Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, June 25, 2022

For Immediate Release                                                           


Press Contact: Herb Mintz (415) 759-9679


LaborFest 2022 presents


1934 San Francisco General Strike


Walk and Presentation by Gifford Hartman


Sunday, July 3rd at 12 noon PDT


LaborFest 2022 continues its 29th annual festival with a labor history walk and presentation by Gifford Hartmann that highlights the remarkable history of the San Francisco General Strike of 1934.


Participants will meet at the Harry Bridges Plaza Tower to the south, Embarcadero at Market in San Francisco. 


No registration is necessary.  Admission is free. 


Eighty-eight years ago, a great battle took place between striking workers and the police and National Guard along the waterfront alongside the piers of San Francisco’s Embarcadero. We will look at the causes of the 1934 General Strike, why it was successful, and how the issues from that strike are still relevant to working class people today. The current movement against police murder of black and brown people can draw lessons from the way strikers invited black workers into their ranks to prevent racist exclusion from breaking their strike. We explain how an 83-day West Coast Waterfront Strike exploded into the 4-day General Strike that paralyzed all commerce in San Francisco. This tour will visit the sites of those events.


 This two-hour free event is a walk around downtown San Francisco on Sunday, July 3rd, beginning at 12 noon PDT.  Please dress appropriately.


For more information: https://laborfest.net/event/1934-san-francisco-general-strike-walk-presentation-by-gifford-hartman/


Events are subject to change or cancellation due to COVID-19 related issues.  Check our website at https://laborfest.net/ prior to each event or for a calendar of all events.


LaborFest is the premier labor cultural arts and film festival in the United States.  LaborFest recognizes the role of working people in the building of America and making it work even in this time of COVID-19.  The festival is self-funded with contributions from unions and other organizations that support and celebrate the contributions of working people.


Find LaborFest on Facebook here: 




The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

“You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom." 

—Malcolm X



Doctors for Assange Statement


Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition

‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong 



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The doctors write:


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


They conclude:


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


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




Sign the petition:


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

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

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

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

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

Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.

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

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

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



Dear friends, 

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

Below are two ways to stream this historic webinar, plus 

• a petition you can sign

• a portal to send a letter to Governor Newsom

• a Donate button to support his campaign

• a link to our campaign website. 

Please take a moment and help. 

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

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


Here is the Facebook link:


Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:


Write to Governor Newsom’s office:




Ruchell’s Website: 



Charlie Hinton


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



Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


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





Laws are created to be followed

by the poor.

Laws are made by the rich

to bring some order to exploitation.

The poor are the only law abiders in history.

When the poor make laws

the rich will be no more.


—Roque Dalton Presente!

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

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







Screenshot of Kevin Cooper's artwork from the teaser.


 “In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper

A film by Kenneth A. Carlson 

Teaser is now streaming at:



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.



New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case

By Johanna Fernández

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

Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workers World, January 4, 2022


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Demand Mumia's Freedom:

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


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



A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Video at:


Screen shot from video.

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




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

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


Bury My Heart with Leonard Peltier

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

By Michael Moore

—VIA Email: michaelmoore@substack.com

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


President Joe Biden


Phone: 202-456-1111

E-mail: At this link



Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland


Phone: 202-208-3100

E-mail: feedback@ios.doi.gov


Attorney General Merrick Garland


Phone: 202-514-2000

E-mail: At this link



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


I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.

I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.

You may bury my body in Sussex grass,

You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.

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

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.



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



Union Membership—2021

Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Department of Labor

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

Technical information: 

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

Media contact: 

(202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov

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

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

Highlights from the 2021 data:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

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

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

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

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

Selected Characteristics of Union Members

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

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

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

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

Union Representation

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


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

Union Membership by State

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

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

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

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

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

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



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

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

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

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

Emergency Hotlines

If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities. 

State and Local Hotlines

If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for: 

National Hotline

If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:

Know Your Rights Materials

The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides. 

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

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective






1) Extradition Order for Julian Assange Approved by Britain

Priti Patel, Britain’s home secretary, approved the order. But Mr. Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who faces charges in the U.S. under the Espionage Act, will appeal.

By Megan Specia, June 17, 2022


An image of Julian Assange was projected in London in April to mark three years since his arrest and detention in the Belmarsh prison.

An image of Julian Assange was projected in London in April to mark three years since his arrest and detention in the Belmarsh prison. Credit...Victoria Jones/Press Association, via Associated Press

LONDON — The British government approved an extradition order on Friday for Julian Assange, the embattled WikiLeaks founder, confirming a court decision that he can be sent to the United States to stand trial on espionage charges, though his legal fight against the decision is not over.


While the order is a blow for Mr. Assange, whose case is seen by rights groups as a potential challenge to press freedom, he is expected to appeal the decision in a British court, and the government said he had 14 days to do so.


The Home Office, in a statement, pointed to a British court ruling that did not find “that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr. Assange.” Additionally, the statement said, the courts did not find that extradition “would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the U.S. he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”


“This is disappointing news that should concern anyone who cares about the First Amendment and the right to publish,” said Barry J. Pollack, a lawyer for Mr. Assange in the United States. “The decision will be appealed.”

The approval of the order by Priti Patel, the home secretary, is just the latest turn in a long-running court battle and comes after a British court ordered Mr. Assange’s extradition in April.


In its statement, the Home Office said that, if Mr. Assange wishes to fight his extradition, his next legal step would be to apply to the High Court for permission to appeal against the decisions of both a district judge and Ms. Patel to order it.


In 2019, Mr. Assange was charged in the United States under the Espionage Act in connection with obtaining and publishing classified government documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on WikiLeaks in 2010. Those files were leaked by Chelsea Manning, a former military intelligence analyst, before being published by the site.


Throughout the prolonged legal battle against his extradition, Mr. Assange has remained in custody in London at Belmarsh prison, where he has been detained for nearly three years. Mr. Assange married his partner, Stella Moris, in prison this year.


“We are going to fight this, we are going to use every appeal avenue,” she said on Friday, adding, “I am going to spend every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free, until justice is served.”

Mr. Assange was arrested in London in 2019 after spending seven years holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in an effort to avoid detention as he fought extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in a rape inquiry. That case was later dropped.


Under current government guidelines, Ms. Patel is able to block extradition requests only in a small number of circumstances. Those include cases concerning people previously extradited or transferred to Britain from elsewhere, others involving people facing the death penalty, or those who might be charged with further, previously unannounced offenses after their transfers.


But if none of those issues were involved, Ms. Patel would have no reason to refuse an extradition request and would be obliged to comply, according to the Home Office.


However, Mr. Assange’s legal team will still be able to apply to appeal to Britain’s High Court on both Ms. Patel’s decision and potentially on a number of other points of concern about the U.S. request. The High Court will then decide which points Mr. Assange may appeal, if any. This process could take several months.


Once he has exhausted his options in British courts, Mr. Assange could also try to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.


One of that court’s rulings this week grounded a flight that was scheduled to take some asylum seekers to Rwanda from Britain. Since then, some lawmakers from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party have called on Britain to remove itself from the remit of the court, which is part of the Council of Europe rather than the European Union.


Rights groups have expressed worries that Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States could threaten press freedom, and when the court made a decision on his case, several organizations denounced the move.

“The Home Office’s decision to extradite Julian Assange exposes its complicity in undermining press freedom just as it claims to be a world leader on freedom of expression,” Quinn McKew, the executive director of Article 19, which campaigns for freedom of expression, said in a statement.


“It also sends a worrying message to the world that journalists, activists and anyone who exposes important truths about crimes — including those committed by governments and businesses — do not deserve protection for their rights to impart information and speak freely,” the statement added.


Several opposition lawmakers expressed their concerns about the decision, as did one senior Conservative lawmaker, the former cabinet minister David Davis.


“Sadly I do not believe Mr Assange will get a fair trial,” he wrote on Twitter. “This extradition treaty needs to be rewritten to give British and American citizens identical rights, unlike now.”


Stephen Castle contributed reporting from London, and Charlie Savage from Washington.



2) ‘I Feel Proud, and I Feel Mad as Hell’: Gloria Steinem on Ms. Magazine and Feminism Today

By Jessica Bennett, June 16, 2022

Ms. Bennett is a contributing editor in Opinion who writes on gender, politics and culture. Previously, she was The Times’s gender editor.


Illustration by Mel Haasch. Photograph by Nancy Crampton

Ms. magazine’s first stand-alone issue came out 50 years ago, in the summer of 1972 — a publication for women whose interests went “beyond the limits of home and husband.” It was the first mainstream magazine by and for women, and it counted Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich, Toni Morrison and Vivian Gornick among its early writers. Kathleen Hanna, the Bikini Kill frontwoman, used cutouts from her mother’s copies for early feminist art projects. Judy Blume, the children’s author, has said it helped her feel less alone. Some women hid it from their husbands; for others, it was a catalyst to leave them.


Advertisers scoffed at the idea of paying money to appear in its pages. The magazine was banned from some libraries, and some distributors refused to sell it on newsstands. At least one prominent male journalist snarked that the women would “run out of things to say.” Even President Richard Nixon thought it was preposterous — wondering, in a conversation with Henry Kissinger, how many people “give one shit” about Gloria Steinem’s feminist magazine.


The answer turned out to be millions. The magazine’s preview issue sold out in eight days and yielded at least 20,000 letters in response.


Ms. has faced its share of controversies over the years. The magazine was criticized as too radical but also not radical enough. There were jealousies and disagreements. Was Ms. doing enough for lesbians? For women of color? For rural women? Alice Walker — who would express her own controversial positions later in her life, including some considered to be antisemitic — resigned in 1986, dismayed by how white the magazine’s covers had become. (She would later return as a contributor.)


But for all its controversies — or perhaps because of them — those young issues of Ms. have never felt more prescient. Last month, The Times convened a handful of early Ms. editors and writers to reflect on the magazine’s founding and where the feminist movement is today. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


Why the name Ms.?


Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Ms. co-founder: I remember we considered “Sisters” but rejected it because people would think it was going to be about nuns. Another possibility was “Sojourner,” in honor of Sojourner Truth, the 19th-century African American women’s rights activist, but it sounded too much like a literal travel magazine. At one point, Gloria suggested “Bimbo.” She meant it as an ironic appropriation, but in those years, we didn’t have the luxury of irony. We ended up calling it Ms. because it described a woman without reference to her marital status — an equal analogue to “Mr.” The term “Ms.” already existed in secretarial manuals, which routinely counseled using “Ms.” when addressing a woman in a business letter in cases where it couldn’t be established for certain whether she’s married or single.


Janet Dewart Bell, Ms. contributor: My mother thought the title “Ms.” was absolutely brilliant — that it brought dignity, that it brought power and understanding of equality. She felt, even though she never used the term “intersectionality,” that it made women more alike than different.


Gloria Steinem, Ms. co-founder: It took something like 15 years for The New York Times to use it. I was “Miss Steinem of Ms. magazine.” When The New York Times finally changed, a whole bunch of us went to see Abe Rosenthal [a former executive editor of The Times] and gave him flowers. And he said the most infuriating thing, which was that if he’d known it mattered so much to us, he would’ve done it sooner. We just wanted to punch him. I mean, we had previously picketed him, because many other publications and newspapers were already using “Ms.” as the equivalent of “Mr.”


Cottin Pogrebin: That was a time when you felt that protest led to action, led to reaction and people changed and things changed and institutions responded.


One of the early covers of Ms. depicted the eight-armed Hindu goddess Kali, pregnant and crying as she tries to juggle work and household tasks. The accompanying story was called “The Housewife’s Moment of Truth” by Jane O’Reilly.


Cottin Pogrebin: Jane’s piece was such an earth shaker, in the sense that it was the “Click!” that so many homemakers needed. I never noticed, prefeminism, that both my husband and I went out to work and when I came home, I started dinner and he picked up The New York Times and sat down. Because my mind-set was so rooted in this norm that women make dinner. And I think for millions of readers like me, Jane’s piece woke them up to those assumptions.


Jane O’Reilly, Ms. contributor: I was, at that point, a divorced mother and freelance writer in New York. When we all picked topics to cover for the first issue, I picked housework. I thought I could make it funny. Maybe I had been irritated by a friend’s husband at dinner the night before, who had asked, “Does feminism mean I have to wash the dishes?” After two months of hard work, I had written a manifesto. How to make your children pick up their own laundry. How to persuade your husband to vacuum. How to make your family value your work and, essentially, you. Women still read it and write to me, thanking me. After 50 years. Not quite as swift a revolution as I hoped for.


Cathie Black, Ms. advertising director: When you think about how many women have been at home throughout the pandemic, taking on all of those old tasks, it’s like, “God, has nothing changed?”


O’Reilly: It was horrifying to me that it was assumed during the pandemic that the woman in the family would stop working or work under the most difficult circumstances because she didn’t make as much money.


Steinem: Theoretically, at least, during the pandemic, men have done more at home. I’m always the optimist, hoping that this experience has helped to make them see that babies are interesting and that housework is a lot.


