.

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Sign the petition:

https://dontextraditeassange.com/petition/


If extradited to the United States, Julian Assange, father of two young British children, would face a sentence of 175 years in prison merely for receiving and publishing truthful information that revealed US war crimes.

UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that "it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America".

Amnesty International states, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”

Human Rights Watch says, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”

The NUJ has stated that the “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.

Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.

The UK is required under its international obligations to stop the extradition. Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty says: "Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense." 

The decision to either Free Assange or send him to his death is now squarely in the political domain. The UK must not send Julian to the country that conspired to murder him in London.

The United Kingdom can stop the extradition at any time. It must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty and Free Julian Assange.

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Dear friends, 

Recently I’ve started working with the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee. On March 17, Ruchell turned 83. He’s been imprisoned for 59 years, and now walks with a walker. He is no threat to society if released. Ruchell was in the Marin County Courthouse on August 7, 1970, the morning Jonathan Jackson took it over in an effort to free his older brother, the internationally known revolutionary prison writer, George Jackson. Ruchell joined Jonathan and was the only survivor of the shooting that ensued. He has been locked up ever since and denied parole 13 times. On March 19, the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee held a webinar for Ruchell for his 83rd birthday, which was a terrific event full of information and plans for building the campaign to Free Ruchell. (For information about his case, please visit: www.freeruchellmagee.org.)

Below are two ways to stream this historic webinar, plus 

• a petition you can sign

• a portal to send a letter to Governor Newsom

• a Donate button to support his campaign

• a link to our campaign website. 

Please take a moment and help. 

Note: We will soon have t-shirts to sell to raise money for legal expenses.

Here is the YouTube link to view the March 19 Webinar: 

https://youtu.be/4u5XJzhv9Hc

Here is the Facebook link:

 https://fb.watch/bTMr6PTuHS/

Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:

 https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/governor-newsom-free-82-year-old-prisoner-ruchell-magee-unjustly-incarcerated-for-58-years

Write to Governor Newsom’s office:

 https://actionnetwork.org/letters/free-82-year-old-prisoner-ruchell-magee-unjustly-incarcerated-for-58-years?source=direct_link

Donate: 

https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=GVZG9CZ375PVG

Ruchell’s Website: 

www.freeruchellmagee.org

Thanks,

Charlie Hinton

ch.lifewish@gmail.com

No one ever hurt their eyes by looking on the bright side

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Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale

 

U.S. Air Force veteran, Daniel Everette Hale has recently completed his first year of a 45-month prison sentence for exposing the realities of U.S drone warfare. Daniel Hale is not a spy, a threat to society, or a bad faith actor. His revelations were not a threat to national security. If they were, the prosecution would be able to identify the harm caused directly from the information Hale made public. Our members of Congress can urge President Biden to commute Daniel's sentence! Either way, Daniel deserves to be free.

 

https://oneclickpolitics.global.ssl.fastly.net/messages/edit?promo_id=16979

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Laws are created to be followed

by the poor.

Laws are made by the rich

to bring some order to exploitation.

The poor are the only law abiders in history.

When the poor make laws

the rich will be no more.

 

—Roque Dalton Presente!

(May 14, 1935 – Assassinated May 10, 1975)[1]



[1] Roque Dalton was a Salvadoran poet, essayist, journalist, political activist, and intellectual. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets.

Poems: 

http://cordite.org.au/translations/el-salvador-tragic/

About: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roque_Dalton

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Screenshot of Kevin Cooper's artwork from the teaser.

 

 “In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper

A film by Kenneth A. Carlson 

Teaser is now streaming at:

https://www.carlsonfilms.com

 

Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022

https://deathpenalty.org/teaser-for-a-kevin-cooper-documentary-is-now-streaming/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=1c7299ab-018c-4780-9e9d-54cab2541fa0

 

“In his Defense,” a documentary on the Kevin Cooper case, is in the works right now, and California filmmaker Kenneth Carlson has released a teaser for it on CarlsonFilms.com

 

Just over seven months ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an independent investigation of Cooper’s death penalty case. At the time, he explained that, “In cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined.”

 

That investigation is ongoing, with no word from any of the parties involved on its progress.

 

Cooper has been on death row since 1985 for the murder of four people in San Bernardino County in June 1983. Prosecutors said Cooper, who had escaped from a minimum-security prison and had been hiding out near the scene of the murder, killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, a friend who was spending the night at the Ryen’s. The lone survivor of the attack, eight-year-old Josh Ryen, was severely injured but survived.

 

For over 36 years, Cooper has insisted he is innocent, and there are serious questions about evidence that was missing, tampered with, destroyed, possibly planted, or hidden from the defense. There were multiple murder weapons, raising questions about how one man could use all of them, killing four people and seriously wounding one, in the amount of time the coroner estimated the murders took place.

 

The teaser alone gives a good overview of the case, and helps explain why so many believe Cooper was wrongfully convicted.


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New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case

By Johanna Fernández

The following statement was issued January 4, 2022, regarding new legal filings by attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”

With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464)

The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won’t know for at least a month. 

The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then-Prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill, prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury, and letters and memoranda which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct, and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.

Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in 1982, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latinx detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions. 

In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed. 

Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”

The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in U.S. courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. (lovenotphear.com/) Stay tuned.

Workers World, January 4, 2022

https://www.workers.org/2022/01/60925/


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.”

 

https://www.audacy.com/kywnewsradio/news/local/pennsylvania-superior-court-rejects-mumia-abu-jamal-appeal-ron-castille


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
 
ONA MOVE
 

 

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



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A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Video at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWdJdODKO6M&feature=youtu.be

Screen shot from video.



Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.

 

https://www.freeleonardpeltier.com/petition

 

Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603


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Bury My Heart with Leonard Peltier

How long will he still be with us? How long will the genocide continue?

