International Webinar — February 1, 2022
1:00pm SF, 4:00pm NYC, 6:00pm Rio de Janeiro, 9:00pm London, 11:00pm Johannesburg, 6:00am Tokyo
Recent Organizational Endorsers Include:
Alameda Labor Council, UNITE (UK), Alameda County Council Green Party, Democracia Socialista de Puerto Rico, National Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party, Oscar Grant Committee against Police Brutality and State Repression, San Francisco Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch
Rally: Thursday, January 27, 1:00 P.M.
Lafayette Square, Washington DC
Disband NATO! No War on Russia!
Join progressive and anti-imperialist voices this Thursday in speaking out against NATO aggression towards Russia and demanding that the cold war relic be disbanded!
The legacy of U.S. imperialism is that of unjustified interventions, invasions, occupations, and endless war based on manufactured lies and media fabrications. Over the past two decades, the U.S. has devastated Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. The real threat to peace is the U.S. war machine.
Say NO to war on Russia!
End the U.S. war machine!
This action is co-sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition and Code Pink
Global Day of Action to Defend 5,000 Striking South African Clover Dairy Workers
Rallies In New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco At Israeli Consulates
Thursday January 27, 2022, 12:00 Noon
San Francisco Israeli Consulate
456 Montgomery St San Francisco, CA 94104
Los Angeles Israeli Consulate
6380 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
New York Israeli Consulate
800 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Clover is the largest dairy company with 5,000 workers. In 2019, the ANC government allowed it to be taken over by the Israeli billionaire Wertheim family. They promised to protect jobs until October 2022, but they are now laying off thousands and shutting plants in ru- ral communities with plans to import Israeli product. The company also imposed a 20% cut in wages.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions, General Industrial Union of South Africa, and Food and Allied Workers union are also demanding that the company be nationalized and that it be run under workers con- trol. They are also supporting an international day of solidarity action.
Actions will be held at Israeli consulates, embassies, South African consulates, embassies, and the Israeli bank Mizrahi Tefahot which is owned by the Wertheim family and is the third largest bank in Israel.
The Wertheim family also control the Coca-Cola fran- chise through the Central Bottling Company, CBC.
They support and fund Israeli settlements on Palestinian land and the Israeli Defense Forces.
On January 18th, in an escalation of the attacks on strik- ing workers by Clover bosses, rubber bullets were fired at workers injuring them at the Clover Clayville plant in Johannesburg. The use of rubber bullets by Clover’s pri- vate security forces is linked up directly with the treat- ment of Palestinians except they use bullets to terrorize and murder.
Workers’ demands are clear:
1. The unconditional re-instatement of all retrenched workers
2. The complete scrapping of all austerity measures in- cluding the 20% salary cuts
3. The disinvestment of Milco SA/CBC
4. Nationalization of Clover SA and its complete trans- formation into a co-operative run by workers and com- munities.
United Front Committee For A Labor Party UFCLP
Higher Education Action Team HEAT
Freedom Socialist Party
To endorse: email@example.com
United in Action to STOP KILLER DRONES:
SHUT DOWN CREECH!
Spring Action, 2022
March 26 - April 2—Saturday to Saturday
Co-sponsored by CODEPINK and Veterans For Peace
“In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper
A film by Kenneth A. Carlson
Teaser is now streaming at:
Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022
“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.
To: U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives
Sign Petition at:
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!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Governor's Press Office
Friday, May 28, 2021
Governor Newsom Announces Clemency Actions, Signs Executive Order for Independent Investigation of Kevin Cooper Case
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that he has granted 14 pardons, 13 commutations and 8 medical reprieves. In addition, the Governor signed an executive order to launch an independent investigation of death row inmate Kevin Cooper’s case as part of the evaluation of Cooper’s application for clemency.
The investigation will review trial and appellate records in the case, the facts underlying the conviction and all available evidence, including the results of the recently conducted DNA tests previously ordered by the Governor to examine additional evidence in the case using the latest, most scientifically reliable forensic testing.
The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here:
The California Constitution gives the Governor the authority to grant executive clemency in the form of a pardon, commutation or reprieve. These clemency grants recognize the applicants’ subsequent efforts in self-development or the existence of a medical exigency. They do not forgive or minimize the harm caused.
The Governor regards clemency as an important part of the criminal justice system that can incentivize accountability and rehabilitation, increase public safety by removing counterproductive barriers to successful reentry, correct unjust results in the legal system and address the health needs of incarcerated people with high medical risks.
A pardon may remove counterproductive barriers to employment and public service, restore civic rights and responsibilities and prevent unjust collateral consequences of conviction, such as deportation and permanent family separation. A pardon does not expunge or erase a conviction.
A commutation modifies a sentence, making an incarcerated person eligible for an earlier release or allowing them to go before the Board of Parole Hearings for a hearing at which Parole Commissioners determine whether the individual is suitable for release.
A reprieve allows individuals classified by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as high medical risk to serve their sentences in appropriate alternative placements in the community consistent with public health and public safety.
The Governor weighs numerous factors in his review of clemency applications, including an applicant’s self-development and conduct since the offense, whether the grant is consistent with public safety and in the interest of justice, and the impact of a grant on the community, including crime victims and survivors.
While in office, Governor Newsom has granted a total of 86 pardons, 92 commutations and 28 reprieves.
The Governor’s Office encourages victims, survivors, and witnesses to register with CDCR’s Office of Victims and Survivors Rights and Services to receive information about an incarcerated person’s status. For general Information about victim services, to learn about victim-offender dialogues, or to register or update a registration confidentially, please visit:
www.cdcr.ca.gov/Victim_Services/ or call 1-877-256-6877 (toll free).
Copies of the gubernatorial clemency certificates announced today can be found here:
Additional information on executive clemency can be found here:
New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case
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
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.”
Questions and comments may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.
Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603
Resources for Resisting Federal Repression
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
- Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312
- San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or email@example.com
- Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963
If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:
Know Your Rights Materials
The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides.
- Know Your Rights During Covid-19
- You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement
- Operation Backfire: For Environmental and Animal Rights Activists
WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office
We also recommend the following resources:
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
The officers opened fire after two teenagers began shooting outside a high school stadium in a Philadelphia suburb.
By Azi Paybarah, Published Jan. 18, 2022, Updated Jan. 19, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/18/us/fanta-bility-shooting-police-charged.html
Three Pennsylvania police officers have been charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an 8-year-old girl outside a high school football game in August during which they fired a barrage of bullets after two teenagers began shooting, the authorities said.
Officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan and Brian Devaney of the Police Department in Sharon Hill, a Philadelphia suburb, were each charged with a total of 12 counts, including both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment, Jack Stollsteimer, the district attorney in Delaware County, said in a statement.
“We have now concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that it was, in fact, shots from the officers that struck and killed Fanta Bility and injured three others,” he said.
The charges brought against the officers by Mr. Stollsteimer’s office followed the recommendations of a grand jury that was empaneled on Nov. 18 to consider charges against the officers.
Mr. Stollsteimer had filed murder charges in November against the two teenagers for the initial shooting outside the stadium, but those charges were withdrawn after the grand jury investigation, his office said on Tuesday.
In announcing the charges against the officers, the prosecutor’s office released a statement from Bruce L. Castor Jr., a lawyer representing the Bility family. “They made the right call,” he said. The pursuit of convictions against the officers, Mr. Castor added in an interview, will be “tough” but “winnable.”
In a joint statement, the three lawyers representing the officers defended their clients as heroic police officers who reacted to a life-threatening situation that was caused by “armed and violent criminals who turned a high school football game into a crime scene.”
The lawyers, Raymond Driscoll, Steven Patton and Charles Gibbs, said that the officers “ran to the sound of gunshots and risked their own lives to protect that community.” The lawyers added that Mr. Smith, 34, Mr. Dolan, 25, and Mr. Devaney, 41, “are innocent and remain heartbroken because of this senseless violence.”
Joseph Fitzgerald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Delaware County, called it a “sad day for our officers.” In a statement, Mr. Fitzgerald said the officers “face criminal charges for trying to do their jobs and keeping the community safe.”
The charges on Tuesday followed months of investigations and hand-wringing over whether any criminal charges would be filed against the officers.
Though there has been an increase in recent years in the frequency of police officers’ being charged with murder and manslaughter for on-duty shootings, the overall number of officers who are charged is extremely low, according to Philip M. Stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University who tracks criminal prosecution of police officers.
According to a database starting in 2005 that Mr. Stinson maintains, Tuesday’s charges bring the number of police officers who have been charged with murder or manslaughter as a result of an on-duty shooting up to 155.
That 155 figure is “low,” he said, considering that beginning in 2015, there have been more than 5,000 fatal shootings by police officers, according to a Washington Post database.
Last year, a record number of 21 on-duty police officers were charged with either murder or manslaughter, according to Mr. Stinson’s database. He contrasted that figure with the more than 1,100 people who were killed in police encounters, according to the Mapping Police Violence database.
“It seems that the very small percentage of cases that result in officers’ being charged warrants closer examination,” Mr. Stinson said in an interview. “It’s really shocking when you start to look at the numbers. It’s only when you aggregate the data, that is when you realize it is a systematic problem.”
As most on-duty officers involved in fatal shootings are not charged, Mr. Stinson said, “presumably, every case where an officer is not charged, I can only assume that there was a finding by investigators or prosecutors that the officers were justified in the use of deadly force.”
“Because,” he continued, “in the absence of that, we would expect criminal charges.”
The charges on Tuesday stem from a shooting that occurred on Aug. 21, 2021. The police were monitoring the crowd when gunfire erupted outside the football field at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill during the season opener against Pennsbury High School, prosecutors said.
Though a few minutes remained on the clock, the game was essentially over — a 42-0 win for the home team. People were already heading for the exits when bursts of gunfire rang out.
On the field, players hit the ground, seeking safety.
Two of those shots were fired “in the direction of” the officers, prosecutors said. The officers responded by firing “in the direction of” the stadium, prosecutors said.
The officers also fired toward a car they mistakenly believed had been the source of the initial gunshots, prosecutors said. The officers fired 25 shots.
When the shooting stopped, Fanta was dead, and at least three people were injured, prosecutors said. On Sept. 2, prosecutors said there was a high probability that Fanta and the other victims had been struck by bullets fired by the officers, not by the teenagers.
On Nov. 10, prosecutors filed criminal charges against the two teenagers — including the murder charges that were later dropped — but not against the police officers. That stirred outrage in the community and angered members of Fanta’s family, who worried that the police would ultimately evade accountability.
