Olivia Rodrigo - F*** You (feat. Lily Allen) (Glastonbury 2022)
With Olivia Rodrigo and Lily Allen
[Verse 1: Lily Allen]
Look inside, look inside your tiny mind
Then look a bit harder
'Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired
Of all the hatred you harbour
So you say it's not okay to be gay
Well, I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval
[Chorus: Lily Allen]
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please, don't stay in touch
[Verse 2: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]
Do you get, do you get a little kick out of being small minded?
You want to be like your father, it's approval you're after
Well, that's not how you find it
Do you, do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
'Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
You're losing control of it
And it's really distasteful
[Chorus: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
[Verse 3: Lily Allen]
You say you think we need to go to war
Well, you're already in one
'Cause it's people like you that need to get slew
No one wants your opinion
Doctors for Assange Statement
Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition
‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong
Ahead of the U.K. Home Secretary’s decision on whether to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, a group of more than 300 doctors representing 35 countries have told Priti Patel that approving his extradition would be “medically and ethically unacceptable”.
In an open letter sent to the Home Secretary on Friday June 10, and copied to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland, the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, the doctors draw attention to the fact that Assange suffered a “mini stroke” in October 2021. They note:
“Predictably, Mr Assange’s health has since continued to deteriorate in your custody. In October 2021 Mr. Assange suffered a ‘mini-stroke’… This dramatic deterioration of Mr Assange’s health has not yet been considered in his extradition proceedings. The US assurances accepted by the High Court, therefore, which would form the basis of any extradition approval, are founded upon outdated medical information, rendering them obsolete.”
The doctors charge that any extradition under these circumstances would constitute negligence. They write:
“Under conditions in which the UK legal system has failed to take Mr Assange’s current health status into account, no valid decision regarding his extradition may be made, by yourself or anyone else. Should he come to harm in the US under these circumstances it is you, Home Secretary, who will be left holding the responsibility for that negligent outcome.”
In their letter the group reminds the Home Secretary that they first wrote to her on Friday 22 November 2019, expressing their serious concerns about Julian Assange’s deteriorating health.
Those concerns were subsequently borne out by the testimony of expert witnesses in court during Assange’s extradition proceedings, which led to the denial of his extradition by the original judge on health grounds. That decision was later overturned by a higher court, which referred the decision to Priti Patel in light of US assurances that Julian Assange would not be treated inhumanely.
The doctors write:
“The subsequent ‘assurances’ of the United States government, that Mr Assange would not be treated inhumanly, are worthless given their record of pursuit, persecution and plotted murder of Mr Assange in retaliation for his public interest journalism.”
“Home Secretary, in making your decision as to extradition, do not make yourself, your government, and your country complicit in the slow-motion execution of this award-winning journalist, arguably the foremost publisher of our time. Do not extradite Julian Assange; free him.”
Julian Assange remains in High Security Belmarsh Prison awaiting Priti Patel’s decision, which is due any day.
Sign the petition:
If extradited to the United States, Julian Assange, father of two young British children, would face a sentence of 175 years in prison merely for receiving and publishing truthful information that revealed US war crimes.
UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that "it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America".
Amnesty International states, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”
Human Rights Watch says, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”
The NUJ has stated that the “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.
Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.
The UK is required under its international obligations to stop the extradition. Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty says: "Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense."
The decision to either Free Assange or send him to his death is now squarely in the political domain. The UK must not send Julian to the country that conspired to murder him in London.
The United Kingdom can stop the extradition at any time. It must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty and Free Julian Assange.
Recently I’ve started working with the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee. On March 17, Ruchell turned 83. He’s been imprisoned for 59 years, and now walks with a walker. He is no threat to society if released. Ruchell was in the Marin County Courthouse on August 7, 1970, the morning Jonathan Jackson took it over in an effort to free his older brother, the internationally known revolutionary prison writer, George Jackson. Ruchell joined Jonathan and was the only survivor of the shooting that ensued. He has been locked up ever since and denied parole 13 times. On March 19, the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee held a webinar for Ruchell for his 83rd birthday, which was a terrific event full of information and plans for building the campaign to Free Ruchell. (For information about his case, please visit: www.freeruchellmagee.org.)
Below are two ways to stream this historic webinar, plus
• a petition you can sign
• a portal to send a letter to Governor Newsom
• a Donate button to support his campaign
• a link to our campaign website.
Please take a moment and help.
Note: We will soon have t-shirts to sell to raise money for legal expenses.
Here is the YouTube link to view the March 19 Webinar:
Here is the Facebook link:
Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:
Write to Governor Newsom’s office:
No one ever hurt their eyes by looking on the bright side
Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale
U.S. Air Force veteran, Daniel Everette Hale has recently completed his first year of a 45-month prison sentence for exposing the realities of U.S drone warfare. Daniel Hale is not a spy, a threat to society, or a bad faith actor. His revelations were not a threat to national security. If they were, the prosecution would be able to identify the harm caused directly from the information Hale made public. Our members of Congress can urge President Biden to commute Daniel's sentence! Either way, Daniel deserves to be free.
Laws are created to be followed
by the poor.
Laws are made by the rich
to bring some order to exploitation.
The poor are the only law abiders in history.
When the poor make laws
the rich will be no more.
—Roque Dalton Presente!
(May 14, 1935 – Assassinated May 10, 1975)
 Roque Dalton was a Salvadoran poet, essayist, journalist, political activist, and intellectual. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets.
“In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper
A film by Kenneth A. Carlson
Teaser is now streaming at:
Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022
“In his Defense,” a documentary on the Kevin Cooper case, is in the works right now, and California filmmaker Kenneth Carlson has released a teaser for it on CarlsonFilms.com
Just over seven months ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an independent investigation of Cooper’s death penalty case. At the time, he explained that, “In cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined.”
That investigation is ongoing, with no word from any of the parties involved on its progress.
Cooper has been on death row since 1985 for the murder of four people in San Bernardino County in June 1983. Prosecutors said Cooper, who had escaped from a minimum-security prison and had been hiding out near the scene of the murder, killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, a friend who was spending the night at the Ryen’s. The lone survivor of the attack, eight-year-old Josh Ryen, was severely injured but survived.
For over 36 years, Cooper has insisted he is innocent, and there are serious questions about evidence that was missing, tampered with, destroyed, possibly planted, or hidden from the defense. There were multiple murder weapons, raising questions about how one man could use all of them, killing four people and seriously wounding one, in the amount of time the coroner estimated the murders took place.
The teaser alone gives a good overview of the case, and helps explain why so many believe Cooper was wrongfully convicted.
New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case
The following statement was issued January 4, 2022, regarding new legal filings by attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464)
The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won’t know for at least a month.
The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then-Prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill, prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury, and letters and memoranda which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct, and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in 1982, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latinx detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions.
In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed.
Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”
The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in U.S. courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. (lovenotphear.com/) Stay tuned.
—Workers World, January 4, 2022
Pa. Supreme Court denies widow’s appeal to remove Philly DA from Abu-Jamal case
Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder of Faulkner in 1982. Over the past four decades, five of his appeals have been quashed.
In 1989, the state’s highest court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s death penalty conviction, and in 2012, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.
Abu-Jamal, 66, remains in prison. He can appeal to the state Supreme Court, or he can file a new appeal.
KYW Newsradio reached out to Abu-Jamal’s attorneys for comment. They shared this statement in full:
“Today, the Superior Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider issues raised by Mr. Abu-Jamal in prior appeals. Two years ago, the Court of Common Pleas ordered reconsideration of these appeals finding evidence of an appearance of judicial bias when the appeals were first decided. We are disappointed in the Superior Court’s decision and are considering our next steps.
“While this case was pending in the Superior Court, the Commonwealth revealed, for the first time, previously undisclosed evidence related to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case. That evidence includes a letter indicating that the Commonwealth promised its principal witness against Mr. Abu-Jamal money in connection with his testimony. In today’s decision, the Superior Court made clear that it was not adjudicating the issues raised by this new evidence. This new evidence is critical to any fair determination of the issues raised in this case, and we look forward to presenting it in court.”
Questions and comments may be sent to: email@example.com
Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.
Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603
How long will he still be with us? How long will the genocide continue?
By Michael Moore—VIA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
American Indian Movement leader, Leonard Peltier, at 77 years of age, came down with Covid-19 this weekend. Upon hearing this, I broke down and cried. An innocent man, locked up behind bars for 44 years, Peltier is now America’s longest-held political prisoner. He suffers in prison tonight even though James Reynolds, one of the key federal prosecutors who sent Peltier off to life in prison in 1977, has written to President Biden and confessed to his role in the lies, deceit, racism and fake evidence that together resulted in locking up our country’s most well-known Native American civil rights leader. Just as South Africa imprisoned for more than 27 years its leading voice for freedom, Nelson Mandela, so too have we done the same to a leading voice and freedom fighter for the indigenous people of America. That’s not just me saying this. That’s Amnesty International saying it. They placed him on their political prisoner list years ago and continue to demand his release.
And it’s not just Amnesty leading the way. It’s the Pope who has demanded Leonard Peltier’s release. It’s the Dalai Lama, Jesse Jackson, and the President Pro-Tempore of the US Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy. Before their deaths, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu pleaded with the United States to free Leonard Peltier. A worldwide movement of millions have seen their demands fall on deaf ears.
And now the calls for Peltier to be granted clemency in DC have grown on Capitol Hill. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), the head of the Senate committee who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has also demanded Peltier be given his freedom. Numerous House Democrats have also written to Biden.
The time has come for our President to act; the same President who appointed the first-ever Native American cabinet member last year and who halted the building of the Keystone pipeline across Native lands. Surely Mr. Biden is capable of an urgent act of compassion for Leonard Peltier — especially considering that the prosecutor who put him away in 1977 now says Peltier is innocent, and that his US Attorney’s office corrupted the evidence to make sure Peltier didn’t get a fair trial. Why is this victim of our judicial system still in prison? And now he is sick with Covid.
For months Peltier has begged to get a Covid booster shot. Prison officials refused. The fact that he now has COVID-19 is a form of torture. A shame hangs over all of us. Should he now die, are we all not complicit in taking his life?
President Biden, let Leonard Peltier go. This is a gross injustice. You can end it. Reach deep into your Catholic faith, read what the Pope has begged you to do, and then do the right thing.
For those of you reading this, will you join me right now in appealing to President Biden to free Leonard Peltier? His health is in deep decline, he is the voice of his people — a people we owe so much to for massacring and imprisoning them for hundreds of years.
The way we do mass incarceration in the US is abominable. And Leonard Peltier is not the only political prisoner we have locked up. We have millions of Black and brown and poor people tonight in prison or on parole and probation — in large part because they are Black and brown and poor. THAT is a political act on our part. Corporate criminals and Trump run free. The damage they have done to so many Americans and people around the world must be dealt with.