By Michael Moore

—VIA Email: michaelmoore@substack.com

























LEONARD PELTIER, Native American hero. An innocent man, he’s spent 44 years as a political prisoner. The prosecutor who put him behind bars now says Peltier is innocent. President Biden, go to Mass today, and then stop this torture. (Sipa/Shutterstock)


American Indian Movement leader, Leonard Peltier, at 77 years of age, came down with Covid-19 this weekend. Upon hearing this, I broke down and cried. An innocent man, locked up behind bars for 44 years, Peltier is now America’s longest-held political prisoner. He suffers in prison tonight even though James Reynolds, one of the key federal prosecutors who sent Peltier off to life in prison in 1977, has written to President Biden and confessed to his role in the lies, deceit, racism and fake evidence that together resulted in locking up our country’s most well-known Native American civil rights leader. Just as South Africa imprisoned for more than 27 years its leading voice for freedom, Nelson Mandela, so too have we done the same to a leading voice and freedom fighter for the indigenous people of America. That’s not just me saying this. That’s Amnesty International saying it. They placed him on their political prisoner list years ago and continue to demand his release.

 

And it’s not just Amnesty leading the way. It’s the Pope who has demanded Leonard Peltier’s release. It’s the Dalai Lama, Jesse Jackson, and the President Pro-Tempore of the US Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy. Before their deaths, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu pleaded with the United States to free Leonard Peltier. A worldwide movement of millions have seen their demands fall on deaf ears. 

 

And now the calls for Peltier to be granted clemency in DC have grown on Capitol Hill. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), the head of the Senate committee who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has also demanded Peltier be given his freedom. Numerous House Democrats have also written to Biden. 

 

The time has come for our President to act; the same President who appointed the first-ever Native American cabinet member last year and who halted the building of the Keystone pipeline across Native lands. Surely Mr. Biden is capable of an urgent act of compassion for Leonard Peltier — especially considering that the prosecutor who put him away in 1977 now says Peltier is innocent, and that his US Attorney’s office corrupted the evidence to make sure Peltier didn’t get a fair trial. Why is this victim of our judicial system still in prison? And now he is sick with Covid.

 

For months Peltier has begged to get a Covid booster shot. Prison officials refused. The fact that he now has COVID-19 is a form of torture. A shame hangs over all of us. Should he now die, are we all not complicit in taking his life? 

 

President Biden, let Leonard Peltier go. This is a gross injustice. You can end it. Reach deep into your Catholic faith, read what the Pope has begged you to do, and then do the right thing. 

 

For those of you reading this, will you join me right now in appealing to President Biden to free Leonard Peltier? His health is in deep decline, he is the voice of his people — a people we owe so much to for massacring and imprisoning them for hundreds of years. 

 

The way we do mass incarceration in the US is abominable. And Leonard Peltier is not the only political prisoner we have locked up. We have millions of Black and brown and poor people tonight in prison or on parole and probation — in large part because they are Black and brown and poor. THAT is a political act on our part. Corporate criminals and Trump run free. The damage they have done to so many Americans and people around the world must be dealt with. 

 

This larger issue is one we MUST take on. For today, please join me in contacting the following to show them how many millions of us demand that Leonard Peltier has suffered enough and should be free:

 

President Joe Biden

 

Phone: 202-456-1111

E-mail: At this link

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland

 

Phone: 202-208-3100

E-mail: feedback@ios.doi.gov

 

Attorney General Merrick Garland

 

Phone: 202-514-2000

E-mail: At this link

https://www.justice.gov/doj/webform/your-message-department-justice

 

I’ll end with the final verse from the epic poem “American Names” by Stephen Vincent Benet: 

 

I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.

I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.

You may bury my body in Sussex grass,

You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.

I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.

 

 

PS. Also — watch the brilliant 1992 documentary by Michael Apted and Robert Redford about the framing of Leonard Peltier— “Incident at Oglala”



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The Moment

By Margaret Atwood*

 

The moment when, after many years 

of hard work and a long voyage 

you stand in the centre of your room, 

house, half-acre, square mile, island, country, 

knowing at last how you got there, 

and say, I own this, 

 

is the same moment when the trees unloose 

their soft arms from around you, 

the birds take back their language, 

the cliffs fissure and collapse, 

the air moves back from you like a wave 

and you can't breathe. 

 

No, they whisper. You own nothing. 

You were a visitor, time after time 

climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. 

We never belonged to you. 

You never found us. 

It was always the other way round.

 

*Witten by the woman who wrote a novel about Christian fascists taking over the U.S. and enslaving women. Prescient!


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Union Membership—2021

Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Department of Labor

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Thursday, January 20, 2022

Technical information: 

(202) 691-6378 • cpsinfo@bls.gov • www.bls.gov/cps

Media contact: 

(202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov

In 2021, the number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions continued to decline (-241,000) to 14.0 million, and the percent who were members of unions—the union membership rate—was 10.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The rate is down from 10.8 percent in 2020—when the rate increased due to a disproportionately large decline in the total number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The 2021 unionization rate is the same as the 2019 rate of 10.3 percent. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.

These data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. For further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Highlights from the 2021 data:

• The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.1 percent). (See table 3.)

• The highest unionization rates were among workers in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). (See table 3.)

• Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.6 percent) than women (9.9 percent). The gap between union membership rates for men and women has narrowed considerably since 1983 (the earliest year for which comparable data are available), when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)

• Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)

• Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 83 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($975 versus $1,169). (The comparisons of earnings in this news release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.)

• Among states, Hawaii and New York continued to have the highest union membership rates (22.4 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina continued to have the lowest (1.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively). (See table 5.)

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

In 2021, 7.0 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, the same as in the private sector. (See table 3.)

Union membership decreased by 191,000 over the year in the public sector. The public-sector union membership rate declined by 0.9 percentage point in 2021 to 33.9 percent, following an increase of 1.2 percentage points in 2020. In 2021, the union membership rate continued to be highest in local government (40.2 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.

