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Monday, August 1, 2022, 8:00 PM
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The Rock, Bernal Hill, San Francisco
Olivia Rodrigo - F*** You (feat. Lily Allen) (Glastonbury 2022)
With Olivia Rodrigo and Lily Allen
[Verse 1: Lily Allen]
Look inside, look inside your tiny mind
Then look a bit harder
'Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired
Of all the hatred you harbour
So you say it's not okay to be gay
Well, I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval
[Chorus: Lily Allen]
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please, don't stay in touch
[Verse 2: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]
Do you get, do you get a little kick out of being small minded?
You want to be like your father, it's approval you're after
Well, that's not how you find it
Do you, do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
'Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
You're losing control of it
And it's really distasteful
[Chorus: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
[Verse 3: Lily Allen]
You say you think we need to go to war
Well, you're already in one
'Cause it's people like you that need to get slew
No one wants your opinion
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.”
“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.
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:
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)
 Roque Dalton was a Salvadoran poet, essayist, journalist, political activist, and intellectual. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets.
“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
The following statement was issued January 4, 2022, regarding new legal filings by attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464)
The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won’t know for at least a month.
The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then-Prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill, prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury, and letters and memoranda which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct, and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in 1982, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latinx detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions.
In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed.
Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”
The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in U.S. courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. (lovenotphear.com/) Stay tuned.
—Workers World, January 4, 2022
Pa. Supreme Court denies widow’s appeal to remove Philly DA from Abu-Jamal case
Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder of Faulkner in 1982. Over the past four decades, five of his appeals have been quashed.
In 1989, the state’s highest court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s death penalty conviction, and in 2012, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.
Abu-Jamal, 66, remains in prison. He can appeal to the state Supreme Court, or he can file a new appeal.
KYW Newsradio reached out to Abu-Jamal’s attorneys for comment. They shared this statement in full:
“Today, the Superior Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider issues raised by Mr. Abu-Jamal in prior appeals. Two years ago, the Court of Common Pleas ordered reconsideration of these appeals finding evidence of an appearance of judicial bias when the appeals were first decided. We are disappointed in the Superior Court’s decision and are considering our next steps.
“While this case was pending in the Superior Court, the Commonwealth revealed, for the first time, previously undisclosed evidence related to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case. That evidence includes a letter indicating that the Commonwealth promised its principal witness against Mr. Abu-Jamal money in connection with his testimony. In today’s decision, the Superior Court made clear that it was not adjudicating the issues raised by this new evidence. This new evidence is critical to any fair determination of the issues raised in this case, and we look forward to presenting it in court.”
Questions and comments may be sent to: email@example.com
Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.
Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603
How long will he still be with us? How long will the genocide continue?
By Michael Moore—VIA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
E-mail: At this link
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
Attorney General Merrick Garland
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”
By Margaret Atwood*
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
*Witten by the woman who wrote a novel about Christian fascists taking over the U.S. and enslaving women. Prescient!
Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Department of Labor
For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Thursday, January 20, 2022
(202) 691-6378 • email@example.com • www.bls.gov/cps
(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).
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:
Resources for Resisting Federal Repression
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
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:
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
By Ivan Nechepurenko, July 26, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/26/world/europe/brittney-griner-russia-court.html
Wearing a black and gray sweatshirt with the slogan “Black lives for peace” printed on the back, Brittney Griner, the W.N.B.A. star who has been detained in Russia on drug charges, appeared in a court near Moscow on Tuesday as her defense team continued to present evidence that she had not intended to break the law.
She was escorted to a courtroom by a group of police officers, one of them wearing a balaklava, and stood in a metal cage, holding photographs of her relatives, teammates and friends, according to video footage from the scene published by Russian state television.
After being detained in a Moscow airport one week before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Ms. Griner has become an unlikely pawn in a diplomatic game between Moscow and Washington. With her guilty plea making the verdict seem a foregone conclusion, experts said that her best hope was that the Biden administration could find a way to swap her for a high-profile Russian being held by the United States.
During court hearings, her defense team argued for leniency, saying that Ms. Griner had not intended to smuggle narcotics into Russia and that, like many other international athletes, she had used cannabis to help ease pain from injuries.
A narcology expert testified in court on Tuesday, Ms. Griner’s lawyers said, to present a case that in some countries, including the United States, medical cannabis “is a popular treatment, specifically among athletes.”
“With the prescription in place, Brittney may have used it for medical, but not for recreational purposes,” said Maria Blagovolina, one of Ms. Griner’s lawyers and a partner at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin & Partners, a firm in Moscow.
At the previous hearing, the lawyers presented a note from Ms. Griner’s doctor recommending cannabis to treat her pain. Ms. Griner was also expected to appear in court on Wednesday, when she could be called to testify.
Ms. Griner had traveled to Russia because she played for a team in the country to earn extra money during the off-season. Russian customs officials discovered two vape cartridges with hashish oil — a cannabis derivative — in her luggage.
Ms. Griner was taken into custody near Moscow and accused of willfully smuggling the vape cartridges, a charge that can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
On July 7, Ms. Griner pleaded guilty to the charges, saying that she had unintentionally carried a banned substance into Russia because she had packed in a hurry. The Russian authorities have signaled that no possible exchange can take place before a verdict in court.
American officials have said that they are doing all they can to return Ms. Griner home, arguing that she was wrongfully detained. Last week, Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that such statements were “political, biased, and illegitimate.”
“If an American citizen was detained on drug trafficking charges and she does not deny it herself, then this should correspond to Russian legislation, and not to the laws adopted in San Francisco,” Ms. Zakharova said.
By Maia Szalavitz, July 26, 2022
Ms. Szalavitz is a contributing Opinion writer. She covers addiction and public policy.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/26/opinion/medicine-criminal-law.html
With the fall of Roe v. Wade, physicians across the country are struggling to balance the conflicting imperatives of their calling to care with their institutional duty to avoid legal liability, all to the detriment of their patients.
Medicine is hard to govern with the blunt instrument of criminal law. Human biological processes, including pregnancy, are enormously variable. In many cases, determining the precise moment when someone’s life or health is so threatened that abortion would be legal under a particular law is not an ethically answerable scientific question. And so doctors turn to lawyers, often with no medical experience, to protect themselves from prison.
Under Roe, most obstetricians and gynecologists didn’t face this level of legal peril. But this isn’t the first time America has criminalized aspects of medicine. Physicians who prescribe controlled substances like opioids carry a similar burden. They can face decades in prison if prosecutors target them for overprescribing. Although there are cases of bad actors who prescribed opioids for profit, even legitimate physicians may fear being targeted by law enforcement, and research shows that the threat of legal action has a broad chilling effect on the way doctors provide care. The war on drugs shows that when medicine is criminalized and politicized, harm to patients and doctors increases, while the activities that the laws are intended to curb continue or even increase.
The inability of criminal law to regulate medicine safely is visible in how people in pain or with suspected addiction are treated. I’ve written about suicides by chronic pain patients who were cut off from opioid medications that had helped them, in part because of doctors’ fears of legal consequences. Research now shows that for this group, cutting prescriptions dramatically increases risk of overdose and mental health crisis, compared with staying the course. But since physicians remain scared, the cutbacks continue.
Criminalization simply doesn’t allow for nuances that are part and parcel of medicine, such as the fact that some people need large doses of opioids because the enzymes that metabolize drugs vary widely because of genetics and other factors. Even in terminal cancer care — in which few if any deny the need for opioids — doses fell by 38 percent between 2007 and 2017, as legal pressure to do something about rising overdose deaths grew.
And criminalization invites suspicion, framing patients as liars. Health care providers, often unconsciously, can become contemptuous of those whose cases may bring legal scrutiny, corroding care. In 2017, for example, the artist Quána Madison said, an E.R. nurse called the police to remove her from the hospital and claimed that she was seeking drugs. Ms. Madison has chronic pain from complications of major surgeries required to reduce the cancer risk from a genetic syndrome. “As a Black woman, I know to never say ‘I’m seeking pain relief’ and to focus on the issue because I’m not taken seriously otherwise,” she said, describing how she believes it was only the presence of her white boyfriend that allowed her to avoid being jailed.
It’s not hard to imagine, in the wake of Roe’s demise, similar or worse happening to women who seek medical help for pregnancy complications and are suspected of having illegal abortions. Already women say the laws in their state are preventing them from receiving the care they need, including for miscarriages.
The drug war, according to Dana Sussman, the deputy executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, “laid the foundation for criminalizing pregnancy and all pregnancy outcomes more broadly” and “deputized health care providers to report their patients.”
At least 1,700 women were prosecuted from 1973 to 2020 for stillbirths, miscarriages or exposing their fetus to some actual or perceived risk of harm, including, in many cases, for allegations of drug use during pregnancy. Consequences included lengthy prison sentences and child custody loss, even when there was no proof that the substances caused damage. Many were reported to the police by medical professionals; those targeted were overwhelmingly poor and disproportionately Black.
Loopholes in medical privacy laws — often justified by drug enforcement — mean that hospitals have discretion to share records without patient consent. Only 19 states ban warrantless searches of prescription drug monitoring databases, and at the federal level, the Drug Enforcement Administration claims that it should be able to search these databases without a warrant in any state. Almost half of the states define drug use during pregnancy as child abuse, which triggers mandatory reporting to child welfare agencies and can also result in criminal charges. It’s not too difficult to see how similar data could be used to target women seeking abortions or doctors helping with their care.
Terrified of legal action, some physicians are already taking extreme measures to protect themselves from abortion prosecutions, such as ending women’s prescriptions for an immune disorder treatment, methotrexate, because if they get pregnant, it can cause miscarriage. The Texas Medical Association recently asked state regulators to act, saying that several hospitals are turning away patients with pregnancy complications for fear of violating the state’s abortion ban. Women who are miscarrying have been left to wait until they have severe bleeding before help is offered. As with the drug war, legal fear is driving doctors to prioritize themselves over their patients’ health.
The Supreme Court, however, offers one glimmer of hope in the fight against escalating medical criminalization. In a little-noticed 9-to-0 decision, Ruan v. United States, released just days after Roe was overturned, it decided to draw a line in the war on drugs. Some circuit courts had ruled that doctors accused of running “pill mills” could be convicted simply for prescribing more than prosecutors found acceptable. Others, in contrast, had ruled that drug dealing requires criminal intent and that doctors must have the right to defend themselves as practicing in good faith.
The Supreme Court sided with physicians. Prescribing outside the mainstream still risks malpractice suits, but without signs of criminal intent like selling specific drugs for specific dollar amounts, doctors can’t be convicted as dealers, the court ruled. It’s unclear why this intent requirement would not pertain to abortion cases as well.
But it is already obvious that prosecuting physicians hasn’t ended the overdose crisis. Instead, it scared many into defensive medicine and drove people with addiction and even some pain patients to far more deadly street drugs. Last year, the United States had its highest rate of overdose death, with the majority lost to opioids.
As with the drug war, criminalizing abortion will increase harm while failing to stop the behavior it is intended to reduce.
By Edgar Sandoval, July 26, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/26/us/texas-heat-poverty-islands-san-antonio.html
SAN ANTONIO — One day last week, Juanita Cruz-Perez poked her head out the back door of her two-bedroom home in San Antonio and shook her head no. It wasn’t quite noon yet, and the heat was already unbearable. She opened the front and back doors, praying for any kind of breeze, and turned on a plastic fan that sputtered hot air. She resisted the temptation to turn on the power-guzzling air-conditioner.