This larger issue is one we MUST take on. For today, please join me in contacting the following to show them how many millions of us demand that Leonard Peltier has suffered enough and should be free:
President Joe Biden
E-mail: At this link
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
Attorney General Merrick Garland
E-mail: At this link
I’ll end with the final verse from the epic poem “American Names” by Stephen Vincent Benet:
I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.
I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.
You may bury my body in Sussex grass,
You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.
I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.
PS. Also — watch the brilliant 1992 documentary by Michael Apted and Robert Redford about the framing of Leonard Peltier— “Incident at Oglala”
By Margaret Atwood*
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
*Witten by the woman who wrote a novel about Christian fascists taking over the U.S. and enslaving women. Prescient!
Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Department of Labor
For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Thursday, January 20, 2022
(202) 691-6378 • email@example.com • www.bls.gov/cps
(202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov
In 2021, the number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions continued to decline (-241,000) to 14.0 million, and the percent who were members of unions—the union membership rate—was 10.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The rate is down from 10.8 percent in 2020—when the rate increased due to a disproportionately large decline in the total number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The 2021 unionization rate is the same as the 2019 rate of 10.3 percent. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.
These data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. For further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.
Highlights from the 2021 data:
• The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.1 percent). (See table 3.)
• The highest unionization rates were among workers in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). (See table 3.)
• Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.6 percent) than women (9.9 percent). The gap between union membership rates for men and women has narrowed considerably since 1983 (the earliest year for which comparable data are available), when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)
• Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
• Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 83 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($975 versus $1,169). (The comparisons of earnings in this news release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.)
• Among states, Hawaii and New York continued to have the highest union membership rates (22.4 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina continued to have the lowest (1.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively). (See table 5.)
Industry and Occupation of Union Members
In 2021, 7.0 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, the same as in the private sector. (See table 3.)
Union membership decreased by 191,000 over the year in the public sector. The public-sector union membership rate declined by 0.9 percentage point in 2021 to 33.9 percent, following an increase of 1.2 percentage points in 2020. In 2021, the union membership rate continued to be highest in local government (40.2 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.
The number of union workers employed in the private sector changed little over the year. However, the number of private-sector nonunion workers increased in 2021. The private-sector unionization rate declined by 0.2 percentage point in 2021 to 6.1 percent, slightly lower than its 2019 rate of 6.2 percent. Industries with high unionization rates included utilities (19.7 percent), motion pictures and sound recording industries (17.3 percent), and transportation and warehousing (14.7 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.2 percent), professional and technical services (1.2 percent), food services and drinking places (1.2 percent), and insurance (1.5 percent).
Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2021 were in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). Unionization rates were lowest in food preparation and serving related occupations (3.1 percent); sales and related occupations (3.3 percent); computer and mathematical occupations (3.7 percent); personal care and service occupations (3.9 percent); and farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (4.0 percent).
Selected Characteristics of Union Members
In 2021, the number of men who were union members, at 7.5 million, changed little, while the number of women who were union members declined by 182,000 to 6.5 million. The unionization rate for men decreased by 0.4 percentage point over the year to 10.6 percent. In 2021, women’s union membership rate declined by 0.6 percentage point to 9.9 percent. The 2021 decreases in union membership rates for men and women reflect increases in the total number of nonunion workers. The rate for men is below the 2019 rate (10.8 percent), while the rate for women is above the 2019 rate (9.7 percent). (See table 1.)
Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate in 2021 (11.5 percent) than White workers (10.3 percent), Asian workers (7.7 percent), and Hispanic workers (9.0 percent). The union membership rate declined by 0.4 percentage point for White workers, by 0.8 percentage point for Black workers, by 1.2 percentage points for Asian workers, and by 0.8 percentage point for Hispanic workers. The 2021 rates for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics are little or no different from 2019, while the rate for Asians is lower.
By age, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2021, at 13.1 percent. Younger workers—those ages 16 to 24—had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.2 percent.
In 2021, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.1 percent) continued to be considerably higher than that for part-time workers (6.1 percent).
In 2021, 15.8 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, 137,000 less than in 2020. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 11.6 percent, down by 0.5 percentage point from 2020 but the same as in 2019. Workers represented by a union include both union members (14.0 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.8 million). (See table 1.)
Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,169 in 2021, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $975. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, these earnings differences reflect a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size, or geographic region. (See tables 2 and 4.)
Union Membership by State
In 2021, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.3 percent, while 20 states had rates above it. All states in both the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average, while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. (See table 5 and chart 1.)
Ten states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2021. South Carolina had the lowest rate (1.7 percent), followed by North Carolina (2.6 percent) and Utah (3.5 percent). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2021: Hawaii (22.4 percent) and New York (22.2 percent).
In 2021, about 30 percent of the 14.0 million union members lived in just two states (California at 2.5 million and New York at 1.7 million). However, these states accounted for about 17 percent of wage and salary employment nationally.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on 2021 Union Members Data
Union membership data for 2021 continue to reflect the impact on the labor market of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Comparisons with union membership measures for 2020, including metrics such as the union membership rate and median usual weekly earnings, should be interpreted with caution. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 led to an increase in the unionization rate due to a disproportionately large decline in the number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The decrease in the rate in 2021 reflects a large gain in the number of nonunion workers and a decrease in the number of union workers. More information on labor market developments in recent months is available at:
Resources for Resisting Federal Repression
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:
Know Your Rights Materials
The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides.
WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office
We also recommend the following resources:
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
By 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.
After the latest in a series of scandals prompted a rebellion by members of his Conservative Party, Mr. Johnson said he would step down. He plans to remain as prime minister until a successor is chosen.
Live Update, July 7, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/07/07/world/boris-johnson-resign-news
LONDON — Boris Johnson said on Thursday that he would step down as Britain’s prime minister after a wholesale rebellion of his cabinet, a wave of government resignations and a devastating loss of party support prompted by his handling of the party’s latest sex-and-bullying scandal.
Mr. Johnson said he planned to stay on in his post until the Conservative Party chooses a new leader, which could take several months. He said he expected the timetable for his departure and the selection of a successor to be set on Monday by a committee of senior Conservative lawmakers.
“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader,” Mr. Johnson said in remarks outside Downing Street. “The process of choosing that new leader should begin now.”
He said he had tried to hold on to his job because he felt it was his duty and his obligation to continue the work he had done since 2019, when he led the Conservative Party to a landslide general election victory on a promise to “Get Brexit Done.”
“I want to tell you how sorry I am to be giving up the best job in the world,” Mr. Johnson said to a crowd that included aides and his wife, Carrie, who held the couple’s daughter, Romy. “But them’s the breaks.”
Mr. Johnson’s decision capped a dizzying 48 hours in British politics that began on Tuesday evening with the unexpected resignation of two of his highest-ranking ministers — the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and the health secretary, Sajid Javid. That was followed by a flurry of resignation announcements from other lawmakers and officials all day Wednesday and on Thursday morning.
Mr. Johnson’s resignation brings an abrupt end to a tumultuous tenure that was distinguished by the landslide victory three years ago and a successful drive to pull Britain out of the European Union, but that collapsed under the weight of a relentless series of scandals.
The 1922 Committee, the powerful body that represents Conservative Party backbench lawmakers, is likely to use the summer vacation to complete the process of selecting the new Conservative leader who will become prime minister. At the very latest, they will want to have installed the person by the time of the annual party conference in the fall.
Among the potential candidates are Mr. Sunak and Mr. Javid; Liz Truss, the foreign secretary; Suella Braverman, the attorney general; and Nadhim Zahawi, who briefly replaced Mr. Sunak as chancellor. There are also two outsiders: Jeremy Hunt, a former foreign secretary who challenged Mr. Johnson for the party leadership in 2019, and Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Whether Mr. Johnson will be able to stay in power until the fall is not clear, given the intense backlash against him in the party. The opposition welcomed his departure but said it was long overdue.
Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, said it was “good news for the country that Boris Johnson has resigned,” but added, “It should have happened long ago.”
Mr. Johnson’s latest troubles erupted last week after a Conservative lawmaker, Chris Pincher, became drunk at an exclusive London club, where, it was alleged, he groped two men. Mr. Johnson had appointed Mr. Pincher to a senior party position in February despite earlier complaints of inappropriate behavior against Mr. Pincher.
Mr. Johnson at first denied being aware of the previous complaints, but it later emerged that he had known about them, and he eventually acknowledged that it was a mistake to have named Mr. Pincher to the elevated position.
As members of Mr. Johnson’s party stepped down from the government, one after another voiced opposition to his leadership, denounced him for a lack of integrity in office and called for him to stand down, underscoring his precarious position.
By Charles M. Blow, July 6, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/06/opinion/show-photos-mass-shootings.html
In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Dr. David Baum, an obstetrician in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, described the “horrific scene” when a gunman rained rifle shots down on a Fourth of July parade through the community on Monday.
Actually, to me, the more precise word he used to describe some of the injuries was “unspeakable.”
The people killed were “blown up by that gunfire,” he said, “blown up. The horrific scene of some of the bodies is unspeakable for the average person.”
This shooting — and Baum’s description — has extended a roiling debate about whether media should show what rounds from high-powered rifles can do to the human body.
Most of America has very likely never seen a fatal gunshot wound of any sort. Our mental image of a fatal gunshot wound has been created by our cultural imagery: Hollywood … and video games. They are either clean kills (sometimes even bloodless ones, leaving clothes undisturbed apart from an entry hole burned into the fabric) or gory, cartoonish killings that produce more humor than horror.
What we don’t see is the reality of these rifles’ decapitating children in Uvalde, Texas; shredding organs until they look like “an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer” at a high school in Parkland, Fla.; and leaving at least one person, according to Baum, with an “unspeakable head injury” in Highland Park.
But should America be forced to confront the truth of the carnage it so often ignores? Would these images shock the country out of its morbid malaise and into action to address an unconscionable — and fully preventable — public health crisis that guns have created?
The Journalist’s Resource at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy recently explored this very issue, interviewing 12 experts on the journalistic ethics at play, and the issue was more complicated than one might think.
There are some thorny questions that must be thought through. What makes one image worthy of publication but not another? Would the publication of one, or some, open the floodgates to most, if not all? Could the images simply become part of the gore that is three clicks away on any web search, elevating it to acceptable, common consumption? Could it have the opposite effect than intended: allowing copycats to use the images in a game of one-upmanship, or online trolls to wield them against the families of the victims?
The issue of consent is crucial: Isn’t it imperative that the families of the victims approve of the use?
Interestingly, there seems to be no clear industry standard. News organizations seem to be acting as a council of elders, erring on the side of restraint, which is understandable in my view.
But the time for that restraint should end. I now believe that the public’s need to know has overtaken its need to be shielded from horror. In fact, on some level, not allowing the public access to some version of the gore is extending a form of disinformation, permitting a warped, naïve or incorrect impression to persist when it could be corrected.
