9/22/2022

Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, September 22, 2022


ROSIE JIMENEZ, PRESENTE!

REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE FOR ALL 

COMMUNITY SPEAK OUT

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


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The West Coast Book Tour

The West Coast Book Tour is about two revolutionaries from two different generations— one who was a part of the Revolutionary Movement in the 60's and one who became a revolutionary while serving his 18 year prison sentence in the 2000's. Hy Thurman's book "Hillybilly Nationalists" talks about his life growing up all the way up to the late 60's when he transitioned from a "gang" mentality to a revolutionary outlook on life. He is one of the living legends, who co-founded the Young Patriots Organization, which were white revolutionaries who organized with other legends like Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Original Black Panther Party and Jose "Cha Cha" Jimenez, the founder of the Young Lords Organization. He, along with those leaders went on to constitute the First Rainbow Coalition. 

Kwame Shakur's journey that he highlights in his autobiography "My Search for Answers, Truth, and Meaning" is a story of young Black man, who loses 18 years of his life to the penitentiary for a bank robbery that he caught at the tender age of 19. His book weaves together a brilliantly written story of how he went from a criminal mentality to a revolutionary one. Like Hy Thurman, he finds his cause in historical legends like Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton, whose first speech he read "Power Anywhere There's People", unbeknownst to him sets him on a revolutionary trajectory that he never takes a look back once discovering it. This journey takes him into the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, which avows to carry on the Original Black Panther Party and the Rainbow Coalition that Fred Hampton founded April 4th, 1969. Today, Kwame Shakur is one of the co-founder of the Second Rainbow Coalition which intends to take off where Fred Hampton, Jose "Cha Cha" Jimenez, and Hy Thurman left off. 

This book tour is an intersection and continuation of a vision of two generations, who have a similar Rainbow Coalition vision of revolutionary politics in the US— both past and present.


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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:

http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/home/about-us/

 

Liberation News, September 3, 2022

https://popularresistance.org/leonard-peltiers-walk-to-justice-demands-release-of-political-prisoner/

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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.

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URGENT ACTION NEEDED!

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.


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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

https://www.radicalwomen.org/statements/statements-2022/No-to-redbaiting.shtml

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CUBA URGENTLY NEEDS OUR HELP TODAY!

MATANZAS IS NOT ALONE!

https://www.hatueyproject.org

 

The unprecedented massive fire at the Supertanker Base in Matanzas province has not abated. Dozens of people have suffered burns, 16 firefighters are still missing, and thousands are evacuated. Heroic efforts by firefighters and civil defense are 24/7.

 

Supplies are urgently needed to save the lives of the burn and other victims affected by the fire. The Hatuey Project is working to provide some of the most critical supplies for burn and other patients.

 

Please make a monetary donation so we can buy medical items in bulk and ship immediately to Matanzas.

 

Cuba has been through so much during the time of pandemic. Despite a heroic and successful campaign to vaccinate virtually all of Cuba from COVID, this summer has been particularly taxing for all of Cuba. Now the fire has added to the hardship.

 

Please click here to make a donation to The Hatuey Project for Matanzas Relief. Every donation to Hatuey is tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, The Alliance for Global Justice.

 

On behalf of The Hatuey Project, we thank you.

 

Nadia Marsh, MD, Assoc. Prof. of Clinical Medicine

Simon Ma, MD, MPH, Family Medicine

Rachel Viqueira, MHS, Epidemiologist

Brian Becker, Executive Director, ANSWER Coalition

Gloria La Riva, coordinator, Hatuey Project

 

ABOUT THE HATUEY PROJECT

 

We are health providers and social justice activists concerned about the harmful effects of the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. We have inaugurated this medical aid project to extend solidarity to the Cuban people, with the procurement of vital medicines and medical equipment.

 

Cuba has already shown that its remarkable health care and scientific/biotech systems are fully capable of serving the 11+ million people on the island, providing excellent quality, universal and free care to everyone. But more than 240 measures by the Trump administration that turned the screws even further on Cuba’s people — in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — have created a truly difficult situation for the people. We have already taken part in direct delivery of vital medicines over the last year, and we aim to do much more.

 

We invite you to join in our project in any way you can: With your monetary contribution, as well as helping procure major donations from pharmaceuticals and other medical providers. We are fully volunteer; all of the donations we receive will go strictly to acquire medical aid. Shipping costs will be held to the utmost minimum. The Hatuey Project is fiscally sponsored by the Alliance For Global Justice, so all donations are tax-deductible. Join our effort today!

https://www.hatueyproject.org


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Donkey Punch, Mr. Fish

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Doctors for Assange Statement

 

Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition

‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong 


https://consortiumnews.com/2022/06/12/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.

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Sign the petition:

https://dontextraditeassange.com/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.