“The A.C. only goes on at night, no matter how hot it gets,” she said.
Ms. Cruz-Perez suffers from a slew of health problems that are exacerbated by the stifling heat, including diabetes and high blood pressure, but her $800-a-month budget leaves little room for what she would consider a luxury.
In San Antonio, weathering the second week of a heat wave that has been ferocious even by Texas standards, lower-income residents like Ms. Cruz-Perez are sometimes left with few options to relieve the misery. Not only can she not afford air-conditioning during the hottest part of the day, she lives in the Westside, one of several parts of San Antonio — nearly all of them working-class or poor neighborhoods — where there are few trees to provide shade.
Simple things like venturing into the back yard, walking to the store or waiting for a bus can be perilous.
“When you are poor, the sun finds you faster,” Ms. Cruz-Perez said.
San Antonio has seen at least 46 days of 100-plus-degree weather so far this year, according to the National Weather Service. Through July 25, measurements taken at the city’s airport have detected that all but one day in July has surpassed the 100-degree mark.
The heat wave has been blamed for a series of wildfires, including a blaze that damaged at least 29 homes Monday evening in Balch Springs, a suburb of Dallas. The heat has also tested the state’s beleaguered power grid. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which runs the power grid, has pleaded for power conservation from those who can afford air-conditioning to avoid rolling blackouts.
High temperatures have afflicted much of the southern and eastern parts of the United States over the past two weeks, and have reached this week into the normally temperate Pacific Northwest. The oppressive impact is particularly visible in places like the San Antonio metropolitan area, a Latino-majority region where nearly 18 percent of the population lives in poverty.
The heat is inescapable in the city’s historic Westside, where the high ratio of asphalt to green space — along with old structures, freight trains and an abundance of concrete — creates the kind of “heat island effect” that is known to lead to higher energy consumption, more pollution and a greater risk of related health problems.
“It is the poor who usually end up suffering through these heat spells, because they lack the resources,” said Kayla Miranda, who heads the Coalition for Tenant Justice, an advocacy group that is pushing for more green spaces in San Antonio. “We feel forgotten by those in power. The wealthier neighborhoods have more green spaces, shade.”
Ms. Miranda knows this personally. She and her four children live in public housing, at the Alazan-Apache Courts, where her door opens onto a landscape of dry lawns and blistering sidewalks. She often struggles to pay the nearly $350-a-month electric bill to keep her children cool.
The heat is a lot more tolerable in San Antonio’s best-known area, the River Walk, where tourists drink margaritas from colorful plastic cups and ride boats under the shade trees that trace the placid river. The city’s wealthier neighborhoods, a few miles north of downtown San Antonio, are often adorned with soap-opera-style mansions, manicured lawns and lush green foliage.
The Westside, by contrast, is dotted with taquerias, small stores known as tienditas, and murals of the Virgin of Guadalupe and of folkloric singers that honor the neighborhood’s Mexican American history. A little more than a mile from the city center, the neighborhood lies next to Interstate 35.
San Antonio as a whole is no stranger to scorching temperatures. When the temperature hit 107 degrees on July 11, that was only the sixth hottest day since 1885, according to the National Weather Service; the hottest day on record, reaching a blistering 111 degrees, was 22 years ago.
Even so, scientists are increasingly finding that, as the climate warms across the globe, heat in urban areas is not distributed equitably. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is joining other agencies this year in mapping the distribution of heat in 14 cities around the country. Urban heat islands, often located in the neighborhoods occupied by lower-income residents and people of color, can be up to 20 degrees hotter than adjacent areas on summer days, researchers already have found.
In Austin, Texas, about 80 miles northeast of San Antonio, the University of Texas is using a grant from NOAA’s Climate Office to research the city’s hot spots and strategies for cooling them down.
These can include planting more trees, installing vegetation-covered or reflective roofs and canopies, and using “cool” pavement that absorbs more water than concrete or asphalt, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
San Antonio officials said the city had created a campaign known as “Beat the Heat” to offer some temporary relief. Cooling centers are open during the hottest days, and residents are reminded through various media to stay indoors as much as possible, drink plenty of fluids and take frequent cool baths if air-conditioning is not an option.
But some residents in the Westside have to take a bus to get to the cooling centers. And with little shade, waiting for a bus can often be an excruciating experience.
On a recent day, Amelia Castillo, 67, walked slowly behind her husband, Antonio Castillo, 66, struggling with a walker, to reach a bus stop with no roof along Guadalupe Avenue in the Westside. Mr. Castillo settled onto an old wooden bench and winced as the sun baked his skin. His wife tilted a blue umbrella above their heads.
“It feels like the sun is getting hotter every day,” Ms. Castillo said. “And we are still in July.”
Minutes later, a bus arrived, and Ms. Castillo shared a surprised smile. “Sometimes we have to wait for 40 to 50 minutes,” she said.
Not far from the bus stop, Jessica Vasquez fanned herself with her hands as her three children and their Great Pyrenees puppy Simba took turns sipping warm water from the water fountain at Cassiano Park.
The pool at the park was closed, with a sign indicating that it would reopen on Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. “I wish it was open,” Ms. Vasquez said. “That would have been great. I don’t know why they close it during the week when the kids are out of school.”
Another pool less than a mile away is open during the week, a city pool worker said.
Elpidio Palacios, 56, rolled his wheelchair in her direction. He said he had lost both of his legs years ago when he fell off a train and landed on the tracks. He took a bottle of cold water from Ms. Segura and took a sip. He then showed off a straw hat that Ms. Segura had given him the day before — his version of shade.
“If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know what I would do in this heat,” Mr. Palacios said. “You can’t outrun the sun.”
By Sofo Archon
According to the World Health Organization, about 300 million people suffer from depression.
So, why is that?
If you pay attention to what pharmaceutical companies have to say on depression, you might come to believe that the cause of depression is chemical imbalance in the brain, and that the only way to treat it is by taking chemical drugs, and more specifically, antidepressants.
But here’s the truth pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know: There is absolutely no evidence supporting the claim that depression is caused by chemical imbalance in the brain. Yet most people – including mental health “experts” such as psychiatrists – think otherwise, having fallen victim to the misinformation pharmaceutical companies spread in order to sell their products.
Contrary to what pharmaceutical companies like us to believe, the body is not a machine that you can just tweak here and there with chemical substances and restore its health. Rather, the body is an organic unity, which is intrinsically connected to our psyche as well as our social and natural environment. Hence, you can’t treat a multidimensional condition like depression with the one-dimensional approach of just taking drugs.
Although depression often does have a biological, genetic, neurochemical component, it can’t be understood in isolation of psychological, social and ecological factors. Why? Because our neurochemistry, genes and biology are greatly influenced by those factors. For example, research shows that early life stress, such as childhood maltreatment, has a detrimental effect on brain structure, which significantly increases the risk of developing depression. Racism, sexism, unemployment, poverty, unfair working conditions, loneliness, nature deprivation and tragic events — among plenty of other factors — have also been shown to significantly increase the risk of developing depression.
To deal with the epidemic of depression, therefore, we need to address all those issues, instead of just ingesting antidepressants, as if they alone can magically heal us. In fact, studies suggest that, generally speaking, antidepressants have little to no positive effect on treating depression. Even worse, it can be argued that, overall, antidepressants do more harm than good, considering their severe side effects, which include weight gain, fatigue, loss of libido, insomnia, emotional flatness, agitation, increased suicidal thoughts and withdrawal symptoms. (Note: If you’re on antidepressants, I’m not implying or suggesting here that you should stop taking them. I’m only putting things into perspective.)
The good news is that, over the last few years there has been a slight yet noteworthy shift in approach when it comes to the treatment of depression. For example, more and more psychiatrists are becoming aware of the dangers of antidepressants, as well as the ineffectiveness of them alone in healing depression. As a result, many (although not most) psychiatrists are extra careful when to prescribe antidepressants, and when they do prescribe them they additionally advise their patients to engage in psychotherapy and other healing modalities, such as hypnosis, meditation, yoga, gardening, forest bathing and life coaching – all of which have been shown to be beneficial in treating depression.
But here’s one thing that nearly nobody in mental health care is talking about: changing society – and by that I mean our social systems and institutions. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists are focused on treating the individual, and their work’s goal is essentially to fix them so that they can become readjusted to society and function as “normal” people. But what if society itself is sick? Then it’s not really the individuals that need fixing, but the social conditions that mess them up in the first place.
For example, if someone is depressed due to stress caused by unemployment, then helping that individual heal from depression by finding her a job won’t do much to help minimize depression on a large social scale. Nor is it an effective, long-term strategy for dealing with depression on a personal level, for that individual might lose her job again due to the market’s inherent instability and competition. In comparison, a true, lasting solution would be changing our economic system from its very foundations so that it doesn’t produce unemployment anymore.
The same can be argued about loneliness, unfair working conditions, nature deprivation and other causes of depression that I mentioned earlier – all inevitable results of the various social systems in place.
Of course, supporting depressed individuals is important too, but if our goal is to deal with depression on a population level, then we need to address its root causes (the social systems) instead of merely its symptoms (the depressed individuals). An analogy I often give to illustrate my point is that of a sick tree which is producing sick leaves. One might try to treat the leaves one by one, but if the source of their sickness — that is, the tree — isn’t addressed, then there are extreme chances that the leaves won’t be healed. And even if one could somehow (maybe with some magical drug!) heal a leaf or two, the tree will still keep on producing new, sick leaves.
That is the holistic understanding we as a collective need to develop in order to effectively deal with depression. If we don’t, we will only achieve to perpetuate — and quite possibly worsen — this serious mental disorder that’s spreading like wildfire across the globe.
By David Wallace-Wells, July 27, 2022
Illustration by Ibrahim Rayintakath
In the energy scramble provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, American liquid natural gas has so far played the role of Europe’s white knight. If Europe manages to keep its lights on, homes heated and factories running this winter, when energy demand is highest, it will be in large part thanks to shipments of American gas, which have more than doubled since the war began. Today, two-thirds of American oil and even more of its gas comes from hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, which has played this heroic-seeming role before, in the country’s long effort post-9/11 to get out from the grip of Middle Eastern producers and secure what is often described as “energy independence.” (Donald Trump preferred the term “energy dominance.”) It hasn’t proved quite as useful as you might think: Because energy prices are set on global markets, domestic production doesn’t mean Americans pay less at the pump. But thanks in large part to fracking, the United States has become the world’s largest producer of both oil and gas.
Perhaps the most striking fact about the American hydraulic-fracturing boom, though, is unknown to all but the most discriminating consumers of energy news: Fracking has been, for nearly all of its history, a money-losing boondoggle, profitable only recently, after being propped up by so much investment from venture capital and Wall Street that it resembled less an efficient-markets no-brainer and more a speculative empire of bubbles like Uber and WeWork. The American shale revolution did bring the country “energy independence,” whatever that has been worth, and more abundant oil and gas. It has indeed reshaped the entire geopolitical landscape for fuel, though not enough to strip leverage from Vladimir Putin. But the revolution wasn’t primarily a result of some market-busting breakthrough or an engineering innovation that allowed the industry to print cash. From the start, the cash moved in the other direction; the revolution happened only because enormous sums of money were poured into the project of making it happen.
