Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, September 20, 2022


S.F. Chronicle: End Your Silence on the Jailing and Extradition of Julian Assange


September 22, 2022 - 12:00 P.M.

San Francisco Chronicle

5th & Mission Street

San Francisco, CA


The continued incarceration and possible extradition of Australian journalist and publisher Julian Assange is a threat not only to all journalists in the world but publishers such as the SF Chronicle.


Using the Espionage Act, even though he is not a US citizen, the US government is prosecuting the supposed crime of releasing documents that expose war crimes and atrocities committed by the US war machine in Iraq.


Of course, the perpetrators of the US crimes in Iraq have never been prosecuted but the whistleblower Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, is being prosecuted.


We must raise our voices to defend whistleblowers and independent journalists being censored and persecuted for revealing the truth and reporting on issues that people need to know.


Assange is a member of the Australian journalists union MEAA member since 2007. The Pacific Media Workers Guild, which represents journalists at the San Francisco Chronicle, and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have also called for his freedom. Nearly all journalist unions throughout the world are demanding his freedom.


We urge the San Francisco Chronicle and all news publishers both print and online to join the call for his freedom.










Saturday, October 1, 1pm

24th and Mission Street Bart Plaza, San Francisco


Dear Friends,


La Lucha Sigue/The Struggle Continues! Rosie Jimenez died on October 1, 1977 from a back alley abortion after the Hyde Ammendment took away federal funds for the procedure. She was a low-income student, struggling mother of three, and could not afford to have another child. This story is not new. Now, with the loss of Roe v. Wade, stories just like Rosie will be even more horrendous with the criminalization to this healthcare right. We honor her and want to fight like hell for free, quality, safe abortion with no apology!

We, the People, Overrule SCOTUS


We Demand:


·      No forced sterilization!

·      Repeal the Hyde Amendment; full access to abortion

·      Uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act

·      End racism in reproductive health care!

·      Affordable childcare, Reunite immigrant families

·      Solidarity against bigotry and homophobia/transphobia 


We Stand For:


·      Restore & expand Roe v. Wade; safe, legal abortion on demand without apology

·      Repeal the Hyde Amendment

·      Overturn state barriers to reproductive choices

·      Stop forced sterilization

·      No to caged kids, forced assimilation, & child welfare abuses

·      End medical & environmental racism; for universal healthcare

·      Defend queer & trans families

·      Guarantee medically sound sex education & affordable childcare

·      Sexual self-determination for people with disabilities

·      Uphold social progress with expanded voting rights & strong unions


For more information or to get involved

contact 415-864-1278 or reprojustice.sf@gmail.com

For national information: www.reprojusticenow.org

Social Media, FB, IG, and Twitter: sfreprojustice

Copyright © 2022 Freedom Socialist Party, All rights reserved.

Keeping you up to date on FSP events.


Our mailing address is:

Freedom Socialist Party

747 Polk Street

San Francisco, CA 94109







Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice Demands Release of Political Prisoner

By Stephanie Pavlick and Kit Baril

Minneapolis, Minnesota – On September 1, Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice departed from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The march will pass through multiple cities, finally ending in Washington, DC on November 14. Rallies and prayer sessions will be held along the route. The walk is being coordinated by the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council to demand elder Leonard Peltier’s release from federal prison.


Leonard Peltier’s fight for justice

Leonard Peltier has been unjustly held as a political prisoner by the U.S. government for over 46 years, making him one of the world’s longest incarcerated political prisoners. He is the longest held Native American political prisoner in the world. Peltier was wrongly convicted and framed for a shooting at Oglala on June 26, 1975.


At the time, members of the Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were being endlessly terrorized and targeted by paramilitaries led by the corrupt, U.S.-government backed tribal chairman Dick Wilson. 64 people were killed by these paramilitaries between 1973 and 1975. The Lakota people called on the American Indian Movement (AIM) for protection, and Peltier answered the call. During the night of June 26, 1975, plainclothes FBI officers raided the AIM encampment at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. A shootout ensued, and two FBI officers, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, and one Native man, Joe Stuntz, were left dead.


In the ridiculous trial that followed, the two other Native defendants, Bob Robideau and Dino Butler, were completely exonerated. Peltier, on the other hand, was used to make an example. The FBI coerced a statement from a Native woman who had never met Peltier at the time she gave her statement. This false evidence was used to extradite Peltier from Canada, where he had fled after the shootout, and is used to imprison Peltier to this day.


The struggle continues

Leonard’s true “crime” is daring to fight back against the everyday oppression Native people face under the imperialist regime of the United States. Growing up on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota, Leonard lived through the U.S. government’s genocidal programs to forcibly assimilate Native peoples. Recently, Peltier opened up about his experiences in the Wahpeton Indian School. This was one of many boarding schools used to brutalize Native children into leaving behind their culture. Children were beaten constantly, especially for practicing any portions of their culture or speaking their language. Many didn’t make it out alive. This was part of the U.S. government‘s larger policy of intensifying attacks on the sovereignty of the First Nations. These experiences, among many more, led Peltier to become a member of the American Indian Movement to continue the fight back against genocide of Native peoples.


Peltier is a lifelong liberation fighter who has sacrificed immensely for the movement. He is also a 77-year-old elder with numerous chronic health problems, exacerbated by his fight with COVID earlier this year. Despite his innocence and health problems, the U.S. government has refused repeated calls for clemency for Peltier. Throughout his years of imprisonment, many have demanded Peltier’s freedom, including Nelson Mandela and, most recently, a UN Human Rights Council working group.


The time for Leonard Peltier to finally be released from prison is now. Join the fight  to free Leonard Peltier, and to free all political prisoners!


There are many ways to support the march and strengthen the call to free Peltier. These include:


·      Joining all or part of the walk

·      Joining a rally

·      Sponsoring the caravan with a hot prepared meal

·      Dry food donations

·      Hosting lodging/camping

·      Driving a support vehicle

·      Raising awareness of Peltier’s cause locally

·      Promoting the caravan and rally

Monetary donations (can be sent via PayPal here)

Those interested in volunteering with the caravan can sign up here.


Learn more about Leonard Peltier and his case here:



Liberation News, September 3, 2022







The Queen

Circulated on Facebook—Author Unknown

Karl Marx observed that under capitalism, “labor produces for the rich wonderful things—but for the worker it produces privation. It produces palaces—but for the worker, hovels.” I thought of this a lot during my years working in construction.

What does this have to do with the Queen? Well it’s human labor—the labor of construction workers, of miners (look at that gold and those jewels!), of cooks and cleaners, of gardeners and so many others—that created, and continues to create, all the wasteful pomp and splendor of the Monarchy, and with it the illusion that it’s an institution that somehow naturally stands above us and deserves our respect (or, currently, our outpourings of grief.)

And the flipside of that world, the one that we build and maintain, but which is inhabited and enjoyed by the Monarchs, the business elites, and the politicians who loyally serve their interests, is the world of privation still suffered by all too many workers. Of the daily struggle just to earn enough for the very basics: a secure place (even just a hovel!) to shelter from the elements, some food on the table, an education, healthcare when we’re sick.   

The ruling class are mourning one of their own. Not me. Our task is to organize and strengthen our ranks for the struggles ahead. For a world without kings and queens and without the dog-eat-dog system of capitalism too. One where it’s the construction workers, the cooks and cleaners and everyone else who keeps our society working, that get to decide what our priorities should be.

A world where if we want to build palaces, they’ll be palaces for us.








We demand that ALL "illegal abortion" charges against Madison County, Nebraska women be dropped


In Madison County, Nebraska, two women- one the mother of a pregnant teenager who was a minor at the time of her pregnancy and is being charged as an adult- are facing prosecution for self managing an abortion. In an outrageous violation of civil liberties, Facebook assisted the police and county attorney in this case by turning over communication between the daughter and her mother regarding obtaining abortion pills which is not illegal in Nebraska. The prosecutor has used this information to charge the daughter, her mother, and a male friend who assisted them after the fact with illegal abortion along with additional trumped up charges of "concealing a body."


We demand that ALL charges be dropped against all three of them and we ask that you call the office of Madison County Attorney Joseph Smith at 402-454-3311 Ext. 206 with the following:


"I am calling to demand that all charges against Jessica Burgess, her daughter, and their friend be dropped. In your own words- no charges like this have ever been brought before. That is because criminalizing abortion is unjust and unconstitutional. We will not stand for any charges being brought against any pregnant person for the outcome of their pregnancy OR anyone who assists that pregnant person. Drop all charges NOW."


You can also email County Attorney Smith here.


If you pledged to #AidAndAbetAbortion- NOW is the time to stand up for these women in Nebraska as this could be any of us in the future.


About NWL


National Women's Liberation (NWL) is a multiracial feminist group for women who want to fight male supremacy and gain more freedom for women. Our priorities are abortion and birth control, overthrowing the double day, and feminist consciousness-raising.


NWL meetings are for women and tranpeople who do not benefit from male supremacy because we believe we should lead the fight for our liberation. In addition, women of color meet separately from white women in Women of Color Caucus (WOCC) meetings to examine their experiences with white supremacy and how it intersects with male supremacy to oppress women of color.


Learn more at womensliberation.org.


Questions? Email nwl@womensliberation.org for more info.



No to red-baiting in the reproductive justice movement


National Radical Women statement 

By Nga Bui, NYC


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.

Radical Women, August 2, 2022








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




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!










Donkey Punch, Mr. Fish



Doctors for Assange Statement


Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition

‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong 



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The doctors write:


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


They conclude:


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


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



Sign the petition:


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

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

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

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

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

Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.

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

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

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



Dear friends, 

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

Below are two ways to stream this historic webinar, plus 

• a petition you can sign

• a portal to send a letter to Governor Newsom

• a Donate button to support his campaign

• a link to our campaign website. 

Please take a moment and help. 

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

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


Here is the Facebook link:


Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:


Write to Governor Newsom’s office:




Ruchell’s Website: 



Charlie Hinton


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



Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


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





Laws are created to be followed

by the poor.

Laws are made by the rich

to bring some order to exploitation.

The poor are the only law abiders in history.

When the poor make laws

the rich will be no more.


—Roque Dalton Presente!

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

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







Screenshot of Kevin Cooper's artwork from the teaser.


 “In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper

A film by Kenneth A. Carlson 

Teaser is now streaming at:



Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022



“In his Defense,” a documentary on the Kevin Cooper case, is in the works right now, and California filmmaker Kenneth Carlson has released a teaser for it on CarlsonFilms.com


Just over seven months ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an independent investigation of Cooper’s death penalty case. At the time, he explained that, “In cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined.”


That investigation is ongoing, with no word from any of the parties involved on its progress.


Cooper has been on death row since 1985 for the murder of four people in San Bernardino County in June 1983. Prosecutors said Cooper, who had escaped from a minimum-security prison and had been hiding out near the scene of the murder, killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, a friend who was spending the night at the Ryen’s. The lone survivor of the attack, eight-year-old Josh Ryen, was severely injured but survived.


For over 36 years, Cooper has insisted he is innocent, and there are serious questions about evidence that was missing, tampered with, destroyed, possibly planted, or hidden from the defense. There were multiple murder weapons, raising questions about how one man could use all of them, killing four people and seriously wounding one, in the amount of time the coroner estimated the murders took place.