On Wednesday, I spoke with the Rev. Kenny Irby, a photographer who started the Poynter Institute’s photojournalism program. He agreed that the time had come for these images to be shown because of the “fierce urgency” of the moment.
Of course, Irby warned that the images would need to be contextualized in the proper way, but he insisted that “the media has to be part of the delivery mechanism that shows people what the true impact” of gun violence is.
The question of context is one that must be considered. Should the images be shown during regular newscasts or on front pages of newspapers, or should they be sequestered to news organizations’ websites, behind warning labels?
For some, we are now in a post-label era.
“I’m so done with warning labels,” Sue Morrow, editor of the National Press Photographers Association’s News Photographer magazine, told me on Wednesday.
As she put it, “I’m of the camp that it’s about damn time that we do start publishing this stuff, with the caveat that we have to be sensitive to the relatives left behind.”
Even if there will never be full agreement on this point, it is important to understand that humans can become desensitized to anything, even extreme inhumanity. Look no further than the postcards produced of lynched bodies.
The publication of these images may not lead to an immediate policy change that some predict it will. Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, for instance, has argued that showing images of the children killed in the Uvalde shooting might generate another “Emmett Till moment.”
But while the images of Till’s brutalized body helped spark the civil rights movement, the images themselves didn’t move politicians to change policies. In fact, the first major policy win of the movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, came nearly a decade after Till’s murder and after many other deaths.
The first confrontation with those images galvanized the will of the oppressed to fight but not the willingness of the lawmakers to act. The status quo resists all impulse to be shocked.
That is why we need to see these images not for shock value but for truth value.
Carlos Moncayo, 22, died seven years ago at a Manhattan construction site. A bill on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desk aims to make conditions safer for workers like him.
By Karen Zraick, July 7, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/07/nyregion/construction-safety-bill.html
Members of New Immigrant Community Empowerment, a Queens-based nonprofit, marched to remember construction workers who died on the job. The group has urged the governor to sign Carlos’s Law. Credit...Desiree Rios for The New York Times
Credit...via Manhattan District Attorney's Office
The company was ultimately sentenced to pay just $10,000 [for the death of Carlos] because of state-imposed limits on corporate penalties.
Carlos Moncayo was just 22 when he was crushed to death by thousands of pounds of dirt at a construction site in Manhattan’s meatpacking district.
More than seven years later, a construction safety bill named after him could become law, if Gov. Kathy Hochul chooses to sign it. The legislation, known as Carlos’s Law, would dramatically raise the fines faced by corporations for construction accidents that result in criminal convictions.
While the bill passed both houses of the State Legislature on the final day of the session last month, Ms. Hochul’s office has said only that she was reviewing it.
Prosecutions for injuries or deaths on construction sites are exceedingly rare nationwide, but the Moncayo case was an exception. The Manhattan district attorney’s office pursued charges, and the general contractor, Harco Construction, was found guilty of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.
The company was ultimately sentenced to pay just $10,000 because of state-imposed limits on corporate penalties. The district attorney at the time, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., denounced the outcome, saying the fine was merely “Monopoly money” for the company.
Supporters of Carlos’s Law say that the specter of much higher fines in such cases would deter contractors from cutting corners on safety, sometimes with perilous consequences.
The city’s Department of Buildings has recorded 84 construction-related fatalities since 2015. Statistics shows that deaths are more likely at nonunion sites, where workers may face pressure to comply with unreasonable demands.
Diana Florence, who served as the lead prosecutor on Mr. Moncayo’s case, said in an interview that many construction injuries and even deaths are not properly investigated from the outset.
But the Moncayo case hinged on a coincidence: A police supervisor who responded to the scene had once worked in construction, and he immediately recognized that the pit that Mr. Moncayo was working in was not reinforced, as it should have been.
“He realized that the trench was basically a ticking time bomb,” Ms. Florence said.
Prosecutors would later argue that supervisors had ordered Mr. Moncayo, who was undocumented and did not belong to a union, to go into the pit despite the danger, because the project was behind schedule.
The site they were working on, near the High Line, had once been the restaurant Pastis and was being turned into a Restoration Hardware store.
The case spurred a yearslong effort to increase the fines in such cases and to expand liability so that companies can be held responsible for the actions of a greater range of employees.
Carlos’s Law was first introduced in 2017 and passed the State Assembly that year, but was held up in the State Senate by opposition from Republicans and the real estate industry.
This year, though, there was a breakthrough. The Mason Tenders’ District Council, an alliance of construction laborers’ unions and a major force behind the bill, reached agreement in May with the Real Estate Board of New York on adjustments to the legislation, including changes to provisions affecting supervisors and foremen.
The version that passed allows the courts to decide restitution without a cap and raises minimum fines to $500,000 for felonies and $300,000 for misdemeanors in cases involving injuries or deaths.
“We think that’s going to catch the attention of the rogue developers and contractors that put their workers’ lives at risk in the pursuit of profit,” said Mike Hellstrom, business manager for the mason tenders.
In a joint statement after the bill’s passage, Mr. Hellstrom and James Whelan, the president of the Real Estate Board, said they had “every intention of building on the partnership between our organizations that contributed to this legislative achievement.”
Ms. Hochul is up for election in November and enjoys strong support from organized labor, leading supporters of Carlos’s Law to believe that she will sign it into law soon. The deadline to act on any of the more than 1,000 bills that passed both chambers during the last session is the end of the year.
Collecting comprehensive data on criminal cases stemming from workplace injuries and deaths is complicated. Federal regulators occasionally refer cases to the Justice Department for prosecutions but must meet a high bar of evidence for “willful violations” that cause the death of an employee.
State and local prosecutors may bring charges, as they did in the Moncayo case. In fact, months after Mr. Moncayo’s death, the Manhattan district attorney’s office and several other agencies, including the city Department of Investigation, announced the creation of a Construction Fraud Task Force to focus on misconduct amid a boom in new construction.
The current district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has urged Ms. Hochul to sign Carlos’s Law, which he said would establish “meaningful deterrence.”
“Corporations must be held accountable when a worker is injured or killed due to unsafe conditions,” Mr. Bragg said in a statement.
The fines in question are separate from those imposed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration or local agencies for violations at work sites.
The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, an advocacy group that pushed for the bill, has called for other prosecutors across the state to follow the lead of the Manhattan district attorney’s office and be more proactive on prosecuting such cases.
Supporters of Carlos’s Law, including NYCOSH, say that even if prosecutions remain the exception, the law would restrain unscrupulous builders, by raising the costs associated with worker injuries.
“We want cases of Carlos’s Law to be rare because we want employers to be responsible and to follow every applicable safety and health standard and not put workers’ lives in danger,” said Charlene Obernauer, the group’s executive director.
Diana Moreno, the interim executive director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment, a Queens-based nonprofit, said the bill’s signing would address a “shameful injustice.”
“The risk of having to pay a substantial fine, a minimum of $500,000 under this new law, will finally hold developers and construction companies accountable and incentivize them to uphold health and safety standards,” she said.
Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, who sponsored the bill in the Assembly alongside James Sanders Jr. in the Senate, said that the issue was personal for her. About 25 years ago, her brother Wagner fell off a scaffold while on a construction job and was left permanently disabled.
She now represents the Flatbush section of Brooklyn and counts among her constituents many undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean and from countries in Africa who work in construction.
“You have a lot of construction firms that take advantage of immigrant workers, pay low, do not train them, do not provide a safe area for them to work because they don’t value their lives,” she said. “They know that these immigrants do not have the resources to pursue a lawsuit or claim, so they take advantage.”
Before putting in her vote for the bill, State Senator Jessica Ramos read the names of workers who had died in New York since Mr. Moncayo, noting that most of them were Latino, and many were her neighbors in Queens.
“It is going to be lifesaving for families in my district,” she said of the bill.
Francisco Moya, now a member of the City Council representing roughly the same area of Queens as Ms. Ramos, helped write the bill when he was in the Assembly.
He also felt a personal connection to the Moncayo case. He and Mr. Moncayo shared Ecuadorean roots and lived just blocks away from one another.
“This is a victory in the fight to make sure that every construction worker that leaves their house in the morning for work is alive to make it home for dinner,” he said.
By Anton Troianovski and Ivan Nechepurenko, July 7, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/07/world/europe/brittney-griner-trial.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Sports
Brittney Griner arrived at a court hearing near Moscow today, where she pleaded guilty to the drug charges leveled against her. Credit...Kirill Kudryavtsev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The detained American basketball star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a court near Moscow on Thursday, her lawyer said.
“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Ms. Griner said in English, which was then translated into Russian, Reuters reported.
Ms. Griner has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17, accused by the Russian authorities of having a vape cartridge with hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.
Aleksandr Boikov, her lawyer, said cartridges appeared in Ms. Griner’s luggage “because of carelessness.”
“She pleaded guilty, stressing that she was carrying substances prohibited in Russia unintentionally, because she was packing in a hurry,” Mr. Boikov said.
If Ms. Griner is convicted, she could face up to 10 years in a Russian penal colony.
Her guilty plea came hours after a top Russian diplomat lashed out at the Biden administration for trying to “foment hype” around her case.
The Russian diplomat, Sergei A. Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister, said that the publicity around the case was not helping Ms. Griner, who American officials say is essentially a hostage taken by President Vladimir V. Putin in the run-up to the war in Ukraine.
Mr. Ryabkov indicated that Moscow would be prepared to negotiate her fate, but only after the court reached a verdict on the drug charges that were brought against her.
“We have a long-established form of discussing these matters,” Mr. Ryabkov told reporters on Thursday in Moscow, according to the Interfax news agency. “The American side’s attempts to foment hype and make noise in the public environment are understandable, but they don’t help to practically resolve issues.”
After her trial began last week, Ms. Griner sent a handwritten letter to Mr. Biden asking him not to “forget about” her and other American detainees overseas.
Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on Wednesday with Ms. Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, according to a statement released by the White House.
During the call, the statement said, the president read a draft of a letter that he planned to send to Brittney Griner. He also said that his administration was pursuing “every avenue to bring Brittney home.”
Speaking outside the courtroom on Thursday, Elizabeth Rood, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said she had spoken to Ms. Griner and she had been able to read the president’s letter.
“She said that she’s eating well, she’s able to read books, and under the circumstances, she’s doing well,” Ms. Rood said, according to a video posted on Twitter by an NPR correspondent. She added: “I would like again to emphasize the commitment of the U.S. government at the very highest level to bring home safely Ms. Griner and all U.S. citizens wrongfully detained.”
Cherelle Griner has publicly expressed frustration with Mr. Biden and his administration’s efforts to secure her wife’s release.
In a statement to The New York Times on Wednesday, Cherelle Griner said she was grateful to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris “for the time they spent with me and for the commitment they expressed to getting B.G. home.”