One of the teenagers, Hasein Strand, 18, of Collingdale, has pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm and aggravated assault; the other, Angelo Ford, 16, known as AJ, “remains charged with serious crimes for his attempt to kill” Mr. Strand, the authorities said.
The New York Times obtained footage of the botched strike in Kabul, whose victims included seven children, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
By Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, Azmat Khan, Evan Hill and Christoph Koettl, Published Jan. 19, 2022, Updated Jan. 20, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/19/us/politics/afghanistan-drone-strike-video.html
WASHINGTON — Newly declassified surveillance footage provides additional insights about the final minutes and aftermath of a botched U.S. drone strike last year in Kabul, Afghanistan, showing how the military made a life-or-death decision based on imagery that was fuzzy, hard to interpret in real time and prone to confirmation bias.
The strike on Aug. 29 killed 10 innocent people — including seven children — in a tragic blunder that punctuated the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
The disclosure of the videos was a rare step by the U.S. military in any case of an airstrike that caused civilian casualties, and is the first time any footage from the Kabul strike has been seen publicly. The videos encompass about 25 minutes of silent footage from two drones — a military official said both were MQ-9 Reapers — showing the minutes before, during and after the strike.
The at-times blurry footage that operators were watching will continue to be scrutinized for new details about how the episode unfolded, while demonstrating the heightened risk of error that accompanies any decision to fire a missile in a densely populated neighborhood.
The military had been working that day under extreme pressure to head off another attack on troops and civilians in the middle of the chaotic withdrawal. It has said it believed it was tracking an ISIS-K terrorist who might imminently detonate a bomb near the Kabul airport. Three days earlier, a suicide bombing at the airport had killed at least 182 people, including 13 American troops.
The New York Times obtained the footage of the strike through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against United States Central Command, which oversaw military operations in Afghanistan. The disclosure is likely to add fuel to a debate about the rules for airstrikes and protections for civilians in the era of drone warfare.
The videos — one of which is in grainy imagery, apparently from a camera designed to detect heat — show a car arriving at and backing into a courtyard on a residential street blocked by walls. Blurry figures are seen moving around the courtyard, and children are walking on the street outside the walls in the moments before a fireball from a Hellfire missile engulfs the interior. Neighbors can then be seen desperately dumping water onto the courtyard from rooftops.
The scenes unfolding on the video are murky. In retrospect, it is clear that the images were misinterpreted by those who decided to fire.
American operators on Aug. 29 had been tracking the driver of a white Toyota Corolla for about eight hours before targeting him in the mistaken belief that he was an ISIS-K member moving bombs. But the man was instead Zemari Ahmadi, a worker employed by Nutrition and Education International, a California-based aid organization.
In November, a Pentagon official said blurry images in the videos revealed the presence of at least one child in the blast zone about two minutes before the missile was launched, but stressed that spotting that was obvious only in hindsight and with “the luxury of time.”
The footage from one of the drones briefly shows what appears to be a blurry shorter figure in white next to a taller figure in black inside the courtyard as the car is backing in, about two and a half minutes before the explosion. Shuddering on the other drone’s footage, about 21 seconds before the explosion, suggests that might have been when it launched a missile.
Relatives have told The Times that some children rushed to greet Mr. Ahmadi — one getting into his car — when he got home to a compound where four interrelated families lived, and that others were fatally wounded in rooms alongside the courtyard.
The footage shows other figures of indeterminate height moving around the courtyard over several minutes as Mr. Ahmadi’s sedan backed into the compound, including one person opening the passenger door of the car just before the blast.
In the days after the strike, the military described a secondary explosion that it insisted supported the suspicion the car contained a bomb but later said was probably a propane tank. The footage shows a fireball from the blast, which expands about two seconds later, but it is tough to make out what is happening in the flare.
The heights of most figures inside the courtyard are difficult to determine because the footage was shot from overhead, making it harder to identify whether they might be children. The video with the better angle into the courtyard is in black-and-white and has lower resolution. The other video, which is in color, begins after the car was already backing in, but briefly shifts into black-and-white — apparently a thermal lens — at the moment of the strike.
Reached by phone, Emal Ahmadi, the brother of Mr. Ahmadi, whose daughter Malika was also killed in the strike, told The Times that he wanted to view the video himself, after having only heard descriptions from the military. “It will be difficult for me,” he said, “but I want to see it.”
Responding to a description, Hina Shamsi, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who is representing the families of the victims and Nutrition and Education International, which employed Mr. Ahmadi, said the footage highlighted “a painful, devastating loss of 10 deeply beloved people.”
Capt. Bill Urban, the spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, reiterated the Pentagon’s apology.
“While the strike was intended for what was believed to be an imminent threat to our troops at Hamid Karzai International Airport, none of the family members killed are now believed to have been connected to ISIS-K or threats to our troops,” he said. “We deeply regret the loss of life that resulted from this strike.”
The blurrier main video begins as the white car was approaching the courtyard, following the vehicle through several streets. It shows people moving in the courtyard several minutes before the strike, as the car stops and then backs in. A laser range-finder briefly appears about 70 seconds before the strike, and then returns and stays for the final half minute. Additional blurry figures are visible just before they are engulfed in flames.
The clearer video, which is mostly in color, starts as the car is backing in and reveals little about who was in the courtyard because of the angle from which it was shot. But it more plainly shows a figure opening the front-right door of the car just before the explosion, as well as children on the street outside the gated courtyard.
Both videos show people rushing to the site and throwing water onto the fire from nearby roofs. About 90 seconds after the strike, the higher-resolution color camera abruptly swivels away from the carnage to point at an unremarkable street scene nearby for the next five minutes.
The footage also underscores how drone operators may jump to the conclusion that any unknown people interacting with a terrorism suspect are likely fellow militants. In this case, even their suspicions about the suspect were wrong.
In November, the Air Force’s inspector general, Lt. Gen. Sami D. Said, released findings of his investigation into the strike, which found no violations of law and did not recommend any disciplinary action. The general blamed “confirmation bias” for warping operators’ interpretation of what they were seeing.
Officials have said that intelligence had indicated that an ISIS-K attacker would be driving a white Toyota Corolla, and that a certain building was a terrorist safe house. In fact, the building was the residence of the director of Mr. Ahmadi’s aid organization. But operators did not realize that error when Mr. Ahmadi headed to that building in his white Corolla — and from that premise over the next eight hours, they interpreted other mundane actions as threatening, too.
When someone in his car retrieved a black bag from that building, the operators interpreted the bag as an explosive since the airport bomber had used a black backpack; in fact, it was his boss’s laptop. When several people later placed canisters in the trunk of his car, the operators saw more bombs; in fact, the objects were most likely water containers. And when there appeared to be a secondary explosion after the missile blew up the car, they saw evidence of a bomb; in fact, the military later said, it was most likely a propane tank.
A trove of military reviews of reported civilian casualty incidents in the air war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria obtained by The Times revealed repeated instances of a similar confirmation bias.
“We know we need to improve situational awareness, communication between strike cells and nodes, and introduce a more robust process by which the analysis of intelligence can be scrutinized in real time,” Captain Urban told The Times in response to questions about confirmation bias.
The military initially announced that it had thwarted another planned attack outside the airport. But nearly everything that senior Pentagon officials claimed in the hours, days and weeks after the drone strike turned out to be wrong. A week after a Times video investigation showed that the man driving the car was Mr. Ahmadi, the Pentagon acknowledged that the strike had been a tragic mistake and no ISIS-K fighters had been killed.
The military initially announced that it had thwarted another planned attack outside the airport. But nearly everything that senior Pentagon officials claimed in the hours, days and weeks after the drone strike turned out to be wrong. A week after a Times video investigation showed that the man driving the car was Mr. Ahmadi, the Pentagon acknowledged that the strike had been a tragic mistake and no ISIS-K fighters had been killed.
Under the law of war, it can be legal to carry out strikes that kill some civilians, as long as they were not the intended target and as long as the anticipated collateral damage is deemed to be necessary and proportionate to the military aim. But the Defense Department has long said that it tries to minimize civilian casualties.
In November, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III declared that the military needed to do more to prevent them. The Pentagon has been developing new procedures intended to foster a culture that does more to prioritize minimizing civilian harm and are expected to announce such changes soon, officials said.
Still, with United States ground forces no longer in theaters like Afghanistan and Somalia and drawing down from Syria and Iraq, strikes on traditional or “hot” battlefields may be less frequent compared with so-called over-the-horizon counterterrorism strikes in poorly governed places where there are no American troops to defend on the ground — but where good intelligence may be even harder to come by.
The Biden administration has also been working on a new policy governing drone warfare away from traditional battlefields. That process was meant to last only a few months, but after a year of drafts, deliberations and high-level meetings, it remains uncompleted.
The U.S. government has offered to resettle the relatives of the victims — and employees of the aid organization — and to make unspecified condolence payments to the families, Ms. Shamsi said, but they have received no compensation and are instead focused on leaving Afghanistan.
“We aren’t even discussing compensation because our clients’ safety comes first,” she said.
Ainara Tiefenthäler contributed reporting.
By Ilana Panich-Linsman and Lauren Kelley, January 21. 2022
Photographs by Ilana Panich-Linsman
Ms. Panich-Linsman is a photographer in Austin, Texas. Ms. Kelley is a member of the editorial board.https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/01/21/opinion/roe-v-wade-abortion-history.html
The end of Roe v. Wade is coming.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in June in a case from Mississippi called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and that ruling will likely overturn or gut Roe — that imperfect but critical precedent that has given Americans the right to abortion since 1973. Since Jan. 22, 1973, to be precise.
The week of its 49th birthday, Roe v. Wade is hobbled. Not only is it unlikely to make it to 50 in any recognizable form, but for millions of women across the country who live in states where abortion is almost unobtainable even now, it might as well already be gone.
Still, Roe’s demise will be shattering, and there is much work to do in preparing for it. One important part of that work is studying what came before. That’s not because what comes after Roe v. Wade will be the same; today, women have better access to information about safely managing their own abortions, and it is becoming increasingly easy to get hold of pills with which they can do so. The risks for these women are often more legal than they are medical.
Rather, we must remember the struggles of Americans who had abortions before the procedure was widely available — like the women photographed below, many of them telling their stories for the first time — because we will need to draw from their experiences in fighting back. Yes, a fight will be needed to regain access to abortion for millions once Roe is gone. And these women have waged that fight. They have waged it with their bodies. And they have the scars to prove it.
“It was a practical decision, not a moral one.”
Katherine Deutch Tatlock
Had an abortion in 1960
“I don’t know why I entered into this relationship, because I was not really attracted to him,” said Ms. Tatlock, who was sharing a place in San Francisco with several roommates. “I had too much to drink, it was late at night, and we had sex,” she said. “It was not a fun thing for me. I think I blacked out. It was the first time I ever had sex, and I got pregnant.” She had always wanted a baby, but not like this. Not then. “I was a baby myself,” she said.