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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: 

https://youtu.be/4u5XJzhv9Hc

Here is the Facebook link:

 https://fb.watch/bTMr6PTuHS/

Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:

 https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/governor-newsom-free-82-year-old-prisoner-ruchell-magee-unjustly-incarcerated-for-58-years

Write to Governor Newsom’s office:

 https://actionnetwork.org/letters/free-82-year-old-prisoner-ruchell-magee-unjustly-incarcerated-for-58-years?source=direct_link

Donate: 

https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=GVZG9CZ375PVG

Ruchell’s Website: 

www.freeruchellmagee.org

Thanks,

Charlie Hinton

ch.lifewish@gmail.com

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

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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.

 

https://oneclickpolitics.global.ssl.fastly.net/messages/edit?promo_id=16979

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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.

Poems: 

http://cordite.org.au/translations/el-salvador-tragic/

About: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roque_Dalton

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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:

https://www.carlsonfilms.com

 

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

https://deathpenalty.org/teaser-for-a-kevin-cooper-documentary-is-now-streaming/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=1c7299ab-018c-4780-9e9d-54cab2541fa0

 

“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.


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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

https://www.workers.org/2022/01/60925/


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.”

 

https://www.audacy.com/kywnewsradio/news/local/pennsylvania-superior-court-rejects-mumia-abu-jamal-appeal-ron-castille


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
 
ONA MOVE
 

 

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



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A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Video at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWdJdODKO6M&feature=youtu.be

Screen shot from video.



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

 

https://www.freeleonardpeltier.com/petition

 

Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

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


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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

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

 

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

https://www.justice.gov/doj/webform/your-message-department-justice

 

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”



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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!


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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.)

Earnings

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.


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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


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Articles

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1) How Many Ants Are There on Earth? You’re Going to Need More Zeros.

There are 20 quadrillion ants worldwide, according to a new census, or 2.5 million for every living human. There are probably even more than that.

By Rebecca Dzombak, Sept. 22, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/22/science/ants-census-20-quadrillion.html

A close-up view of leaf cutter ants silhouetted black against a bright green banana plant. Several ants carry fragments of leaf and a number of them are illuminated and seen peeking through a hole they cut in the leaf.

Leaf cutter ants in Costa Rica. The researchers sampled 1,300 locations around the world, estimating ant abundance in different environments in areas such as forests and steppes. Credit...Bence Mate/Nature Picture Library, via Alamy


Right now, ants are scurrying around every continent except Antarctica, doing the hard work of engineering ecosystems. They spread seeds, churn up soil and speed up decomposition. They forage and hunt and get eaten. You may not know how much you rely on them.

 

“Ants are the movers and shakers of ecosystems,” said Nate Sanders, an ecologist at the University of Michigan. “Knowing anything about them helps us understand how ecosystems are put together and how they work.”

 

“I would argue most ecosystems would simply collapse without ants,” said Patrick Schultheiss, an ecologist at the University of Hong Kong. As some naturalists worry about an insect apocalypse, scientists are racing to keep track of what’s at stake. But they didn’t know how many ants there are or where they live.

 

Dr. Schultheiss and colleagues have a new ant census count: 20 quadrillion — 20 with 15 zeros following it. Ants outnumber humans at least 2.5 million to 1. Ant biomass is around 20 percent of human biomass, or the mass of carbon from the nearly 8 billion humans now living on Earth. The ant biomass also weighs around 12 megatons, which is about the equivalent of two Pyramids of Giza on a scale.

 

Their estimate, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, assembled censuses of ants living or foraging at the surface that scientists had previously produced around the world. In over 1,300 locations, ants were collected from leaf litter samples or in pit traps, which they fall into while foraging. The researchers used those counts to estimate the abundance of ants for different environments including tropical forests and arid shrublands.

 

The study used a logical, solid approach, said Dr. Sanders, who was not involved in the study, but it hadn’t been done before.

 

Previous measures of global ant population and biomass have been either approximations based on the planet’s total insect population or extrapolated from particular parts of the world. Estimates for ants’ total biomass had a wide range, from 2.5 megatons of carbon to 70 megatons. The new study instead took a bottom-up approach, compiling all of the existing ant counts the authors could find and working up from there.

 

Dr. Sanders said the study’s approach “is something that you can actually look at and logically get to the same point the authors got.”

 

The true number of ants is almost certainly higher than 20 quadrillion because the new calculations only included a conservative estimate for arboreal ants and excluded subterranean ants altogether, Dr. Schultheiss said. There were also fewer studies with the necessary methods from some parts of the world, such as central Africa and regions in Southeast Asia, while regions like North America and Europe had more studies. As more research is carried out in geographic areas with ant gaps, as well as in treetops and soils, the ant count will grow.