The United States government has classified Brittney Griner as “wrongfully detained” and is working to secure her release regardless of the outcome of the trial. While the Kremlin claims it has no involvement in Ms. Griner’s case, Russian state media reports have indicated that Moscow may press the United States to free a Russian in American custody — like the convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout — in exchange for her freedom.
Mr. Ryabkov said that until the conclusion of Ms. Griner’s case, “there are no formal procedural grounds” to discuss further steps. He hinted, however, that Moscow was interested in negotiating over her fate, claiming that she would be helped by “a serious reading by the American side of the signals that they received from Russia, from Moscow, through specialized channels.”
He did not specify what those signals were, but insisted that talks on Ms. Griner’s fate should take place out of the public eye, according to Russian news reports.
In the U.S., a spate of gun violence in May, including two of the deadliest mass shootings so far this year, came at too fast a pace to grasp.
By Shaila Dewan, Mitch Smith, Gray Beltran and Troy Closson, July 7, 2022
“When the news broke in Uvalde, one Buffalo family had just returned home from a repast after burying their relative. Six others still awaited funerals. And Zeneta Everhart tended to her son Zaire Goodman, 21, who had a bullet strike his neck and rip through his back.
“‘My ancestors, the first currency of America, were stripped of their heritage and culture, separated from their families,’ Ms. Everhart said in recent testimony before Congress. ‘Sold, beaten, raped and lynched. Yet I continuously hear after every mass shooting that this is not who we are as Americans and as a nation.’
“‘This is exactly who we are,’ she said.”
In a Buffalo supermarket, 10 people died. In a Texas elementary school, the fatality count was 19 students and two teachers. Those were the mass shootings, only 10 days apart, that attracted global attention in May — but there were many others that passed in a quick staccato, devastating families and communities but streaming past everyone else in a blur. They seemed to fade from the headlines in days, having become too frequent, too dismal, too commonplace to absorb.
In the same month there were mass shootings at a Taiwanese church luncheon in California, a flea market in Houston, a nightlife district in Milwaukee, a park in Lexington, Ky., and a high school graduation in Hot Springs, Ark., to name only a few.
Rarely did these episodes involve a heavily armed lone gunman like the one who fired dozens of shots from a rooftop at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Ill., killing seven people. Rampage shootings get the most scrutiny, but they account for only a tiny proportion of gun violence victims. Lesser-known episodes often were just as random, just as public and just as scarring for those affected.
There is no single definition of a mass shooting — it can be targeted or indiscriminate, based on number of deaths alone or injuries as well. Some researchers, like those at the Gun Violence Archive, count any shooting with four or more people wounded or killed; others begin at four fatalities. Some researchers count what the F.B.I. calls “active shooters” or “mass public shootings” separately from gang or drug-related violence or domestic “family annihilators.”
However these episodes are defined, they are on the rise in the United States — so much so that horrific events that might once have dominated the news now slip quickly out of the public eye. In Phoenix, the police have had very little to say about a shooting episode, reportedly outside a house party, that left one teenager dead and five others wounded. In Goshen, Ind., almost no details have been released about a gunman who shot a family of four siblings in their home, killing one, who was 17.
And that was just in May, during which the Gun Violence Archive counted 63 mass shootings; a small number are described below. The archive counted 65 mass shootings in June, and 25 already this month, as of July 7.
In Buffalo, Zeneta Everhart’s son is still healing from injuries after being shot at the supermarket by a gunman who the authorities say was motivated to kill Black people. “For too long, we’ve always just gone, ‘These things happen — now there’s another one, so we’ll move on,’” Ms. Everhart said. “We all need to keep talking about this.”
The Brannon Hill condos, near the Atlanta suburb of Clarkston, Ga., are a place where suffering has become commonplace.
“You see sort of this crescendo of murder, the buildings burning, people dying in fire, people dying from gunshots, a tremendous amount of dumping,” said Ted Terry, who represents the area on the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.
But a shooting on May 8 was a tragedy of a different degree.
Police officers arrived at Brannon Hill that evening to find three men — Alsadig Awad, 43; Masi Maybay, 22; and Jory Fasse, 23 — dead in the living room of a condo. Three other people were wounded. An obituary of Mr. Fasse described him as a former high school football player with a great smile who was about to become a father.
Mr. Terry, a former mayor of Clarkston, said the 14-building Brannon Hill condo complex had been decaying for about 20 years. Some buildings were demolished a few years ago after fires, and the others have persistent problems. The condo board is functionally nonexistent, and many of the units are separately owned and rented out, which makes it difficult for the government to force changes.
Erica Williams, who does volunteer work each week at the complex, assisting residents with chores like taking out the trash and cleaning up common areas, said the residents were good people. Many are immigrants from Africa, struggling to pay rent and make their way in a new country. They are victims, Ms. Williams said, of outsiders who come to the complex after dark to dump trash, commit crimes and terrorize residents.
The recent killings, she said, only added to residents’ fear and helplessness. “They were lost after those murders happened,” she said.
Saturday afternoons are slow in one quiet section of Buffalo: Traffic is light, older residents rest on their front porches and neighbors meander through a local grocery store. But on May 14, that grocery store became the scene of the deadliest racist attack in the country in recent years when a gunman fatally shot 10 people.
The accused gunman, Payton S. Gendron, had written that he chose the area because it had a large percentage of Black residents. In so doing, he espoused white supremacist ideology that has been a driving factor in other mass shootings in recent years, from El Paso to Poway, Calif.
On Buffalo’s East Side, where the grocery store remains closed, Black residents have struggled for decades with the effects of the city’s severe segregation. Homicides across the city rose about 40 percent during the pandemic, and Black neighbors have borne the brunt. But to some Buffalonians, racism seemed to quickly disappear from the national conversation after the May shooting.
“The truth of the matter is, nobody’s talking about white supremacy,” said Garnell Whitfield Jr., a former Buffalo fire commissioner whose mother, Ruth Whitfield, 86, was killed at the grocery store. The conversation, he said, “devolved into mental health, school security, gun legislation — it was anything but white nationalism.”
Ten days after the grocery-store shooting, another high-profile tragedy unfolded when 21 people were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, pulling national attention away from Buffalo. “The lights and cameras turned off,” Mr. Whitfield Jr. said. “But there’s a whole community that’s traumatized that never got any help.”
When the news broke in Uvalde, one Buffalo family had just returned home from a repast after burying their relative. Six others still awaited funerals. And Zeneta Everhart tended to her son Zaire Goodman, 21, who had a bullet strike his neck and rip through his back.
“My ancestors, the first currency of America, were stripped of their heritage and culture, separated from their families,” Ms. Everhart said in recent testimony before Congress. “Sold, beaten, raped and lynched. Yet I continuously hear after every mass shooting that this is not who we are as Americans and as a nation.”
“This is exactly who we are,” she said.
Barely 24 hours after a gunman opened fire at a Buffalo supermarket, a Las Vegas man drove hundreds of miles to Southern California and shot at a group of Taiwanese Americans as they ate lunch inside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif. The gunman killed a 52-year-old physician and wounded several other people, including a 92-year-old man, before he was subdued by congregants.
Officials called the shooting a “politically motivated hate incident,” saying that the gunman attacked the group because he hated Taiwanese people. Unlike many of the hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in recent years, the perpetrator was an Asian man whose heritage was similar to his victims’, underscoring Taiwan’s complicated political and cultural history and the way such complications can endure in the United States.
The episode was also a reminder that a community of retirees with an astonishingly low crime rate was not immune to the horror of a mass shooting.
“It really is impressive how relatively low our rates of this kind of stuff is, in light of our population characteristics,” said Charis E. Kubrin, a professor of criminology at the University of California, Irvine.
Orange County, which includes Irvine and Laguna Woods, has a population of more than three million people, and almost half its residents speak a language other than English at home. More than half of its residents are Asian or Latino. Dr. Kubrin, who has studied the relationship between crime and immigration, has found that the two are inversely related.
“Places that have the highest concentrations of immigrants have some of the lowest crime rates,” Dr. Kubrin said.
On a weekday night in the middle of downtown Chicago, a gunman opened fire from the steps of a transit station. Within seconds, prosecutors said, he sprayed 21 bullets into a crowd, hitting nine people and killing two of them. Anthony Allen, 31, was fatally struck in the lower back. Antonio Wade, 30, who also died, was hit by several bullets.
In Chicago, 344 people were shot during the month of May. Most of the city’s gun violence has long been concentrated in some neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. During the pandemic, though, downtown has increasingly struggled with crime, and episodes like the one in May have started to feel common.
“Young people, coming together, getting into a fight, and the difference-maker is someone had a gun — and that someone used it,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in the hours after the shooting.
At least 14 people have been killed so far in 2022 in the two police districts that encompass downtown Chicago. It is a small fraction of the citywide total, but more than twice the number who were killed downtown during the comparable period in 2021.
Less than a week before Mr. Allen and Mr. Wade were killed, on a block near a brand-new Whole Foods store, a teenager was killed just over a mile away at Millennium Park, a tourist showcase, prompting the installation of metal detectors and a more restrictive curfew for unaccompanied minors. The next day, a man who refused to go through the new security checkpoint at the park was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, officials said.
Despite relatively restrictive gun laws in Illinois, violence has remained a fact of life in the city, and officials have often blamed the traffic of guns across state lines from places where weapons are easier to obtain. Prosecutors said they believed the gun used to kill Mr. Allen and Mr. Wade had been acquired in Indiana, where many weapons used in Chicago originate.
A report of shots fired brought sheriff’s deputies to a home in rural Western Michigan on the afternoon of May 27. They found three young children and their mother dead. The father, who prosecutors said would be charged in the killings, was airlifted to a hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
“Becoming a mom was a pinnacle of Dawn’s life,” read the obituary of the mother, Dawn Gillard, 40. It said she loved to take the children — Katelynn, 6, Ronald, 4, and Joshua, 3 — on nature walks. The school district where Katelynn was a student sent out a letter to parents to quell rumors of a school shooting, and held a vigil on the high school football field.
The authorities have not released details of the killings, the weapon or a motive.
Researchers have found that a majority of mass shootings are linked to domestic violence. Looking at 110 shootings that resulted in four or more fatalities, a 2021 study at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions found that almost 60 percent were cases of domestic violence, and in another 9 percent the perpetrator had a history of domestic violence. A woman is six times as likely to be killed by an abuser if there is a gun in the home.
The town of Taft, founded at the turn of the 20th century, is proud of its status as one of about a dozen historically Black towns in Oklahoma. Though its population is well under 200, on Memorial Day weekends the town swells with former residents returning to see old friends, eat barbecue and dance near a gazebo in the center of town.
This year, though, the festivities — held for the first time since the pandemic began — were derailed when gunfire broke out during an argument that townspeople say was between two groups from out of town. One local woman, Sherika Bowler, 39, was killed, leaving behind a 5-year-old daughter. Eight people were injured, including a 9-year-old girl. The police found shell casings from four different firearms. One suspect turned himself in; there have been no other arrests.