Today, with profits aided by the energy price spikes of the last year, the fracking industry is finally, at least for the time being, profitable. But from 2010 to 2020, U.S. shale lost $300 billion. Previously, from 2002 to 2012, Chesapeake, the industry leader, didn’t report positive cash flow once, ending that period with total losses of some $30 billion, as Bethany McLean documents in her 2018 book, “Saudi America,” the single best and most thorough account of the fracking boom up to that point. Between mid-2012 and mid-2017, the 60 biggest fracking companies were losing an average of $9 billion each quarter. From 2006 to 2014, fracking companies lost $80 billion; in 2014, with oil at $100 a barrel, a level that seemed to promise a great cash-out, they lost $20 billion. These losses were mammoth and consistent, adding up to a total that “dwarfs anything in tech/V.C. in that time frame,” as the Bloomberg writer Joe Weisenthal pointed out recently. “There were all these stories written about how V.C.s were subsidizing millennial lifestyles,” he noted on Twitter. “The real story to be written is about the massive subsidy to consumers from everyone who financed Chesapeake and all the companies that lost money fracking last decade.”
At the risk of oversimplifying the never-ending complexities of energy, there is a climate lesson here — a clear contrast to draw. Fracking was nothing less than a genuine energy transition, enacted quite rapidly and at enormous upfront expense with only speculative paths to real profit, requiring large-scale infrastructure build-outs against some cultural and political resistance and yet celebrated all the while as a product of irrepressible capitalism, the almost inevitable result of the never-ending appetite Americans have for cheap energy. And yet for a decade, as fracking boomed, Americans were told again and again — and not just by climate deniers — that rushing a green transition would be too expensive, imposing a huge burden on taxpayers, who would be footing the bill to subsidize and support a renewable build-out that couldn’t possibly be justified in terms of market logic or demand. For those exact same years, though middlemen profited off fracking, sector-wide losses mounted. “The industry, you know, it destroyed a lot of wealth,” Jeffrey Currie, the head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, said recently. “Like 10 to 20 cents on every single dollar. I think the number is actually closer to 30 cents on every dollar.”
The contrast raises a basic question: What does it mean to call one form of energy “expensive” or to say that transitioning to another would “cost too much”? Put another way: Why did the country decide it was OK to lose money on one kind of energy but anathema to lose it on another?
The question is a purposefully naïve one, of course, eliding some important differences. It’s true that the “subsidy” to fracking has come primarily from private markets and investors, not from public handouts designed to produce a particular energy-balance outcome. Measured by benefits to consumers, fracking has been a sort of bonanza. And it’s also true that renewables have received their fair share of investor support, on top of the tax subsidies and R. & D. money that came out of the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act; in fact, clean tech has enjoyed its own speculative boom years lately. But at the level of policy and public discourse, we spent a decade applying an intuitive market test to green energy — remember the right-wing furor over the bankruptcy of the solar company Solyndra? — even as the dirty alternative boom was itself flailing, quarter after quarter, producing billion-dollar bankruptcy after billion-dollar bankruptcy.
Clean energy has found its footing anyway, but renewables still account for only 12 percent of energy consumption in the United States, compared with 32 percent for natural gas and 36 percent for petroleum. Imagine what those figures might look like if there had been a decade of strategic subsidy and directed regulatory support of the kind that, in recent weeks, has been taken off the table by Senator Joe Manchin, who spiked President Biden’s compromise energy bill, and by the Supreme Court’s limiting of the power of federal energy regulation in West Virginia v. E.P.A.
Those setbacks come at a time when the viability of green energy creation has never been greater. The International Energy Agency has declared solar photovoltaic power “the cheapest electricity in history,” and a huge majority of the world’s population lives in places where renewables are already more affordable than power from fossil fuels. Those triumphs are a result of an astonishing decade-long, investment-powered decline in the cost of solar, wind and battery power: Between 2010 and 2020, the cost of solar power fell 90 percent, and the cost of wind and battery power fell nearly as much. In June, the International Energy Agency announced that global investment in clean, green and renewable technologies had exceeded investment in fossil fuels for the first time, accounting for more than $1.4 trillion of the total global investment of $2.4 trillion.
These advances have come despite, not because of, the major oil and gas companies, which are currently contributing less than 5 percent of all investment into clean tech — even as their net income, according to the International Energy Agency, is projected to more than double in 2022 to a staggering $4 trillion. And the United States too is sitting largely on the sidelines: For example, in 2004 the country sold 13 percent of all photovoltaic cells worldwide, but in 2021 that figure had fallen to less than 1 percent, even as China’s share has grown to nearly 80 percent now. Assessing overall clean-energy investment, the I.E.A. tellingly breaks up its numbers into three “regions”: first, “advanced economies,” which includes the United States and Europe; second, “emerging markets and developing economies”; and third, China, all on its own, getting its own bar in the three-bar graph and spending far more than either Europe or the United States individually. America should try to do something about that disparity — perhaps by taking a broader view of what qualifies, on a perilously warming planet, as a worthwhile investment.
Things to Read
This week, the International Renewable Energy Agency released its annual industry update with the headline news that, just in 2021, the standard industry measure of cost had fallen 15 percent for onshore wind and 13 percent for both offshore wind and utility-scale solar. The declines over the last decade, IRENA said, represented a “seismic improvement.”
In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there were months of panic about food price spikes and the possibility of grain shortages, given that 40 percent of globally traded wheat comes from those two countries. But as of a few weeks ago, wheat was trading at lower prices than it had been before the war began. Then a “grain deal” was reached to allow exports to continue — and though the impact was immediately muddied by a Russian airstrike on the port of Odesa, the price didn’t budge on the news.
“Supercharged biotech rice yields 40 percent more grain,” Science reports.
“Researchers have found that the climatic influence of global air pollution has dropped by up to 30 percent from 2000 levels,” according to another report in Science. While that may seem like unalloyed good news, it actually comes with a worrying climate dimension: Because aerosol pollution reflects sunlight back into space, reduced pollution may have boosted warming anywhere from 15 to 50 percent, according to Johannes Quaas, a climate scientist at Leipzig University and the lead author of the underlying study. “There is a lot more of this to come,” he told Science.
In The New Yorker, Dhruv Khullar reports from the ground during India’s brutal monthslong heat wave. (More on that here and here.)
According to initial tabulations, 1,700 people in Spain and Portugal died during last week’s heat wave, and one statistical analysis suggests that almost 1,000 may have died in Britain. Together, that’s more than 25 times the official death toll of India’s horrifying heat wave.
In Missouri, there was more rain in five hours than the state had ever received before in a single day; in Saint Louis, in six hours, there was two full months’ worth of precipitation. As The Washington Post points out, models suggest this kind of rainfall has only a 0.1 percent chance of happening in any given year, though it also points out that, of anywhere in the United States, the Midwest has observed the greatest increase (42 percent) of extreme precipitation events like this.
Los Angeles is considering a ban on new gas pumps.
In The Los Angeles Times, the first two of what are sure to be a long line of tributes to the legendary writer Mike Davis, who is in hospice.
In The Nation, Thea Riofrancos reviews the ambivalent eco-terrorist Andreas Malm’s quasi-manifesto “How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” which was taken remarkably seriously by voices of the liberal establishment (The Times’s Ezra Klein, The New Yorker’s David Remnick and Vox’s Sean Illing) when it was first published last year.
In High Country News, Sean Patrick Carney reviews Elvia Wilk’s “Death by Landscape”: “Wilk proposes that in addition to your public meat body — the body that goes to work, has sex or gets headaches — you have a second body, an ‘ecosystems body,’ that is ‘tethered’ — in ways both identifiable and mysterious — to microbes, mosquitoes, whales, ice shelves, landfills, and annual average rainfall, as well as, of course, human political and social formations.”
In Science, Charles Piller reports on the landscape-shifting revelation that the conceptual model for almost all treatment of Alzheimer’s disease over the last few decades may rest on basic fraud.
By Norman Lear, July 27, 2022
Mr. Lear, a father of six, is an Emmy-winning television producer and a co-founder of the advocacy organization People for the American Way.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/27/opinion/archie-bunker-donald-trump-norman-lear.html
Well, I made it. I am 100 years old today. I wake up every morning grateful to be alive.
Reaching my own personal centennial is cause for a bit of reflection on my first century — and on what the next century will bring for the people and country I love. To be honest, I’m a bit worried that I may be in better shape than our democracy is.
I was deeply troubled by the attack on Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 — by supporters of former President Donald Trump attempting to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. Those concerns have only grown with every revelation about just how far Mr. Trump was willing to go to stay in office after being rejected by voters — and about his ongoing efforts to install loyalists in positions with the power to sway future elections.
I don’t take the threat of authoritarianism lightly. As a young man, I dropped out of college when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and joined the U.S. Army Air Forces. I flew more than 50 missions in a B-17 bomber to defeat fascism consuming Europe. I am a flag-waving believer in truth, justice and the American way, and I don’t understand how so many people who call themselves patriots can support efforts to undermine our democracy and our Constitution. It is alarming.
At the same time, I have been moved by the courage of the handful of conservative Republican lawmakers, lawyers and former White House staffers who resisted Mr. Trump’s bullying. They give me hope that Americans can find unexpected common ground with friends and family whose politics differ but who are not willing to sacrifice core democratic principles.
Encouraging that kind of conversation was a goal of mine when we began broadcasting “All in the Family” in 1971. The kinds of topics Archie Bunker and his family argued about — issues that were dividing Americans from one another, such as racism, feminism, homosexuality, the Vietnam War and Watergate — were certainly being talked about in homes and families. They just weren’t being acknowledged on television.
For all his faults, Archie loved his country and he loved his family, even when they called him out on his ignorance and bigotries. If Archie had been around 50 years later, he probably would have watched Fox News. He probably would have been a Trump voter. But I think that the sight of the American flag being used to attack Capitol Police would have sickened him. I hope that the resolve shown by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and their commitment to exposing the truth, would have won his respect.
It is remarkable to consider that television — the medium for which I am most well-known — did not even exist when I was born, in 1922. The internet came along decades later, and then social media. We have seen that each of these technologies can be put to destructive use — spreading lies, sowing hatred and creating the conditions for authoritarianism to take root. But that is not the whole story. Innovative technologies create new ways for us to express ourselves, and, I hope, will allow humanity to learn more about itself and better understand one another’s ideas, failures and achievements. These technologies have also been used to create connection, community and platforms for the kind of ideological sparring that might have drawn Archie to a keyboard. I can only imagine the creative and constructive possibilities that technological innovation might offer us in solving some of our most intractable problems.
I often feel disheartened by the direction that our politics, courts and culture are taking. But I do not lose faith in our country or its future. I remind myself how far we have come. I think of the brilliantly creative people I have had the pleasure to work with in entertainment and politics, and at People for the American Way, a progressive group I co-founded to defend our freedoms and build a country in which all people benefit from the blessings of liberty. Those encounters renew my belief that Americans will find ways to build solidarity on behalf of our values, our country and our fragile planet.
Those closest to me know that I try to stay forward-focused. Two of my favorite words are “over” and “next.” It’s an attitude that has served me well through a long life of ups and downs, along with a deeply felt appreciation for the absurdity of the human condition.
Reaching this birthday with my health and wits mostly intact is a privilege. Approaching it with loving family, friends and creative collaborators to share my days has filled me with a gratitude I can hardly express.