The teaser alone gives a good overview of the case, and helps explain why so many believe Cooper was wrongfully convicted.



New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case

By Johanna Fernández

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

Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workers World, January 4, 2022


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Demand Mumia's Freedom:

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


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



A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Video at:


Screen shot from video.

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




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

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


Bury My Heart with Leonard Peltier

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

By Michael Moore

—VIA Email: michaelmoore@substack.com

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


President Joe Biden


Phone: 202-456-1111

E-mail: At this link



Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland


Phone: 202-208-3100

E-mail: feedback@ios.doi.gov


Attorney General Merrick Garland


Phone: 202-514-2000

E-mail: At this link



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


I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.

I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.

You may bury my body in Sussex grass,

You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.

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

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.



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



The Moment

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!



Union Membership—2021

Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Department of Labor

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

Technical information: 

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

Media contact: 

(202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov

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

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

Highlights from the 2021 data:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

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

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

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

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

Selected Characteristics of Union Members

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

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

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

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

Union Representation

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


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

Union Membership by State

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

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

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

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

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

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



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

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

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

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

Emergency Hotlines

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

State and Local Hotlines

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

National Hotline

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

Know Your Rights Materials

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

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

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective






1) Chile’s Constitutional Moment Is Not Over

By Cristian Farias, Sept. 11, 2022

Mr. Farias is a Chilean American journalist who writes about law, justice and politics. 


With the blessing of Gabriel Boric, Chile’s president, the national Congress is already at work setting the parameters for how to start over on a new Constitution.

With the blessing of Gabriel Boric, Chile’s president, the national Congress is already at work setting the parameters for how to start over on a new Constitution. Credit...Martin Bernetti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Chilean voters broke turnout records when they elected Gabriel Boric, a former student leader, as Chile’s youngest president in December. And last Sunday, just six months into his presidency, they broke a record again, resoundingly rejecting a project Mr. Boric championed from the start: a new, progressive Constitution designed to bury the one Chile inherited from Augusto Pinochet.


Of the 13 million Chileans who headed to the polls on Sunday, a decisive 61.9 percent, including many who helped elect Mr. Boric, said “no” to this charter — which, among other forward-looking provisions, would have enshrined a record number of rights, mandated gender parity in government institutions, prioritized the environment and declared Chile a plurinational state so that Indigenous self-rule would exist alongside the national government. Although the overwhelming rejection took many by surprise, the simplest and truest explanation for the vote is that “no” was the safer choice at a time Chileans simply don’t feel safe.


Feelings of unsafety and insecurity, simmering for decades, were what drove Chileans to demand a new Constitution in the first place. But the Covid pandemic, a stagnating economy, ever-increasing violence, organized crime and an influx of migrants from around the region only created more uncertainty just as the constitutional process began.


In this shaky climate, it’s understandable why transformational constitutional change took a back seat. The 1980 Constitution forged in the Pinochet era, which was amended numerous times but never replaced after voters put an end to his rule, cemented the conditions to turn the nation into a politically stable, market-friendly democracy that allowed many Chileans to rise out of poverty into the middle class — a beacon of sorts for the rest of Latin America. But that upward mobility proved precarious, and the Constitution, which privatized many public services, boosted the ruling and corporate classes while workers struggled to survive.


That dynamic exploded in 2019, when a small fare hike sparked social unrest and mass uprisings unlike any other the nation had seen since its return to democracy. With people and public institutions on the brink, political leaders signed a pact to set in motion the process of drafting a new Constitution, which many saw as the only way to provide true and lasting safety — economic and otherwise — to all Chileans.


In response to that pact, in 2020, nearly 80 percent of voters elected to rewrite the nation’s charter, and voters also opted to have that process led by Chileans from all walks of life. Safety seemed to be on the way.


Yet from Day 1, Chile’s Constitutional Convention was mired in controversy, unforced errors and episodes that puzzled ordinary Chileans, distracting them from the serious work the body’s members were doing. The mandate was to draft a Constitution that would bring Chileans together; instead, as details of the proposal, at 170 pages and with 388 articles, began to emerge, Chileans became only more polarized and skeptical of it. Egged on by right-wing members of the convention and political commentators, non-Indigenous Chileans began to believe they would have fewer privileges than Indigenous people, and many residents feared they would be worse off with the convention’s expansive reimagining of Chilean society.


Mr. Boric could not bandage the convention’s self-inflicted wounds. And his ambitious policy agenda, which had the approval of a new Constitution as its cornerstone, was blunted early on in his tenure by the political inexperience of his cabinet, the deterioration of the economy and his administration’s failure to mediate, let alone contain, Chile’s enduring territorial conflict with Mapuche rebel groups.


In the face of these crises, promoting the new Constitution seemed to be little more than an afterthought. Legal constraints on electioneering sharply limited the Boric administration’s ability to sell the proposal to the public. His government’s largely agnostic, informational campaign was no match for the opposition, which united conservatives, center-left and moderate political figures, corporate donors and an army of commentators, who urged Chileans to reject the new Constitution so a better one could be drafted. “Una que nos una” — something like “One that unites us” — was among the many slogans of the rejection forces.


This monthslong campaign to turn down the new Constitution gained a foothold and never slipped. A barrage of misinformation spread through WhatsApp and social media, and outsize political donations and murky spending gave a financial advantage to the rejection campaign, which no doubt had an effect on voters. The effort was brutal, and brutally effective, in its aim to mislead Chileans to believe that the new Constitution would, among other horribles, spell the end of homeownership and allow abortions up to the moment of birth.


This campaign of doubt, fear and lies cannot be discounted. It tapped into something real that no amount of fact-checking and debunking could overcome: that Chileans, above all, want safety. And a text that is not born of consensus, comity and common ground simply cannot provide it.


No constitution is perfect, let alone a safe haven, and voters know or should know better than to think that a written text will solve all their problems. Yet it is entirely reasonable for a voter to conclude, especially one on the fence who is more worried about putting food on the table, that any proposal causing so much division, manufactured or not, is not the path forward. This explains why even many of those so-called popular districts that voted in droves for Mr. Boric, as well as those hardest hit by poverty and in need of the most change, voted to reject the new Constitution. Or why the very Indigenous groups that would have been granted historic recognition and autonomy in the new text also largely opted to reject it.


Mr. Boric has been wise to recognize these failings. In an address to the nation after Chileans’ choice became clear last week, he said the as-yet-unwritten Constitution needed to “give us a sense of trust” and to “unite us as a country.”


To that end, with Mr. Boric’s blessing, the National Congress is already at work setting the parameters for how to start over on a new Constitution — who will draft it, for how long and how to narrow in on the substantive areas where there’s already unity. There exists wide agreement, for example, that the new Constitution must recognize something the old one doesn’t: that Chile is a social and democratic state where rights, equality and wellbeing are guaranteed, no matter a person’s status or station in life.


That’s the floor. That’s the beginning of safety. The promise, and peril, of the road ahead rests in ensuring that all Chileans agree on these essentials, agree to disagree on the nonessentials and come together on what’s left. That won’t be easy — and bad-faith actors uninterested in change could well again torpedo it. But it’s the only way Chile will have a Constitution that makes room for all.



2) DNC Panel Passes Resolution Urging Joe Biden To Release Leonard Peltier

“We thank the Democratic Party for standing with justice,” state Rep. Ruth Anna Buffalo (D-N.D.) said of the support for freeing the Native American rights activist.

By Jennifer Bendery, Sep 9, 2022


Leonard Peltier's prolonged imprisonment is “arbitrary" and the U.S. government should release him immediately, United Nations legal experts recently wrote in a damning opinion. ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Democratic National Committee just took a step toward including language in its 2024 party platform urging President Joe Biden to release activist Leonard Peltier from prison, a sign of the growing momentum to remedy what many consider a decades-long stain on the nation’s criminal justice system.


On Thursday, the DNC’s Resolutions Committee unanimously approved a measure calling for Biden to grant clemency to Peltier. The Indigenous rights activist has been in prison for 46 years following the 1975 murders of two FBI agents in South Dakota. This is despite no evidence he committed a crime, a trial riddled with misconduct and a parole process so problematic that United Nations legal experts recently called on Biden to release him immediately.


The DNC resolution states that Peltier, now 77, is an ideal candidate for leniency “given the overwhelming support for clemency, the constitutional due process issues underlying Mr. Peltier’s prosecution, his status as an elderly inmate, and that he is an American Indian, who suffer from greater rates of health disparities and severe underlying health conditions.”


It concludes, “it is highly appropriate that consideration of clemency for Mr. Peltier be prioritized and expedited, so that Mr. Peltier can return to his family and live his final years among his people.”


The resolution now awaits a full vote by DNC members at a general session Saturday. If it’s approved, it then heads to the White House for Biden’s review. (Awkward.)


State Rep. Ruth Anna Buffalo (D-N.D.), a member of the DNC Executive Committee and one of the people behind the resolution, said she feels nothing but gratitude to see it advance with unanimous support.


“We thank the Democratic Party for standing with justice,” she told HuffPost on Friday.


“My 19-year-old daughter continues to encourage me to push harder and to work harder for our elder Leonard Peltier’s release, who is a survivor of Federal Indian Boarding School,” said Buffalo. “Our next generation is watching and sees this injustice. We cannot give up on releasing Peltier, a political prisoner.”


A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on whether Biden is aware of the DNC resolution or whether he is considering granting clemency for the activist.


Peltier is often described as America’s longest-serving political prisoner, and advocates for his release characterize his trial as problematic, citing racism against Indigenous people, his co-defendants’ acquittal on grounds of self-defense, and allegations that the FBI bore partial responsibility for the shootout that led to its agents’ deaths.


A former U.S. prosecutor who helped put Peltier in jail has since described his trial as flawed and last year wrote to Biden urging clemency. Members of Congress have similarly requested that he be set free, and four U.S. senators have separately called on the president to release Peltier in recent months: Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).


The case has also triggered outcry from the Indigenous community, celebrities and human rights leaders, including Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Coretta Scott King and Amnesty International USA.


The new resolution comes after leaders of the DNC’s Native American Caucus, including Buffalo, issued a statement earlier this year calling his imprisonment “one of the great miscarriages of justice in modern history.”



3) It Is a Well-Known Truth That Opponents of Democracy Don’t Want You to Have Nice Things

By Jamelle Bouie, Sept. 13, 2022


Striking bus drivers in Boston in 1987.

Striking bus drivers in Boston in 1987. Credit...Boston Globe / Getty Images

As a nation, the United States is committed to a creed of free market capitalism. But this belies a heritage of egalitarianism and economic equality in American political thought. Among the oldest and most potent strains of American thinking about democracy is the belief that free government cannot exist in tandem with mass immiseration and gross disparities of wealth and status.


I gestured toward this idea last week when I wrote that today’s opponents of democracy are driven by an opposition to the “more equitable distribution of wealth and status, which a robust democracy — and only a robust democracy — makes possible.” Here, with a little more space and time, I want to show my work.


As the historian Daniel R. Mandell notes in “The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600-1870,” there were versions of this belief about self-government and economic equality in circulation in New England as early as the 17th century. But it came to fruition with the movement for Anglo-American independence in the mid-18th century.


Mandell finds a number of voices who articulated this view during and after the American Revolution.


