No to red-baiting in the reproductive justice movement
National Radical Women statement
By Nga Bui, NYC
August 1, 2022
At a time when a united mass movement to defend reproductive justice is needed more than ever, NYC for Abortion Rights and nearly two dozen organizations have chosen to launch an anti-communist attack against one of the most visible activist groups, Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. Radical Women, a veteran socialist feminist organization with decades of experience in the movement for reproductive justice, denounces this dangerous game of divide and conquer.
The “Statement Against RiseUp4AbortionRights” – signed by NYC for Abortion Rights, United Against Racism & Fascism NYC, Brooklyn People’s March, Shout Your Abortion, The Jane Fund, Chicago Abortion Fund, Chicago DSA Socialist Feminist Working Group and others – deplores Rise Up’s connections to the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). It labels this well-known fixture on the Left as a personality cult. It accuses both Rise Up and RCP of using pyramid schemes to raise money and exploitative methods to recruit. These unsubstantiated claims are bolstered by other “crimes”: wearing white pants stained with fake blood, holding die-ins, using coat-hanger imagery, and describing forced pregnancy as “female enslavement.” The Statement calls on “repro groups to now unite in discrediting Rise Up publicly” and demand that “the group step back from pro-abortion spaces.” This divisive attack is like a dog-whistle to corporate media, which is crawling all over the issue in coverage from Daily Beast and The Intercept.
Imperfect as Rise Up may be, the reality is the group has been out front nationally in defense of abortion – though not the only group as they have claimed. It has consistently organized protests and used audacious tactics such as unfurling huge banners at sports events to draw media attention to the issue. It has broadened its messaging after being criticized that its single-issue focus on women having abortions was transphobic and limiting. Its green wave imagery is omnipresent and its anti-capitalist message is spot-on. Its boldness has resonated with youth.
Truth be told, it has been largely the Left, including Radical Women, that organized rallies, speak outs, marches, and protests throughout last year to draw attention to the impending Supreme Court debacle. Meanwhile, moderate feminist organizations pushed online fundraising and waited for the Democratic Party to ride to the rescue.
One has to think that some of the venom expressed in the Statement is from groups that did much less than Rise Up and may begrudge its appeal to young people. Others may be driven to undermine the influence of the Left in the movement overall. How condescending it is for them to demand that Rise Up disappear rather than trust young supporters to reach their own conclusions about whether Rise Up’s strategies work in the long run.
Radical Women initiated the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice a year ago in order to build the kind of coalition effort we think is urgently needed to preserve abortion and achieve full reproductive justice. The Mobilization has attracted feminist groups, grassroots organizations, unions, radicals, and individuals coming together in common cause. Though Rise Up in many instances put itself in competition with actions announced by the Mobilization, we managed to work cooperatively with it in various cities, including in NYC. Rather than demanding political conformity, we believe in respectfully debating differences. With the right wing intensifying its attacks on the most vulnerable, a united front of working-class organizations is essential to pushing them back.
Red-baiting, smearing people or groups for their radical associations, is not acceptable in the movement. It needs to be stopped before it further hurts the very women, people of color, non-binary, trans and poor folks looking to find a channel for their rage as their rights are stripped away. There’s no denying that those of us fighting for abortion rights and reproductive justice will have differences of opinions. It is essential we learn to work together with mutual respect instead of excluding, silencing and witch-hunting one another. Organizations and independent activists can unite around issues while maintaining our differences. The future of reproductive justice and all social movements depends on it.
CUBA URGENTLY NEEDS OUR HELP TODAY!
MATANZAS IS NOT ALONE!
The unprecedented massive fire at the Supertanker Base in Matanzas province has not abated. Dozens of people have suffered burns, 16 firefighters are still missing, and thousands are evacuated. Heroic efforts by firefighters and civil defense are 24/7.
Supplies are urgently needed to save the lives of the burn and other victims affected by the fire. The Hatuey Project is working to provide some of the most critical supplies for burn and other patients.
Please make a monetary donation so we can buy medical items in bulk and ship immediately to Matanzas.
Cuba has been through so much during the time of pandemic. Despite a heroic and successful campaign to vaccinate virtually all of Cuba from COVID, this summer has been particularly taxing for all of Cuba. Now the fire has added to the hardship.
Please click here to make a donation to The Hatuey Project for Matanzas Relief. Every donation to Hatuey is tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, The Alliance for Global Justice.
On behalf of The Hatuey Project, we thank you.
Nadia Marsh, MD, Assoc. Prof. of Clinical Medicine
Simon Ma, MD, MPH, Family Medicine
Rachel Viqueira, MHS, Epidemiologist
Brian Becker, Executive Director, ANSWER Coalition
Gloria La Riva, coordinator, Hatuey Project
ABOUT THE HATUEY PROJECT
We are health providers and social justice activists concerned about the harmful effects of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. We have inaugurated this medical aid project to extend solidarity to the Cuban people, with the procurement of vital medicines and medical equipment.
Cuba has already shown that its remarkable health care and scientific/biotech systems are fully capable of serving the 11+ million people on the island, providing excellent quality, universal and free care to everyone. But more than 240 measures by the Trump administration that turned the screws even further on Cuba’s people — in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — have created a truly difficult situation for the people. We have already taken part in direct delivery of vital medicines over the last year, and we aim to do much more.
We invite you to join in our project in any way you can: With your monetary contribution, as well as helping procure major donations from pharmaceuticals and other medical providers. We are fully volunteer; all of the donations we receive will go strictly to acquire medical aid. Shipping costs will be held to the utmost minimum. The Hatuey Project is fiscally sponsored by the Alliance For Global Justice, so all donations are tax-deductible. Join our effort today!
Waging Peace Exhibit In San Francisco
Veterans Gallery, San Francisco
June 29 – August 14, 2022
401 Van Ness Ave., Suite. 102
San Francisco, CA
The Rock, Bernal Hill, San Francisco
Olivia Rodrigo - F*** You (feat. Lily Allen) (Glastonbury 2022)
With Olivia Rodrigo and Lily Allen
[Verse 1: Lily Allen]
Look inside, look inside your tiny mind
Then look a bit harder
'Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired
Of all the hatred you harbour
So you say it's not okay to be gay
Well, I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval
[Chorus: Lily Allen]
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please, don't stay in touch
[Verse 2: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]
Do you get, do you get a little kick out of being small minded?
You want to be like your father, it's approval you're after
Well, that's not how you find it
Do you, do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
'Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
You're losing control of it
And it's really distasteful
[Chorus: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
[Verse 3: Lily Allen]
You say you think we need to go to war
Well, you're already in one
'Cause it's people like you that need to get slew
No one wants your opinion
Doctors for Assange Statement
Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition
‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong
Ahead of the U.K. Home Secretary’s decision on whether to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, a group of more than 300 doctors representing 35 countries have told Priti Patel that approving his extradition would be “medically and ethically unacceptable”.
In an open letter sent to the Home Secretary on Friday June 10, and copied to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland, the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, the doctors draw attention to the fact that Assange suffered a “mini stroke” in October 2021. They note:
“Predictably, Mr Assange’s health has since continued to deteriorate in your custody. In October 2021 Mr. Assange suffered a ‘mini-stroke’… This dramatic deterioration of Mr Assange’s health has not yet been considered in his extradition proceedings. The US assurances accepted by the High Court, therefore, which would form the basis of any extradition approval, are founded upon outdated medical information, rendering them obsolete.”
The doctors charge that any extradition under these circumstances would constitute negligence. They write:
“Under conditions in which the UK legal system has failed to take Mr Assange’s current health status into account, no valid decision regarding his extradition may be made, by yourself or anyone else. Should he come to harm in the US under these circumstances it is you, Home Secretary, who will be left holding the responsibility for that negligent outcome.”
In their letter the group reminds the Home Secretary that they first wrote to her on Friday 22 November 2019, expressing their serious concerns about Julian Assange’s deteriorating health.
Those concerns were subsequently borne out by the testimony of expert witnesses in court during Assange’s extradition proceedings, which led to the denial of his extradition by the original judge on health grounds. That decision was later overturned by a higher court, which referred the decision to Priti Patel in light of US assurances that Julian Assange would not be treated inhumanely.
The doctors write:
“The subsequent ‘assurances’ of the United States government, that Mr Assange would not be treated inhumanly, are worthless given their record of pursuit, persecution and plotted murder of Mr Assange in retaliation for his public interest journalism.”
“Home Secretary, in making your decision as to extradition, do not make yourself, your government, and your country complicit in the slow-motion execution of this award-winning journalist, arguably the foremost publisher of our time. Do not extradite Julian Assange; free him.”
Julian Assange remains in High Security Belmarsh Prison awaiting Priti Patel’s decision, which is due any day.
Sign the petition:
If extradited to the United States, Julian Assange, father of two young British children, would face a sentence of 175 years in prison merely for receiving and publishing truthful information that revealed US war crimes.
UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that "it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America".
Amnesty International states, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”
Human Rights Watch says, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”
The NUJ has stated that the “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.
Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.
The UK is required under its international obligations to stop the extradition. Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty says: "Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense."
The decision to either Free Assange or send him to his death is now squarely in the political domain. The UK must not send Julian to the country that conspired to murder him in London.
The United Kingdom can stop the extradition at any time. It must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty and Free Julian Assange.
Recently I’ve started working with the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee. On March 17, Ruchell turned 83. He’s been imprisoned for 59 years, and now walks with a walker. He is no threat to society if released. Ruchell was in the Marin County Courthouse on August 7, 1970, the morning Jonathan Jackson took it over in an effort to free his older brother, the internationally known revolutionary prison writer, George Jackson. Ruchell joined Jonathan and was the only survivor of the shooting that ensued. He has been locked up ever since and denied parole 13 times. On March 19, the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee held a webinar for Ruchell for his 83rd birthday, which was a terrific event full of information and plans for building the campaign to Free Ruchell. (For information about his case, please visit: www.freeruchellmagee.org.)
Below are two ways to stream this historic webinar, plus
• a petition you can sign
• a portal to send a letter to Governor Newsom
• a Donate button to support his campaign
• a link to our campaign website.
Please take a moment and help.
Note: We will soon have t-shirts to sell to raise money for legal expenses.
Here is the YouTube link to view the March 19 Webinar:
Here is the Facebook link:
Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:
Write to Governor Newsom’s office:
No one ever hurt their eyes by looking on the bright side
Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale
U.S. Air Force veteran, Daniel Everette Hale has recently completed his first year of a 45-month prison sentence for exposing the realities of U.S drone warfare. Daniel Hale is not a spy, a threat to society, or a bad faith actor. His revelations were not a threat to national security. If they were, the prosecution would be able to identify the harm caused directly from the information Hale made public. Our members of Congress can urge President Biden to commute Daniel's sentence! Either way, Daniel deserves to be free.
Laws are created to be followed
by the poor.
Laws are made by the rich
to bring some order to exploitation.
The poor are the only law abiders in history.
When the poor make laws
the rich will be no more.
—Roque Dalton Presente!
(May 14, 1935 – Assassinated May 10, 1975)
 Roque Dalton was a Salvadoran poet, essayist, journalist, political activist, and intellectual. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets.
“In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper
A film by Kenneth A. Carlson
Teaser is now streaming at:
Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022
“In his Defense,” a documentary on the Kevin Cooper case, is in the works right now, and California filmmaker Kenneth Carlson has released a teaser for it on CarlsonFilms.com
Just over seven months ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an independent investigation of Cooper’s death penalty case. At the time, he explained that, “In cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined.”
That investigation is ongoing, with no word from any of the parties involved on its progress.
Cooper has been on death row since 1985 for the murder of four people in San Bernardino County in June 1983. Prosecutors said Cooper, who had escaped from a minimum-security prison and had been hiding out near the scene of the murder, killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, a friend who was spending the night at the Ryen’s. The lone survivor of the attack, eight-year-old Josh Ryen, was severely injured but survived.
For over 36 years, Cooper has insisted he is innocent, and there are serious questions about evidence that was missing, tampered with, destroyed, possibly planted, or hidden from the defense. There were multiple murder weapons, raising questions about how one man could use all of them, killing four people and seriously wounding one, in the amount of time the coroner estimated the murders took place.
The teaser alone gives a good overview of the case, and helps explain why so many believe Cooper was wrongfully convicted.
New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case
The following statement was issued January 4, 2022, regarding new legal filings by attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464)
The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won’t know for at least a month.
The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then-Prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill, prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury, and letters and memoranda which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct, and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in 1982, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latinx detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions.
In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed.
Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”
The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in U.S. courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. (lovenotphear.com/) Stay tuned.
—Workers World, January 4, 2022
Pa. Supreme Court denies widow’s appeal to remove Philly DA from Abu-Jamal case
Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder of Faulkner in 1982. Over the past four decades, five of his appeals have been quashed.
In 1989, the state’s highest court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s death penalty conviction, and in 2012, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.
Abu-Jamal, 66, remains in prison. He can appeal to the state Supreme Court, or he can file a new appeal.
KYW Newsradio reached out to Abu-Jamal’s attorneys for comment. They shared this statement in full:
“Today, the Superior Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider issues raised by Mr. Abu-Jamal in prior appeals. Two years ago, the Court of Common Pleas ordered reconsideration of these appeals finding evidence of an appearance of judicial bias when the appeals were first decided. We are disappointed in the Superior Court’s decision and are considering our next steps.