Early issues of Ms. featured an argument for gender-neutral pronouns, a piece about the Black family and feminism, and a proclamation signed by 53 women, including Anaïs Nin and Billie Jean King, that “we have had abortions.” Were you ahead of your time, or has the country moved backward?


Steinem: I feel proud, and I feel mad as hell. We are still dealing with the same issues.


Cottin Pogrebin: My feelings are of frustration and rage and deep disappointment when I look at how far we’ve slid back on two things: reproductive rights and nonsexist child rearing and education. There was a period of time when we were reporting on nonsexist curricula and teacher training and biases in textbooks. And now the pendulum is swinging the other way, and books are being banned, and very rigid definitions of sexual socialization are again back in the public discourse.


I’m sad to say that abortion is still something people do not speak of comfortably. I went public with mine in The Times Magazine, and women came up to me and said, “How could you do that?” And I said, “Have you had an abortion?” And they’d say yes. And I’d say, “Well, that’s why we’re not getting anywhere. You will not stand up and become the face of it. You’re a person with four children. You should be the face of it.”


Alice Walker, Ms. editor: I’m very grateful for the strength of the argument for abortion that was in the magazine. Though it’s true that people tend to slide back, it’s also true that once you really open people’s awareness to a situation, it’s very difficult for them to slide back altogether. If the magazine and the women in the movement had not stood firmly all those years ago, I shudder to think how young women would be feeling today. They would have no backup, no history to look back to. So I really applaud the women’s movement and the magazine for standing really firm on abortion.


Dewart Bell: One of the things about Ms. that I most appreciated was the willingness to tackle all sorts of issues. My husband and I had a conversation some years ago with Letty, who was trying to give up her white privilege. And he said, “Well, you can’t do that. But what you can do is use your white privilege as you have done to advance racial and other kinds of justices.”


Steinem: The alliances between Native American women and Black women and white women on the question of how to achieve control of their own physical selves, whether it was on birth or fertility, are endless and ageless.


Cottin Pogrebin: Which reminds me of the fact that our magazine was pulled off the stands whenever we had a woman of color on the cover.


Steinem: In the South. Not everywhere, but in the South.


How difficult was selling ads for a feminist magazine?


Black: Advertisers didn’t want to see us. You could see this look on their faces, like, “Oh, my God, what’s going to happen to me?” A look like, “I don’t want my world to change.”


I remember when we got the Philip Morris account, which we were very excited about. There was an ad for Virginia Slims — Philip Morris, the parent company, was very proud of having a woman’s cigarette. And Gloria, in her steely way, said, “We can’t run that ad because it says, ‘You’ve come a long way, baby,’ and, well, we really have not come that far yet.” A day or two later, they called and said they would withdraw their advertising if we didn’t run those ads. But we stood by Gloria.


Steinem: That also illustrates why we became a foundation and ceased being a for-profit corporation, so we could raise funds in different ways.


How did you know you were making an impact?


Steinem: I remember once going off to try to publicize the magazine in California. And when I got there, someone called to say they couldn’t find it. I called in a panic to say, “It didn’t get here! It didn’t get here!” And it turned out it had already sold out. And that was the beginning of an understanding that we definitely had an audience.


Cottin Pogrebin: It didn’t just sell out in New York and L.A. and Chicago. It sold out in tiny little towns in Kansas and community colleges and all over the place. That gave us the first inkling that we were really onto something.


We were the repository for people who didn’t feel they had a connection to the women’s movement. And once they read Ms., they did, and they felt there was an address where they could write.


There were overstuffed mailbags of letters. What astounded me was how personal they were. I was used to getting letters from women, but this was different. This was gut level. This was blood and bone. The number of letters admitting to being an incest survivor blew me away. So when we started to write about subjects that were verboten in mass market women’s magazines, we knew that we were reflecting women’s real lives. It was all in the letter bag.


Steinem: And those letters we’ve saved. They’re now in an archive at Smith.


What was the Ms. office like?


O’Reilly: Nonhierarchical.


Cottin Pogrebin: Writers would bring their kids and know there was always a place for them. I had Rebecca Walker, Alice Walker’s daughter, on my lap half the time when she was in the office. I always loved to listen to her talk. She was a talker. My kids were in whenever they were on vacation. We created a physical tot lot.


And because I was the de facto family editor and I got the task of evaluating toys every year, my desk was often surrounded by toys. And, of course, that was a magnet for the kids.


Now I have a stroke when I go through toy stores where still everything is pink and blue. When you order a toy online, they say, “Is it for a girl or a boy?” They don’t say, “Is this a child who’s interested in nature or in bugs or in dinosaurs?” They say, “Boy or girl?” That was gone in the ’70s and ’80s. But that’s all slid backwards.


Walker: I remember my little daughter running around Xeroxing her hand a lot. Rebecca and Gloria had a really lovely relationship, and she liked to go and play with things on Gloria’s desk and possibly try on whatever beautiful thing she was wearing. So there was a very sweet feeling, for me, of feeling that my child was safe among all of these people who were quite different.


Steinem: It was wonderful for us who didn’t have children. There were children in our life. It was a gift.


Alice, one of your early articles for Ms. was a piece called “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” which is credited with helping revive interest in Hurston’s work. What did you see as your role at Ms.?


Walker: My world was very different, and I was always very aware of it. And so I brought what I needed to bring from my world to the magazine.


Steinem: You brought us South African writers, African writers —


Walker: And also writers from the South, you know, people who really live in a different world. You know, some women did graduate from scrubbing floors and raising too many children, but many women haven’t. And I was always very aware of that. And in my time there and the things that I chose to do, I wanted to make sure that those women were represented.


What do you say to young women when they ask you where we go from here?


Steinem: I don’t say to them; I listen to them. That’s the whole idea. I’m not lecturing them. I’m saying, you know, “What do you want to do? What do you want to be? And how can I help you?”


O’Reilly: So what do they say?


Steinem: Well, they’re quite specific, usually. “You can, you know, help us publicize this issue or this essay” or “We need a place to meet. How about your living room?”


Cottin Pogrebin: They sometimes ask me, as a person who had a family while being in the movement, “How do you balance it?” And one thing I say is just simply, “Don’t expect too much of yourself. Don’t drive yourself into the ground. Or get together with five other women and make sure you cover each other if you’re doing independent work and you need time off.”


Steinem: The companionship, right?


Cottin Pogrebin: The companionship in your struggle. It doesn’t occur to them somehow. Or the way it occurred to us that solidarity creates change. You know?


Dewart Bell: We have to really be very aware that there are people who are hungry for information, even though sometimes they’re tired. But we have to say it in a way, simplify it in a way that does not dumb down but it makes it accessible to people. People who don’t understand their history don’t understand that they have a future.


Cathie Black, a former chairwoman of Hearst Magazines and publisher of USA Today, began her career in advertising at Ms.


Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a founding editor of Ms., is a writer, lecturer and activist.


Janet Dewart Bell, an early Ms. contributor, is the author of “Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement.”


Jane O’Reilly wrote Ms.’s first cover story, “Click! The Housewife’s Moment of Truth.”


Gloria Steinem is an author and political activist and a co-founder of Ms.


Alice Walker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, was an early Ms. editor and contributor.


Cover images courtesy of Gloria Steinem.



3) Uvalde Officer Passed Up Shot at Gunman for Fear of Hitting Children

A police officer had a chance to shoot the gunman before he entered a school, according to a chief deputy sheriff. The officer declined to take the shot, fearing injuries to others.

By J. David Goodman, June 17, 2022

A makeshift memorial after a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead.

A makeshift memorial after a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead. Credit...Callaghan O'Hare for The New York Times

UVALDE, Texas — A city police officer armed with an AR-15-style rifle hesitated when he had a brief chance to shoot the gunman approaching a school in Uvalde, Texas, because he did not want to hit children, according to a senior sheriff’s deputy who spoke to the officer.


The fateful decision, which has not been previously reported, represented the second missed opportunity for officers arriving at Robb Elementary School to prevent a massacre by intervening while the gunman was still outside the school. Officials have said that an officer from a different department, the Uvalde school district police force, arrived early but drove past the gunman, not seeing him in the parking lot of the school.


The quick arrival of several officers on May 24 reflected the speed with which the initial response took place, and contrasted sharply with what would become a protracted delay in finally confronting the gunman after he began shooting inside a pair of connected fourth-grade classrooms.


It also made clear the agonizing decisions law enforcement officers had to make as they confronted the gunman, who was firing shots outside the school; the officer who arrived with a rifle had only seconds to make a decision, and feared that firing his weapon could have meant hitting children, the senior sheriff’s deputy said.


Two teachers and 19 children were fatally shot after the gunman entered the school, and 11 were wounded, including a teacher.


The police response is now the subject of at least three investigations by the Texas Rangers, the U.S. Justice Department and a special committee of the Texas Legislature. A local district attorney has also been involved in the state’s investigation and has been handling media inquiries; she did not respond to a request for comment on the new details about the earliest stages of the police response.


The Texas Department of Public Safety, which includes the Rangers, referred questions to the district attorney. The Uvalde Police Department, whose officer was said to have had line of sight on the gunman, did not respond to a request for comment.


The chair of the legislative committee, Dustin Burrows, said the department had not made any of its officers available to provide testimony but on Friday had promised to do so. The committee met in Uvalde on Thursday and Friday but heard from witnesses behind closed doors.


A central focus of the inquiries has been the one hour and 17 minutes that elapsed from the time the gunman entered the classrooms and began shooting at 11:33 a.m. until a team of Border Patrol agents and a sheriff’s deputy from Zavala County entered the rooms and killed the gunman at 12:50 p.m.


The investigations are now showing that several officers arrived at the school before the gunman ever went inside, rushing to the scene after the first 911 calls around 11:29 a.m. reported that a truck had crashed near the school and that its driver was outside shooting.


At least two law enforcement cars arrived in close succession at the school, according to investigatory documents reviewed by The New York Times. One was driven by an officer from the small police force that patrols Uvalde’s schools. Another arrived less than a minute later, at 11:32 a.m., with officers from the Uvalde Police Department.


At that point, the gunman was still shooting outside of the school.


Officials have said he was firing at the building and toward a nearby funeral home, but arriving officers believed in the moment that the gunfire was directed at them, said Chief Deputy Sheriff Ricardo Rios of Zavala County, who also responded to the shooting in the neighboring county.


“My understanding, after talking to several officers that were there, was that the gunman engaged two City of Uvalde officers when they got there, outside the building,” Chief Deputy Rios said.


He said the two officers, including one with the long gun, took cover behind a patrol car. They wanted to return fire, he said, but held off.


Chief Deputy Rios, recounting his conversation with one of the officers, said that he was surprised and replied with a blunt question.


“I asked him, ‘Why didn’t you shoot? Why didn’t you engage?’ And that’s when he told me about the background,” he said. “According to the officers, they didn’t engage back because in the background there was kids playing and they were scared of hitting the kids.”


In one of the initial 911 calls, at 11:29 a.m., a caller told dispatchers about the gunfire outside and also that there were children running, according to the documents. It was not clear where those children were or if there were others in the line of fire in those first minutes.


The chief deputy sheriff said that any attempt to shoot the moving gunman would have been difficult, and that the officer would undoubtedly have faced harsh criticism and possibly even a criminal investigation had he missed and hit a bystander in the distance, especially a child.


The chance passed “really quick” he said, perhaps in a matter of seconds.


“I’m not bashing him or anything. I get it,” he said. “The Ranger who took my statement even said: ‘It’s come to the point where we’re second-guessing ourselves shooting somebody because we’re scared. Every bullet has our names.’”


On the day of the shooting, Chief Deputy Rios raced to the school in Uvalde along with his boss, the sheriff of Zavala County, Eusevio E. Salinas. As they were going, they learned that one of their off-duty deputies, Jose Luis Vasquez, was already en route.


Deputy Vasquez eventually ended up on the team of officers who later stormed the classrooms and killed the 18-year-old gunman, Salvador Ramos.


At the time when the shooting began, Deputy Vasquez had been heading to the gym in his department truck, dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. He rushed to the school anyway, Sheriff Salinas said. His daughter was a student at Robb Elementary, the chief deputy sheriff said.


Sheriff Salinas said he and Chief Deputy Rios arrived at the school at some point after 12 p.m. to find a chaotic scene, with both uniformed law enforcement and plainclothes officers responding.


“I saw a guy in street clothes carrying a shotgun,” Sheriff Salinas said. “I immediately pointed my gun at him, but a female officer popped up right beside him, so I said, ‘Wait a minute, this might be an off-duty officer.’” (He later learned that the man was an off-duty Border Patrol officer who had been at a nearby barbershop and borrowed the weapon from the barber.)


He said officers had established a perimeter around the school, and he saw, beyond that, a truck belonging to Deputy Vasquez, its lights flashing. He said he and Chief Deputy Rios remained outside the building until after the gunman, who used an AR-15-style rifle in his attack, was killed.


