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”
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.
Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
- Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312
- San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963
If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:
Know Your Rights Materials
The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides.
- Know Your Rights During Covid-19
- You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement
- Operation Backfire: For Environmental and Animal Rights Activists
WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office
We also recommend the following resources:
Center for Constitutional Rights
Civil Liberties Defense Center
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Grand Jury Resistance Project
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
Tilted Scales Collective
By Chris Hamby and Michael Forsythe, June 29, 2022
The reporters pored over a trove of more than 100,000 documents to investigate McKinsey’s unknown work for opioid makers.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/29/business/mckinsey-opioid-crisis-opana.html
MCKINSEY SETTLEMENT DOCUMENTS
In patches of rural Appalachia and the Rust Belt, the health authorities were sounding alarms that a powerful painkiller called Opana had become the drug of choice among people abusing prescription pills.
It was twice as potent as OxyContin, the painkiller widely blamed for sparking the opioid crisis, and was relatively easy to dissolve and inject. By 2015, government investigations and scientific publications had linked its misuse to clusters of disease, including a rare and life-threatening blood disorder and an H.I.V. outbreak in Indiana.
Opana’s manufacturer, the pharmaceutical company Endo, had scaled back promotion of the drug. But months later, the company abruptly changed course, refocusing resources on the drug by assigning more sales representatives.
The push was known internally as the Sales Force Blitz — and it was conducted with consultants at McKinsey & Company, who had been hired by Endo to provide marketing advice about its chronic-pain medicines and other products.
The untold story of McKinsey’s work for Endo was among the revelations found by The New York Times in a repository of more than 100,000 documents obtained by a coalition of state attorneys general in a legal settlement related to McKinsey’s opioid work.
Much has been disclosed over the years about McKinsey’s relationship with Purdue Pharma, including the consulting firm’s recommendation that the drug maker “turbocharge” its sales of OxyContin. But The Times found that the firm played a far deeper and broader role in advising clients involved in the opioid crisis than was publicly disclosed.
The newly released McKinsey records include more than 15 years of emails, slide presentations, spreadsheets, proposals and other documents. They provide a sweeping and detailed depiction of a firm that became a trusted adviser to companies at the core of an epidemic that has claimed half a million American lives.
While the firm held remarkable sway at Purdue, it also advised the largest manufacturer of generic opioids, Mallinckrodt. It worked with Endo on marketing Opana and helped it grow into a leading generics manufacturer. It advised Johnson & Johnson, whose subsidiary Tasmanian Alkaloids was the largest supplier of the raw materials extracted from poppies used to make many top-selling opioids. Then, as the full brunt of the epidemic became apparent, it counseled government agencies on how to address the fallout.
McKinsey’s opioid clients already wanted to grow their businesses. What the firm offered was know-how and sophistication, the documents show, and, as it noted in one presentation, “in-depth experience in narcotics.”
The Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, who helped craft the settlement, said in a statement that “as Americans were dying from the opioid epidemic, McKinsey was trading on its reputation and connections to make the crisis worse.” She added that the newly released documents “expose McKinsey’s role in the opioid crisis and will inform policymakers’ efforts to prevent this from happening again.”
Drawing on reams of data and proprietary tools, McKinsey vetted deals and advised on corporate strategy. It developed tactics for dealing with regulators and helped secure approval for new products.
The firm helped clients adopt more aggressive sales strategies, which, on at least two occasions, led companies to shift resources to more potent products. It profiled and targeted physicians, in some instances trying to influence prescribing habits in ways that federal officials later warned heightened the risk of overdose.
And when opioid prescriptions began to decrease during a government crackdown, the records show, McKinsey devised new approaches to drive sales.
McKinsey agreed to provide the documents to the attorneys general last year as part of a nearly $600 million settlement in which it admitted no wrongdoing. The firm has since apologized for its advice to opioid makers but, in a statement on Wednesday, suggested that its work with companies other than Purdue was “much more limited” and that it “did not counsel or recommend to Endo that it promote Opana more aggressively.”
“We recognize the terrible consequences of the opioid epidemic and have acknowledged our role in serving opioid manufacturers,” said a McKinsey spokesman. “We stopped that work in 2019, have apologized for it and have been focused on being part of the solution.”
An Endo spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s work with McKinsey, citing litigation. She instead referred to a company statement saying that in September 2016 Endo had “stopped promoting opioid products to health care professionals” and eliminated its opioid-focused sales force.
Mallinckrodt declined to comment. Johnson & Johnson, in a statement, maintained that all its actions were appropriate, while Purdue said that it was focused on ending bankruptcy proceedings so it could reorganize into a new, more “public-minded” company that would “deliver billions of dollars of value” toward abating the opioid crisis and compensating victims.
Dr. Steven Butler, a kidney specialist serving a largely rural stretch of East Tennessee, helped with an unusual case in fall 2012. A woman in her 20s had arrived at the Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport with an array of symptoms — she was anemic, and her kidneys appeared to be failing — that resembled a rare blood disorder.
A few days later, another patient with similar symptoms arrived at the hospital. Then a third. Dr. Butler called the Tennessee Department of Health, which launched an investigation. Over the following months, more patients appeared.
As they underwent time-consuming treatments, some acknowledged they had dissolved and injected a pill whose name Dr. Butler had never heard before: Opana ER.
“Locally, it became a very well-described phenomenon,” he recalled. “They were just called ‘Opana patients,’ as though that was a real common thing.”
The tangled path that led to Opana’s rise illustrates McKinsey’s deep involvement in the opioid business, with its work for one client rippling out with consequences for others.
Years earlier, the firm had helped usher the drug onto the market, advising Endo’s partner, Penwest Pharmaceuticals, on its launch in 2006. Two years later, the documents show, McKinsey performed a project for Purdue that paved the way for Endo to extend Opana’s reach.
Purdue was seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a new version of OxyContin that would be more difficult to snort or inject. After the F.D.A. denied its application in 2008, Purdue enlisted McKinsey’s help. The consultants interviewed a former drug dealer about OxyContin abuse, oversaw scientific studies, prepared regulatory documents and coached company officials on how to deal with the F.D.A., which had been a McKinsey client. The agency gave its approval in 2010, and later allowed Purdue to claim the new pills were resistant to abuse.
Soon, OxyContin sales declined — while Opana sales rose. In an internal document, Endo attributed the uptick in part to “patient dissatisfaction with new OxyContin formulation.” Data on abuse showed similar trends: a decline for OxyContin and a rise for Opana.
Endo later developed a new version of Opana it wanted to promote as abuse-resistant. The F.D.A. found that the new pills “demonstrated a minimal improvement in resistance to tampering by crushing,” and that they were “readily abusable” by injection. The agency allowed the drug to enter the market in early 2012, but without being labeled as resistant to abuse.
Within months, Dr. Butler saw his first Opana patient. In October 2012, both the F.D.A. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out health alerts about the blood syndrome. Then another cluster appeared, in North Carolina, and other cases in Arkansas, Florida, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
To make matters worse, according to the F.D.A., the new version of Opana drove many users to switch from snorting to injecting, considered a riskier form of abuse. The likely cause of the blood disorder, researchers determined, was the very substance that Endo had added to make the pills harder to crush. When dissolved and injected, it could trigger rapid red blood cell destruction and organ damage.
As concerns about Opana grew, Endo hired a new chief executive in 2013: Rajiv De Silva, a former leader within McKinsey’s pharmaceutical practice who soon tapped the firm to help chart a growth strategy.
A few months after Mr. De Silva took over, McKinsey helped Endo execute a complicated maneuver known as a “tax inversion” — a legal form of tax avoidance that the Obama administration would decry as an “abuse” of the system. For tax purposes, the Pennsylvania company was now based in Ireland, where the rate was substantially lower.
The move, which sent Endo’s stock price climbing, was “a tax play to set up doing a lot of deals,” according to a 2014 email from a McKinsey partner named Dr. Arnab Ghatak, who also helped lead the firm’s work with Purdue.
Endo went on a buying spree and would soon become one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of generic opioids.
‘The Narcotics Franchise’
The production of pills by companies like Endo and Purdue depended on a complex and tightly regulated global supply chain stretching from the fields of Tasmania to factories in the American heartland.
Here, too, was McKinsey.
Long before a patient in the United States filled a prescription for OxyContin, a farmer on another continent harvested a poppy rich in a substance called thebaine. Tasmanian Alkaloids, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, controlled the majority of this market.
From far-flung fields and extraction facilities, the raw materials made their way to American processing plants. The top U.S. producers at this stage were another Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Noramco, and Mallinckrodt, the big generics manufacturer.
The documents reveal McKinsey’s work advising them behind the scenes. By the firm’s own account, it had deep expertise in the international trade of legal narcotics. “We serve the majority of the leading players,” the consultants wrote in a 2009 memo.
That year, the firm oversaw a project for Johnson & Johnson titled “Maximizing the Value of the Narcotics Franchise.” In a presentation set against an image of a poppy field, the consultants advised the company on how it could invest to further strengthen its already-dominant position or sell the business if the price was right.
For Mallinckrodt, McKinsey consultants walked factory floors and monitored production data, recommending how the company might coax greater yields from the same base of raw materials and speed up manufacturing lines.
In 2016, McKinsey prepared Mallinckrodt for negotiations with companies that sourced generic drugs for Walmart and CVS, and advised on dealing with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The D.E.A. had set production limits to prevent an oversupply of pills, and McKinsey counseled Mallinckrodt on how it could use logistical tactics to secure a higher quota while maintaining a “friendly relationship” with the agency.
“To suggest this work was intended to undermine relevant laws or regulations would be false,” the McKinsey spokesman said.
McKinsey consultants also took jobs at the opioid manufacturers themselves. A partner in the firm’s pharmaceutical practice, Frank Scholz, became Mallinckrodt’s senior vice president of global operations in 2014 and later was promoted to president of its generics business.
But it was the arrival of Mr. De Silva at Endo that brought a particular opportunity for McKinsey. In late 2014, the company asked the consultants to provide advice on structuring the company’s sales force. This soon evolved into a more detailed project in an area where McKinsey excelled: how to dispatch hundreds of sales representatives to maximum effect.