“While this case was pending in the Superior Court, the Commonwealth revealed, for the first time, previously undisclosed evidence related to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case. That evidence includes a letter indicating that the Commonwealth promised its principal witness against Mr. Abu-Jamal money in connection with his testimony. In today’s decision, the Superior Court made clear that it was not adjudicating the issues raised by this new evidence. This new evidence is critical to any fair determination of the issues raised in this case, and we look forward to presenting it in court.”
Questions and comments may be sent to: email@example.com
Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.
Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603
How long will he still be with us? How long will the genocide continue?
By Michael Moore—VIA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
American Indian Movement leader, Leonard Peltier, at 77 years of age, came down with Covid-19 this weekend. Upon hearing this, I broke down and cried. An innocent man, locked up behind bars for 44 years, Peltier is now America’s longest-held political prisoner. He suffers in prison tonight even though James Reynolds, one of the key federal prosecutors who sent Peltier off to life in prison in 1977, has written to President Biden and confessed to his role in the lies, deceit, racism and fake evidence that together resulted in locking up our country’s most well-known Native American civil rights leader. Just as South Africa imprisoned for more than 27 years its leading voice for freedom, Nelson Mandela, so too have we done the same to a leading voice and freedom fighter for the indigenous people of America. That’s not just me saying this. That’s Amnesty International saying it. They placed him on their political prisoner list years ago and continue to demand his release.
And it’s not just Amnesty leading the way. It’s the Pope who has demanded Leonard Peltier’s release. It’s the Dalai Lama, Jesse Jackson, and the President Pro-Tempore of the US Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy. Before their deaths, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu pleaded with the United States to free Leonard Peltier. A worldwide movement of millions have seen their demands fall on deaf ears.
And now the calls for Peltier to be granted clemency in DC have grown on Capitol Hill. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), the head of the Senate committee who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has also demanded Peltier be given his freedom. Numerous House Democrats have also written to Biden.
The time has come for our President to act; the same President who appointed the first-ever Native American cabinet member last year and who halted the building of the Keystone pipeline across Native lands. Surely Mr. Biden is capable of an urgent act of compassion for Leonard Peltier — especially considering that the prosecutor who put him away in 1977 now says Peltier is innocent, and that his US Attorney’s office corrupted the evidence to make sure Peltier didn’t get a fair trial. Why is this victim of our judicial system still in prison? And now he is sick with Covid.
For months Peltier has begged to get a Covid booster shot. Prison officials refused. The fact that he now has COVID-19 is a form of torture. A shame hangs over all of us. Should he now die, are we all not complicit in taking his life?
President Biden, let Leonard Peltier go. This is a gross injustice. You can end it. Reach deep into your Catholic faith, read what the Pope has begged you to do, and then do the right thing.
For those of you reading this, will you join me right now in appealing to President Biden to free Leonard Peltier? His health is in deep decline, he is the voice of his people — a people we owe so much to for massacring and imprisoning them for hundreds of years.
The way we do mass incarceration in the US is abominable. And Leonard Peltier is not the only political prisoner we have locked up. We have millions of Black and brown and poor people tonight in prison or on parole and probation — in large part because they are Black and brown and poor. THAT is a political act on our part. Corporate criminals and Trump run free. The damage they have done to so many Americans and people around the world must be dealt with.
This larger issue is one we MUST take on. For today, please join me in contacting the following to show them how many millions of us demand that Leonard Peltier has suffered enough and should be free:
President Joe Biden
E-mail: At this link
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
Attorney General Merrick Garland
E-mail: At this link
I’ll end with the final verse from the epic poem “American Names” by Stephen Vincent Benet:
I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.
I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.
You may bury my body in Sussex grass,
You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.
I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.
PS. Also — watch the brilliant 1992 documentary by Michael Apted and Robert Redford about the framing of Leonard Peltier— “Incident at Oglala”
By Margaret Atwood*
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
*Witten by the woman who wrote a novel about Christian fascists taking over the U.S. and enslaving women. Prescient!
Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Department of Labor
For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Thursday, January 20, 2022
(202) 691-6378 • email@example.com • www.bls.gov/cps
(202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov
In 2021, the number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions continued to decline (-241,000) to 14.0 million, and the percent who were members of unions—the union membership rate—was 10.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The rate is down from 10.8 percent in 2020—when the rate increased due to a disproportionately large decline in the total number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The 2021 unionization rate is the same as the 2019 rate of 10.3 percent. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.
These data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. For further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.
Highlights from the 2021 data:
• The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.1 percent). (See table 3.)
• The highest unionization rates were among workers in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). (See table 3.)
• Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.6 percent) than women (9.9 percent). The gap between union membership rates for men and women has narrowed considerably since 1983 (the earliest year for which comparable data are available), when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)
• Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
• Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 83 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($975 versus $1,169). (The comparisons of earnings in this news release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.)
• Among states, Hawaii and New York continued to have the highest union membership rates (22.4 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina continued to have the lowest (1.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively). (See table 5.)
Industry and Occupation of Union Members
In 2021, 7.0 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, the same as in the private sector. (See table 3.)
Union membership decreased by 191,000 over the year in the public sector. The public-sector union membership rate declined by 0.9 percentage point in 2021 to 33.9 percent, following an increase of 1.2 percentage points in 2020. In 2021, the union membership rate continued to be highest in local government (40.2 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.
The number of union workers employed in the private sector changed little over the year. However, the number of private-sector nonunion workers increased in 2021. The private-sector unionization rate declined by 0.2 percentage point in 2021 to 6.1 percent, slightly lower than its 2019 rate of 6.2 percent. Industries with high unionization rates included utilities (19.7 percent), motion pictures and sound recording industries (17.3 percent), and transportation and warehousing (14.7 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.2 percent), professional and technical services (1.2 percent), food services and drinking places (1.2 percent), and insurance (1.5 percent).
Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2021 were in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). Unionization rates were lowest in food preparation and serving related occupations (3.1 percent); sales and related occupations (3.3 percent); computer and mathematical occupations (3.7 percent); personal care and service occupations (3.9 percent); and farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (4.0 percent).
Selected Characteristics of Union Members
In 2021, the number of men who were union members, at 7.5 million, changed little, while the number of women who were union members declined by 182,000 to 6.5 million. The unionization rate for men decreased by 0.4 percentage point over the year to 10.6 percent. In 2021, women’s union membership rate declined by 0.6 percentage point to 9.9 percent. The 2021 decreases in union membership rates for men and women reflect increases in the total number of nonunion workers. The rate for men is below the 2019 rate (10.8 percent), while the rate for women is above the 2019 rate (9.7 percent). (See table 1.)
Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate in 2021 (11.5 percent) than White workers (10.3 percent), Asian workers (7.7 percent), and Hispanic workers (9.0 percent). The union membership rate declined by 0.4 percentage point for White workers, by 0.8 percentage point for Black workers, by 1.2 percentage points for Asian workers, and by 0.8 percentage point for Hispanic workers. The 2021 rates for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics are little or no different from 2019, while the rate for Asians is lower.
By age, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2021, at 13.1 percent. Younger workers—those ages 16 to 24—had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.2 percent.
In 2021, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.1 percent) continued to be considerably higher than that for part-time workers (6.1 percent).
In 2021, 15.8 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, 137,000 less than in 2020. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 11.6 percent, down by 0.5 percentage point from 2020 but the same as in 2019. Workers represented by a union include both union members (14.0 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.8 million). (See table 1.)
Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,169 in 2021, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $975. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, these earnings differences reflect a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size, or geographic region. (See tables 2 and 4.)
Union Membership by State
In 2021, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.3 percent, while 20 states had rates above it. All states in both the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average, while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. (See table 5 and chart 1.)
Ten states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2021. South Carolina had the lowest rate (1.7 percent), followed by North Carolina (2.6 percent) and Utah (3.5 percent). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2021: Hawaii (22.4 percent) and New York (22.2 percent).
In 2021, about 30 percent of the 14.0 million union members lived in just two states (California at 2.5 million and New York at 1.7 million). However, these states accounted for about 17 percent of wage and salary employment nationally.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on 2021 Union Members Data
Union membership data for 2021 continue to reflect the impact on the labor market of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Comparisons with union membership measures for 2020, including metrics such as the union membership rate and median usual weekly earnings, should be interpreted with caution. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 led to an increase in the unionization rate due to a disproportionately large decline in the number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The decrease in the rate in 2021 reflects a large gain in the number of nonunion workers and a decrease in the number of union workers. More information on labor market developments in recent months is available at:
Resources for Resisting Federal Repression
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.
Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
- Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312
- San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963
If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:
Know Your Rights Materials
The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides.
- Know Your Rights During Covid-19
- You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement
- Operation Backfire: For Environmental and Animal Rights Activists
WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office
We also recommend the following resources:
Center for Constitutional Rights
Civil Liberties Defense Center
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Grand Jury Resistance Project
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
Tilted Scales Collective
Most of the top leaders received bonuses above $200,000 in the last fiscal year, as Amtrak worked to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
By Mark Walker and Niraj Chokshi, Aug. 5, 2022
Stephen Gardner, who became Amtrak’s chief executive this year, has received more than $766,000 in short-term incentive bonuses since 2016. Credit... Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Amtrak’s top executives received six-figure incentive bonuses in 2021, their biggest payouts in years, despite the service’s lackluster financial performance and weak ridership caused by the pandemic, according to data obtained by The New York Times.
The compensation data, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, showed that annual incentive payouts made to Amtrak’s senior leaders have grown significantly in recent years. Nine top executives received bonuses exceeding $200,000 in the 2021 fiscal year, up from six executives in 2019. Far smaller bonuses were awarded in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and none were given in 2015 or 2020.
Last year’s payouts came as the federal government made its largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak started operating in 1971. As part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that passed in November, Congress set aside $66 billion for the rail sector, a third of it specifically for Amtrak, which has for years called for greater investment to update, modernize and expand passenger rail service in the United States.
Amtrak has lost money ever since Congress created it a half-century ago to serve as the nation’s passenger rail operator. The service appeared to be on the verge of breaking that losing streak in late 2019, but the coronavirus erased that hope.
As ridership plunged early in the pandemic, lawmakers provided Amtrak with $3.7 billion in emergency relief. The rail service furloughed more than 1,200 workers, encouraged others to leave with buyout offers and paused hiring for 16 months.
Last fall, its work force was still 1,500 employees — or more than 8 percent — smaller than it was before the pandemic. The service has been hiring rapidly, but ridership this year through May was still down more than a third from the same period in 2019.
Amtrak said the executive bonuses were based on metrics such as ridership, customer satisfaction and financial performance.
Qiana Spain, Amtrak’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer, said in a statement that the incentive payments were aimed at helping the rail service “attract and retain talent.”
In order to earn incentive compensation, “Amtrak must achieve a high level of corporate performance, in support of our company’s strategic plan — and employees must also meet their individual performance goals,” she said. “The company has not made any incentive payments without first meeting its financial target.”
John Samuelsen, the president of the Transport Workers Union, whose members include nearly 1,500 service workers, mechanics and inspectors at Amtrak, said he was disgusted by the payouts.
“They gave themselves nice fat bonuses off the backs of workers that were exposed to harm’s way,” he said. “It just underscores the reason why there should be worker representatives on the Amtrak board.”
No bonuses were given in 2015, but in 2016 the rail service awarded some incentive pay to top executives. It spent no more than $500,000 annually on payouts in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as it narrowed its losses.
That changed in 2019. With Amtrak getting close to breaking even, the size of the bonus payouts to top executives nearly quadrupled, rising to a total of nearly $1.8 million, from just over $480,000 the year before. Amtrak paid no bonuses again in 2020, as the virus brought travel to a near standstill. But in 2021, it paid out $2.3 million, despite reporting its lowest revenue and biggest losses in more than a decade.
Stephen Gardner, who became Amtrak’s chief executive this year, has received more than $766,000 in short-term incentive bonuses since 2016, more than any other executive. Eleanor Acheson, the service’s general counsel and corporate secretary, was close behind, having received nearly $727,000 over that period. Amtrak declined to provide a fuller picture of how its executives are compensated, including salaries.
Of the dozen members of Amtrak’s current leadership team, all but three received bonuses of more than $200,000 last year, ranging from about $230,000 to more than $293,000 for Mr. Gardner, who was president at the time.
A spokesperson said the service increased short-term incentive payouts for managers throughout the company in 2019 to make jobs more competitive and desirable. Amtrak has no private sector counterpart, though the bonuses paid last year pale in comparison with what transportation industry executives earn. The chief executives of freight railroads, which are profitable, received millions in bonus and incentive payments last year, for example.
“I know that in all markets everyone is looking to recruit good people, but this is a bit surprising,” Patricia Quinn, the executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, one of Amtrak’s state partners, said of the bonuses. “I would hope that these are conversations, as state partners, we could have going forward because we all want to align our goals with Amtrak.”
Ms. Quinn said Amtrak did not discuss goal-setting and incentive payouts with its partners. And, in a January audit, Amtrak’s inspector general reported that about a third of the company’s state partners had “low trust” in Amtrak on cost-sharing issues.