This is our century, dear reader, yours and mine. Let us encourage one another with visions of a shared future. And let us bring all the grit and openheartedness and creative spirit we can muster to gather together and build that future.
Norman Lear produced “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times,” among other groundbreaking television shows. He is a member of the Television Academy Hall of Fame and a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and Kennedy Center Honors. An activist and philanthropist, he co-founded and serves on the board of the advocacy organization People for the American Way.
In the fight against warming, a formidable ally hides just beneath our feet.
Climate correspondent Somini Sengupta and photographer Tomás Munita reported from Chile on scientists building a global atlas of underground fungal networks. July 27, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/07/27/climate/climate-change-fungi.html
[You must click on the link to read this article, and see the photographs and animated illustrations online, it's really fascinating. —Bonnie Weinstein]
In defending dogs at all costs, Richard Rosenthal has made a lot of enemies. But his animal clients owe him their lives.
By Hope Corrigan, July 29, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/29/nyregion/dog-lawyer.html
The case before the court involved a Rhode Island greyhound named Lexus, accused of killing a Pomeranian in a dog park. The prosecution was asking for the death penalty, and a lawyer for the defense, Richard Rosenthal, was there to stop it.
It soon became clear that the defense was prepared to exhaust every possible legal means to free the greyhound — to turn it, in Mr. Rosenthal’s words, into a “federal case.” So Lexus was granted a stay of execution, but on the condition that Mr. Rosenthal remove the greyhound from the state “by the most direct route without stopping, never to return.” This was his first case as a dog lawyer, and what he calls his first “get-out-of-town-by-sundown order.” It would be the first of many.
As an animal attorney for more than a decade, Mr. Rosenthal takes on custody cases, sues veterinary clinics for malpractice and has made a specialty of defending dangerous dogs. In doing so, he often enrages local officials, animal control officers and district attorneys. But even animal rights groups have expressed frustration with him.
“I’m a hired gun,” Mr. Rosenthal said, acknowledging his reputation as the go-to lawyer to get dogs off death row. “If I take a case, it’s about winning. I take it because I believe in it.”
Lexus the greyhound’s case was a turning point for Mr. Rosenthal. After that, he and his wife, Robin Mittasch, founded the Lexus Project in 2009, a nonprofit that provides legal representation for dogs ordered to be euthanized. It turned out there was a market for his services. He soon received a phone call about Luna, a husky ordered to be put down for killing chickens. He was called to Connecticut to defend a golden retriever named Buddy.
That case played out dramatically in the local papers. Buddy had knocked down an older woman, and the woman’s son wanted Buddy put down. The Lexus Project issued an over-the-top response on Facebook, posting images of the gates of Auschwitz superimposed over the town seal of Milford, Conn. (“I can’t say enough bad things about Connecticut,” Mr. Rosenthal said. “They’ve never met a dog they didn’t want to kill.”) A judge granted Buddy a reprieve, provided the Lexus Project removed the dog from Connecticut immediately.
Word got around. Cases began flooding in from around the country. One in particular inspired Mr. Rosenthal to abandon his 30-year family and criminal law practice to go into animal law full time.
It is not remotely a feel-good story. The case involved an enormous dog in Nevada named Onion, a 120-pound mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix. Onion killed his owner’s 1-year-old grandson after the child stumbled and startled the sleeping dog. Mr. Rosenthal and a local lawyer argued that the dog was not vicious but had reacted the way any animal might when startled. The case went to the Nevada Supreme Court. There, the child’s grandmother made it clear she didn’t want the dog euthanized; despite losing her grandson, she had a strong attachment to the dog, which she adopted as a puppy when she received a cancer diagnosis. Eventually, the county dropped the case rather than force the grieving family to appear in court, and Onion was sent to a rescue sanctuary in Colorado.
“In Onion’s case, it was an unfortunate accident,” Mr. Rosenthal said. “It was a horrible tragedy. But there was nothing vicious about it.”
In such cases, Mr. Rosenthal employs the same dispassionate legal argument every time. He allows that it is a tragedy when a dog injures or kills another dog or, worse, a person; but he says all circumstances must be considered before the dog is euthanized. It’s a position that doesn’t always play well with the public. “With Onion, we got hate mail,” he said. “We got death threats.”
The history of animal law in the United States can be reasonably traced to a landmark 1972 case brought by a constitutional lawyer named Henry Holzer, who sought to end kosher slaughter, a practice that he argued did not render livestock unconscious before killing them. Mr. Holzer lost the case, but it was the beginning of a new wave of lawsuits that protected the interests of animals, rather than simply a person’s interest in relation to an animal.
Soon after, Helen Jones, a founder of the Humane Society of the United States, sought to shut down three New York City zoos. In 1975, the first animal law class was offered at Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey. The specialty quickly expanded to address animal abuse, laboratory testing, captive animals, wildlife and companion animals. In 1979, a network of animal lawyers created the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which focuses on both litigation and advocacy. The A.L.D.F. currently has over 2,600 pro bono attorney members.
Today, animal law is expanding rapidly. More than 160 law schools in the United States offer at least one animal law class; the Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., has the most extensive program, with 25 animal law courses. More law schools are following suit: In 2021, Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy program received a $10 million endowment. Last month, the George Washington University Law School and the Animal Legal Defense Fund teamed up to open a new animal law program.
Thompson Page, an animal attorney in Connecticut, regularly serves as co-counsel with Mr. Rosenthal (who is licensed to practice only in New York and several federal districts). He and Mr. Rosenthal founded the Center for Animal Litigation, a nonprofit network of lawyers that, like the Animal Legal Defense Fund, works pro bono on animal cases around the country.
“It’s David versus Goliath every day,” Mr. Page said. “We are civil rights lawyers for four-legged creatures.”
The two men have been friends for years, and Mr. Rosenthal is described by Mr. Page as having a “creative legal mind” with a deep understanding of the law and how to apply it. Mr. Page points out that endangered species and farm animals often get the most legal attention and, to some extent, public sympathy.
Mr. Page points out, however, that he and Mr. Rosenthal occupy an unpopular space in animal law: “Who do you think wants to represent a pit bull who bit somebody?” Mr. Rosenthal has a knack for getting judges — many of whom are eager to dismiss lawsuits against dogs as frivolous — to consider the details of the case with what Mr. Page calls “enthralling colloquies” that can go on for hours.
Though some animal rights activists consider Mr. Rosenthal an ally, he is aware that he has made enemies along the way. He says that local government officials, law enforcement and opposing counsel tend to dislike him. But it is part of the job, Mr. Page says. “We’re hated,” he said. “We are Darth Vader.”
Both Mr. Rosenthal and Mr. Page expressed distrust of law enforcement. “All of a sudden it came to a point where, invariably, when a cop shoots a dog, their first description of the dog, no matter what the dog is, is that it was a pit bull,” Mr. Rosenthal said. (The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that police officers kill 10,000 pet dogs every year.) Historically, animal control officers, once referred to as “dogcatchers,” have been in generally low-paying, low-level positions. Mr. Rosenthal may be willing to entertain a comparison to Darth Vader, but he holds the modern dogcatcher in an even lower regard. “Let’s get serious,” he said. “Nobody becomes an animal control officer for the glory or the money or the great amount of respect.”
But the job has evolved, and now animal control officers, who are often considered part of law enforcement, have a considerable influence on what happens when a dog bite is reported. They are often primary defense witnesses when a kill order has been enacted for a dog. “We want animal control officers to actually have training in dog behavior so they understand why and when dogs fight,” Mr. Page said.
“There are documented cases where it’s the smaller dog that starts the attack,” Mr. Rosenthal said. “You can’t expect a dog to have a proportional response.” He describes an incident involving a greyhound that killed a lap dog that had jumped out of its owner’s arms and run barking toward the greyhound. He was able to prove that the smaller dog initiated the interaction, citing a case out of Illinois that says the court must look at provocation from the dog’s point of view and using a “reasonable dog standard.” The case was dismissed.
“To break the ice, my normal first offer of settlement is if you want to take the kill order off the dog and reissue it on the owner, I’ll serve it,” Mr. Rosenthal said. He was joking, although he didn’t exactly laugh.
Leaning back in a chair in his Long Island basement office, Mr. Rosenthal is at ease discussing acrimonious cases he has worked on, slipping in barbs aimed at bad dog owners, opposing counsel, judges. About a judge he has worked with: “You could put her legal argument on the head of a pin and still have room for the angels to dance.”
The office looks like that of a standard lawyer — save the large sculpture of a greyhound next to his phone, a wall hanging depicting a greyhound and dozens of framed photos of greyhounds. When recounting the story of saving Lexus, Mr. Rosenthal became uncharacteristically emotional. It happened that one of his greyhounds had died the previous week.
Mr. Rosenthal and his wife, Ms. Mittasch, are well known within the greyhound adoption community. In addition to his founding of the Lexus Project, Mr. Rosenthal is a licensed pilot who tells stories of using his personal aircraft, a single-engine ex-military Navion F, to transport dozens of dogs from shelters to adopters. He has also flown with Pilots N Paws, an organization that enlists private pilots to help with rescued animal transportation. He no longer flies these transport missions, however. In 2017, Mr. Rosenthal was the sole survivor of a Long Island plane crash that killed the two other passengers on board. There were no animal casualties, but he has not flown since the crash.
Mr. Rosenthal estimates that he takes 20 to 30 animal cases per year. Aside from handling general counsel work for several doctor’s offices on Long Island, pet custody cases are where Mr. Rosenthal makes his money. “Pet custody starts at around five grand and can get to ridiculous numbers when you have two sides with two attorneys willing to fight,” he said.
But there are obstacles to being a dog lawyer. Courts generally do not grant animals habeas corpus, or the right to a trial — a significant barrier to litigating animal law. Recently, a high-profile case surrounding Happy, an elephant at the Bronx Zoo, brought the issue of personhood into public view and tested the boundaries of applying human rights to animals. Advocates at the Nonhuman Rights Project, the organization representing Happy, argued that the elephant recognizes her reflection in a mirror, indicating she has self-awareness and consciousness and should be released from captivity to an elephant sanctuary. The New York Court of Appeals rejected the argument, ruling 5 to 2 that Happy is not a person, at least not in the legal sense.
This is where progressive animal law theories and Mr. Rosenthal’s approach diverge. He is quick to draw a distinction between successful litigation and advocacy that relies on animal law to change court definitions of personhood, an effort that he deems an “intellectual pursuit.”
“I am an oddity in animal law in the sense that the holy grail of the animal law is to have animals declared something other than just property,” he said. “What I argue and litigate are strict property concepts.” Litigating animals as property may seem at odds with the ideal of fighting for their rights, but it is often the most efficient way to save the life of a dog.
Unlike the yearslong case pushing for the personhood and release of Happy, Mr. Rosenthal’s approach to animal law feels urgent. He said he doesn’t have time to try to convince the court of an animal’s personhood. “The difference is, in my cases, there is a dog or cat that’s going to die if I don’t win,” he said. “So to me, I need to win the case.”
Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old, says doctors shouldn’t be silent. But she finds herself at the center of a post-Roe clash shaking the medical community.
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Ava Sasani, July 28, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/28/us/politics/abortion-doctor-caitlin-bernard-ohio.html
Three weeks before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, donned her white lab coat, put her infant daughter into a front-pack baby carrier and joined a few colleagues who marched to the State Capitol, hoping to deliver a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Signed by hundreds of health professionals, the letter implored Mr. Holcomb, a Republican, not to convene a special legislative session to further restrict abortions. It contained a pointed political message: “Abortion bans are not popular in our state.”