Shifting to Offense
McKinsey had a playbook for seemingly any problem a pharmaceutical company might face, from production snags to generic competition to inquisitive regulators. But the firm had a particular penchant for sales and marketing.
In the years leading up to its work on Opana, McKinsey had built increasingly powerful tools for getting the right messages in front of the right physicians, and the firm had honed them in numerous opioid-marketing projects, including two for Johnson & Johnson.
While the broad strokes of these efforts have been known, the documents provide an unprecedented look inside McKinsey’s tool kit. The records related to the firm’s work for Purdue are particularly detailed, providing insight into the strategies that consultants used for other companies.
In 2009, the firm recommended a technique known as segmentation. The best marketing campaigns — whether for food, cars or electronics — divided consumers into segments based on how they acted and thought, then developed tailored messages to win them over, the consultants said.
In Purdue’s case, the customer was a physician with a license to prescribe controlled substances, and the product was OxyContin.
The consultants interviewed dozens of physicians and solicited the views of hundreds more in a survey. Four groups of doctors emerged, each with a distinct profile. The consultants then developed messages to appeal to each group’s practical and emotional needs.
McKinsey identified a particular opportunity in doctors who were hesitant to prescribe OxyContin because of worries about abuse, addiction and possible scrutiny from the D.E.A. These physicians often tried to treat chronic pain with less powerful drugs.
Persuading them to switch to OxyContin could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, McKinsey advised. To do this, McKinsey proposed tactics to “raise physician comfort levels through appropriate education and support.” Sales representatives, McKinsey said, should reassure doctors that many of their colleagues prescribed OxyContin and that the drug need not be reserved for extreme pain.
In 2014, the F.D.A. introduced new labeling requirements for OxyContin and similar opioids, limiting their use to cases of severe chronic pain in which less risky treatments had proved ineffective. But McKinsey’s strategy had long since been rolled out.
Another McKinsey approach, known as targeting, tried to identify doctors who would provide the greatest return on sales representatives’ time.
Purdue, dissatisfied with dipping OxyContin sales in 2013, had enlisted McKinsey’s help. Revenues were down, the consultants advised, in large part because of government actions to tamp down the opioid epidemic. Doctors were writing prescriptions for fewer tablets and lower doses, and wholesalers and pharmacies were imposing new controls.
McKinsey recommended a more aggressive response than the one Purdue’s vice president for sales and marketing, Russell Gasdia, had been pursuing. Mr. Gasdia had accepted that OxyContin revenue was dropping in part “due to less abuse,” one McKinsey consultant wrote, and he was focused on promoting a less potent opioid.
McKinsey called for a shift “to offense”: Purdue needed physicians to start new patients on OxyContin. Drawing on an array of data — more than just a list of high prescribers, which had been the focus of Purdue and other drug companies — the consultants identified specific doctors to target.
In a statement, McKinsey said that this advice pertained to the reformulated OxyContin, which “was believed to be a safer version of the product.”
Purdue’s board endorsed the plan, and soon Mr. Gasdia stepped down as head of sales and marketing. In an internal self-assessment, Dr. Ghatak, the McKinsey partner who helped lead its Purdue business, basked in the firm’s success.
“Overall,” he wrote, “we are now deeply involved in nearly every facet of the company.”
An Outbreak and a Blitz
When a cluster of H.I.V. cases appeared in a small southeastern Indiana community in 2015, it didn’t take the C.D.C. long to identify the cause. Most of the patients had injected Opana.
The governor declared a public health emergency, and the list of those infected eventually surpassed 180.
Disease often followed incidents of injecting opioids, but Opana posed a higher risk, the C.D.C. later determined. When injected, it was 10 times as potent as morphine. The high was intense but short-lived, and the withdrawal was particularly agonizing. As a result, users injected more frequently.
And because Opana commanded a high street price, users often split pills, shared equipment and shot up multiple times in one sitting. It was a recipe for what a C.D.C.-led research team called “explosive transmission.”
If any of this caused alarm among the McKinsey consultants working for Endo, their presentations did not reflect it.
In summer 2015, McKinsey helped launch the “Sales Force Blitz,” which the firm said in a statement applied to a range of Endo’s products. “The small portion of our work that concerned Opana was done at the client’s request,” the spokesman said, “not by our recommendation.”
While the company had pulled back its marketing of the painkiller, McKinsey now advised it on how to do the opposite, emails and presentations show, by reallocating sale representatives from a migraine drug to Opana.
A consultant, Sherin Ijaz, expressed her excitement in an email to the head of Endo’s pain business unit, John Harlow. The next step “is to identify the sweet spot of docs so we can do targeting,” she wrote, adding that the “fun” begins “on Monday!”
“Agreed,” Mr. Harlow replied, “and the fun is just beginning!”
When two Endo executives proposed shifting some sales calls to promote the company’s arthritis gel, McKinsey was opposed. Doing so would be a distraction “at a time when we want to drive Opana,” wrote another McKinsey consultant, Nicholas Mills.
Ultimately, the consultants directed Endo to focus on more than 3,000 additional physicians with promotional messages about Opana.
In 2017, less than two years later, the F.D.A. took the rare step of demanding that Endo pull Opana from the market, citing the grave public health consequences of its abuse. The company complied.
Over the five years from the appearance of the blood-disease cluster in Tennessee to the drug’s withdrawal from the market, the painkiller had brought in more than $844 million in revenue, according to corporate filings.
In Indiana, law enforcement officials broke up a drug-trafficking ring in 2016. One man admitted obtaining Opana in Detroit and selling it in bulk to a dealer. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
“Health care, the schools, the welfare department, the whole thing is crumbling because of drugs, drugs that you helped make available,” said the judge in the case, scolding him.
“You’re not responsible for all of that, of course, but you did your part.”
‘Opioid Crisis Is Horrible’
In June 2017, Tom Latkovic rose to speak at a health care conference in Chicago sponsored by his employer, McKinsey.
“I start today by asking, ‘Why do we continue to prescribe, dispense, pay for opioid prescriptions to people that we know, or at least we could know, have an incredibly high propensity to abuse them?’”
Mr. Latkovic, a senior partner, was not a member of McKinsey’s pharmaceutical practice. Instead, his team focused on using data analysis tools to address complex health care problems, and it had increasingly homed in on the opioid epidemic.
In the hopes of broadening this work, Mr. Latkovic told the audience, “We are launching a new center focused on opioids and insights.”
The client list for the new venture came to include state governments, insurers and health systems. One of McKinsey’s more ambitious efforts was in Philadelphia, a city that had one of the highest death rates in the country from opioid overdoses.
In 2019, consultants spent almost two months working with the city government, according to two people who were local officials at the time. Both praised McKinsey’s work, which came at no cost to the city but was later shelved after Covid-19.
Yet as Mr. Latkovic’s team tried to combat the opioid epidemic, the firm did not stop serving the company often blamed for sparking it, Purdue. And on at least two occasions, the documents show, drafts of publications prepared by Mr. Latkovic’s team were given to consultants for pharmaceutical clients to review. The purpose, a manager in the pharmaceutical practice wrote, was to assess “whether this could create any waves on social media or from journalists that could be harmful to our Pharma clients.”
As negative news coverage and lawsuits against Purdue mounted, some of the consultants fretted internally that scrutiny might extend to McKinsey.
In 2019, around the time of the Philadelphia project, McKinsey decided to stop advising companies on opioids — after the firm’s 15-year relationship with Purdue became public as part of a court filing by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office. Since Mr. Latkovic’s 2017 speech, McKinsey had collected $7.8 million in fees from Purdue, the documents show.
The disclosure that McKinsey had advised Purdue led to debate within the firm. “We may not have done anything wrong, but did we ask ourselves what the negative consequences of the work we were doing was, and how it could be minimized?” one consultant wrote.
Dr. Ghatak, a driving force behind McKinsey’s work for Purdue and Endo, found himself in the spotlight. Much as he had done for pharmaceutical executives, he crafted talking points, this time for himself.
“Opioid crisis is horrible,” he wrote. “Acknowledge that up front.” But by advising clients to develop products that would be more difficult to abuse, “we were directly working on a solution to a public health crisis, not a silver bullet but definitely a solution.”
In 2020, documents released as part of a Purdue legal case indicated that Dr. Ghatak and another consultant, Martin Elling, had discussed destroying records. McKinsey soon fired them.
The firm settled with the state attorneys general in early 2021, and the documents it turned over are housed in an archive managed by the University of California, San Francisco, and Johns Hopkins University.
Some of McKinsey’s former clients faced potentially crushing damages in court. Purdue filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019, and Mallinckrodt did the same the following year. Johnson & Johnson had previously sold its narcotics business to a private investment firm and has settled a number of lawsuits related to its marketing of opioids, which the company said in a statement was “appropriate and responsible.”
Endo has also floated the possibility of bankruptcy amid a wave of litigation over its marketing of opioids, especially Opana. The company said in a regulatory filing that it had received a subpoena in 2020 from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Virginia, which years earlier had won guilty pleas from Purdue executives. This time, according to Endo’s disclosure, the office wanted information on McKinsey.
The document charges the woman whose accusations led to the Black teenager’s murder with his kidnapping. The warrant was never served — and she is still alive.
By Alex Traub, June 30, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/30/us/emmett-till-carolyn-bryant-arrest-warrant.html
Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 by two white men who were later acquitted.Credit...Batemann/Getty Images
A team of researchers including relatives of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy who was abducted and murdered in Mississippi in 1955, has discovered an unserved arrest warrant for the white woman whose accusations led to his gruesome death.
The document was found last week in the basement of a courthouse in Greenwood, Miss. It does not constitute major new evidence in the case, which horrified but galvanized Black Americans at the time and helped lead to the civil rights movement.