The company said it created the short-term incentive program in 2013 after making changes to its pension program and closing it off for new employees joining the company.
In the 2019 fiscal year, ending in September, Amtrak customers took nearly 33 million trips with the company, a slight increase from the year before. Revenue was also up slightly, while customer satisfaction fell just shy of a goal for the year. In 2021, however, Amtrak reported only about 12 million customer trips, well below the number the year before. The service also reported its worst revenue and losses in more than a decade. Customer satisfaction was well below where it stood before the pandemic, though it surpassed a goal set for the year.
Jim Mathews, the president and chief executive of the Rail Passengers Association, said Amtrak put a lot of stock into its customer satisfaction index, a measurement he takes issue with because it does not capture the full scope of the company’s performance.
Mr. Mathews said he would like to see incentive compensation tied to bringing the company back to its prepandemic level and building up from there.
“They don’t have the same tools to hand out incentives — they don’t have stock or options to make these jobs more attractive,” he said. “That said, I think these are all good jobs, and as an advocate I would really like to see these payouts not only tied to the customer satisfaction index but to the recovery scores.”
The executives have their work cut out for them. Not only is Amtrak still working to recover from the pandemic, but it also needs to prepare to put the influx of congressional funding to good use.
The company said in a report this year that the money was an “unprecedented level of funding for capital projects” and would help to modernize its fleet and stations, replace major bridges, improve reliability, expand service and replace old equipment. Rail advocates and insiders welcomed the federal spending, saying it will help to address longstanding problems and priorities for passenger rail in the United States, too.
But Amtrak’s inspector general has raised concerns about the company’s ability to hire the workers it needs to spend the new funds wisely. In a December report, it concluded that Amtrak’s human resources department lacked the leadership and staff it needed to “effectively recruit, screen, hire and onboard new employees.”
In an update last month, the inspector general said Amtrak was making progress, including by reviewing compensation companywide to ensure that salaries are competitive, but added that there was more work to do.
The law passed despite dividing Republicans. Some of them said the measure was too restrictive; others objected to limited exceptions for rape and incest.
By Mitch Smith and Julie Bosman, Published Aug. 5, 2022, Updated Aug. 6, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/05/us/indiana-abortion-vote.html
People watching from the gallery before a vote was held on Senate Bill 1 during a special session on Friday at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. Credit...Jenna Watson/The Indianapolis Star, via Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers passed and the governor signed a near-total ban on abortion on Friday, overcoming division among Republicans and protests from Democrats to become the first state to draw up and approve sweeping new limits on the procedure since Roe v. Wade was struck down in June.
The law’s passage came just three days after voters in Kansas, another conservative Midwestern state, overwhelmingly rejected an amendment that would have stripped abortion rights protections from their State Constitution, a result seen nationally as a sign of unease with abortion bans. And it came despite some Indiana Republicans opposing the measure for going too far, and others voting no because of its exceptions.
The end of Roe was the culmination of decades of work by conservatives, opening the door for states to severely restrict abortion or ban it entirely. Some states prepared in advance with abortion bans that were triggered by the fall of Roe. Lawmakers in other conservative states said they would consider more restrictions.
But, at least in the first weeks since that decision, Republicans have moved slowly and have struggled to speak with a unified voice on what comes next. Lawmakers in South Carolina and West Virginia have weighed but taken no final action on proposed bans. Officials in Iowa, Florida, Nebraska and other conservative states have so far not taken legislative action. And especially in the last few weeks, some Republican politicians have recalibrated their messaging on the issue.
“West Virginia tried it, and they stepped back from the ledge. Kansas tried it, and the voters resoundingly rejected it,” State Representative Justin Moed, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said on the House floor before voting against the bill. “Why is that? Because up until now it has just been a theory. It was easy for people to say they were pro-life. It was easy to see things so black and white. But now, that theory has become reality, and the consequences of the views are more real.”
The Indiana bill — which bans abortion from conception except in some cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality or when the pregnant woman faces risk of death or certain severe health risks — was signed into law within minutes of its final passage late Friday night by Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican who had encouraged legislators to consider new abortion limits during a special session that he called.
“These actions followed long days of hearings filled with sobering and personal testimony from citizens and elected representatives on this emotional and complex topic,” Mr. Holcomb said in a statement. “Ultimately, those voices shaped and informed the final contents of the legislation and its carefully negotiated exceptions to address some of the unthinkable circumstances a woman or unborn child might face.”
Beyond those limited exceptions, the new law will end legal abortion in Indiana next month. The procedure is currently allowed at up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. Some Republicans have indicated that they expect the law to be challenged in court.
“If this isn’t a government issue — protecting life — I don’t know what is,” said Representative John Young, a Republican who supported the measure. He added: “I know the exceptions are not enough for some and too much for others, but it’s a good balance.”
The law’s passage came after two weeks of emotional testimony and bitter debates in the Statehouse. Even though Republicans hold commanding majorities in both chambers, the bill’s fate did not always seem secure. When a Senate committee considered an initial version of the bill last week, no one showed up to testify in support of it: The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana called it a “cruel, dangerous bill,” Indiana Right to Life described it as “weak and troubling,” and a parade of residents with differing views on abortion all urged lawmakers to reject it.
The debate was supercharged by the case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had traveled to Indiana for an abortion after she was raped. The abortion provider in that case, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, became a target of some on the right.
Abortion rights protesters were a regular presence at the Statehouse during the session, sometimes chanting “Let us vote!” or “Church and state!” so loudly from the hallway that it could be difficult to hear lawmakers. Several Democrats invoked the vote in Kansas, in which 59 percent of voters decided to preserve abortion rights, as an example of the political risk Republicans were taking. Democrats suggested putting the issue to a nonbinding statewide vote in Indiana, which Republicans rejected.
“Judging by the results I saw in Kansas the other day,” said Representative Phil GiaQuinta, a Democrat who opposed the Indiana bill, “independents, Democrats and Republicans by their votes demonstrated what is most important to them, and me, and that is our personal freedoms and liberty.”
Todd Huston, the Republican speaker of the Indiana House, said he was pleased with the final version of the law. But asked about the protests in Indianapolis and the vote in Kansas, he acknowledged that many disagreed.
“We’ve talked about the fact that voters have an opportunity to vote, and if they’re displeased, they’ll have that opportunity both in November and in future years,” Mr. Huston said.
Democrats warned of the consequences of passing the measure, and noted the state’s status as the first to do so in a post-Roe America. Business leaders sounded their concern before its passage: The chamber of commerce in Indianapolis urged the Legislature this week not to pass the bill, saying it could threaten public health and the state's business interests.
State Senator Eddie D. Melton, a Democrat who represents parts of northwest Indiana, spoke against the bill on the Senate floor on Friday, calling it a rushed process and a power grab.
He reminded Republicans of the resounding vote in Kansas this week in support of abortion rights, a warning to Indiana lawmakers that the party could face a backlash from voters.
“If this passes, the only referendum that’s left is in November,” he said.
Jennifer Drobac, a law professor at Indiana University, said she was concerned about the speed at which the bill in her state was passed and the relatively short window for the public to debate its implications.
“Law made in haste is often bad law,” she said. “This highlights the fact that these guys are not anticipating how unworkable this legislation will be. This is going to impact thousands of people who get pregnant in Indiana alone.”
Divisions within the Republican Party were repeatedly on display during the session. Representative Ann Vermilion described herself as a proud Republican. But said she thought the legislation went too far, too quickly.
“The U.S. Supreme Court made the decision to move the abortion rights to the state level, which has peeled an onion on the details of abortion, showing layers and layers of such a difficult topic that I, myself, wasn’t prepared for,” Ms. Vermilion said before voting against the bill.
Other Republicans echoed the complaints voiced during public testimony by anti-abortion residents, advocacy groups and religious leaders. They questioned how lawmakers who portrayed themselves to voters as staunch abortion opponents were now forgoing an opportunity to pass a ban without exceptions for rape and incest. Some abortion opponents have argued that rape and incest, while traumatic, do not justify ending the life of a fetus that had no control over its conception.
“This bill justifies the wicked, those murdering babies, and punishes the righteous, the preborn human being,” said Representative John Jacob, a Republican who also voted against the bill. He added: “Republicans campaigned that they are pro-life. Pro-life means for life. That is not just some lives. That means all lives.”
Similar debates have played out in West Virginia, where the House of Delegates passed a bill that would ban nearly all abortions. But disagreement broke out when the Senate narrowly decided to remove criminal penalties for medical providers who perform abortion illegally, citing fears that it could worsen the state’s existing shortage of health care workers. The legislation is stalled.
Delegate Danielle Walker, a West Virginia Democrat, said she believed the abortion referendum in Kansas was a wake-up call for the more moderate contingent of Republican legislators.
“I think they’re seeing that people are coming out to the polls because the people don’t want this, the people don’t support it,” Ms. Walker said.
Elizabeth Nash, state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, said that Indiana offered a glimpse of the dynamic that could deepen in other legislatures in the coming weeks: the difficulty in pleasing their conservative base in the face of other public opposition to abortion restrictions.
“In Indiana, the legislators are now between a rock and a hard place,” she said. “They’re between their base,” which is demanding an abortion ban with no exception, “and members of the public who are saying, ‘we support abortion access.’ You can see how the legislators, who are balancing people’s rights, are also looking at the next election.”
Ava Sasani contributed reporting.
No cease-fire appeared imminent, despite early mediation efforts by international actors, including the United Nations.
“The fighting erupted on Friday afternoon when Israel launched airstrikes that it said were an attempt to foil an imminent attack from Gaza by Islamic Jihad after almost a week of rising tensions between Israel and the second-largest militant group in Gaza. Israeli officials have said that they are targeting only Islamic Jihad, after they said that it had been on the verge of firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli targets on Friday afternoon.”
Israel security forces and a Palestinian militant group exchanged fire on Saturday, during a second day of violence on the Gaza strip.
Inspecting the ruins of a building on Saturday after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. Credit...Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Fighting between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip stretched into a second day on Saturday in what has become the biggest conflagration in the territory in a year.
Israel, which initiated a military operation with a series of airstrikes on Gaza on Friday, targeted what it said were rocket factories and depots belonging to the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad on Saturday. The militants fired rockets over the Israeli towns closest to Gaza.
Local news reports showed images of two residential buildings being flattened by Israeli missile strikes on Saturday. The Israeli military said its helicopters and vessels had targeted what it described as two weapons storage facilities, which it said were located “in the residences of terrorist operatives in the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip.” It was not immediately clear whether they were referring to the same residential buildings.
Rockets fired from Gaza hit a house in the Israeli border town of Sderot and another Israeli community near the Gaza border on Saturday, according to the Israeli police and local news media reports. One civilian was lightly injured.
By midday, sirens warning of incoming rocket fire were sounding farther north in the Israeli port city of Ashdod.
The Palestinian death toll for two days of fighting had risen to 15 by Saturday afternoon with 125 injured, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. A 5-year-old girl was among those killed on Friday.
Two Israeli soldiers were wounded on Saturday by a mortar shell that fell on an Israeli communal farm near the Gaza border, according to the military.
Most of the projectiles fired into Israeli territory appeared to have either fallen into open areas or been intercepted by the country’s Iron Dome air defense system.
No cease-fire appeared imminent, despite early mediation efforts by international actors, including the United Nations. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the political bureau of Hamas, the dominant Islamic militant group in Gaza, said that he had spoken overnight with officials from Egypt and Qatar as well as with the United Nations.
The fighting erupted on Friday afternoon when Israel launched airstrikes that it said were an attempt to foil an imminent attack from Gaza by Islamic Jihad after almost a week of rising tensions between Israel and the second-largest militant group in Gaza. Israeli officials have said that they are targeting only Islamic Jihad, after they said that it had been on the verge of firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli targets on Friday afternoon.
Israel arrested one of the group’s senior commanders this week in the West Bank, leading to threats of reprisal from its Gaza leadership. One Israeli airstrike on Friday killed Taysir al-Jabari, a senior leader of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad.
The Israeli military also said it had arrested 19 Islamic Jihad operatives in raids overnight across the occupied West Bank.
On Saturday morning, an Israeli military spokesman, Ran Kochav, told Israeli public radio that the fighting would most likely last for at least a week and that no negotiations to end the hostilities were underway.
But overnight, the militants reduced the range of their rocket fire, aiming mostly at areas close to Gaza instead of cities farther to the north, which they initially targeted.
Analysts said that recalibration could prevent the situation from escalating further — as could a decision by Hamas to remain on the sidelines of the fighting.
Islamic Jihad sometimes acts independently of Hamas, which does not always support the smaller group in its rocket wars with Israel.
His term in solitary was perhaps the longest in American history. He described how he kept his sanity, and dignity, in an acclaimed memoir.
By Alex Traub, Aug. 5, 2022
Albert Woodfox after his release from prison in 2016. A federal judge said there was nothing “remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence” to Mr. Woodfox’s 42 years in solitary confinement. Credit...Bryan Tarnowski for The New York Times
Mr. Woodfox was led out of prison in 2016 accompanied by his brother Michael, left. Credit...Bryan Tarnowski for The New York Times
Albert Woodfox, who spent 42 years in solitary confinement — possibly more time than any other prisoner in all of American history — yet emerged to win acclaim with a memoir that declared his spirit unbroken, died on Thursday in New Orleans. He was 75.