“We were there for assistance. The radio was pretty silent. It was real strange,” the sheriff said. “There was neighbors across the street, a lady watering her plants, another man working on his yard. Like nothing. Like nothing.”


Sheriff Salinas said he did not realize until later that his other deputy had been part of the team responsible for killing the gunman. He still did not know how it ended up that way, he said. Deputy Vasquez declined a request for an interview.


Chief Deputy Rios said his fellow deputy and others had been pressing to go in earlier and confront the gunman. “He told me that they wanted to go in,” he said. “He was saying, ‘Let’s go in, let’s go in.’”


Investigators are still looking into the reason for the long delay.


State officials have said the incident commander was Chief Pete Arredondo, who leads the small school district police force and has jurisdiction over the schools. He said in an interview with The Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself in charge of the response. Through his lawyer, Chief Arredondo declined a request for an interview.


Documents reviewed by The Times show that several ballistic shields had arrived at the school by noon, but that Chief Arredondo had been focused on getting a key to the classrooms where the gunman was holed up.


It was not apparent from the documents or video reviewed by The Times that anyone had checked the doors to see if they were locked.


By 12:46 p.m. Chief Arredondo told officers in the hallway outside the classrooms, who included Deputy Vasquez, who was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and protected by a bulletproof vest, that they could go in. “If y’all are ready to do it, you do it,” Chief Arredondo said, according to a transcript of body camera footage reviewed by The Times.


The team of officers took a key that had been located, turned it in the door and entered, Chief Deputy Rios said, citing information from his fellow deputy.


“Joe says it like this, he goes: ‘Rick, it was quiet. I just scanned really quick, and I just heard the door squeaking open, creeeeeeek,’” said Mr. Rios, referring to a closet door inside one of the classrooms, Room 111. “‘And then he just started shooting at us, bop bop bop bop bop.’”


As the gunfire inside the classroom began, a Border Patrol agent with a ballistic shield lowered it to the ground to protect the team’s legs, Chief Deputy Rios said. Deputy Vasquez was just behind the Border Patrol agent, pointing his gun around one side of the shield.


Deputy Vasquez reported that after he had fired several shots, his gun jammed. But the other officers continued to fire, separated by only several feet from the gunman.


Immediately after the gunman’s death, other officers and medical workers rushed to help the wounded.


“I remember they had a small child and they were working on her, CPR, chest compressions, and taping her,” Sheriff Salinas said, adding that he had kept his distance. He did not know if the girl survived.



4) Why a Rhodes Scholar’s Ambition Led Her to a Job at Starbucks

Jaz Brisack became a barista for the same reasons that talented young people have long chosen their career paths: a mix of idealism and ambition.

By Noam Scheiber, June 19, 2022

Placards at a Denver rally this month in support of a union push at Starbucks stores.

Placards at a Denver rally this month in support of a union push at Starbucks stores. Credit...David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Most weekend mornings, Jaz Brisack gets up around 5, wills her semiconscious body into a Toyota Prius and winds her way through Buffalo, to the Starbucks on Elmwood Avenue. After a supervisor unlocks the door, she clocks in, checks herself for Covid symptoms and helps get the store ready for customers.


“I’m almost always on bar if I open,” said Ms. Brisack, who has a thrift-store aesthetic and long reddish-brown hair that she parts down the middle. “I like steaming milk, pouring lattes.”


The Starbucks door is not the only one that has been opened for her. As a University of Mississippi senior in 2018, Ms. Brisack was one of 32 Americans who won Rhodes scholarships, which fund study in Oxford, England.


Many students seek the scholarship because it can pave the way to a career in the top ranks of law, academia, government or business. They are motivated by a mix of ambition and idealism.


Ms. Brisack became a barista for similar reasons: She believed it was simply the most urgent claim on her time and her many talents.


When she joined Starbucks in late 2020, not a single one of the company’s 9,000 U.S. locations had a union. Ms. Brisack hoped to change that by helping to unionize its stores in Buffalo.


Improbably, she and her co-workers have far exceeded their goal. Since December, when her store became the only corporate-owned Starbucks in the United States with a certified union, more than 150 other stores have voted to unionize, and more than 275 have filed paperwork to hold elections. Their actions come amid an increase in public support for unions, which last year reached its highest point since the mid-1960s, and a growing consensus among center-left experts that rising union membership could move millions of workers into the middle class.


Ms. Brisack’s weekend shift represents all these trends, as well as one more: a change in the views of the most privileged Americans. According to Gallup, approval of unions among college graduates grew from 55 percent in the late 1990s to 70 percent last year.


I have seen this first hand in more than seven years of reporting on unions, as a growing interest among white-collar workers has coincided with a broader enthusiasm for the labor movement.


In talking with Ms. Brisack and her fellow Rhodes scholars, it became clear that the change had even reached that rarefied group. The American Rhodes scholars I encountered from a generation earlier typically said that, while at Oxford, they had been middle-of-the-road types who believed in a modest role for government. They did not spend much time thinking about unions as students, and what they did think was likely to be skeptical.


“I was a child of the 1980s and 1990s, steeped in the centrist politics of the era,” wrote Jake Sullivan, a 1998 Rhodes scholar who is President Biden’s national security adviser and was a top aide to Hillary Clinton.


By contrast, many of Ms. Brisack’s Rhodes classmates express reservations about the market-oriented policies of the ’80s and ’90s and strong support for unions. Several told me that they were enthusiastic about Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who made reviving the labor movement a priority of their 2020 presidential campaigns.


Even more so than other indicators, such a shift could foretell a comeback for unions, whose membership in the United States stands at its lowest percentage in roughly a century. That’s because the kinds of people who win prestigious scholarships are the kinds who later hold positions of power — who make decisions about whether to fight unions or negotiate with them, about whether the law should make it easier or harder for workers to organize.


As the recent union campaigns at companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Apple show, the terms of the fight are still largely set by corporate leaders. If these people are increasingly sympathetic to labor, then some of the key obstacles to unions may be dissolving.


Then again, Jaz Brisack isn’t waiting to find out.


The fight in Buffalo


Ms. Brisack moved to Buffalo after Oxford for another job, as an organizer with the union Workers United, where a mentor she had met in college also worked. Once there, she decided to take a second gig at Starbucks.


“Her philosophy was get on the job and organize. She wanted to learn the industry,” said Gary Bonadonna Jr., the top Workers United official in upstate New York. “I said, ‘OK.’”


In its pushback against the campaign, Starbucks has often blamed “outside union forces” intent on harming the company, as its chief executive, Howard Schultz, suggested in April. The company has identified Ms. Brisack as one of these interlopers, noting that she draws a salary from Workers United. (Mr. Bonadonna said she was the only Starbucks employee on the union’s payroll.)


But the impression that Ms. Brisack and her fellow employee-organizers give off is one of fondness for the company. Even as they point out flaws — understaffing, insufficient training, low seniority pay, all of which they want to improve — they embrace Starbucks and its distinctive culture.


They talk up their sense of camaraderie and community — many count regular customers among their friends — and delight in their coffee expertise. On mornings when Ms. Brisack’s store isn’t busy, employees often hold tastings.


A Starbucks spokesman said that Mr. Schultz believes employees don’t need a union if they have faith in him and his motives, and the company has said that seniority-based pay increases will take effect this summer.


One Friday in late February, Ms. Brisack and another barista, Casey Moore, met at the two-bedroom rental that Ms. Brisack shares with three cats, to talk union strategy over breakfast. Naturally, the conversation turned to coffee.


“Jaz has a very barista drink,” Ms. Moore said.


Ms. Brisack elaborated: “It’s four blonde ristretto shots — that’s a lighter roast of espresso — with oat milk. It’s basically an iced latte with oat milk. If we had sugar-cookie syrup, I would get that. Now that that’s no more, it’s usually plain.”


That afternoon, Ms. Brisack held a Zoom call from her living room with a group of Starbucks employees who were interested in unionizing. It is an exercise that she and other organizers in Buffalo have repeated hundreds of times since last fall, as workers around the country sought to follow their lead. But in almost every case, the Starbucks workers outside Buffalo have reached out to the organizers, rather than vice versa.


This particular group of workers, in Ms. Brisack’s college town of Oxford, Miss., seemed to require even less of a hard sell than most. When Ms. Brisack said she, too, had attended the University of Mississippi, one of the workers waved her off, as if her celebrity preceded her. “Oh, yeah, we know Jaz,” the worker gushed.


A few hours later, Ms. Brisack, Ms. Moore and Michelle Eisen, a longtime Starbucks employee also involved in the organizing, gathered with two union lawyers at the union office in a onetime auto plant. The National Labor Relations Board was counting ballots for an election at a Starbucks in Mesa, Ariz. — the first real test of whether the campaign was taking root nationally, and not just in a union stronghold like New York. The room was tense as the first results trickled in.


“Can you feel my heart beating?” Ms. Moore asked her colleagues.


Within a few minutes, however, it became clear that the union would win in a rout — the final count was 25 to 3. Everyone turned slightly punchy, as if they had all suddenly entered a dream world where unions were far more popular than they had ever imagined. One of the lawyers let out an expletive before musing, “Whoever organized down there …”


Ms. Brisack seemed to capture the mood when she read a text from a co-worker to the group: “I’m so happy I’m crying and eating a week-old ice cream cake.”

A black antifa T-shirt at the formal


Ms. Brisack once appeared to be on a different path. As a child, she idolized Lyndon Johnson and imagined running for office. At the University of Mississippi, she was elected president of the college Democrats.


She had developed an interest in labor history as a teenager, when money was sometimes tight, but it was largely an academic interest. “She had read Eugene Debs,” said Tim Dolan, the university’s national scholarship adviser at the time. “It was like, ‘Oh, gosh. Wow.’”


When Richard Bensinger, a former organizing director with the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the United Automobile Workers, came to speak on campus, she realized that union organizing was more than a historical curiosity. She talked her way into an internship on a union campaign he was involved with at a nearby Nissan plant. It did not go well. The union accused the company of running a racially divisive campaign, and Ms. Brisack was disillusioned by the loss.


“Nissan never paid a consequence for what it did,” she said.  (In response to charges of “scare tactics,” the company said at the time that it had sought to provide information to workers and clear up misperceptions.)


Mr. Dolan noticed that she was becoming jaded about mainstream politics. “There were times between her sophomore and junior year when I’d steer her toward something and she’d say, ‘Oh, they’re way too conservative.’ I’d send her a New York Times article and she’d say, ‘Neoliberalism is dead.’”


In England, where she arrived during the fall of 2019 at age 22, Ms. Brisack was a regular at a “solidarity” film club that screened movies about labor struggles worldwide, and wore a sweatshirt that featured a head shot of Karl Marx. She liberally reinterpreted the term “black tie” at an annual Rhodes dinner, wearing a black dress-coat over a black antifa T-shirt.


“I went and got gowns and everything — I wanted to fit in,” said a friend and fellow Rhodes scholar, Leah Crowder. “I always loved how she never tried to fit into Oxford.”


But Ms. Brisack’s politics didn’t stand out the way her formal wear did. In talking with eight other American Rhodes scholars from her year, I got the sense that progressive politics were generally in the ether. Almost all expressed some skepticism of markets and agreed that workers should have more power. The only one who questioned aspects of collective bargaining told me that few of his classmates would have agreed, and that he might have been loudly jeered for expressing reservations.


Some in the group even said they had incorporated pro-labor views into their career aspirations.


Claire Wang has focused on helping fossil fuel workers find family-sustaining jobs as the world transitions to green energy. “Unions are a critical partner in this work,” she told me. Rayan Semery-Palumbo, who is finishing a dissertation on inequality and meritocracy while working for a climate technology start-up, lamented that workers had too little leverage. “Labor unions may be the most effective way of implementing change going forward for a lot of people, including myself,” he told me. “I might find myself in labor organizing work.”


This is not what talking to Rhodes scholars used to sound like. At least not in my experience.


I was a Rhodes scholar in 1998, when centrist politicians like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were ascendant, and before “neoliberalism” became such a dirty word. Though we were dimly aware of a time, decades earlier, when radicalism and pro-labor views were more common among American elites — and when, not coincidentally, the U.S. labor movement was much more powerful — those views were far less in evidence by the time I got to Oxford.


Some of my classmates were interested in issues like race and poverty, as they reminded me in interviews for this article. A few had nuanced views of labor — they had worked a blue-collar job, or had parents who belonged to a union, or had studied their Marx. Still, most of my classmates would have regarded people who talked at length about unions and class the way they would have regarded religious fundamentalists: probably earnest but slightly preachy, and clearly stuck in the past.


Kris Abrams, one of the few U.S. Rhodes Scholars in our cohort who thought a lot about the working class and labor organizing, told me recently that she felt isolated at Oxford, at least among other Americans. “Honestly, I didn’t feel like there was much room for discussion,” Ms. Abrams said.