D’Antai Wallace, 28, a cousin of Ms. Bowler’s, was heading for his uncle’s food truck for a baked potato when he was shot. The bullet is still lodged in his leg, and Memorial Day weekend will never be the same for him.
“You used to be able to go down there and be at peace,” he said. “Now you go down there and this is where your cousin passed away.”
Sarah Pitts, 19, had been eager to see Taft with her boyfriend, who is from there. The town is not big enough to have a supermarket or a police station, she said, and “you just don’t think about small towns like that having something like that happening.”
Ms. Pitts was taken to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa with gunshot wounds to her abdomen and foot. While she was there, on June 1, a gunman killed two doctors, a receptionist and a patient on the hospital campus, in a completely unrelated episode.
By Tom Whitney, July 7, 2022
Image by Ricardo IV Tamayo.
Friends of socialist Cuba like good news about that country. Now bad news has its use. Grief and hardship currently are such that, clearly, the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba must end at once. The harsh details, appearing below, testify to potential destabilization in Cuba, danger to Cuba’s socialist project, and the nefarious role of the blockade. A major mobilization against the blockade is due. The need for action is obvious.
The blockade, a 60-year-old relic of history, places few heavy demands on the U.S. public. No governmental funding is required. The Treasury Department issues fines and presidents make ritualistic declarations. People dodge travel restrictions. It’s a slow-motion affair. Distracted pro-Cuba activists may lose track of harassment details. Here they get a refresher course, for motivation toward action. It emphasizes blockade effects on people’s lives.
In the Beginning
Cuba’s vulnerability is the result mainly of U.S. policies directed at “denying money and supplies to Cuba … to bring about hunger, desperation, and overthrow of government.” The words are those of a State Department memorandum of April 6, 1960.
The flow of money to Cuba – international loans and export income –has long been feeble. International banks, financial institutions, and corporations handling dollars on Cuba’s behalf risk big U.S. Treasury Department fines. U.S. legislation blocks Cuba from importing the products of multi-national companies with branches in the United States – even food and medical supplies. For almost 30 years third-country ships docking in Cuba have been prohibited from entering a U.S. port for the following six months. Since 2019 the U.S. government has sanctioned Venezuelan ships carrying oil to Cuba.
The U.S. government harasses Cuba’s tourism industry, the source of most of Cuba’s foreign currency. Restrictions, variably regulated, operate against U.S citizens’ travel to the island. Why? They would spend money there. To discourage potential investors, U.S. legislation enables the heirs of properties nationalized in Cuba to take legal action in U.S. courts against investors who make use of such properties.
Cuba’s commerce with the United States has been nil for 60 years, except for heavily regulated Cuban agricultural exports. The northern neighbor used to be and still could be Cuba’s most convenient trading partner.
People are hurting
The U.S. blockade constitutes the main impediment to Cuba’s industrial production and overall economic development. Soviet Bloc nations formerly provided relief. Since then, strictures placed on imports have caused shortages of raw materials, replacement parts, consumer goods, new tools and machines, and reagents for drug and vaccine manufacture.
The blockade recently has complicated lives already beleaguered by the Covid-19 pandemic and an 11 percent economic recession resulting from the pandemic.
An Associated Press report of June 22 highlights a lack of new housing and impediments to repairing houses. In 2019, 44,000 homes were built, in 2000, 32,000 homes, and in 2021,18,000. Building materials are in short supply. Hurricanes and the pandemic aggravated the situation.
Elderly Cubans experienced isolation and lack of supplies during the pandemic. For two years they’ve experienced weakened cultural and support services and reduced housing options. Fuel shortages in late 2021 led to fewer bus-runs in Havana. Wait-times were even longer. Pharmacies in 2020 had available only 35 percent of their normal stock.
In recent times, infant death rates in Cuba matched the favorable rates of well-resourced countries, and were lower than U.S. rates. Astoundingly, Cuba’s infant mortality rate in 2021 was 7.6 infant deaths per 1000 births, up from 4.9 in 2000 and 5.0 in 2019. Cuba’s 2021 rate of mothers dying from pregnancy and childbirth difficulties was 176.6 – out of 100,000 mothers giving birth – up from 40.0 mothers in 2000 and 37.4 in 2019.
The increases stem from Covid-19 infection mortality added to deaths in non-Covid times. Experts say the deaths of children and mothers can reflect social factors – mothers’ low educational levels, reduced access to healthcare and other services, and poor nutrition. Therefore, the U.S. blockade, which does affect social well-being, may have taken a toll in this area too.
Cuba’s food supply is unstable what with reduced food production, inefficient distribution, marketing based on income levels, and quality variations. At an annual cost of $2 billion, Cuba’s government still must import 60-70 percent of the food consumed in Cuba.
Production levels remain low despite reforms introduced after 2008, among them: land distribution, allowances for farmers’ permanent use of land, marketing reforms, governmental assistance to individual farmers and agricultural cooperatives, new distribution systems, local decision-making on assistance and policies, and ecologically sustainable methods.
The U.S. economic blockade is not responsible for soil deficiencies, officials’ inaction, drought conditions, overgrowth of invasive plants, and the appeal of urban life for rural youth. Blockade effects do show up in farmers’ reduced access to credit and lack of funds for fertilizer, seeds, breeding stock, spare parts, new equipment, and fuel.
Inflation holds sway in Cuba now. Prices, rising for two years, are up now by 70 percent and more. Access to essential goods is impaired. Frustration at high prices and shortages helped trigger island-wide protests on July 11, 2021 and has contributed to record emigration.
The U.S. blockade set the stage for inflation. After losing its commercial partnership with the Soviet Bloc, which disappeared in 1991, Cuba was in trouble. The blockade blocked access to international loans and interfered with income derived from exports, the latter effect stemming from export restrictions. Consequently, funds have been short for importing essential products and for developing the economy.
Cuba desperately needed foreign currency and therefore brought tourists to the island to spend money that would end up with the government. From 1993 on, their money was captured via a new currency called the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). Tourists surrendered their own currencies in exchange for the CUCs.
Cubans, not all of them, acquired CUCs and were able to buy goods and dollars unavailable to Cubans without CUCs. Inequalities emerged. Responding, the government gradually withdrew CUCs from circulation, beginning in January 2021. Anticipating hardships, it raised salaries and pensions payable in Cuba’s “national peso.”
New money in circulation stimulates inflation, especially when goods for sale are in short supply, as in Cuba. The national currency lost value. Tourists, excluded during the pandemic, returned in late 2021. Their money, circulating, added to inflationary pressures. CUCs with a prominent role in Cuba’s informal economy, and still circulating, did likewise. The role of CUCs suggests the blockade’s indirect contribution to inflation.
Those defenders of Cuba worried about diminished Cuban-government commitment to bettering people’s lives may need reassurance. Of note:
* Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez on June 21 addressed a meeting which elevated the role of social work. Discussion centered on mothers living in cities in “situations of vulnerability.”
* Support programs are in place for elderly Cubans experiencing isolation, for example, the “Accompany Me (Acompáñame) project of telephone assistance and the National Program for Comprehensive Attention to Elders.
* As of 2021, 423 so-called Projects of Local Development promoted food production, small workplaces, and tourism along with socio-cultural, environmental, and research programs.
* The government promotes its program known as “micro, small, and medium [size] businesses.” These mostly privately owned enterprises, numbering 1,188 last year, produce food products, building materials, furniture, textile products, footwear, cleaning supplies, computer accessories, recycling serves, and more.
* The government in April 2021 approved 43 measures directed at increased agricultural production and food availability. Results are far from ideal, an observer notes.
* Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, on June 24 visited a district in Cardenas to assess progress toward “improvements of roads, water supply, housing construction and social work.”
What to do
Resistance to the U.S. blockade within the United States has been constant for decades, but to no avail. Thanks to the Helms-Burton Law of 1996, the hurdle now is forcing the Congress to act. For that to happen, masses of people must stand up together and weigh in.
But that won’t happen, it seems, as long as activists continue to view the blockade as an isolated issue. What’s needed is collective action on many issues toward changing the direction of the U.S. government itself. The common ground would be justice and decent lives for all people everywhere, Cubans among them.
Also required would be new understanding that U.S. assault on Cuba happens as part of the larger U.S. project of capitalism worldwide and imperialist domination. The big mobilization to end the blockade would be part of a larger mission to take apart that U.S. project. Oppressed and plundered nations would be rescued, Cuba among them.
One adjustment: U.S. progressives ought to reject that old dictum that “Politics stops at the water’s edge.” It sends the message that solidarity with and struggle for oppressed peoples overseas doesn’t matter. That’s not so.
By no means will these suggestions bear fruit in time to end the blockade soon. Hope and struggle will remain. U.S. public opinion favors ending the blockade. People in the United States now fighting the blockade are experienced and want to enlarge the movement. Maybe chaos attending capitalism’s failures, new wars, and international divisions will distract the U.S. government from bothering with Cuba. Maybe international solidarity with Cuba will continue growing. Revolutionary Cuba, with unity and effective leadership, is known for overcoming challenges.
Former students say military veterans who led J.R.O.T.C. classes in U.S. high schools fashioned themselves as mentors, then used their power to manipulate and abuse.
By Mike Baker, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Ilana MarcusPhotographs by Mary F. Calvert, July 9, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/09/us/sexual-abuse-jrotc.html
A text message exchange between Ms. Bauer and Steve Hardin, her J.R.O.T.C. instructor.
PICAYUNE, Miss. — With the rifle skills she honed in the Mississippi backwoods, Victoria Bauer had a path to escape the trap of drugs and dead-end jobs she saw most everywhere around her. Her future was in the Marines, she decided, and she had an idea about how to get there.
Across the way from her freshman algebra class, Ms. Bauer approached Steve Hardin, the retired Navy intelligence officer who guided the high school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a leadership program sponsored by the U.S. military at high schools across the country. He welcomed her into the fold, she said, and seemed interested in how her family, which traced roots back to the Four Winds Cherokee of Louisiana, had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Soon, her 45-year-old J.R.O.T.C. instructor was messaging her on Snapchat late into the night, telling her that it would “drive the guys crazy” if she wore a “small bikini” during the trip to their next out-of-state shooting competition. Then one night in 2015 as he drove her home from rifle practice, she told investigators, Mr. Hardin pushed his hand into her pants and penetrated her with his fingers — the start of what she said was months of sexual assaults. Ms. Bauer, who was 15 at the time, feared that resisting him would jeopardize her shot at advancement through the J.R.O.T.C. ranks or a military career.
“I gave all the body-language signals that I didn’t want it,” Ms. Bauer said in an interview. “I didn’t feel like I had a choice.”
For more than a century, the J.R.O.T.C. program has sought to instill U.S. military values in American teenagers, with classes in thousands of public high schools that provide training in marksmanship, life skills, hierarchical discipline and military history. School officials endorse the classes, typically offered as electives during the regular school day, as a way to galvanize students who are struggling with direction and motivation.