His lead lawyer, George Kendall, said the cause was Covid-19. Mr. Kendall added that Mr. Woodfox also had a number of pre-existing organ conditions.
Mr. Woodfox was placed in solitary confinement in 1972 after being accused of murdering Brent Miller, a 23-year-old corrections officer. A tangled legal ordeal ensued, including two convictions, both overturned, and three indictments stretching over four decades.
The case struck most commentators as problematic. No forensic evidence linked Mr. Woodfox to the crime, so the authorities’ argument depended on witnesses, who over time were discredited or proved unreliable.
“The facts of the case were on his side,” The New York Times editorial board wrote in a 2014 opinion piece about Mr. Woodfox.
But Louisiana’s attorney general, Buddy Caldwell, saw things differently. “This is the most dangerous person on the planet,” he told NPR in 2008.
Mr. Woodfox’s punishment defied imagination, not only for its monotony — he was alone 23 hours a day in a six-by-nine-foot cell — but also for its agonies and humiliations. He was gassed and beaten, he wrote in a memoir, “Solitary” (2019), in which he described how he had kept his sanity, and dignity, while locked up alone. He was strip-searched with needless, brutal frequency.
His plight first received national attention when he became known as one of the “Angola Three,” men held continuously in solitary confinement for decades at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, which is commonly called Angola, after a slave plantation that once occupied the site.
In 2005, a federal judge wrote that the length of time the men had spent in solitary confinement went “so far beyond the pale” that there seemed not to be “anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”
Mr. Woodfox would spend more than another decade in solitary before becoming, in 2016, the last of the three men to be released from prison.
His first stint at Angola came in 1965, after he was convicted of a series of minor crimes committed as a teenager. The prison was notoriously harsh, even to the point of conjuring the days of slavery. Black prisoners, like Mr. Woodfox, did field work by hand, overseen by white prison guards on horseback, shotguns across their laps. New inmates were often inducted into a regime of sexual slavery that was encouraged by guards.
Released after eight months, he was soon charged with car theft, leading to another eight months at Angola. After that, he embarked on a darker criminal career, beating and robbing people.
In 1969, Mr. Woodfox was convicted again, this time for armed robbery, and sentenced to 50 years. By then a seasoned lawbreaker, he managed to sneak a gun into the courthouse where he was being sentenced and escape. He fled to New York City, landing in Harlem.
A few months later he was incarcerated again, this time in the Tombs, the Manhattan jail, where he spent about a year and a half.
It proved to be a turning point, he wrote in his memoir. At the Tombs, he met members of the Black Panther Party, who governed his tier of cells not by force but by sharing food. They held discussions, treating people respectfully and intelligently, he wrote. They argued that racism was an institutional phenomenon, infecting police departments, banks, universities and juries.
“It was as if a light went on in a room inside me that I hadn’t known existed,” Mr. Woodfox wrote. “I had morals, principles and values I never had before.”
He added, “I would never be a criminal again.”
He was sent back to Angola in 1971 thinking himself a reformed man. But his most serious criminal conviction — for murdering the Angola corrections officer in 1972, which he denied — still lay ahead of him, and with it four decades in solitary, a term broken for only about a year and a half in the 1990s while he awaited retrial.
The other two members of the Angola Three, Robert King and Herman Wallace, were also Panthers and began their solitary confinement at Angola the same year as Mr. Woodfox. The three became friends by shouting to one another from their cells. They were “our own means of inspiration to one another,” Mr. Woodfox wrote. In his spare time, he added, “I turned my cell into a university, a hall of debate, a law school.”
He taught one inmate how to read, he said, by instructing him in how to sound out words in a dictionary. He told him to shout to him at any hour of the day or night if he could not understand something.
Albert Woodfox was born on Feb. 19, 1947, in New Orleans to Ruby Edwards, who was 17. He never had a relationship with his biological father, Leroy Woodfox, he wrote, but for much of his childhood he considered a man who later married his mother, a Navy chef named James B. Mable, his “daddy.”
When Albert was 11, Mr. Mable retired from the Navy and the family moved to La Grange, N.C. Mr. Mable, Mr. Woodfox recalled, began drinking and beating Ms. Edwards. She fled the family home with Albert and two of his brothers, taking them back to New Orleans.
As a boy, Albert shoplifted bread and canned goods when there was no food in the house. He dropped out of school in the 10th grade. His mother tended bar and occasionally worked as a prostitute, and Albert grew to loathe her.
“I allowed myself to believe that the strongest, most beautiful and most powerful woman in my life didn’t matter,” he wrote in his memoir.
His mother died in 1994, while he was in prison. He was not allowed to attend her funeral.
The first of the Angola Three to be let out of prison was Mr. King, whose conviction was overturned in 2001. The second, Mr. Wallace, was freed in 2013 because he had liver cancer. He died three days later.
In a deal with prosecutors, Mr. Woodfox was released in 2016 in exchange for pleading no contest to a manslaughter charge in the 1972 killing. By then he had been transferred out of Angola.
His incarceration over, the first thing he wanted to do was visit his mother’s grave.
“I told her that I was free now and I loved her,” he wrote. “It was more painful than anything I experienced in prison.”
Mr. Woodfox is survived by his brothers, James, Haywood, Michael and Donald Mable; a daughter, Brenda Poole, from a relationship he had in his teenage years; three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and his life partner, Leslie George.
Ms. George was a journalist who began reporting on Mr. Woodfox’s case in 1998 and met him in 1999. They became a couple when he was released from prison.
Ms. George co-wrote Mr. Woodfox’s book, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction. In a review in The Times, Dwight Garner called “Solitary” “uncommonly powerful”; in The Times Book Review, the writer Thomas Chatterton Williams described it as “above mere advocacy or even memoir,” belonging more “in the realm of stoic philosophy.”
After being released, Mr. Woodfox had to relearn how to walk down stairs, how to walk without leg irons, how to sit without being shackled. But in an interview with The Times right after his release, he spoke of having already freed himself years earlier.
“When I began to understand who I was, I considered myself free,” he said. “No matter how much concrete they use to hold me in a particular place, they couldn’t stop my mind.”
Artwork by Kevin "Rashid" Johnson
It seems that some things never change. The historical and systemic wanton violence and attacks against Black people in general and Black Liberation forces specifically continues unabated. On July 29, 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided and attacked the offices, members, and leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) and Uhuru Movement in both St. Petersburg, Florida and St. Louis, Missouri. These raids included the home of respected elder and Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
The National Jericho Movement (www.thejerichomovement.com) to free all Political Prisoners joins with other Human Rights and Liberation Movements forces in condemning this unjustified and villainous attack. This FBI counterintelligence (COINTELPRO) styled attack is reminiscent of the same attacks on dozens of Black Panther offices and homes and establishments of the New Afrikan Independence Movement, American Indian Movement, Brown Berets, anti-imperialists, and others throughout the United States in the sixties and early seventies.
The African Peoples Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement have been fighting against police violence and brutality, striving for self-determination, educating communities, addressing the food, clothing, and shelter needs of the people, and supporting Political Prisoners for decades. The APSP has also led the development of the Black is Back Coalition thus bringing together many progressives and revolutionary organizations.
Standing united against such attacks is essential for the protection of all progressive community organizations and activists who stand for justice and the human rights of all people.
Free All Political Prisoners!!
—The National Jericho Movement, August 4, 2022
“We are our own liberators” —Jalil Muntaqim
adam carpinelli- Jericho National Secretary
By Beth Ann Fennelly, Aug. 8, 2022
Ms. Fennelly, the former poet laureate of Mississippi, teaches at the University of Mississippi.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/08/opinion/teachers-guns-schools.html
OXFORD, Miss. — Before classes start Aug. 22 at the university where I teach English, I’ll locate my new classroom, slip inside and conduct a ritual inspection. It has a practical purpose: ensuring that the chalk board has chalk, the AV has cords, and the desks and chairs are in neat rows.
I have a psychological purpose, too. Convincing college students of the transformative power of literature is hard work. I’m pumping myself up, picturing the room humming with discussion, booming with laughter.
And, in recent years, there’s a tactical purpose. I determine whether the door has a glass plate, and if so, how I’ll cover it. Does the door lock? From the inside? Do the windows open? Wide enough to shoulder through? How far is the drop? I survey the desks, imagine barricading the door, then huddling my students into the “hard corner,” a term I should not need to know. It’s the corner on the same wall as the door, but farthest from the door. The corner where I’ll drape my body over as many of their 20 bodies as I can, like a sea anemone draping an iceberg.
I’m mentally preparing to protect my students from an active shooter. This fact splits my sternum with an ice pick of despair. But please don’t offer me a gun.
In the last several years, more and more politicians have encouraged teachers to arm themselves with guns in classrooms. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump embraced this National Rifle Association position, adding that armed teachers would deserve “a little bit of a bonus.” He reiterated this stance this past May at the N.R.A. convention in Houston, just days after a shooter killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. The state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, told Fox News on the day of the shooting, “We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly, because the reality is that we don’t have the resources to have law enforcement in every school.”
At first, the likelihood of a teacher-militia seemed far-fetched, but educators are so exhausted and bereft that we’re starting to consider almost anything. I’m probably not the only teacher, after viewing images of Uvalde, to Google through tears, “How can I keep my classroom safe?” Now, I’m being targeted by digital advertisements urging me to “harden” it.
This rhetoric of “hardening” is an expression of America’s continued enthrallment to a John Wayne-style masculinity, the same attitude that undergirds the N.R.A.’s favorite maxim, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Fear renders us vulnerable to this rhetoric. The program FASTER Saves Lives, (an acronym for “Faculty & Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response”) is run by a pro-gun group called the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, and it offers free training “so schools are no longer ‘victim zones.’”
A recent New York Times article followed a class of school employees through the FASTER training boot camp in Ohio. Graduates of the three-day camp will be able to carry a gun in Ohio schools if they have their school board’s approval, thanks to the new state law that has reduced the number of training hours from more than 700 down to no more than 24. In higher education, proponents of campus carry depict gun-toting professors like Timothy Hsiao as heroes. Mr. Hsaio writes in The Federalist, “In the event of a mass shooting, I’m the first line of defense.”
The first line of defense? If we educators find ourselves nose-to-nose with a mentally ill child wielding an AR-15, it might look as if we’re the first line, but that’s only because all the other lines have lain down. Those making and interpreting the laws have lain down. (Someone explain to my first-year college students why they can buy a shotgun but not a shot of booze, because I sure can’t.) And those who are supposed to be upholding the laws have lain down. Guns are being sold illegally. And guns are being sold legally to buyers with backgrounds of violence or hate crime misdemeanors. Guns are being sold without background checks, a problem that worsened during the pandemic.
Our schools have become places where children go to learn, and learn to fear. And it makes them sick. Literally. I have three children of my own and have seen this firsthand. College students like my oldest child were in high school during the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and the fear that their schools could be next added to their other sources of stress. These students’ entire coming-of-age has been a long fight-or-flight cortisol bath. According to Lisa Genova in “Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting,” chronic stress “inhibits neurogenesis in the hippocampus,” damaging the brain’s ability to create new memories. I’m not alone among my colleagues in finding today’s students more emotionally fragile, more easily distracted, more burdened and more burned-out. They’re slower to absorb the same texts that I first taught 20 years ago, less skilled at applying the grand lessons of literature to life.
Last year, one of my students turned 21, and her friends tied two giant Mylar balloons, a “2” and a “1,” to her chair to celebrate. Later, deep in our discussion of John Donne, we heard what sounded like a gun shot. Everyone jumped. A few screamed. One student — I can see him still — hit the floor. When we realized, all of us, that our active shooter was none other than an exploding Mylar “2,” there was a painful pause. Then we laughed a shaky laugh, and I slowly resumed the discussion. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I’d given them the rest of class to share how difficult it is to learn when one is always listening for a bullet.
Numerous polls indicate that the majority of educators still don’t want to be armed. And there’s no conclusive evidence that arming teachers increases school safety, though there’s evidence that it increases incidents of teachers accidentally discharging their guns.
It’s a desperate, misplaced valor that leads teachers to the FASTER training boot camp, and that prompted one teacher quoted in The Times’s story to claim that he signed up because “I love my kids. I’m going to do everything I can to keep them safe.”
I love my students, too. I love them enough to recognize that increasing their exposure to guns costs them intellectually and psychically.
Teachers have hard jobs. Let’s focus our energy on opening minds, not barricading doors. For that to happen, we need gun laws fixed, then enforced. So, hey, lawmakers and lobbyists: Instead of urging those on the last line of defense to take up arms, how about you all on the first lines actually stand up and do your jobs? Then we’d know what good guys look like, at last.
By Saru Jayaraman, Aug. 7, 2022
Ms. Jayaraman is the president of One Fair Wage; the director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley; and the author of several books on the service sector.