The number of union workers employed in the private sector changed little over the year. However, the number of private-sector nonunion workers increased in 2021. The private-sector unionization rate declined by 0.2 percentage point in 2021 to 6.1 percent, slightly lower than its 2019 rate of 6.2 percent. Industries with high unionization rates included utilities (19.7 percent), motion pictures and sound recording industries (17.3 percent), and transportation and warehousing (14.7 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.2 percent), professional and technical services (1.2 percent), food services and drinking places (1.2 percent), and insurance (1.5 percent).

Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2021 were in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). Unionization rates were lowest in food preparation and serving related occupations (3.1 percent); sales and related occupations (3.3 percent); computer and mathematical occupations (3.7 percent); personal care and service occupations (3.9 percent); and farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (4.0 percent).

Selected Characteristics of Union Members

In 2021, the number of men who were union members, at 7.5 million, changed little, while the number of women who were union members declined by 182,000 to 6.5 million. The unionization rate for men decreased by 0.4 percentage point over the year to 10.6 percent. In 2021, women’s union membership rate declined by 0.6 percentage point to 9.9 percent. The 2021 decreases in union membership rates for men and women reflect increases in the total number of nonunion workers. The rate for men is below the 2019 rate (10.8 percent), while the rate for women is above the 2019 rate (9.7 percent). (See table 1.)

Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate in 2021 (11.5 percent) than White workers (10.3 percent), Asian workers (7.7 percent), and Hispanic workers (9.0 percent). The union membership rate declined by 0.4 percentage point for White workers, by 0.8 percentage point for Black workers, by 1.2 percentage points for Asian workers, and by 0.8 percentage point for Hispanic workers. The 2021 rates for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics are little or no different from 2019, while the rate for Asians is lower.

By age, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2021, at 13.1 percent. Younger workers—those ages 16 to 24—had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.2 percent.

In 2021, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.1 percent) continued to be considerably higher than that for part-time workers (6.1 percent).

Union Representation

In 2021, 15.8 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, 137,000 less than in 2020. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 11.6 percent, down by 0.5 percentage point from 2020 but the same as in 2019. Workers represented by a union include both union members (14.0 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.8 million). (See table 1.)

Earnings

Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,169 in 2021, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $975. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, these earnings differences reflect a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size, or geographic region. (See tables 2 and 4.)

Union Membership by State

In 2021, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.3 percent, while 20 states had rates above it. All states in both the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average, while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. (See table 5 and chart 1.)

Ten states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2021. South Carolina had the lowest rate (1.7 percent), followed by North Carolina (2.6 percent) and Utah (3.5 percent). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2021: Hawaii (22.4 percent) and New York (22.2 percent).

In 2021, about 30 percent of the 14.0 million union members lived in just two states (California at 2.5 million and New York at 1.7 million). However, these states accounted for about 17 percent of wage and salary employment nationally.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on 2021 Union Members Data

Union membership data for 2021 continue to reflect the impact on the labor market of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Comparisons with union membership measures for 2020, including metrics such as the union membership rate and median usual weekly earnings, should be interpreted with caution. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 led to an increase in the unionization rate due to a disproportionately large decline in the number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The decrease in the rate in 2021 reflects a large gain in the number of nonunion workers and a decrease in the number of union workers. More information on labor market developments in recent months is available at: 

www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-and- response-on-the-employment-situation-news-release.htm.


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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


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Articles

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1) Russians Are Terrified and Have Nowhere to Turn

By Ilia Krasilshchik, Sept. 27, 2022

Mr. Krasilshchik runs Helpdesk.media, a website that offers advice and support to people affected by the actions of the Russian government.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/27/opinion/russia-mobilization-putin-war.html

Conscripted Russian men attending a farewell ceremony in Bataysk, Russia, on Monday.

Conscripted Russian men attending a farewell ceremony in Bataysk, Russia, on Monday. Credit...Arkady Budnitsky/EPA, via Shutterstock


“Hello, I have a pregnant wife and a mortgage. My wife is panicking, and I have no money to go abroad. How can I escape the draft?”

 

This is a message we received at Helpdesk.media, a website I and other journalists set up in June to help people — with information, legal advice and psychological support — affected by the actions of the Russian government. The writer, after completing his mandatory military service seven years ago, was being drafted into the war in Ukraine. The Russian government was not interested in who will pay the mortgage or take care of his pregnant wife. It simply wanted more fodder for its war.

 

In the days since Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization,” clearing the way for hundreds of thousands of men to be conscripted into his failing war effort, we’ve fielded tens of thousands of messages like these. Some were plaintive; others were defiant. Some were simply defeated. Along with Russians desperately trying to board flights, crossing borders or attacking recruitment centers, they testified to the same desire: to avoid the draft.

 

The truth is, they probably can’t. While presented as a limited measure affecting only those who previously served in the army, in practice, the government has free rein to conscript as many people as it wants. The initial number of 300,000, for example, already seems an enormous undercount. In the face of a monstrous regime hellbent on war and widespread international isolation, Russians are caught in a disaster. And judging from the response so far, they are terrified.

 

Such terror is at odds with the mass support the war supposedly enjoys. But the actual level of support is clearly significantly lower than that trumpeted by the Kremlin-controlled media. There are, tellingly, very few people eager to go to war — something made viscerally clear by the shooting of a recruitment officer in Siberia on Monday. Enthusiasm is thin on the ground: Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of a private military company and a businessman close to Mr. Putin, has resorted to recruiting from prisons.

 

For regular citizens who want to escape that hellish fate, there simply aren’t many options. Some people have crossed into Belarus, but we are already getting information that the Belarusian authorities, complicit with Mr. Putin, are planning to seize men from Russia. If not Belarus, where? Just days before the start of the mobilization, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland imposed an entry ban on almost all Russians. Last week, the Baltic States declared that this decision will not change, at least for now.