But a New York Times investigation — which included an examination of thousands of court documents, investigative files and other records obtained through more than 150 public disclosure requests — has found that the program has repeatedly become a place where retired military officers prey on their teenage students.
In the past five years, The Times found, at least 33 J.R.O.T.C. instructors have been criminally charged with sexual misconduct involving students, far higher than the rate of civilian high school teachers in jurisdictions examined by The Times. Many others have been accused of misconduct but never charged.
The senior military veterans who make up the J.R.O.T.C. ranks are certified by the military but deploy to high school classrooms with little oversight and scant training for the actual work of being a teacher. Many states do not require J.R.O.T.C. instructors to have a college degree or a teaching certificate. Schools are expected to monitor the instructors and investigate complaints, but they have struggled to adequately oversee a program that largely operates on the fringes of their campuses.
Victims have reported sexual assaults in classrooms and supply closets, during field trips or on late-night rides home, sometimes committed after instructors plied students with alcohol or drugs. One former student said her instructor told her that sexual submission was expected of women in the military. A recent cadet in Tennessee said her J.R.O.T.C. instructor warned that he had the skills to kill her without a trace if she told anyone about their sexual encounters. In Missouri, a student said she was forced to kneel at her instructor’s bedside, blindfolded, with a gun to her head.
The Times interviewed 13 victims, many of whom had strikingly similar stories: They were teenagers who came from disadvantaged backgrounds or who otherwise saw the military as a pathway to a promising future, then found that the instructors who fashioned themselves as mentors exploited their positions to manipulate and abuse.
J.R.O.T.C. leaders declined requests for interviews but pointed to research indicating that the program had a positive effect on school attendance and graduation rates. The U.S. Army Cadet Command, which sponsors the largest J.R.O.T.C. program, said in a statement that its instructors went through a “strenuous” vetting process and that any allegations of misconduct were investigated, typically by the school districts that hired the J.R.O.T.C. instructors as civilian employees.
Founded during World War I, the J.R.O.T.C. program has grown to serve a half-million teenagers each year in classes aimed at promoting civic responsibility, leadership and skills such as handling a weapon. Its instructors are retired officers or noncommissioned officers, often holding medals from decades of military service.
For the military, which has struggled to meet its recruiting goals in an all-volunteer Army, J.R.O.T.C. has also been seen as a potentially important recruiting tool; students from high schools with J.R.O.T.C. programs are more than twice as likely to enlist after graduation, according to the Army Cadet Command.
The program targets schools with high populations of low-income students. Across the country, majority-minority schools are nearly three times as likely as majority-white schools to have a J.R.O.T.C. program, according to a Times analysis.
The nature of the program offers instructors an unusual level of access to the children they mentor, according to interviews with former students and instructors. It often operates with its own classrooms and facilities, and students frequently are asked to participate in after-school, weekend and out-of-state activities, where instructors sometimes violate district rules by communicating with students on personal cellphones or driving them in their own vehicles.
The weak oversight has allowed some instructors to engage in repeated misconduct. At least seven of those who have been criminally charged had already been flagged for previous allegations of misconduct but were allowed to stay on the job.
Many of the instructors charged with sexual misconduct have pleaded guilty, although Mr. Hardin contested the sexual battery charges against him and eventually entered a no-contest plea to an unrelated charge that did not involve sexual misconduct but effectively barred him from working as a teacher. None of the instructors connected with the abuse described in this article or their lawyers agreed to be interviewed.
“There’s so much faith and confidence and trust that goes into these instructor positions,” said Joe Williams, a former Marine gunnery sergeant who worked as a J.R.O.T.C. instructor in Mississippi and Kansas for six years, and who was the first to raise concerns about Mr. Hardin with school administrators. “We’ve got these individuals who use that trust as a cloak.”
‘I felt trapped’
When she came forward with allegations against her Air Force J.R.O.T.C. instructor in Charlotte, N.C., Dominique Mixon wondered whether anyone would believe her.
The instructor, Brad Gibson, had a catalog of medals and ribbons earned over 24 years of service. After retiring from active duty, he was hired to lead the military program at his alma mater, Independence High School — “Home of the Patriots.”
Ms. Mixon had joined J.R.O.T.C. as a freshman, hoping to go all four years and pursue a possible career in the Air Force. Mr. Gibson, then 44, had at first been a friendly mentor, but at times became flirtatious, Ms. Mixon told investigators in 2010.
Then, as she was working on an assignment alone at the back of the J.R.O.T.C. complex one day, she said, he came up next to her and began rubbing her thigh. He next moved his hand up her shirt, kissed her neck and licked her ears, Ms. Mixon reported. He told her he had been having “nasty” thoughts about her, she said.
She reported the incident within days to a teacher, who referred her to a campus police officer. But her report went nowhere.
A school administrator told police investigators that Mr. Gibson had previously been counseled for “borderline inappropriate behavior with his female students,” records say, but he was allowed to continue leading the J.R.O.T.C. program.
It was Ms. Mixon who was pushed out of the program. She recalled being forced to sit alone in an office during fourth period, rather than attend her J.R.O.T.C. class.
“I felt trapped,” Ms. Mixon said. “I felt alone in a corner. I felt like it was just me, myself and I.”
That spring, she said, Mr. Gibson chaperoned her prom.
Eight years later, long after she had graduated, Ms. Mixon got a call from a Charlotte police officer: A 16-year-old student had filed a new report about Mr. Gibson.
It was a familiar story: Mr. Gibson, the girl reported to the police, had at first offered friendly hugs and made comments about her looks; then, when they were alone in a room one day during her sophomore year, he put his hand up her shirt. Another time, she told the police, he told her he had been thinking about her when he masturbated. The groping, she said, persisted for months.
The 2018 allegations led the authorities to reopen Ms. Mixon’s case. Two years ago, Mr. Gibson pleaded guilty to indecent liberties with both girls. He was sentenced to five years of probation and required to register as a sex offender.
The school district declined to comment about the case, citing personnel confidentiality. Mr. Gibson did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Records released under public disclosure laws show cases across the country in which J.R.O.T.C. instructors who wound up being criminally charged had been the subject of complaints from students in the past, including in Chicago, Casa Grande, Ariz., and Mandeville, La. In the Louisiana case, court and deposition transcripts show, school officials reported that they had initially vetted an anonymous complaint of potential sexual abuse, in part by consulting the instructor’s J.R.O.T.C. superior, who vouched that the allegations were implausible because the instructor was “a full-tilt Marine.”
Months later, Capt. Kevin Covert, a police investigator in Mandeville, reviewed text messages exchanged between students and the instructor, Hosea McGhee, and concluded that the 48-year-old instructor had been abusing not just one, but two students, sometimes several times a day throughout school hours. In a deposition, Captain Covert said he was left wondering how the abuse could have been going on so blatantly with school administrators seemingly unaware.
“These girls would leave class and go be with him in the R.O.T.C. room,” he said. “Which begged the question for me: How are more people not seeing this?”
Mr. McGhee pleaded guilty to charges of molestation and solicitation for his conduct with the two girls and was sentenced to five years in prison.
In the case of Ms. Bauer in Mississippi, other concerns about Mr. Hardin’s conduct had emerged months before she came forward.
Mr. Williams, the J.R.O.T.C. instructor who reported him, recalled in an interview that Mr. Hardin had made a lewd comment to him about a student in a bikini. Then, when some students came to him with a report that they had seen several concerning text messages that Mr. Hardin had sent to a female student, Mr. Williams said, he brought the issue to school administrators.
But he said he faced intense blowback. One of the longtime leaders in the school’s J.R.O.T.C. program, he recalled, accused him of failing to follow the chain of command by going to administrators instead of trying to resolve the complaints with Mr. Hardin directly.
School officials did not respond to requests to discuss the case. But court records show that a police investigation ensued. Ms. Bauer initially defended him, saying in a recent interview that she did not disclose her encounters with Mr. Hardin at the time because she feared she would be ostracized.
Mr. Hardin was not charged at the time, and wound up applying for a new role at a J.R.O.T.C. program two hours away from Picayune.
He got the job.
A source of pride, but no oversight
J.R.O.T.C. classes are built around military-style discipline, typically starting with the Pledge of Allegiance. Students learn public speaking, a U.S. military view of world history and how to march in formation. On designated days, cadets dress in service uniforms, and when visitors come to class, the students stand at attention.
The military provides instructors with training in ethics and the J.R.O.T.C. curriculum, then certifies them to be hired by school districts. Part of their pay is reimbursed by the military, which conducts annual reviews of school J.R.O.T.C. programs, usually looking at such things as the effectiveness of programs and the condition of facilities.
James Boyer, a retired Navy captain who led the J.R.O.T.C. program at a high school north of Houston for nearly two decades, said many instructors became father figures for students, helping them apply for scholarships and get jobs, or pushing them to improve their grades. He recalled speaking to car dealerships to help one of his students get a job after she showed an interest in cars. Sometimes, he said, a student who had a chaotic home life would do homework for another class in his office.
“The instructors generally are different than your standard teachers,” Mr. Boyer said. “They may be fantastic and they may be not — everywhere you go there’s a bad apple doing something stupid — but for the most part they’re getting to know these kids in a way that the vast majority of other teachers are not.”
For a position that provides them an unusual level of access to students, J.R.O.T.C. instructors have minimal training obligations. Mr. Williams described going through a two-week military training course in California to become a qualified instructor, with much of the time focused on the administrative functions of the job, such as how to balance the books and order supplies, and only a brief discussion of teacher-student boundaries.
“I still remember what the instructor said. He’s like: ‘You can’t fall in love with a 15-year-old,’” Mr. Williams said.
Many states allow J.R.O.T.C. instructors to get a license with little more than a high school diploma. Sixteen states, The Times found, do not require them to have state certification at all, including Florida, which has more J.R.O.T.C. programs than any other state but Texas.
The military gives a seal of approval to each instructor but takes a largely hands-off approach to oversight, leaving school districts to watch for any problems.
Veronica Garcia, the former superintendent of schools in Santa Fe, N.M., said the program could be difficult for schools to fully monitor, with students doing J.R.O.T.C. activities before or after school, and often traveling to competitions with their instructors outside of school hours.
In 2019, three students came forward to law enforcement to complain about inappropriate comments and touches from Dale Mayes, a J.R.O.T.C. instructor in Ms. Garcia’s district who had previously spent more than 30 years in the Navy. District records show that school officials did their own internal review, finding the allegations to be credible and contacting the state Public Education Department, which certifies teachers and investigates misconduct.
But the state said it had no jurisdiction to intervene because New Mexico did not license J.R.O.T.C. instructors.
Ms. Garcia told the state agency that this had created a “troubling loophole,” according to correspondence released under the state public records act.