“The restaurant industry’s inequitable culture is a direct product of the politics of greed and structural racism. When the United States abolished slavery, white restaurant owners resented having to pay newly freed Black workers, particularly Black women — so they invented the idea that tips could be a replacement for wages. They formed the National Restaurant Association in 1919, with a focus on lobbying to keep wages as low as possible for tipped workers, kitchen workers and agricultural workers who supplied restaurants with food.”https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/07/opinion/hulu-the-bear-restaurant-work.html
This article contains spoilers for the Hulu series “The Bear.”
There’s a moment in Episode 3 of Hulu’s acclaimed restaurant drama “The Bear” when Carmy, the culinarily ambitious chef-owner of a Chicago beef sandwich shop, joins his sous chef, Sydney, for a break on the roof at the end of a difficult day — and she lets him have it.
“I think this place could be so different from all the other places we’ve been at,” she says, referring to the trauma that so many kitchen workers share from working in harsh and sometimes abusive workplaces. “But in order for that to be true, we need to run things different.” She goes on: “But you just didn’t really listen … And I mean, I think we should probably try to listen to each other.”
There’s so much in “The Bear” that’s relatable for anyone who has worked in restaurants: small details like the plastic quart tub that Carmy drinks water from; banter with co-workers on smoke breaks; comparing scars from accidents and burns. The show also accurately depicts the relentless pressure that drives some restaurant workers to addiction or injury; the screaming, harassment, toxic masculinity and overwork that they often endure for very little pay; and the pride in their work that brings them back day after day.
After 20 years of organizing restaurant workers to demand higher wages and more equitable working conditions, I watched “The Bear” with some trepidation: It focuses on the struggles of the young white male chef, with only glimpses into the lives of the workers of color in the restaurant. Even so, I found the show to be a strikingly accurate depiction of the joys, challenges and inequities of restaurant life.
And that scene on the roof surprised me — in a good way. Sydney’s demand to be heard by her boss reflects a larger struggle, between the old way of doing things in restaurants and a new, better way. Two and a half years after the Covid pandemic began, we’re in a long-overdue moment of upheaval and evolution for the restaurant industry. And for once, restaurant owners are actually listening to the workers.
That may be because they have to. Last year, seven out of 10 restaurateurs reported they didn’t have enough staff. In a tight labor market, many restaurant workers found higher-paying jobs that fit their lifestyles better. Nearly a million restaurant workers left the industry between the end of 2019 and the end of 2021. When Covid-19 shut down most of the restaurant industry, many lost salary, tips or their jobs. Among those who kept working, many reported that hostility and harassment from customers increased — and workers had to enforce Covid protocols on those whose tips they needed to survive. As restaurants have rebounded, an acute lack of workers to take the jobs has changed the dynamics of the industry.
These are difficult, stressful jobs, as “The Bear” accurately illustrates. But people are willing to take them — and to work hard and with passion — if they’re treated and paid fairly. The restaurant industry’s problem isn’t, at its root, a labor shortage; it’s a wage shortage. In “The Bear,” after Carmy lashes out at his staff in a moment of extreme pressure, leading to two of them quitting, he apologizes — and they return to work. This is one place where “The Bear” doesn’t match what I see happening in the industry, where for most of the workers who have quit jobs, even the most contrite apology wouldn’t be enough to bring them back. When my advocacy group, One Fair Wage, surveyed nearly 3,000 food service workers in late 2020 and early 2021, 53 percent of people still in the industry told us that they were considering leaving, and 76 percent said it was partly because of low wages and tips. What would persuade them to stay, 78 percent told us, is simple: a livable wage with tips on top.
“The Bear” is resonating now partly because it shows workers demanding a better workplace, one where their work is valued and they are respected — which is happening in restaurants and beyond.
The restaurant industry’s inequitable culture is a direct product of the politics of greed and structural racism. When the United States abolished slavery, white restaurant owners resented having to pay newly freed Black workers, particularly Black women — so they invented the idea that tips could be a replacement for wages. They formed the National Restaurant Association in 1919, with a focus on lobbying to keep wages as low as possible for tipped workers, kitchen workers and agricultural workers who supplied restaurants with food.
Today, the association is led by chain restaurants that have successfully lobbied to block minimum wage increases at the federal and state levels and freeze the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers at $2.13 an hour at the federal level and $5 an hour or less in most states. Forcing these workers to live primarily on tips contributes to racial inequity: Research shows that Black servers and workers of color in general are tipped less than their white counterparts. Tipping has also contributed to restaurants’ having the absolute worst rates of sexual harassment of any industry: When the customer pays your wages, the customer is always right — even when what the customer is doing is horribly wrong.
But it never had to be this way. Seven states — California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Montana, Minnesota and Alaska — have always required a full minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers with tips on top, and most of those also have wages for untipped kitchen staffs that are higher than the national average. Despite the National Restaurant Association’s constant fear-mongering that raising wages would kill the industry, these seven states have generally had higher restaurant job growth rates, small full-service restaurant growth rates and tipping averages than the 43 other states.
In “The Bear,” Carmy insists on calling everyone “chef.” It’s a way to calm the kitchen’s chaos, yes, but it’s also a signal that he values his employees as professionals and humans. He learns the hard way that if he doesn’t show them respect, they’ll leave. A growing number of employers across the nation are coming to this realization. Many are offering their staffs benefits and perks that were unheard-of before the pandemic. At One Fair Wage, we have tracked thousands of restaurants in all 43 states that allow sub-minimum wages that are now paying wages of $15, $20, $25 and more, plus tips, in order to recruit staff. This is a significant increase since before the pandemic, and it includes dozens of restaurants that fought our efforts to raise wages in the past.
Around the United States, support for living wages for restaurant workers is growing. In Michigan, courts have just ruled that $12 plus tips (up from the current $3.75) is the law; even though it will likely be appealed, policymakers are already moving to enforce it, and over 600,000 signatures have been submitted to raise the wage further, to $15 plus tips. In November, voters in Washington, D.C., will consider a ballot measure to raise the wage for all workers, including kitchen and tipped workers, to $15 plus tips. In Portland, Maine, a similar measure could bring restaurant workers’ earnings to $18 an hour plus tips. There is also legislation on the issue advancing in New York, Illinois and Massachusetts — and One Fair Wage is working with partners and legislators to introduce legislation in many more states in 2023.
Season 1 of “The Bear” ends with an indication that Carmy’s sandwich shop, The Original Beef of Chicagoland, will reinvent itself. Similarly, the restaurant industry is reinventing itself, thanks to the collective courage of the millions of workers who are speaking up or leaving — and the thousands of restaurant owners and policymakers who are now listening.
Americans with low incomes are pulling back from buying even as their richer counterparts keep spending — with potentially big consequences.
By Jeanna Smialek and Ben Casselman, Aug. 8, 2022
"But while lower-income families spend more of each dollar they earn, the rich and middle classes have so much more money that they account for a much bigger share of spending in the overall economy: The top two-fifths of the income distribution account for about 60 percent of spending in the economy, the bottom two-fifths about 22 percent. That means the rich can continue to fuel the economy even as the poor pull back, a potential difficulty for policymakers."
Volunteers organizing donations at the food pantry run by West Houston Assistance Ministries. “So many folks are so very close to the edge,” said Mark Brown, its chief executive. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
For Theresa Clarke, a retiree in New Canaan, Conn., the rising cost of living means not buying Goldfish crackers for her disabled daughter because a carton costs $11.99 at her local Stop & Shop. It means showering at the YMCA to save on her hot water bill. And it means watching her bank account dwindle to $50 because, as someone on a fixed income who never made much money to start with, there aren’t many other places she can trim her spending as prices rise.
“There is nothing to cut back on,” she said.
Jordan Trevino, 28, who recently took a better paying job in advertising in Los Angeles with a $100,000 salary, is economizing in little ways — ordering a cheaper entree when out to dinner, for example. But he is still planning a wedding next year and a honeymoon in Italy.
And David Schoenfeld, who made about $250,000 in retirement income and consulting fees last year and has about $5 million in savings, hasn’t pared back his spending. He has just returned from a vacation in Greece, with his daughter and two of his grandchildren.
“People in our group are not seeing this as a period of sacrifice,” said Mr. Schoenfeld, who lives in Sharon, Mass., and is a member of a group called Responsible Wealth, a network of rich people focused on inequality that pushes for higher taxes, among other stances. “We notice it’s expensive, but it’s kind of like: I don’t really care.”
Higher-income households built up savings and wealth during the early stages of the pandemic as they stayed at home and their stocks, houses and other assets rose in value. Between those stockpiles and solid wage growth, many have been able to keep spending even as costs climb. But data and anecdotes suggest that lower-income households, despite the resilient job market, are struggling more profoundly with inflation.
That divergence poses a challenge for the Federal Reserve, which is hoping that higher interest rates will slow consumer spending and ease pressure on prices across the economy. Already, there are signs that poorer families are cutting back. If richer families don’t pull back as much — if they keep going on vacations, dining out and buying new cars and second homes — many prices could keep rising. The Fed might need to raise interest rates even more to bring inflation under control, and that could cause a sharper slowdown.
In that case, poorer families will almost certainly bear the brunt again, because low-wage workers are often the first to lose hours and jobs. The bifurcated economy, and the policy decisions that stem from it, could become a double whammy for them, inflicting higher costs today and unemployment tomorrow.
“That’s the perfect storm, if unemployment increases,” said Mark Brown, chief executive of West Houston Assistance Ministries, which provides food, rental assistance and other forms of aid to people in need. “So many folks are so very close to the edge.”
America’s poor have spent part of the savings they amassed during coronavirus lockdowns, and their wages are increasingly struggling to keep up with — or falling behind — price increases. Because such a big chunk of their budgets is devoted to food and housing, lower-income families have less room to cut back before they have to stop buying necessities. Some are taking on credit card debt, cutting back on shopping and restaurant meals, putting off replacing their cars or even buying fewer groceries.
But while lower-income families spend more of each dollar they earn, the rich and middle classes have so much more money that they account for a much bigger share of spending in the overall economy: The top two-fifths of the income distribution account for about 60 percent of spending in the economy, the bottom two-fifths about 22 percent. That means the rich can continue to fuel the economy even as the poor pull back, a potential difficulty for policymakers.
The Federal Reserve has been lifting interest rates rapidly since March to try to slow consumer spending and raise the cost of borrowing for companies, which will in turn lead to fewer business expansions, less hiring and slower wage growth. The goal is to slow the economy enough to lower inflation but not so much that it causes a painful recession.
But job growth accelerated unexpectedly in July, with wages climbing rapidly. Consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, has cooled, but Americans continue to open their wallets for vacations, restaurant meals and other services. If solid demand and tight labor market conditions continue, they could help to keep inflation rapid and make it more difficult for the Fed to cool the economy without continuing its string of quick rate increases. That could make widespread layoffs more likely.
“The one, singular worry is the jobs market — if demand is constrained to the point that companies have to start laying off workers, that’s what hits Main Street,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at the job market data provider ADP. “That’s what hits low-income workers.”
Lower-income people are already hurting. Mr. Brown’s organization has seen more requests for help in recent months, he said, as local families fall behind on their bills. The size of the typical request has gone up, too, from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. And he has noticed financial pain creeping up the income spectrum.
Mr. Brown’s observations are backed up by government data: About 12 percent of households reported they were struggling to get enough to eat in early July, up from about 10 percent at the beginning of the year, according to the Census Bureau.
Families can’t easily cut back what they spend on rent, gas or electricity as those prices climb, said Brian Greene, chief executive of the Houston Food Bank, which provides food to Mr. Brown’s organization and other charities across the region. So they cut back on food.
“Food insecurity isn’t about food,” Mr. Greene said. “Food insecurity is about income.”
Many poorer families’ incomes held up relatively well early in the pandemic because government aid — expanded unemployment benefits, stimulus checks and other programs — helped offset lost wages when businesses shut down. Then, as the economy reopened, pay soared for restaurant workers, delivery drivers and other low-wage workers.
But pandemic aid programs have ended and wage growth is slowing in many sectors — average hourly earnings in leisure and hospitality, which rose rapidly last year, actually fell in July from a month earlier for rank-and-file workers. Prices have risen so fast that even unusually quick wage growth has failed to keep up.
The gaping divide between the rich and the poor in this inflationary moment is clear in corporate earnings calls. At Boot Barn, a Western wear retailer, sales of men’s Western boots were down in the first quarter, but sales of higher-priced exotic skin boots picked up. At LVMH, which owns luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany, American revenues have been growing strongly, while at Walmart, customers are pulling back as they struggle to afford basic necessities, particularly food, which has run up sharply in price.
“This is affecting customers’ ability to spend on general merchandise categories and requiring more markdowns to move through the inventory, particularly apparel,” Walmart said in its July 25 guidance.
It’s not just apparel: Consumers across the economy are buying less milk and fewer eggs, as prices for those products rise significantly, according to an analysis of government figures by Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Mastercard. Yet they are also going out to eat at restaurants more often.
The fissures are clear in the car market. Demand for new cars, which generally sell to higher-income buyers, has remained strong and prices continue to soar amid supply shortages — putting upward pressure on inflation. But used-car demand is ebbing and prices have begun to depreciate again.
“We see bifurcation in many parts of the economy and the auto market,” Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive, said in an interview. “The new vehicle buyer has shown much less price sensitivity.”