 

The thousand-mile border with Ukraine is, of course, closed. The Finnish authorities are still letting Russians in, but one needs a passport and a Schengen visa — something held by just a million Russians. Finland is planning to close the border, too. What remains open is Georgia, where the queue at the border crossing is more than 24 hours long and people are occasionally denied entry without any obvious reason. There are also destinations as far-flung as Norway, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Mongolia. Getting to any, by foot, bike or car, is a daunting undertaking with no assurance of success.

 

Airplane tickets to the few destinations still available to Russians, after the bulk of European airspace was closed off in February, are almost sold out. You want to fly to neighboring Kazakhstan? Here’s a ticket, with two layovers, for $20,000. Want to go to Armenia? No tickets left. Or to Georgia? Russia used to have daily direct flights to Tbilisi before the conflict in 2008, but now you cannot fly there, either.

 

The terrible truth is that Russians have become outcasts. Many countries have already imposed residency restrictions on them, and there are fewer and fewer possibilities of obtaining legal status, a work permit or even a bank account. No one is waiting to welcome fleeing Russians. In any case, it’s unclear how long the Russian authorities will allow people to leave the country. Some regional military authorities have already issued orders forbidding men who are subject to mobilization — that is, nearly all men — to leave their towns and cities.

 

People observing this horror from outside Russia are asking: Why don’t Russians protest? Well, many are. The first evening after the announcement was made, the Russian police detained over a thousand demonstrators in more than 30 cities across the country. Some protesters were severely beaten up. This is bravery beyond the imagining of those who have never experienced life in a dictatorship.

 

As for overthrowing Mr. Putin, likewise urged on Russians, I doubt you will find anyone who can tell you how to do it. The main opposition politician, Aleksei Navalny, is behind bars; protest is effectively outlawed; and even mild antiwar statements can land Russians in prison with a hefty sentence. I, for one, am facing criminal charges for writing on Instagram that the massacre in Bucha, Ukraine, was perpetrated by the Russian Army. For Russians, there is no visible route to a better future.

 

We have a saying in Russia, “to bomb Voronezh.” Voronezh is a Russian city not too far from the Ukrainian border, but the phrase does not refer to bombings by Ukraine. It refers to the Russian authorities’ perverse habit of retaliating against their own citizens in response to the actions of other governments. On Sept. 21, Mr. Putin added perhaps the most egregious example to the list. Thwarted by Ukraine’s resistance, he chose to punish Russian citizens for his failure.

 

Capital punishment may be forbidden in Russia. But for Mr. Putin’s decision, many people will pay with their lives.


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2) Cuba slowly starts restoring power after the entire island was blacked out.

By Andrés R. Martínez, Sept. 28, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/world/americas/hurricane-ian-cuba-damage.html

People playing dominoes by flashlight during a blackout in Havana on Wednesday.

People playing dominoes by flashlight during a blackout in Havana on Wednesday. Credit...Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press


Cuban authorities began restoring electricity to the island’s grid on Wednesday, but warned Cubans that the process would be slow and painstaking after the entire nation was plunged into darkness overnight.

 

The electricity grid is divided into three sections, and the most damage was on the western part of the island where crews were working slowly to restore power, the national electricity company, Unión Eléctrica, and state media said in a series of tweets overnight. Power was slowly coming back on in the east, where the hurricane had done little to no damage. And the hope was to start generating enough power in the east and center to connect the three sections. It was not clear how much of the electricity had been restored by Wednesday morning.

 

Hurricane Ian slammed into the western part of the Caribbean island on Tuesday as a powerful Category 3 storm, packing winds of up to 125 miles per hour, dumping inches of rain and causing deadly flooding.

 

The Ministry of Mines and Energy said the power grid had collapsed in the wake of the storm, leaving the country in the dark as it tried to recover from heavy flooding and extensive damage. Before the sun set, residents braved wind and rain to search for food and basic supplies, lining up under overhangs to buy a piece of chicken or a bottle of oil.

 

At least two people were killed, according to state media.

 

Cuba’s western provinces, where the hurricane made landfall, have been the hardest hit. Videos shared on social media from the town of La Coloma, along Cuba’s southern coast, showed people inside their homes with water up to their knees.

 

The hurricane comes as Cuba continues to recover from one of the worst periods of financial hardship in the country’s history, with the nation’s ailing infrastructure already producing widespread power blackouts. The financial misery, along with ongoing political repression, sparked one of the largest protest movements in decades last year.

 

The island has long borne the brunt of Atlantic storms. In 2008, two hurricanes, Gustav and Ike, blasted across the country, leaving at least seven people dead, damaging crops and buildings, and setting off more than 150 landslides in Havana.


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3) Iran Has Lost Sight of Its Greatest Asset: Women

By Firoozeh Dumas, Sept. 28, 2022

Ms. Dumas is a humorist and writer. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/opinion/iran-protest-women.html

A woman walking in Tehran earlier this month.

A woman walking in Tehran earlier this month. Credit...Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA, via Shutterstock


Growing up in Southern Iran and Southern California, I had the pleasure of having a father who loved to tell stories about his childhood in Iran. Most of his stories were funny, but there was one that always brought him to the brink of tears.

 

Of course, he never cried; he always changed the subject right at the breaking point. It was the story of his oldest sister, Sedigeh, the smartest sibling in their large family. Because she was a girl, she was married at 16, which was not unusual for Iranian society in the 1930s. Despite her intellectual curiosity, she never had a chance to finish school. My father made it clear to me that he considered this to be a crime. My aunt Sedigeh, now 99 and blind, made the most of her life, raised four successful sons who married strong women and raised successful children. As much as she relished her family, the rest of us wondered what she could have done with her life had she been given the freedom to prosper like her brothers, all of whom became doctors or engineers.