Dr. Bernard, who catapulted into the national spotlight for providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim last month, delivers babies and provides contraceptive care, pap smears and other routine obstetric and gynecological care. She is also one of a small number of doctors in her state with specific training in complex reproductive care, including second-trimester abortions.
But some of her riskiest work takes place outside her hospital, advocating publicly for abortion access.
Her outspokenness has extracted a price. Dr. Bernard, 37, has been criticized across right-wing media, faced harassment and is the subject of an investigation by the Indiana attorney general. She’s landed at the center of a post-Roe clash that the medical community has been dreading — one in which doctors themselves are the focus of political and legal attacks.
“Physicians who provide abortion have been harassed, they have been murdered,” Dr. Bernard said on Tuesday in an interview with The New York Times. “And for too long, I think, because of that, they’ve had to be silent to protect their families, and it’s created an idea that we’re doing something wrong or something illegal. And we’re not. And I feel compelled to say that.”
Threats against abortion providers are hardly new. But the overturning of Roe has created a frightening new legal landscape for doctors.
In conservative states like Indiana, where abortion access is restricted, they face mounting legal requirements that, if not followed, could jeopardize their licenses or land them in jail. A wave of new abortion bans and restrictions across the nation call for hefty prison terms and fines against doctors who provide abortions.
In Indiana, Todd Rokita, the attorney general, is investigating whether Dr. Bernard, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics & gynecology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, reported the Ohio girl’s abortion to Indiana state officials, as required. Records show she did.
In a statement to The Times on Tuesday, the attorney general said he would “see this duty through to the very end,” and accused Dr. Bernard of using “a 10-year-old rape victim’s personal trauma” to “push her ideological stance.”
Dr. Bernard, in turn, says Mr. Rokita is just another politician engaging in “state intimidation for their own political ends.” She has filed a tort claim against him, the first step toward a potential lawsuit for defamation.
Medical professionals who work in reproductive health are watching the events in Indiana closely, said Dr. Kristin Lyerly, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Wisconsin who coordinates reproductive health care advocacy in the upper Midwest for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Before Roe was overturned, she said, she was providing abortions at one of four clinics in Wisconsin. Abortion is now banned there under an 1849 law that makes it a criminal offense.
“Those of us who provide abortion care have been trying to do it discreetly and carefully for many years knowing that this is necessary health care for our patients,” Dr. Lyerly said. “Now, we feel like we really need to tell the story and be very frank about what we’re seeing and experiencing and what our patients are dealing with, while walking that very fine line of protecting patient privacy.”
Abortions are only a small part of Dr. Bernard’s practice. She handles complex abortion cases — those where the life of the mother is in danger — at the university’s medical center. She provides abortions — both surgical and medication — several days a month at Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana and Kentucky.
The work has long included stressful elements that go well beyond delivering sensitive medical care: In 2020, she said, the F.B.I. informed Planned Parenthood it was investigating a kidnapping threat against her daughter.
Her patients describe her as kind and caring; Rebecca Evans, a nurse midwife who sought care from Dr. Bernard after she suffered a miscarriage, called Dr. Bernard a “full scope” clinician, who “does all of these different things, and she’s really passionate about all of it.”
Dr. Bernard’s advocacy, she says, is in furtherance of her goal of providing patients the best medical care possible. By limiting abortion options, and requiring her to make certain statements — such as informing patients that fetuses feel pain during an abortion when the science on that issue is still unclear — the state is forcing her to practice medicine in a way that is unsafe and not medically accurate, she says.
She is the plaintiff in a 2019 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that sought unsuccessfully to overturn Indiana’s ban on nearly all second-trimester abortions. She testifies frequently in the State Legislature. After Roe was overturned, she organized a protest. (She also sports a tattoo on her left foot, showing a wire coat hanger — a symbol of dangerous at-home abortions before the procedure was legal — over the words “Trust women.”)
Indiana currently allows abortions up to 22 weeks. This week, as the Indiana legislature considered a near-total ban on abortion during the legislative session she fought against, Dr. Bernard was not there.
Abortion opponents have been leaving hateful messages on her cellphone, she says. She continues to see patients, but has hired a security detail, and her colleagues have started a GoFundMe account to help with her mounting legal bills. An in-person appearance in a tense environment at the Legislature might further inflame the situation.
“The politicization of me, and of the work that I do, has definitely made it difficult for me to continue to do the advocacy that I have in the past,” she conceded.
Not long after Roe was overturned, the Indianapolis Star learned of her 10-year-old patient, who had traveled from Ohio, where abortion is banned after six weeks, even in cases of rape or incest. Dr. Bernard’s allies say it is no accident that the 10-year-old child was referred to her; there are very few doctors, they say, who could handle such a sensitive case.
Earlier this month, President Biden cited the case when he signed an executive order designed to ensure access to abortion medication. Suddenly, all eyes were on Dr. Bernard.
Dr. Bernard on Tuesday refused to discuss any aspect of the case, citing the girl’s privacy. In addition to worrying about prosecution, she could face consequences at work. Until Tuesday, her employer, Indiana University School of Medicine, a state-funded institution, and Indiana University Health, a nonprofit health care system, had been publicly silent about her, except to say she had not violated patient privacy laws.
In a statement to The Times, Indiana University’s president, Pam Whitten, and medical school dean, Dr. Jay Hess, said Dr. Bernard remains “a member of the faculty in good standing.” I.U. Health called her a “valued and respected physician” and a “true advocate for the health and well-being of her patients.”
In a sense, Dr. Bernard’s life has prepared her for this moment. She absorbed her activist streak from her parents, who came of age in the socially liberal 1960s, and lived on a communal farm in upstate New York when their children were little.
When she was five, she informed her family that she was going to be a doctor, said her sister, Rebeccah Johnson. When she was 15, she and her sister walked past a phalanx of protesters at a Planned Parenthood clinic to get birth control. Later, she witnessed firsthand the complications women can suffer from pregnancy when she and her father, a carpenter, went to Guatemala to help run health clinics.
Perhaps because of that, she said, she was always drawn to obstetrics and gynecology. Early in her career, Dr. Bernard joined a program called AMPATH, led by Indiana University, which brings American doctors to Kenya, where abortion is largely prohibited.
Nearly a third of the patients she saw were suffering from complications from unsafe at-home abortions. “We’d often see women who had been raped, assaulted, and now pregnant,” said Dr. Astrid Christoffersen-Deb, her supervisor.
After completing medical school and residency at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., Dr. Bernard trained at Washington University in St. Louis, where she became accredited in “complex family planning,” a specialty that qualifies her to handle complicated cases including second-trimester abortions.
“People who need abortions in the second trimester are often facing the absolute worst imaginable situations — they have a very wanted pregnancy and their baby is not going to survive or is going to have an incredibly difficult life and they are trying to spare their child from that outcome,” she said, adding, “Politicians, people who are uncomfortable with abortion care, have usually never been in those situations.”
In 2017, Dr. Bernard left St. Louis for Indiana, where she has become the “go-to” doctor to speak out for reproductive rights, said Dr. Tracey A. Wilkinson, a pediatrician who, along with Dr. Bernard, is involved with Indiana’s chapter of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Project. Dr. Wilkinson spent all day Monday at the Indiana Capitol, and said she felt Dr. Bernard’s absence acutely.
“We do not go knowing that we are going to change the way the votes happen,” Dr. Wilkinson said. “We go to put in the record that somebody stood up and said that this was wrong. We go so that our patients hear somebody standing up for them.”
On Tuesday, Indiana’s abortion ban advanced out of a Senate committee, drawing critics from across the political spectrum. Abortion rights advocates called the measure an attack on women, while several anti-abortion activists criticized exceptions that would allow for abortion in cases of rape and incest; one suggested that Dr. Bernard’s 10-year-old patient should have been required to give birth.
If the bill passes, Dr. Bernard said, she will likely find herself referring Indiana women to abortion providers out of state. Though she knows it may create further problems for her, she does not intend to be quiet.
“One of the most important things about the issue of abortion in the U.S. is that people don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “They fear the stigma, providers fear the stigma that they’re going to be harassed, targeted, because they have been. So one of the most important things is just being honest about it.”
Mitch Smith contributed to this story.
The Oak Lawn Police Department said that the boy, identified by his lawyer as 17-year-old Hadi Abuatelah, was armed with a semiautomatic handgun and ran from officers during a traffic stop.
By Vimal Patel, July 28, 2022
A screen shot from a video of the arrest of a 17-year-old in Oak Lawn, Ill., in which police officers are seen punching the teenager. Credit...Myriah Deal
A 17-year-old boy who was seen on video being beaten by police officers in Oak Lawn, south of Chicago, was hospitalized with a broken nose and bleeding near his brain, family representatives said on Thursday.
The Oak Lawn Police Department said that the boy, whom they did not identify, was armed with a semiautomatic handgun during the episode on Wednesday evening and ran from officers who had conducted a traffic stop. “The subject refused to listen to verbal commands, which resulted in a physical confrontation with two officers,” the department said in a statement.
The beating, under the backdrop of McDonald’s arches, was captured in a minute-long video by a bystander who could be heard saying: “Why are they beating him like this? It’s a little ol’ boy.”
It is unclear what had occurred before the video began, and part of the video is obscured by a vehicle. But two officers can be seen punching the 120-pound teenager, identified by his lawyer as Hadi Abuatelah, in the legs and face at least 10 times as he is on the ground.
Gerald Vetter, a spokesman for the Police Department, did not immediately respond to phone and email messages on Thursday. He said in a statement on Thursday that an officer was also taken to the hospital but did not specify injuries. He said that the investigation into the episode was continuing and that charges were pending.
Zaid Abdallah, the boy’s lawyer, said that Hadi was a passenger in the vehicle. The lawyer said he did not know what the traffic stop was about or why Hadi had decided to flee.
“You have him subdued,” he said. “If he broke the law, we have a process for that in America. You arrest the person. He goes to bond court. He goes to his preliminary hearing. He goes to trial court. This is the process. The process is not smash his head into the pavement.”
Mr. Abdallah said he was trying to clarify whether Hadi had the gun at the time of the beating but that his client had not been able to speak coherently about it yet. “I can tell you for sure the firearm was never brandished,” he said, “the firearm was never pointed.”
Mr. Abdallah said that Hadi, who is to enter his senior year of high school this year and is training to be a barber, is “not doing too well right now.”
“He’s conscious but he’s not lucid,” he said. “He’s emotionally scarred to the point where he only wants his mother and father next to him.”
The Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations said in a statement that it wanted the Police Department to release dashboard and body camera footage from all the officers involved and conduct an internal investigation.
“Regardless of the alleged infraction that led to the arrest, the video clearly shows a restrained teenager in submission, not resisting, being brutally beaten by three officers without justification,” Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago, said in a statement. “The issue here is excessive force and police brutality. Something we are seeing again and again and again.”
They contain the food additive titanium dioxide, which is in thousands of food products. Here’s what we learned about its safety.
By Rachel Rabkin Peachman, July 26, 2022
If you’ve been paying attention to nutrition headlines lately, you may have noticed a recent lawsuit that claimed that Skittles — the colorful candies of “taste the rainbow” fame — were “unfit for human consumption” because of the presence of a “known toxin” called titanium dioxide.