By contrast, it was common within our cohort to revere business and markets and globalization. As an undergraduate, my friend and Rhodes classmate Roy Bahat led a large public-service organization that periodically worked with unions. But as the “new” economy boomed in 1999, he interned at a large corporation. It dawned on him that a career in business might be more desirable — a way to make a larger impact on the world.


“There was a major shift in my own mentality,” Roy told me. “I became more open to business.” It didn’t hurt that the pay was good, too.


Roy would go on to work for McKinsey & Company, the City of New York and the executive ranks of News Corp, then start a venture capital fund focused on technologies that change how business operates. More recently, in a sign of the times, his investment portfolio has included companies that make it easier for workers to organize.


On some level, Roy Bahat and Jaz Brisack are not so different: Both are chronic overachievers; both are ambitious about changing society for the better; both are sympathetic to the underdog by way of intellect and disposition. But the world was telling Roy in the late 1990s to go into business if he wanted to influence events. The world was telling Ms. Brisack in 2020 to move to Buffalo and organize workers.


Reaching Howard Schultz


The first time I met Ms. Brisack was in October, at a Starbucks near the Buffalo airport.


I was there to cover the union election. She was there, unsolicited, to brief me. “I don’t think we can lose,” she said of the vote at her store. At the time, not a single corporate-owned Starbucks in the country was unionized. The union would go on to win there by more than a two-to-one ratio.


It’s hard to overstate the challenge of unionizing a major corporation that doesn’t want to be unionized. Employers are allowed to inundate workers with anti-union messaging, whereas unions have no protected access to workers on the job. And while it is officially illegal to threaten, discipline or fire workers who seek to unionize, the consequences for doing so are typically minor and long in coming.


At Starbucks, the National Labor Relations Board has issued complaints finding merit in such accusations. Yet the union continues to win elections — over 80 percent of the more than 175 votes in which the board has declared a winner. (Starbucks denies that it has broken the law, and a federal judge recently rejected a request to reinstate pro-union workers whom the labor board said Starbucks had forced out illegally.)


Though Ms. Brisack was one of dozens of early leaders of the union campaign, the imprint of her personality is visible. In store after store around the country, workers who support the union give no ground in meetings with company officials.


Even prospective allies are not spared. In May, after Time ran a favorable piece, Ms. Brisack’s response on Twitter was: “We appreciate TIME magazine’s coverage of our union campaign. TIME should make sure they’re giving the same union rights and protections that we’re fighting for to the amazing journalists, photographers, and staff who make this coverage possible!”


The tweet reminded me of a story that Mr. Dolan, her scholarship adviser, had told about a reception that the University of Mississippi held in her honor in 2018. Ms. Brisack had just won a Truman scholarship, another prestigious award. She took the opportunity to urge the university’s chancellor to remove a Confederate monument from campus. The chancellor looked pained, according to several attendees.


“My boss was like, ‘Wow, you couldn’t have talked her out of doing that?’” Mr. Dolan said. “I was like, ‘That’s what made her win. If she wasn’t that person, you all wouldn’t have a Truman now.’”


(Mr. Dolan’s boss at the time did not recall this conversation, and the former chancellor did not recall any drama at the event.)


The challenge for Ms. Brisack and her colleagues is that while younger people, even younger elites, are increasingly pro-union, the shift has not yet reached many of the country’s most powerful leaders. Or, more to the point, the shift has not yet reached Mr. Schultz, the 68-year-old now in his third tour as Starbucks’s chief executive.


Mr. Schultz has long opposed unions at Starbucks, but Ms. Brisack, for one, believes that even business executives are persuadable.


She recently spoke at an Aspen Institute panel on workers’ rights. She has even mused about using her Rhodes connections to make a personal appeal to Mr. Schultz, something that Mr. Bensinger has pooh-poohed but that other organizers believe she just may pull off.


“Richard has been making fun of me for thinking of asking one of the Rhodes people to broker a meeting with Howard Schultz,” Ms. Brisack said in February.


“I’m sure if you met Howard Schultz, he’d be like, ‘She’s so nice,” responded Ms. Moore, her co-worker. “He’d be like, ‘I get it. I would want to be in a union with you, too.’”



5) Apple Workers at Maryland Store Vote to Unionize, a First in the U.S.

Roughly two-thirds of employees at the store in Towson, Md., voted to join the union.

By Tripp Mickle and Noam Scheiber, Published June 18, 2022, Updated June 19, 2022


Customers picking up orders at the Apple Store at the Towson Town Center in Maryland in December 2020.

Customers picking up orders at the Apple Store at the Towson Town Center in Maryland in December 2020. Credit...Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Apple employees at a Baltimore-area store have voted to unionize, making it the first of the company’s 270-plus stores in the United States to join a trend in labor organizing sweeping through retailers, restaurants and tech companies.


The result, announced on Saturday by the National Labor Relations Board, provides a foothold for a budding movement among Apple retail employees who want a greater voice over wages and Covid-19 policies. Employees of more than two dozen Apple stores have expressed interest in unionizing in recent months, union leaders say.


In the election, 65 employees at Apple’s store in Towson, Md., voted in favor of being represented by the union, known as the Apple Coalition of Organized Retail Employees, while 33 voted against. It will be part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, an industrial trade union that represents over 300,000 employees.


“I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory,” Robert Martinez Jr., president of IAM International, said in a statement. “They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election.”


Tyra Reeder, a technical specialist who has worked at the Towson store a little over six months, said that she was “elated” with the outcome and that she hoped a union would help increase workers’ compensation; stabilize the store's scheduling, which has been strained by recent Covid-19 cases; and make it easier for workers to advance within the company.


“We love our jobs. We just want to see them do better,” Ms. Reeder said.


The outcome is a blow to Apple’s campaign to blunt union drives by arguing that it pays more than many retailers and provides an array of benefits, including health care and stock grants. Last month, it increased starting wages for retail employees to $22 an hour, from $20, and released a video of Deirdre O’Brien, who leads Apple retail, cautioning employees that joining a union could hurt the company’s business.


Apple declined to comment.


Employees in Towson said in a video produced by the website More Perfect Union ahead of the union vote that Apple’s anti-union campaign there was “nasty” and included management telling workers that unions once prohibited Black employees from joining their ranks. In the weeks ahead of the vote, Ms. O’Brien visited the store and thanked everyone for their hard work.


Soon after, employees said their managers began encouraging staff to air their concerns in meetings and help come up with solutions to their grievances. They also started to pull employees into one-on-one meetings where managers highlighted the cost of union dues, said Eric Brown, a Towson employee active in the union effort.


Earlier this month, employees at a store in Atlanta abandoned a planned election when support for the union fizzled after Apple’s moves to increase wages and highlight the benefits it offered. The union organizers in Atlanta have filed a formal charge with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing Apple of requiring workers to listen to anti-union messages during mandatory meetings. The board has not yet determined if the charge has merit.


Ms. Reeder said that workers in Atlanta had helped prepare union supporters at the Towson store to defuse the company’s talking points. “We kind of got some insight from the Atlanta store on things that were coming,” she said, citing the company’s suggestions that employees could lose certain benefits during a contract negotiation if they unionized.


“For that to happen, a majority of us have to agree,” Ms. Reeder added. “I don’t think any of us would agree to lose something we love dearly, that benefits us.”


At Starbucks, one of the companies where organizers have gained the most momentum, employees credited a vote to organize at a store in Buffalo with helping to spur other stores to file for union elections. Since that vote in December, more than 150 of the company’s roughly 9,000 corporate-owned stores in the U.S. have voted to unionize, according to the N.L.R.B.


Workers at stores that later unionized reached out to employees in Buffalo for advice on how to navigate the process.


“Workers gain interest and courage if workers elsewhere prevail,” said William Gould, a law professor at Stanford University and author of “For Labor to Build Upon: Wars, Depression and Pandemic.” “Many watch to see: Can workers succeed? Will they band together? If the answer is affirmative, it will encourage other workers to take a step toward collective bargaining.”


The ability of workers to win a contract may hinge on whether the campaign spreads to other stores. Union supporters at Starbucks have said that one of their largest sources of leverage over the company is the fact that they continue to win elections around the country.


Amazon workers who helped unionize a Staten Island warehouse in April have also said they would benefit if more warehouses followed suit. The company is challenging the outcome of that vote before the labor board. With only one U.S. location that has formally unionized, the company can focus resources on opposing the union there.


Apple employees are also organizing at the Grand Central Terminal store in New York and a store in Louisville, Ky. Those stores are building support before they ask for an election. Organizers in Atlanta have said that they plan to revive their election in the future.



6) Third Man Arrested in Amazon Slayings of Journalist and Activist

The police in Brazil said on Saturday that they had arrested another person connected to the deaths of Dom Phillips and Bruno Araújo Pereira, and said the men been shot to death.

By Ana Ionova, June 18, 2022


A protest by members of the Guarani indigenous community demanding justice for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in São Paulo on Saturday.

A protest by members of the Guarani indigenous community demanding justice for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in São Paulo on Saturday. Credit...Rodrigo Paiva/Getty Images

RIO DE JANEIRO — A third person was arrested on Saturday in connection with the killings of a British journalist and a Brazilian expert on Indigenous peoples who went missing while deep in the Amazon nearly two weeks ago, the police said before sharing grisly details about how the pair was murdered.


The disappearance of Dom Phillips, 57, a freelance journalist, and Bruno Araújo Pereira, 41, a former government official who worked in the area to combat illegal fishing, hunting and mining, prompted a 10-day search and later a manhunt in Brazil’s dense Atlantic rainforest.


An analysis of human remains discovered in the region earlier this week determined they were those of Mr. Phillips and Mr. Pereira.


Mr. Phillips was shot in the chest, the federal police said in a statement on Saturday, adding that Mr. Pereira was shot in the head and abdomen. The men had been killed by a “firearm with typical hunting ammunition,” according to a police statement.


Jefferson da Silva Lima turned himself in at a police station in Atalaia do Norte in the Amazon on Saturday, after initially fleeing an arrest warrant. The authorities had previously arrested two brothers, Amarildo and Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, in connection with the men’s disappearance.


Earlier this week, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira confessed to killing the men and led the police to where their remains had been buried in a remote part of the Amazon rainforest.


By Saturday evening, none of the three arrested men had been charged.


Witnesses saw the de Oliveira brothers in a boat following Mr. Phillips and Mr. Pereira shortly before they disappeared on a remote river, according to investigative documents viewed by The New York Times. A day earlier, the brothers had threatened a group that included Mr. Phillips and Mr. Pereira by showing them a gun, according to the local Indigenous group Univaja.


Mr. Phillips and Mr. Pereira were last seen on June 5, while traveling in a boat on the Itaquaí River in the northern Brazilian state of Amazonas, near the borders with Peru and Colombia.


Mr. Phillips had gone to the Javari Valley Indigenous reservation to interview Indigenous patrol teams cracking down on illegal fishing and hunting there. Mr. Pereira helped create those patrols and his work had won him enemies among criminal fishermen, poachers and miners in the region. Mr. Phillips had been working on a book during the trip, and the two men were headed home when they vanished.



7) How Animals See Themselves

By Ed Yong, June 20, 2022

Ed Yong is a staff writer at The Atlantic, and the author of “An Immense World.” 

Sally Deng

Spectacle floods into my eyes whenever I watch a wildlife documentary. A vortex of small fish is gradually picked off by waves of oceanic predators. Snakes chase after marine iguanas. Giraffes clash at sunset.


While the nature shows I grew up with were more like didactic lectures, their modern counterparts — all of which seem to have the word “Planet” in the title — have the bombast of summer blockbusters. Technological advances are partly responsible. Wild creatures are difficult to film, and when footage is fleeting and scarce, narration must provide the intrigue and flair that the visuals lack. But new generations of sophisticated cameras can swoop alongside running cheetahs at ground level, zoom in on bears cavorting on inaccessible mountainsides and capture intimate close-ups of everything from wasps to whales. Shots can now linger. Nature documentaries can be cinematic.


But in the process, they have also shoved the square peg of animal life into the round hole of human narratives. When animals become easier to film, it is no longer enough to simply film them; they must have stories. They must struggle and overcome. They must have quests, conflicts, even character arcs. An elephant family searches for water amid a drought. A lonely sloth swims in search of a mate. A cheeky penguin steals rocks from a rival’s nest.


Nature shows have always prized the dramatic: David Attenborough himself once told me, after filming a series on reptiles and amphibians, frogs “really don’t do very much until they breed, and snakes don’t do very much until they kill.” Such thinking has now become all-consuming, and nature’s dramas have become melodramas. The result is a subtle form of anthropomorphism, in which animals are of interest only if they satisfy familiar human tropes of violence, sex, companionship and perseverance. They’re worth viewing only when we’re secretly viewing a reflection of ourselves.

We could, instead, try to view them through their own eyes. In 1909, the  biologist Jakob von Uexküll noted that every animal exists in its own unique perceptual world — a smorgasbord of sights, smells, sounds and textures that it can sense but that other species might not. These stimuli defined what von Uexküll called the Umwelt — an animal’s bespoke sliver of reality. A tick’s Umwelt is limited to the touch of hair, the odor that emanates from skin and the heat of warm blood. A human’s Umwelt is far wider but doesn’t include the electric fields that sharks and platypuses are privy to, the infrared radiation that rattlesnakes and vampire bats track or the ultraviolet light that most sighted animals can see.