The family doctor Ms. Tatlock saw laughed at her when she asked about an abortion, but suggested she go to the hospital, where she might be approved for the procedure.
At the hospital, she went in circles with a psychiatrist for about an hour before the psychiatrist finally said to her: “You need to tell me whether you would kill yourself if you can’t have an abortion, or kill your baby.”
“I was crying. I had to lie,” said Ms. Tatlock. “I said as fast as I could, ‘Yes, I would kill myself or my baby if I can’t have an abortion.’”
Ms. Tatlock had her abortion. She was OK. One of her roommates, who became pregnant weeks later and sought an illegal abortion, had a much harder experience: “Her uterus was pierced by an object. As I’m telling this story, I am trembling. It really was scary. She almost died in my arms.”
“The abortion was a life-altering experience. It
felt very self-determining and self-affirming.”
Had an abortion in 1970
When Ms. Ross became pregnant at age 14 as a result of incest, her parents considered sending her to Mexico for an abortion. They lived in San Antonio, and they had heard of many girls and women crossing the border to end their unwanted pregnancies. But so many of them never came back. Instead, they placed their daughter in a home for unwed mothers and encouraged her to give the baby up for adoption.
“The home was a compound behind really tall walls with barbed-wire fencing,” Ms. Ross recalled. “I was the only black girl that I could see there.”
“We did no gossiping, no giggling, no exchanging of stories about what had happened to us,” she said of the 20 or so other girls who were in the home. “It was like we had all taken vows of silence.”
She remembers the message from staff being: “We were bad girls, because that’s what got us in the compound, but if you just do what we say, then you can come back and become good girls again.”
Ms. Ross decided not to put the baby up for adoption after all. Not long after she had her son, she went to Howard University in Washington, where she became vice president of her class.
She became pregnant again at age 16, and this time, she knew she wanted to get an abortion. Abortion was by then available in the District of Columbia, but she needed parental permission. Ms. Ross’s mother wanted her to drop out of college instead.
“By the time I had gone through all the fighting with my mom, and all the delays, I was in my third trimester,” said Ms. Ross. “I had to have a saline abortion, where they inject this huge — it felt like a mile long — needle into your stomach, and induce labor.”
It turns out she had been pregnant with twins. “I could have conceivably been a mother with three kids at 16,” Ms. Ross said. “And all I can do is thank God that that abortion was available to me in 1970, because otherwise my story would have had a vastly different ending.”
“I was lucky — not
smart, but lucky.”
Had an abortion in 1969
“He casually walked over and told me to wait a couple of minutes and then go outside and follow him, like a spy movie,” said Linda of the man she met up with one night long ago in the French Quarter of New Orleans. “I guess it says something about my desperation and determination that I followed his instructions.”
She followed the man to a restaurant, and he led her to an apartment above it.
“All of a sudden I realize I’m walking upstairs with a strange man who’s going to perform an abortion on me,” she said. “And there is a little bit of looking around, before you go up those steps, and just thinking, well, surely this is going to be OK. It was, but I realized too, looking back on it, how lucky I was.”
“I would never, ever want anybody to
go through what
I went through.”
Had an abortion in 1970
A Methodist minister referred Ms. Ralston and her boyfriend to an abortion provider in Chicago, but first she confirmed the pregnancy with her family doctor in Iowa. “He was livid and yelled at me,” she said, adding that he “underlined ‘unmarried’ three times” on the referral note he wrote for her.
“The procedure cost $350, a lot of money in 1970,” she said. It was her first time on an airplane.
Years later, she helped establish a family planning clinic in her hometown.
“I was a teenager, I was basically a child, and children make mistakes.”
Had an abortion in 1969
Ms. Ice found herself on a rectangular dining table, just long enough for her to lie on, as a woman who might have been a nurse performed an abortion on her without anesthesia.
She was still in high school in Detroit. She didn’t tell her parents, even though her father was a doctor.
“I was thinking, well, I can take care of this myself, I don’t need a parent to help me,” she said.
“I couldn’t handle
more than one child.”
Jean Emma Frances
Had an abortion in 1968
Ms. Frances and her husband at the time had a 1-year-old, and they knew they couldn’t afford to have another child. So she called a work friend who told her he had been trained by a doctor to perform abortions.
She had to visit him three times before the procedure worked. “I don’t even think he dilated me. I think he just inserted the catheter,” she said. She ended up in the hospital with an infection.
“In all of the years
since then, I’ve
never told anyone
Had an abortion in 1970
A friend helped Ms. Kilbourne, who at the time was a 22-year-old single mother in Phoenix, schedule an abortion in Mexico.
“Fortunately, I came through it fine,” she said, but “I had to lie to so many people to get this taken care of.”
“I still can’t imagine ever telling my parents about it. I mean, they’ve been dead for 30 years, and I still can’t imagine telling them about it,” she said, adding, “Even my brother, who is just about my best friend in the world, doesn’t know about it.”
“There were so many
girls from that era that did not survive.”
Had an abortion in 1959
“I remember this boyfriend drove there,” said Ms. Ray, who was a high school senior in Louisville, Ky. “It was at night, dark, through an alley. I was told to enter in through the back, going up a flight of steps; maybe it was an apartment.”
She met a woman who led her into a bedroom. “She instructed me to lay down on the bed, and she did this procedure. I knew she wasn’t a medical professional. She had a crucifix on her wall above the bed,” she said.
“I was lucky that I didn’t die.”
“I was ready to die
rather than tell.”
Had an abortion in 1968
Sandra was 19 years old when she fainted at her job at a bank in Euless, Texas. She was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for a severe infection. She recalls being asked: “You had something that was poisoning your system – can you help us at all on this? Because there have been several women who have come in, girls, recently, with the same problem.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sandra replied.
Knowing that her husband didn’t want a child, Sandra had gone to a sleazy motel and paid a man $500 to insert a catheter into her uterus. He injected her with something that “smelled like bathroom soap,” she said.
She never told her husband about the abortion. At the time, she didn’t tell anyone.
“I wanted to be
able to make my
Elizabeth Ramirez Watson
Had an abortion in 1973
Ms. Watson was in medical school in Mexico, where abortion was illegal in most cases. She had heard that abortions in the United States were now legal, so two friends drove with her from the city of Torreón to Texas. But when they got to the doctor’s office, she was turned away.
Consulting the telephone book, they went from doctor to doctor, but struggled to find anyone who would provide an abortion. Finally, a nurse in a doctor’s office agreed to insert a catheter into Ms. Watson.
“When she finished, she taped everything and then she said, ‘Dress as quickly as possible.’ She left the catheter in. She taped it to my leg. She wanted me like, boom, out the door,” said Ms. Watson.
When she went back to Mexico to continue her medical training, she hemorrhaged. “I really felt like I was going to die,” she said.
She eventually became a doctor and moved to Texas. She has two daughters, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild, with another on the way.
By Malak Shalabi
—Truthout, January 20, 2022https://truthout.org/articles/the-idf-killed-a-palestinian-us-citizen-why-is-the-us-doing-nothing/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=9c755f39-45a3-4418-9d51-9b4fcb751e09
Assad Assad, the nephew of Omar Abdulmajeed Asad, describes his uncle as a very social and caring man. Omar immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s and became a small business owner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He and his wife had seven children and many grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Ten years ago, Omar Asad decided to retire in the village of Jaljulia, in Ramallah, Palestine, where he was originally from.
Asad loved family gatherings and regularly went around to check up on and visit relatives, according to his nephew. He attended a big family gathering on January 11 and was driving back around 2:30 am. At this time, members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) — the military force that carries out the occupation of Palestine — were executing an overnight raid in Jaljulia. Night raids are a common practice by IDF soldiers, serving to intimidate Palestinians in their most vulnerable state by invading their safest places while they are sleeping.
As Asad was driving home through his village, he was reportedly pulled out of his car by IDF soldiers who aggressively handled him, handcuffed him with plastic zip ties, gagged his mouth, blindfolded him and forced him to lie on his stomach. Soldiers then dragged him for about 200 meters and beat him to death. His nephew said there were about 40 soldiers just watching this handcuffed elderly man, aged 80, be repeatedly hit by armed soldiers across his entire body. Asad suffered from a subsequent heart attack, and was left to die on the ground, unconscious and handcuffed.
“He was buried with bruises across his entire body,” said Asad’s nephew, Assad. “What kind of threat does an 80-year-old man pose to armed Israeli soldiers? He was barely able to walk and they viciously beat him to death.”
Omar Asad was an American citizen, a fact that has garnered his story much more media attention than it might have otherwise received. However, this fact shouldn’t matter — and in many ways, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of a Palestinian’s national protections as a typically stateless person, Israel exhibits a reckless disregard for Palestinian life. And its strongest ally, the United States, has responded apathetically to the killing of Omar Asad. On January 13, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the department got in touch with Asad’s family to express their condolences, and that it has also “been in touch with Israel to ‘seek clarification’ about ‘this incident.’” Somehow, the United States managed to “two-sides” the beating and killing of an 80-year-old man — a standard feature of any commentary they provide on Israel’s violent actions.
Despite Israel’s existing occupation of Palestine and apartheid system that subjugates Palestinians within its borders and beyond, the United States is considering adding Israel to the Visa Waiver Program. This would mean that U.S. and Israeli citizens traveling between the U.S. and Israel won’t need visas to enter either country. Outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Gilad Erdan claims that Israel will join the program by mid-2022. This move would systematically solidify Israeli apartheid into the U.S. immigration system. Palestinians and Muslims are already subject to severe scrutiny in the United States, leading to many being deported and denied entry at the border merely for their identity as Palestinians.
Omar Asad’s brutal killing illustrates how Palestinian Americans are unprotected by the United States, whose loyalty is to Israel first. Most countries on the visa waiver list maintain a reciprocity requirement, meaning both countries must allow in nearly all citizens of the other. Israel and its U.S. supporters have previously lobbied for an exception that would allow it to deny U.S. citizens entry to Israel under the auspices of “national security.” This would subject U.S. citizens to Israel’s existing apartheid policies at the border — and serve as a blank check for the Israeli government to blacklist, profile and ban entry to U.S. citizens, especially of Palestinian, Arab or Muslim descent.
Meanwhile, Palestinian American and Muslim communities in the U.S. have organized and mobilized to demand action by the U.S. government for Asad’s death. Someone who had community ties in Milwaukee, his family and the Milwaukee’s Islamic community hosted an ‘azaa, or gathering to offer condolences to the family. His daughter, Hala Hamad, told The Washington Post, “We want a thorough investigation from the U.S. government and the U.N. because [Israel] can’t investigate their own crimes.” Ned Price had previously said they were going to reference Israeli investigations into the “incident.”