Mr. Mayes, who declined to comment for this article, was charged with one count of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor, though his lawyer told the court that the instructor had “a strong case for innocence.” The case was later dropped, with prosecutors saying there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case.
The school district, on the other hand, ultimately averted a lawsuit by agreeing to pay about half a million dollars to three students who said Mr. Mayes acted improperly.
Obedience comes first
In J.R.O.T.C. classrooms, instructors are not just teachers. They are superior officers, and students are taught to follow the chain of command.
“Obedience is the first lesson every military person must learn,” one of the program’s textbooks says.
Abuse victims said the power dynamics in the program made it more difficult to resist sexual assaults.
One of them, Jordan Leloup, came from a troubled childhood of poverty and drugs in Tennessee and no longer had a relationship with her parents. She said she yearned for something akin to “family.”
When the J.R.O.T.C. instructor, Michael Bass, approached her one day during the 2013-14 school year about joining the program at Hendersonville High School, she said, he had an appealing sales pitch. “We are like family,” he told her.
After she joined, Mr. Bass, who was 44, invited her for dinners at his home, where she would socialize with his wife and children. Then one night, she said, she arrived to find herself alone with Mr. Bass, who had set two places at the table, with wine. He later took her to an upstairs room, where the first sexual assault occurred. She was 17.
After that, she said, Mr. Bass would tell her nearly every day where to meet him privately — sometimes in a storage room at school or in an office, where he would lock a metal door. When she began to express reluctance, she said, he pressured her.
“Any time he told me to be ready or meet him somewhere, I had to be there,” she said. “If I didn’t, there would be consequences.”
One night when she threatened to tell the police about the relationship, she said, Mr. Bass insinuated that his time in the military had given him the skills that would allow him to kill her without anyone knowing.
Ms. Leloup eventually did go to the police, who charged Mr. Bass, citing a recorded conversation in which he acknowledged a sexual relationship. He pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated statutory rape in 2019 and was sentenced to four years in prison.
It was not the only case to involve overt threats. In Mountain Grove, Mo., two teenagers, one of them who had been just 14, reported persistent abuse by the J.R.O.T.C. instructor, David Russell Long, that involved knives, hot wax, bags over their heads and being tied to a bed. One of them told the police that Mr. Long, who was 52 when the assaults began, once blindfolded her, directed her to kneel at his bedside and put a gun to her head, according to a police affidavit filed with the court.
Mr. Long pleaded guilty to two counts of assault for grazing the girls’ bodies with a knife and a count of endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
With at least 33 instructors charged with teacher-student sexual crimes in the past five years, the J.R.O.T.C. program has recorded one arrest for every 232 instructor positions. There is no national tracking system for educator abuse, but The Times reviewed arrest information for high school teachers released by three of the nation’s largest school districts — Miami-Dade County, Fla., Hillsborough County, Fla., and Los Angeles — along with five years of disciplinary records in Pennsylvania, which proactively monitors for teacher arrests.
Compared with each of those jurisdictions, the J.R.O.T.C. program recorded teacher-student sexual misconduct charges much more often — 68 percent higher than the next highest case rate.
Former J.R.O.T.C. students who were victimized say they have faced years of struggle to get their lives back on track. One says she sometimes goes into a closet to scream where no one will hear her. Another said she broke down at her job at Wendy’s when someone in military-style fatigues entered the restaurant.
Jacey Antokoletz, 23, said the abuse she endured as a high school junior in Brewster, N.Y., left her dreading sleep because of recurring nightmares about her J.R.O.T.C. instructor, Christopher Vlangas.
For a time, Ms. Antokoletz had viewed the relationship as consensual, even writing a letter in support of him after he was arrested on charges of abusing a different student. Ms. Antokoletz said it was only then, after meeting with a prosecutor who explained how adults can target and manipulate children, that she started to see that Mr. Vlangas had abused her, too.
Ms. Antokoletz, who now has a child with her fiancé, fears that her young daughter might misinterpret her skittishness around men, including those closest to her.
“If I flinch at something or I just don’t want to be touched and she sees that, she sees like, ‘Oh, what is Daddy doing to Mommy?’” Ms. Antokoletz said.
Mr. Vlangas pleaded guilty to a statutory rape charge involving the other student and was sentenced to six months in jail. Ms. Antokoletz and the other student recently settled a lawsuit against Mr. Vlangas and the school district.
Some victims have seen their cherished aspirations of a career in the military disrupted.
One of them, a young woman in Florida, said she had enrolled in the program as a high school freshman, hoping it would help her fulfill her ambition to join the Coast Guard.
But by her junior year, the instructor, Bryan Teet, who was then 47, started making comments about her looks and giving gifts, she said, then went further for the first time when he drove her home one day.
A jury convicted Mr. Teet on a charge of sexual battery by a custodial authority last year. Then, in April, an appeals court reversed the conviction, saying that Mr. Teet was not a “custodial authority” at the time of the alleged abuse because it occurred outside of his school duties. The case might have had a different outcome had the state filed a different criminal charge, the judges wrote. The state has appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
During one of the court hearings, the victim told the judge that her years in J.R.O.T.C. had destroyed her life.
Now 21, she fought back tears as she described spending much of her senior year alone in her room. The independence and fearlessness she had cherished were gone.
“Mr. Teet’s actions ruined everything for me — my past, my present and my future,” she told the court.
After graduation, she applied to enter the Coast Guard, but when she drove to the military processing center in Tampa, she said in an interview, she was told that the Coast Guard could not accept her because of indications of lingering trauma from abuse. (The Coast Guard said in a statement that she had been rejected for “medical conditions.”)
She made the 90-minute drive home alone, crying.
No prison time
Ms. Bauer, the young woman from Mississippi who had hoped to go into the Marine Corps, said that Mr. Hardin continued to pursue sexual encounters with her for several months after he transferred to the new job at another school district. He would ask her to meet, she said, and gradually she began to realize that she no longer needed to respond.
She eventually told her mother, and then the police. Mr. Hardin was charged in 2017 with six counts of sexual battery.
He eventually pleaded no contest to a lesser crime, contributing to the abuse or neglect of a child, in which he did not admit any sexual misconduct but said he had failed to notify the authorities about unrelated possible abuse or neglect that Ms. Bauer suffered at home. One judge rejected the plea arrangement. A second judge also balked, saying it did not address the issues raised in the charges against Mr. Hardin. Defense lawyers eventually won a hearing before a third judge, who accepted the deal.
Hal Kittrell, the district attorney in the case, said prosecutors always believed Ms. Bauer but had to consider the likelihood of winning the case, including whose testimony jurors would be more likely to believe and how they would weigh the fact that Ms. Bauer had initially defended Mr. Hardin, something he said was not uncommon for victims of abuse.
Prosecutors agreed to the plea because it gave Mr. Hardin a felony record and barred him from working as a teacher, Mr. Kittrell said.
Mr. Hardin declined an interview but emphasized in a brief conversation that the original charges against him had been dropped.
Ms. Bauer has been trying to put the painful episode behind her. In the middle of it, at age 17, she had carved words into her leg: “Useless” and “Whore.” The scars lingered for years.
But a couple of years ago, when she turned 20, she got a tattoo on her thigh, an image that harnessed her Native American heritage and covered over the scars. It was a raven, an emblem of rebirth.
She said the experience forever changed her view of men, the justice system, schools and the military.
“The people who are supposed to be out protecting our country, do they really protect their own people?” Ms. Bauer said.
She never joined the Marines.
The locations of public high schools with J.R.O.T.C. programs come from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy websites. The Times joined this data with federal Education Department data that includes each school’s racial demographics and the school’s eligibility for Title I funding.
The data set of public high schools includes those in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, including the Bureau of Indian Education, that go up to at least the 10th grade, as of the 2019-2020 academic year. The analysis does not include J.R.O.T.C. programs located at private schools, schools on U.S. territories or schools on international military bases.
By Chuck Cairns, July 7, 2022https://workersvoiceus.org/2022/07/07/book-review-biography-of-michael-harrington-exposes-his-failure-of-vision/
Michael Harrington in 1988. (Bernard Gotfryd Photograph Collection, Library of Congress)
A Failure of Vision: Michael Harrington and the Limits of Democratic Socialism
By Doug Green
(Zero Books, Alresford, England, 2021).
Greene’s book is a valuable tool for revolutionary socialists. It traces the political life of one of the most influential American socialists of the 20th century, Michael Harrington (1928-1989). Harrington was a founder of the Democratic Socialists of America, which is now the largest socialist organization in America, and it is growing rapidly. As Greene says, “Since 2016, members swarmed into DSA as ‘democratic socialism’ gained in popularity with the 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders. In just 3 years, DSA has gone from an older-aged paper membership of 6500 to a vibrant and younger one approaching an impressive 60,000, and it is now the largest socialist organization in the United States in over 60 years.”
According to the DSA website as of this writing, it has grown to over 92,000 dues-paying members since Greene wrote. It is obvious that there is a large reservoir of young people fed up with a government that is unable to govern while the world is going to hell in a basket, and who are energetically looking for ways to take matters into their own hands. Many of these youth consider themselves socialist and they quite naturally flock to the DSA. However, as Greene explains, the DSA has neither the political program nor the leadership cadre to lead a transition from capitalism to socialism. This is tragic; the world needs a socialist revolution, yet the largest socialist party in America is not up to the job. Revolutionary socialists should use Greene’s book as an educational tool to help recruit for building a party that is capable of leading the human race from capitalism to socialism.
Greene’s book has 11 chapters and an appendix. The main body of the book traces Harrington’s life from his Jesuit education as an Irish Catholic in St. Louis, Mo., to his commitment to Democratic Socialism and the founding of DSA. The appendix is an evaluation of Harrington’s interpretation of Marxism; not only can this be read independently of the first 11 chapters, but it is an excellent primer of the Marxist political tradition, including the essential contributions of Lenin and Trotsky, in the form of a critique of Harrington’s thinking.
Greene describes how Harrington’s politics never rose above those of a petty bourgeois radical. He was unable to make a firm choice between support of a revolutionary program and catering to the liberal bourgeoisie; he was comfortable with the middle-class values of his upbringing and never adopted a proletarian political perspective. He arrived at his socialism not through any personal experiences in the class struggle, but through his Jesuit-trained intellectual reasoning and debating skills. He enjoyed the company of intellectuals and middle-class liberals more than that of militant youth and rank and file; he was never able to penetrate deeply into workers’ struggles, but rather catered to the labor bureaucracy who had been, essentially, bought off by the capitalists.