 

But even my aunt Sedigeh, with all the limitations forced upon her, did not as a young woman have to wear a hijab, the head cover that was made compulsory by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini after the 1979 Islamic revolution. The hijab has not always been a part of Iranian culture. Pictures of Tehran in the 1960s and ’70s show women wearing Jackie Kennedy-inspired dresses, short sleeves and miniskirts. But more important than their freedom to dress as they wished, Sedigeh’s generation witnessed the rise of women throughout Iranian society, in law, education and medicine, to name a few fields.

 

At the same time, there were many Iranian women, like many today, who willingly wore the hijab, or even the chador, which covers the entire body but not the face. That was their choice. Once the hijab became government mandated, it no longer sprung from religious belief alone. It became a symbol of a basic human right that had been taken away. In Iran, the punishment imposed on women who defy hijab laws includes arrest, flogging or a prison sentence.

 

Iranian women today are risking detainment and worse for an unimaginably simple request: the freedom to go outside the house without a head covering.

 

We all know that Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian woman who died after Iran’s morality police detained her for wearing her hijab in an “improper” way, did not die of a heart attack. Since Amini’s funeral on Sept. 17, demonstrations, led primarily by women, have broken out in cities across Iran. Their grievances aren’t limited to the laws dictating how they dress. The protesters are demanding freedom from all the suffocating strictures imposed by their country’s clerical leadership. These demonstrations feel different from previous uprisings, all of which have been violently squashed by the regime. My aunt Sedigeh, blind but still a seer, said to me yesterday: “When I was a young woman, I had no idea that life was any different anywhere else. This generation knows that they deserve more; they want what I didn’t have. I want that for them, too.”

 

I am certain that if she could, my aunt Sedigeh would be protesting with them now.

 

When women are oppressed, no one wins. Iran today is full of educated, capable women who have risen to the top of their fields and whose bodies, paradoxically, are regulated by the government. Regardless of their education or contributions to society, outside their homes, every woman in Iran is at the mercy of the morality police. This is insulting, soul-crushing and not sustainable.

 

These brave, determined women marching in the streets want the chance to live unencumbered and to regain rights taken by a government that treats them as second-class citizens. Their level of determination, their hunger, can lead to great things. I have no doubt that Iranian women, if given the opportunity to fully become who they are meant to be, could be making even greater contributions to society that would benefit all Iranians. Instead, they are asking not to be killed for showing their hair.

 

How did Iran get here? I weep for my aunt Sedigeh, who witnessed women rise in Iranian society, only to see their progress erased. Without some kind of compromise on the part of the government, Iran will be headed toward even greater unrest. Women cannot live under these unjust laws forever. Iran’s clerical establishment must recognize that lifting the Islamic dress code is a necessary first step toward greater equality. Extending this most basic of human rights to women is not a complicated issue. The real issue is the mistaken belief that women’s bodies need to be monitored and controlled.

 

My father, an engineer who helped build Iran’s oil refineries, used to say, “If Iran hadn’t had oil, the country would have truly prospered.” Cursed with natural resources, the country lost sight of its future. Its greatest asset was never under the ground. Iran’s greatest asset is marching in the streets right now.

 

Firoozeh Dumas is the author of “Funny in Farsi” and “Laughing Without an Accent.”



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4) Alabama Inmates Strike, Denouncing Poor Prison Conditions

The exact size of the protest, which began on Monday, was not immediately clear. But advocates say thousands of inmates would forgo their usual jobs as cooks and cleaners.

By Eduardo Medina, Sept. 28, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/us/alabama-prisons-strike-protest.html

Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore, Ala.

Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore, Ala. Credit...Brynn Anderson/Associated Press


Thousands of Alabama inmate workers began a labor strike this week to protest poor prison conditions across the state, where facilities are overcrowded, understaffed and notoriously dangerous.

 

The protest, which also calls for broader criminal justice reforms, began on Monday. Diyawn Caldwell, the president of Both Sides of the Wall, an advocacy group, said the organization is coordinating the strike with inmates across the state and predicted that about 80 percent of the roughly 25,000 people in prison would participate in the strike, forgoing their usual jobs as cooks and cleaners.

 

The strike, an uncommon occurrence in prisons, is intended to draw attention to the overcrowding crisis in Alabama prisons that has long shadowed governors and correctional officials. It also threatens to disrupt the prison system as officials take on the work that inmates usually do.

 

Ms. Caldwell’s husband, Cordarius Caldwell, 34, who is incarcerated at Ventress Correctional Facility on a murder offense, said by phone on Tuesday that inmates had received two sack lunches on Monday and Tuesday, rather than the normal three meals.

 

The Alabama corrections system has drawn the ire of the Justice Department, which released a report in 2019 that outlined “severe, systemic” conditions across the state’s prisons that violated constitutional protection from cruel and unusual punishment because they were in danger of being raped or murdered.

 

The report found that major prisons were at 182 percent of capacity, and that prisoners in the Alabama system endured some of the highest rates of homicide and rape in the country.

 

The Alabama Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday. The department told The Montgomery Advertiser that officers had deployed “security measures” since the start of the strike, but it did not share more details.

 

John Hamm, the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, told The Advertiser that “all facilities are operational and there have been no disruption of critical services.”

 

Willie Williams, an inmate at the Staton Correctional Center in Elmore County, Ala., said by phone on Tuesday night that he and dozens of other inmates were tired of the “inhumane” conditions at the prison, which he described as a “filthy place” that was covered by mold and overcrowded.

 

Inmates and activists had been planning the strike since late June, he said, because of a blunt realization: “There is nothing good that comes from” the state corrections department. “There’s no rehabilitation. There’s no compassion.” (Mr. Williams is serving a life sentence for a rape offense, which he said he did not commit.)

 

Ms. Caldwell said the strike would continue until officials met their demands, including improved living conditions and creating a more transparent and streamlined parole process. The prisoners are calling for creating a review board to oversee the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles and repealing the Habitual Felony Offenders Act, a law that results in longer prison sentences.