“To maintain the freedom of elections,” a New Jersey Presbyterian minister wrote in 1780, “there should, as much as possible, be an equality among the people of the land.” In 1784, Kentucky settlers petitioning the Confederation Congress for statehood asserted that “It is a well-known truth that the riches and strength of a free Country does not consist in Property being vested in a few Individuals, but the more general[ly] it is distributed, the more it promotes industry, population, and frugality, and even morality.”


As ardent republicans, the authors of the Constitution were also attuned to the link between self-government and economic equality, even as they resisted the “leveling” tendencies of more radical revolutionaries in Pennsylvania, western Massachusetts and other areas.


“The republican conception of liberty was not noninterference but non-domination — freedom from both private and public overlords,” Joseph Fishkin and William E. Forbath write in “The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution: Restructuring the Economic Foundations of American Democracy.” This republican brand of freedom, they continue, required material independence: “Either a want of ample resources for ordinary citizens at the base of society or a permanent concentration of wealth at the top would doom it.”


This insight is what inspired figures as otherwise opposed as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to make similar observations about the need to keep inequality in check.


“The balance of power in a society,” Adams wrote in a 1776 letter,


accompanies the balance of property in land. The only possible way, then, of preserving the balance of power on the side of equal liberty and public virtue, is to make the acquisition of land easy to every member of society; to make a division of land into small quantities, so that the multitude may be possessed of landed estates. If the multitude is possessed of the balance of real estate, the multitude will take care of the liberty, virtue, and interest of the multitude, in all acts of government.


“Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right,” Jefferson wrote in a 1785 letter to James Madison. “The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If, for the encouragement of industry we must allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be furnished to those excluded from the appropriation.” The small landowners, he continued, “are the most precious part of a state.”


You can see this sentiment play out throughout the 19th century, as conflicts over land, labor and the concentration of wealth took center stage in American politics. “The Democracy” (as they liked to style themselves) of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren saw itself as the keeper of the democratic flame against the winds of concentrated political and economic power.


“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes,” Jackson wrote, when he vetoed the 1832 recharter of the Bank of the United States. To oppose the bank was, for Van Buren, to defend “the vital principle — the sovereignty of the popular will — which lies at the foundation of free government.”


The political conflict over slavery in the 1840s and 1850s was also as much about the corrosive effect of concentrated wealth and power on free government as it was about the morality of slavery. “There are certain elements of the security, welfare, and greatness of nations, which we all admit or ought to admit, and recognize as essential; and these are the security of natural rights, the diffusion of knowledge, and the freedom of industry,” William Seward declared on the Senate floor in 1850. “Slavery is incompatible with all of these; and, just in proportion to the extent that it prevails and controls in any republican state, just to that extent it subverts the principle of democracy, and converts the state into an aristocracy or a despotism.”


Wherever you look in U.S. history, you see Americans grappling with the connection between equality, inequality and democracy. Crucially, many of those Americans have struggled to make democracy itself a tool for the more equitable distribution of wealth and status. As the historian Lawrence Goodwyn recounts in “The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America,” “A large number of people in the United States discovered that the economic premises of their society were working against them” and so they tried “through democratic politics to bring the corporate state under popular control” and use its power to bring a measure of equality to their lives.


There are many other Americans — some famous, some less so — who have made this connection between democracy and economic inequality. Key to their thinking is the idea that democracy is more than just a set of rules, institutions and procedures: It is a way of life all on its own, one that informs the shape of our society as much as it does the structure of our government. And at its most robust — much to the chagrin of the keepers and defenders of wealth and privilege — democracy holds the promise of a more egalitarian world.


Or, as the philosopher and social critic John Dewey observed in the eve of the Second World War: “To get rid of the habit of thinking of democracy as something institutional and external and to acquire the habit of treating it as a way of personal life is to realize that democracy is a moral ideal and so far as it becomes a fact is a moral fact. It is to realize that democracy is a reality only as it is indeed a commonplace of living.”



4) King Charles Inherits Untold Riches, and Passes Off His Own Empire

As prince, Charles used tax breaks, offshore accounts and canny real estate investments to turn a sleepy estate into a billion-dollar business.

By Jane Bradley and Euan Ward, Sept. 13, 2022


King Charles III spent years turning his royal estate into a billion-dollar portfolio.King Charles III spent years turning his royal estate into a billion-dollar portfolio. Credit...James Hill for The New York Times

LONDON — King Charles III built his own empire long before he inherited his mother’s.


Charles, who formally acceded to the British throne on Saturday, spent half a century turning his royal estate into a billion-dollar portfolio and one of the most lucrative moneymakers in the royal family business.


While his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, largely delegated responsibility for her portfolio, Charles was far more deeply involved in developing the private estate known as the Duchy of Cornwall. Over the past decade, he has assembled a large team of professional managers who increased his portfolio’s value and profits by about 50 percent.


Today, the Duchy of Cornwall owns the landmark cricket ground known as The Oval, lush farmland in the south of England, seaside vacation rentals, office space in London and a suburban supermarket depot. (A duchy is a territory traditionally governed by a duke or duchess.) The 130,000-acre real estate portfolio is nearly the size of Chicago and generates millions of dollars a year in rental income.


The conglomerate’s holdings are valued at roughly $1.4 billion, compared with around $949 million in the late queen’s private portfolio. These two estates represent a small fraction of the royal family’s estimated $28 billion fortune. On top of that, the family has personal wealth that remains a closely guarded secret.


As king, Charles will take over his mother’s portfolio and inherit a share of this untold personal fortune. While British citizens normally pay around 40 percent inheritance tax, King Charles gets this tax free. And he will pass control of his duchy to his elder son, William, to develop further without having to pay corporate taxes.


The growth in the royal family’s coffers and King Charles’s personal wealth over the past decade came at a time when Britain faced deep austerity budget cuts. Poverty levels soared, and the use of food banks almost doubled. His lifestyle of palaces and polo has long fueled accusations that he is out of touch with ordinary people. And he has at times been the unwitting symbol of that disconnect — such as when his limo was mobbed by students protesting rising tuition in 2010 or when he perched atop a golden throne in his royal finery this year to pledge help for struggling families.


Today, he ascends to the throne as the country buckles under a cost-of-living crisis that is expected to see poverty get even worse. A more divisive figure than his mother, King Charles is likely to give fresh energy to those questioning the relevance of a royal family at a time of public hardship.


Laura Clancy, the author of “Running the Family Firm: How the Monarchy Manages Its Image and Our Money,” said King Charles transformed the once-sleepy royal accounts.


“The duchy has been steadily commercializing over the past few decades,” Ms. Clancy said. “It is run like a commercial business with a C.E.O. and over 150 staff.” What used to be thought of as simply a “landed gentry pile of land” now operates like a corporation, she said.


The Duchy of Cornwall was established in the 14th century as a way to generate income for the heir to the throne and has essentially funded Charles’s private and official expenses. One example of its financial might: The $28 million profit he made from it last year dwarfed his official salary as prince, just over $1.1 million.


Piecing together the royal family’s assets is complicated, but the fortune falls generally into four groups.


First, and most prominent, is the Crown Estate, which oversees the assets of the monarchy through a board of directors. Charles, as king, will serve as its chairman, but he does not have final say over how the business is managed.


The estate, which official accounts value at more than $19 billion, includes shopping malls, busy streets in London’s West End and a growing number of wind farms. The royals are entitled to take only rental income from their official estates and may not profit from any sales, as they do not personally own the assets.


The estate’s profits, valued at about $363 million this year, are turned over to the Treasury, which in return gives the royal household a payment called a sovereign grant based on those profits — which must be topped up by the government if it is lower than the previous year. In 2017, the government increased the family’s payment to 25 percent of the profits to cover the costs of renovating Buckingham Palace.


The latest sovereign grant received by the royals was around $100 million, which the family, including Charles, has used for official royal duties, like visits, payroll and housekeeping. It does not cover the royals’ security costs, which is also paid by the government, but the cost is kept secret.


The next major pot of money is the Duchy of Lancaster. This $949 million portfolio is owned by whomever sits on the throne.


But the value of that trust is dwarfed by the Duchy of Cornwall, the third significant home of royal money, which Charles has long presided over as prince. Generating tens of millions of dollars a year, the duchy has funded his private and official spending, and has bankrolled William, the heir to the throne, and Kate, William’s wife.


It has done so without paying corporation taxes like most businesses in Britain are obliged to, and without publishing details about where the estate invests its money.


“When Charles took over at age 21, the duchy was not in a good financial state,” Marlene Koenig, a royal expert and writer, said, citing poor management and a lack of diversification. Charles took a more active role in the portfolio in the 1980s and began hiring experienced managers.


“It was at this time that the duchy became financially aggressive,” she said.


In 2017, leaked financial documents known as the Paradise Papers revealed that Charles’s duchy estate had invested millions in offshore companies, including a Bermuda-registered business run by one of his best friends.


The final pool of money, and the most secretive, is the family’s private fortune. According to the Rich List, the annual catalog of British wealth published in The Sunday Times, the queen had a net worth of about $430 million. That includes her personal assets, such as Balmoral Castle and Sandringham Estate, which she inherited from her father. Much of her personal wealth has been kept private.


King Charles has also made financial headlines unrelated to his wealth but tied to the charitable foundation that he chairs and operates in his name. His stewardship of the foundation has been marred by controversy, most recently this spring, when The Sunday Times reported that Charles had accepted 3 million euros in cash — including money stuffed in shopping bags and a suitcase — from a former Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani.


The money was for his foundation, which finances philanthropic causes around the world. Charles does not benefit financially from such contributions.


“He’s willing to take money from anybody, really, without questioning whether it’s the wise thing to do,” said Norman Baker, a former government minister and author of the book “ … And What Do You Do? What the Royal Family Don’t Want You to Know.”


Mr. Baker described Charles as the most progressive, caring member of the royal family. But he said he had also filed a police complaint accusing him of improperly selling honorary titles.


“That’s no way to behave for a royal,” he said, referring to an ongoing scandal over whether Charles had granted knighthood and citizenship to a Saudi businessman in exchange for donations to one of Charles’s charitable ventures.


Charles denied knowing about this, one of his top aides who was implicated stepped down, and the authorities began investigating. The king’s representatives did not respond to a message seeking comment.


Charles has also courted controversy with his outspoken views and campaigning. He has lobbied senior government ministers, including Tony Blair, through dozens of letters on issues from the Iraq war to alternative therapies. Though English law does not require it, royal protocol calls for political neutrality.


In his inaugural address on Saturday, the king indicated that he planned to step back from his outside endeavors. “It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply,” he said.


Ms. Clancy, the author, said the new king, in theory, would be expected to drop his lobbying and business ventures entirely.


“Whether that will pan out is a different question,” she said.


Sarah Hurtes contributed reporting from Brussels.



5) Steven Van Zandt Tried To Get Trump To Release Leonard Peltier From Prison

“I started, you know, getting close to various people. And they kept going to jail,” said the musician and advocate for freeing the Indigenous rights activist.

By Jennifer Bendery, Sep 12, 2022


Steven "Little Steven" Van Zandt at his Rebel Nation headquarters in New York City on March 4. PER OLE HAGEN VIA GETTY IMAGES

On Monday, for the 45th time, Leonard Peltier celebrated his birthday in a federal prison.