But those still working on Emmett’s behalf said that the discovery added to their understanding of the legal drama surrounding his death, and that they hoped it would provide a basis for a new investigation. The woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, was never charged in the case. She is now in her 80s and was living in North Carolina as recently as May, according to public records. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ms. Donham was married to Roy Bryant at the time of the killing. Mr. Bryant and his half brother J. W. Milam murdered Emmett days after the teenager was said to have whistled at Ms. Donham during an encounter at the couple’s store. The two white men were acquitted by an all-white jury but later confessed to the killing. They have since died.
The newly discovered warrant, issued by the sheriff of Leflore County, Miss., and dated Aug. 29, 1955, charges the two men and Ms. Donham, identified as Mrs. Roy Bryant, with Emmett’s kidnapping. The current clerk of the Leflore County Circuit Court, Elmus Stockstill, certified its authenticity.
An affidavit attached to the warrant says that the three did “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and without lawful authority, forcibly seize and confine and kidnap Emmitt Lewis Tell,” misspelling the boy’s surname and his middle name, Louis.
A note on the back of the warrant signed by a local sheriff says Ms. Donham was not arrested because she was not located in the county at the time, said Keith A. Beauchamp, a filmmaker who directed a 2005 documentary about the killing and helped find the warrant.
He called the discovery “a jackpot” and wrote in a text message to The New York Times: “I hope that the authorities will do the job they were suppose to do in 1955.”
Although the document does not appear to have been rescinded, experts said it was unlikely that Ms. Donham would be arrested based solely on the warrant.
“Relying upon a 67-year-old warrant, while it’s an interesting academic exercise, I think would be unsound police work,” Ronald J. Rychlak, a law professor at the University of Mississippi and an expert in criminal procedure and Mississippi criminal trial practice, said in an interview. “Why would you rely on a 67-year-old warrant if you think you have the cause today to justify it?”
Efforts to revive the case by the Justice Department foundered in 2007 and again last year, when federal officials said there was not enough evidence to pursue charges. The case had been reopened after a historian said in a 2017 book that Ms. Donham had recanted parts of her accusations against Emmett, including that he had grabbed her and made sexually suggestive remarks.
In a 1956 article in Look magazine, Mr. Bryant and Mr. Milam confessed to killing Emmett. Ms. Donham later divorced Mr. Bryant, who died in 1994. Mr. Milam died in 1980.
Mr. Beauchamp, the documentary filmmaker, has researched the case for decades, and started scouring the courthouse this year for records that pertained to the kidnapping. He was joined by Melissa Earnest, a criminal justice student; Deborah Watts, a cousin of Emmett’s who leads the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation; Ms. Watts’s daughter Teri; and the Till family’s lawyer, Jaribu Hill.
The group visited the courthouse on June 21 and, to their shock, found the warrant.
“There were a lot of tears in the room,” Mr. Beauchamp said.
Emmett Till was born in 1941 in Chicago, where he grew up. He was an only child, nicknamed Bobo, and lived with his mother and other relatives in a middle-class Black neighborhood.
His encounter with Ms. Donham occurred in August 1955 while he was staying with relatives in the Mississippi Delta. During a visit to Mr. Bryant and Ms. Donham’s store, he bought bubble gum and passed the money into Ms. Donham’s hand instead of leaving it on the counter, as white Mississippians generally expected Black people to do at the time. Ms. Donham later testified that she went to get a pistol, and one of Emmett’s cousins, who was with him, said Emmett then whistled at Ms. Donham. Emmett, the cousin and a friend quickly left.
Days later, Mr. Bryant and Mr. Milam responded by abducting Emmett from bed at his relatives’ home at night. They tortured him, shot him, tied a 75-pound fan from a cotton gin around his neck and tossed his body into the Tallahatchie River. When he was found, he was unrecognizable, with a crushed skull and a disfigured face.
Photographs of his body published in Jet magazine and an open-casket funeral in Chicago rocked the nation. Weeks later, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala., another seminal moment in the civil rights movement.
Years later, when asked why she refused to move to the back of the bus, she answered, “I thought of Emmett Till and I couldn’t go back.”
Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.
"If Julian Assange is not free, neither are we," said a protester at a Friday demonstration against the WikiLeaks founder's impending transfer. "None of us is free."
By Brett Wilkins, July 1, 2022https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/07/01/assange-makes-final-appeal-against-us-extradition
In a last-ditch effort to avoid extradition to the United States, lawyers for jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday appealed to the United Kingdom's High Court to block the transfer.
Assange's brother, Gabriel Shipton, told Reuters that the Australian publisher's legal team appealed his extradition, which was formally approved by U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel last month.
"We also urge the Australian government to intervene immediately in the case to end this nightmare," Shipton said.
Supporters of Assange held protests ahead of his 51st birthday on Saturday, including one in an open-top double-decker London tour bus that passed by British government buildings in Westminster on Friday. One of the demonstrators, 79-year-old Gloria Wildman, told Agence France-Presse that Assange has "been in prison for telling the truth."
"If Julian Assange is not free, neither are we; none of us is free," she added.
Myriad human rights, journalistic, and other groups have condemned Assange's impending extradition and the U.S. government's targeting of a journalist who exposed American war crimes. In a Thursday statement, the Australian Journalists Union said that "the charges against Assange are an affront to journalists everywhere and a threat to press freedom."
Assange—who suffers from physical and mental health problems including heart and respiratory issues—faces U.S. charges including Espionage Act violations for which he faces up to 175 years behind bars if fully convicted.
Among the classified materials published by WikiLeaks—many provided by whistleblower Chelsea Manning—are the infamous "Collateral Murder" video showing a U.S. Army helicopter crew killing a group of Iraqi civilians, the Afghan War Diary, and the Iraq War Logs, which revealed American and allied war crimes.
According to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Assange has been arbitrarily deprived of his freedom since he was arrested on December 7, 2010. Since then he has been held under house arrest, confined for seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London while he was protected by the administration of former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, and jailed in London's notorious Belmarsh Prison.
Advocates contested Patel's assurance that the extradition would not be "incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression."
In a video published by WikiLeaks on Friday, Conservative British parliamentarian David Davis said that "the simple truth is, Assange won't get what we think of as a fair trial in the U.S."
"And in addition to that, there's a wider issue of imbalance in the U.K.-U.S. extradition treaty," he asserted. "When America requests an extradition from Britain, they have to have reasonable suspicion and the home secretary must process the request."
"When Britain requests an extradition to America, we have to demonstrate probable cause, and the American secretary of state may process our request, he's not forced to process that request," Davis noted. "The effect of this shows up in the statistics: Many, many more people are sent to America than are sent to Britain to face criminal trial."
The MP added that extradited Britons "face an alien justice system" in which "they're frog-marched in chains, they're jailed with hardened criminals, they're denied access to legal papers, they face really coercive plea-bargain systems which essentially say either plead guilty or face a huge length of time in prison."
By Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert, July 1, 2022https://www.businessinsider.com/10-year-old-girl-travel-out-state-ohio-restricts-abortion-2022-7
Abortion-rights protesters hold placards during a rally at the Columbia County courthouse. Photo by Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
With abortion outlawed after six weeks in Ohio, physicians in neighboring Indiana described an influx of out-of-state patients seeking care. Among them: a pregnant 10-year-old.
Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, told the Indianapolis Star that just three days after the federal right to an abortion was reversed she received a call from a colleague, a child abuse doctor in Ohio, who needed her help. The physician had a pregnant patient, a 10-year-old, who could no longer legally undergo the procedure in her home state.
In Indiana, for now at least, abortion is legal up to 22 weeks after a pregnant person's last menstrual cycle. However, Indiana politicians have scheduled a special legislative session later this month to address abortion laws. Republican lawmakers, who hold a supermajority in the state, indicate they intend to further restrict the procedure.
Despite the influx of patients seeking care across state lines, with abortion access likely to be restricted in Indiana, Bernard's ability to help those seeking the procedure in the future is uncertain.
"It's hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks we will have no ability to provide that care," Bernard, who agreed to help the 10-year-old patient, told the Indianapolis Star.
Bernard did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Other nearby states, including Illinois, where abortion is likely to remain legal, are bracing for an influx of patients seeking care from nearby states where the procedure is more heavily restricted, including Ohio, Kentucky, and Missouri.
Planned Parenthood Illinois expects the state will see an additional 20,000 to 30,000 patients overall crossing its border to receive abortions each year.
Garland resident wrote, “Slaughter them all,” and called for burning down government buildings after the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling. The Department of Homeland Security was not amused.
By Francesca D’Annunzio, July 1, 2022, updated July 2, 2022https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2022/07/01/feds-show-up-at-home-of-north-texas-woman-who-posted-angry-tweets-after-roe-decision/
A federal agent and two police officers showed up to a North Texas woman’s house on Thursday morning warning her to stop threatening the government on Twitter after she posted in anger over the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
The feds’ letter to Madeline Walker of Garland came after she tweeted about burning government buildings on the day the Supreme Court handed down its decision.
Using expletives, Walker tweeted, “Burn every ... government building down right ... now. Slaughter them all,” in reply to video in which President Joe Biden urged protestors to remain peaceful.
As of noon on July 1, Walker’s original post — which landed her a warning letter from the feds — had 8 retweets and 31 likes. She has since deleted both her posts.
Less than a week later, two police officers and a Department of Homeland Security special agent showed up at her door Thursday morning with the warning letter.
“You are advised as of the date of this letter to cease and desist in any conduct deemed harassing/threatening in nature, when communicating to or about the federal government,” the letter said. “Failure to comply with this request could result in the filing of criminal charges.”
Joshua Henry, a special agent for DHS, confirmed the letter’s authenticity and said it was delivered at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. Robert Sperling, director of communication for the Federal Protective Service, also confirmed to The Dallas Morning News that the letter posted on Twitter was delivered.
Walker could not be reached for comment by The Dallas Morning News. But in an interview with the website Jezebel, she said she did not intend for her words to be taken seriously and told agents she did not plan to burn down any buildings.
“Obviously, I’m not trying to go to prison over this,” she told Jezebel. “There could’ve been a better way for me to go about it, actively going to protest or speaking out in public or things like that. I guess maybe Twitter wasn’t exactly the best idea to pull out the stops with.”