American Palestine advocacy organizations like American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights regularly ignite campaigns to lobby for condemnation or action against the killing, exile, imprisonment and torture of Palestinians within the homeland, who may be stateless or have varied national privileges. In lobbying for accountability and condemnation of the killing of Omar Asad, a U.S. citizen, it is imperative we demand accountability from the very source of funding for Israel’s war crimes — the United States itself. My organization, Americans for Justice in Palestine Action (AJP Action) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization advocating for legislation supporting the human rights of the Palestinian people. AJP Action has mobilized its constituents through an action alert, which makes it easy for constituents to directly contact their Congress members and demand the U.S. State Department pursue an independent investigation, per the family’s wishes. Around 3,000 emails were sent from constituents to their members of Congress demanding accountability for Omar Asad. Almost 200 tweets were sent, and more than 1,300 supporters engaged in the cause.
Although we have yet to see the fruits of these actions in terms of any solid government action, Rep. Marie Newman (D-Illinois), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) have issued public statements expressing remorse or condemnation of the killing of Asad. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), had also expressed condolences on Twitter.
As AJP Action Advocacy Director Ayah Ziyadeh told Truthout,
"It is only January 19, and six Palestinians have been killed this year. We as American constituents demand our tax dollars not fund extrajudicial killings, land theft, home demolitions and other war crimes in Palestine. Omar Asad’s family deserves accountability and justice. We as Palestinian Americans demand an end to the funding of the apartheid, occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. As an enabler of these unlawful killings and the illegal occupation of Palestine, the U.S. must end its complicity and begin holding Israel accountable for its actions."
The Palestinian American community and the Palestine solidarity movement at large stands with Omar Abdulmajeed Asad and his family, and we commit to working toward their requisite justice and successive peace.
The Archdiocese of New York has asked the Vatican to consider the social activist for sainthood. But church leaders are not entirely comfortable with her politics.
By Liam Stack, Jan. 21, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/21/nyregion/dorothy-day-sainthood.html
Ms. Day protested nuclear testing with other Catholic Worker members in New York in 1958. Credit...Neal Boenzi/The New York Times
Hundreds of people gathered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to celebrate an important moment for Catholics in New York. Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivered a homily on the life of one of their own, Dorothy Day, a native New Yorker and anarchist writer and activist who died in 1980.
The sermon last month represented the end of a 20-year inquiry by the Archdiocese of New York on whether Ms. Day should receive sainthood, a question the Vatican will ultimately decide.
Many of her admirers, including her granddaughter, had hoped Cardinal Dolan would talk about her commitment to social justice for the poor and the oppressed and her opposition to war and capitalism. In 1933, Ms. Day — often described as both politically radical and theologically orthodox — founded the Catholic Worker Movement, which remains active around the world in the form of Catholic Worker houses, where members live for free and provide services to the poor.
But in his sermon, Cardinal Dolan described Ms. Day’s “far from sinless life.”
“I am not going to go into her story,” he told the audience. The important thing for them to know was that when she was 25 she became “kind of frustrated with her life.”
“She had done quite a bit of experimenting and drifting, and she’d be the first to admit her promiscuity,” the cardinal continued. “But she kept detecting an emptiness, a searching in her life. And after a lot of prayer and study, that led in 1925 to her baptism as a Catholic.”
His remarks skimmed over her push to change policies that affected the poor and her political beliefs — adding fuel to the longstanding anxiety among Catholic Workers that the Catholic hierarchy may dilute or obscure her message even as it considers elevating her.
After Mass, Martha Hennessy, Ms. Day’s granddaughter, was distraught. “He has reduced her to ‘she lived a life of sexual promiscuity and she dabbled in communism,’” she said. “What worse enemy could we have, saying those things about her?” Ms. Hennessy is active in the movement and did a reading at the Mass. “We have got to focus on her policies, we have got to focus on her practices.”
Ms. Day loved the church and its rituals and devoted her life to the Gospel, which she felt drove her to renounce material possessions and commit herself to a life of activism on behalf of the poor, a devotion to pacifism and opposition to both capitalism and communism. She often described herself as an anarchist.
“One thing about Dorothy Day that I love is that she makes everyone uncomfortable,” said the Rev. Anthony Andreassi, the principal of Regis High School in Manhattan, who led a prayer service outside Ms. Day’s childhood home in Brooklyn one day last month.
“The Catholic Church, like everything else, is so divided between liberals and conservatives,” he said. “She is one of these people who both the left and the right find so much richness in.”
Ms. Day was born in Brooklyn Heights in 1897 and grew up in a working-class family. Her parents were Protestants who rarely attended church, though even as a child she had an interest in spirituality and Scripture. The family moved to Northern California and later Chicago for her father’s job as a sportswriter, and Ms. Day returned to New York as an adult.
She spent much of her 20s writing for leftist newspapers in New York City and living a bohemian, barhopping life in Lower Manhattan. She dated writers and artists, including the communist author Mike Gold, became close with the playwright Eugene O’Neill and later had an illegal abortion and attempted suicide.
Ms. Day converted to Catholicism after the birth of her daughter, Tamar, whose baptism alienated Ms. Day from some of her activist friends.
In 1932, a Catholic magazine sent her to cover the Hunger March in Washington, D.C., an effort to bring the Roman Catholic Church in the United States into the economic and social upheavals of the 1930s. It was also a response of sorts to communism, which offered a similar, but militantly atheist, critique of economic exploitation.
That assignment inspired Ms. Day to begin a leftist newspaper, The Catholic Worker, which began selling in 1933 for one penny and has not raised its price since.
With the help of the French theologian Peter Maurin, she turned the newspaper into a full-fledged movement: Catholic Workers, as members of the movement are known, commit themselves to lives of voluntary poverty, service to the poor and the oppressed and peaceful activism on their behalf.
The movement occupies a complicated position in the Catholic Church, whose American leadership has become increasingly aligned with political conservatism since Ms. Day’s death. Cardinal Dolan himself is known as a conservative who delivered the opening prayer at the Republican National Convention in 2020.
“The Catholic Worker movement is all about asking yourself, if Jesus were alive today, who would his disciples be?” said Bob Roberts, 61, a worker who gathered with others at the movement’s house in the East Village on a recent winter morning. He assembled bologna sandwiches as members prepared to distribute food to the poor.
Ms. Day would be the first New Yorker made a saint since the 19th-century educator Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1975.
The process of making Ms. Day a saint started in the late 1990s, when Cardinal John J. O’Connor of New York began collecting information from those who had known her.
By 2002, the archdiocese had begun its formal inquiry into her life. Ten years later, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops unanimously voted to support the inquiry.
Its completion took nearly another decade, with the findings sent to the Vatican.
The next step in the process would be for the church to document two miracles that occurred thanks to Ms. Day’s intervention, after which she would be named a saint.
The church prefers for miracles to have some medical component — a terminally ill patient who makes a full recovery, for example — because it is relatively straightforward to document the before-and-after effects, said George Horton, an organizer of the canonization effort.
The process of identifying and verifying a miracle can take years, or it can happen quickly. Mr. Horton said the archdiocese had already received a number of letters from people who say that their prayers to Ms. Day resulted in miraculous events in their lives.
“We have some leads,” he said. In the interest of privacy, he declined to provide details about any of the leads that church officials viewed as most promising.
But what, Ms. Day’s supporters have asked, is the cost of sainthood? They question whether Ms. Day would have even wanted the designation.
“I think if she heard she was going to be a saint, her knees would buckle,” said Carmen Trotta, who has lived in the Catholic Worker house in the East Village since 1987 and occupies Ms. Day’s old bedroom.
Indeed, Ms. Day often reacted negatively when people praised her as saintlike.
“Don’t call me a saint,” she said in one frequently cited quip. “I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”
Her admirers also do not want her to be so easily digestible. “If people hear about Dorothy Day from the Catholic hierarchy, they might get a misimpression of her,” Mr. Trotta said. “She was a rare breed: a Catholic pacifist who didn’t believe in war, a suffragist, a member of the Anti-Imperialist League.”
Ms. Hennessy, her granddaughter, cited other people whose lives had been flattened to a single, often whitewashed message. She said she shared the concerns of many others in the Catholic Worker movement.
“Their mistrust has some legitimacy to it in terms of, you know, how do we treat Martin Luther King Jr.?” Ms. Hennessy said. “Are we really understanding the message he was trying to give us? And Mother Teresa, she got marginalized by becoming a patron saint against abortion when her whole life was about caring for the dying when nobody else would care for them. How did that get translated into anti-abortion?”
Beyond her discomfort with being called a saint, Ms. Day, who eschewed materialism, expressed concern about the use of church money for things like canonization, which requires years of painstaking work.
Indeed, the research process in her case has been expensive, costing an estimated $1 million, mostly because of the voluminous materials documenting Ms. Day’s storied life as a rabble-rouser and a prolific writer. In addition to work in The Catholic Worker, she wrote books, personal diaries, correspondence and even a short-lived lifestyle column for The Staten Island Advance newspaper.
She was also arrested on several occasions for nonviolent protest, including once at the age of 75. Her activism and writing drew the attention of federal law enforcement, which maintained a file on her in the 1940s.
Most of that expense has been accrued in the last seven years, when the effort spent $100,000 to $120,000 on average annually, Mr. Horton said. Much of that money has come from the Archdiocese of New York, he said, but it has also come from donors whom he declined to name.
Mr. Horton said free labor was contributed by theologians and historians, church officials who interviewed Ms. Day’s friends and relatives and a team of more than 100 volunteers who read and transcribed her works. More than 200 people have worked on the effort, he said.
“We have tried very much to emphasize her whole message, but sometimes it does get left out,” he said. “It has not been left out of the information that is going to Rome, I can tell you that.”
But far from being a paradox, he described the difference between Ms. Day’s political radicalism and the politics of the church as a source of excitement and hope.
“We call her a saint for our times because she gives us a way back to unity,” Mr. Horton said. “She crosses all the divisions in our society and our government and our church, and she calls us back to the essence of the Gospel. I think that is what is recognized by church leaders.”
Derek Chauvin sits in a prison cell. The other three officers on the scene when George Floyd was murdered now face a trial of their own.
By Tim Arango, Jan. 24, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/us/police-officers-culture-george-floyd.html
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ever since the murder of George Floyd almost two years ago on a South Minneapolis street corner, the overwhelming focus of attention from the public and the legal system has been on the police officer who killed him, Derek Chauvin.