The Native American rights activist, now 78, has spent most of his life behind bars. He was convicted by the U.S. government of aiding and abetting in the murder of two FBI agents during a 1975 shootout on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

There are so many problems with Peltier’s imprisonment that it’s hard to know where to begin. There was no evidence that he committed a crime. The FBI threatened and coerced witnesses into lying during his trial. The prosecutors hid exculpatory evidence. His two co-defendants were acquitted based on self-defense. A juror admitted she was biased against Native Americans on the second day of the trial but was allowed to stay on anyway.

In the decades since, some of the same U.S. government officials who helped put Peltier in prison in the first place including a federal judge and a U.S. attorney  have admitted how flawed his trial and treatment have been and have pleaded for his clemency. His prolonged imprisonment has sparked outcry from federal lawmakers, leaders in Indigenous communities, celebrities and international human rights leaders, including Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Coretta Scott King and Amnesty International USA.

As recently as July, United Nations legal experts took the extraordinary step of calling on President Joe Biden to release him immediately.

So why is Peltier still in prison? Because the FBI continues to oppose releasing him, leaning on arguments that are wildly outdated, misleading or flat-out wrong. To many, Peltier is now simply America’s longest-serving political prisoner.

In anticipation of Peltier’s birthday, HuffPost last week talked to one of his most visible and dedicated advocates: Steven Van Zandt. Most people know Van Zandt as Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist, a mobster actor on “The Sopranos” or through his various artistic accomplishments. But he has also been publicly calling for Peltier’s freedom for decades. He wrote a song about Peltier, he regularly talks about him on Twitter and, it turns out, Van Zandt thought he had a real shot at convincing former President Donald Trump to grant him clemency, except… everyone he was working with on Trump’s team kept going to jail.

Here’s a transcript of our interview, during which Van Zandt urged Biden to release Peltier and said he previously asked Springsteen to also be an advocate with former President Barack Obama. Van Zandt also called on Biden to embrace the edgy, lasers-shooting-out-of-his-eyes, super-genius ”Dark Brandon” meme that progressives are clamoring for and even offered Biden a speech to deliver to the nation about why everyone should vote for Democrats, because, as he put it, ”we’re in the middle of a fucking war. A war, OK?”

This interview has been edited for brevity.

Hi, Steven. Thanks for making the time.

Yeah, no, for Leonard, we’d do anything. You know? It’s insane. We’re running out of time. I’m like six, what, seven presidents into this?

You’ve been following his situation for so long, and I’m wondering how this all started for you. Were you following this in the news when the shootout happened?

No, no, I came to it fairly late, actually. I didn’t learn about it until 10 years later. I was doing research for one of my records, and it had a Native American theme. I ended up starting a foundation at the time that dealt with nothing but Native America. I noticed that the South African apartheid system was basically based on what we did with our Native Americans, and the whole homeland policy kind of came from our basic reservation thing.

So that connection was made, and I started doing lots of research and we ended up, at the time, the Solidarity Foundation ended up with more information about Native America than the [Bureau of Indian Affairs]. [Laughs.] I mean, they used to come to us for information. So, yeah, I started to fight the good fight for Native America back then. I was trying to make that my next big issue. And, honestly, it was impossible. I did not succeed. [Laughs.] And I realized, this is how we took over the country in the first place. [Laughs.] The same problems still exist, you know?

So it was quite a frustrating couple of years, but I learned a lot. I was spending a lot of time out there, at Pine Ridge, so I learned about Leonard, and, of course, I was outraged back then. I just couldn’t believe how obvious this was.

The closest I came [to helping to get Peltier out of prison], to be honest with you, was Trump.

What happened?

Well, I started, you know, getting close to various people. And they kept going to jail.

The Trump people you were talking to kept going to jail?

Yeah. And every time I was just on the verge of making the move, they go to jail.

How many times did that happen?

That happened twice. And another two or three that were, you know, that should be in jail. [Laughs.] So it was just like, it was just so frustrating.

Do you know if, before those people went to jail, that the message had gotten through to Trump that this was something that he should do?

I’ll never be sure. And then we tried to get to his kids and Jared [Kushner] and, I mean, I honestly thought in a bizarre way that Trump was our best shot. I’m sure he would do it today, wouldn’t he. [Laughs.] I’m thinking, you know, it’s got to be somebody not afraid of insulting the FBI. I think he probably would not have a problem with this today. [Laughs.] But even the FBI, I mean, I’ve got friends in the FBI, and everybody feels the same way about it.

What do your friends say over there?

That they’re not going to fight on his behalf, but they know it’s wrong.

Have you had any contact with Biden’s White House about Leonard?

You know, I played it smart with Trump because I had Leonard on my mind the entire time, and right up until near the end I didn’t say one single critical thing about him, OK? And that was not easy. I really was like, I’m going to try and be cool because I got bigger things on my mind.

With Biden, you know, I love the man, but I’ve been just sick ever since he got in. It’s just been so frustrating. Every move he’s made has been the wrong move. This week he’s finally waking up, and I hope he wakes up. But, you know, I’ve been calling Merrick Garland “Barney Fife” for two years. I’ve been very critical of them because, you know, I’m not mad at the Republicans. They’re all criminals, you know what I mean? Criminals do what criminals do. But where are the tough good guys? Where are the good guys that are supposed to be defending us? And arresting these creeps? It’s just not happening. I’m like, enough with this bipartisanship nonsense.

So finally this week, I am thrilled, he finally is fighting back a little bit.

Do you know about the Dark Brandon memes?

Yeah. Let’s hope he stays. But, I mean, I’ll be happier when the “semi” part of the “semi-fascist” goes away.

So you haven’t reached out to Biden folks about Leonard.

No, I’ve been very critical of them. So I have been reluctant to do that. I’ve been doing it through third parties, of course, constantly. But I don’t really know them. I mean, I talked to [White House chief of staff] Ron Klain once. I talked to several others.

Did you talk to him about Leonard?

No, it was a general thing, just trying to get them to wake up, you know? Fight this war, you know? What they don’t seem to understand is his approval rating is not just about the economy. That’s part of it. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of taking credit for these inflations, which he had nothing to do with…. America likes strength, OK? If he came across as strong as he’s now sounding this week, believe me, his approval rating is going to jump up because it’s not just about inflation. If he explains, first of all, if the original [“Build Back Better”] deal had gone through, the $4 trillion one, there wouldn’t have been inflation. OK?

It’s a little more complicated than that. And the truth is, if it had passed, because of the creep traitors [Sens. Kyrsten] Sinema and [Joe] Manchin, if they had actually been real Democrats and didn’t want to kill the Democratic Party and kill this administration, and had gone along with it, that would’ve completely wiped out the inflation problem, I’m telling you right now. But instead, he takes this, “Well, can’t we all get all along” attitude when we’re in the middle of a fucking war. A war, OK?

It is pretty appalling that some of the bad things happening around here in plain view don’t seem to have consequences.

You know, this starts with [special counsel Robert] Mueller. I hate to say it, but that was our last best hope. Here’s a guy who spent his whole life, a legitimate hero, doing nothing but service for the country and ends his career a sniveling coward  outsmarted by Rudy Giuliani standing by a fictitious protocol that does not exist. You can’t indict a sitting president. Where is it written? Show me. It doesn’t exist. And if the guy was going to follow that fictitious protocol, he shouldn’t have took the gig in the first place.

And, of course, the Congress doesn’t do one thing about it. And then DOJ does nothing about it. And now the seven-year thing has passed, the opportunity to indict on that.

What are we waiting for here? You know, Trump is guilty of treason in like 10 different ways. But maybe they’re getting smart finally.

What is it with Leonard’s situation that has kept you so focused on it for literally decades? What is behind the staying power there?

I hate injustice. I hate injustice, and I hate bullies. I just can’t tolerate it. Injustice that is this outrageous, he’s now become a symbol of the general injustice against Native Americans since the beginning. He’s literally our domestic political prisoner, you know? I appreciate us getting prisoners out of other places.

You mean like Brittney Griner.

Yeah, you know, and I’m all for that obviously. I thought that should’ve happened a lot sooner, to be honest. But this is like, we have one of these. We have an absolute domestic political prisoner, and we should be embarrassed about that. I don’t know what it’s going to take. I mean seven fucking presidents, man. Come on.

So if you had five minutes alone with Biden, what would you say?

I would say, listen, Joe. You want to run again? You want to win? You want to keep the House and Senate? I’ll give you a speech right now that will jump your approval rating up 10 points immediately.

And here’s the speech: “I have tried with all my heart to embrace bipartisanship. But unfortunately, the Republicans, they don’t want to hear it. They want to take away your Social Security. They want to take away your Medicare. They don’t want to care about your children in school. They’re trying to tell you, you know, what books to read, what you can read, what history you can know, what women can do with their bodies. They’re supposed to be representing freedom? How is that freedom? So it’s time to declare war on those who have obviously decided they’re not interested in being American anymore. They are anti-American. They are un-American, all right? Because we believe in diversity. We don’t believe in suppressing the vote, and we don’t believe in gerrymandering and cheating on voting, OK? So it’s time to actually face the facts. It’s time for everybody out there to become Democrats and vote Democrat and let’s get this thing done.”

And then my last 30 seconds would be, “By the way, Joe, let’s get Leonard Peltier out of jail, OK?” Because enough is enough.

And, by the way, Joe has been, you know, pretty terrific with getting Native Americans into his Cabinet. I think probably more than maybe anybody in history, I don’t know. So I’d say, OK, now let’s complete the job. And, by the way, on the side, I would say, politically it doesn’t hurt. It’s not going to hurt you in North Dakota and South Dakota and Arizona and places where they have a big Native American population, which you could use on your side. OK? Let’s do something that’s at least symbolic for them and maybe with real substance, I would hope also.

So that would be like my general conversation. I’d be like, it’s time to declare war, man. Show them you’re a fighter. You know? You’re not going to take this lying down. You’ve been trying and trying and trying, and believe me, everybody’s going to believe that because you’ve been like Mr. Rodney King here, ‘Can’t we all get along,’ while they beat the shit of you. You know? All due respect, you’re following the footsteps of Obama, who I love, I’m sorry, but who brought a knife to a gunfight. It’s time to fight back.

Speaking of Obama, did you reach out to his folks at all about Leonard?

Yes. And I even told Bruce [Springsteen] to mention it to him.

What happened?


Did Bruce mention it to Obama?

I don’t know. I think so.

Does Bruce share your feelings on this?

I’ve told him about it. I haven’t made a big deal out of it with him, but he knows what I do. He has his own things, I don’t want to impose on his own, you know, he has many, many things he’s fighting for as well.

Anything else you want to say about Leonard Peltier or politics generally?

I think if the midterms go the way they should, you know, if the goddamn DNC and DCCC and DLCC and all these campaign organizations wake the fuck up, OK, and explain to people, you’ve got to be insane to vote for Republicans, OK? What’s the matter with you, you know? I mean, they’re taking away Social Security and Medicare. Isn’t that enough?

We haven’t even talked about Jan. 6.

Oh fuh-get it. Fuh-get it. This is exactly the problem, OK? What are they doing with these people? They’re giving them fucking parking tickets. I mean, they should have been literally shot, OK? As they would’ve been had they been Black or had they been Muslim. Had they been anything except white supremacists, they would’ve been killed on the spot. Appropriately so. And what happens? You give them parking tickets. And guess what? That’s not scaring anybody into law and order. And this complete lawlessness, it starts at the top. It starts with a guy going on TV saying, “Overthrow the government,” and he’s playing golf every day.