 

“Alabama fails over and over and over again to address the crisis that’s going on,” Ms. Caldwell said by phone on Tuesday night.

 

Advocates from Alabama Prison Advocacy and Incarcerated Families United and other groups had been scheduling Zoom calls with inmates since late June, asking them to persuade other incarcerated people to participate in the strike, Ms. Caldwell said. The calls were mostly with inmates who had influence among prisoners.

 

“We set a date and, you know, got the message out and got it clear that, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do; if you guys want freedom, you know, you have to walk in unison,’” she added.

 

The strike comes a week after photos of an emaciated inmate, Kastellio Vaughan, captured the attention of thousands online. His sister posted the photos on Facebook, writing, “Get Help.”

 

The Alabama Department of Corrections said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr. Vaughan had surgery for an obstructed bowel in August, after a gunshot injury. In September, he was again hospitalized because of complications. The department said he opted to be discharged both times against medical advice and has refused medical treatment or attention since Sept. 7.

 

Lee Merritt, a lawyer who is representing Mr. Vaughan and his relatives, said in a statement on Tuesday that the family was trying to get him transferred to a hospital outside of prison. Mr. Vaughan’s sister, Kassie, wrote on Facebook that if he did refuse medical help, it was because he was in a “delirious state.”

 

Though Mr. Vaughan’s case did not ignite the strike this week, Ms. Caldwell said, it did attract support from hundreds of Alabamians who protested outside the department’s headquarters in Montgomery on Monday.

 

Gov. Kay Ivey’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday.

 

Ms. Ivey and her fellow Republican lawmakers approved a plan last year to build two new prisons to relieve overcrowding. But opponents of her plan, including Ms. Caldwell, say that building more prisons will not address the need for criminal justice reforms like those happening in other states and at the federal level.

 

“Alabama can’t build themselves out of the crisis that’s going on in the prison system,” Ms. Caldwell said. She added: “We are not saying that we’re trying to let every murderer or rapist or even serial killer out of prison. We’re asking to give these people a fighting chance.”

 

Mr. Caldwell said that it had been easy to persuade inmates to participate in the strike because of the poor conditions in the prison: Moldy bathrooms, congested spaces and a dangerous lack of security.

 

“We’re doing this for us,” he said. “I’m doing this for me. I’m doing this for you.”


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5) 14 Guards at New Jersey Women’s Prison Are Indicted Over Beatings in 2021 Raid

The guards entered the women’s cells to forcibly remove them. One woman was punched almost 30 times.

By Tracey Tully, Sept. 28, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/28/nyregion/14-guards-at-new-jersey-womens-prison-are-indicted-over-beatings-in-2021-raid.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=New%20York

Edna Mahan Correctional Facility.

Edna Mahan Correctional Facility. Credit...Bryan Anselm for The New York Times


Fourteen guards at New Jersey’s only prison for women were indicted Tuesday in connection with a violent 2021 midnight raid that left two women with serious injuries.

 

The officers charged include a former top supervisor at the prison, Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, a troubled institution the Justice Department found two years ago was plagued by sexual violence.

 

Gov. Philip D. Murphy announced last year that he planned to close the prison and relocate women to smaller lockups, an indication that the problems highlighted first by federal inspectors investigating years of sexual abuse at the prison, and later by state officials looking into the raid, were beyond repair.

 

The indictments, handed up Tuesday by a state grand jury, stem from the Jan. 11, 2021, raid, in which correction officers in riot gear entered several cells to forcibly remove women, some of whom were suspected of throwing feces and urine at guards, according to the New Jersey attorney general’s office.

 

One woman, pinned to the wall of her cell, was punched 28 times by a guard as she tried to shield her face, officials said. She wound up with a concussion.

 

Officers fractured the skull of another woman who had complied with orders to let herself be handcuffed, and they left boot imprints on her body, prosecutors said.

 

The indictment accuses the officers of planning, supervising, participating in — or failing to stop — the so-called forced cell extractions, which were carried out “with the purpose of punishing, intimidating or terrorizing one or more inmates.”

 

Forced extractions may occur only after detainees refuse orders to be placed in handcuffs or to leave their cells on their own, or if they pose an immediate risk to themselves or others, according to state policy.

 

But the indicted officers planned to go into the cells and use force “regardless of whether any resistance was encountered,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

 

All of those charged had been suspended soon after the incident. Most had already been arrested and charged with the crimes detailed Tuesday by the grand jury.

 

Lawyers for the officers could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

William Sullivan, president of the union that represents state correctional officers, said he would have no comment about the officers, who were accused of crimes including official misconduct, aggravated assault and lying on reports filed after the incident.

 

But Mr. Sullivan defended officers who were still working at the embattled prison, which houses roughly 300 women, as “well trained and hard-working.”

 

“They have come under a lot of scrutiny and still come to work day in and day out — many working 16 hours a day mandatory overtime,” he said.

 

After the raid, much of which was captured on video, the state suspended 34 prison staff members and hired a former state comptroller, Matthew Boxer, to conduct an independent inquiry. Mr. Murphy’s announcement that the prison would be closed came on the same day that Mr. Boxer issued a damning 73-page report that offered a portrait of a facility beset by administrative chaos.

 

The next day, Mr. Murphy’s corrections commissioner, Marcus O. Hicks, resigned from the post he had held for three years, bowing to the persistent demands of lawmakers who had called for his termination.

 

Mr. Murphy had no immediate comment on Tuesday about the indictments.


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6) Cuba approves same-sex marriage in a referendum

By The Associated Press, September 27, 2022

https://www.npr.org/2022/09/27/1125344835/cuba-approves-same-sex-marriage

Cuba's President Miguel Díaz-Canel speaks to the press on Sunday after casting his vote at a polling station in Havana during the new family law referendum. Ramon Espinosa/AP


HAVANA — Cubans have approved a sweeping "family law" code that will allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt as well as redefining rights for children and grandparents, officials said Monday, though opposition in the national referendum was unusually strong on the Communist Party-governed island.