Housing is another realm where fates have diverged. Home costs have run up sharply since the pandemic and mortgages are now more expensive, making buying unaffordable for many families. Because would-be buyers can’t afford homes, they are renting, keeping apartments for lease in short supply and pushing rents ever higher. Those soaring rents hit lower-income households especially hard: Roughly six in 10 people in the bottom quarter of earners rent their homes.
By contrast, homeowners have both seen their houses rise in value and often enjoy a built-in inflation hedge, since many refinanced their mortgages and locked in low monthly payments when rates were low in 2020 and 2021.
“The haves are really comfortable right now,” said Nicole Bachaud, an economist from Zillow, also noting that “we’re going to see this gap getting wider between people who are homeowners and people who are probably never going to be homeowners.”
Ms. Clarke, the New Canaan retiree, recently got off the wait list for an affordable apartment for herself and her 24-year-old daughter, who has autism and cannot work. Their new unit has just one bedroom, but it is clean and has new appliances, and at about $1,350 a month, she can squeeze it into her budget.
The lease lasts only a year, however, and Ms. Clarke is worried about finding somewhere to live if it isn’t renewed. Even now, she is barely making ends meet: She lost her car keys recently and had to spend nearly $500 replacing them, wiping out nearly all her small rainy-day fund and leaving her one crisis away from financial disaster.
“When you don’t have money, you’re on a fixed income, you’re constantly thinking, ‘Well, maybe I shouldn’t have bought that,’” she said. “There’s no cushion. There really never was.”
More financially secure families also face headwinds, of course, which could eventually prompt them to slow down spending. The cash savings they built up during the pandemic won’t last forever, and rising prices could prompt many households to pull back their spending.
And swooning stock markets could prompt richer families, who tend to have more money invested, to spend less than they otherwise would. Some economists think that the people in this demographic have mostly kept spending recently — despite their falling economic confidence — because they are eager to take vacations that they had put off earlier in the pandemic.
“Where I’m budgeting, it’s to make room for travel,” said Mr. Trevino of Los Angeles. “I feel like I’ve missed out on that a little bit.”
Economists have speculated that richer consumers’ resilience could fade as autumn approaches and they take stock of their finances amid a slowing economy. But for now, the reality that America’s wealthier consumers have yet to sharply pull back in the face of rising prices may be setting up a tough road ahead for the nation’s poorer ones.
“We really, in a way, haven’t noticed the inflation very much,” Mr. Schoenfeld said. “This economy is very unfair.”
Jason Karaian contributed reporting.
The conflict may have dealt a severe blow to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Gaza militant group, and strengthened the hand of Israel’s interim prime minister, Yair Lapid.
By Isabel Kershner, Aug. 8, 2022
“The latest Gaza operation has been widely seen as a success in Israel, with no Israeli deaths and little damage on the Israeli side.”https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/08/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-cease-fire.html
A Palestinian woman hanging clothing collected from the rubble of her home in Gaza City, which was hit by Israeli airstrikes last week. Credit...Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
JERUSALEM — A cease-fire ending three days of fierce cross-border fighting between Israel and a Palestinian militant group in Gaza appeared to be holding on Monday, and life on both sides of the lines began to return to normal.
The Israeli military opened an offensive on Friday afternoon with missile strikes aimed against targets of the group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, saying the action was intended to thwart an imminent attack. It pounded targets in the Gaza Strip from the air, land and sea. Islamic Jihad fired about 1,100 rockets and mortar shells toward Israeli territory, the military said.
Both sides agreed to an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire Sunday night to halt the most intense round of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in more than a year. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, at least 44 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, 15 of them children, and 360 people were injured, with 20 of them in serious condition.
After about a week of closure, Israel reopened Gaza’s border crossings for humanitarian supplies on Monday morning, starting with fuel deliveries to address dire electricity shortages in the enclave. By midday, the Israeli authorities had removed all safety restrictions that had been imposed on residents in the border areas over the past week to keep them close to bomb shelters and out of range of militant sniper fire.
Here is what we know about the consequences of the three-day conflict.
Islamic Jihad appears to have suffered a severe blow.
Summing up its campaign in Gaza, the Israeli military said on Monday that it had hit 170 Islamic Jihad targets, eliminating senior commanders of the group as well as rocket launching squads, and destroying launch pits, command posts and weapons stores.
Islamic Jihad said it had lost 12 of its leaders and members. Among them were Taysir al-Jabari, the commander for the northern region of Gaza, and Khaled Mansour, the southern region commander.
Although Islamic Jihad claimed to have gained some vague concessions relating to its prisoners in Israel under the terms of the cease-fire, Israel denied that it had agreed to any conditions other than a cessation of fighting on both sides.
The Israeli military said about 200 of Islamic Jihad’s rockets fell short and landed inside the Gaza Strip, causing casualties among civilians, including children.
And it said that its Iron Dome antimissile defense system carried out 380 interceptions of rockets heading for population centers in Israel, with a success rate of about 96 percent — up from about 90 percent in previous rounds. Tzipi Livni, a former senior Israeli government minister and a veteran negotiator with the Palestinians, said those defenses shortened the duration of the fighting and prevented more casualties.
But the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhala, also claimed victory shortly after the cease-fire announcement on Sunday night.
“The jihad movement is today stronger, and all the enemy’s cities were within the range of the resistance’s missiles,” he said in a televised speech, adding, “We remained in control of the field despite the power imbalance with the enemy.”
Israel’s interim prime minister burnished his security credentials.
The latest Gaza operation has been widely seen as a success in Israel, with no Israeli deaths and little damage on the Israeli side.
That is playing well for Yair Lapid, the new, centrist prime minister of Israel’s caretaker government, who is running for office in an election scheduled for Nov. 1.
Mr. Lapid has long been accused by critics in Israel of lacking the necessary national security know-how to lead the country in times of war, particularly when compared with his main rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has built up a wealth of experience as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister and now leads the opposition.
But by initiating the airstrikes on Friday, Mr. Lapid improved his starting position in the political race, analysts said. And on Sunday, he scored a public relations coup when Mr. Netanyahu, who has refused to attend security briefings with Mr. Lapid in the past, was photographed sitting across the table from him receiving a formal update on the security situation and issued a statement backing the government.
“Now Lapid has gained the image of a prime minister who has led a military operation,” said Gayil Talshir, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Hamas, the main militant group in Gaza, stayed out of the conflict.
Hamas, the largest and most powerful militant group in the blockaded Palestinian coastal enclave of Gaza, sat out the latest conflict with Israel, leaving all the fighting to the smaller Islamic Jihad. The two groups are rivals but often partner in taking on Israel.
Israeli officials and experts said Hamas’s decision to stay on the sidelines, even as the death toll rose in Gaza, was testament to the success of an Israeli government shift in policy toward the impoverished enclave over the last year.
In an effort to improve the economy of Gaza, with a population of about two million and an unemployment rate of about 50 percent, Israel has offered work permits to 14,000 residents of the territory — a small number in relative terms but by far the most since Hamas seized power in 2007, providing a financial lifeline to thousands of families.
Israel says it might expand the number of permits further, to 20,000, depending on the security situation, and that it has also worked over the past year to increase Gaza’s imports and exports.
But the prospects of much greater economic development are hampered by the refusal of Hamas to release the remains of two Israeli soldiers, held since 2014, and its yearslong imprisonment of two Israeli civilians suffering from mental health issues.
Another factor limiting Gaza’s development, Israeli officials say, is that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and continues to focus on building its military force at the expense of investment in the civilian population.
Islamic Jihad, for its part, denies that Hamas’s decision to stay on the sidelines of this round of fighting has deepened the split between the two groups. Mr. al-Nakhala, the Islamic Jihad leader, said: “Hamas is the backbone of the resistance and we are in a continuous alliance with them to confront the enemy.”
Islamic Jihad failed to link up the West Bank and Gaza.
The secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Mr. al-Nakhala, said his organization wanted to protect the life of Bassem Saadi, a senior Islamic Jihad figure who was arrested by Israeli special forces in the occupied West Bank last week. The militants had threatened reprisals in response to the arrest. Islamic Jihad later demanded his release as part of the Egyptian-mediated cease-fire talks — so far to no avail.
The last two days of conflict in Gaza can be linked back to a spike in violence across Israel and the West Bank several months ago. A spate of Palestinian attacks on civilians in Israel in April and May led to an increase in Israeli raids across the West Bank and almost nightly arrests, culminating in the arrest of Mr. Saadi.
With its threats of retaliation, Islamic Jihad had hoped to curb Israeli actions against the group in the West Bank. But the raids in the West Bank have continued, even as the fighting raged in Gaza.
On Saturday, the Israeli military said it had apprehended 19 suspects belonging to Islamic Jihad in overnight raids across the West Bank. On Sunday it said it had detained another 20.
Israel said it received international support, and avoided criticism from some new Arab allies.
The latest round of violence came soon after a mid-July visit to the region by President Joe Biden. In a statement issued by the White House welcoming the cease-fire late Sunday, Mr. Biden said, “My support for Israel’s security is longstanding and unwavering — including its right to defend itself against attacks.”
Mr. Biden particularly thanked the Egyptian leadership for its central role in bringing the hostilities to an end, as well as Qatar for its help, and said the United States had also worked with officials from Israel, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and Jordan.
Israeli officials said strong expressions of support had also come from European countries.
The fighting also highlighted the growing acceptance of Israel in other parts of the Arab world. Past Gaza wars have drawn heavy criticism from other Arab countries. This time, the response was more muted.
Two of the three Arab countries that formalized ties with Israel in 2020 in a process known as the Abraham Accords, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, expressed concern about the violence but avoided criticism of Israel. Only the third country, Bahrain, directly condemned Israel’s strikes.
Hiba Yazbek, Fady Hanona and Iyad Abuheweila contributed reporting.
The sentencing of Daria Jalali over her failure to intervene comes two years after a woman with dementia was mistreated by another officer in the Loveland Police Dept. in Colorado.
By Eduardo Medina, Aug. 7, 2022
A video still of Karen Garner in a jail after her arrest by the Loveland, Colo., police in June 2020. Credit...Loveland Police, via The Life & Liberty Law Office
A former Colorado police officer was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years of probation on Friday for failing to intervene during the arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia who was assaulted by a different police officer in June 2020, a law firm representing the officer confirmed on Sunday.
The officer, Daria Jalali, formerly of the Loveland Police Department, had pleaded guilty to failure to intervene with an officer using excessive force. The charge stemmed from a law created in 2020 as part of a police reform bill enacted in the wake of racial justice protests across the state and nation. The law requires police officers to stop other officers from using excessive force and to report such instances.
Ms. Jalali was found to have failed to comply with the law after Austin Hopp, a former officer with the Loveland Police Department, assaulted Karen Garner, then 73, who had been arrested on suspicion of shoplifting $13.88 worth of items from a Walmart. Ms. Garner has dementia and sensory aphasia, which impair her ability to understand and communicate, and she had forgotten to pay for the items, according to her lawyer. She was severely injured during the arrest.
Anna Geigle, Ms. Jalali’s lawyer, did not respond to a call seeking comment on Sunday.
Eric Stewart, the interim chief of the Loveland Police Department, said in a statement that “this verdict does not change Ms. Garner’s wrongful and illegal treatment or the pain she and her family have experienced.”
“I do hope this brings the next level of closure for Ms. Garner and her family,” he added.
The case was prosecuted by the district attorney’s office for the Eighth Judicial District in Colorado, which did not respond to an email seeking comment on Sunday.
A lawsuit filed last April against the city of Loveland stated that the officers who arrested Ms. Garner had broken a bone in her arm and dislocated her shoulder and that she had not been given medical attention for six hours.
Mr. Hopp pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in March and was later sentenced to five years in prison and three years of parole. Last year the city of Loveland said it would pay a $3 million settlement to Ms. Garner.
In recent years, the Loveland Police Department has faced several lawsuits accusing officers of using excessive force while making arrests. In June, the father of a teenage girl sued three police officers, saying that, while arresting the 14-year-old, they had used excessive force by slamming her onto concrete, firing a Taser at him and choking the family’s Jack Russell terrier.
The release of the body camera footage in Ms. Garner’s case last April reverberated across the city and country. The video showed Ms. Garner clutching wildflowers and her wallet, crying out in pain and appearing confused as she told the officers that she was “just going home.”
Mr. Hopp is seen grabbing Ms. Garner, bending her arm behind her back and throwing her to the ground. “I am going home,” she said repeatedly while facedown on the grass, struggling and clutching her wallet. Mr. Hopp then leaned into her back with his knees, the lawsuit filed on her behalf says.
Ms. Jalali, who arrived at the scene after Ms. Garner had been arrested, is also seen in the video. She tells Ms. Garner, “Stand up, we’re not going to hold you,” and repeatedly shouts for her to “quit.”
The city of Loveland said in a statement last April that it had received “an abundance of telephone calls, emails, and social media messages from constituents deeply concerned” about what the video showed.
“The footage is difficult to watch and we understand the strong emotions evoked including the outrage, fear, and distrust,” the city said at the time.
Judge Joshua B. Lehman of the Eighth Judicial District Court described Ms. Jalali’s actions as “an abysmal failure of that duty to protect and serve,” CBS News Colorado reported.