[Fox News’ Sean] Hannity and [Tucker] Carlson, they should be arrested for murder after what they did with COVID. Trump should be arrested for murder, the biggest mass murderer in history, murdered a million people. People forgot about that? He didn’t believe in science. He didn’t believe his daily briefing. He didn’t read it 30 days in a row saying an emergency is coming, which he admitted to [Bob] Woodward in his book. He admitted it to him. A million people he murdered, not one person on Fifth Avenue. I mean, what does it take? He admits to obstruction of justice on NBC, saying “I fired [FBI Director James] Comey because he was investigating me.” Is there any better definition of obstruction of justice than that? I fired him because he was investigating me for a crime?

This is what’s been going on, and people see this. It filters down, and there’s this whole talk of violence, violence, violence. I mean, fucking Lindsey Graham. Yeah, Mr. Tough Guy, you know. He’s a real [laughs], he’s a real tough one, huh? There’s going to be violence in the streets? I’m sure you’re going to be right out there, Lindsey, you know, leading the rioters. [Laughs.] But that constant talk of violence, you know, this is what fascism is all about. That’s why I hope the “semi” part of Biden’s description starts to go away.

Anyway, I’m just venting. Do your thing.



6) What a High-Risk Pregnancy Looks Like After Dobbs

Photographs by Stephanie Sinclair, Text by Jaime Lowe, September 13, 2022


Catrina Rainey and James Packwood and their 9-year-old son at home, in August, one month before her due date. In May, Catrina learned that one of the twins she was carrying had a severe birth defect of the brain that meant it was unlikely to live past six months outside the womb and could, until birth, threaten the viability of the other fetus. A reduction — the termination of an unhealthy fetus to protect a healthy sibling — took place in May. It was one of the last such procedures performed in Ohio, after the state made them illegal, following the Dobbs decision.

Pregnancy can be dangerous — occasionally fatal — for both women and the fetuses they hope to deliver. Fetal conditions, like a nonviable twin that threatens the health of its sibling, can also imperil the mother. So can disorders like cancer, heart disease, kidney dysfunction, diabetes and lupus. Even something as straightforward as age — becoming pregnant when younger than 17 or older than 35 — or carrying twins or having a history of multiple miscarriages can put women and pregnancies in jeopardy. That’s why so many obstetricians regard the ability to terminate a pregnancy as essential: Doctors need access to abortion procedures to be able to provide care and save lives.


The Cleveland Clinic’s maternal-fetal medicine department, one of the largest of its kind in the country, is set up to handle high-risk pregnancies and the dangers that can accompany them. It manages more than 5,000 such pregnancies a year. In August, less than two months after the Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and abolishing the constitutional right to abortion, the photographer Stephanie Sinclair spent two weeks capturing the newly unsettled world inside the Cleveland Clinic.


Everything changed on the day of the Dobbs decision, June 24. By the end of that Friday, a three-year-old law had been triggered into effect, a so-called “heartbeat bill” that made it a felony to terminate a pregnancy after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. A heartbeat can generally be detected at around six gestational weeks, before many women know they are pregnant; previously abortions were permitted, with restrictions, until 22 gestational weeks. All of a sudden, most of the termination procedures scheduled a week earlier by the Cleveland Clinic were now crimes. Only three exceptions allowed for abortions after the new cutoff: to prevent the mother’s death; to forestall a “serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman”; and to respond to ectopic pregnancies, in which a fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus.


The uncertainties about how to interpret and deliver care in response to those exceptions meant the Cleveland Clinic personnel had to continue doing their jobs in unclear legal circumstances. How do you know if a mother’s life is at risk? How do you predict, then prove, that the mother faces potentially irreversible bodily damage? “As physicians, we literally take an oath to take care of patients,” says Dr. Stacey Ehrenberg, who specializes in high-risk pregnancies at the Cleveland Clinic. “And we now have our hands tied.”


Once the heartbeat bill became law, routine procedures for treating miscarriage — which is how at least one in 10 pregnancies ends — could be considered abortions. The most effective drugs used in cases of miscarriage, mifepristone and misoprostol, are the same ones used to induce abortion by medication; the surgical evacuation of the uterus is another procedure used with miscarriages that is also an abortion method. The new law means that most patients admitted to the Cleveland Clinic Emergency Department while miscarrying are supposed to wait for 24 hours before receiving treatment — treatment given earlier than that could be considered an illegal abortion. Dr. Ashley Brant, an OB/GYN at the Cleveland Clinic, says that they had a core group of physicians providing abortion care who were well versed in what had been the law. But the new law, she says, “opens up the floodgates of who might be providing this kind of care.” A doctor in the emergency room accustomed to treating miscarriages with certain procedures, for example, could now potentially be breaking the law. That risk threatens to affect medical care.


Ohio had been changing the parameters of reproductive care for decades. Doctors are required to ask patients who want and qualify for an abortion if they would like to hear the fetal heartbeat or see an image of it; doctors and other medical providers, including pharmacists, are allowed to withhold medical care based on their moral, religious or ethical beliefs; doctors are required to send an official record to the state health department for every patient who receives a qualified abortion. And every patient who elects to have an abortion must be offered a 21-page booklet titled “Fetal Development & Family Planning.” Those changes happened over the course of many years. The heartbeat bill took effect so quickly that even powerful institutions like the Cleveland Clinic were caught off guard. “I have lived in a restrictive state for almost my entire career and lived through legislative changes along the way that have restricted access, but not to this sweeping extent,” says Dr. Justin Lappen, who is the head of maternal fetal medicine at Cleveland Clinic.


Lappen, Brant and a lawyer for the clinic held an emergency meeting the Monday after the Supreme Court’s decision, in order to convey medical and legal guidance to the more than 600 doctors, nurses and administrators who attended remotely. “Everyone was really emotional and upset that this was actually happening,” Dr. Amanda Kalan, a specialist in maternal fetal medicine, says. “The people making the laws are not doctors, and they don’t understand the implications of all of these laws.”


Elizabeth Whitmarsh, the communications director for Ohio Right to Life, which lobbied for the heartbeat bill, denies that the bill itself is responsible for any adverse ramifications. “The only thing that is not legal in Ohio now is the murder of a child,” she says, when asked about the bill’s repercussions. The Ohio state representative Adam Holmes, along with Congressman Steve Chabot and former Gov. John Kasich, did not respond to requests for comment.


On July 11, two and a half weeks after the Dobbs decision, an Ohio representative named Gary Click introduced a two-sentence “personhood” bill that would further limit abortion. The bill is meant to “protect the constitutional rights, of all unborn human individuals from the moment of conception,” unless the life of the mother is endangered. At the moment, Lappen says, “We have some patients who at five or six weeks may still be able to have abortion care if there’s not a heartbeat detected.” But if this bill becomes law, he adds, “then there really would be virtually no abortion care left on the table in Ohio.”


Dr. Maeve Hopkins, an OB/GYN who specializes in high-risk pregnancy at the Cleveland Clinic, grew up outside Cleveland and returned to the city after working in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. She now questions her move home. “I don’t know an OB/GYN in Ohio who isn’t thinking about leaving,” she says. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks Cleveland Clinic’s obstetrics and gynecology care as the fourth-best in the nation, but Dr. Tristi Muir, the chairwoman of the OB/GYN and Women’s Health Institute there, points out that this status — and, even more important, the quality of women’s health care available to Ohioans — has become vulnerable: “Doctors may not come to our state to practice or to train.”


Stephanie Sinclair is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer known for her focus on human rights issues. She founded Too Young to Wed, a charitable organization that seeks to empower girls and end child marriage globally. Jaime Lowe is a frequent contributor to the magazine and the author of the “Breathing Fire: Female Inmate Firefighters on the Frontlines of California’s Wildfires.”



7) The Story Behind the Averted Rail Strike Is About Employers and Exploitation

By Jamelle Bouie, Sept. 16, 2022


State troopers were sent to maintain order in Illinois in 1922, when seven of the 16 railroad unions went on strike around the country.

State troopers were sent to maintain order in Illinois in 1922, when seven of the 16 railroad unions went on strike around the country. Credit...Bettmann, via Getty Images

The short story behind the now-averted railroad strike is this: The largest freight railroad carriers in the country were willing to cripple the transportation infrastructure of the United States rather than allow their workers to take the occasional day off to see a doctor or attend to their families.


Here’s the longer story: This week, unions representing tens of thousands of railway workers were poised to strike in protest of poor working conditions and low wages. Their complaints were straightforward. The two largest freight railroad carriers — Union Pacific and BNSF Railway — were using attendance policies that punished workers for taking time off from the job. “Engineers and conductors face penalties for taking any time off,” The Washington Post explained in its report on the labor dispute, “including weekends, outside of holidays and preplanned vacation, even in the case of emergencies.”


The fact of the matter is that a decade of corporate cost-cutting, including smaller crews for longer trains, has placed railroad workers under incredible pressure. Not only are they unable to take time for emergencies or sudden illnesses, but they are almost always on call, with just a few hours’ notice before they have to take a shift. For them, the tight schedules and stiff punishments translate to strains on their finances, families and health.


What makes these conditions worse is that they come at a time when rail carriers are posting record profits as a result of demand during the pandemic. As NBC News reports, BNSF had a net income of nearly $6 billion in 2021, up 16 percent from the previous year. Union Pacific, likewise, had a net income of $6.5 billion, which was also up 16 percent from the previous year. Other freight companies, like CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway, have posted large gains as well. But this windfall has not stopped the carriers from trying to wring as much labor as possible out of a steadily shrinking work force.


The White House has been struggling to resolve the impasse for fear of what a strike could do to the economy (and to Democratic chances in November). According to the Association of American Railroads, which represents the freight industry, a rail shutdown would be “devastating” for the transport of consumer goods, industrial chemicals, agricultural products and motor vehicles. “If these and other rail shipments were halted,” the association estimates, “the loss in economic output would likely be at least $2 billion per day.”


On Thursday morning, President Biden announced a tentative settlement between the rail companies and rail unions. “It is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers who worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that America’s families and communities got deliveries of what have kept us going during these difficult years,” Biden said in a statement. “These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned.”


It remains to be seen, of course, whether union membership will vote to ratify the deal (there are 12 unions involved). For now, however, we can say something that bears repeating: This standoff demonstrates the power and importance of unions and collective bargaining for ordinary workers.


As always, there is a history here. This year happens to be the centennial of the beginning of one of the largest railroad strikes in American history. During the months of the strike, hundreds of thousands of railroad workers refused to work in protest of low pay and dangerous conditions, in a direct challenge to one of the most powerful (and lucrative) industries in the United States.

Those workers stood at the heart of what was one of the central enterprises of industrial capitalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their numbers included, as the historian Colin J. Davis notes in “Power at Odds: The 1922 National Railroad Shopmen’s Strike,” “machinists, boilermakers, blacksmiths, electricians, sheet-metal workers, and railway carmen — the work force that repaired and refitted locomotives, freight cars, and passenger cars.” And “their workmanship underlay the critical movement of rolling stock and thus, the operating revenue for the railroads.”