Mr. Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder in a state trial last spring for kneeling on the neck of Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes. He also pleaded guilty to federal crimes of violating Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights.
But Mr. Chauvin wasn’t the only police officer there that day. Three others who were on the scene face a trial beginning Monday in a federal courthouse in downtown St. Paul, Minn., accused of willfully failing to intervene against Mr. Chauvin and help Mr. Floyd.
The case is an extraordinarily rare example of federal civil rights charges being filed against rank-and-file officers for not stopping the actions of a superior officer. Several experts say its outcome could have a greater impact on policing than even Mr. Chauvin’s convictions.
That is because the case is about a far more common aspect of police culture than Mr. Chauvin’s brutality: officers who do not intervene in the conduct of fellow officers.
Federal law requires police officers to intervene in the actions of other officers to stop constitutional violations, and courts have affirmed that obligation for decades. At the same time, police departments train officers to move against other officers to stop misconduct. But policing is highly hierarchical, and there is sometimes a stubborn culture of silence among officers when one of their own is accused of wrongdoing.
“That is far more common and insidious police misconduct than Chauvin’s extreme act of violence,” said Paul Butler, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a former federal prosecutor. “What these three defendants allegedly did and failed to do reflects police workplace culture that enables criminal acts committed by officers.”
If the three officers are convicted, “It would be an important step in dismantling the blue wall of silence when cops close ranks and refuse to intervene when they see another officer doing wrong,” Mr. Butler said.
Two of the officers on trial were rookies and on their first days on the job when Mr. Floyd, a Black man, was killed: Thomas Lane, 38, who was positioned on Mr. Floyd’s legs during the incident, and J. Alexander Kueng, 28, who was on Mr. Floyd’s back. The third officer, Tou Thao, 36, a veteran officer who was Mr. Chauvin’s partner and has a history of misconduct complaints, held back a crowd of bystanders who were growing distressed and angry over the murder they were witnessing in the fading daylight on Memorial Day 2020.
The term civil rights in this case does not involve race but the violation of Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights to be free of unreasonable seizure and to not be deprived of liberty without due process.
Race was rarely explicitly brought up in the murder trial of Mr. Chauvin, who is white, even as the case inspired the largest racial justice protests in generations and focused the nation’s attention on police brutality against Black people. In the federal trial, one of the defendants, Mr. Kueng, is African-American, Mr. Thao is Asian American, and Mr. Lane is white.
Mr. Lane, who twice during the episode asked Mr. Chauvin if they should turn Mr. Floyd on his side, is charged with one count of failing to provide medical aid to Mr. Floyd, a duty that police officers have under the law. Mr. Kueng and Mr. Thao face the same charge, plus a count of failing to intervene with Mr. Chauvin’s use of force.
The case is, “important because it centers the discussion on what do other people have a duty to do,” said Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor who is a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul, Minn. “To step up and not defer to wrongdoers. And that’s a central discussion in policing right now.”
Defense attorneys for Mr. Kueng and Mr. Lane, the two rookies, are expected to place the blame on Mr. Chauvin and argue that the pair were following the lead of their senior officer. Mr. Thao’s lawyer is likely to argue that his client was too busy dealing with the crowd to know what exactly was happening to Mr. Floyd, according to legal experts. All three still face charges in state court of aiding and abetting murder, in a trial scheduled for June.
To make their case, prosecutors will have to prove willfulness, a high standard under the law that implies some form of intent. In the past, federal prosecutors have been reluctant to bring these types of cases because of the difficulty proving willfulness.
“The basic idea is that the officer has to know he is doing something wrong,” said Rachel Harmon, a former prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division who now teaches at the University of Virginia School of Law. “Doing something with the intent to do something that the law forbids. He doesn’t have to be thinking specifically in constitutional terms.”
For decades, courts have recognized that police officers have a duty to intervene against other officers. Following the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers, departments, including in Minneapolis, have trained recruits to move against fellow officers when they see misconduct.
But federal criminal cases — either against officers who used deadly force or those who stood by and watched — have been rare. Underscoring the difficulty of proving willfulness, the Justice Department has declined to bring charges in some of the highest-profile police killings in recent memory, including over the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Tamir Rice in Cleveland.
One of the most well-known federal prosecutions of officers was the conviction of two police officers for the beating of King, after they were acquitted in state court. One of those convicted was a sergeant, Stacey Koon, who failed to intervene while other officers beat Mr. King.
At the state level, officers have also rarely been held to account for standing by when another police officer uses unlawful, deadly force. In the case of the police murder of Laquan McDonald in Chicago in 2014, the officer who shot him, Jason Van Dyke, was convicted of murder. But three other officers were acquitted on charges of lying about the shooting to protect Mr. Van Dyke.
One of the extraordinary aspects of Mr. Chauvin’s state trial was the number of officers who took the witness stand to disavow the actions of their former colleague. “To continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy,” said the Minneapolis police chief at the time, Medaria Arradondo, from the witness stand.
And outside the courtroom, law enforcement officials around the country cheered the convictions.
This time could be different. While prosecutors are expected to call officers to the stand to testify about the training the officers had on what to do when they see another officer using excessive force, the wider law enforcement community may have more sympathy for the three officers than they had for Mr. Chauvin, said lawyers who have been involved in legal cases against officers.
“Every cop out there is going to see themselves in their position,” said John Marti, a former federal prosecutor in Minnesota. “They are going to remember back to the day when they were a young officer and they had the old bulls running around probably using heavy-handed force. And they are going to remember that day and think to themselves, ‘There’s no way I would have stood up to my training officer.’”
Mr. Chauvin, for his part, will loom over the proceedings. When nearly 300 prospective jurors arrived at the federal courthouse here Thursday morning, one of the first things the judge told them is to disregard anything they heard about Mr. Chauvin’s crimes.
“The crimes that Mr. Chauvin pleaded guilty to are totally separate to those at issue here,” said Judge Paul A. Magnuson, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Reagan in 1981.
A jury of 18 people — 12 regulars and six alternates — was selected in one day last week, a sharp contrast to the nearly two weeks it took to pick a jury in Mr. Chauvin’s state murder trial. The panel in this case is overwhelmingly white, partly a reflection that in federal cases courts can call jurors from across the state, including from areas that are whiter and more conservative than the Minneapolis metro area.
Experts say it is only a remote possibility that Mr. Chauvin is called to testify, although in his plea agreement he acknowledged that he was “aided and abetted” by his fellow officers, and that he had never threatened them to “disregard or fail to comply” with department policies.
“You don’t want to have John Gotti cooperating against his soldiers,” Mr. Marti said. “You want his soldiers cooperating against John Gotti. You want to cooperate up, you don’t want to cooperate down.”
The WikiLeaks founder has argued that American prison conditions would be harmful to his mental health. He faces a lengthy sentence if convicted on espionage charges.
By Megan Specia and Charlie Savage, Jan. 24, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/world/europe/julian-assange-extradition-appeal.html
LONDON — A British court ruled on Monday that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal a decision that would allow for his extradition to the United States, where he would face charges under the Espionage Act in connection with obtaining and publishing secret government documents.
The latest twist in the long-running case comes after a High Court decision last month that Mr. Assange could be extradited, a reversal of a lower-court decision in a legal battle that has turned on whether prison conditions in the United States during his detention would be too harsh for his mental health.
Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett of the High Court, in announcing the ruling in a brief court appearance on Monday morning, endorsed a further appeal of the case to the Supreme Court on a narrow issue: The timing of when the United States provided assurances that Mr. Assange would be treated humanely in American prisons.
The Biden administration gave those assurances to the British government when the case was already before the High Court, after a lower court had considered the case and ruled that American prison conditions were too harsh to extradite Mr. Assange, citing his mental health and the risk that he could be driven to suicide.
The High Court did not endorse an appeal of the separate issue of whether those assurances were adequate and credible, which Mr. Assange’s legal team has also contested. Still, Stella Morris, Mr. Assange’s partner, claimed victory outside the Royal Courts in central London after the announcement.
“What happened in court today is precisely what we wanted to happen,” Ms. Morris said. “Make no mistake,” she added, “we won today in court.”
In preparing to appeal the High Court’s decision to permit the extradition, Mr. Assange’s lawyers, in keeping with British court procedure, first asked the High Court to certify that an issue within its own ruling was a “point of law of general public importance” — essentially meaning it is worthy of the Supreme Court’s attention.
The High Court’s decision that the timing issue meets that standard makes it more likely that the British Supreme Court will agree to take up any appeal, and Mr. Assange will now ask it to block his extradition, said Barry J. Pollack, an American lawyer for Mr. Assange.
Even as Ms. Morris and Mr. Assange’s legal team described the day’s events as a victory, they noted that he remained in detention. “Julian has to be freed,” Ms. Morris said, flanked by dozens of Mr. Assange’s supporters who had gathered outside the court. “And we hope that this will soon end. We are far from achieving justice in this case.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment.
Even if the Supreme Court declines to hear Mr. Assange’s appeal or rules against him regarding the assurances about his treatment, he has other options. His legal team could appeal to the High Court on other challenges to the extradition case, and the government would have the final word before he is extradited.
Last year, a lower court judge rejected claims from Mr. Assange’s legal team that the case against him itself was illegitimate, but nevertheless blocked the extradition request on the grounds that Mr. Assange might be driven to suicide if he were held in the austere conditions of the highest-security prison in the United States, citing his mental health.
The United States appealed that decision, and the Biden administration in October said that Mr. Assange would not be held in the American prison system’s harshest conditions for high-security prisoners. If he were convicted, it added, it would back any request he might make to serve any sentence in his native Australia. Last month, the High Court said that it was satisfied by those late-coming assurances, opening the door for the extradition of Mr. Assange.
The charges against Mr. Assange center on the 2010 publication of diplomatic and military files on his website, WikiLeaks, after they were leaked by Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst.
The hundreds of thousands of State Department cables and military files published by WikiLeaks revealed previously undisclosed information about civilian deaths in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the scope and limits of evidence against Guantánamo detainees, and hidden diplomatic dealings, among other things.
The indictments, which were handed down during the Trump administration, accuse Mr. Assange of participating in a criminal hacking conspiracy both by offering to aid Ms. Manning in covering her tracks on a secure computer network and by more broadly encouraging hackers to steal secret material and send it to WikiLeaks.
Prosecutors have also accused Mr. Assange of violating the Espionage Act by soliciting and publishing information the government deemed secret, charges that could raise profound First Amendment issues. A conviction on those grounds could establish a precedent that such journalistic-style activities — a separate question from whether Mr. Assange himself counts as a journalist — may be treated as a crime in the United States.