Alissa Swartz, Ms. Garner’s daughter, told reporters on Friday that Ms. Jalali had “failed in every aspect of what she did” on June 26, 2020.
“It sums up the whole thing,” Ms. Swartz said. “She failed.”
The warming of the earth, combined with the exhausting nature of the game, is raising questions about the future of the second most popular sport in the world.
By Jeré Longman and Karan Deep Singh, Aug. 4, 2022
Jeré Longman reported from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; and Karan Deep Singh from New Delhi.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/04/sports/cricket/cricket-climate-change-sustainable.html
England’s Ben Stokes walked past his teammate Jos Buttler after losing his wicket. Credit...Lee Smith/Action Images Via Reuters
The joke is that if you want it to rain during this wetter-than-usual summer in the Caribbean, just start a cricket match.
Beneath the humor is seemingly tacit agreement with the assertion in a 2018 climate report that of all the major outdoor sports that rely on fields, or pitches, “cricket will be hardest hit by climate change.”
By some measures, cricket is the world’s second most popular sport, behind soccer, with two billion to three billion fans. And it is most widely embraced in countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and South Africa and in the West Indies, which are also among the places most vulnerable to the intense heat, rain, flooding, drought, hurricanes, wildfires and sea level rise linked to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases.
Cricket in developed nations like England and Australia has also been affected as heat waves become hotter, more frequent and longer lasting. Warm air can hold more moisture, resulting in heavier rainstorms. Twenty of the 21 warmest years recorded have occurred since 2000.
This year, the sport has faced the hottest spring on the Indian subcontinent in more than a century of record keeping and the hottest day ever in Britain. In June, when the West Indies — a combined team from mainly English-speaking countries in the Caribbean — arrived to play three matches in Multan, Pakistan, the temperature reached 111 degrees Fahrenheit, above average even for one of the hottest places on earth.
“It honestly felt like you were opening an oven,” said Akeal Hosein, 29, of the West Indies, who with his teammates wore ice vests during breaks in play.
Heat is hardly the only concern for cricket players. Like the roughly similar pitching and batting sport of baseball, cricket cannot easily be played in the rain. In July, the West Indies abandoned a match in Dominica and shortened others in Guyana and Trinidad because of rain and waterlogged fields.
An eight-match series between the West Indies and India concludes Saturday and Sunday in South Florida as the height of hurricane season approaches in the Gulf and the Atlantic. In 2017, two Category 5 storms, Irma and Maria, damaged cricket stadiums in five countries in the Caribbean.
Matches can last up to five days. Even one-day matches can extend in blistering conditions for seven hours or more. While rain cleared July 22 for the 9:30 a.m. opening of the West Indies-India series in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, players still had to contend with eight hours of sun at Queen’s Park Oval in temperatures that reached the low 90s with 60-plus percent humidity.
According to a 2019 report on cricket and climate change, a professional batsman playing over a day can generate heat equivalent to running a marathon. While marathon runners help dissipate heat by wearing shorts and singlets, in cricket the wearing of pads, gloves and a helmet restricts the ability to evaporate sweat in hot, humid conditions often lacking shade.
“It’s pretty evident that travel plans are being disrupted because of weather conditions, along with the scheduling of matches, because of rainfall, smoke, pollution, dust and heat,” said Daren Ganga, 43, a commentator and former West Indies captain who studies the impact of climate change on sport in affiliation with the University of the West Indies.
“Action needs to be taken for us to manage this situation,” Ganga said, “because I think we’ve gone beyond the tipping point in some areas. We still have the opportunity to pull things back in other areas.”
The International Cricket Council, the sport’s governing body, has not yet signed on to a United Nations sports and climate initiative. Its goal is for global sports organizations to reduce their carbon footprint to net-zero emissions by 2050 and to inspire the public to consider the issue urgently. While Australia has implemented heat guidelines, and more water breaks are generally permitted during matches, there is no global policy for play in extreme weather. The cricket council did not respond to a request for comment.
“This is like stick your head in the sand denial,” David Goldblatt, the British author of a 2020 report on sport and climate change, said of the council. “Cricket really needs to get its act together. A whole bunch of trouble is not really far away.”
A suggestion in the 2019 climate report that players be allowed to wear shorts instead of trousers to keep cool in excessive heat may seem like a common-sense idea. But it has not gone over well with the starchy customs of international cricket or seemingly with many players, who say their legs would be even more susceptible to brush burns and bruises from sliding and diving on hard fields.
“My two knees are already gone,” said India’s Yuzvendra Chahal, who is 32.
Still, questions are being raised inside the sport and out about the sustainability of cricket amid the extremes of climate and the exhausting scheduling of various formats of the game. The English star Ben Stokes retired on July 19 from the one-day international format, saying, “We are not cars where you can fill us up with petrol and let us go.”
Coincidentally, Stokes’s retirement came as Britain recorded its hottest day ever, with temperatures rising for the first time above 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. As climate scientists said such heat could become the new normal, England hosted a daylong cricket match with South Africa in the modestly cooler northeastern city of Durham. Extra water breaks, ice packs and beach-style umbrellas were employed to keep the players cool. Even with those precautions, Matthew Potts of England left the match, exhausted.
Aiden Markram of South Africa was photographed with an ice bag on his head and another on his neck, his face in apparent distress, as if he had been in a heavyweight fight. Some fans were reported to have fainted or sought medical attention, while many others scrambled for thin slices of shade.
On June 9, South Africa also endured taxing conditions when it faced India in the heat, humidity and pollution of New Delhi. The heat index was 110 degrees Fahrenheit for an evening match. A section of the stadium was transformed into a cooling zone for spectators, with curtains, chairs and misting fans attached to plastic tubs of water.
“We are used to it,” said Shikhar Dhawan, 36, one of India’s captains. “I don’t really focus on the heat because if I start thinking about it too much I will start feeling it more.”
In India, cricket players are as popular as Bollywood actors. Even in sauna-like conditions, more than 30,000 spectators attended the match in New Delhi. “It feels great. Who cares about the heat?” said Saksham Mehndiratta, 17, attending his first match with his father since the coronavirus pandemic began.
After watching some spectacular batting, his father, Naresh, said, “This chills me down.”
South Africa, though, was taking no chances after a tour of India in 2015, when eight players and two members of the coaching and support staff were hospitalized in the southern city of Chennai by what officials said were the combined effects of food poisoning and heat exhaustion.
“It was mayhem,” said Craig Govender, a physiotherapist for the South African team.
For South Africa’s recent tour, Govender took along inflatable tubs to cool players’ feet; electrolyte capsules for mealtimes; slushies of ice and magnesium; and ice towels for the shoulders, face and back. South Africa’s uniforms were ventilated behind the knees, along the seams and under the armpits. Players were weighed before and after training sessions. The color of their urine was monitored to guard against dehydration. During the June 9 match, some players jumped into ice baths to cool down.
“Global warming is already wreaking havoc on our sport,” Pat Cummins, the captain of Australia’s test cricket team, which plays five-day matches, wrote in February in The Guardian newspaper of Britain.
In 2017, Sri Lankan players wore masks and had oxygen canisters available in the dressing room to counter the heavy pollution during a match in New Delhi. Some players vomited on the field.
In 2018, the English captain Joe Root was hospitalized with gastrointestinal issues, severe dehydration and heat stress during the famed, five-day Ashes test in Sydney, Australia. At one point, a heat-index tracker registered 57.6 degrees Celsius, or 135.7 Fahrenheit.
The incident led Tony Irish, then the head of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association, to ask, “What will it take — a player to collapse on the field?” before cricket’s governing body implemented an extreme heat policy.
Also in 2018, India’s players were asked to limit showers to two minutes while playing in Cape Town during an extended drought there that caused the cancellation of club and school cricket.
In 2019, the air in Sydney became so smoky during a bush fire crisis that the Australian player Steve O’Keefe said it felt like “smoking 80 cigarettes a day.”
Climate change has touched every aspect of cricket from batting and bowling strategy to concerns by groundskeepers about seed germination, pests and fungal disease. Even Lord’s, the venerable cricket ground in London, has been forced at times to relax its fusty dress code, most recently in mid-July when patrons were not required to wear jackets in the unprecedented heat.
Athletes are being asked “to compete in environments that are becoming too hostile to human physiology,” Russell Seymour, a pioneer in sustainability at Lord’s, wrote last year in a climate report. “Our love and appetite for sport risks straying into brutality.”
To be fair, some actions have been taken to help mitigate climate change. Matches sometimes start later in the day or are rescheduled. Cummins, the Australian captain, has begun an initiative to have solar panels installed on the roofs of cricket clubs there. Lord’s operates fully on wind-powered electricity. The National Green Tribunal of India, a specialized body that addresses environmental concerns, has ruled that treated waste water should be used to irrigate cricket fields instead of drinkable ground water, which is in short supply.
Players on the Royal Challengers Bangalore club of the Indian Premier League wear green uniforms for some matches to heighten environmental awareness. Team members appeared in a climate video during a devastating heat wave this spring, which included this sobering fact: “This has been the hottest temperature the country has faced in 122 years.”
Yet some in the cricket world counter that climate change cannot be expected to be the most immediate concern in developing nations, where the basics of daily life can be a struggle. And countries like India and Pakistan, where cricket is wildly popular, are among the least responsible for climate change. One hears the frequent admonishment that rich, developed nations that emit the largest amount of greenhouse gases must also do their share to lower those emissions.
“In the U.S., people are flying on private jets while they’re asking us not to use plastic straws,” said Dario Barthley, a spokesman for the West Indies team.
Kitty Bennett contributed research.
Amid a citywide homicide spike, officials believe the recent deaths of four Muslim men are connected, leading to fear in a place where many immigrants and refugees had felt at home.
By Simon Romero, Neelam Bohra and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aug. 9, 2022
Three of the four Muslim men killed in the shootings that the police say are related belonged to the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Adria Malcolm for The New York Times
Naeem Hussain was the third Muslim man killed in recent weeks, and the fourth since November.
ALBUQUERQUE — Tahir Gauba attended funerals on Friday for two members of Albuquerque’s largest mosque, victims in a spate of apparently targeted killings that have shaken this Southwestern city, which in recent years has welcomed a growing community of immigrants and refugees.
Afterward at the mosque, Mr. Gauba ran into Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old from Pakistan. “Naeem asked me, ‘Brother, what’s happening in Albuquerque?’” said Mr. Gauba, 43, who also came to New Mexico from Pakistan. “I told him, ‘It’s crazy right now, don’t leave your house if you don’t have to.’”
Hours later, Mr. Hussain was also dead, shot in a parking lot. It was the third killing of a Muslim man in recent weeks, and the fourth since November.
The killings, which law enforcement officials believe are connected, have raised alarm in a city that the authorities had sought to shape into a haven for immigrants and refugees, including hundreds who resettled from Afghanistan in the past year, since the withdrawal of the U.S. military presence there.
The possibility that someone could now be targeting Muslims, in a city already reeling from a harrowing spike in murders, has many in Albuquerque asking how this could happen.
One of the victims, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, moved from Pakistan to attend the University of New Mexico. He had become president of its graduate student association before going into city planning. Another, Aftab Hussein, 41, worked at a local cafe.
Naeem Hussain, the 25-year-old who was killed on Friday, had started his own trucking business and become a U.S. citizen just weeks earlier. The recent killings were preceded by the fatal shooting in November of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim immigrant from Afghanistan, who was attacked outside the grocery store that he owned with his brother.
“There are recent arrivals who are fearful, and there are people who are U.S.-born Muslims who are also are on edge,” said Michelle Melendez, director of the city’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. “The victims are everything from professionals to students to working-class people.”
Scrambling to respond, the Albuquerque Police Department has begun bolstering patrols around the businesses and places of worship that serve as gathering places for the city’s Muslims, estimated to number from 5,000 to 10,000 in a city of over half a million.
In a plea for help from the public, the police over the weekend released a photo of a car, thought to be a dark gray Volkswagen sedan, which they believe was used in the killings.
The fatal shootings came amid a string of murders in the city, explaining, perhaps, why it didn’t seem unusual for the first two killings of Muslim men to go relatively unnoticed.
In 2021, 116 people in the city were killed, according to crime statistics from the Albuquerque Police Department, which exclude justified or negligent homicides. It was the city’s deadliest year on record; one person was killed an average of every three days in November 2021, when Mr. Ahmadi was found dead.
Things have only become worse this year. As of Monday, homicides are on pace to reach 131, surpassing last year by more than a dozen. That’s more than double the average number of homicides from 2010 to 2020, when the city recorded about 53 killings each year.
At the same time, Albuquerque, like other cities around the country, has struggled to fill vacancies in its police force. Since 2014, the department has been under a settlement agreement with the Justice Department to improve its practices, reached after accusations of civil rights violations and excessive force.
Police officials have remained largely quiet about their investigation into the recent killings beyond asking for help in finding the sedan and stating that they believe one individual carried out the acts.
“While we won’t go into why we think that, there’s one strong commonality in all of our victims: their race and religion,” Kyle Hartsock, deputy commander of the department’s Criminal Investigations Division, said in a statement. “We are taking this very serious, and we want the public’s help in identifying this cowardly individual.”