Then, as now, they faced owners who “notoriously squeezed the maximum profit at the smallest cost from their lines.” And in the reactionary backlash that followed the end of the First World War — embodied in the Red Scare and Red Summer of 1919 — railroad management “embarked on a campaign to destroy union representation on their roads.” The risk of unemployment, Davis writes, “was exploited as management sought to instill fear in railroad workers” in order to cut wages and change work rules.


In 1920 and 1921, railroad companies slashed jobs, reduced pay and began to outsource work to subcontractors in order to dilute the strength of railroad workers. By the summer of 1922, worker anger with the railroad companies reached a boiling point. On July 1, leaders of the skilled and semiskilled railroad unions announced that more than 400,000 workers had walked off the job.


What followed was months of violence and industrial unrest. Backed by the Railway Labor Board — established in 1920 to arbitrate between employers and workers but effectively a tool of the employers — railroad companies hired strikebreakers to replace skilled and semiskilled laborers as well as private security forces to protect rail lines and repair shops. In multiple cities, armed company guards opened fire on striking workers, killing several and escalating the conflict even more. Governors in several states called out the National Guard to assist strikebreakers, and President Warren G. Harding’s attorney general, Harry M. Daugherty, directed federal agents to assist the railroads.


The strike all but ended in September 1922, after the reactionary Daugherty won a sweeping federal injunction against the striking workers. They had been beaten, but not entirely and not for good. The experience of the 1922 strike would help inspire workers over the next decade to build the kind of political power needed to regain lost ground. The successful industrial organizing of the 1930s owes a good deal to this labor rebellion of the 1920s.


Today, even with the surge of union activity in fast-food and other service-related industries, private-sector unionization is still at its lowest point since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. And yet, as we’ve seen, where unions are strong — or at least where they have strength — they are still able to challenge the rapacious and exploitative behavior of business owners and employers.


This more recent episode, then, is a potent reminder that the single best thing President Biden and the Democratic Party could do for workers is to give them the tools and support to build power for themselves. Which is to say that while Democrats do not have the votes to overhaul labor law and protect the right to organize in this Congress, if and when they do, they must.



8) Rise of Far-Right Party in Sweden Was Both Expected and Shocking

The Sweden Democrats, with roots in neo-Nazism, came in second in national elections and will have a powerful influence on a new center-right government.

By Steven Erlanger and Christina Anderson, Sept. 15, 2022


The site of a shooting in Malmo, Sweden, last month. Rising crime may have contributed to the increasing popularity of right-wing political parties in the country, analysts say.

The site of a shooting in Malmo, Sweden, last month. Rising crime may have contributed to the increasing popularity of right-wing political parties in the country, analysts say. Credit...Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

STOCKHOLM — The rise of the far-right Sweden Democrats to become the country’s second-largest party, with a claim to government, has been a slow-moving earthquake over the past decade. But even as their success in Sunday’s election seemed inevitable, it still had the ability to shock.


The world still regards Sweden as a bedrock of Nordic liberalism, and its move toward the more populist right, based on grievances about crime, migration, identity and globalization — and the way they affect health care, schools and taxes — has been slower than in other countries. So the election’s result was something of a wake-up call.


“Sweden is very much an activist and ideologically charged nation, and in part because we had such an idyllic 20th century, we thought we could afford it,” said Robert Dalsjo, director of studies at the Swedish Defense Research Agency. “So the popular discontent over globalization and migration and crime we saw in Trump took longer to leak itself through the protective structures of the establishment here.”


The Sweden Democrats have been gaining political ground and a form of respectability for some time now, much like other Nordic far-right populist parties, including the Danish People’s Party and Norway’s Progress Party. But the Sweden Democrats, founded in 1988 with roots in neo-Nazism, are probably closer to the parties of Marine Le Pen in France and Giorgia Meloni in Italy, whose Brothers of Italy has roots in Mussolini’s Fascist Party.


Ms. Meloni and her party are considered so normalized now that she is on track to become Italy’s prime minister in elections in 10 days’ time.


That is not in the cards for the leader of the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Akesson, whose party was the largest vote winner in what is expected to be a center-right coalition. The bloc of right-wing parties previously agreed to support a government led by the center-right Moderate Party, but not one led by the Sweden Democrats. They will most likely not even take cabinet seats in a government led by Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderates, a conservative party.


But Mr. Kristersson, who would become prime minister, will need the support of Sweden Democrats in Parliament, as well as that of two other parties, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals. And Mr. Akesson has made it clear that his support will be expensive in terms of government policy.


“If we are going to support a government that we’re not sitting in, it’s going to cost,” Mr. Akesson said before the vote.


The Sweden Democrats’ showing in the election provided the center right a thin majority of three votes in Parliament, prompting the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Magdalena Andersson, to resign on Thursday and throwing Sweden into several weeks of political maneuvering. Negotiations to form a new government will be complicated, and it will take several weeks at least, with some hoping to have a new prime minister by month’s end.


The Sweden Democrats’ victory over the Moderates is likely to strengthen their hand and make the negotiations harder, especially since the small Liberal party has refused to join any coalition in which the Sweden Democrats have ministerial posts.


One option for Mr. Kristersson is to try to form a minority government with the Christian Democrats while keeping both the Sweden Democrats and the Liberals out of government. And the four parties of the right-wing coalition have their own differences over policies like foreign aid and increases in benefits for workers and the unemployed.


It could all get a bit messy, and a new coalition may not last very long.


Anna Wieslander, chairwoman of Sweden’s Institute for Security and Development, said of the far right’s gains, “In a way, their success is not so surprising, given that no government dealt really with the migration issue, which has been there for years, affecting society more and more, and with the way crime has been tied to immigrant groups.”


Even the main parties, including the long-governing Social Democrats, have moved closer in this campaign to the hard-line position of the Sweden Democrats on crime and immigration, analysts noted, while easing up on some of the stricter environmental rules that have angered voters in rural areas and working-class neighborhoods, where the Sweden Democrats draw their strength.


Daniel Suhonen, head of Katalys, a trade union think tank, and a founding member of Reformisterna, the largest group in the Social Democratic party, said the Sweden Democrats had “blown up the whole bloc politics, the right-left divide.”


They have won voters from the three main groups, he said: rural voters from the Center Party, small-business owners from the Moderates and workers from the Social Democrats. They have also won many young voters.


The three losing parties — the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals — will govern on behalf of one winning party, he said.


Sverker Gustavsson, a political scientist at Sweden’s Uppsala University, said that the Sweden Democrats “want an ironclad agreement with the Moderates and Christian Democrats that will include concrete measures in the area of culture, schools, immigration and criminal justice policy.”


To monitor that agreement, instead of having ministers, “they are saying they want watchdogs inside the departments to monitor that their policies are being followed,” he said. “That is the new and interesting thing.”


Sweden’s application to join NATO, which the Sweden Democrats supported, is not in question, analysts said. But there are some worries in Brussels about European Union unity with a new Swedish government potentially influenced by the Sweden Democrats ahead of a difficult winter defined by soaring energy prices, the ongoing war in Ukraine and record inflation.

“I don’t think the unity will crack, but it means that E.U. ambitions will be lower,” said Fabian Zuleeg, head of the European Policy Center, a Brussels-based research institution. “And this is dangerous given the crisis of this magnitude that we are facing.”


Sweden is poised to take over the rotating presidency of the bloc in January, which means it is going to take the lead in negotiations over a series of new laws, including a legislative package detailing how to phase out fossil fuels, as well as new rules on managing migration.


“The presidency can change things,” Dr. Zuleeg said. “It sets the agenda, and it often initiates compromise between different E.U. institutions.”


For her part, Ms. Andersson, who will serve as prime minister until a new government is formed, did well in her year of power, bringing new voters to the Social Democrats, who remain the country’s largest party. But she did so by leaching votes from her potential coalition partners, and thus falling short.


She did suggest on Thursday that if it all proved too complicated and difficult for Mr. Kristersson, he could always talk to her about forming their own coalition. Of course, she would remain prime minister.



9) Five Years Later, Fiona Brings Back Painful Memories of Maria.

By Daniel Victor, Sept. 19, 2022


Fallen trees and debris in San Juan in September 2017 after Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 storm.

Fallen trees and debris in San Juan in September 2017 after Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 storm. Credit...Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

Hurricane Fiona’s arrival in Puerto Rico came almost exactly five years after Hurricane Maria struck, a devastating storm from which the island never fully recovered.


On Sept. 20, 2017, Maria landed in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, producing as much as 40 inches of rainfall. It caused the deaths of roughly 3,000 people, bringing devastation, property damage and the destruction of infrastructure in every corner of the island.


But its lasting impact was just beginning.


Public fury bubbled up at the government’s response to the storm; a 2018 report found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been unprepared for a disaster on the scale of Maria, which was one of three storms to hit the United States in quick succession in 2017. It described a chaotic and disorganized relief effort on the island that was plagued by logistical problems.


Years on, housing still hadn’t been found for tens of thousands of survivors still living under leaky tarps, while others lived in wrecked homes. A grass-roots movement channeling the anger formed, fueling a popular uprising in 2019 that lasted 15 days and led to former Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló stepping down.


Five years later, unreliable electricity remained a fact of life on the island.


“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?’” Danny Hernández, who works in San Juan, told The Associated Press while he was stocking up with supplies.



10) ‘Crippling’ Energy Bills Force Europe’s Factories to Go Dark

Manufacturers are furloughing workers and shutting down lines because they can’t pay the gas and electric charges.

By Liz Alderman, Sept. 19, 2022

Liz Alderman, who writes about business and economics in Europe, reported this article in Arques, France.


The Arc plant produces four million pieces of glass per day.

The Arc plant produces four million pieces of glass per day. Credit...Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

The furnace, heated to 1,500 degrees Celsius, was glowing red. Workers at the Arc International glass factory loaded it with sand that slowly pooled into a molten mass. Nearby on the factory floor, machines transformed the shapeless liquid with a blast of hot air into thousands of delicate wine glasses, destined for sale to restaurants and homes worldwide.


Nicholas Hodler, the chief executive, surveyed the assembly line, shimmering blue with natural gas flames. For years, Arc had been powered by cheap energy that helped turn the company into the world’s largest producer of glass tableware — and a vital employer in this working-class region of northern France.


But the impact of Russia’s abrupt cutoff of gas to Europe has doused the business with new risks. Energy prices have climbed so fast that Mr. Hodler has had to rewrite business forecasts six times in two months. Recently, he put a third of Arc’s 4,500 employees on partial furlough to save money. Four of the factory’s nine furnaces will be idled; the others will be switched from natural gas to diesel, a cheaper but more polluting fuel.


“It’s the most dramatic situation we have ever encountered,” Mr. Hodler said, shouting to be heard over the din of clinking glasses. “For energy-intensive businesses like ours, it’s crippling.”


Arc is not alone. High energy prices are lashing European industry, forcing factories to cut production quickly and put tens of thousands of employees on furlough. The cutbacks, though expected to be temporary, are raising the risks of a painful recession in Europe. Industrial production in the euro area fell 2.3 percent in July from a year ago, the biggest drop in more than two years.


Makers of metal, paper, fertilizer and other products that depend on gas and electricity to transform raw materials into products from car doors to cardboard boxes have announced belt-tightening. Half of Europe’s aluminum and zinc production has been taken offline, according to Eurometaux, Europe’s metals trade association.