The class-action lawsuit, filed July 14 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, said that Mars Inc., the maker of the candies, had “long known of the health problems” the chemical compound posed, and that it had even publicly committed in 2016 to phase the substance out of its products. Yet, according to the complaint, the candy company “flouted its own promise to consumers” and continued to sell Skittles with titanium dioxide, posing a “significant health risk to unsuspecting consumers.”
But what is titanium dioxide, exactly? And should you be concerned about it in your candy — or in any other food, for that matter? Here’s what we know.
What is titanium dioxide?
Titanium dioxide is a chemical compound, derived from a naturally occurring mineral, that is processed and used as a color additive, anti-caking agent and whitener, among other things, in thousands of food products across a range of categories. These include many chewing gums, baked goods, sandwich spreads, salad dressings and dairy products like cottage cheese, ice cream and coffee creamers, said Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit focused on consumer health and safety.
Sweet treats and candies also make up a large share of food products that contain the substance. One recent E.W.G. review concluded that “thousands of children’s sweets,” including Starburst and other candies marketed to kids, contained it.
Titanium dioxide is also used in a variety of nonfood items, such as certain medications, sunscreens, cosmetics, paints and plastics.
Is it safe to eat?
It depends on whom you ask. Since 1966, the Food and Drug Administration has recognized the use of titanium dioxide in human food as safe, so long as it doesn’t exceed 1 percent of the food’s weight.
But despite its widespread use, studies published since the 1960s have raised questions about its safety. A 2015 review of mostly animal (but some human) studies, for instance, found that titanium dioxide did not just pass through the body, as research in the 1960s suggested. Instead, the researchers found, the additive could be absorbed into the bloodstream via the intestines and accumulate in certain organs, potentially damaging the spleen, liver and kidneys.
A subsequent animal study published in 2017 linked titanium dioxide with an increased risk of intestinal inflammation, cancer and damage to the immune system. This research was concerning enough that in 2019, the French government called for a ban of titanium dioxide by 2020.
And in 2021, another review of animal and human studies raised the possibility that titanium dioxide could play a role in inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer.
This year, after an assessment of the scientific literature by the European Food Safety Authority, the European Union decided to ban titanium dioxide in food. The agency highlighted its concern that the additive could damage DNA and lead to cancer. While more research is still needed, the agency concluded that it could not establish a safe level of titanium dioxide in food.
Britain and Canada, however, disagreed with the European Union’s decision and continued to allow titanium dioxide in food.
Norbert Kaminski is a professor of pharmacology and toxicology and the director of the Center for Research on Ingredient Safety at Michigan State University whose own animal research on titanium dioxide has been partially funded by industry groups such as the Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association and the International Association of Color Manufacturers. He said that the studies used to justify banning the ingredient in the European Union contained methodology flaws. He added that a 1979 study by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, found no link between titanium dioxide and cancer. In that research, mice and rats were given the chemical compound in extremely large doses — amounting to 2.5 to 5 percent of their diet — across two years.
In response to a request for comment, an F.D.A. official said that the agency has reviewed the findings of the European Union’s ban and concluded that the available studies “do not demonstrate safety concerns connected to the use of titanium dioxide as a color additive.”
But Pierre Herckes, a professor of chemistry at the School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University who was an author of a 2014 study on titanium dioxide, said that based on the current research, which is mixed, it’s tricky to say whether consumers should limit their consumption of the additive. “I don’t have a clear yes or no,” he said.
Dr. Herckes did say, however, that given that sweet treats and candies contain some of the highest levels of titanium dioxide and are mostly consumed by children, there is reason for concern, given their smaller bodies and higher relative doses. “If there is damage to the DNA, classical carcinogenicity, that is cumulative over time. When you are exposed to that in the younger years, it can hit you in later years,” he said.
What can I do if I want to avoid it?
While Mars Inc. is in the process of phasing out titanium dioxide in its products sold in Europe, the company has yet to take action in the United States, where titanium dioxide is still permitted.
In an emailed statement to The Times, Justin Comes, vice president of research and development at Mars Wrigley North America, said that the company’s use of titanium dioxide “is in full compliance with government regulations. While we do not comment on pending litigation, all Mars Wrigley ingredients are safe and manufactured in compliance with strict quality and safety requirements established by food safety regulators, including the F.D.A.”
Mars Inc. did not respond when asked if it planned to remove the additive from its products sold in the United States.
Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, said that he was baffled as to why the company wasn’t removing titanium dioxide from the U.S. market. “Maybe because the F.D.A. has not told them they’re going to ban it,” he said.
Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said that steering clear of the additive could be difficult, since food companies aren’t required to include it on their ingredient lists, and not all companies do. The chemical compound may be especially hard to avoid in processed foods that might simply state “color added” rather than list the specific ingredients used.
Your best bet, then, for limiting your consumption of titanium dioxide is to choose products that don’t contain added coloring. Or you could stick to eating unprocessed, whole or organic foods when you can, said Marion Nestle, a professor emeritus of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.
Dr. Nestle noted that food additives like titanium dioxide were generally used to make “junk food look healthy and taste better.” She added that “those are not foods that a nutritionist would be likely to recommend except in very small quantities.”
The larger issue, though, Dr. Nestle said, is that the F.D.A. does not have the staff or the funds to do the necessary scientific review of this additive or countless others that are in our food supply.
The agency has long needed to review the thousands of food additives that it deemed safe decades ago, based on research that was typically provided by the industry or based on no research at all, Mr. Faber added.
“Titanium dioxide is really the poster child for many chemicals that were reviewed, in some cases, more than 50 years ago for safety by the F.D.A. and haven’t been reviewed since,” he said. “So titanium dioxide is part of a bigger story about regulatory failure.”
That’s why legislators have introduced bills that would require the F.D.A. to better ensure the safety of chemicals before they are added to food and to regularly assess them for safety. Barring that, it’s left up to each food company to decide if it will include additives like titanium dioxide in their products, just as it’s up to individual consumers to decide if they will eat them.
As for Skittles in particular, Dr. Nestle said that since there are suspicions that the additive may be carcinogenic, “Mars should take it out. They shouldn’t be using it.” She added, “Why take a chance?”
Should this affect your choices in the supermarket? And will this affect the outcome of the lawsuit against Mars Inc.? It seems that the jury is still out.
They tend to have the weakest social services and the worst results in several categories of health and well-being.
By Emily Badger, Margot Sanger-Katz and Claire Cain MillerGraphics by Eve Washington, July 28, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/28/upshot/abortion-bans-states-social-services.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=The%20Upshot
The case against Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., wound up ending Roe v. Wade. Mississippi ranks last in the nation in infant mortality. Credit...Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press
In Mississippi, which brought the abortion case that ended Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court, Gov. Tate Reeves vowed that the state would now “take every step necessary to support mothers and children.”
Today, however, Mississippi fares poorly on just about any measure of that goal. Its infant and maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the nation.
State leaders have rejected the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, leaving an estimated 43,000 women of reproductive age without health insurance. They have chosen not to extend Medicaid to women for a full year after giving birth. And they have a welfare program that gives some of the country’s least generous cash assistance — a maximum of $260 a month for a poor mother raising two children.
Mississippi embodies a national pattern: States that have banned abortion, or are expected to, have among the nation’s weakest social services for women and children, and have higher rates of death for infants and mothers.
According to a New York Times analysis, the 24 states that have banned abortion (or probably will) fare worse on a broad range of outcomes than states where abortion will probably remain legal, including child and maternal mortality, teenage birthrates and the share of women and children who are uninsured. The states likely to ban abortion either have laws predating Roe that ban abortion; have recently passed stringent restrictions; or have legislatures that are actively considering new bans.
The majority of these states have turned down the yearlong Medicaid postpartum extension. Nine have declined the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which provides health care to the poor. None offer new parents paid leave from work to care for their newborns.
“The safety net is woefully inadequate,” said Carol Burnett, who works with poor and single mothers as executive director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative, a nonprofit. “All of these demonstrated state-level obstacles prevent moms from getting the help they need, the health care they need, the child care they need.”
Many anti-abortion activists have acknowledged that improving the health and livelihoods of mothers and young children is an important goal for their movement: “This has been my lecture to the pro-life movement for the last year,” said Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life. “No woman stands alone in the post-Roe America.”
But in many of these states, skepticism of government aid runs as deep as opposition to abortion. And racism has played a role over generations in weakening safety nets for all poor residents, researchers and historians say.
Studies have repeatedly found that states where the safety net is less generous and harder to access tend to be those with relatively more Black residents. That has further implications for Black women, who have a maternal mortality rate nationally that is nearly three times that of white women.
Social spending is not the only answer to poverty and poor public health, and some in the anti-abortion movement stress that they want to help women and children — just not with more government spending. But there is a strong link between state policy choices and outcomes for mothers and children, researchers have found.
Perhaps the clearest example is health insurance. Numerous studies have tied it to improved health and financial security for poor Americans. Since 2014, states have had the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover nearly all poor adults, with the federal government paying 90 percent or more of the cost. But nine of the states planning to ban abortion have not expanded it, citing opposition to Obamacare, which Republicans have long vowed to repeal; a disinclination to offer health benefits to poor Americans who do not work; or concerns about the 10 percent of the bill left to state governments to finance.
“Closing the Medicaid gap is the first and best option for women’s health care,” said Allison Orris, a senior fellow focused on health policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Since 2021, states have also had the choice to expand Medicaid to cover women for a full year after a birth instead of two months. Just 16 states have declined to do so or opted for a shorter period — all but three of them are also banning or seeking to ban abortion.
Women who are poor and pregnant are eligible for Medicaid across the country, and the program pays for four in 10 births nationwide. But health experts say it also matters that women are covered for an extended period after birth, and for the years leading up to pregnancy. Conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and substance abuse can lead to pregnancy complications and poor infant health. Research suggests that Medicaid expansion can reduce maternal mortality. Medicaid also pays for contraception.
Paid family leave and subsidized child care are another example. None of the states that have banned abortion (or are likely to) guarantee parents paid leave from work to care for and bond with their newborns. Just 11 states and the District of Columbia do. Paid leave has been shown to benefit infants’ health and mothers’ physical and mental health as well as their economic prospects.
In most states, there is no guaranteed child care for children until they enter kindergarten at age 5. Subsidies available to low-income families cover a small segment of eligible children, ranging from less than 4 percent in Arkansas (which now bans abortion) to more than 17 percent in Vermont (which passed abortion rights legislation).
In many states, the subsidies also present a conundrum: Parents are required to work to get them, yet they can’t find or start work without child care. Some states add other obstacles. Mississippi requires single mothers to file for child support from fathers before they can receive subsidies. Also, a job paying minimum wage — which is not higher than the federal floor of $7.25 in 20 states — doesn’t necessarily pay enough to cover even subsidized care.
Support for families is different in some states once children are 3 or 4. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia offer or have committed to offering universal preschool. Unlike with other family benefits, anti-abortion states are roughly as likely as other states to offer public preschool. Six of those 13 states ban abortion or probably will.
“This is consistent with a view that education is a public responsibility,” said Steven Barnett, senior co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers, while other safety-net programs “fall outside the accepted sphere of public responsibility in the conservative states.”