On Thursday night, Walker posted the feds’ letter on Twitter. The tweet has since gone viral, prompting Walker to take her account private.
“This was such a nice way to get woken up this morning. 4 cops banging on my door,” Walker wrote in the deleted tweet.
“Reminding everyone that Pastor Dillon Awes of Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth is allowed to preach that gay people should be ‘lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head.’ when people reported him to the police they said, ‘free speech,’” Walker wrote, replying to her original post.
“Uhhhh where was this energy before the Jan 6th insurrection!?” another user wrote.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if they put this energy into monitoring and warning the white nationalists and misogynists who shoot up our schools, nightclubs, and places of worship?” another woman replied.
Henry said Walker sharing the letter on Twitter could bring more trouble.
“She’s kind of taking it as a joke,” Henry said. “She’s not remorseful about these statements, so that’ll be presented to a United States Attorney and they’ll make a decision on that.”
When a reporter asked the Garland Police Department if their officers accompanied a federal agent to Walker’s house to deliver the letter, spokesman Pedro Barineau wrote in an email “since DHS confirmed they went out there, they will have all the details and will need to provide the information. We can’t speak about another agencies [sic] investigation.”
On Friday night, the Federal Protective Service sent an email with an official statement to The News.
“DHS’s Federal Protective Service coordinates with law enforcement partners across the country to protect federal facilities, and those who work in and visit those buildings, from violence,” the statement read.
“FPS may issue warnings as a result of threats made to federal facilities and federal employees, in line with standard law enforcement practices. Americans’ freedom of speech and right to peacefully protest are fundamental Constitutional rights. Those rights do not extend to violence and other illegal activity.”
By Charles M. Blow, July 3, 2022
Last week, David Frum wrote a fascinating article for The Atlantic comparing our current abortion battle to Prohibition, another contentious issue that bitterly divided the nation. After a long, “titanic” struggle, the temperance movement succeeded in imposing a nationwide ban on alcohol — only to have it decline and collapse 13 years later.
This may happen with abortion bans, but hopefully it won’t take that long.
Frum was writing about the interconnectedness of restrictive impulses — and how one can be a gateway for others. Restrictions, he seemed to imply, can be complicated. Bigotry is a close cousin of prudence.
Prohibition, in particular, had a complicated racial history. Enslavers used alcohol for years as a weapon to subdue the enslaved in this country.
As Frederick Douglass explained in his memoir, “My Bondage and My Freedom,” enslavers often offered the enslaved a week off between Christmas and New Year. During that time, they encouraged those in bondage to engage in sports, dancing and heavy drinking. As Douglass wrote, “Not to be drunk during the holidays, was disgraceful.”
This revelry was not so much to reward the enslaved than it was a device to keep down “the spirit of insurrection,” as Douglass put it. In his estimation, “The slave’s happiness is not the end sought, but, rather, the master’s safety,” by making the enslaved “as glad to return to their work, as they were to leave it.”
The drunkenness was sometimes encouraged through cunning. As Douglass observed, he had known enslavers who resorted to the trickery of making bets on the enslaved to see who could drink the most whiskey, a game that induced “a rivalry among them, for the mastery in this degradation,” rendering “whole multitudes” sometimes “stretched out in brutal drunkenness, at once helpless and disgusting.”
The point was to create within the enslaved population a decidedly negative mental association with what little free time they had — and, as a result, with freedom itself.
Many of the people who crusaded for abolishing slavery later embraced the temperance movement and lobbied for Prohibition, with many Black people supporting restrictions on alcohol because it had long been used to keep them in bondage.
This was part of a pattern. There is a long history of oppressors using alcohol as a means by which to control and conquer. A Villanova professor, Mark Lawrence Schrad, author of “Smashing the Liquor Machine: A Global History of Prohibition,” described this phenomenon in Politico last year:
Whether encountering Indigenous tribes in North America, Aborigines in Australia, Indians under the British Raj or the entire continent of Africa, European colonizers for decades used alcohol as a means of establishing dominance. They’d introduce industrially distilled liquors to native populations with no history or tolerance for alcohol, recoil in horror at the drunkenness that would ensue, and then point to that same drunkenness as evidence of the natives’ innate inferiority within the racial hierarchy.
Later, in the United States, the media portrayed the Black legislators elected during Reconstruction not only as uncivilized and corrupt, but also as drunkards.
And, as Schrad noted, “The most frequent justification invoked by white lynch mobs in the American South was that Black men were raping white women while drunk.”
So, Black people had one justification for Prohibition — freedom from a white people’s poison — but white people had another, racist one — to protect white communities from “imaginary drunken Black mobs,” as Schrad phrased it.
It is no surprise, then, that when Mississippi convened its 1890 constitutional convention to write white supremacy into the DNA of the state, one of the other orders of business was Prohibition.
At the constitutional convention, delegates read a “memorial” on behalf of Mississippi’s prohibitionists and “Christian women” that included this passage: “There are 75 counties in Mississippi, and 40 of them are dry. These dry counties are in the white section. The 35 wet counties are mostly in the Black belt and are kept wet by the Negro vote.” It continued: “A majority of the white people of Mississippi favor prohibition. What are you here for, if not to maintain white supremacy, especially when a majority of whites stand for a great principle of public morals and public safety?”
Now, abortion is being restricted in much the same way alcohol once was. There are many reasons for what’s happening — some of the most fervent proponents of the abortion bans can claim religious objections, others are merely angling for a political advantage or catering to the basest instincts of the American electorate, hoping to force more white women to have children in order to prevent white people from losing their majority status. The reasons for Prohibition were just as numerous and complicated, a mess of interlocking moral and political allegiances. But there is one key difference between then and now: Black people seem to have quickly increased support for abortion rights.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released on June 22, 82 percent of Black people support Roe v. Wade, compared to 60 percent of white people and 62 percent of Hispanics. Aggregated Gallup polls from 2001-2007 found that just 24 percent of Black people thought abortion should be legal in all cases. That Gallup number rose to 32 percent for the period 2017-2020. This month’s Quinnipiac poll found that number to be 45 percent.
The road to Prohibition, which had some Black support, even though some of its white support was infected with racism, was decades long, but Prohibition itself only lasted a little over one decade. These abortion bans had a similarly long route to fruition, but most Americans, including Black people, do not approve. How long before this unpopular repression also loses favor and falls into decline?
Mr. Walker’s family urged calm as protests continued in Akron, Ohio.
By Daniel McGraw and Luke Vander Ploeg, July 3, 2022
AKRON, Ohio — A 25-year-old Black man who was killed last week by police officers in Akron, Ohio, suffered more than 60 gunshot wounds but was unarmed at the time, the police chief said Sunday.
That detail was among the facts that began to emerge in the killing of the man, Jayland Walker, who died last Monday after fleeing the police during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop. At a news conference on Sunday, the police released body camera videos of the pursuit and shooting that showed officers’ actions but deepened many questions around his death, which remains under investigation.
Mr. Walker had one traffic ticket and no criminal record. The police said they initially sought to pull him over for an equipment violation and a traffic violation.
Eight officers who were directly involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave according to department policy, the police said.
Following the release of the videos, hundreds of protesters marched in downtown Akron, demanding justice for Mr. Walker and decrying police violence, as Mr. Walker’s family urged the community to remain peaceful.
In one video, a popping sound can be heard at one point, and an officer reports gunfire coming from the door of Mr. Walker’s car. The shot itself is not visible from the footage, but during the news conference, footage from outside the car was shown that seemed to capture a muzzle flash coming from Mr. Walker’s driver’s side door.
The police said during the news conference that a handgun was later found in Mr. Walker’s car and that a bullet casing was found where they said he fired and that it was consistent with the weapon found in Mr. Walker’s vehicle. A still photo released by the police showed a handgun on the seat, along with a gold ring. Mr. Walker’s girlfriend died recently in a car accident.
Bobby DiCello, a lawyer for the Walker family, said Mr. Walker had only recently obtained the gun. “Jayland was not familiar with firearms, and we do not know if it accidentally fired,” he said. “But police did find no bullets in the handgun when they found it in the car after his death.”
In the news conference, the police did not address whether the handgun in the car was unloaded but said there was a loaded magazine on the seat.
As the chase continued — it lasted more than seven minutes — the footage shows an officer saying that Mr. Walker’s car is slowing down. (Mr. Walker’s car had reached speeds of more than 50 miles per hour at times going through residential neighborhoods.) Seconds later, Mr. Walker, wearing a ski mask, exits the vehicle and begins to flee on foot.
The chase was brief, and footage appears to show a number of officers pursuing Mr. Walker, weapons drawn, into a nearby parking lot while shouting at him. Police officers had initially deployed Tasers but were unsuccessful, the police said. A few seconds later, the officers open fire, and Mr. Walker drops to the ground.
Stephen L. Mylett, the Akron police chief, said he wasn’t sure how many total shots had been fired at Mr. Walker. He could not confirm the exact number of bullets that struck him (though he cited the wounds reported by the medical examiner), but he anticipated the number would be “very high.”
Chief Mylett said the officers contended that Mr. Walker had quickly turned toward officers and made a motion toward his “waist area.” The chief confirmed that Mr. Walker was unarmed after fleeing his car, however.
But Mr. DiCello said that in an earlier meeting that included the chief and the family, the chief said he had not seen evidence that suggested the officers’ lives were threatened.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting an inquiry. After that is complete, the case will be turned over to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for review.
The decision of whether to charge the officers involved with a crime will be determined by prosecutors, but charges have rarely been filed in similar cases of shootings involving the police. If a gun was fired during the chase, that fact could weigh heavily on the decision of whether to prosecute, and it could provide a measure of credibility to officers’ claims that they were in danger.
Mr. DiCello criticized how the police portrayed Mr. Walker in the news conference. “They want to turn him into a masked monster with a gun,” he said. The family’s lawyers also questioned the city’s release of only parts of the videos at the news conference and urged that it release all of the video.