Among them is Arcelor Mittal, Europe’s largest steel maker, which is idling blast furnaces in Germany. Alcoa, a global aluminum products producer, is cutting a third of production at its smelter in Norway. In the Netherlands, Nyrstar, the world’s biggest zinc producer, is pausing output until further notice.


Even toilet paper is not immune: In Germany, Hakle, one of the largest manufacturers, announced that it had tumbled into insolvency because of a “historic energy crisis.”


The whirlwind has unnerved the inhabitants of Arques, a town whose fortunes have been tied to glassmaking for more than a century. The modern-day Arc was founded in 1825 as the Verrerie Cristallerie d’Arques, then a small local maker of fine crystal goblets.


Today, Arc’s operations are enormous, spanning an area nearly half the size of New York’s Central Park. Its mass is such that Arc indirectly generates another 15,000 or so jobs in the region, from cardboard factories that package its glass to transport companies ferrying its products. Arc’s other factories are in China, Dubai and New Jersey.


“The shutdown of the furnaces is bad news,” said one worker, a 28-year veteran of the factory, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of compromising his job. “Sure, high energy prices are having an impact,” he added, “but it’s scary how fast it's happening.”


To some extent, the crisis is a blowback from European sanctions that were intended to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. The pain has undermined confidence at European companies and their ability to plan.


This past week, the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed offsetting the hit by capping revenue from low-cost electricity generators and forcing fossil fuel firms to share the profit they make from soaring energy prices.


But the solutions may not be fast enough. Costs have already soared beyond what many manufacturers can afford. Thousands of European companies are near the end of fixed energy contracts signed when prices were cheaper, and must renew them in October at current prices. Year-ahead electricity prices, which are tied to the cost of gas, are around 1,000 euros per megawatt-hour in Germany and France, while natural gas is at record highs of around €230 per megawatt-hour.



11) How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step

As American feminists came together in 2017 to protest Donald Trump, Russia’s disinformation machine set about deepening the divides among them.

By Ellen Barry, Sept. 18, 2022


Linda Sarsour, a leader of the initial Women’s March in January 2017. Within days, Russian trolls were targeting her online.

Linda Sarsour, a leader of the initial Women’s March in January 2017. Within days, Russian trolls were targeting her online. Credit...Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Linda Sarsour awoke on Jan. 23, 2017, logged onto the internet, and felt sick.


The weekend before, she had stood in Washington at the head of the Women’s March, a mobilization against President Donald J. Trump that surpassed all expectations. Crowds had begun forming before dawn, and by the time she climbed up onto the stage, they extended farther than the eye could see.


More than four million people around the United States had taken part, experts later estimated, placing it among the largest single-day protests in the nation’s history.


But then something shifted, seemingly overnight. What she saw on Twitter that Monday was a torrent of focused grievance that targeted her. In 15 years as an activist, largely advocating for the rights of Muslims, she had faced pushback, but this was of a different magnitude. A question began to form in her mind: Do they really hate me that much?


That morning, there were things going on that Ms. Sarsour could not imagine.


More than 4,000 miles away, organizations linked to the Russian government had assigned teams to the Women’s March. At desks in bland offices in St. Petersburg, using models derived from advertising and public relations, copywriters were testing out social media messages critical of the Women’s March movement, adopting the personas of fictional Americans.


They posted as Black women critical of white feminism, conservative women who felt excluded, and men who mocked participants as hairy-legged whiners. But one message performed better with audiences than any other.


It singled out an element of the Women’s March that might, at first, have seemed like a detail: Among its four co-chairs was Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist whose hijab marked her as an observant Muslim.


Over the 18 months that followed, Russia’s troll factories and its military intelligence service put a sustained effort into discrediting the movement by circulating damning, often fabricated narratives around Ms. Sarsour, whose activism made her a lightning rod for Mr. Trump’s base and also for some of his most ardent opposition.


One hundred and fifty-two different Russian accounts produced material about her. Public archives of Twitter accounts known to be Russian contain 2,642 tweets about Ms. Sarsour, many of which found large audiences, according to an analysis by Advance Democracy Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts public-interest research and investigations.


Many people know the story about how the Women’s March movement fractured, leaving lasting scars on the American left.


A fragile coalition to begin with, it headed into crisis over its co-chairs’ association with Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader, who is widely condemned for his antisemitic statements. When this surfaced, progressive groups distanced themselves from Ms. Sarsour and her fellow march co-chairs, Carmen Perez, Tamika Mallory and Bob Bland, and some called for them to step down.


But there is also a story that has not been told, one that only emerged years later in academic research, of how Russia inserted itself into this moment.


For more than a century, Russia and the Soviet Union sought to weaken their adversaries in the West by inflaming racial and ethnic tensions. In the 1960s, K.G.B. officers based in the United States paid agents to paint swastikas on synagogues and desecrate Jewish cemeteries. They forged racist letters, supposedly from white supremacists, to African diplomats.


They did not invent these social divisions; America already had them. Ladislav Bittman, who worked for the secret police in Czechoslovakia before defecting to the United States, compared Soviet disinformation programs to an evil doctor who expertly diagnoses the patient’s vulnerabilities and exploits them, “prolongs his illness and speeds him to an early grave instead of curing him.”


A decade ago, Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, oversaw a revival of these tactics, seeking to undermine democracies around the world from the shadows.


Social media now provided an easy way to feed ideas into American discourse, something that, for half a century, the K.G.B. had struggled to do. And the Russian government secretly funneled more than $300 million to political parties in more than two dozen countries in an effort to sway their policies in Moscow’s favor since 2014, according to a U.S. intelligence review made public last week.


What effect these intrusions had on American democracy is a question that will be with us for years. It may be unanswerable. Already, social media was amplifying Americans’ political impulses, leaving behind a trail of damaged communities. Already, trust in institutions was declining, and rage was flaring up in public life. These things would have been true without Russian interference.


But to trace the Russian intrusions over the months that followed that first Women’s March is to witness a persistent effort to make all of them worse.


‘Refrigerators and Nails’


In early 2017, the trolling operation was in its imperial phase, swelling with confidence.


Accounts at the Internet Research Agency, an organization based in St. Petersburg and controlled by a Putin ally, had boasted of propelling Mr. Trump to victory. That year, the group’s budget nearly doubled, according to internal communications made public by U.S. prosecutors. More than a year would pass before social media platforms executed sweeping purges of Russian-backed sock-puppet accounts.


For the trolls, it was a golden hour.


Under these auspicious conditions, their goals shifted from electoral politics to something more general — the goal of deepening rifts in American society, said Alex Iftimie, a former federal prosecutor who worked on a 2018 case against an administrator at Project Lakhta, which oversaw the Internet Research Agency and other Russian trolling operations.


“It wasn’t exclusively about Trump and Clinton anymore,” said Mr. Iftimie, now a partner at Morrison Foerster. “It was deeper and more sinister and more diffuse in its focus on exploiting divisions within society on any number of different levels.”


There was a routine: Arriving for a shift, workers would scan news outlets on the ideological fringes, far left and far right, mining for extreme content that they could publish and amplify on the platforms, feeding extreme views into mainstream conversations.


Artyom Baranov, who worked at one of Project Lakhta’s affiliates from 2018 to 2020, concluded that his co-workers were, for the most part, people who needed the money, indifferent to the themes they were asked to write on.


“If they were assigned to write text about refrigerators, they would write about refrigerators, or, say, nails, they would write about nails,” said Mr. Baranov, one of a handful of former trolls who have spoken on the record about their activities. But instead of refrigerators and nails, it was “Putin, Putin, then Putin, and then about Navalny,” referring to Aleksei Navalny, the jailed opposition leader.


The job was not to put forward arguments, but to prompt a visceral, emotional reaction, ideally one of “indignation,” said Mr. Baranov, a psychoanalyst by training, who was assigned to write posts on Russian politics. “The task is to make a kind of explosion, to cause controversy,” he said.


When a post succeeded at enraging a reader, he said, a co-worker would sometimes remark, with satisfaction, Liberala razorvala. A liberal was torn apart. “It wasn’t on the level of discussing facts or giving new arguments,” he said. “It’s always a way of digging into dirty laundry.”


Feminism was an obvious target, because it was viewed as a “Western agenda,” and hostile to the traditional values that Russia represented, said Mr. Baranov, who spoke about his work in hopes of warning the public to be more skeptical of material online. Already, for months, Russian accounts purporting to belong to Black women had been drilling down on racial rifts within American feminism:


“White feminism seems to be the most stupid 2k16 trend”


“Watch Muhammad Ali shut down a white feminist criticizing his arrogance”


“Aint got time for your white feminist bullshit”


“Why black feminists don’t owe Hillary Clinton their support”




In January 2017, as the Women’s March drew nearer, they tested different approaches on different audiences, as they had during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. They posed as resentful trans women, poor women and anti-abortion women. They dismissed the marchers as pawns of the Jewish billionaire George Soros.


And they derided the women who planned to participate, often in crudely sexual terms. In coordination, beginning on Jan. 19, 46 Russian accounts pumped out 459 original suggestions for #RenameMillionWomenMarch, a hashtag created by a right-wing podcaster from Indiana:


The Why Doesn’t Anybody Love Me March

The Strong Women Constantly Playing the Victim March

The Lonely Cat Lady March

The Cramp Camp

The Bearded Women Convention

Broken Broads Bloviating

The Liberal Trail of Tears

Coyote Ugly Bitchfest

In the meantime, another, far more effective line of messaging was developing.


‘It Was Like an Avalanche’


As one of the four co-chairs of the Women’s March, Ms. Sarsour came with a track record — and with baggage.


The daughter of a Palestinian American shopkeeper in Crown Heights, she had risen to prominence as a voice for the rights of Muslims after 9/11. In 2015, when she was 35, a New York Times profile anointed her — a “Brooklyn Homegirl in a Hijab” — as something rare, a potential Arab American candidate for elected office.


In 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders featured her at a campaign event, a stamp of approval from one of the country’s most influential progressives. That troubled pro-Israel politicians in New York, who pointed to her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to secure Palestinian rights by isolating Israel. Critics of the movement contend that it threatens Israel’s existence.


Rory Lancman, then a city councilman from Queens, recalls his growing alarm as she began to appear regularly at events for left-wing causes unrelated to Israel, like fair wages, where, he felt, “her real agenda was trying to marry an anti-Israel agenda with different progressive causes.”


The news that Ms. Sarsour was among the leaders of the Women’s March, said Mr. Lancman, a Democrat, struck him as “heartbreaking — that’s the word — that antisemitism is tolerated and rationalized in progressive spaces.”


That was politics as usual, and Ms. Sarsour was accustomed to it: the long-running feud among Democrats over the implications of criticizing Israel.


But 48 hours after the march, a shift of tone occurred online, with a surge of posts describing Ms. Sarsour as a radical jihadi who had infiltrated American feminism. Ms. Sarsour recalls this vividly, because she woke to a worried text message from a friend and glanced at Twitter to find that she was trending.


Not all of this backlash was organic. That week, Russian amplifier accounts began circulating posts that focused on Ms. Sarsour, many of them inflammatory and based on falsehoods, claiming she was a radical Islamist, “a pro-ISIS Anti USA Jew Hating Muslim” who “was seen flashing the ISIS sign.”