Poorer states may have fewer resources to fund benefits like parental leave, or state supplements to the federal earned-income tax credit. But what they choose to do with federal grants can be revealing, said Zachary Parolin, a professor of social policy at Bocconi University in Milan who has studied how states use the broad discretion given to them by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare program.
“You can’t say Alabama gives very little cash assistance for low-income families with children because it can’t afford” the program, Mr. Parolin said. “It has a TANF program, and it’s primarily funded by the federal government.”
But in 2020, Alabama spent only about 8 percent of its welfare funds on direct cash assistance to families. Mississippi spent 5 percent. Instead, states often spend these grants on a wide range of other programs like pro-marriage advertising campaigns and abstinence-only sex education (in 2020, a state auditor in Mississippi found that the state misspent millions of federal welfare dollars, including on speeches that were never delivered by the former quarterback Brett Favre).
Mr. Parolin’s research has shown that states with larger Black population shares tend to spend the least on cash assistance, widening the poverty gap in America between Black and white children. The Times analysis similarly found that states likely to ban abortion devote a smaller share of welfare funds to basic assistance.
States with less generous safety-net programs also frequently use complex rules and paperwork to further limit access to benefits, said Sarah Bruch, a professor of social policy and sociology at the University of Delaware. States could help women and families, she said, not just by investing more in the safety net, but also by making it easier to find and use.
Angela Rachidi, a senior fellow studying poverty and safety-net programs at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said the government has some role to play, but not alone: “We have a broader responsibility as a society — employers, churches, community organizations — to ensure moms feel they can bring those kids into the world.”
Evidence so far suggests that those organizations will struggle to meet the growing need.
After the Supreme Court decision, other governors banning abortion trumpeted their commitment to pregnant women and children. “Being pro-life entails more than being ‘pro-birth,’” wrote J. Kevin Stitt, the governor of Oklahoma, in an executive order signed July 11.
Oklahoma ranks among the bottom 10 states on measures of child poverty, infant mortality and the share of women of reproductive age without health insurance.
In Texas on the day of the ruling, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that the state had “prioritized supporting women’s health care and expectant mothers in need.” On Wednesday, the governor’s press secretary, Renae Eze, said, “We look forward to continuing working with the Legislature to ensure the health of all Texas women and their families.”
Mr. Abbott pointed to Texas’ decision to offer mothers six months of postpartum Medicaid coverage. The state declined the full year of coverage offered by the federal government. Texas has also used techniques to purge children from Medicaid coverage for paperwork lapses. It has a higher rate of uninsured children and women of reproductive age than any other state.
In its legislation restricting abortion, Texas set aside $100 million over two years for a program that connects women with counseling, education and supplies, called Alternatives to Abortion. That funding pales in comparison with another benefit, which Texas has declined — the estimated $6 billion in federal funds each year that it’s losing by choosing not to expand Medicaid.
Josh Katz contributed reporting.
Sources: Poverty data (2019) from the American Community Survey; uninsurance data (2019) from the A.C.S.; low-birthweight-babies data (2019) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; teen births data (2019) from the C.D.C.; maternal mortality data (2018-20) from the C.D.C.; infant mortality data (2018-19) from the C.D.C.; Medicaid expansion data (2022) from the Kaiser Family Foundation; paid leave data (2022) from the National Partnership for Women and Families; prekindergarten data (2022) from the National Institute for Early Education Research; minimum wage data (2022) from the Department of Labor.
Outcomes table: Maternal mortality data (2018-20) from the C.D.C.; infant mortality data (2018-2019) from the C.D.C.; poverty data from the A.C.S. (2019); uninsurance data from the A.C.S. (2019).
Policies table: Medicaid expansion data (2022) from the Kaiser Family Foundation; paid leave data (2022) from the National Partnership for Women and Families; prekindergarten data (2022) from the National Institute for Early Education Research; minimum wage data (2022) from the Department of Labor.
By Kendall Ciesemier, July 31, 2022
Ms. Ciesemier is a writer and producer and the host of the A.C.L.U. podcast “At Liberty.”https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/31/opinion/disability-rights-anti-abortion.html
Thirty years ago, when my mother was pregnant, an ultrasound revealed troubling abnormalities: the fetus’s organs were misarranged. This condition, she was told by her doctor, correlated with a wide variety of disabilities that could cause the baby to die at birth. The doctor told my mother that she could seek an abortion. She wanted her to know her options.
My parents had good health insurance, a steady income and a strong support system. They chose to proceed with the pregnancy. A few months later, I was born to a crowd of doctors waiting to assess and treat my condition. I had my first of many major surgeries at 8 weeks old. My parents went to sleep every night praying I’d see another birthday.
Two liver transplants and countless other lifesaving interventions later, I’m now a 29-year-old woman sitting squarely in my own reproductive window. But with the recent Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to legal abortion, it’s clear that I will not have the same freedom to make choices about my own body that my mother had.
Despite the fact that abortion opponents would champion my disabled “life” in my mom’s womb, the laws they’ve levied across the country now put my life and that of other disabled and chronically ill people in danger by potentially forcing us to carry a pregnancy to term even in the face of serious health consequences.
Those of us who are disabled and pro-choice, as I am, often find ourselves confronted with confusion and contradiction. This is a hard conversation. Arguing for choice isn’t arguing for the termination of disabled fetuses; if it were, I wouldn’t be pro-choice.
Abortion opponents like to use disabled fetuses as pawns to support their politics. To be honest, sometimes it works on me. I feel a lot of fury that the value of disabled people is often overlooked or ignored. But I know this inner conflict is manufactured and sold to me, not of me.
By invoking a story about valuing disability, abortion opponents can connect abortion to the dark practice of eugenics, or the systematic removal of unsavory traits in a population to achieve genetic supremacy. If they can liken ending a pregnancy for a fetal abnormality to genocide, they can liken their advocacy to protecting disabled lives. They are forgetting, however, that pregnancy can endanger disabled people. Removing abortion access is not protecting our lives; it is putting them in danger.
Growing up in a conservative town, I became familiar with this story line: “No one should have an abortion, even if there is something wrong with their baby,” my high school friend would say. “Kendall, you’re a miracle baby. Surely, you are happy you are alive.” I was already firmly pro-choice then, but my disability was used as the evidence in her argument, the gotcha in our debate.
What my friend didn’t understand was that disabled fetuses grow up to be disabled people with their own reproductive needs. In some cases, these needs include access to abortion. It is key to our health care — just as integral to our well-being as mobility aids, surgeries and medications.
Take my case: Pregnancy in organ transplant recipients like me is a high-risk endeavor. Should I choose to become pregnant one day, my pregnancy will need to be carefully considered and closely monitored. Many transplant recipients and a slew of others living with chronic health conditions are on medications that have irreversible and negative effects on a fetus, and in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, they would need access to abortion. Pregnancy can also threaten our transplanted organs.
Even in anti-abortion states where abortion is still legal in the case of a life-threatening situation, what constitutes life-threatening is narrow. Cancer likely isn’t threatening enough to warrant terminating a pregnancy. Bleeding out might be, but doctors and hospitals will have to make that call in real time by consulting their lawyers. Then there’s the cruel truth disabled people know better than most: Your health can be harmed in life-altering ways without causing what doctors call imminent death.
Disabled people have long been sexually infantilized, opening the door for paternalism to run roughshod over our bodies and lives. We are more than three times as likely to be victims of sexual violence and rape as our nondisabled peers. The same movement that has fought to block access to abortion throughout history has sought to control and brutalize disabled pregnant people and parents by engaging in state-sanctioned eugenics.
In the 1927 case Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court gave states permission to sterilize those held in public institutions. At the center of the case was a woman who had been raped and become pregnant. She was committed to an institution, where she was forced to give up her baby, and then she became the focus of a burgeoning eugenics movement that sought to sterilize disability, poverty and color out of American society.
Control over the reproduction of disabled people still exists. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in a 2007 opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, affirmed the government’s interest in forcing two disabled people to have abortions, saying that “accepting the wishes of patients who lack (and have always lacked) the mental capacity to make medical decisions does not make logical sense and would cause erroneous medical decisions.” In June he made a total moral about-face as one of the five Supreme Court justices to overturn our individual liberty by withdrawing our constitutional right to an abortion.
The loss of access to legal abortion has entirely altered the process of deciding whether to have children. It has magnified both the danger of getting pregnant and my fear. It is deeply ironic that the people who swore they were fighting for my right to exist now threaten my right to thrive and survive. The hypocrisy is enraging.
These actions are not about respecting the sanctity of our lives. They are about controlling them. What chronically ill and disabled people need is autonomy to make the health care choices right for them. It’s what we all deserve.
By Peter Coy, July 29, 2022
Illustration by The New York Times; images by CSA Images via Getty Images
There are 17 songs on Napster with the title “Paycheck to Paycheck.” I know because I listened to all of them. (You’re welcome.) These aren’t covers — each has its own lyrics, some pretty good. I like the version by a singer-songwriter named Darrell Bailey because it refers to economists:
Recession or depression
It all sounds the same to me
On TV the experts try to tell us
It’s temporary for you and me
But in the meantime there ain’t no money
For the little man in the Land of the Free
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck
The hard times, they come free
The lyrics of the 17 “Paycheck to Paycheck” songs are about backbreaking work, bad bosses and past-due bills. They’re about people scraping by, on the edge of failure.
Given that, what should we make of the following claim? “Close to two-thirds of the U.S. population — about 157 million adults — currently live paycheck to paycheck, making it the main financial lifestyle in the United States.” That’s from a June report by the lending marketplace LendingClub in cooperation with PYMNTS.com, a payments data company. One-third of people earning $250,000 a year or more are living paycheck to paycheck, says the study, which was based on a survey and government data.
What the LendingClub report says to me is that we don’t have a good agreed-upon definition for what living paycheck to paycheck really means. If the definition of it encompasses almost two-thirds of Americans, I’d say, just looking around, that it’s too broad.
For example, let’s say you have a high income but you sock away money every month in a 401(k) plan for your retirement and a 529 plan for your kids’ education. You spend money on vacations, clothes, restaurants, home renovations. These expenses on average eat up all of your monthly pay. By one definition you’re living paycheck to paycheck, but you could pare back these expenses if you needed to.
It seems to me that “paycheck to paycheck” should be reserved for people whose monthly nut — unavoidable expenses like rent or mortgage, utilities, gasoline and food — consumes everything they bring home. One big emergency expense such as a transmission repair or hospital bill can break them.
Other surveys have found other results, generally less dire. MagnifyMoney, a unit of LendingTree, conducted a survey this year that found “50 percent of working Americans say they live paycheck to paycheck, meaning they have no money left after all expenses are paid.” WTW, a benefits consultant, said in June that “among workers earning $100,000 or more, the number of employees living paycheck to paycheck doubled from 18 percent in 2019 to 36 percent this year.”
It’s clear that survey methodology and question-wording matter. The Bank of America Institute says in a July 19 report that the percentage “does not seem as high as some media headlines” that put the figure over 50 percent. The institute says that across income groups, the share of spending that is discretionary is above 60 percent: “This tends to imply that while some people may be living paycheck to paycheck, they may still have scope to reduce their discretionary spending if they need to.” (That discretionary share sounds high to me, but I get the idea.)
Oddly enough, the Bank of America Institute found that customers with annual incomes of $250,000 or more are the most likely to have inflows to their accounts that are 15 percent or more smaller than the outflows from their accounts. That’s based on anonymized data from 40 million bank accounts for the first three months of this year.