“He should not face criminal prosecution and decades in prison for publishing truthful information of great public importance,” Mr. Pollack said.
The trial is playing out in a British courtroom after Mr. Assange spent years holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, fleeing there in 2012 as he faced an investigation on accusations of sexual assault in Sweden. Those charges were eventually dropped.
He was ejected from the embassy in 2019, and on the same day, the United States unsealed an initial indictment against him on a hacking-related charge. Weeks later, he was charged under the Espionage Act, and has been detained in Belmarsh prison in London since 2019.
Supporters of Mr. Assange at the courthouse waved placards with his face and the message “Free Assange” as they cheered the small victory, but lamented that it would be likely to draw out his legal process for additional months.
Rebecca Vincent, who has been monitoring the extradition hearing for Reporters Without Borders and was in the courtroom on Monday, said the decision was a welcome one.
“This is positive because there is another point of review here in the U.K., there is another stage with the courts rather than politicians that could see extradition refused,” she said. “So we very much hope that is the outcome.”
Megan Specia reported from London, and Charlie Savage from Washington.
By Lameka Smith, Truthout, January 23, 2022https://truthout.org/articles/my-son-was-incarcerated-at-13-six-years-later-its-clear-the-state-failed-him/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=76701957-d087-4523-a689-c48d57f42bea
Amid a pandemic, the conditions at youth prisons have become all the more inhumane.
I know for a fact that there’s no one inside the Swanson Center for Youth or the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) looking out for the health and safety of my son. And now, due to the OJJ’s new no-visitation COVID policy, I can’t be there for him, either.
As COVID-19 numbers spike among children across the country, parents are understandably growing more and more worried about their kids. While families, teachers and lawmakers all struggle to navigate keeping young people safe amid a constantly evolving pandemic, one group of children gets increasingly neglected from care: those in the incarceration system. I should know — my son was incarcerated by the state six years ago at the young age of 13 and remains under the OJJ’s “care” at Swanson youth prison in Monroe, Louisiana.
Louisiana notoriously has one of the worst youth incarceration systems in the country. Amid a pandemic, the conditions at youth prisons have become all the more inhumane. At Swanson, where my son is held, the facility claimed that they kept up with sanitization, but my son was in the infirmary with COVID for three months, and they refused to share any information about his well-being. I later learned there were times he could not eat or breathe. I still worry about his general health because he has told me about mold in the showers, which makes it clear that the prison is not a clean or safe place. I’m sure every parent can understand how traumatizing is for me to not know the state of my child’s health.
Although the pandemic has worsened conditions in youth prisons, this abusive treatment has been ongoing since the moment my son was placed behind bars. I have seen him bruised and black-eyed during visits, and no one has been held accountable. He recently told me that he and the boys in his dorm had to barricade the door from other boys in Swanson who were trying to hurt them. He and his dormmates couldn’t sleep because they were too afraid. The proof is endless: The conditions at Louisiana youth prisons are unacceptable. There are countless reports of abuse and carelessness, which during the pandemic has led to COVID-19 outbreaks, and other gross mishandlings from the people who are supposed to be in charge of these young peoples’ safety. It’s no surprise then, that these conditions lead to youth attempting to escape.
Given Swanson’s history of horrific abuse, it’s unfathomable to me that Gov. John Bel Edwards could support the rebuilding of the prison. Reports of these instances of violence and abuse are swept under the rug so that the OJJ can open a new facility and grow their profit. Our economy in Monroe is invested in these prisons, but our community deserves better jobs. I have personally tried to talk with numerous people at the OJJ and other officials, including the director of Swanson, but they refuse to be held accountable for their cruelty or try to reimagine our economy.
We have known for a long time that youth prisons are ineffective at keeping communities any safer, but we continue to waste money on them. When state recidivism rates are commonly as high as 75 percent, there’s no question that youth prisons are not the rehabilitative places they claim to be. There are no GED programs, mental health services, job opportunities, skills training or preparation for life after incarceration. Kids are also largely unable to communicate with their families, and when they can, it is always under the supervision of Swanson guards, who are often undertrained to make up for staff shortages. These are the same staff members who physically abused my son. How are we supposed to talk freely when they’re listening to every word?
Most Americans across the country agree that youth prisons are not the answer: Seventy-eight percent of Americans support providing financial incentives for states and municipalities to invest in alternatives to youth incarceration in the communities most affected by youth prisons, such as intensive rehabilitation, education, job training, community services, and programs that provide youth the opportunity to repair harm to victims and to provide communities with life-affirming work. We should be putting our well-being first instead of falling on “tough on crime” approaches that disproportionately lock up Black kids more than their white peers.
My son deserves to be kept safe from abuse, illness and unnecessary cruelty. Young people need mental health services, supportive housing and fair access to education to mitigate crime by attacking the root causes. Swanson, like all youth prisons, only serves to punish kids for their mistakes, not help them grow and learn. We need to shut them down now and rebuild our systems in a way that actually helps our children.
The research could have policy implications as President Biden pushes to revive his proposal to expand the child tax credit.
By Jason DeParle, Published Jan. 24, 2022, Updated Jan. 25, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/us/politics/child-tax-credit-brain-function.html
WASHINGTON — A study that provided poor mothers with cash stipends for the first year of their children’s lives appears to have changed the babies’ brain activity in ways associated with stronger cognitive development, a finding with potential implications for safety net policy.
The differences were modest — researchers likened them in statistical magnitude to moving to the 75th position in a line of 100 from the 81st — and it remains to be seen if changes in brain patterns will translate to higher skills, as other research offers reason to expect.
Still, evidence that a single year of subsidies could alter something as profound as brain functioning highlights the role that money may play in child development and comes as President Biden is pushing for a much larger program of subsidies for families with children.
“This is a big scientific finding,” said Martha J. Farah, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, who conducted a review of the study for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where it was published on Monday. “It’s proof that just giving the families more money, even a modest amount of more money, leads to better brain development.”
Another researcher, Charles A. Nelson III of Harvard, reacted more cautiously, noting the full effect of the payments — $333 a month — would not be clear until the children took cognitive tests. While the brain patterns documented in the study are often associated with higher cognitive skills, he said, that is not always the case.
“It’s potentially a groundbreaking study,” said Dr. Nelson, who served as a consultant to the study. “If I was a policymaker, I’d pay attention to this, but it would be premature of me to pass a bill that gives every family $300 a month.”
A temporary federal program of near-universal children’s subsidies — up to $300 a month per child through an expanded child tax credit — expired this month after Mr. Biden failed to unite Democrats behind a large social policy bill that would have extended it. Most Republicans oppose the monthly grants, citing the cost and warning that unconditional aid, which they describe as welfare, discourages parents from working.
Sharing some of those concerns, Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, effectively blocked the Biden plan, though he has suggested that he might support payments limited to families of modest means and those with jobs. The payments in the research project, called Baby’s First Years, were provided regardless of whether the parents worked.
Evidence abounds that poor children on average start school with weaker cognitive skills, and neuroscientists have shown that the differences extend to brain structure and function. But it has not been clear if those differences come directly from the shortage of money or from related factors like parental education or neighborhood influences.
The study released on Monday offers evidence that poverty itself holds children back from their earliest moments.
“This is the first study to show that money, in and of itself, has a causal impact on brain development,” said Dr. Kimberly G. Noble, a physician and neuroscientist at Teachers College, Columbia University, who helped lead the study.
Dr. Noble and colleagues from six universities recruited a thousand mother-infant pairs within days of the babies’ birth and randomly divided the families into two groups. One group received a nominal $20 a month and another received $333.
Using electroencephalograms, or EEG tests, to evaluate the children at age 1, the researchers found that those in the high-cash group had more of the fast brain activity other research has linked to cognitive development than those in the low-cash group. The differences were statistically significant by most, but not all, measures and were greatest in parts of the brain most associated with cognitive advancement.
The payments will continue until the children are at least 4 years old, and the researchers plan further tests.
Researchers are still trying to determine why the money altered brain development. It could have purchased better food or health care; reduced damaging levels of parental stress; or allowed mothers to work less and spend more time with their infants.
The question of whether cash aid helps or hurts children is central to social policy. Progressives argue that poor children need an income floor, citing research that shows even brief periods of childhood poverty can lead to lower adult earnings and worse health. Conservatives say unconditional payments erode work and marriage, increasing poverty in the long run.
President Bill Clinton changed the Democratic Party’s stance a quarter-century ago by abolishing welfare guarantees and shifting aid toward parents who work. Though child poverty subsequently fell to record lows, the reasons are in dispute, and rising inequality and volatility have revived Democratic support for subsidies.
There are a variety of public and private programs underway in the United States to measure the effects of a guaranteed income on poor families, and many other rich countries offer broad children’s allowances without condition.
The temporary expansion of the child tax credit, passed last year, offered subsidies to all but the richest parents at a one-year cost of more than $100 billion. Representative Suzan DelBene, Democrat of Washington, said the study strengthened the case for the aid by showing that “investing in our children has incredible long-term benefits.”
Greg J. Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine, who was one of nine co-authors of the study, said he hoped the research would refocus the debate, which he said was “almost always about the risks that parents might work less or use the money frivolously” toward the question of “whether the payments are good for kids.”
But a conservative welfare critic, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, argued that the study vindicated stringent welfare laws, which he credited with reducing child poverty by incentivizing parents to find and keep jobs.
“If you actually believe that child poverty has these negative effects, then you should not be trying to restore unconditional cash aid,” he said. “You certainly don’t want to go in the business of reversing welfare reform.”
Economists and psychologists once dominated studies of poor children, but neuroscientists have increasingly weighed in. Over the past 15 years, they have shown that poor children on average differ from others in brain structure and function, with the disparities greatest for the poorest children.
EEG tests have found differences in electrical activity. Magnetic resonance imaging, or M.R.I.s, have shown differences in the size of the cerebral cortex, especially in areas linked to language development and executive functioning. One study found differences in cerebral cortex size may account for up to 44 percent of the achievement gap between high- and low-income adolescents.
As with any group differences, averages do not predict individual outcomes. Many other factors beyond brain features influence cognitive development, and many low-income children thrive.
To test the effects of cash aid, Baby’s First Years raised more than $20 million from public and private sources, including the National Institutes of Health. Researchers recruited participants from maternity wards in New York City, Minneapolis-St. Paul and the metro areas of New Orleans and Omaha, randomly assigning them to the high- and low-payment groups.
The families had average incomes of about $20,000, below the official poverty line for an average-sized family, meaning those who received $333 a month experienced an income gain of approximately 20 percent. The mothers were told they could use the money as they wished.