 

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually turns out to be an order of magnitude higher,” said Sabine Nooten, an ecologist at the University of Hong Kong and a co-author of the study. “We’re just scratching the surface.”

 

Tropical areas are biodiversity hot spots for a large swath of plants and animals, and ants are no exception. Nearly 70 percent of surface-foraging ants are in low-latitude biomes, such as tropical forests and grasslands, the study found. A study in the journal Science Advances this year found the subtropics have some of the highest ant biodiversity in the world, and the new findings align with that. With tropical forests’ voluminous canopies and known densities of arboreal ants, there are likely to be far more tropical ants in the tropics than current counts.

 

Getting an updated ant census was an essential step for scientists to track any changes in the insects’ ecology as they monitor global insect populations for declines. They have to know what’s there to know if it’s gone missing.

 

“It’s a great baseline that I hope will improve with time,” Dr. Sanders said. “It’s a real call to action for biodiversity scientists around the world not only to fill in these gaps, but also to start monitoring potential changes.”


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2) Russia-Ukraine War

As Moscow Begins Troop Call-Up, Some Men Flee the Country

By Valerie Hopkins, September 22, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/09/22/world/russia-ukraine-putin-news?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=World%20News





















Antiwar protests erupted across Russia September 21, 2022, against Putin’s massive draft of 300,000 people, and the escalation of the war on Ukraine. (Screenshot)


Russians are already receiving draft papers.

A day after President Vladimir V. Putin announced a call-up that could see 300,000 civilians swept into military service, thousands of Russians across the country had received draft papers and were being bundled into buses on Thursday for training — and soon, possibly, to the front lines in Ukraine, according to witnesses, local media reports, video and social media posts by local residents and relatives of conscripts who have been summoned to fight.

 

In mountainous eastern Siberia, the Russian news media reported that school buses were being commandeered to move troops to training grounds, and schools were becoming draft centers, with teachers writing “povestki,” or draft papers for people who were being called up, rather than teaching. Videos circulated on social media purporting to show new conscripts saying tearful goodbyes before boarding buses.

 

The call-ups reportedly began within hours of a recorded video announcement by Mr. Putin in which he raised the stakes in the war and escalated his confrontation with the West despite Russia’s humiliating setbacks on the battlefield. By declaring for the first time that Russian civilians could be pressed into service in Ukraine, Mr. Putin risked a public backlash but said the move was “necessary and urgent” because the West had “crossed all lines” by providing sophisticated weapons to Ukraine.

 

Despite the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent, protests erupted on Wednesday night across Russia in response to Mr. Putin’s move, with at least 1,312 people arrested, according to the human rights watchdog OVD-Info. Many Russians sought to travel to other countries to escape being called up to fight as men across the country reported to draft offices.

 

Russian officials said the call-up would be limited to people with combat experience. But Yanina Nimayeva, a journalist from the Buryatia region of Siberia, wrote on Thursday that her husband — a father of five and an employee in the emergency department in the regional capital — had been called up despite never having served in the military. She said he had received a summons to an urgent meeting at 4 a.m. in which it was announced that a train had been organized to bring reservists to the city of Chita.

 

“My husband is 38 years old, he is not in the reserve, he did not serve,” Ms. Nimayeva said in a video addressed to the regional leader, Aleksei S. Tsydenov of Mr. Putin’s United Russia party. In a sign of how the call-up is deepening discontent with Mr. Putin’s government, Ms. Nimayeva continued: “I understand that we have plans. Our republic needs to gather 4,000 soldiers. But some parameters and principles of this partial mobilization must be respected.”

 

Others also voiced anger at the government.

 

“Buryatia experienced today one of the most terrible nights in its history,” Alexandra Garmazhapova, the head of the antiwar Free Buryatia Foundation, wrote on Facebook. She said she had received “hundreds of messages asking how to leave for Ulaanbaatar,” the Mongolian capital.

 

It is not known how many people have received summonses. A woman from Dagestan, one of Russia’s poorest regions, who had already lost one of her sons in the war with Ukraine, told a New York Times reporter that three buses carrying newly mobilized soldiers had left her town. She sent videos showing armored personnel carriers driving along the potholed roads, although their authenticity could not be immediately verified.

 

In Ulan-Ude, the regional capital of Buryatia, draft papers “were distributed to houses and apartments all night,” according to a report from Arig-Us, a local independent television station. The local news media reported that new recruits had gathered at a military facility a short walk from a sports complex where funerals are held for soldiers who die in Ukraine.

 

Farther northeast, in the city of Neryungri, one video showed four buses lined up at a stadium. Similar videos showing new recruits gathering appeared on social media from across the country — including Vladivostok in the far east, Pskov and Belgorod on the Ukrainian border, the working-class Moscow suburb of Lyubertsy, and Chechnya and Dagestan in the Caucasus.