 

The measure — which contains more than 400 articles — was approved by 66.9% to 33.1%, the president of the National Electoral Council, Alina Balseiro Gutiérrez, told official news media, though returns from a few places remained to be counted.

 

The reforms had met unusually strong open resistance from the growing evangelical movement in Cuba — and many other Cubans — despite an extensive government campaign in favor of the measure, including thousands of informative meetings across the country and extensive media coverage backing it.

 

Cuban elections — in which no party other than the Communist is allowed — routinely produce victory margins of more than 90% — as did a referendum on a major constitutional reform in 2019.

 

The code allows surrogate pregnancies, broader rights for grandparents in regard to grandchildren, protection of the elderly and measures against gender violence.

 

President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who has promoted the law, acknowledged questions about the measure as he voted on Sunday.

 

"Most of our people will vote in favor of the code, but it still has issues that our society as a whole does not understand," he said.

 

On Monday, he celebrated approval of the measure, tweeting "Love is now the law."

 

Passage "is to pay a debt to various generation of Cubans whose domestic plans had been waiting years for this law," he added. "As of today, we will be a better nation."

 

The measure had been approved by Cuba's Parliament, the National Assembly, after years of debate about such reforms.

 

A major supporter of the measure was Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education, a promoter of rights for same-sex couples, daughter of former President Raul Castro and niece of his brother Fidel.

 

But there is a strong strain of social conservatism in Cuba and several religious leaders have expressed concern or opposition to the law, worrying it could weaken nuclear families.

 

While Cuba was officially — and often militantly — atheist for decades after the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro — Raul's brother — it has become more tolerant of religions over the past quarter century. That has meant a greater opening not only the once-dominant Roman Catholic Church, but also to Afro-Cuban religions, protestants and Muslims.

 

Some of those churches took advantage of the opening in 2018 and 2019 to campaign against another plebiscite which would have rewritten the constitution in a way to allow gay marriage.

 

Opposition was strong enough that the government at that time backed away.


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7) I Escaped Poverty, but Hunger Still Haunts Me

By Bertrand Cooper, Sept. 29, 2022

Mr. Cooper is a writer in Los Angeles. This essay is part of Times Opinion’s Fortunes series on the psychology of class. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/29/opinion/poverty-hunger-bingeing.html

Antoine Cossé


About three months after I was born, my father was incarcerated. As a toddler, I was poor but housed. Mom and I stayed with a paraplegic meth dealer named Tony who used to employ my father.

 

After that, up until the age of 14, life depended on Mom’s relationship with a man who sold insurance. When they were on, there was money. When they were off, there wasn’t. Through high school, it was all poverty — abject, uninterrupted and more severe than what had preceded it. I was on the margin’s edge then, out where the neglected become fosters, become homeless, become trafficked, become dead. At 18, I was working poor — a condition that reinvigorates the meaning of wage slavery. After eight more years of poverty, I was out. It’s been eight years since, and I haven’t been back.

 

Escaping poverty is a question of how long you can go without pleasure. If you were raised with money, going without pleasure might mean something like canceling your Netflix subscription or purchasing a slightly older car. What I mean by pleasure is food, clothing and shelter. I mean tolerating the daily denial of basic necessities without lashing out in ways that will get you put in a box.

 

Going without food is the hardest. The urban sociologist William Julius Wilson once said that what he distinctly remembered about growing up in rural poverty was hunger. Wilson grew up Black and poor in a family of seven during the 1940s. That a survivor of Jim Crow and its racist horrors recalls hunger as a defining torment says a lot.

 

The same sentiment was arguably shared by Mollie Orshansky, the U.S. government economist who chose to put food at the center of poverty’s official definition. Orshansky, like Wilson, was raised in poverty, and in the 1960s she developed the poverty measurement that remains in use today: multiply the cost of a minimally nutritious diet by three, and if you earn one or more dollars less than that, the federal government deems you poor.

 

Paradoxically, the worst of poverty’s afflictions becomes a tool for managing it. Not eating was so vital to my getting out of poverty that whenever I hear my middle- and upper-class peers talking about their inability to abide some new diet, for one or two callous moments, I think, “There’s someone who wouldn’t have escaped.”

 

When I was poor, I would skip meals to buy inhalers for my asthma. I would skip meals to pay for car repairs. I would skip meals to support my partner’s education and my own (and she’d do the same). Since you can get by with very few clothes, and rent is not something that can be adjusted on a whim, food costs are the easiest lever to pull.

 

My psychologist tells me that I possess several characteristics of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. According to one study, individuals with this disorder have a 77 percent greater willingness to delay gratification compared with the general population. That quirk of my psychology probably helped me with persistent self-denial. But it also meant that when I was permitted to eat as much as I wanted, on those rare occasions when free food was on offer, I would turn that same resolve into a single-minded determination to obliterate any sense of my own hunger. I would binge.

 

I was 9 the first time I binged. It was Thanksgiving, which didn’t mean much in my mom’s house. I came downstairs that day to see her throwing a punch into her boyfriend the insurance agent’s upturned arms. I don’t recall whether this was the time that her ringed fist slipped through his guard and onto his temple or the time she grabbed a loop of keys and hurled them at his head. Whichever it was, it produced a cut and an insult that was sufficient for him to call the police and tell us to get out. I was sent to spend the holiday with family in Philadelphia, and Mom went back to New Jersey to spend it in jail.

 

Excluding my Mom’s boyfriend, everyone in my life was in poverty or along its periphery. My aunt Shawn’s home in Philadelphia was a rowhouse that looked like a set from the series “Shameless,” with a dozen formerly stray dogs holding court from the doorknobs down. But there was food: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans, sweet potatoes and pie. I was awash in gratitude, happy to be with people who liked holidays and were willing to spend money they didn’t have to celebrate them.