The researchers predicted that children in the high-cash group would show more high-frequency brain activity than those in the low-cash group and less low-frequency activity. Previous research has found such patterns are associated with higher cognitive skills and fewer attention problems.
The results largely conformed to predictions, with the children who received the higher grants showing more of the fast brain activity (though no differences in slow brain activity).
The scientists wrote that the money “appeared” to cause the changed brain patterns, though they were less equivocal in interviews. Dr. Noble said the evidence, though strong, was not “airtight,” in part because the coronavirus pandemic allowed them to test only 435 infants.
John Gabrieli, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the evidence that cash aid altered brain activity was persuasive and “very important scientifically,” though he added, “We want to see if these differences result in improvements to cognition.”
While the size of the recorded differences are modest (about a fifth of a standard deviation), the researchers said they were comparable to those produced by the average school experiment, like giving children tutors. While those services are often hard to administer, they added, cash can be distributed on a mass scale.
Katherine Magnuson, a co-author of the study who directs the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin, said she was surprised that only a year’s worth of aid made a difference. “It shows how sensitive the brain is to environments,” she said.
Critics of unrestricted cash aid often warn that families will waste or abuse it. But Lisa A. Gennetian, an economist at Duke University and a co-author of the study, said the results indicated that parents could be trusted to make good decisions. “For one family, that might be food; for another, it might be housing,” she said. Additional research will examine how parents spent the money.
Unlike last year’s expansion of the child tax credit, the experimental payments were narrowly targeted to poor newborns, which would make it less costly to replicate and possibly ease conservatives’ concerns about deterring work.
One critic of the broader payments, Angela Rachidi of the American Enterprise Institute, said the study suggested the importance of infant bonding. Should the initial results hold up, she said, they could lend support for policies that help mothers spend more time with their newborns, including paid leave.
But any cash aid, she said, should be “targeted to those with low incomes, time limited, and not erode work incentives in the long term.”
By Maia Szalavitz, January 26, 2022
Ms. Szalavitz writes about addiction and public policy.
Morgan Godvin, who is in recovery, is part of a council in Oregon overseeing how funding for addiction treatment is distributed. Credit...Ricardo Nagaoka for The New York Times
Morgan Godvin arrived at the Multnomah County Inverness jail in Oregon in June 2013. She had volunteered to be locked up during a drug-court appearance for felony heroin possession. Like many Americans, she believed that incarceration would help her recover. But when she requested her prescribed addiction medication, the nurse “just laughed,” she said. Ms. Godvin was denied the gold standard treatment for opioid use disorder and was left to kick cold turkey.
Almost 10 years later, after having served four years for various drug-related convictions, Ms. Godvin is putting her painful experience to use. She’s been in recovery since 2015 and now sits on a state council helping to oversee Oregon’s sweeping decriminalization of drug possession, which passed as a ballot measure by a 58 percent majority vote in 2020. The idea is to have the people most harmed by the war on drugs — like those with addiction and people of color — help lead a peaceful resolution.
Today, people like Ms. Godvin who are caught in Oregon with personal-use amounts of heroin, methamphetamine or other drugs receive the equivalent of a traffic ticket, which carries a $100 fine. The fee can be waived by undergoing a health screening in which treatment may be recommended but not required. Selling or carrying quantities beyond those allowed for personal use can still result in prison time.
By decriminalizing personal-use drug possession, Oregon has become the first state to acknowledge that it is impossible to treat addiction as a disease and a crime simultaneously. This kind of model is urgently needed in the United States, where street fentanyl is the leading cause of death among people ages 18 to 45, and where sending people to jail for using drugs has failed to prevent the worst addiction and overdose crisis in American history.
Criminalization supercharges addiction stigma, and stigma is one of the biggest obstacles to recovery. Stigma is such a major roadblock that most organizations working to combat addiction have large initiatives focused on addressing it. “I think the biggest killer out there is stigma,” former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams once said in a speech about opioid addiction. “Stigma keeps people in the shadows. Stigma keeps people from coming forward and asking for help.”
Try as experts might to destigmatize addiction through conferences and calls for the use of more respectful language, stigma and a criminalization approach to drugs cannot be divorced. One of the fundamental goals of making drug possession into a crime is, after all, to deter this behavior by shaming and punishing lawbreakers.
To reduce stigma and improve the addiction crisis, drug policy must be liberated from the idea that without criminal penalties, no one would ever quit drugs. Because far from spurring recovery, arrest, incarceration and having a criminal record can exacerbate drug problems. Ms. Godvin’s story is a case in point.
“Within about nine months of the first time I was in jail, my injections spiraled so much worse,” she said. Another arrest had gotten her fired from her job. This is despite the fact that research shows that being unemployed worsens addiction, while employment improves the odds of recovery.
Further, because possession of even a tiny quantity of drug residue was a felony in Oregon at the time of Ms. Godvin’s arrests, she had to give up her dream of becoming a paramedic.
Over the course of covering drug policy for over three decades, I have heard hundreds of similar, or even worse, stories. While some people in recovery say prison helped them kick drugs, more describe dreadful conditions, ineffective treatments and traumatic experiences.
For example, over 80 percent of jails and prisons do not allow the use of methadone and buprenorphine, the only medications proved to reduce the death rate from opioid use disorder. Research shows that experiences like being denied medication while locked up deter people from seeking further help. Studies also find that drug incarceration increases the risk of overdose, suicide and disease. States with more drug arrests also do not have less drug use.
Such data has led Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds most of the world’s addiction research, to advocate decriminalization to improve drug policy. This is the first time I’ve heard such unequivocal support from that agency.
“The research is unequivocal that putting someone who is addicted into prison or jail actually exacerbates their condition and puts them at much greater risk for relapse,” she said.
During Oregon’s decriminalization campaign, some of the strongest opposition came from people in recovery who thought that criminal penalties should not be removed until a new treatment system was already in place. Some argued that the threat of prison is essential to motivate recovery.
But anecdotal claims about positive effects of incarceration are belied by the data. And in Oregon, the organizations that are receiving state funds to expand care recognize the challenge. To succeed, they must reform or replace rehabs that use a punitive approach and do not recognize that being treated like a criminal is an obstacle to seeking help.
“We’ve got to meet people where they’re at,” said Larry Turner, the president of Fresh Out, a prison re-entry program in Portland that primarily serves Black people. Mr. Turner is himself in recovery. His organization offers meals, housing, support groups and other aid. While some of the services (housing, for example) require abstinence, others do not. The idea is to attract people into recovery by building relationships, not making them feel bad about themselves.
“We support all paths to recovery,” said Fernando Peña, executive director of Northwest Instituto Latino in Portland and also a person in recovery. Like Fresh Out, Mr. Peña’s group offers a variety of options to help people move toward recovery, from offering clean needles to abstinence support.
It is too early to evaluate the effectiveness of Oregon’s approach. The new law went into effect last February, and about 90 percent of the funding for recovery services will reach providers only in the next few months. But in 2021 drug possession arrests dropped by about 75 percent compared with the number in 2019.
Critics note that the police aren’t issuing many citations for possession, and few who are cited are making the phone call to get the required treatment evaluation. Supporters, however, argue that reducing arrests and incarceration itself aids recovery and that creating a better system takes time.
“People who use drugs will no longer be quite as set apart from society,” Ms. Godvin said, “which immediately improves health problems, reduces stigma and increases their access and willingness to participate in services.”
Portugal, which is a model for Oregon’s changes, decriminalized drug possession in 2001 and expanded treatment. Heroin addiction rates, H.I.V. infections and overdose deaths declined there, while youth drug use rates stayed the same as in comparable countries with no policy change. American politicians would be singing hosannas if U.S. crime and drug use rates ever fell to the low levels now seen in Portugal.
As a result, Massachusetts and Vermont now have decriminalization bills under consideration, and activists are working toward a California initiative in 2024.
Supporters of these efforts know that if America wants to solve the overdose crisis, it must start treating addiction as the medical disorder that it is. The first step is to follow Oregon’s lead and stop treating it as a crime.
By Farhad Manjoo, Jan. 26, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/opinion/virtual-reality-simulation.html
Imagine that when your great-grandparents were teenagers, they got their hands on a groundbreaking new gadget, the world’s first fully immersive virtual-reality entertainment system. These weren’t those silly goggles you see everywhere now. This device was more Matrix-y — a stylish headband stuffed with electrodes that somehow tapped directly into the human brain’s perceptual system, replacing whatever a wearer saw, heard, felt, smelled and even tasted with new sensations ginned up by a machine.
The device was a blockbuster; magic headbands soon became an inescapable fact of people’s daily lives. Your great-grandparents, in fact, met each other in Headbandland, and their children, your grandparents, rarely encountered the world outside it. Later generations — your parents, you — never did.
Everything you have ever known, the entire universe you call reality, has been fed to you by a machine.
This, anyway, is the sort of out-there scenario I keep thinking about as I ponder the simulation hypothesis — the idea, lately much discussed among technologists and philosophers, that the world around us could be a digital figment, something like the simulated world of a video game.
The idea is not new. Exploring the underlying nature of reality has been an obsession of philosophers since the time of Socrates and Plato. Ever since “The Matrix,” such notions have become a staple of pop culture, too. But until recently the simulation hypothesis had been a matter for academics. Why should we even consider that technology could create simulations indistinguishable from reality? And even if such a thing were possible, what difference would knowledge of the simulation make to any of us stuck in the here and now, where reality feels all too tragically real?
For these reasons, I’ve sat out many of the debates about the simulation hypothesis that have been bubbling through tech communities since the early 2000s, when Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford, floated the idea in a widely cited essay.
But a brain-bending new book by the philosopher David Chalmers — “Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy” — has turned me into a hard-core simulationist.
After reading and talking to Chalmers, I’ve come to believe that the coming world of virtual reality might one day be regarded as every bit as real as real reality. If that happens, our current reality will instantly be cast into doubt; after all, if we could invent meaningful virtual worlds, isn’t it plausible that some other civilization somewhere else in the universe might have done so, too? Yet if that’s possible, how could we know that we’re not already in its simulation?
The conclusion seems inescapable: We may not be able to prove that we are in a simulation, but at the very least, it will be a possibility that we can’t rule out. But it could be more than that. Chalmers argues that if we’re in a simulation, there’d be no reason to think it’s the only simulation; in the same way that lots of different computers today are running Microsoft Excel, lots of different machines might be running an instance of the simulation. If that was the case, simulated worlds would vastly outnumber non-sim worlds — meaning that, just as a matter of statistics, it would be not just possible that our world is one of the many simulations but likely. Chalmers writes that “the chance we are sims is at least 25 percent or so.”