The Umwelt concept is one of the most profound and beautiful in biology. It tells us that the all-encompassing nature of our subjective experience is an illusion, and that we sense just a fraction of what there is to sense. It hints at flickers of the magnificent in the mundane, and the extraordinary in the ordinary. And it is almost antidramatic: It reveals that frogs, snakes, ticks and other animals can be doing extraordinary things even when they seem to be doing nothing at all.


While walking my dog, I see a mockingbird perched on a lamp post. With eyes on the side of its head, it has close to wraparound vision; while we move into our visual world, birds move through theirs. Their eyes also have four types of color-sensing cells compared to our three, allowing them to see an entire dimension of colors that we cannot; those colors, which are present on their feathers, allow male and female mockingbirds to tell each other apart even though they look the same to us. A mockingbird’s hearing differs from ours, too: It is so fast that when it mimics the songs of other birds, it accurately captures notes that fly by too quickly for our ears to make out.


I watch the mockingbird for about a minute, during which it belts out a few bars and flies off. But what more does it need to do? The baseline condition of its existence is magical. Its simplest acts of seeing, hearing and feeling are spectacular without spectacle.


By thinking about our surroundings through other Umwelten, we gain fresh appreciation not just for our fellow creatures, but also for the world we share with them. Through the nose of an albatross, a flat ocean becomes a rolling odorscape, full of scented mountains and valleys that hint at the presence of food. To the whiskers of a seal, seemingly featureless water roils with turbulent currents left behind by swimming fish — invisible tracks that the seal can follow. To a bee, a plain yellow sunflower has an ultraviolet bull’s-eye at its center, and a distinctive electric field around its petals. To the sensitive eyes of an elephant hawk moth, the night isn’t black, but full of colors.

Even the most familiar of settings can feel newly unfamiliar through the senses of other creatures. I walk my dog — Typo, a corgi — three times a day, passing the same streets and buildings that I’ve seen thousands of times. But though this urban landscape seems boring and stagnant to my eyes, its smellscape is constantly fascinating to Typo’s nose. He sniffs constantly, his nasal anatomy allowing him to continuously draw in odors even while exhaling. He sniffs the individual leaves of emergent springtime plants with utmost delicacy. He sniffs patches of dried urine left behind by the neighborhood dogs — the equivalent of a human scrolling through their social media feed. On every walk, there’ll be at least one moment when Typo grinds to a halt and excitedly explores a patch of sidewalk that looks nondescript but is clearly bursting with enthralling odors. By watching him, I feel less inured to my own life, more aware of the perpetually changing environment around me. Such awareness is a gift, which Typo gives to me daily.


These sensory worlds can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, for nature documentaries to capture (although some, like Netflix’s Night on Earth, make a valiant effort). No special effects can truly convey the wraparound nature of bird vision to the front-facing eyes of a human viewer or translate the wide spectrum of colors visible to a bird into the much narrower set that our eyes can see. Nonvisual senses are even harder for a visual medium to capture. You can play recordings of a whale’s song, but that doesn’t show what it means for whales to hear each other across oceanic distances. You can depict the magnetic field that envelops the planet, but that can’t begin to capture the experience of a robin using that field to fly across a continent.


In his classic 1974 essay, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” the philosopher Thomas Nagel wrote that the conscious experiences of other animals are inherently subjective and hard to describe. You could envision yourself with webbing on your arms or insects in your mouth, but you’d still be creating a mental caricature of you as a bat. “I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat,” Nagel wrote. Most bat species perceive the world through sonar, sensing their surroundings by listening for the echoes of their own ultrasonic calls. “Yet if I try to imagine this, I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task,” Nagel wrote.


Our own senses constrain us, creating a permanent divide between our Umwelt and another animal’s. Technology can help to bridge that chasm, but there will always be a gap. Crossing it requires what the psychologist Alexandra Horowitz calls “an informed imaginative leap.” You cannot be shown what another Umwelt is like; you must work to imagine it.


Watching modern nature documentaries has almost become too easy, as if I am being passively swept away by the torrent of vivid imagery — eyes open, jaw agape, but brain relaxed. By contrast, when I think about other Umwelten, I feel my mind flexing, and the joy of an impossible task nonetheless attempted. In these small acts of empathy, I understand other animals more deeply — not as fuzzy, feathered proxies for my life, but as wondrous and unique entities of their own, and as the keys to grasping the true immensity of the world.



8) U.K. Train Strike Brings Transit Chaos

Travel was disrupted for tens of millions of people during the country’s biggest walkout in decades as union leaders warned of a summer of labor unrest.

By Mark Landler and Eshe Nelson, June 21, 2022

On the picket line outside Waterloo Station on Tuesday. The main railway union, known as the R.M.T., has demanded a pay raise in line with the increase in cost of living.
On the picket line outside Waterloo Station on Tuesday. The main railway union, known as the R.M.T., has demanded a pay raise in line with the increase in cost of living. Credit...Matt Dunham/Associated Press

LONDON — Britain was hobbled on Tuesday morning by its largest railway strike in three decades, halting trains across the country, throwing travel plans for tens of millions of Britons and visitors into chaos, and setting off what union leaders warned could be the beginning of a summer of labor unrest.


With last-ditch talks between the main union and the rail operator collapsing on Monday night, hundreds of trains ground to a halt for the first of three planned days of strikes. Most train services will also probably be halted on Thursday and Saturday, with delays and disruptions rippling across the system for the entire week.


In London, workers in the Underground system went on strike on Tuesday in a separate wage dispute, bringing much of the capital to a halt. With subway stations closed, the streets were clogged with cars and bicycles, as commuters sought alternative ways to get to work. Buses continued to run, and there was some skeleton train service.


“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” said Michaela Jones, 24, who had fruitlessly ordered taxis and Ubers, and lined up for buses in a 90-minute odyssey to travel to her job at a marketing agency in central London. “I knew there was going to be a strike, but I thought it would be easy to get other modes of transport,” she added.


The strikes are a major test for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who called on the unions to compromise on their wage demands at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has kept ridership and ticket revenue well below normal levels.


So far, the government has refused to intervene directly in the talks, which are between the unions and Network Rail, a company that manages the country’s railway system, as well as with the privatized train operators.


But with soaring food and fuel prices and wages that are failing to keep pace, Mr. Johnson is likely to face other restive workers across multiple industries. Teachers, airline employees and criminal-defense lawyers are among those who have threatened to walk off the job.


The main railway union, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, known as the R.M.T., is demanding a pay raise in line with the increase in cost of living. At a combative news conference on Monday, Mick Lynch, the union’s general secretary, blamed the “dead hand” of the government for the impasse.


A day earlier, Mr. Lynch told Sky News that a deal should have been done in December, when the retail price index, a measure of inflation, was at about 7 percent. Since then, the annual rate shot up to 11.1 percent in April, the highest since 1982. The latest wage increase offered by the train operators is far lower than that.


At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Johnson blamed the R.M.T., saying that the union wanted to force unacceptable fare increases on to passengers and to preserve work practices that date to the Victorian era.


“We need the union barons to sit down with Network Rail and the train companies and get on with it,” the prime minister said. “We need to get ready to stay the course. To stay the course, because these reforms, these improvements in the way we run our railways, are in the interests of the traveling public.”


Mr. Johnson’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, dismissed the strikes as a “stunt.” Speaking to Sky News, he said that if the government intervened in the talks, “it wouldn’t resolve anything — in fact, it would make matters worse.”


Signs of the disruption proliferated on Tuesday morning. At Clapham Junction, in South London, passengers waiting for trains to Gatwick Airport said that they had given themselves several extra hours to make their flights.


“We had to get up at 6:30 this morning for a flight at 3 in the afternoon,” said Tim Tredwin, 24, who works for a florist and was flying to New York for a vacation. At work, he said, many customers called in to cancel office deliveries in the days leading up to the strike because they knew that many people would be working from home.


The impact of the strike seemed to have been mitigated by the number of employees who have become accustomed to working at home during the pandemic. Many office workers appear to have opted to avoid the ordeal entirely. Cafes that would normally have long lines during the morning rush hour were quieter than usual.


But that didn’t prevent traffic jams on major highways as people tried to drive to work.


“It’s an absolute headache today,” said Abraham Aris Ryan, 56, who has driven a London taxi for more than 20 years. “A fare you’d normally do in just 20 minutes is more than double that now. I’m having to tell people I just can’t get them there.”


Mr. Ryan said that he supported the unions, though polls suggest that a majority of Britons oppose the strike. Feelings run particularly strongly against it among older people, while younger people are more supportive.


Ambulance drivers outside King’s College Hospital in London also reported heavy disruptions, which affected the time it took to pick up and bring in patients.


“I had to go out and collect a patient and it took more than two and a half hours to get them to hospital. It would normally take just one,” said Monique Murray, 29, an ambulance driver. “If a patient is really sick, it creates big risk for them.”


Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party faces critical parliamentary elections on Thursday for two seats that have come open, and the strikes quickly became a political football. The opposition Labour Party accused the government of failing to break the deadlock. The Conservatives said that Labour was cheering on a walkout that was inconveniencing millions of people and could impede Britain’s recovery from the pandemic.


In Wakefield, in northern England, one of the two districts holding elections, a major local bus company has already been on strike for several days.


Britain is locked in the same economic vise of rising prices and lagging wage growth that is afflicting many other countries. When adjusted for inflation, pay is declining at the fastest pace in more than a decade — a problem that is likely to worsen as prices continue to rise and as the increases spread to more goods and services.


The disruption of global supply chains because of the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed up prices for oil, natural gas, wheat and fertilizer. Fuel and food prices are rising at rates unseen in decades. In Britain, the squeeze on incomes has forced a reluctant government to offer financial aid to households.


Economists worry that the cost of living will constrain consumer spending, endanger fragile businesses and throw the economy into a recession. Britain’s economy showed signs of weakness in the first three months of the year.


At the same time, policymakers are concerned about rising prices becoming embedded in the economy, as companies increase their prices because of higher costs and workers demand higher wages.


Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, said this year that there needed to be “restraint” in wage bargaining, especially among high earners, otherwise inflation would get worse.


Industries have also lost workers to illness or other jobs during the pandemic, leading to serious staff shortages. In London, Heathrow and other airports are asking carriers to cancel flights during the summer travel season because of a shortage of baggage handlers and other workers.


Employers are competing for staff with bonuses and wage increases, but workers are not feeling the benefits as inflation eats away at any gains. Other unions, including those representing teachers and National Health Service workers, are threatening to go on strike if wage agreements do not keep pace with inflation.


Outside the closed Brixton subway station, transit workers assembled in a picket line to make their case to beleaguered commuters. Some reported getting a warm reception, with people offering them coffee or tea.


“Food’s going up in price, petrol’s going up, rent’s going up, but wages are not going up with it. It means it’s a significant pay cut in reality,” said Phil Rowlan, 47, a staff member in the Brixton station who serves as a union representative.


“People are really worried,” he added. “They need to put food on the table.”


Isabella Kwai and Euan Ward contributed reporting



9) Bipartisan Gun Bill Clears Initial Vote in Senate

The 64-to-34 vote came just hours after Republicans and Democrats released the text of the legislation, which could become the most significant overhaul of the nation’s gun laws in decades.

By Emily Cochrane and Annie Karni, June 21, 2022


WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday cleared the first hurdle to passing a bipartisan measure aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people, agreeing to take up a compromise bill whose enactment would break a yearslong stalemate over federal legislation to address gun violence.


While the bill falls short of the sweeping gun control measures Democrats have long demanded, its approval would amount to the most significant action in decades to overhaul the nation’s gun laws. The 64-to-34 vote came just hours after Republicans and Democrats released the text of the legislation, and after days of feverish negotiations to hammer out its details.


Proponents hope to pass it by Saturday, and Democratic leaders put it on a fast track on the normally sluggish Senate floor.


The 80-page bill, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, would enhance background checks, giving authorities up to 10 business days to review the juvenile and mental health records of gun purchasers younger than 21, and direct millions toward helping states implement so-called red-flag laws, which allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous, as well as other intervention programs.

The measure would also, for the first time, ensure that serious dating partners are included in a federal law that bars domestic abusers from purchasing firearms, a longtime priority that has eluded gun safety advocates for years.


Senators agreed to provide millions of dollars for expanding mental health resources in communities and schools in addition to funds devoted to boosting school safety. In addition, the legislation would toughen penalties for those evading licensing requirements or making illegal “straw” purchases, buying and then selling weapons to people barred from purchasing handguns.


The vote margin — and the swift backing of top leaders in both parties — indicated that the measure has more than enough support to scale the 60-vote threshold needed to break a Republican filibuster that has thwarted such legislation in the past and make it to final passage in the coming days.