 

The meal itself was short. Shawn and her partner wanted to get back to the football game on TV; the only other adults had a newborn to attend to, and the younger cousins were eager to go off and play. Left to my own devices, I went into the kitchen.

 

Despite feeding eight or so people, the 25-pound turkey seemed to me hardly touched. I pulled a stool over to the counter, sat down, and ate the meat straight from the tray. I ripped and devoured the flesh until a section was bone — and even then a bone has cartilage at the ends and mushy marrow in the middle. I ate everything that humans can digest, breathing infrequently, until the neural itch to swallow made me fear that I might choke. Undeterred by the prospect of an ignominious death in my aunt’s kitchen, I continued to eat until my stomach was distended and I could feel my lungs pressed against my heart. After a while, I couldn’t remember what it felt like to be hungry. In fact, I couldn’t imagine feeling hungry ever again.

 

Bingeing is more effective with a strategy to override the body’s signals to stop eating. For someone who rarely cooked, Mom was fixated on diets and weight loss, and I was able to subvert her advice for my own purposes when I knew food would be abundant.

 

“It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you’re full,” she would say, so I’d eat as much as I could in the first 20 minutes.  “Liquids take up space in the stomach” — so I wouldn’t drink anything save for a sip or two to aid in the act of swallowing. “Sugar ruins your appetite by tricking you into thinking you’re full, but you’ll be hungry again soon after” — so I avoided sugar to gorge upon fat and protein. These became the reliable strategies, though I did experiment with others.

 

When I was 12, I twice tried to eat a large meal in secret and then quietly vomit up a portion of it before the next meal began. To my chagrin, purging did nothing to lengthen the amount of time that I felt free of hunger. I tried fasting in the lead-up to a free meal, but I learned what competitive eaters already know: starving makes you feel full faster. Takeru Kobayashi, the six-time champion of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, came to prominence when I was 13, and I gleaned from his interviews that competitive eaters “expanded” their stomachs by ingesting large volumes of food or fluid the day before competition. Fluids are cheap, so I added this to my list of tactics.

 

I initially made the mistake of bingeing at every offer of food. At friends’ houses, the speed at which I finished my plate revealed that I was starving, and my friends’ parents felt obligated to offer more, which I naïvely accepted. Someone eventually would pull me aside and tell me that I couldn’t come over for a while, at least not within spitting distance of 6 p.m. Sometimes the penalty for hunger was severe. When I was 15, my grandmother threw me out five months after taking me in. Among the reasons she gave to the authorities was that I ate too much.

 

The best opportunities to binge were those less likely to exact a social cost: large gatherings like birthdays, holidays, parties. In my teenage years, the ideal was a class party. Teachers would often put food choice to a vote. If you like to binge, it’s best to steer selection away from things that are easy to count and assign. If the class votes for subs, there’s a chance that 25 students will produce an exact order of 25 sandwiches. The problem of little surplus.

 

In contrast, to get pizza exactly right requires the teacher to multiply the number of students by two or three and then divide by eight. I have found that seemingly no one is willing to do this amount of arithmetic, so pizza is always ordered in excess. Most students restrict themselves to two slices. I would find ways to eat at least eight slices and leave with the leftovers.

 

My binges were never frequent enough to take a real toll on my health. Before I turned 18, opportunities to overeat didn’t come along very often. There weren’t many chances as I moved through college, either. At 26, I was hired to be a tutor at an education technology company based on the strength of my GRE score. In the years that followed, I moved from tutor to team lead, to manager, and finally department head.

 

My income now is such that I’m never truly hungry, but I still never feel full unless I binge. When I do, I am partial to fast food. I’ve finished two bags of Arby’s on my way to a McDonald’s, and I’ve never managed to preserve a chocolate milkshake from the takeout window to my front door.

 

Binges like these are rare for me, every three months or so, but even if they weren’t, it would matter less now. I can afford supplements and a gym membership. If vitamins and working out fails to balance the scales, I can afford cholesterol medication, insulin, bypass surgery. New therapies for managing the effects of the American diet are being developed all the time.

 

If I were poor, this food might kill me. Having money means that, in every sense, the cost of eating whatever I want goes down.

 

A study published in The International Journal of Eating Disorders found a near equal rate of bingeing among those of high and low socioeconomic status: 4.9 percent for high and 6.3 percent for low. The only difference is that the need for willpower declines as you ascend. Warren Buffett eats at McDonald’s most mornings, changing his order depending on how well his investments are doing. His friend Bill Gates loves McDonald’s too, so much so that he owns thousands of acres of potato fields that supply the French fries. Some will remember when Donald Trump served McDonald’s at the White House.

 

In 1988, the year I was born, the Census Bureau reported that there were approximately 31.9 million people in poverty. In 2019, the last year before the pandemic, it had grown to 34 million people. According to one study of 20 million children, only 3 percent of Black children born into poverty make it to the upper class — adults whose annual household income is in the top 20 percent. The fact that I’m among that 3 percent is due to good fortune (an unearned talent for tests) and the help of strangers: federal grants and low-interest loans put in place by people I have never met. Delaying parenthood was vital to my escape, but it wouldn’t have happened without access to contraception and abortion, which will be less available to the poor kids coming up behind me.

 

But extreme self-control — self-abnegation — was crucial, and the cost was immense. I barely remember most days of my youth. Pleasure commits experiences to memory, and I spent 26 years without much of it to speak of, leaving me mostly with bad memories and blank space.

 

Today I have a life worth living, but that is uncommon for my class. Half of Americans born in the 1980s earn either the same or less than their parents did. Eighteen percent of the Black elderly are poor, and many are second-generation poor. Had I died at 26 after spending 9,496 days on this earth with no guarantee of food, clothing or shelter, I would have been inclined to say I wasted my time.


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