The police said they planned to release all of the body camera footage captured by officers at the shooting. This, they said, would include footage from the eight officers involved directly in the shooting along with five others who were at the scene.
The release of the video on Sunday raised tensions that were already high in Akron because of the shooting. One day after more than 100 demonstrators gathered just outside downtown, chanting and holding signs, protests continued with hundreds participating in a march and rally at City Hall organized by the Akron N.A.A.C.P.
“It just keeps perpetuating, the same thing, over and over,” said Chris Mercury, 41, an African American barbershop owner in Akron. He added that people in the country would keep thinking that it was the person’s fault that this happened.
“And at the end of the day,” said his wife, Monique, a retail fashion store owner, “the threat to people who were in the same position of Walker, the danger is immediate no matter what they do.”
She added that “people from all races and backgrounds need to realize this is happening, and it just seems to be getting worse.”
The Walker family urged the city not to resort to violence.
“If you can do anything for the family, please give peace, give dignity and give justice a chance for Jayland,” Mr. DiCello said on Sunday. “My clients are private people. Jayland was a private kid. He wasn’t married. He wasn’t a criminal. He obviously was in pain. He didn’t deserve to die.”
Kim Barker and Steve Eder contributed reporting.
As climate change and government actions lead to water scarcity and desecration, Native American artists send an urgent message.
By Holland Cotter, July 3, 2022
Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk), “Trail Marker Trees series,” 1999 photograph of a traditional Native American tree that has been humanly shaped to indicate direction of water. Credit...via Tom Jones and Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art
In a transfixing two-minute video called “River (The Water Serpent)” in the Metropolitan Museum’s American Wing we see a drone shot of a snow-flecked landscape where a crowd has gathered. Each of its members holds a vertical mirrored panel. Together, on cue, they place the panels horizontally over their heads, reflective side skyward, and begin a procession. At first, it’s loose and tidally pooling and eddying. Then it tightens into a stream of light, gains velocity, and spirals like a whirlpool.
The landscape is a stretch of prairie on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation spanning the border between North and South Dakota. The time of the filming was December 2016. The procession, conceived by two Native American artists, Cannupa Hanska Luger and Rory Wakemup, was a combined act of protest and preservation.
It was performed by some of the many hundreds of demonstrators who had come as “water protectors,” intent on halting the United States government’s plan to install a major oil pipeline near Black Rock, a move that could potentially poison the reservation’s water supply, and would certainly desecrate its ancestral cemeteries. The mirrored panels were shields designed to protect the protectors from resistance they’d meet and make their assaulters look hard at themselves.
The video is one of 40 works that make up “Water Memories,” a poetically faceted pocket-size show about the material and symbolic role of water in Native American life. Organized by Patricia Marroquin Norby (Purépecha), the Met’s associate curator of Native American Art, it combines traditional objects from the permanent collection with modern and contemporary loan pieces, including some by non-Native artists.
A fleet of toylike 19th-century canoe models with origins from the Northwest coast to the Northeast woodlands establishes the bicoastal range of the show, and suggests the role of water as a medium for commercial and cultural networking. The equivalent of long-haul trucks, Native American boats transported raw materials and handcrafted trade products — baskets, ceramics, luxury beadwork — on riverine highways up and down and across what is now called North America.
Also transported were ideas about values and governance, about past and the future, about life in this world and others. The Wisconsin-born Ho-Chunk artist Truman T. Lowe (1944-2019) paid tribute to the cosmopolitan nature of water travel in his 1993 “Feather Canoe,” an openwork boat made of willow branches and filled with white feathers. Suspended from the ceiling and illuminated from within, it projects patches of shadow and light onto the gallery floor.
Acquired by the Met last year, it’s a beautiful thing and seems to have had personal meaning for Lowe, a curator of contemporary art at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. “If I have a religion,” he said, “it must be canoeing. I canoe wherever there’s water. It puts me in a totally different state of mind and provides all I need to exist.”
A strip of ocean is visible in the background of a large, angsty-feeling 1989 triptych painting called “Possession on the Beach” by Fritz Scholder (1937-2005), an artist of one-quarter Luiseño descent who has been both admired and reviled for his popular “Indian” portraits. (He claimed that both critical responses were equally cool with him. He just wanted people to keep looking.)
By contrast, the aqueous element is all-encompassing in “Water Memory” by Cara Romero (Chemehuevi), a large- format 2015 photograph of ceremonially costumed Pueblo corn dancers performing underwater, as if immersed in a mystical realm where beauty and danger, soaring and falling, are inseparable.
Romero has said that the image was inspired by a catastrophic event in Native history: the construction, in the late 1930s, of the Parker Dam on the Colorado River that resulted in the flooding of thousands of acres of Chemehuevi homeland in Southern California. And much of what’s in this show is, explicitly or not, about the Indigenous struggle to retain control of the use of water and land.
In some cases, Norby makes the point through side-by-side placement of images. The Ho-Chunk photographer Tom Jones is represented by a single 1999 photograph of a traditional Native American “trail marker tree,” a tree that has been humanly shaped, through the application of weights to its branches, to form a directional device indicating routes that lead to settlements, or a water source or sacred sites.
Jones’s picture is installed near several photographs by the German-born American cartographer Henry P. Bosse (1844-1893). Bosse was hired by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to photo-document sections of the Mississippi River, including (though he may not have been aware of this) areas from which Native Americans had been forcibly removed. He approached his task essentially as an art project and produced, over a decade, hundreds of painstakingly composed azure-tinted vistas. (Eight are on view). The Army’s interest in the project was, of course, quite different. Its job was to turn the river into a government-managed transportation route and it needed photographic data to do so.
The Jones’ marker tree picture honors an instrument of guidance. Bosse’s sky-and-water images were, whatever his intentions, instruments of top-down control, valuable now as documents of disappearing tribal terrain.
A display of a dozen pretty glass whale-oil lamps also has a story to tell. For Native Americans in coastal areas, whaling had long been a form of subsistence hunting (or harvesting in the case of whales found washed up on shore). Among American white settlers, in the early 19th century whale hunting was huge business, a booming, violent corporate enterprise. Whale oil was in frenzied demand as fuel and lubricant, and ambergris, a byproduct of the animal’s digestive process, as a fixative for perfumes.
A 2021 ceramic sculpture by the Shinnecock artist Courtney M. Leonard speaks to this history. The Shinnecock, with tribal lands on the eastern end of what is now Long Island, were historically a community of ocean harvesters. Leonard’s sculpture, a ghostly heap of hollow clay forms resembling sperm whale teeth, is a tribute to that history. But it’s also a memorial to the dire and continuing ecological effects that 19th century industrial-scale whaling introduced.
Close by this elegiac work, Norby floats one of her exhibition’s historical grace notes in the form of small 1929 painting called “Reaching Waves” by the American modernist Arthur Dove (1880-1946). Dove spent the last two decades of his life on Long Island with his wife, the painter Helen Torr. And they were devoted water-people, living for much of that time on a boat. Dove’s thunderously delicate picture dates from those years.
There are other highlights to linger over too: a miniature pre-1850 birchbark canoe, replete with bird-quill oars, silk sails and a tiny carved fish, the day’s catch; a 1970s denim jeans jacket embroidered with a bright red thunderbird, a longstanding emblem of Indigenous activism; and a ceramic bowl made by the great San Ildefonso Pueblo potter Maria Martinez (1887-1980), and painted with a swirling image of the Tewa Pueblo serpent deity Avanyu, the guardian of water.
Avanyu brings us back to the Standing Rock video, which anchors a time-traveling show in the present. Last May, Norby invited members of local Native American communities to participate in a Mirror Shield workshop at the Met. It was led by Luger, who has also posted a brief instructional video online and whose idea for the shields was originally inspired by news photographs of Ukrainian women holding mirrors up to riot police during pro-democracy demonstrations in 2013, “in hopes of reaching their humanity and making them less violent,” writes Nick Estates (Kul Wicasa/Lower Brule Sioux Tribe), one of several Indigenous community members who wrote personal responses to the art in the show in the form of wall labels.
All the shields produced by the workshop will be shipped to water protectors after the show closes. Until then, several flank the Met gallery entrance, framing the art and history beyond, and reflecting us as we approach the show in a fragmented, multi-angled way, as moving water or memory might.
Even before the wave of abortion bans, medical treatment and advice for pregnancy has largely focused on fetal safety over the mother’s.
By Amanda Taub, Published July 4, 2022, Updated July 5, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/04/world/americas/abortion-pregnancy-health.html
As the United States has grappled with the unfolding consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision overruling Roe v. Wade, one question lurks between the lines of court opinions and news stories alike: Why are the risks of pregnancy so rarely discussed anywhere, even though that information is relevant not just to individual decisions but to policies about abortion, pregnancy, and health care for women?
With the wave of abortion bans taking place in states across America, those risks are going to be more in the spotlight — figuring both in women’s decisions about whether to risk getting pregnant if they live in a state that has banned abortions, and the arguments that will happen in state legislature chambers over how much threat to a mother’s health must be present to permit an abortion under untested and rapidly changing state laws.
“We spend an awful lot of time talking about avoiding behaviors because of very small risks that could happen that are associated with the fetus. ‘Don’t eat bean sprouts,’ or ‘don’t eat deli meats,’” Emily Oster, a Brown University economist and author of “Expecting Better,” a data-driven book about pregnancy, told me. “And then we sort of never talk to people about the risks of things that are almost definitely going to happen.”
For instance, in a vaginal birth, “Your vagina’s going to tear. It’s going to tear a lot,” she said. “That’s not even risk, it’s just realistic.” Those who give birth via cesarean section, a major abdominal surgery, end up with a large wound requiring a significant recovery period.
And more serious complications, while rare, are not that rare. In any given moms’ group, someone has probably survived hyperemesis gravidarum (which can occur in up to one in 30 pregnancies), an ectopic pregnancy (up to one in 50 pregnancies), or a pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorder (up to one in 10 pregnancies). All of those conditions can be lethal.