 

Ivan Nechepurenko, Alina Lobzina and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.


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3) Protests Intensify in Iran Over Woman Who Died in Custody

Unrest has spread to dozens of cities, with at least seven people killed, according to witnesses, rights groups and video posted on social media.

By Cora Engelbrecht and Farnaz Fassihi, Published Sept. 21, 2022, Updated Sept. 22, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/21/world/middleeast/iran-protests-mahsa-amini.html?searchResultPosition=1
Iranians protesting the death in custody of Mahsa Amini by Tehran’s morality police. She was arrested accusation that she violated the law on head scarves requiring all women of puberty and above to wear a headscarf and loose clothing in public.























Woman burning her head scarf in protest over the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody for violating Iran's dress code for women of puberty and above to wear head scarves and loose clothing in public. (Screenshot)


A picture of Mahsa Amini provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health.

A picture of Mahsa Amini provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health. Credit...Iran Wire


Antigovernment protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody are intensifying, and dozens of cities are embroiled in unrest that has been met with a crackdown by the authorities, according to witnesses, videos posted on social media and human rights groups.

 

The protests appear to be one of the largest displays of defiance of the Islamic Republic’s rule in years and come as President Ebrahim Raisi is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. They erupted last weekend after the woman, Mahsa Amini, died following her arrest by Tehran’s morality police on an accusation of violating the law on head scarves.

 

At least seven protesters had been killed as of Wednesday, according to human rights groups. Protesters have been calling for an end to the Islamic Republic, chanting things like “Mullahs get lost,” “We don’t want an Islamic republic,” and “Death to the supreme leader.” Women have also burned hijabs in protest against the law, which requires all women above the age of puberty to wear a head covering and loose clothing.

 

Mr. Raisi’s government has unleashed a massive deployment of security forces, including riot police officers and the plainclothes Basij militia, to crack down on the protesters. Internet and cell service has been disrupted in neighborhoods where there were protests. Access to Instagram, which has been widely used by the protesters, was also restricted on Wednesday.

 

“For security reasons, the relevant authorities may impose certain restrictions on internet speed,” Iran’s minister for information and communications technology, Issa Zarepour, said in a statement.

 

The videos posted online and the scale of the response from the authorities are difficult to independently verify, but video and photographs sent by witnesses known to The New York Times were broadly in line with the images being posted widely online, showing protesters, many of them women, facing off against the police, and fires on the streets of Tehran.

 

The police shoved protesters to the ground, beating them with batons and firing shots and tear gas in their direction, according to witnesses and some of those videos.

 

Ms. Amini’s death has garnered international attention and turned her into a symbol of Iran’s restrictive and violent treatment of women and its repressive policing of the opposition.

 

The Iranian authorities say that Ms. Amini died from a heart attack, and have denied accusations that she suffered blows to the head while being taken to a detention facility. Her family, which has not responded to requests for comment from The New York Times, has told news outlets that she was healthy at the time of the arrest.

 

The protests that have swept the country are one of the most daring displays of defiance of the government’s religious and social restrictions in years, according to analysts and rights experts.

 

“The anger on the streets is palpable,” said Jasmin Ramsey, deputy director at the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based nonprofit organization, adding that the protests were a “culmination of the past five years where all facets of society — laborers, teachers, retirees, university students and average people everywhere — have been trying to call for an end to the crisis of impunity in Iran despite violent state repression.”

 

The demonstrations have largely been spontaneous and leaderless, she said, and had probably been inflamed by the photos and videos circulating across social media showing extraordinary scenes across the country, including women risking arrest by symbolically removing and burning their hijabs in public. Many have rallied on social media with hashtags in Persian referring to the death of Ms. Amini.

 

In the city of Kerman, in the southeast, one video showed a woman cutting her hair while sitting on a utility box in front of a roaring crowd. In the south, in the city of Shiraz, another showed an older woman shouting at a security officer, “If you think you are a man, come and kill me.” And one showed university students gathering on campuses in Tehran chanting “Killings after killings, to hell with morality police!”

 

“These are all acts that are punishable by law,” Ms. Ramsey said in a phone interview, referring to the videos. “They’re showing a serious challenge to the Islamic Republic in their chants and the amount of people that are in the streets,” she added.

 

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Tehran late Tuesday, setting fire to tires, and shouting “Death to the dictator,” and “Life, liberty and women,” according to a witness.

 

Tehran’s governor, Mohsen Mansouri, said on Wednesday that foreign agents had hijacked the demonstrations and were fueling violence in the streets.

 

Witnesses said it was clear that the protests were getting broad support from people with a long litany of grievances after struggling under oppressive rules and economic hardship.