Before going into truck driving, Naeem Hussain, the most recent victim, had worked as a case manager for Lutheran Family Services, helping refugees. It was in the parking lot of that organization where Mr. Hussain, a Pashto speaker who had family roots in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was killed while in his car.
Ahmad Assed, who grew up in Albuquerque and is now president of the city’s largest mosque, the Islamic Center of New Mexico, described the community as a “welcoming melting pot.” He almost never felt that he stuck out as a Muslim, he said, until a woman was arrested and accused of trying to burn down the mosque last year.
Mr. Assed, who was born in Dearborn, Mich., said that even with increasing xenophobia after the Sept. 11 attacks, the city seemed to continue to treat the Muslim community with respect, regardless of faith and nationalities.
Now many Muslims in the city feel like targets, and fear is even driving some people to make plans to leave New Mexico.
Indeed, the killings have jolted an increasingly diverse city, where immigration, largely from Mexico and other Latin American countries, is a major source of population growth and integral to the city’s history. Immigrants from the Middle East, including Muslims and Christians from Lebanon and Syria, put down stakes in Albuquerque and other parts of New Mexico in the late 19th century.
The city gradually saw a new wave of Muslim immigrants in recent decades, with many coming to study at the University of New Mexico. A group of Muslim students came together in the mid-1980s to form the Islamic Center of New Mexico, which the three most recent victims attended.
Many in the city’s Muslim community come from Pakistan and Afghanistan, while others are from countries including India, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Sri Lanka. During the Trump administration, when concerns grew over bigotry directed against Muslims, officials passed a bill affirming Albuquerque’s status as an “immigrant friendly” city. It restricted federal immigration agents from entering city-operated facilities and city employees from collecting immigration status information.
At least 300 Afghan refugees have arrived in Albuquerque over the past year, bolstering a growing community reflected today by at least eight different places of worship for Muslims. Albuquerque strengthened outreach efforts through translators speaking Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto — languages that officials have prioritized in recent days when sharing information about the killings.
Although Muslims in the United States faced violence and discrimination after Sept. 11 and during Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, the apparent serial nature of the attacks in Albuquerque — and the stubborn mystery of who is responsible — is uniquely disconcerting, said Sumayyah Waheed, senior policy counsel at Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group.
“I can’t think of any incident like this,” she said.
Ms. Waheed said it was concerning that the police in Albuquerque had apparently made a possible connection between the attacks only after three Muslim men were killed.
Statistics from the Albuquerque Police Department show that the racial breakdown of its employees, including officers and civilians, are roughly in line with that of the city, where about half of the residents are Latino and 38 percent are white. As of June 2021, there were 17 Asian employees out of nearly 1,480 people in the department. It is unclear how many officers are Muslim, and a spokesman said the department did not collect data on religious affiliation.
Although Naeem Hussain’s death on Friday heightened the concerns of his community, Ehsan Shahalami, his brother-in-law, said the killing came as a shock.
“There was never any indication of him feeling threatened or being scared of anything,” Mr. Shahalami said. “On the contrary, he was very fond of Albuquerque. He wanted to give back to the place that took him in.”
The men were convicted of federal hate crimes after state murder convictions in 2021. Their lawyers tried without success to have part of their sentences served in federal prison.
By Richard Fausset, Aug. 8, 2022
ATLANTA — Before the three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced on Monday on federal hate crime charges, they asked a judge to consider not only the length of the sentences, but also the location, with one lawyer arguing that if her client went straight to Georgia’s dangerous state prison system, he would be subject to “vigilante justice.”
The men did not get what they asked for.
U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said she had “neither the authority nor the inclination” to send the three white men to federal prison in lieu of the Georgia prison system, where safety issues are so dire that they are the subject of an investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
Judge Wood said that the men would go to state prison first, because they were first prosecuted for murder by state authorities. At the same time, the judge handed down severe sentences to the men for their federal crimes, which included the hate-crime charge of “interference with rights,” and attempted kidnapping.
Travis McMichael, the 36-year-old who fired on Mr. Arbery with a shotgun, was given a life sentence. So was Mr. McMichael’s 66-year-old father, Gregory McMichael. Their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — who joined the McMichaels in chasing Mr. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, through their neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon in February 2020 — received a sentence of 35 years.
The federal sentences will run concurrently with the life sentences stemming from each man’s murder conviction in state court, for which only Mr. Bryan is deemed eligible for parole — and then only after 30 years.
In a statement, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said that the sentences “make clear that hate crimes have no place in our country, and that the department will be unrelenting in our efforts to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.”
The courtroom drama on Monday — which featured rare words of remorse in open court from Mr. Bryan and the elder Mr. McMichael — closed a chapter “in an excruciatingly painful journey” as the federal prosecutor Tara M. Lyons put it, “for Ahmaud Arbery’s family and for an entire nation that has wept for Ahmaud along with his loved ones.”
Long federal sentences were expected for the three men after their convictions in Judge Wood’s courtroom in February. The idea that they should be able to serve at least some of their time in federal prison, as opposed to Georgia’s prison system, became an emotional flash point when it was first offered up in proposed plea deals for the McMichaels that were presented to the court in January; it was eventually rejected by Judge Wood.
In a filing last week, Amy Lee Copeland, Travis McMichael’s lawyer, wrote that her client had received “hundreds of threats,” including “statements that his image has been circulated through the state prison system on contraband cellphones, that people are ‘waiting for him,’ that he should not go into the yard, and that correctional officers have promised a willingness (whether for pay or for free) to keep certain doors unlocked and backs turned to allow inmates to harm him.”
But Mr. Arbery’s family members came to the federal courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Monday and argued that the three men deserved no special treatment after their own notorious acts of vigilantism against Mr. Arbery.
“These three devils have broken my heart into pieces,” Marcus Arbery Sr., Mr. Arbery’s father, said in court on Monday. He added that he hoped the men would “rot in the state prison.”
In three separate hearings, the defense lawyers for the three men asked for at least the first part of their clients’ terms to be served in the federal system. Ms. Copeland noted the “rich irony” that her client was concerned about vigilante violence. But she argued for a “cooling off” period in federal prison to last for the duration of the appeals process. Putting her client in state prison now, she said, would “effectively” result in “a back-door death penalty.”
In announcing their investigation, federal officials said the safety problems in Georgia’s prison system had been compounded by staffing shortages, training issues and other factors. Ms. Copeland cited an analysis from Georgia Public Broadcasting that found that 53 homicides had occurred in Georgia’s state prisons in 2020 and 2021.
The McMichaels and Mr. Bryan are currently being held in a local jail, the Glynn County Detention Center, where they have been since they were arrested in May 2020. They had walked free for weeks after Travis McMichael shot Mr. Arbery at close range with a shotgun.
The fatal shooting came after the men, in a pair of pickup trucks, chased Mr. Arbery, who was on foot, through their suburban neighborhood of Satilla Shores, just outside of Brunswick. The chase, and the killing, were captured on video that was widely circulated on the internet, sparking outrage worldwide and assertions from civil rights leaders that Mr. Arbery had been subject to a modern-day lynching.
Moments before the chase, Mr. Arbery had been inside a house under construction; the McMichaels had suspected him of committing a string of property crimes. Mr. Arbery’s relatives said that Mr. Arbery, an avid runner, had been out for a Sunday jog. In court proceedings, prosecutors argued that all three defendants harbored racial animus toward Black people.
In court on Monday, A.J. Balbo, the lawyer for Gregory McMichael, asked for leniency, noting that his client suffered from heart problems and bouts of depression and anxiety. The lawyer for Mr. Bryan, J. Pete Theodocion, noted that his client, unlike the McMichaels, had not grabbed a gun when he joined the chase. Prosecutors noted, however, that Mr. Bryan had used his truck to block Mr. Arbery as he tried to run out of the neighborhood.
Judge Wood said she had spent a long time thinking about the appropriate sentences for the men. At one point, she referred to the February 2022 federal trial that she presided over, in which all three men were found guilty of federal hate crimes.
It had been a fair trial, Judge Wood said — “the kind of trial that Ahmaud Arbery did not receive before he was shot and killed.”
The three men did not take the stand during their trials. But on Monday, Mr. Bryan apologized to Mr. Arbery’s family: “I never intended any harm to him,” he said.
Travis McMichael declined to address the court. But his father spoke before his sentencing. “The loss that you’ve endured is beyond description,” Gregory McMichael said to the Arbery family. “I’m sure that my words mean very little to you. But I want to assure you, I never wanted any of this to happen.”
The McMichaels were each given extra sentences, to run consecutively rather than concurrently, for their use of firearms in the incident. Mr. Bryan was technically given 447 months, with 27 months off for time served.
“By the time you’ve served your federal sentence, you will be close to 90 years old,” the judge said to Mr. Bryan. “But, again, Mr. Arbery never got the chance to be 26.”
The family of Anton Black, who died after being held face down for about six minutes during a 2018 encounter, partly settled their lawsuit against three Eastern Shore Police Departments.
By Eduardo Medina, Aug. 8, 2022
An image of Anton Black, right, who died in police custody in 2018. Credit...Schaun Champion for The New York Times
Three towns on Maryland’s Eastern Shore have agreed to pay $5 million to the family of a Black teenager who was killed in an encounter with police officers in 2018, lawyers for the family said on Monday.
The announcement of a partial settlement in the federal lawsuit brought by the family of Anton Black came nearly four years after Mr. Black, a 19-year-old former star high school athlete with a nascent modeling career, died after being restrained by three police officers, who held him face down for about six minutes, pinning his shoulder, legs and arms, according to the lawsuit. As part of the agreement, the towns also agreed to make changes in how their Police Departments train officers to prevent similar deaths.
Mr. Black’s death drew comparisons to the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, who was pinned to the ground under the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, for more than nine minutes.
After local prosecutors did not pursue charges in the death, Mr. Black’s family filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in December 2020, arguing that the police officers — all of whom were white — from Police Departments in the towns of Centreville, Greensboro and Ridgely had used excessive force on Sept. 15, 2018. The lawsuit also contended that the officers tried to cover up an unjustified killing by claiming that Mr. Black was under the influence of marijuana laced with another drug and had exhibited “superhuman” strength.
An autopsy report released four months later by the state’s medical examiner at the time, David Fowler, blamed congenital heart abnormalities for Mr. Black’s death and classified the death as an accident, saying there was no evidence that the police officers’ actions had played a role. The litigation by Mr. Black's family against the medical examiner’s office and Mr. Fowler — also defendants in their lawsuit — is continuing.
Jennell Black, Mr. Black’s mother, said in a statement that “there are no words to describe the immense hurt that I will always feel when I think back on that tragic day, when I think of my son.”
“No family should have to go through what we went through,” she added. “I hope the reforms within the Police Departments will save lives and prevent any family from feeling the pain we feel every day.”
In addition to the three towns, the partial settlement of the lawsuit resolved the family’s claims against several people in the towns, including Thomas Webster IV, a former Greensboro police officer; Michael Petyo, the former chief of the Greensboro Police Department; Gary Manos, the former chief of the Ridgely Police Department; and Dennis Lannon, a former Centreville police officer.
The men could not be reached or did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on Monday night.
The lawyers representing the three towns — Patrick W. Thomas, Sharon M. VanEmburgh and Lyndsey Ryan — did not immediately respond to emails or calls seeking comment on Monday. The attorney general’s office, which is representing the medical examiner’s officer, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment on Monday.
In the summer of 2018, Mr. Black developed mental health issues and began behaving erratically, according to the lawsuit. He was eventually found to have bipolar disorder.
On Sept. 15, 2018, a woman called 911 after seeing Mr. Black roughhousing with a 12-year-old boy, the lawsuit says. The officers who arrived used a Taser on Mr. Black and pinned him down near his mother’s home in Greensboro, the lawsuit says.
While he was being held down, Mr. Black told his mother, “I love you,” and cried out, “Please,” according to the lawsuit, which cites body camera footage from the officers.
Moments later, after his mother noticed that Mr. Black was “turning dark,” emergency medical workers tried to resuscitate him, but he died after being taken to a hospital, the lawsuit says.
Judge Catherine Blake of U.S. District Court in Maryland said in a ruling earlier this year that the video evidence from Mr. Black’s encounter with the police “is not so conclusive as to ‘clearly contradict’ and outweigh the plaintiffs’ allegations” of excessive force, which dealt a setback to the Police Departments’ case.
Richard Potter, a member of Coalition for Justice for Anton Black, a group that has sought police accountability in Mr. Black’s death, noted in a statement that the police reforms brought on by the settlement would help “prevent this kind of tragedy from happening in our community again.”
The reforms required under the settlement include more resources for police officers who encounter mental health emergencies, de-escalation training, lessons on implicit bias and transparency with hiring.
Deborah Jeon, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, which represented the coalition, said in a statement that “today marks a step forward on the path toward accountability for the police killing of Anton Black.”
On top of those reforms, a Maryland law named after Mr. Black already requires disclosure of information about police misconduct investigations.
La Toya Holley, Mr. Black’s sister, said in a statement on Monday that the settlement gave her hope that another tragedy could be prevented.
“No one deserves to be killed like this,” Ms. Holley said. “Anton Black did not deserve this. He will never be forgotten.”