The main political idea that guided Harrington throughout his political career was the Realignment Strategy (RS) that he proposed in the 1960s. Despite the fact that RS has been an “unmitigated disaster for democratic socialism and the wider left” (p. 13), MH stuck with it until his dying day. Although the DSA has technically dropped RS, the party’s practices remain well within the confines of that strategy, a point made not only by Greene, but also by Kim Moody in “Breaking the Impasse.”[i] RS holds that socialists should work within the Democratic Party because its major “constituents” are “labor unions, blacks, women and farmers,” and that socialists should drive “out its racist, conservative and wealthy elements so that the party would truly represent the interests of the ordinary people.” The realigned Democratic Party can then be used to push for strengthening welfare, passing the Green New Deal, instituting universal health insurance, and building a just and efficient democracy here in the metropolis of the empire, a democracy like those in most of the rest of the capitalist world. All this would “lay the foundations for democratic socialism.”
Many of the fallacies of RS that Greene points out apply to the current DSA. First and foremost is the idea that socialist forces could somehow capture the Democratic Party and convert it into an instrument to replace capitalism with socialism. The Democratic Party is a sophisticated tool that has been used by the capitalists and imperialists since Roosevelt to thwart, co-opt or otherwise head off any serious challenges to their rule. The capitalists, who hold a firm hegemony within the Democratic Party, are very experienced at using this tool. It is pure hubris to think that socialists could somehow hoodwink the capitalists into ceding their party to socialists so that we could weaken their hold on power. The Democratic Party has a set of very effective strategies for becoming the graveyard of all progressive social movements, including labor, civil rights, environmental movements, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, etc. It stretches plausibility to think that we could somehow convert the Democratic Party into an instrument for transitioning from capitalism into socialism.
The American ruling class in the 1930’s was faced with a working class that was showing unprecedented combativity as it flocked by the millions into the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations). The question of the day was whether this heralded an organization of the workers into political organizations, independent of the capitalist class, where they might be able to develop a program of mounting a serious challenge to capitalist rule. President Roosevelt managed to reform the Democratic Party into an instrument that was able to restructure the instruments of class rule so as to absorb this discontent into traditional political norms. That is where the leaders of the Democratic Party, a section of the ruling class, learned to co-opt, decapitate and comfortably absorb any social movements that have the vaguest hope of challenging capitalism. And that is why the Democratic Party is poison for any socialist movement. Not only are they far too crafty for us to snatch their party away from them, it wouldn’t be a useful tool even if we did; the Democratic Party is designed for capitalist rule, not for proletarian rule.
Another fallacy that Greene points out is that RS is doomed to failure because “it refused to develop an independent socialist organization,” (p. 68) a flaw that persists into the current DSA. DSA is a membership, dues-paying organization, but it is hardly independent of the Democratic Party. A perusal of their website reveals that a major focus of their activity is running their own candidates on the Democratic ticket. Whenever any of their candidates fail an election, DSA usually ends up supporting a Democrat as “a lesser evil” candidate. As an inheritor of Harrington’s RS, the DSA is hardly “an independent socialist organization.”
A third fallacy that Greene points out with RS is that “the liberal-labor alliance was an illusion of Harrington’s own imagination.” Citing Kim Moody,[ii] he argues that liberalism was “mostly a middle class phenomenon” that not only could never gain sufficient traction to challenge capitalist property relations but was even unable to expand Roosevelt’s New Deal programs such as a national health-care system. Even though liberals were not effective allies for social change, Harrington nevertheless argued that winning and maintaining liberal support was absolutely necessary for transitioning from capitalism to socialism; socialists therefore had to “practice moderation and respectability by playing nice in the Democratic Party” (p. 68). The proper arena for political actions by socialists was in the Democratic Party, not in the streets. Greene says “… RS forced socialists to maintain good relations with liberals in the hopes of reform at the expense of revolutionary militancy from below” (p. 69).
This is an important point: because Harrington’s road to socialism requires not antagonizing labor bureaucrats, liberals and other allies in the Democratic Party, radical activity must be carefully reined in. Chapter 8 of Greene’s book, entitled “The Tightrope,” gives revealing examples of how Harrington would consistently subordinate political independence and a revolutionary program to coalitions with liberal capitalist politicians. Harrington’s stance on the imperialist assault on Vietnam is particularly revealing because it illustrates typical petty bourgeois vacillations—an inability to make a firm choice between the camps of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, of revolution and imperialism. As long as Lyndon Baines Johnson, a Democrat was in the White House, Harrington counterposed the moderate slogan “Negotiations Now” against the increasingly popular antiwar demand “Out Now”[iii] because he did not want to “actually offend the sensibilities of Democratic Party Liberals or anticommunists in the AFL-CIO.” However, when Nixon, a Republican, became president in 1968, MH abruptly switched and favored an American withdrawal without prior negotiations.
Harrington’s utter lack of a revolutionary program is revealed by an incident that Greene recounts in Chapter 9, which describes the formation of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. By 1976, DSOC had managed to “become part of the mainstream Democratic Party, just as our theory said we should, and had even won the approval of voters in one congressional district in the process. Our only problem was, we didn’t know what to do.” One must marvel at his lack of program such that he didn’t know what his next step would be upon winning a major political “victory.”
I propose that revolutionary socialists use Greene’s book in an educational campaign aimed at the young workers and students who are attracted to the current DSA. It not only exposes the fatal flaws of DSA and its commitment to the Democratic Party, it also provides, in the Appendix, a very useful introduction to the revolutionary thought of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky.
[i] Moody, Kim, “Breaking the Impasse: Electoral Politics, Mass Action, and the New Socialist Movement in the United States.” (Chicago: Haymarket Books) 2022.
[ii] Moody, Kim, “On New Terrain: How Capital is Reshaping the Battleground of Class War” (Chicago: Haymarket Books) 2017.
[iii] Fred Halstead’s book “Out Now,” describes the important role of revolutionary socialists in the movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam and it holds important lessons for contemporary socialists. Halstead, Fred, “Out Now! A Participant’s Account of the Movement in the U.S. against the War in Vietnam.” (New York: Pathfinder Press) 1978, 1991.
By Frederica Perera and Kari Nadeau, July 9, 2022
Dr. Perera and Dr. Nadeau are professors who study the health effects of air pollution on children.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/09/opinion/environment/climate-change-supreme-court-epa-children-health.html
Climate change and air pollution — both largely driven by fossil fuel emissions — inflict a huge toll on the health of children. This is especially true within low-income communities and communities of color. The recent Supreme Court decision, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, that curtails the E.P.A.’s power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants will greatly exacerbate this harm.
The Clean Power Plan, the federal regulation adopted as part of the Clean Air Act under President Barack Obama, which is at the heart of the ruling, would have required states to meet targets for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants. Utilities could meet them in part by shifting from coal to cleaner sources. The court’s majority sided with coal companies and Republican states, ruling that Congress had not given the E.P.A. the authority to reduce power plant emissions in the broad manner proposed in the plan.
Going forward, a failure to sharply reduce U.S. emissions from power plants and rapidly transition to clean energy will make it virtually impossible for the world to stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the threshold laid out by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change.
As researchers who study the health effects of air pollution in children — in utero through adolescence — we recently reviewed hundreds of studies and concluded that climate change is a threat multiplier for infants and children, placing nearly every child around the world at risk from at least one climate-intensified hazard: extreme heat, severe storms and floods, wildfires, food insecurity and insect-borne diseases.
Prolonged heat exposure — especially for people without access to cooling — can increase the risks of preterm birth and low birth weight, as well as heat stress and kidney disease. Infants and children are less able to regulate body temperature in conditions of severe heat, and they must depend on care by adults who may be unaware of the risks.
Extreme weather events, like Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Harvey, have displaced more than 900,000 Americans, and many children suffer from PTSD and depression as a result. Wildfires in the Western United States now expose over 7 million children to lung-damaging smoke every year, and infectious diseases like Lyme disease have sharply increased among children, in part because of climate change.
Fossil fuels are responsible for the majority of human-caused air pollution globally, and in the United States, air pollution has long been recognized as a trigger of asthma attacks in children. It is now understood to be a cause of asthma and other respiratory diseases. The list goes on: Infant death, preterm birth, reduced I.Q., attention problems, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, structural and functional changes in the brains of children and mental health conditions in children and adolescents have all been linked to air pollution.
We are now learning that climate change and air pollution can combine to increase adverse health effects. For example, wildfires, made more frequent and severe by climate change, release vast quantities of particulate matter and other pollutants, adding to the emissions from burning fossil fuels. The failure to reduce emissions from power plants will sustain unhealthy air quality in places where 137 million Americans live. That’s more than a third of the total U.S. population.
Studies have shown that concurrent exposure to heat and air pollution is increasing the incidence of preterm births, as well as childhood asthma hospitalizations. As more children are exposed to air pollution, extreme temperatures and stress from climate change, the cumulative effects on their health could be serious.
Adverse experiences in childhood, such as disasters and displacement, don’t just raise the short-term risk of mental health issues; they also confer a vulnerability to anxiety, depression and mood disorders in adulthood. And worries about climate change are causing problems of their own. Studies suggest that awareness of climate change and its effects can increase the risk of anxiety and other mental health problems among the young. In a survey across 10 countries, nearly 60 percent of young people said that they felt very worried or extremely worried about climate change; more than 45 percent said that their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily lives.
There are many reasons for the disproportionate toll of climate change and air pollution on children’s health. Fetuses, infants and children are uniquely vulnerable because they develop so rapidly and because they lack the defense mechanisms that adults have.
Children breathe more air relative to their body weight than adults, which increases their exposure to air pollutants, and their narrower airways are vulnerable to constriction by air pollutants and allergens. Because children require more nutrients and fluids while they are growing, they are more vulnerable to food and water shortages. Children are more prone than adults to physical injury and psychological trauma from the displacement that frequently follows weather disasters. And they have a long remaining lifespan during which early illnesses such as asthma or mental health conditions may persist.
While all children are vulnerable, the health burden from these threats is far greater for low-income children and for children of color. In the United States, Black and Hispanic children have disproportionate exposure to air pollution because polluting sources are frequently located in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Discriminatory policies, including redlining, have created urban heat islands in communities of color where there are fewer trees and shaded areas where children live, play and go to school.
The Supreme Court decision will be costly for children and their families, not only in terms of the pain and suffering of children, but because caring for a preterm baby or a child with asthma puts a strain on an entire family. The emotional and financial stress of caring for the child can be considerable, and the extra time that is needed to care for the child may make it difficult for the parent to hold down a job. The Supreme Court decision is an especially bitter pill given that we already know the Clean Air Act has delivered health and environmental benefits for all Americans— estimated at $2 trillion as of 2020, exceeding its costs by a factor of 30.
Under the court’s decision, the E.P.A. can still write standards that require power plants to reduce their pollution, but the piecemeal approach will take time. In the meantime, it is critical that the Senate follow the House of Representatives and pass the reconciliation bill containing strong investments in climate and environmental justice solutions. These investments will help hasten the transition from fossil fuels, reducing the threats to children and adults alike from climate change and air pollution. But there is no question that the conservative majority on the court has taken away the most powerful solution to cutting pollution from power plants.