 

Some Iranian protesters lashed back at security forces, chasing them down the street with rocks. In Isfahan and Tehran, protesters set fire to police cars and motorcycles and in Kerman they encircled a police officer and beat and kicked him to the ground, videos showed.

 

At least seven people have been killed in cities in Kurdistan, Ms. Amini’s home province in the northwest of the country, according to Hengaw, a human rights group, which posted names and photos of victims online.

 

They were killed by “direct fire by Iranian security forces,” the group said in a statement posted to its website. At least 450 people had been injured and at least 500 were arrested in protests in cities across the Kurdish province, the group said.

The Iranian media reported that Mr. Raisi, who was scheduled to speak at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, told Ms. Amini’s family on Sunday that he had ordered an investigation into her death.

 

“Your daughter is like my own daughter, and I feel that this incident happened to one of my loved ones,” he said.

 

The protests were not addressed by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who gave a speech at an event on Wednesday commemorating veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. In an effort to curb the backlash, a representative of the supreme leader visited Ms. Amini’s family home, according to the state media.

 

“All institutions will take action to defend the rights that were violated,” the adviser, Abdolreza Pourzahabi, said in the state media. “As I promised to the family of Ms. Amini, I will also follow up the issue of her death until the final result.”

 

On Tuesday, the United Nations acting high commissioner for human rights, Nada Al-Nashif, condemned the “violent response” of the security forces to the protests and called for an independent investigation.

 

“The authorities must stop targeting, harassing, and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules,” Ms. Al-Nashif said in a statement.

 

President Emmanuel Macron of France, who met Mr. Raisi on Tuesday, told BBC’s Persian news service that the “the credibility of Iran is now at stake regarding the fact that they have to address this issue.”

 

The unrest comes at a challenging moment for Ayatollah Khamenei, who recently canceled all meetings and public appearances because of illness, according to four people familiar with his health condition.

 

Sanam Vakil, deputy director of the Middle East program at Chatham House, a British research institute, said there was little hope that the protests would bring real change on such a foundational issue as long as the supreme leader, who is 83, was still alive.

 

“At the end of his life, he’s looking to preserve his legacy and keep the system intact,” she said. “His worldview, shared by those around him, is predicated on the idea that compromise opens the door to further compromise and demonstrates weakness rather than strength.”

 

Ms. Vakil said to expect a “coordinated coercive response” from the authorities in the coming days or weeks, one likely to include a further internet slowdown, violence, and more detentions of protesters.

 

“They might close the doors, but people will again, find a way to push open windows,” Ms. Vakil said. “And that’s what we keep seeing these continued patterns of protests — because they’re not able to, or not willing to, address popular anger and economic frustration.”



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4) ¡Basta de Apagones! The Rot in Puerto Rico Runs Deeper Than Its Disastrous Power Company.

By Israel Meléndez Ayala, Sept. 22, 2022

Mr. Meléndez Ayala is an anthropologist and historian.


Protesters outside the governor’s mansion La Fortaleza in San Juan, Puerto Rico in July.

Protesters outside the governor’s mansion La Fortaleza in San Juan, Puerto Rico in July. Credit...Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters


SAN JUAN, P.R. — Hurricane Fiona made landfall on Sunday morning. By 1 p.m. the entire island had been plunged into darkness. Days later, roughly a million homes and businesses in Puerto Rico still lacked power and access to clean water, my own home included. As I sit in a cafe and write, I am overwhelmed by the feeling of déjà vu.

 

LUMA Energy began supplying power to Puerto Rico after the government privatized what had been a public service in June 2021. It was hired in part to help fix our fragile power grid. But LUMA has not done the job it was contracted to do, including investing in green energy. In the past year, blackouts, sometimes lasting for days, have become a part of our daily life. Even hospitals have been left to rely on generators. Yet, despite the poor service, our electric bills have more than doubled.

 

Puerto Rico was unraveling economically and politically long before LUMA and Hurricane Fiona. Austerity programs cut deeply into the public service budget, health care, pensions and education to pay off creditors. Newly elected officials reward party loyalists with government employment, creating a series of sycophants who use public office for their own gain. They award million-dollar contracts to companies that are sometimes owned by party members or relatives, in exchange for kickbacks, or, worse yet, create ghost companies to divert the funds into their own pockets.

 

As a result, our roads and highways are pockmarked with potholes. While the rest of us struggle to make ends meet, the Senate goes on shopping sprees, spending hundreds of thousands on furniture, laptops and other goods that don’t provide services to taxpayers. While austerity measures closed businesses and schools, Puerto Ricans paid over $15 million to cover the costs of legal representation and claims related to officials’ violation of civil rights.