Fourteen Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, joined Democrats in advancing the bill. Two Republican senators were absent; one of them, Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, announced his support in a statement.


Proponents hoped to win final Senate approval for the legislation before a scheduled Fourth of July recess, with the House expected to follow suit quickly. The National Rifle Association almost immediately announced its opposition, and the vast majority of Republican officeholders fell in line behind it.


But both Senate leaders swiftly issued statements of public support, suggesting that public sentiment in favor of toughening gun laws, particularly in the wake of recent mass shootings, had finally broken through in Congress. Mr. McConnell called the bill “a common sense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”


Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said he expected the legislation to pass by the end of the week.


“This bipartisan gun safety legislation is progress and will save lives,” he said ahead of the vote. “While it is not everything we want, this legislation is urgently needed.”


The flurry of negotiations was spurred by two mass shootings in the last two months: a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, and a racist attack that killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket. The human devastation brought the issue of gun violence back to the forefront on Capitol Hill, where years of efforts to enact gun restrictions in the wake of such assaults have fallen short amid Republican opposition.


Since 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats announced their agreement on a bipartisan outline less than two weeks ago, lead negotiators — Senators Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both Democrats, and John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, both Republicans — have spent hours hammering out the details and toiling to keep their fragile coalition together.


“Today, we finalized bipartisan, common sense legislation to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” the four senators said in a statement. “Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our common sense legislation into law.”


Talks had teetered on the brink of failure repeatedly last week, as lawmakers, in late-night meetings and calls, wrestled with how to translate their outline into a legislative text. The group spent the three-day weekend haggling over the details.


The title of the bill reflected that careful negotiating — it notably emphasized “safety,” not any particular limits on an individual’s right to own or purchase a firearm. This was in line with the way Republicans have been discussing the framework agreement, emphasizing all the Democratic efforts to limit access to guns they have succeeded in keeping out of the final bill.


In its final form, much of the spending in the bill was directed toward mental health investment, according to a summary reviewed by The New York Times. It includes $60 million over five years to provide mental health and behavioral training for primary care clinicians, $150 million to support the national suicide prevention hotline and $240 million over four years for Project AWARE, a program that focuses on mental health support for school children, $28 million of which is set aside for trauma care in schools.


Two provisions proved particularly tricky in the final days of talks: whether to extend funds for the implementation of red flag laws to states that do not have such laws, and exactly how to define a boyfriend or intimate partner, as lawmakers sought to close what has come to be known as the “boyfriend loophole.”


Current law only bars domestic abusers who have been married to or lived with the victim, or have had a child with them, from buying a firearm. Lawmakers expanded the definition to include “a current or recent former dating relationship with the victim,” though the change cannot be applied retroactively.


Negotiators also agreed to allow dating partners convicted of a misdemeanor to regain the right to buy a gun after five years, provided that they were first-time offenders and not found guilty of any other violent misdemeanor or offense.

And lawmakers agreed to allow states access to federal funds either to implement red flag laws or support what Mr. Cornyn described as “crisis intervention programs,” including programs related to mental health courts, drug courts and veterans courts.


The bill will be financed by delaying implementation of a Medicare rule approved under former President Donald J. Trump that would limit hidden discounts negotiated between drug companies and insurers.


A majority of Senate Republicans still opposed the measure, arguing that it infringed on the rights of gun owners. Over the weekend, Texas Republicans booed Mr. Cornyn and moved to formally “rebuke” him and eight other Republicans for their role in the negotiations.


Some progressive Democrats, particularly in the House, where they have advanced far more ambitious gun reform legislation, have expressed uneasiness about the notion of “hardening” schools, or further stigmatizing mental health struggles.


But gun safety activists and groups like the N.A.A.C.P., which support more sweeping gun legislation, said they would back it in a bid to address at least some aspects of a crisis that has gripped the country.


“When school children, churchgoers and grocery store shoppers are being gunned down, the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good,” Derrick Johnson, president of the N.A.A.C.P., said in a statement.


“This bipartisan legislation meets the most important test: it will save lives,” John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. “We now move one big step closer to breaking the 26-year logjam that has blocked congressional action to protect Americans from gun violence.”


Margot Sanger-Katz contributed reporting.



10) 3 N.Y.C. Detainees Die in Less Than a Week, Bringing Year’s Total to 9

The deaths came just a week after a judge gave New York City until the fall to come up with a plan for fixing Rikers to avoid a federal takeover.

By Jonah E. Bromwich and Jan Ransom, June 22, 2022

The sprawling Rikers complex has been afflicted with violence and dysfunction for years.
The sprawling Rikers complex has been afflicted with violence and dysfunction for years. Credit...Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the week since a federal judge granted New York City at least another six months to reform its troubled jail system, three people who had recently been held at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex have died.


Anibal Carrasquillo, 39, died on Monday, the city’s Department of Correction said. The cause was suspected to be a drug overdose, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Albert Drye, 52, died on Tuesday at the Bellevue Prison Hospital Ward, according to the Legal Aid Society, which was representing him. The cause of death is unknown.


The third incarcerated person, Antonio Bradley, 28, died on June 18, three days after being granted compassionate release from Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, according to the Department of Correction.


The fatalities bring the number of people who have died after being held by the city this year to nine, three more than had died at this time last year. The deaths all came in the week after the judge, Laura T. Swain, had scheduled a status conference about the Rikers Island jail complex for November, likely forestalling any federal takeover of the troubled facility until the winter or later.


Mayor Eric Adams, in a statement last week, celebrated the judge’s order, saying that his administration had “a strategy to aggressively untangle the dysfunction that has plagued the jails and set them on a path of real enduring reform.” Shortly before Mr. Bradley’s death was reported, the mayor announced that he would tour two jails on Rikers Island Wednesday afternoon.


Members of a jail oversight agency said the growing death toll on Rikers should compel the judge to reconsider and appoint an independent leader to run the correction system. Last year, 16 people died after being held in New York City’s jails, the highest toll since 2013.


“The tragedies of the past days on Rikers Island should be of concern to every New Yorker,” said Dr. Robert Cohen, a member of the board. “Thoughts and prayers are important but they are not enough. The City of New York, despite their best efforts, is not capable of maintaining a minimally safe environment for people in custody.”


The Department of Correction did not immediately respond to requests for comment on staff shortages or actions leading up to the deaths.


Mr. Drye had been held since May 17 on assault, harassment and weapons charges in Manhattan and the Bronx, had been seriously ill and hospitalized for several weeks. Before he was hospitalized, he had been detained at the Eric M. Taylor Center, a facility on Rikers Island where new detainees are held and assessed before being permanently housed.


The city was held in contempt last month by a state judge for its failure to administer proper medical care to those in its custody. In April, the month before Mr. Drye was arrested, 11,789 medical appointments were missed in city jails, according to city data, thousands of them because correction officers were not available to escort incarcerated people to the clinic.


On Sunday night, just two days before Mr. Drye’s death, Mr. Carrasquillo, who had been held at another Rikers facility on a $50,000 bail on charges including robbery, drug possession and assault, was last seen alive shortly after 10 p.m., a person with knowledge of the incident said. Shortly before 1 a.m. on Monday, a jail supervisor found Mr. Carrasquillo unresponsive in his cell, the person said.


A second official with knowledge of the matter said that jail staff had not adequately toured the housing area between when Mr. Carrasquillo was last seen alive and when he was discovered. Mr. Carrasquillo was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m.


Earlier this month, on June 10, before Mr. Carrasquillo’s death, Mr. Bradley was in a Bronx courthouse eight miles away. His lawyer, Bruce Klein, had just informed him that the judge on his firearms case was out sick and that the next court date would be in two weeks. During that conversation, Mr. Klein said his client did not give any indication that he was suicidal.


Soon after, Mr. Bradley, who had been held at Rikers since October, was returned to the courthouse holding pen, which is managed by correction officers, where he hanged himself.


Video evidence suggests that Mr. Bradley was unsupervised in the cell for six to nine minutes before staff found him hanging, according to a person familiar withan investigation into his death.


Mr. Bradley was cut down by correction officers, who administered CPR, and was taken to the hospital, where he was put on life support, according to the Department of Correction. The department did not respond to a question about the circumstances of his death.


“He was a decent human being,” Mr. Klein said. “It’s a tragedy.”


Mr. Bradley was released from custody on June 15 to the hospital, where he died. His death was first reported by The New York Daily News.


“It is very disheartening to hear about the passing of Mr. Bradley,” Louis A. Molina, the Correction Department commissioner, said in a statement, offering condolences and prayers to his family.


After months of similar episodes, the United States Attorney in Manhattan in April raised the possibility of a federal court takeover. Judge Swain required the city to file a plan last month, indicating how it would turn things around at Rikers. That plan was met with frustration by a Legal Aid lawyer, Mary Lynne Werlwas, who told the court that she would seek an order of contempt and the appointment of an outside official to take over the jails or some other appropriate remedy.


Judge Swain denied her request to set a timetable for those actions at least until Nov. 17, when there will be a status conference about whether the city’s plan has been implemented successfully. The judge wrote that only at that point would she consider whether setting such a schedule was warranted.


Federal court takeovers of jails and prisons are unusual, and judges are obligated to demonstrate that several factors make such remedies necessary. Among those tests are that there are no lesser alternatives to a so-called receivership, and that the government is acting in bad faith and will not comply with court orders.


“It’s important for the judge to show that she has tried everything and everything that she has tried has come up short,” said Hernandez D. Stroud, counsel of the Justice Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “It is reserved for when the court reaches the end of the road with nowhere to turn.”



11) The Supreme Court Strips Us of Miranda Warnings

Today, Justice Alito ruled that you have constitutional rights, but no right to know what they are.

By By Elie Mystal, June 24, 2022


(Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images)

In 1966, the Supreme Court created the now famous “Miranda warnings,” in the seminal case Miranda v. Arizona. The Constitution had arguably always protected the right against self-incrimination in the Fifth Amendment, but the white men who wrote the Constitution never provided practical protections of that right. In Miranda, Earl Warren invented, out of whole cloth, a set of instructions the government would be required to give people in order to protect their rights against self-incrimination, and their right to an attorney (which is found in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution). Everybody has heard of these warnings: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?” Before the decision in Miranda, police would routinely arrest people and bully them into making incriminating statements without allowing them to talk to an attorney. Ernesto Miranda himself was questioned at his home, “voluntarily” taken to the police station, placed in a lineup, and eventually convinced to sign a confession, without his ever once talking to a lawyer. The idea was to end the practice of law enforcement tricking people out of their constitutional rights.


Today, in a case called Vega v. Tekoh, the Supreme Court rejects that idea. According to the conservative majority, the Constitution still protects people from incriminating themselves. But now, if cops trick or coerce or threaten or brutalize people into giving up their constitutional rights without telling them they have a right to make the intimidation stop, there’s no way to sue the government for the failure to inform victims of their rights. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for a 6-3 conservative majority, might as well have channeled Agent Smith’s famous line from The Matrix: “What good is a phone call if you are unable to speak?”


In Vega, Alito argues that the failure to give Miranda warnings does not result in a Section 1983 cause of action against the government. Section 1983 is the main vehicle for people to sue the government when government actors violate constitutional rights. Alito argues that the Miranda warnings are not a constitutional “right”; they’re just a thing cops can say if they feel like it. If cops violate constitutional rights under the Fifth or Sixth Amendments, victims can still sue the government (if they can somehow prove a violation occurred), or move to have the evidence unconstitutionally obtained against them at trial excluded. But Alito rejects Miranda’s presumption that constitutional rights are violated if law enforcement fails to give the warning. Essentially, Alito argues that you have constitutional rights, but no right to know what those are.


I couldn’t invent a better example of the difference between a Supreme Court controlled by conservatives versus one controlled by liberals than the one given by the court in its decisions in Vega versus Miranda. People often forget that the Miranda case itself was a 5-4 decision over conservative objections. Here, Vega is 6-3, functionally overturning Miranda with all the conservatives in lockstep. If you want robust protections of people’s rights, there is simply no substitute for having liberals control the court. If you want robust protections of gun rights and corporate rights and Jesus rights, by all means, continue allowing the current conservative majority to rule over all.


Now, most people reading already understand that the current court is more conservative and reactionary than the court in 1966. But the opinion in Vega shows how radical and extremist conservatives are even compared to the conservative court of the 2000s. That’s because Vega also functionally overturns Dickerson v. United States, a 2000 case that upheld Miranda warnings. That case was decided 7-2, by the very same court who would go on to anoint George W. Bush as president of the United States later in the year. Ultraconservative William Rehnquist even wrote the majority opinion defending Miranda warnings.


Oh, Rehnquist only grudgingly upheld Miranda. He didn’t give Miranda a ringing endorsement. Instead, he upheld it simply because it was precedent, and that precedent was simply too popular to overturn. He wrote: “Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture.”