In most situations, the standard for risk is informed consent: awareness of the potential for harm, and a chance to accept or refuse it. If riding in a car or taking a plane meant a near-guaranteed abdominal or genital wound and a 10 percent chance of a life-threatening accident, people would expect a warning and an opportunity to consider whether the journey was worth it.
But pregnancy is different.
Jonathan Lord, a practicing gynecologist and the English medical director of MSI Reproductive Choices, an organization that provides family planning and abortion services in countries around the world, said that he suspects people often don’t talk about the dangers of pregnancy for women’s health because they see such conversations as a cause of unnecessary distress. “It’s sort of ingrained in society, really. It’s not so much a medical thing, but people do not talk about the risks and the unpleasant aspects, and I think that’s largely because people want to be kind,” he said.
Oster had a similar hypothesis about serious pregnancy complications. “In general, we’re not interested in confronting the risk of really bad things,” she said. “We would very much like to pretend that they’re zero.”
And yet if you look at the messaging around risks to the fetus during pregnancy, rather than the mother, the plot thickens.
Women are “bombarded” with messaging about the risks they themselves could pose to their fetuses, said Rebecca Blaylock, the research lead of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a charity that provides abortion and other reproductive health services. The research team at her organization, along with colleagues from Sheffield University, studied British media messaging around pregnancy. They found that media coverage overwhelmingly framed women as a vector of harm, not a population in need of protection. Fetuses were the sole focus of health outcomes.
Such assumptions even affected prenatal care. “We were seeing women suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum” — an extreme and potentially deadly form of morning sickness that involves near-constant vomiting — “who weren’t receiving appropriate treatment because their health care providers thought the medication posed a risk to their pregnancy, and who really felt they had no option but to terminate an otherwise wanted pregnancy at that point,” Blalock said.
The differing attitudes toward risk “really fit within a larger cultural climate where women are blamed for any and all ills that may or may not befall their children, and a preoccupation with reproducing the next generation of healthy citizens” Blaylock told me.
That study focused on the United Kingdom. But Kate Manne, a professor of philosophy at Cornell University and author of two books on the ways sexism shapes society, said that there is a widespread assumption in the United States and elsewhere that having children is something that women are naturally or even morally destined to do. Accordingly, guiding them toward that — even if that means denying them an opportunity to give informed consent to the risks — is seen by some as in their best interests. (She noted that transgender men and nonbinary people can also get pregnant, but said that the norms and societal assumptions about pregnancy tend to presume pregnant people are women.)
“We don’t tend to think of pregnancy as something that someone might very rationally decide not to do because it’s too much of a risk,” she said. “That kind of thought process is obviated by the sense that it’s natural and moral, and perhaps also holy, for women to do this.”
But such reluctance to acknowledge risks can make the dangers of pregnancy invisible to policymakers as well. One consequence is abortion bans that are written so bluntly that they fail to provide clear paths for doctors to protect women’s lives and health. In Poland, where most abortions are not allowed, vague exceptions that would allow them to go ahead have left doctors confused about potential liability, leading to the death of a pregnant woman last year. And now similar confusion is unfolding in U.S. states whose abortion bans took effect after last week’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
Doctors in several U.S. states, for instance, have raised concerns about whether women will be able to get timely care for ectopic pregnancies, a condition in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus or in the wrong part of it. Such pregnancies are never viable: It is not possible for a fetus to grow to term unless it implants correctly. But those that implant in scar tissue in the uterus, Dr. Lord said, can continue to develop for several months before eventually rupturing, at which point they are life-threatening to the mother, he said.
“You really need to get in there early before it’s grown to that extent,” he said. “It’s an inevitability that the fetus will die, but it will probably kill the mother with it.”
“I do fear that in those states that have got strict laws, that will happen.”
By David N. Hackney, July 5, 2022
Dr. Hackney is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and chair of the Ohio section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/05/opinion/ob-gyn-roe-v-wade-pregnancy.html
My wife and I practice in medical fields — obstetrics and pediatrics — that should be filled with happiness. And often they are, though we have selected sub-specialties that are often shrouded in sadness — high-risk obstetrics for me, and pediatric oncology for my wife. We have both watched children die while held in their mother’s arms.
Often we are asked about our psychological defenses in the face of tragic outcomes: the cancer that does not have a cure, or pre-eclampsia that becomes life-threatening to the pregnant woman before viability. In my opinion, the most important defense is the voice in your head that says, “I did everything I could.” I tell myself that I used treatments supported by research and monitored pregnancies with the highest-quality technology. I performed complex procedures, listened and counseled. I did everything I could, but ultimately the preterm labor could not be stopped — or, in my wife’s case, the child’s leukemia was just too aggressive. So we provide comfort and bear witness.
On June 24, Roe v. Wade was overturned and a near-total abortion ban became law in Ohio, where my wife and I practice. There are no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomalies, including lethal conditions.
Diagnosing birth defects is what I do. Over the years many of my patients with lethal anomalies have elected to continue their pregnancy knowing that their child will die after delivery. These patients always have my full support. Sometimes this is in concurrence with their religious beliefs, though sometimes it’s simply meaningful for them to deliver and spend time with their child, even if only for minutes or hours. Most patients, however, elect to discontinue the pregnancy.
For these patients, abortion is now illegal in Ohio. Some people will travel out of state. However, many people will not be able to do so, particularly people of color and those living in strategically disenfranchised communities. Sometime soon, I am going to meet a patient who has no ability to leave the state, and I am going to have to tell her that her baby has a lethal condition, and she is going to have to carry a pregnancy to term against her will. It might be tomorrow. It might be weeks from now. But this is going to happen, and I cannot stop it.
This patient will go through her third trimester visibly pregnant. Strangers in the grocery store will congratulate her. She will have to explain her story over and over again to friends, neighbors and co-workers. She will be forced to experience labor and delivery, and then her child will die. The risks of term delivery are far greater than the risk of abortion, so she may also experience hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia, blood clots or other complications.
Ohio’s new law is unimaginably cruel.
What am I going to do when I meet this patient — when I am sitting in an examination room with her as a nightmare unfolds before us? I hope the voice inside my head will again say, “I did everything I could.” But this time the voice would not only be talking about my medical management. Over the years, the Ohio section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which I chair, has issued statements, engaged social media and organized action alerts and membership lobby days on a wide range of important issues, including abortion. We have testified publicly before Ohio House committees and made direct appeals to legislators in their offices. For instance, in 2019 we successfully fought HB 413, which would have made “abortion murder” a crime and could have required doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into the woman’s uterus,” which is impossible. And in February we testified against HB 598, which would ban virtually all abortions in the state and could even affect fertility services.
So I will try to tell myself that this is not my fault. I will remind myself of the politicians who either did not believe me or did not care. But did I do everything? It is impossible to not worry that I have failed the physicians and patients of Ohio.
As physicians, what would we not do to save our patients from suffering and death? We have worked in hospitals through the night. We have performed surgery for hours. We have been splashed with blood, urine and amniotic fluid. We have listened to our patients’ concerns and sometimes held their hands and cried with them. The Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe, is a tragedy for our patients, many of whom will suffer and some of whom could very well die. Did we vote in every election? Did we call our legislators? Were we always brave enough to speak clearly and truthfully about abortion, especially in settings that make us uncomfortable?
When we are in the room with our patients, will the voice in our heads still say, “I did everything I could”?
By Maggie Astor, July 4, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/04/us/weekend-shootings-highland-park.html
The attack at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade was the largest and highest-profile shooting, but far from the only one, over the holiday weekend.
It was one of two mass shootings in the Chicago region alone on Monday. Less than 12 hours earlier, five people were injured in a shooting on Chicago’s South Side.
The Highland Park shooting stood out in its size (at least three dozen injured), its deadliness (at least six killed) and its location, a wealthy suburb that does not often experience such violence. But it was part of a pattern: the brutal ubiquity of gun violence in a nation with more firearms than people.
As of early Monday morning, at least 57 people had been shot in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, nine of them fatally, according to NBC Chicago. That did not include the toll from the Highland Park shooting outside the city.
Ten hours before a gunman opened fire at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park — where the median household income is nearly $150,000 and more than 80 percent of the population is white, with a large Jewish community — five people were shot around midnight on Monday in Parkway Gardens, a housing complex in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood, where the median household income is less than $30,000 and more than 90 percent of the population is Black.
The five victims, all male, were transported to local hospitals: a 17-year-old shot in the arm, a 19-year-old shot in the leg, a 24-year-old shot in the knee and thigh, a 30-year-old shot in the lower back and side, and a man of unknown age shot in the leg, according to the Chicago Police Department. No arrests were made, and the perpetrator has not been identified, the police said. The shooting was first reported by local news outlets, including The Chicago Sun-Times.
Nationwide, the Gun Violence Archive, a tracking project that defines mass shootings as those in which at least four people are killed or injured, has counted more than 300 so far this year.
Beyond Highland Park and Chicago, authorities in at least a dozen other cities reported shootings over the weekend, most of them on Monday.
In Philadelphia, two police officers were shot near the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Monday night. Both officers were transported to the Jefferson University Hospital and are in stable condition, according to the hospital’s media officers.
In Minneapolis, Minn., on Monday, eight people were injured, several of them critically, in a shooting in Boom Island Park, the park police said.
One person was killed and four were injured during a shooting in Kenosha, Wis., the police said. All of the victims were adults.
In Sacramento, Calif., a 31-year old man was killed and four people were injured when shots were fired as a club was closing early Monday morning.
Four people were injured in a shooting in Kansas City, Mo., and six were injured in a shooting in Richmond, Va.
Other shootings over the weekend were reported in Mullins, S.C.; Tacoma, Wash.; Manassas, Va.; Clinton, N.C.; Haltom City, Texas; and New York City.
By Laila Lalami, July 6, 2022
Ms. Lalami is the author of five books, including, most recently, “Conditional Citizens.”https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/06/opinion/melilla-morocco-europe-migrants.html
The border guard stood beside a small, cinder-block building, squinting in the sunlight. From where I sat in the back seat of my parents’ old Renault, he seemed tall and a little scary. But with only a quick look inside, he waved us through on our day trip to Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Morocco.