 

I was born and raised in Old San Juan. Despite my being a young professional with a master’s degree and a full-time job, an ever-increasing electric bill comes as a shock each month, cutting into potential savings. The dream of owning a home in the city I grew up in, that I call home, feels out of reach because of the high cost of living.

 

It’s not what I imagined my life would be like.

 

In the 1950s, new highways supplanted dirt roads for horses and mules. Rows of wooden houses that lacked basic services in the island’s mountainous interior and coastal urban areas were replaced by sprawling concrete developments. Illiteracy declined, families sent their children to universities, and the poverty rate dropped. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, created in 1941, had a hand in powering industrialization and prosperity into the 1970s.

 

But as industries and people displaced by natural disasters or in search of resources and better-paying jobs left the island en masse, PREPA faced both sharply decreasing revenue and an obligation to provide power for the remaining citizens. The monopoly began skimping on maintenance and borrowed billions of dollars just to stay afloat, accruing $9 billion in debt. In July 2017, PREPA filed for bankruptcy. The decades-long culture of neglect and corruption had left the power grid in shambles, then in September of that year, Hurricane Maria delivered the final blow.

 

In the wake of an island-wide blackout, PREPA approved a $300 million no-bid contract with Whitefish Energy, based in Montana, to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s electricity grid two months after Hurricane Maria hit. It made little difference that the company had minimal experience with disaster relief and few employees. The deal was later scuttled amid questions about how Whitefish got the job and allegations of price-gouging. In 2018, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló introduced a plan to sell off the power company.

 

LUMA, a consortium of the Canadian company ATCO and the Houston-based Quanta Services, was contracted to work with PREPA to manage the island’s power last June. It was supposed to cut costs and make desperately needed upgrades to the power grid. Yet despite chronic blackouts, this June I paid $242 for our electric bill, compared with $87 for that month last year. The thing is, the biggest part of LUMA’s fee for running the grid will be paid whether the job is done well or not. There is little accountability for the parties in the agreement.

 

But there is reason for hope. While Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice, which is responsible for the enforcement of the local law, allows impunity to go unchecked, Washington has begun to pay attention. A 2019 investigation by the United States Department of Justice found that after Hurricane Maria, PREPA employees accepted or demanded bribes to restore power to residences and businesses before serving critical locations like San Juan’s Rio Piedras Medical Center. The power authority also mismanaged a warehouse where materials were stored that should have been available to help restore power on the island. And over six years, more than $300 million in public funds was spent on consultants related to PREPA.

 

Last month the former governor Wanda Vázquez was arrested on corruption charges, and at least nine mayors have been accused of corruption. They include Eduardo Cintrón-Suárez, the former mayor of the Municipality of Guayama, who in July was sentenced to 30 months in prison for receiving cash payments in exchange for executing municipal contracts and approving invoice payments for an asphalt and paving company. Many more are believed to be under investigation.

 

Puerto Ricans shouldn’t have to rely on the U.S. government to deliver justice on a local level. Our own justice system must root out the corruption that threatens to suck the island dry. It can do that by investigating and prosecuting corruption to prove, in part, that the island itself can take the reins of justice. It should demand that the federal government carry out a fiscal restructuring that puts safeguards in place that curb corruption.

 

Hurricane Fiona was just a Category 1 storm, which is why the scale of destruction has taken so many of us by surprise. We knew things were bad, but we didn’t realize just how agonizingly bad. In the years since Hurricane Maria, our battered infrastructure has only gotten worse. As of Wednesday night, my water service and power were restored. With other storms churning in the Atlantic Ocean, it remains to be seen for how long. At least 20 hospitals are still running on generators.

 

What is most galling is that it is our own people who rob and abuse us. The betrayal is so insidious that I seethe with anger if I think about it too much. We’re tired of being displaced by wealthy foreigners, who flock to the island to bask on our beaches and get the tax breaks that are not available to us. We’re tired of politicians enriching themselves at our expense. We’re fed up with the blackouts.

 

After the hurricane passed, my neighbors and I checked on one another. I was moved to tears when my upstairs neighbor told me that our community spirit, the way we look out for one another, is what has helped us survive these past few years. No one is coming to save us. We’ve proved ourselves capable of ousting one governor from office, and we won’t stop until we have created a better, fairer Puerto Rico.


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5) The World Got Diamonds. A Mining Town Got Buried in Sludge.

Waste from a diamond mine in South Africa grew ever higher as the ownership changed from De Beers to a billionaire to a Dubai-based retailer. The mining town paid the price.

By John Eligon and Lynsey ChutelPhotographs by Ilan Godfrey, Sept. 23, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/23/us/south-africa-diamond-mine-collapse.html

Mr. Sephaka had worked at the mine but quit because the conditions were bad. The mine’s problems caught up with him anyway.

Mr. Sephaka had worked at the mine but quit because the conditions were bad. The mine’s problems caught up with him anyway.