In her dissent in Vega, Justice Elena Kagan doesn’t spend as much time defending Miranda as she does defending Dickerson. “Dickerson v. United States tells us in no uncertain terms that Miranda is a ‘constitutional rule,’” she writes. Kagan points out that we know the Miranda warnings are part of the constitutional protections enshrined in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, because courts have turned back legislative attempts to weaken Miranda, including the federal attempt that was at issue in the Dickerson case.


But Alito and the conservative majority (which included Justice Clarence Thomas, who was one of the two dissenters in Dickerson) simply don’t care. Alito recasts the Dickerson opinion as upholding Miranda warnings as an option, not a requirement.


That is the essential difference between the conservatives on the court 20 years ago and the ones appointed this century. They used to do everything they could to bend or break the law toward the Republican Party outcomes they desired, but felt somewhat constrained by prior Supreme Court precedent and overwhelming popular will. Now, they push the law toward their preferred conservative outcomes without regard for past precedent or popular opinion. They have the votes, they have the power, to do what they want when they want to.


The practical effect of this decision will be to unleash already brutal American cops to use even more intimidation and coercion to secure (potentially false) confessions than they already do. Paradoxically, this ruling will do more to deny the constitutional rights of people who are innocent than to infringe those of people guilty of crime. That’s because professional criminals, for the most part, know their constitutional rights. They know they shouldn’t talk to the cops; they know the only word they should say to the police is “lawyer.” You don’t have to tell a street-level drug dealer what to do if he gets held by the cops; he already knows. And you don’t have to tell a banker or a person accused of “white collar” crime what to do either: Those folks have their lawyers on speed dial.


Alito and conservative legal media will hide behind the fact that the Fifth and Sixth amendments still exist. They’ll say people still have the right to remain silent. And that will be true for their rich friends and for people with enough “street smarts” to know how the system works.


But the whole point of Miranda is that constitutional rights should not be tied to whether you have the education and training to know they exist. My kids will know not to talk to cops, because I tell them that every time we see one (I warn my kids about the cops the way other parents warn their kids about taking candy from strangers). But what about kids who don’t have lawyers for parents? Do those kids get less Constitution than mine?


Alito and the conservatives say yes. They always say yes. They always rule in a way that provides constitutional protections to some people, but not all people. And they will continue to rule this way, as long as they are allowed to control the Supreme Court.



12) Heat Waves Around the World Push People and Nations ‘To the Edge’

Large, simultaneous heat waves are growing more common. China, America, Europe and India have all been stricken recently, and scientists are starting to understand why certain far-flung places get hit at once.

By Raymond Zhong, June 24, 2022

A wildfire raged in the Sierra de la Culebra in Zamora Province in Spain this month.
A wildfire raged in the Sierra de la Culebra in Zamora Province in Spain this month. Credit...Emilio Fraile/Europa Press, via Associated Press

Millions of Americans are once again in the grips of dangerous heat. Hot air blanketed Europe last weekend, causing parts of France and Spain to feel the way it usually does in July or August. High temperatures scorched northern and central China even as heavy rains caused flooding in the country’s south. Some places in India began experiencing extraordinary heat in March, though the start of the monsoon rains has brought some relief.


It’s too soon to say whether climate change is directly to blame for causing severe heat waves in these four powerhouse economies — which also happen to be the top emitters of heat-trapping gases — at roughly the same time, just days into summer.


While global warming is making extreme heat more common worldwide, deeper analysis is required to tell scientists whether specific weather events were made more likely or more intense because of human-induced warming. (A team of researchers who studied this spring’s devastating heat in India found that climate change had made it 30 times as likely to occur.)


Even so, concurrent heat waves seem to be hitting certain groups of far-flung places with growing frequency of late, for reasons related to the jet stream and other rivers of air that influence weather systems worldwide.


Studies have shown that parts of North America, Europe and Asia are linked this way. Scientists are still trying to determine how these patterns might change as the planet warms further, but for now it means simultaneous heat extremes will probably continue affecting these places where so much of the world’s economic activity is concentrated.


“To have a heat wave, we need the heat, and we need the atmospheric circulation pattern that allows the heat to accumulate,” said Daniel E. Horton, a climate scientist at Northwestern University. With global warming, he said, “we’re definitely getting more heat.” But climate change may also be affecting the way this heat is distributed around the world by globe-circling air currents, he said.


Simultaneous weather extremes in numerous locations aren’t just meteorological curiosities. Individual heat waves can lead to illness and death, wildfires, and crop failures. Concurrent ones can threaten global food supplies, which have been under perilous strain this year because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


While heat waves are shaped by complex local factors such as urbanization and land use, scientists no longer have much doubt about whether climate change is making them worse. Soon, the world’s most devastating heat waves may simply have no historical analogue from the time shortly before humans starting pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, some scientists argue, rendering obsolete the question of whether climate change is a main driver.


The warming of recent decades has already made it hard for scientists to know what to call a heat wave and what to treat as simply a new normal for hot weather, said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.


If the threshold for a heat wave is just the mercury exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit for days in a row, for instance, then it’s “not at all unexpected,” Dr. Dessler said, to see them occurring more regularly in several regions at once. “As time goes on, more and more of the planet will be experiencing those temperatures, until eventually, with enough global warming, every land area in the mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere would be above 100 degrees,” he said.


Yet even when scientists look at how often temperatures exceed a certain level relative to a moving average, they still find a big increase in the frequency of simultaneous heat waves.


One recent study that did this found that the average number of days between May and September with at least one large heat wave in the Northern Hemisphere doubled between the 1980s and the 2010s, to around 152 from 73. But the number of days with two or more heat waves was seven times higher, growing to roughly 143 from 20. That’s nearly every single day from May to September.


The study also found that these concurrent heat waves affected larger areas and were more intense by the 2010s, with peak temperatures that were almost one-fifth higher than in the 1980s. On days when there was at least one large heat wave somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, there were 3.6 of them happening per day on average, the study found.


These “dramatic” increases came as a surprise, said Deepti Singh, a climate scientist at Washington State University and an author of the study.


Dr. Singh and her co-authors also looked at where concurrent heat waves occurred most frequently during those four decades. One pattern stood out: Large simultaneous heat waves struck parts of eastern North America, Europe, and central and eastern Asia increasingly often between 1979 and 2019 — “more than what we would expect simply by the effect of warming,” Dr. Singh said.


The study did not try to predict whether heat waves along this pattern will become more frequent as global warming continues, she said.


Scientists are working to pin down how the meandering of the jet stream, which has long shaped weather patterns for billions of people, might be changing in this warming era. One factor is the rapid warming of the Arctic, which narrows the difference in temperatures between the northern and southern bands of the Northern Hemisphere. How exactly this might be affecting extreme weather is still a matter of debate.


But those temperature differences are key forces driving the winds that keep weather systems moving around the planet. As the temperature differences narrow, these air currents may be slowing down, said Kai Kornhuber, a climate scientist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. That means extreme events like heat waves and heavy downpours are likely to last longer.


“The longer a heat wave lasts, the more you push natural and societal systems to the edge,” Dr. Kornhuber said.


Climate change already means the world will see more extreme weather events, and more extremes occurring simultaneously, he said. “These circulation changes, they will act on top of it,” he said, “and would make extremes even more severe and even more frequent.”



13) Centenarian Tortoises May Set the Standard for Anti-Aging

Tortoises and turtles don’t just live for a long time — they barely age while they live.

By Jack Tamisiea, June 23, 2022

A giant Galápagos tortoise, only as old as it feels.
A giant Galápagos tortoise, only as old as it feels. Credit...Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

For mammals like humans, aging is inevitable. No matter how many vitamins we take, skin sags, bones soften and joints stiffen over time. However, turtles and tortoises age more gracefully. Despite their wrinkled skin and toothless gums, species like Galápagos giant tortoises seem unscathed by the ravages of aging. Some show few signs of slowing down as they plod into their 100s.


To determine what drives these ageless wonders, two groups of researchers examined turtles, tortoises and their ectothermic, or coldblooded, brethren in a pair of studies published Thursday in the journal Science. Prior aging research has largely revolved around warm-blooded animals like mammals and birds. But ectotherms like fish, reptiles and amphibians dominate the longevity record books. For example, salamanders called olms slither through subterranean caves for nearly a century. Giant tortoises can live twice as long — earlier this year, a Seychelles tortoise named Jonathan celebrated his 190th birthday.


In one of the new studies, researchers compiled data sets on 77 species of wild reptiles and amphibians including Komodo dragons, garter snakes and tree frogs. The team utilized decades of monitoring data to analyze traits like metabolism to determine their impact on aging and longevity.


“We had these awesome data sets to get at questions of aging in a way that hasn’t been done before,” said Beth Reinke, an evolutionary biologist at Northeastern Illinois University and an author of the new study. “Getting at the heart of the issue of how aging evolves can only be done with this broad taxonomic approach.”


Living so long requires a gentle aging curve. After most animals reach sexual maturity, much of their energy is devoted to reproduction at the expense of mending aging tissue. This physical deterioration, or senescence, often causes an uptick in mortality risk as older animals become susceptible to predators or disease. But several coldblooded animals experience little senescence as they age.


One theory is that coldblooded animals are better equipped to manage the wear of aging because they rely on the environment to calibrate their body temperatures instead of the energy-draining metabolisms of endothermic, or warm-blooded animals. But what Dr. Reinke and her colleagues found was more complex. They discovered that some ectotherms aged much faster than similar-sized endotherms, while others aged much slower. The aging rates for lizards and snakes were scattered but were remarkably low in certain crocodiles, salamanders and the enigmatic tuatara. However, the only group that barely aged at all were turtles and tortoises.


The other new study drilled deeper into the aging of these timeless turtles. The researchers examined age-related decline in 52 species of captive turtles and tortoises in zoos and aquariums. They found that 75 percent of the species, including Aldabra giant tortoises and pancake tortoises, exhibited low or negligible senescence. A few, like Greek tortoises and black marsh turtles, even displayed negative rates of senescence, meaning their mortality risk decreased as they aged. Around 80 percent had aging rates slower than those of modern humans.


Turtles being the anti-aging standard makes sense, considering their sluggish metabolisms. Researchers have also linked their sturdy shells to longer lives. As herbivorous turtles and tortoises spend their lives munching on veggies (well, mostly), snug suits of armor provide protection to even grizzled geezers.


These lethargic aging rates are unsurprising considering the pampered lives of captive turtles. But unlike humans, who age regardless of the fantasy of cryogenic preservation, captive turtles provide evidence that ideal environments in zoos can slow aging because the reptiles lounge in ideal temperatures and enjoy a balanced diet of fruits and greens.


“We compared the populations in zoos to wild populations and found that the ones under protected conditions were able to switch off senescence,” said Rita da Silva, a population biologist at the University of Southern Denmark and an author of the tortoise study. “For humans, our environment continues to get better and better, but we are still not able to switch off senescence.”


While the mortality risk in long-living turtles and tortoises remained stagnant over the decades, they haven’t obtained eternal youth according to Caleb Finch, a gerontologist at the University of Southern California who studies aging in humans. Like elderly humans, eventually eyesight and hearts weaken in turtles and tortoises.


“Some of them get cataracts and are feeble to the point where they need to be fed by hand,” said Dr. Finch, who was not involved with the new studies. “They wouldn’t survive in the real world, so there’s no question that they do age.”


While these lumbering reptiles cannot outpace death, they may hold insights for prolonging longevity and decreasing age-related decline.


“If we continue to study the evolution of aging in turtles, at some point we’ll find a clear connection between turtles and human health and aging,” Dr. da Silva said.



14) 'It's time the US released pictures of Guantanamo's children, the waterboarding, the blood-stained walls of cells where prisoners were killed'

Held in the infamous torture prison for 14 years, Mansoor Adayfi says his experience is nothing like the sanitised images released from the camp by the US June 23, 2022

By Mansoor Adayfi, June 23, 2022


US Army Military Police drag a detainee to his cell January 11, 2001 in Camp X-Ray at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy/U.S. Navy/Getty Images]

US Army Military Police drag a detainee to his cell January 11, 2001 in Camp X-Ray at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy/U.S. Navy/Getty Images]

Over the last 20 years, Guantanamo has represented many different things to the world. It is not only the site of one of the most infamous prisons in the 'War on Terror' but joins the ranks of Alcatraz and Robben Island as one of the most notorious in history. Outside observers may know it as a symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial; for me however, it was my home for 14 years. Every inch and crevice of the Camp has seared itself into my mind, the images of that brutal reality will forever remain firmly embedded in my mind's eye.


That's why I looked on with interest as a series of secret, never-before-released photos of the original detainees arriving at the detention camp were published.


The images, posted by the New York Times Sunday, show scenes of men in shackles, blindfolds, and ear protectors as they arrived at Guantanamo in 2002. Most of what was done to us there was kept safely out of the glare of the public eye, and the NYT points out that the only images ever leaked from the prison were put out by WikiLeaks in 2011.  Why were they taken? Apparently to give Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and other leaders in Washington a look at the start of the wartime detention and interrogation. Perhaps even to comfort them that the "worst of the worst" were being treated how they deserved. One of the first things I did was to share the NYT article with a WhatsApp group I share with former Guantanamo prisoners, asking if they could identify with what they saw in the photos. I knew already it would be triggering, but I needed to hear and know what they thought. The majority reacted the same way I did, and some could not even look, let alone comment. The trauma was too fresh.