Chalmers is a professor of philosophy at New York University, and he has spent much of his career thinking about the mystery of consciousness. He is best known for coining the phrase “the hard problem of consciousness,” which, roughly, is a description of the difficulty of explaining why a certain experience feels like that experience to the being experiencing it. (Don’t worry if this hurts your head; it’s not called the hard problem for nothing.)
Chalmers says that he began thinking deeply about the nature of simulated reality after using V.R. headsets like Oculus Quest 2 and realizing that the technology is already good enough to create situations that feel viscerally real.
Virtual reality is now advancing so quickly that it seems quite reasonable to guess that the world inside V.R. could one day be indistinguishable from the world outside it. Chalmers says this could happen within a century; I wouldn’t be surprised if we passed that mark within a few decades.
Whenever it happens, the development of realistic V.R. will be earthshaking, for reasons both practical and profound. The practical ones are obvious: If people can easily flit between the physical world and virtual ones that feel exactly like the physical world, which one should we regard as real?
You might say the answer is clearly the physical one. But why? Today, what happens on the internet doesn’t stay on the internet; the digital world is so deeply embedded in our lives that its effects ricochet across society. After many of us have spent much of the pandemic working and socializing online, it would be foolish to say that life on the internet isn’t real.
The same would hold for V.R. Chalmers’s book — which travels entertainingly across ancient Chinese and Indian philosophy to René Descartes to modern theorists like Bostrom and the Wachowskis (the siblings who created “The Matrix”) — is a work of philosophy, and so naturally he goes through a multipart exploration into how physical reality differs from virtual reality.
His upshot is this: “Virtual reality isn’t the same as ordinary physical reality,” but because its effects on the world are not fundamentally different from those of physical reality, “it’s a genuine reality all the same.” Thus we should not regard virtual worlds as mere escapist illusions; what happens in V.R. “really happens,” Chalmers says, and when it’s real enough, people will be able to have “fully meaningful” lives in V.R.
To me, this seems self-evident. We already have quite a bit of evidence that people can construct sophisticated realities from experiences they have over a screen-based internet. Why wouldn’t that be the case for an immersive internet?
This gets to what’s profound and disturbing about the coming of V.R. The mingling of physical and digital reality has already thrown society into an epistemological crisis — a situation where different people believe different versions of reality based on the digital communities in which they congregate. How would we deal with this situation in a far more realistic digital world? Could the physical world even continue to function in a society where everyone has one or several virtual alter egos?
I don’t know. I don’t have a lot of hope that this will go smoothly. But the frightening possibilities suggest the importance of seemingly abstract inquiries into the nature of reality under V.R. We should start thinking seriously about the possible effects of virtual worlds now, long before they become too real for comfort.
A chunk of Antarctic ice that was one of the biggest icebergs ever seen has met its end near South Georgia. Scientists will be studying its effects on the ecosystem around the island for some time.
By Henry Fountain, Jan. 26, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/climate/iceberg-a68a-antarctica.html
Perhaps you remember iceberg A68a, which enjoyed a few minutes of fame back in 2017 when it broke off an ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. Hardly your everyday iceberg, it was one of the biggest ever seen, more than 100 miles long and 30 miles wide.
The iceberg drifted slowly through the icy Weddell Sea for a few years, before picking up steam as it entered the Southern Ocean. When last we heard from it, in 2020, it was bearing down on the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic, a bit shrunken and battered from a journey of more than a thousand miles.
Alas, ol’ A68a is no more. Last year, some 100 miles from South Georgia, it finally did what all icebergs eventually do: thinned so much that it broke up into small pieces that eventually drifted off to nothingness.
In its prime, A68a was nearly 800 feet thick, though all but 120 feet of that was hidden below the waterline.
Ecologists and others had feared that during its journey the iceberg might become grounded near South Georgia. That could have kept the millions of penguins and seals that live and breed there from reaching their feeding areas in the ocean.
That didn’t happen. New research shows that A68a performed more of a drive-by and most likely only struck a feature on the seafloor briefly as it turned and kept going until it broke up.
But the research also revealed another potential threat from the iceberg to ecosystems around South Georgia. As it traveled through the relatively warm waters of the Southern Ocean into the South Atlantic, it melted from below, eventually releasing a huge quantity of fresh water into the sea near the island. The influx of so much fresh water could affect plankton and other organisms in the marine food chain.
The scientists, led by Anne Braakmann-Folgmann, a doctoral student at the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling at the University of Leeds in Britain, used satellite imagery to monitor the shape and location of the iceberg over the course of its journey. (Like other large Antarctic icebergs, it was named according to a convention established by the U.S. National Ice Center, which is a bit less flashy than the one used for hurricanes.)
The imagery showed how the area of the iceberg changed over time. The researchers also determined its thickness using data from satellites that measure ice height. By the time it broke up, Ms. Braakmann-Folgmann said, A68a was more than 200 feet thinner overall.
A68a left its mark. The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment, estimated that melting in the vicinity of South Georgia resulted in the release of about 150 billion tons of fresh water. That’s enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool 61 million times over, the researchers said, although because the ice was already floating its melting did not contribute to sea-level rise.
Not only is the water fresh, not salty, but it also contains a large amount of iron and other nutrients. Ms. Braakmann-Folgmann is helping another group of researchers, from the British Antarctic Survey, who are trying to determine the ecological effects of the iceberg and the meltwater.
When the iceberg was near South Georgia, scientists with the survey were able to deploy autonomous underwater gliders to take water samples. On the island, they used tracking devices on some gentoo penguins and fur seals, to see whether the presence of the iceberg affected their foraging behavior.
Geraint Tarling, a biological oceanographer with the survey, said that preliminary findings from the tracking data showed that the penguins and seals did not alter foraging routes, as they might have had the iceberg blocked their way or affected their prey.
“At least in the areas of the colonies that we saw, the impacts from the iceberg itself are not as devastating as we first feared,” Dr. Tarling said.
But there is still much data to analyze, Dr. Tarling suggested, especially the water samples. A large influx of fresh water on the surface could affect the growth of phytoplankton, at the lower end of the food change, or it could alter the mix of phytoplankton species available, he said.
Complicating the analysis is that 2020, when the iceberg was nearing South Georgia, also happened to be a bad year for krill, the small crustaceans that are just above phytoplankton in the food chain.
Dr. Tarling said that although A68a did not become grounded, a few other large icebergs have in recent decades. Grounding and dragging of an iceberg can wreak havoc on ecosystems on or near the seafloor, he said.
And climate change could potentially lead to more grounding episodes. Warming is causing parts of the huge Antarctic ice sheets to flow faster toward the ocean, leading to more calving of icebergs that then travel north.
“What we’re looking at is a lot more movement of icebergs that could actually gouge these areas of the sea floor,” Dr. Tarling said.
Ownership of more than 500 acres of a forest in Mendocino County was returned to 10 sovereign tribes who will serve as guardians to “protect and heal” the land.
By Isabella Grullón Paz, Jan. 26, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/us/california-redwoods-native-american-conservation.html
A portion of the 523 acres of redwood forest in Mendocino County, Calif. Credit...Max Forster/Save the Redwoods League, via Associated Press
Tucked away in Northern California’s Mendocino County, the 523 acres of rugged forest is studded with the ghostlike stumps of ancient redwoods harvested during a logging boom that did away with over 90 percent of the species on the West Coast. But about 200 acres are still dense with old-growth redwoods that were spared from logging.
The land was the hunting, fishing and ceremonial grounds of generations of Indigenous tribes like the Sinkyone, until they were largely driven off by European settlers. On Tuesday, a California nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving and preserving redwoods announced that it was reuniting the land and its original inhabitants.
The group, the Save the Redwoods League, which was able to purchase the forest with corporate donations in 2020, said it was transferring ownership of the 523-acre property to the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, a group of 10 native tribes whose ancestors were “forcibly removed” from the land by European American settlers, according to a statement from the league.
The tribes will serve as guardians of the land in partnership with the Save the Redwoods League, which has been protecting and restoring redwood forests since 1918.
“Fundamentally, we believed that the best way to permanently protect and heal this land is through tribal stewardship,” Sam Holder, chief executive of the Save the Redwoods League, said in an interview on Tuesday. “In this process, we have an opportunity to restore balance in the ecosystem and in the communities connected to it.”
For over 175 years, members of the tribes represented by the council did not have access to the sacred land they had used for hunting, fishing and ceremonies.
“It is rare when these lands return to the original peoples of those places,” Hawk Rosales, an Indigenous land defender and a former executive director of the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, said in an interview on Tuesday.
“We have an intergenerational commitment and a goal to protect these lands and, in doing so, protecting tribal cultural ways of life and revitalizing them,” he added.
As part of the agreement, the land, known before the purchase as Andersonia West, will be called Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ (pronounced tsih-ih-LEY-duhn), which means “Fish Run Place” in the Sinkyone language.
“Renaming the property Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ lets people know that it’s a sacred place; it’s a place for our Native people,” Crista Ray, a board member of the Sinkyone Council, said in the statement. “It lets them know that there was a language and that there was a people who lived there long before now.”
According to the statement, Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ is a vital addition to conserved lands along the Sinkyone coast, which is about five hours north of San Francisco. The newly acquired land sits west of the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park and north of the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness, another protected area, which was acquired by the Sinkyone Council in 1997.
The council’s goal, Mr. Rosales explained, is to connect and expand the redwood forests in the area, which are ecologically and culturally linked, to repair “components of an ecosystem that has been fragmented and that has been threatened” by colonial settlement.
Redwood trees aren’t the only endangered species in the forest. The land is also home to coho salmon, steelhead trout, marbled murrelets (a small seabird) and northern spotted owls — all listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Since 2006, the Redwoods League had been in conversations with a California logging family who had owned the land for generations. Mr. Holder explained that after years of building a relationship with the family, the league was able to purchase the land in 2020 for $3.55 million. The money for the purchase was donated by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company as part of its program to mitigate environmental damage.
The Redwoods League still retains an easement on the property. “Our goal is to just make sure that we are adding to adding capacity and support for the council as they advance their own stewardship and restoration goals,” Mr. Holder explained.
This is the second time the Save the Redwoods League has donated land to the council. In 2012, it transferred a 164-acre property north of Tc’ih-Léh-Dûñ, known as Four Corners, to the Sinkyone.
To Mr. Rosales, the importance of piecing together these culturally important lands is not only the conservation of nature, but also allowing tribes to have a stronger connection with their ancestors.
“The descendants of those ancestors are among us today in the member tribes,” Mr. Rosales said. “There are families that trace their lineage to this place, essentially, and the surrounding vicinity. They are connected to their ancestors, and this is a way of reaffirming that.”