JAGERSFONTEIN, South Africa — The dirt wall holding in mucky waste from diamond mining grew over the years to resemble a wide, towering plateau. Suspended like a frozen tsunami over neat tracts of Monopoly-like homes in the rural South African mining town of Jagersfontein, the dam alarmed residents who feared it may collapse.

 

“We saw it long time, that one day this thing will burst,” said Memane Paulus, a machine operator at the dam for the past decade.

 

The worst fears of residents came true this month when a section of the dam crumbled, sending a thunderous rush of gray sludge through the community that killed at least one person, destroyed 164 houses, and turned a six-mile stretch of neighborhoods and grassy fields into an ashen wasteland.

 

The Jagersfontein disaster has caused alarm in a nation where heaping dams of mining waste, known as tailings, are part of the landscape. Experts estimate that South Africa has hundreds of tailings dams, which mining watchdogs say is the legacy of an exploitative industry that extracts lucrative gems for jewelry stores abroad, while poor communities are saddled with toxic waste at home.

 

The townspeople in Jagersfontein, home to one of the world’s oldest diamond mines, had watched the wall of waste mount, looming over their homes and streets. But there was little they could do to stop it because it was big business.

 

A consortium that bought the mining waste from the mine’s former owner, De Beers, was sifting through the tailings to extract any diamonds left behind — an increasingly popular offshoot of mining. In doing so, the operation was piling up even more waste, and government oversight was lax. Some mine workers were scared when their colleagues reported finding leaks in the dam.

 

“It was definitely avoidable,” said Mariette Liefferink, chief executive of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, an environmental organization focused on mining. “The damage to the ecosystem, to human lives, to future generations — the risks are significant.”

 

The international mining industry had promised to do better after a similar dam collapse in Brazil three years ago killed more than 250 people. Some of the leading mine operators collaborated to develop standards for tailings dams. But many smaller operators, like the one in Jagersfontein, don’t follow the standards and lack the resources and expertise to manage tailings dams, Ms. Liefferink said.

 

Marius de Villiers, the legal compliance officer for the mine’s operating company, Jagersfontein Development, said it complied with all requirements set by South African regulators. The dam was regularly inspected, he said, and an engineering report from July declared it was structurally sound.

 

“We were not even contemplating that something like this would happen,” Mr. de Villiers said. He said that while the company was still investigating the dam break, it “must accept liability that comes with the operations and with the break.”

 

‘That thing is going to blast’

 

At about 2 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, a truck driver at the dam spotted a crack in the facade, several workers there that day said in interviews. The driver reported it to a foreman, who checked it out but did not do anything, the workers said.

 

Joe Makalajane, a pan operator at the mine, did not see the crack himself but spoke to the driver as they were ending their shift, he said.

 

“He said, ‘I’ll tell you, that thing is going to blast,’” said Mr. Makalajane, 45, recalling his conversation. Of management, he added, “They didn’t take it seriously.”

 

Mr. de Villiers and Johan Combrink, the plant manager, denied that there was any report of a crack early that morning.

 

The dam wall collapsed between 6 and 7 a.m. Some residents are furious at the prospect that they could have been alerted earlier.

 

Rio-Rita Breytenbach, whose home is near the dam, stood on a chair in the kitchen as the barrage of slime barreled toward her. She was swept off the chair and out of the house. Caught in the raging current, Ms. Breytenbach, 39, said she floated on her back and paddled in the muck to keep her head above water.

 

“I was praying that I would survive,” she said.

 

She finally came to rest on a farm, where the police found her — more than six miles from her house.

 

The sludge wiped out much of two residential neighborhoods to the south and the east. Fields, stretching for miles, looked like frozen cement lakes, some dotted with mangled cars and sunken utility poles.

 

Jack Sephaka was visiting his mother across town when the dam broke. He stared from a distance in horror — his three-bedroom house was being washed away with, as far as he knew, his wife and one of his sons inside.

 

“I thought they were dead,” he said.

 

To his relief, his wife eventually called his mother to say they had made it to a shelter.

 

Now he has to rebuild a home that he bought 20 years ago for 40,000 rand ($2,300), now missing its entire front facade.

 

Mr. Sephaka had worked at the mine shortly after it reopened in 2010, but quit after four years because conditions were bad, he said.

 

“I was not happy,” he said, with “the stress of the mine.”

 

But the mine’s problems still caught up to him.

 

A colonial past

 

With its first diamonds extracted in 1870 by colonial settlers, the Jagersfontein mine is a relic of a diamond rush that often exploited Black South Africans while enriching white owners. It yielded a 650-carat diamond, among the world’s largest, that was acquired by British merchants and from which was cut the jubilee diamond, named in honor of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee.