That was in 1977, at a time when traffic through the border was mostly local. But as the European Union grew, so did the fortification. These days, Melilla is surrounded by a wide ditch, twenty-foot-tall chain-link fences and guard towers equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance technology. It is virtually impossible for an undocumented migrant to cross the border — alone, at least.
In the early morning hours of June 24, around 2,000 people stormed the fence. Moroccan security officers met them with tear gas and batons. By the time the melee cleared, 23 migrants had been killed, though local nongovernmental organizations say the toll could be as high as 37. Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s socialist prime minister, blamed human-trafficking mafias for what he said was “an attack on the territorial integrity of Spain.” He thanked the Moroccan authorities for their work, adding that “Morocco also fights and suffers from this violence.”
Casting Spain and Morocco as joint victims of violent invaders is convenient, but the gut-wrenching videos that emerged later tell a different story. Dozens of bodies lay in a heap, a few still moving and in need of medical attention, while Moroccan police in full riot gear stood watching nearby. The refugees and immigrants reportedly were from Sudan, Chad and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.
It filled me with anger and shame that those who had brutalized them were fellow Africans, working in close cooperation with border guards from the European Union. Across the Global North, wealthy countries are outsourcing their border enforcement to poorer countries in exchange for economic, military or diplomatic support. Saddling poor countries with moral and legal responsibility, this collaboration strands refugees thousands of miles away from the safe havens they seek.
Precisely what happened on the morning of June 24 remains unclear. We don’t know how the people at the border perished — whether from falls, tear gas, asphyxiation, medical neglect or some combination. We don’t know their names. We don’t even know exactly how many died. And without a full and independent investigation, we may never find out. Two days after the massacre, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights tweeted pictures of freshly dug graves at a nearby cemetery, suggesting that at least some of the dead might be buried there.
But burying the bodies will not make the incident disappear. Already Morocco is facing anger at home and diplomatic fallout abroad, with the chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, declaring that he was “shocked and concerned at the violent and degrading treatment” the migrants received. Though Morocco quickly convened a meeting in Rabat with ambassadors from African nations, some of whom expressed their support, the damage has been done.
Spain, on the other hand, can keep its hands clean. The anger that its public feels about the deaths of dozens of migrants at its doorstep can be directed at the Moroccan government, or at human traffickers, or at the migrants themselves. The Spanish government can continue to take in refugees from Ukraine — as many as 124,000, according to a recent estimate — while denying refugees from countries like Sudan the opportunity to enter Melilla in order to claim asylum.
This understanding between Spain and Morocco is relatively new. Only last year, the Spanish government accused Morocco of “disrespect” and “defiance” after it allowed thousands of people, many of them children, to cross the border unimpeded. But the announcement in March that Spain would support Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara has turned the two squabbling neighbors into close allies. A security agreement was soon approved.
Spain and Morocco aren’t the only countries engaging in such deals. To prevent migrants from reaching it, the European Union has embarked on a decade-long effort to outsource its border enforcement to countries far away.
It has signed agreements with Libya and Tunisia to intercept Europe-bound migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and take them to detention centers in their own countries. It has arranged for its border agents to deploy in Senegal to prevent migrants from reaching the Canary Islands. And it has erected a network of walls and fences between Greece and Turkey to stop migrants from the south, and between Poland and Belarus to stop those coming from the east. The union has also spent millions on virtual walls — the technology that makes it possible to police borders, detect human movement and identify migrants.
This process turns a highly visible issue into an invisible one. People in Europe’s metropolises are shielded from the violence and suffering that take place at their borders, because these borders are in fact policed by other governments thousands of miles away. The policy makes a mockery of the human rights that Europe claims to cherish and uphold, including the right to asylum.
Here is a story. Tell me if you’ve heard it before. People lose their homes and livelihoods to war, natural disaster or financial ruin, so they must move somewhere else. If the lottery of life gives them the right papers, they can resettle and build new lives for themselves. But if they happen to be from an undesirable nation, they will be repelled by any means necessary.
Whether this story takes place at the doors of Europe, Britain or America, it has the same moral. No one chooses to be a refugee. We choose only how we respond to refugees. Sending migrants back to Morocco, as Europe is doing; flying them to Rwanda, as Britain is planning to do; or telling them to “Remain in Mexico,” as America has been doing — these are all cruel, shortsighted responses. For until their homes are safe, refugees will continue to come.
By Robert Chiarito and Mitch Smith, July 5, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/05/us/many-details-about-the-attack-remained-unclear-a-day-after-the-shooting.html
Spray paint on the ground marked evidence along the parade route in Highland Park, Ill. Credit...Cheney Orr/Reuters
HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — The man accused of killing seven people and wounding dozens of others in a shooting that terrorized a Fourth of July parade had been investigated by the local police before. Officers had responded in 2019 after someone reported that he had tried to kill himself. And they came to his home a few months later — seizing a knife collection — after a family member reported that he had pledged to “kill everyone.”
Still, in the years since, the man, Robert E. Crimo III, 21, was able to legally buy several guns in Illinois, including a high-powered rifle that officials said was used in the attack on Monday in Highland Park, a lakefront suburb north of Chicago. On Tuesday, Mr. Crimo was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder.
The details of those prior police visits raised questions about whether the Illinois authorities missed opportunities to use their relatively strict firearm laws to block Mr. Crimo’s gun purchases, and about whether a newly signed federal gun law might have made a difference had it been in force earlier. In a statement, the Illinois State Police defended its decision to grant Mr. Crimo a permit to own a gun, which he applied for in December 2019, three months after the police took the knives from his home.
In Highland Park, the police said that Mr. Crimo appeared to have prepared for weeks to attack the parade on Monday morning, and that he had used a fire escape to climb atop a downtown business to fire dozens of rounds from a high-powered rifle into the crowd. Afterward, they said, he escaped by discarding his rifle and blending into the crowd while wearing women’s clothing. The authorities released a picture that appeared to show him wearing an American flag scarf around his neck — perhaps, they said, to conceal his distinctive neck tattoos.
Mr. Crimo was arrested about eight hours later when a resident spotted him on a highway in a nearby suburb. Although the authorities said they had uncovered no evidence that the shooting was motivated by racial or religious hate, they acknowledged that they did not know what motivated the attack. Prosecutors said Mr. Crimo would make an initial court appearance on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.
The sequence of events in Highland Park — in which law enforcement was told about a troubled young man, one who later acquired guns and was accused of using them to kill — was not unique. In the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, the F.B.I. received tips about the person who has pleaded guilty in the case, Nikolas Cruz, before the shooting occurred. And a judge ruled that the Air Force was mostly responsible for a mass shooting at a Texas church in 2017 because it had not entered the gunman’s domestic violence conviction into a federal database.
The attack on Monday was also not the first to raise questions about vulnerabilities in Illinois’s strict gun laws, which require a permit to own a weapon, and which include a red flag provision that allows law enforcement to seize weapons from people deemed dangerous.
“We must vastly increase awareness and education about this red flag law,” Eric F. Rinehart, the Lake County state’s attorney, said on Tuesday when he announced the murder charges. He also called for the passage of a ban on assault weapons.
A man convicted of killing four people at a Waffle House restaurant in Tennessee in 2018 had previously surrendered his guns to law enforcement in his Illinois hometown. But those guns, including the AR-15-style rifle used in the attack, were returned to the gunman’s father, officials said at the time.
The laws also came under scrutiny in 2019, when a man fatally shot five people at an Aurora, Ill., factory where he worked. That man, who died in a shootout with the police, had been banned from owning a gun for five years but continued to possess one.
In Highland Park, officials said Mr. Crimo did not have a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card at the time officers seized 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from his home in 2019. They said they believed he bought several guns in the years since, including the rifle used on Monday and another that was in his car when he was arrested. Those guns were bought legally by Mr. Crimo in Illinois, officials said, meaning he would have had to have applied for and received a firearm owner’s card from the State Police.
A spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat who supports gun control laws, declined to answer questions on Tuesday about whether the governor believed that the state’s laws had worked as intended in the Highland Park case, but issued a statement calling for stricter gun laws and greater awareness of existing restrictions.
“Unfortunately, every time a mass shooting occurs it serves as a stark reminder that our gun laws often fall short of the rigorous standards that feel like common sense to most Americans,” the governor said.
Mr. Pritzker’s office directed inquiries about Mr. Crimo’s case to the State Police, who defended how they handled it, saying, in part, that “at the time of FOID application review in January of 2020, there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application.” The State Police said that Mr. Crimo’s father had sponsored his application for the permit.
Steven Greenberg, a lawyer representing the father, acknowledged that the father had done so, and said there were possible explanations why. Mr. Greenberg said his client did not believe there was an issue, and might not have understood what happened with the knife seizure because it did not happen in his house. “It was perfectly legal,” he said of sponsoring the gun permit.
The shooting in Highland Park also closely followed the passage of a federal law that has been hailed as the most significant piece of gun legislation in decades. That measure, passed in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, enhances background checks for buyers ages 18 to 21, requiring for the first time that juvenile records, including mental health records beginning at age 16, be vetted for material that identifies young buyers as a danger to themselves or others.
While many details about Mr. Crimo’s personal history remained hazy, it was possible — but not certain — that he could have been flagged for additional scrutiny had the federal law been passed earlier. Officials did not provide the exact dates that Mr. Crimo bought his rifles, but indicated that they had been bought in 2020 and 2021. Mr. Crimo turned 21 last year.
As prosecutors announced charges, residents of Highland Park gathered for prayer vigils, lamented a shattered sense of suburban security and grieved the deaths of their neighbors.
The victims included Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, who had recently moved back to Highland Park from Mexico, and who went to the parade with his family despite not wanting to; Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, a beloved employee of a local synagogue whom one friend called “a beautiful ray of light”; Stephen Straus, a financial adviser who, at age 88, still took the train every day to his office at a brokerage firm in Chicago; Katherine Goldstein, 64; and Irina and Kevin McCarthy, ages 35 and 37, a couple who left behind a toddler son.