Richer people who seem from their bank accounts to be spending beyond their means are probably pumping money into brokerage accounts and mortgage payments, which build housing wealth. They may get bonuses at times other than the first quarter, which is what the institute studied. And being older on average, they tend to have accumulated savings to draw on, David Tinsley, a senior economist at the institute, told me.
The good thing about the Bank of America Institute data is that it’s plentiful and objective, unlike surveys, which cover fewer people and are necessarily subjective. The bad thing is that you can’t always tell from financial flows why people are doing what they’re doing and how they perceive their own situations.
Surveys have a valuable role, and they’re better if they ask objective questions. I like the Federal Reserve’s annual survey, which asks people how they would pay for an unexpected $400 expense. The share who said they would cover it with cash or its equivalent — an indication of financial strength — has steadily risen, to 68 percent last year from 50 percent in 2013.
People’s ability to cover an unexpected expense grows if you give them a little more time. Fifty-five percent of U.S. adults say they “certainly” could come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose within the next month, according to an annual survey by the TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center. That’s up from only a quarter who said so in the financial crisis year of 2009.
Annamaria Lusardi, a professor of economics and accountancy at George Washington University who co-directs the survey, told me that financial fragility is a serious issue in the United States, whatever the “paycheck to paycheck” surveys show. “I think we should still be alarmed,” she said. “Finance is becoming very complicated. It’s becoming difficult to make those decisions and very easy to be in trouble. There are so many opportunities to be in debt and spend. And few to save.”
Or as the singer Darrell Bailey told me when I reached him at home in Greenville, S.C.: “I have lived hard growing up. I know what it’s all about with nothing to eat in the house but sugar. I’ve always got up and went to work. I’ve lived both ends. I’ve worked since I was 16. I’m 53 now. You just pray for people who are having hard times. All you can do is get out and make a living every day.”
The Environmental Protection Agency found that water at a mobile home park that mostly serves agricultural workers contained almost 10 times the allowable limit of arsenic. But housing alternatives are hard to find.
By Ana Facio-Krajcer and Jill CowanPhotographs by Alex Welsh, July 31, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/31/us/oasis-mobile-home-park-coachella.html
THERMAL, Calif. — Three times a week, Pascual Campos Ochoa, 26, loads up a duffel bag with a brown fleece blanket and a plastic container of oatmeal. A van picks him up from the dusty trailer park where he lives — where stray dogs wander among the carcasses of old cars and working electricity is not a given — and takes him to a clinic for kidney dialysis.
Mr. Campos Ochoa is the youngest person to require the treatment at the clinic; he has been on dialysis since he was 18 and is waiting for a kidney donor.
Still, it was not until recently, he said, that he considered that his health problems may be tied to the trailer he has shared with his family for 16 years at the Oasis Mobile Home Park — and the water tainted with high levels of arsenic that spewed for years from its aging pipes.
For years, people living at the park, home to a little more than 1,000 residents in about 230 units, have suffered from a variety of health problems. They have varied from persistent rashes and hair loss to kidney disease like Mr. Campos Ochoa’s and even cancer — that residents and their advocates say may be caused by contaminated water.
In 2019, the United States Environmental Protection Agency found levels of arsenic in the park’s water as high as almost 10 times the allowable limit. Arsenic, which is naturally occurring, has been linked to those ailments, as well as an array of other severe and chronic symptoms.
No comprehensive study has been done of the causes and extent of the health issues at Oasis, and the agricultural work most residents do consistently ranks among the nation’s most hazardous occupations.
New management at the park said it has spent more than $400,000 since November to fix the water problems — plus more than $840,000 to provide alternative water. But residents are still being warned not to drink the water or use it for cooking, bathing or brushing their teeth. Government agencies, including the E.P.A. and Riverside County, as well as community advocates, all agreed that the living conditions at Oasis have been untenable.
And the park’s residents say they are trapped there — unable to find other homes they can afford in a county that has become a magnet for Californians priced out of other parts of the state.
So even if one family moves out of Oasis, new tenants almost immediately fill the vacancy.
“We have nowhere to go,” Eudelia Ochoa Gutierrez, 45, Pascual’s mother, said in Spanish, fighting back tears.
The dilemma reflects both the continuing plight of California’s largely immigrant agricultural workers and how the state’s housing crisis has also become a health and safety emergency for many of its most vulnerable residents.
And, like the lead contamination of water in Flint, Mich., it’s an extreme illustration that many Americans can’t count on having clean, safe water.
A state audit recently found that just in California, one of the nation’s richest states, almost a million people lack access to clean drinking water. Most at risk are often farmworkers, who have been forced to live in substandard housing in isolated communities far from municipal water systems, often relying on water from agricultural wells.
Because of its size and residents’ complaints about other health and sanitation issues, Oasis has been a magnet for attention. But dangerous levels of arsenic have been found in numerous small systems not hooked up to the regional Coachella Valley Water District’s water system, according to the E.P. A.
A 2017 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s drinking water infrastructure a “D” rating and said the United States needs to invest $1 trillion in the next 25 years to upgrade water systems.
For many years, residents who complained of strange smells or rashes after using the water were assured it was fine. But in 2019, the E.P.A. ordered the park’s owner, Scott Lawson, to reduce arsenic levels to lawful limits and to provide free bottled drinking water in the meantime.
Two more orders, the latest in September 2021, said the park needed to fix water quality issues that “endanger residents.”
Mark Mazda, the lawyer representing Sophia Clark, a daughter of Mr. Lawson’s who was appointed administrator of the park after he died last year, said Mrs. Clark has been working in good faith with the E.P.A. since November and has hired a certified water treatment firm.
A notice sent to residents said that from late May to July arsenic levels in the water were near or below allowable limits. Mr. Mazda said the water coming out of residents’ taps was now clean, and the water treatment regimen put in place should provide clean water until the park can achieve a long-term solution of hooking up to the Coachella Valley Water District’s water system. But there is no plan in place for that to happen.
“She has really made an effort here, and a successful one, to turn this issue around,” Mr. Mazda said of Mrs. Clark. “I’m not saying the park is the Four Seasons. It’s not, but she’s really made an effort to really improve that park and the water issue.”
But the notice sent to residents citing the improvements also included the warning not to drink, cook with, bathe in, or brush their teeth with the park water.
Julia Giarmoleo, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., said that improvements had been made but satisfactory lab tests have not been consistent. She added that untreated water with high arsenic levels has still been distributed to people’s homes and that various parts of the E.P.A. order, including developing adequate plans to flush out the system, have not been met. Until the park shows consistently satisfactory water-quality readings for a year, it will be required to provide bottled water for residents.
“The system remains out of compliance,” she said.
Residents and their advocates say the solution is to find a safe place for residents to live, not to fix a site that is compromised at too many levels.
Raul Ruiz, the United States representative who grew up in the area and lived in a trailer home as a child, said a solution should involve relocating residents to preferential housing and the construction of affordable housing.
He said stricter enforcement would not just be important for Oasis but, “It’s going to send a message to other unscrupulous mobile home park owners that have not been permitted or that are noncompliant with E.P.A.’s clean water orders, that it will no longer be tolerated.”
Mr. Lawson was a member of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, as is Mrs. Clark. Because the park is on tribal land, local officials say the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs is effectively in charge of enforcing water quality directives, but community advocates, local leaders and the new management say that the agency has not stepped in to help.
In a statement, the bureau said it was working with officials at other agencies and that the E.P.A. had the authority to enforce its own order.
“The B.I.A. takes its responsibility seriously to administer land held in trust for Indian tribes,” the statement said. “Due to multiple legal jurisdictions involved, this is a complex issue that requires cooperation and collaboration to resolve.”
Mrs. Clark’s husband, James Clark, said the lack of progress was maddening. “It seems like no one is trying to help,” he said. “So we’re trying our best, with limited funds and with limited resources.”
Last year, the area’s State Assembly member, Eduardo Garcia, and the nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability were among those who helped the county secure a $30 million state grant aimed at helping to move out residents and to build new affordable housing. But the effort to decide what to do with the money has been slow and contentious.
Many mobile home parks in the area have their roots in the era of California’s Bracero Program, which brought Mexican workers to the state’s fields during World War II.
Advocates say the county has not invested enough in planning or infrastructure to house the region’s farmworkers — many of whom are undocumented and are hesitant to speak up about poor housing conditions.
At the same time, a growing number of Californians have headed for the vast desert east of Los Angeles, driving up housing costs there, too. The Coachella Valley’s booming tourism industry has compounded the problem.
For Leadership Counsel organizers like Omar Gastelum, who grew up at a park not far from Oasis, the fact that families have been living in unsafe conditions at Oasis is made more galling by the wave of luxury development sprouting up in the region. The Thermal Club, a gated vacation home development that includes private auto-racing tracks, is just a 10-minute drive away.
Mr. Gastelum’s colleague, Lesly Figueroa, pointed out a swath of land with striking mountain views slated to become an exclusive golf course.
County leaders, Ms. Figueroa said, “have the upper hand when these developers come in.” They could, she said, require developers to pay impact fees that could help extend utilities to poorer communities nearby or include low-income housing in their plans.
But there is a sense of inevitability that conditions will persist. Officials and advocates agree that it will take years to provide affordable housing for California’s poorest workers and to complete needed water and sewer upgrades.
V. Manuel Perez, the Riverside County supervisor who represents the area, declined requests for an interview.
In a lengthy statement, he said the county has been working with local, state and federal partners to extend clean water and build more housing.
“The lack of housing and investment dates back to the recession, the lack of funding, and other priorities by leaders of that time,” he said in the statement. “There are over 400 unpermitted mobile home parks that I inherited. This is a challenge that I and others will consistently work on.”
Mike Walsh, a Riverside County housing official whose job includes planning for how best to use the $30 million grant, said that relocating Oasis residents was a complicated game of musical chairs. He said that many of the families moving in behind them have left homes where conditions were even worse.
“We’re fighting against the tide,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents do their best to get by on the tattered edges of American life. Sometimes, against all odds, they reach for something more.
Earlier this year, Mrs. Torres and her husband, Luis Manuel Ortiz, went to buy Fernando a truck, something inexpensive to drive to school. Instead, on impulse, they bought him his dream car, a 2020 cherry red Dodge Charger Scat Pack that cost $59,000 that they don’t have.
Mrs. Torres put the $2,500 down payment on her Visa card. They take on extra agricultural work when they can, but she has stopped working lately to care for Fernando whose cancer has spread to his spine. She said neither she nor her husband talk about the bills with their son.
“What’s important is that he’s happy with his car,” Mrs. Torres said.
Fernando, an 11th grader, keeps his car spotless, and parks it in the carport of his family’s mobile home.
Inside the car’s dark interior, a reddish-brown rosary with the image of a teenage boy hangs from the rear-view mirror.
After Fernando’s kidney surgery last year, his grandmother introduced him to the story of St. José Luis Sánchez del Rio, a 14-year-old boy who was killed for refusing to denounce his Catholic faith.
In his bedroom, Fernando also has a small statue of the teenage martyr, who died in 1928 and was canonized in 2016.
On a recent afternoon, standing in his bedroom with Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright” playing in the background, Fernando talked about his patron saint and how he starts and ends his day with a prayer.
“I pray to him before I go to sleep, and when I go to school in my car,” Fernando said. “I ask him to take care of my health, to take care of my family, my friends, and my car.”