What were the reactions? The sentiments ranged from: "I wish I was treated like that", to "Is this a sick joke?". We then spoke about the things that really happened and how they happened. We also floated what the real narrative would sound like, if it were ever to be reported: "We kidnapped them, abused them, tortured them, set their life on fire, released them without charge or trial. Now we are going to sugarcoat what we did to them and use photos to lie to the world."


I personally know the story of each of the men who make up this group of survivors, I lived, prayed and suffered with them. We were all part of each other's stories- like jigsaw pieces in a cursed puzzle. Yet, I always want to hear them again. I want to know about their lives now. I want to understand the impact of those years on the kind of life they're trying to live today. It is a grim reality. We may technically be far from the shores of Cuba, but we are all still imprisoned in many open and hidden ways. The conditions of our release and the choking restrictions on our lives mean we are all living what can only be called "Guantanamo 2.0".


One of the brothers' messaged, he has just read the article. "They can lie to the world here in this life, but a day will come where justice will be served in the Hereafter. And there, in a Divine Court, there will be no lying. It is not over yet."


The photos you see today would have us all looking like pampered terrorists. Look at us clothed in our clean, pressed orange jumpsuits, being cradled like babies, fed and provided the best healthcare. Oh, look at all the freedom to practice religion we've been given as we kneel in prayer, it's almost heartwarming.


Except, those of us who have lived it know the truth of our experiences. Our experiences are unanimous.


"My ribs were broken there, and I still live with the pain of it today" says one. "I still have the scars on my head and body, and I can't explain to my children why," says another.


Then one brother chimes in: "Thankfully I can't even look at the photos since – as you all know – I lost sight in one eye in Guantanamo while being tortured. The vision in my other eye is so weak that I am clinically blind."


Another takes a more reflective approach: "It is one thing to destroy a man, his family and his future… it's another to then release sanitized and misleading images to the world to cover up the evil of what you did."


For me, I have questions. Questions I would like to ask the photographers: How could they bear watching the atrocities that they did while they stood with a wide-angle lens? How could they position themselves to take the perfect pictures while human torture was taking place in front of them? How can they live with themselves?


My call to the public is to dig deeper, and not allow yourselves to be fooled by powerful PR. When a global superpower has access to media resources and the power to control the narrative, go straight to the people on the receiving end and truly open yourself up to all sides of the story. Consider how tightly controlled and censored any public information was about Guantanamo since it opened its doomed doors in 2001. The US military reviewed and had to sign off every single photo taken by pre-approved photographers. The press themselves were not allowed to leave the base until their work was authorised for public consumption. The prisoners were not the only ones not to be free there. The only images of Guantanamo released to the world were vetted and manipulated by the US government, keen to whitewash crimes under the familiar refrain of "fighting terrorism".


There are some photos that will never make it to your screens, however. You will never see the images of the 60 children held in cages, including a three-month-old baby. A glorified human zoo of vulnerable children. You will never see the photo of the 105-year-old prisoner who was beaten so badly that blood poured down his aged and decrepit frame. You will not see the force-feeding. You will not see prisoners sat naked, cold and hungry in the long nights, forced to defecate and sit in their own excrement. You will never see the men who lost their life and had their killings covered up as "suicides". You will not see the photos of the brothers who had their organs removed and their dehumanised bodies gutted from the inside out. You will not see the body bags shipped out of the facility – with just an ISN barcode – back to families who were offered no explanation, let alone remorse or reparation.


No, the Americans torture and kill first and ask questions later. Heck, they don't even bother asking questions. They just release pretty photographs to demonstrate their humanity in the face of our barbarism. The CIA has already destroyed thousands of photographs and videos that attest to the torture that has taken place at CIA black sites across the world.


Here for you now is just one image of our journey to Guantanamo. One stop on the road to Hell. Most of us were wishing the plane would crash and we would die there are then. Nobody sat on those planes. We were gagged, hooded, shackled and chained to the floor. I myself was sporting a sign around my neck saying "BEAT ME". The soldiers enacted the command and then posed for photos with my heaving, bloodied body. They were fond of photography, for sure. They slammed their boots down on our heads. They rode us like animals. Choked us. They pulled down our underwear and took photos while elbowing one another in delight. They carried out their infamous "cavity searches" which involved taking a deep, long look into our anuses. "You like that, huh? Do you want us to do it again?" I will never stop hearing their laughter in my head, they enjoyed nothing more than humiliating us.


We were dragged naked to our cage where we had to wait for hours to be given the infamous orange jumpsuit. This was the first stop in our journey. And the journey was long and brutal.


So now we make a request.


We ask the Pentagon to release the photos of prisoners who died in Guantanamo. The Guantanamo children. The waterboarding. The force-feeding. The blood-stained walls of cells where prisoners were killed. The prisoners who left the cursed facility in wheelchairs because they had their backs literally broken during interrogations. Release the pictures of us when we were kept naked and cold in metal cells for weeks and months in solitary confinement.


Even then, we prisoners produced art. We painted, we drew, we wrote, we sketched. Instead of these photographs, we ask the Pentagon to release the Guantanamo art that we created while detained. Since 2017, lawyers have been petitioning the US government to return it, yet they have refused. Our art is "a threat to American national security." Our art is dangerous … because it tells the truth.


Even after all this, I feel the first victims of the American government are its people. They are being lied to and deceived. They are being fed false tales of the American Dream, freedom, democracy and justice. They are being misled and abused by the powers they have entrusted to safeguard their interests. This is the slow rot of America that is killing it from within.


Without accountability, acknowledgement and openness, the world will never know the truth. Americans will never know the reality of their government, of their country, of the lies which are veiled in plain sight.



15) No, Justice Alito, Reproductive Justice Is in the Constitution

By Michele Goodwin, June 26, 2022

Ms. Goodwin is a chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of “Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood.”

Illustration by Sergio Lass, images by David Fenton and Chicago History Museum via Getty Images

Black women’s sexual subordination and forced pregnancies were foundational to slavery. If cotton was euphemistically king, Black women’s wealth-maximizing forced reproduction was queen.


Ending the forced sexual and reproductive servitude of Black girls and women was a critical part of the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments. The overturning of Roe v. Wade reveals the Supreme Court’s neglectful reading of the amendments that abolished slavery and guaranteed all people equal protection under the law. It means the erasure of Black women from the Constitution.


Mandated, forced or compulsory pregnancy contravenes enumerated rights in the Constitution, namely the 13th Amendment’s prohibition against involuntary servitude and protection of bodily autonomy, as well as the 14th Amendment’s defense of privacy and freedom.


This Supreme Court demonstrates a selective and opportunistic interpretation of the Constitution and legal history, which ignores the intent of the 13th and 14th Amendments, especially as related to Black women’s bodily autonomy, liberty and privacy which extended beyond freeing them from labor in cotton fields to shielding them from rape and forced reproduction. The horrors inflicted on Black women during slavery, especially sexual violations and forced pregnancies, have been all but wiped from cultural and legal memory. Ultimately, this failure disserves all women.

Overturning the right to abortion reveals the court’s indefensible disregard for the lives of women, girls and people capable of pregnancy, given the possible side effects and consequences of pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, hemorrhaging, gestational hypertension, ectopic pregnancy and death. State-mandated pregnancy will exacerbate what are already alarming health and dignity harms, especially in states with horrific records of maternal mortality and morbidity.


To understand the gravity of what is at stake, one need only turn to the Supreme Court’s own recent history. In 2016, Justice Stephen Breyer noted in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that women are 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion. The United States bears the chilling distinction of being the most dangerous place in the industrialized world to give birth, ranking 55th overall in the world.


Disproportionately, those who will suffer most are poor women, especially Black and brown women. Black women are over three times as likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than white women. In Mississippi, a Black woman is 118 times as likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion. According to the Mississippi Maternal Mortality Report, from 2013 to 2016, Black women accounted for “nearly 80 percent of pregnancy-related cardiac deaths” in that state. At present, there is only one clinic in the entire state of Mississippi to serve hundreds of thousands of women that might need to terminate a pregnancy.


In 1942, in a unanimous decision delivered by Justice William Douglas in Skinner v. Oklahoma, the court explained that “This case touches a sensitive and important area of human rights,” because Oklahoma sought to sterilize a man who committed petty crimes, including stealing chickens, under its “Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act.”


Justice Douglas wrote that reproductive autonomy and privacy, associated with “marriage and procreation” are “fundamental,” and a state’s interference with such rights “may have subtle, far-reaching and devastating effects.” The justices were concerned about the inequality at the heart of the law, which singled out poor and vulnerable classes of American men.

Now, 80 years later, Mississippi has already made a “clear, pointed, unmistakable discrimination,” as if it has “selected a particular race or nationality for oppressive treatment,” which the court specifically struck down and condemned in Skinner.


What today’s Supreme Court strategically overlooks, legal history reminds us with stunning clarity, specifically the terrifying practices of American slavery, including the stalking, kidnapping, confinement, coercion, rape and torture of Black women and girls. In a commentary reprinted in The New York Times on Jan. 18, 1860, slavery was described as an enterprise that “treats” a Black person “as a chattel, breeds from him with as little regard for marriage ties as if he were an animal, is a moral outlaw.”


Such observations were hardly unique or rare; the Library of Congress offers a comprehensive collection of newspapers, almanacs, daguerreotypes, illustrations, and other materials that comprise the “African-American Mosaic: Influence of Prominent Abolitionists.” Laws that date back to the 1600s expose the sexual depravity and inhumanity of American slavery. In 1662, the Virginia Grand Assembly enacted one of its first “slave laws” to settle this point, expressing, “Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a Negro woman should be slave or free, be it therefore enacted and declared by this present Grand Assembly, that all children born in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother.”


Thomas Jefferson kept copious receipts and documents related to the births of enslaved children at his Monticello plantation, including those who were ultimately discovered to be his own. Not surprising, at the heart of abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude in the 13th Amendment was the forced sexual and reproductive servitude of Black girls and women. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, who led the effort to prohibit slavery and enact the 13th Amendment, was nearly beaten to death in the halls of Congress two days after giving a speech that included the condemning of the culture of sexual violence that dominated slavery.


Black women also spoke out about their reproductive bondage. In 1851, in her compelling speech known as “Ain’t I a Woman,” Sojourner Truth implored the crowd of men and women gathered at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, to understand the gravity and depravity of American slavery on Black women’s reproductive autonomy and privacy. Reported by newspapers and recorded through history, Ms. Truth stated that she had borne 13 children and seen nearly each one ripped from her arms, with no appeal to law or courts. Wasn’t she a woman, too? By the accounts of those gathered, including famed feminist abolitionist Frances Gage, the room stood still and then erupted in applause.


Similarly, in “Incidents In The Life of A Slave Girl,” published in 1861, Harriet Jacobs describes the herculean efforts made to avoid the inevitable sexual assault and rape by her captor. She wrote, “I saw a man forty years my senior daily violating the most sacred commandments of nature. He told me I was his property; that I must be subject to his will in all things.”


And yet, slavery’s vestiges persisted in Southern states, including within the domains of privacy, child rearing and marriage. The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, better known as the “Freedmen’s Bureau,” founded March 1865, collected letters written by Black mothers despairing over vile “apprenticeships” whereby their children were kidnapped and returned to bondage under the guise of traineeships.

Congress followed in 1868 with the ratification of the 14th Amendment, which further secured the interests of Black women who had been subjected to cruelties inflicted on them physically, reproductively, and psychologically.


The 14th Amendment opens with the sentence, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States … are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside” and as such would be protected by the laws of the United States. Such language applied to infants born to Black women, changing the provisions of law that had long denied Black children citizenship and the protection of laws. Lawmakers were understandably concerned about overturning states laws that had denied children the dignity of personhood.


Justice Samuel Alito’s claim, that there is no enumeration and original meaning in the Constitution related to involuntary sexual subordination and reproduction, misreads and misunderstands American slavery, the social conditions of that enterprise and legal history. It misinterprets how slavery was abolished, ignores the deliberation and debates within Congress, and craftily renders Black women and their bondage invisible.


It is no hyperbole to say that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case is in league with some of the darkest rulings — Plessy v. Ferguson, which opened the floodgates to “separate but equal” laws that ushered in Jim Crow, and Buck v. Bell, which sanctioned states’ eugenics laws permitting forced sterilization of poor women.


The court’s central role — and sadly its complicity — in the harms that predictably will result from this decision cannot be overlooked. The court will be giving its imprimatur to states set to “trigger” laws that will criminally and civilly punish girls and women who want and need to end pregnancies, including victims of rape and incest, while ignoring the deadly traps in which most of those states have historically placed Black women.