Some of these posts found a large audience. At 7 p.m. on Jan. 21, an Internet Research Agency account posing as @TEN_GOP, a fictional right-wing American from the South, tweeted that Ms. Sarsour favored imposing Shariah law in the United States, playing into a popular anti-Muslim conspiracy theory that Mr. Trump had helped to popularize on the campaign trail.


This message took hold, racking up 1,686 replies, 8,046 retweets and 6,256 likes. An hour later, @PrisonPlanet, an influential right-wing account, posted a tweet on the same theme. The following day, nearly simultaneously, a small army of 1,157 right-wing accounts picked up the narrative, publishing 1,659 posts on the subject, according to an analysis conducted by the online analytics firm Graphika on behalf of The Times.


Vladimir Barash, Graphika’s chief scientist, said the pattern of interference was “strategically similar” to troll activity targeting the vast anti-Putin protests of 2011 and 2012, with sock-puppet accounts “similarly trying to hijack the conversation, sometimes succeeding.”


“There is some circumstantial evidence that they learned in a domestic context and then tried to replicate their success in a foreign context,” Dr. Barash said.


Things were changing on the ground in New York. At the Arab American Association of New York, the nonprofit immigrant advocacy organization Ms. Sarsour ran in Bay Ridge, hate mail began to pour in — postcards, handwritten screeds on notebook paper, her photo printed out and defaced with red X’s.


“This was an entirely new level, and it felt weird, because it was coming from all over the country,” said Kayla Santosuosso, then the nonprofit’s deputy director, who remembers bringing the mail to Ms. Sarsour in shoe boxes. Ms. Sarsour, worried that she had become “a liability,” stepped down from her position there that February.


By the spring, the backlash against Ms. Sarsour had developed into a divisive political sideshow, one that easily drowned out the ideas behind the Women’s March. “It was like an avalanche,” she said. “Like I was swimming in it every day. It was like I never got out of it.”


When she was invited to appear as a graduation speaker at the City University of New York’s graduate school of public health, the furor began weeks in advance. It caught the attention of the far-right polemicist Milo Yiannopoulos, who traveled to New York for a protest that attracted, as a Times reporter wrote, “a strange mix, including right-leaning Jews and Zionists, commentators like Pamela Geller, and some members of the alt-right.”


“Linda Sarsour is a Shariah-loving, terrorist-embracing, Jew-hating, ticking time bomb of progressive horror,” Mr. Yiannopoulos told the crowd.


Ms. Sarsour recalls the period leading up to the graduation speech as particularly stressful. As it approached, she had visions of a figure coming out of the shadows to kill her, “some poor, like, deranged person who was consumed by the dark corners of the internet, who would be fueled by hate.”


Russian troll accounts were part of that clamor; beginning more than a month before her speech, a handful of amplifier accounts managed by Russia’s largest military intelligence agency, the G.R.U., circulated expressions of outrage at her being selected, often hashtagged #CancelSarsour.


When Mr. Yiannopoulos spoke, @TEN_GOP tweeted the juiciest phrases — the “ticking time bomb of progressive horror” line — and racked up 3,954 retweets and 5,967 likes.


Her graduation speech passed without incident. Then the trolls waited, it seems, for her to say or do something divisive. And that happened in early July, when, emboldened after her C.U.N.Y. appearance, she urged a Muslim audience outside Chicago to push back against unjust government policies, calling it “the best form of jihad.”


In Islam, the word “jihad” can denote any virtuous struggle, but in the American political context it is inextricable from the concept of holy war. A more pragmatic politician might have avoided using it, but Ms. Sarsour was feeling like her old self. “That’s who I am in real life,” she said. “I’m from Brooklyn, and I’m Palestinian. It’s my personality.”


To the Russian trolls, it was an opportunity.


The following week, Russian accounts dramatically increased their volume of messaging about Ms. Sarsour, producing 184 posts on a single day, according to Advance Democracy Inc.


Once again, the audience responded: When @TEN_GOP tweeted, “linda sarsour openly calls for muslims to wage jihad against trump, please look into this matter,” it received 6,222 retweets and 6,549 likes. The accounts sustained an intense focus on her through July, producing 894 posts over the next month and continuing into the autumn, the group found.


And once again, the backlash spilled out from social media. Protesters camped outside the kosher barbecue restaurant where her brother, Mohammed, worked as a manager, demanding that he be fired. He left the job, and, eventually, New York.


Her mother opened a package that arrived in the mail and screamed: It was a bizarre self-published book, titled “A Jihad Grows in Brooklyn,” that purported to be Ms. Sarsour’s autobiography and was illustrated with family photographs.


“I mean, just imagine,” Ms. Sarsour said, “every day that you woke up, you were a monster.”


Chasing Ghosts


It is maddeningly difficult to say with any certainty what effect Russian influence operations have had on the United States, because when they took hold they piggybacked on real social divisions. Once pumped into American discourse, the Russian trace vanishes, like water that has been added to a swimming pool.


This creates a conundrum for disinformation specialists, many of whom say the impact of Russian interventions has been overblown. After the 2016 presidential election, blaming unwelcome outcomes on Russia became “the emotional way out,” said Thomas Rid, author of “Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare.”


“It’s playing a trick on you,” said Dr. Rid, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. “You become a useful idiot if you ignore effective info ops. But also if you talk it up by telling a story, if you make it more powerful than it is. It’s a trick.”


The divisions within the Women’s March existed already.


Internal disputes about identity and antisemitism had strained the group from its early days, when one of its organizers, Vanessa Wruble, who is Jewish, was pushed out after what she described as tense conversations with Ms. Perez and Ms. Mallory about the role of Jews in structural racism. Ms. Perez and Ms. Mallory have disputed that account.


And discomfort with Ms. Sarsour had dampened enthusiasm among some Jewish progressives, said Rachel Timoner, the senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn.


She recalled stepping up to defend Ms. Sarsour against “racist and Islamophobic” attacks, only to find, each time, that a new firestorm would arise, often resulting from something inflammatory and “ultimately indefensible” Ms. Sarsour had said.


As the months wore on, Rabbi Timoner said, Jews began asking themselves whether they were being excluded from progressive movements.


In 2018, a new internal crisis was triggered by Ms. Mallory’s attendance at Saviours’ Day, an annual gathering of the Nation of Islam led by Mr. Farrakhan.


Ms. Mallory grew up in Harlem, where many viewed the Nation of Islam and its founder positively, as crusaders against urban violence. Pressured to disavow Mr. Farrakhan, she refused, though she said she did not share his antisemitic views. After her son’s father was murdered, she explained, “it was the women of the Nation of Islam who supported me.”


“I have always held them close to my heart for that reason,” she said.


After that, the fabric of the coalition tore, slowly and painfully. Ms. Sarsour and Ms. Perez stuck by Ms. Mallory, and before long, progressive groups began distancing themselves from all three. Under intense pressure to step down as the leaders, Ms. Sarsour, Ms. Perez, and a third co-chair, Bob Bland, did so in 2019, a move they say was long planned.


Russian accounts boosted their output around Mr. Farrakhan and the Women’s March leaders that spring, posting 10 or 20 times a day, but there is no evidence that they were a primary driver of the conversation.


Around this time, we largely lose our view into Russian messaging. In the summer of 2018, Twitter suspended 3,841 accounts traced to the Internet Research Agency, preserving 10 million of their tweets so they could be studied by researchers. A few months later, the platform suspended and preserved the work of 414 accounts produced by the G.R.U., the military intelligence agency.


With that, a chorus of voices went silent — accounts that, for years, had helped shape American conversations about Black Lives Matter, the Mueller investigation and NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. The record of the messaging around the Women’s March breaks off there, too, frozen in time.


Russia’s exploitation of Ms. Sarsour as a wedge figure should be understood as part of the history of the Women’s March, said Shireen Mitchell, a technology analyst who has studied Russian interference in Black online discourse.


Russian campaigns, she said, were adept at seeding ideas that flowed into mainstream discourse, after which, as she put it, they could “just sit and wait.”


“It’s the priming of all that, starting from the beginning,” said Ms. Mitchell, the founder of Stop Online Violence Against Women. “If those thousand tweets hit a division between the groups that matter, if they open and allow that division, it’s no longer a crack. It becomes a valley.”


Others saw Russia’s role as marginal, tinkering around the edges of a necessary American discussion.


“It’s a shame that Linda Sarsour damaged that movement by trying to inject into it noxious ideas that had no reason to be part of the Women’s March,” said Mr. Lancman, the former city councilman. “Unfortunately,” he added, Russians “seem very adept at exploiting these fissures.”


Rabbi Timoner sounded sad, recalling all that had happened. The wounds that opened up between progressives that year have never quite healed, she said.


“There is so much Jewish pain here,” she said. “Those Russian bots were poking at that pain.”


The Women’s March continued under new leadership, but during the months of controversy, many women who had been galvanized by the first march drifted away.


“I can’t remember all the negative stories, I just remember that there were so many of them,” said Jennifer Taylor-Skinner, a Seattle woman who, after the 2017 march, quit her job at Microsoft and founded “The Electorette,” a podcast geared toward progressive women. She hasn’t ever recaptured that feeling of unity.


“Just thinking about it, I still feel a bit unmoored from any central movement,” she said. “There was a coalition possibly forming here that has been broken up.”


An Aftershock


Ms. Sarsour, 42, was back in her old office in Bay Ridge this past spring, five years after the first Women’s March, when she learned, from a reporter, that the Russian government had targeted her.


She is seldom invited to national platforms these days, and when she is, protests often follow. Whatever buzz there was around her as a future political candidate has quieted. She knows how she is seen, as a polarizing figure. She has adjusted to this reality, and sees herself more as an activist, in the mold of Angela Davis.


“I’m never going to get a real job,” at a major nonprofit or a corporation, she said. “That’s the kind of impact that these things have on our lives.”


Data on Russian messaging around the Women’s March first appeared late last year in an academic journal, where Samantha R. Bradshaw, a disinformation expert at American University, reviewed state interference in feminist movements.


She and her co-author, Amélie Henle, found a pattern of messaging by influential amplifier accounts that sought to demobilize civil society activism, by pumping up intersectional critiques of feminism and attacking organizers.


Movements, Dr. Bradshaw argues, are fragile structures, often unprepared to weather well-resourced state-backed sabotage campaigns, especially when combined with algorithms that promote negative content. But healthy social movements are essential to democracies, she said.


“We’re not going to have a robust public sphere if nobody wants to organize protests,” she said.


Ms. Sarsour isn’t an academic, but she understood it well enough.


“Lord have mercy,” she said, glancing over Dr. Bradshaw’s findings.


Ms. Sarsour tried to get her head around it: All that time, the Russian government had been thinking about her. She had long had a sense of where her critics came from: the American right wing, and supporters of Israel. A foreign government — that was something that had never occurred to her.


“To think that Russia is going to use me, it’s much more dangerous and sinister,” she said. “What does Russia get out of leveraging my identity, you know, to undermine movements that were anti-Trump in America — I guess —” she paused. “It’s just, wow.”


Understanding what Russian trolls did would not change her position.


Still, it helped her understand that time in her life, when she had been at the center of a storm. It wasn’t just her fellow countrymen hating her. It wasn’t just her allies disavowing her. That had happened. But it wasn’t the whole story.


She placed a call to Ms. Mallory.


“We weren’t crazy,” she said.


Aaron Krolik and Milana Mazaeva contributed reporting.