“It’s just sad,” said Adrienne Rosenblatt, a neighbor of the McCarthys.
The authorities had not yet publicly identified a seventh victim whose death was announced on Tuesday.
Around Highland Park, questions also spread about Mr. Crimo, who was from a well-known local family, and whose father once ran unsuccessfully for mayor.
Nicolas and Andres Lopez, brothers who went to Highland Park High School with Mr. Crimo, said they used to be friends with him. Mr. Crimo at one point dropped out of high school, the brothers said, but they found nothing during the time when they were friends to suggest a problem.
“He wasn’t a quiet kid who was dark then,” Andres Lopez, 23, said. “He was quiet because he was nerdy. He wasn’t sinister.”
In the years since, concerning signs mounted. Mr. Crimo posted music videos online that seemed to refer to mass shootings, one of which included cartoon images of a gunman pointing a large rifle, and of other figures spurting blood. Later in that video, the gunman lies in a pool of blood near police cars.
Reporting was contributed by Shawn Hubler, Michael Levenson, Frances Robles, Noam Scheiber, Dan Simmons and Glenn Thrush.
By Sarah Milov, July 6, 2022
Dr. Milov is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and the author of “The Cigarette: A Political History.”https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/06/opinion/nicotine-smoking-cigarettes.html
Illustration by Shoshana Schultz/The New York Times; Photograph by Image Source via Getty
The Food and Drug Administration recently proposed lowering the nicotine content in cigarettes to less addictive levels. If adopted, this regulation would finally test one of the tobacco industry’s favorite claims: that smoking is a choice. Portraying smoking as a willful, personal decision has long allowed tobacco companies to promote cigarettes even while acknowledging their deadly risks. But the paradigm of individual choice has also guided cigarette regulation, ironically strengthening the industry’s key talking point — until now.
Nicotine is the addictive element in a cigarette. By reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes, federal regulations will, for the first time, address the key driver of cigarette consumption, which claims 480,000 American lives each year. Nicotine’s effects are particularly acute in adolescence, which is when most smokers start.
Tobacco companies have long understood that physiological dependence on nicotine — or what executives preferred to call nicotine satisfaction — was central to their business. Since the 1960s, the tobacco industry has manipulated ammonia levels in cigarettes to enhance nicotine’s effects. As one cigarette company research director commented in 1954, “It’s fortunate for us that cigarettes are a habit they can’t break.”
Publicly, tobacco’s advocates have argued that smoking is a choice of free, responsible adults. As early as 1929, the United States Patent Office granted patents to engineers who had devised processes for denicotinizing tobacco. But as one 1935 American Tobacco Company pamphlet reassured its readers, “The makers of Lucky Strike cigarettes deliberately refrain” from these techniques because “such removal of nicotine produces an emasculated product, shorn of the very qualities which give a cigarette character and appeal.” Selling the cigarette has always involved selling both the illusion of choice and a product designed to preclude it.
Ironically, the argument for individual consent was even bolstered by the earliest federal regulations on cigarettes — some of which the industry quietly lauded. After the surgeon general released the landmark 1964 report on smoking and health, policymakers debated how they would heed its call for “appropriate remedial action” to respond to the deadly health threat posed by cigarettes. The Federal Trade Commission’s proposal for cigarette warning labels that explicitly linked cigarette smoking to cancer and death was pre-empted by the warning label proposed by a tobacco-friendly Congress: “Caution: Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.” These labels, which have intensified in urgency with each revision since 1966, appear to put the responsibility for smoking squarely on the shoulders of the smoker. Having been duly warned, it is the smoker’s decision to smoke and bear the consequences.
While publicly the industry howled that a warning label was unfair, privately lawyers breathed a sigh of relief. The surgeon general’s report and the warning label could bolster the industry’s defense in the courtroom in any future product liability suits. Indeed, when a wave of product liability suits brought by dying smokers or their families hit the industry in the 1980s, industry lawyers could gloat that “no tobacco company has ever paid one penny in damages” to a plaintiff. The warning label shielded companies as much as it informed smokers.
To circumvent the power that the tobacco industry held in Congress and at courthouses, anti-tobacco activists in the 1970s and ’80s pioneered a different strategy. Laws and workplace rules aimed at reducing public smoking — such as the creation of nonsmoking sections and smoking sections, indoor bans and even outdoor bans — were enacted on behalf of nonsmokers. Whatever a smoker may have decided, nonsmokers never agreed to smoke secondhand. One antismoking bumper sticker from the late 1970s playfully satirized the assumption-of-risk paradigm: “Caution: Your smoking may be hazardous to my health.”
The nonsmokers’ rights movement catalyzed a sharp decline in smoking rates. But it left the paradigm of individual consent untouched — or even strengthened. For nonsmokers’ rights activists, the smoker can pursue his choice with full knowledge of the deadly consequences as long as his choices don’t affect others. “I would not mind a smoker killing himself privately,” one nonsmoker explained in support of public smoking restrictions in 1978. “I greatly object to his infecting my air.”
In more recent decades, age restrictions on smoking have reinforced the idea that smoking is the choice of fully consenting adults. After fighting such laws for decades, cigarette manufacturers supported 2019 legislation that raised the minimum purchase age from 18 to 21. Whereas the industry once feared that such laws would “gut our key young adult market,” in the words of a Philip Morris strategy document, it now embraces them as a way to preserve “adult choice.”
“We can’t defend continued smoking as a ‘free choice’ if the person was ‘addicted,’” a tobacco lobbyist observed more than four decades ago. And yet this is precisely what the industry has done — with the unintended blessing of even anti-tobacco lawmakers, whose rules have granted the validity of the cigarette’s engineering while making it ever more difficult, expensive and stigmatized to be a smoker.
The F.D.A.’s nicotine proposal is, at long last, an opportunity to test one of the industry’s core propositions. Only then will we truly see if smoking is a free adult choice rather than the consequence of addiction and skillful product design.
The fact is that most smokers want to quit. For all the industry’s insistence that cigarettes are an emblem of individuality, nearly 70 percent of adult smokers would prefer not to. More than half of the nation’s 31 million adult smokers attempt to quit each year, and only 7.5 percent succeed.
One study found that lowering nicotine levels could save an estimated 8.5 million lives in the next 80 years — lives of current smokers who will find it easier to quit, as well as lives of would-be smokers who never get hooked. It will save many millions more from tobacco-related heart and lung disease and from the unquantifiable grief that attends watching loved ones suffer prolonged and preventable illness. Such a stunning victory for public health is possible only with the kind of regulation that rightfully targets not individual smokers but the cigarette itself.
My NYT Comment:
At 76-years-old, I can say that virtually everyone in my family and in our community—including our family Doctor who came to our house when called—smoked. Everyone in the movies smoked. Everyone on TV smoked. And I, my younger sister, and our friends took puffs of our parent's cigarettes when we were as young as nine years old and actually began to buy cigarettes on our own when we were ten. Of course, the mass consumption of cigarettes was orchestrated by the tobacco industry and with the compliance of government. Huge profits were to be had. And profits are much more important than human life. All tobacco products should be banned. All of it! —Bonnie Weinstein
Sara Kruzan was 16 in 1994 when she killed a man who she said had sexually abused and trafficked her for years. A year later, she was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
By Johnny Diaz, Published July 5, 2022, Updated July 6, 2022
Sara Kruzan was released from prison in 2013 and has been working to raise awareness of sex trafficking. Credit...Sara Kruzan
When Sara Kruzan was 17, she was convicted of murdering a man she said had abused her beginning when she was 11 and had trafficked her for sex at 13. She served nearly two decades in prison.
On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California granted her a pardon for fatally shooting the man, George Howard, in 1994, saying that Ms. Kruzan had “provided evidence that she is living an upright life and has demonstrated her fitness for restoration of civic rights and responsibilities.”
The case had reignited criticism of the way that courts treat survivors of abuse, especially those who are adolescents. Criminal justice reform advocates have said the judge in her case did not treat her with enough compassion; Ms. Kruzan, though 16 at the time of the crime, was tried as an adult, and the judge did not permit evidence about the abuse to be presented during her trial, The Los Angeles Times has reported.
Amid a growing public outcry over the treatment of abuse survivors, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican, commuted her sentence in 2011. Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, then allowed her release from prison in 2013, after she had served 18 years.
In the pardon, Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, said that since the killing, Ms. Kruzan “has transformed her life and dedicated herself to community service.”
“This act of clemency for Ms. Kruzan does not minimize or forgive her conduct or the harm it caused,” Mr. Newsom wrote. “It does recognize the work she has done since to transform herself.”
Ms. Kruzan described feelings of surprise and relief in a statement shared with The New York Times on Tuesday by her literary agent. “I will never forget what happened that night and fully acknowledge what did, but I am immensely grateful to feel some relief from the burden of shame and social stigma,” she said. Ms. Kruzan added that she “felt an overwhelming influx of emotions: primarily awe and elation but also shock and grief as I thought about everything that led to this moment.”
Since her release, Ms. Kruzan said, she has worked to broaden awareness and correct misinformation about sex trafficking.
In May, Ms. Kruzan, 44, published her memoir, “I Cried to Dream Again: Trafficking, Murder, and Deliverance,” in which she chronicled how she “was abused, groomed, and trafficked for sex from age 11 to age 16.” She also wrote about her suicide attempts, her criminal case and her fight for freedom.
She noted that she was the recipient of a Stoneleigh Fellowship, which funds efforts to change systems affecting youth, at the nonprofit organization Human Rights for Kids.
Mr. Newsom said that the pardon did not expunge or erase her conviction but that it would “remove counterproductive barriers to employment and public service.”
Ms. Kruzan’s pardon was one of 17 that Mr. Newsom announced on Friday, along with 15 commutations and one medical reprieve, according to his office.
Since he took office in January 2019, Mr. Newsom has granted a total of 129 pardons, 123 commutations and 35 reprieves.
Susan C. Beachy contributed research.