 

De Beers, the global mining titan, operated the mine from 1932 to 1971. It then sat idle, but in the early 2000s, De Beers sought to capitalize on improving technology to extract minerals from tailings. It sued for the right to mine tailings without a mining license and won a judgment in 2007.

 

De Beers then sold the tailings at Jagersfontein in 2010 to a consortium that eventually came under the control of Johann Rupert, a South African billionaire whose companies own luxury brands like Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. In April, just six months before the collapse, Mr. Rupert’s holding company, Reinet Investments S.C.A., sold all of its shares in Jagersfontein Development to Stargems, a Dubai-based diamond manufacturer and retailer, according to a Stargems announcement.

 

Reinet did not respond to requests for comment.

 

The companies could be prosecuted for violating South Africa’s environmental and water laws, or could be forced to pay compensation, said Tracy-Lynn Field, a law professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg who specializes in environmental and mining law. Government officials may also have to answer, she said.

 

The ruling in 2007 in De Beers’s lawsuit removed responsibility for tailings dams from the government’s minerals department. Instead, because tailings are processed in dams, the Department of Water and Sanitation was left to oversee them, despite limited expertise in mining, Ms. Field said.

 

Warning signs

 

Residents said they were excited when the mine roared back to life in 2010, believing it would create jobs.

 

But soon they were coughing from all the dust in the air, and watching with angst as the dam’s dirt facade nearly doubled in height.

 

“We kept saying, ‘What if something happens here? What if it breaks?’” said Itumeleng Monageng, 28, who unfortunately found out the answer: This month he was knee-high in muck, salvaging whatever he could from his home.

 

Fears heightened in recent years when residents said they periodically saw water seeping through the dam wall. The mayor of Jagersfontein, Xolani Tseletsele, said community members aired their concerns with officials from the water department.

 

But Mr. Combrink, the plant manager, denied that the dam ever had a leakage problem, or that employees had reported holes in the facade. He attributed any moisture to storm water runoff.

 

According to a copy of a water department directive, inspectors visited the dam, and in January 2021, ordered the operation to stop, citing several violations. Chief among them was that the facility disposed more than two and a half times as much waste in the dam as it was allowed to in 2020 — and had continued disposing waste even after department officials told it to stop.

 

Five months later, the department cleared the facility to reopen, noting in a memorandum that Jagersfontein Development had agreed to be inspected more closely and installed new equipment to reduce the waste water disposed in the dam. Although the water department said in its memo that Jagersfontein Development still needed to address issues of dam safety raised in an independent engineering report, it gave no directive or deadline for the company to do so.

 

Richard Spoor, an attorney with decades of experience litigating mining cases, said it was extraordinary that water department officials, “having found that that high-level report showed a serious risk,” allowed it to reopen.

 

Sputnik Ratau, a spokesman for the water department, said that the dam had been allowed to reopen while safety issues were being addressed because dam officials had already satisfied other conditions.

 

In 2018, Jagersfontein Development built a new section of the dam that would increase its capacity by 30 percent and increase profitability, according to a 2019 annual report filed by Reinet Investments.

 

Even with that expansion, the dam was still having capacity issues — it has applied for a permit to dump waste in the original mining pit, which is a national heritage site.

 

An analysis of satellite images conducted after the collapse by a data and analytics company shows that from Aug. 1 to 13, the corner of the dam that broke had become slightly deformed, indicating weakness, said Dave Petley, a geologist  at the University of Hull in England. The new section is the one that collapsed, he said.

 

Mining companies and regulators with proper expertise should have caught those warning signs, he said.

 

For Mr. Sephaka, the former mine worker whose house was ruined, this was the latest sour chapter in the long life of a mine that he felt had brought little benefit to the community.

 

“It’s painful,” he said, surveying the wreckage.


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6) Supreme Court Says Alabama Can Kill Prisoner With Method He Fears

Alan Eugene Miller says that he is afraid of needles and that the state lost his request to die by nitrogen hypoxia. The court decided that the state could proceed with lethal injection instead.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Sept. 23, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/23/us/alan-miller-alabama-execution.html

The lethal injection chamber at William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., in 2002.

The lethal injection chamber at William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., in 2002. Credit...Dave Martin/Associated Press


The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Alabama could kill a death row prisoner by lethal injection despite his assertion that the state had lost his request to be killed by nitrogen hypoxia, a method of suffocation.

 

The prisoner, Alan Eugene Miller, who was convicted of murdering three men in 1999, was set to die after the Supreme Court said, in a 5-4 order without explanation, that his execution should not be blocked. Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court’s three liberal members in dissent, saying the legal battle over Mr. Miller’s execution method should be allowed to play out.

 

For several hours on Thursday night, it appeared that Mr. Miller, 57, would be executed by lethal injection, the method he had sought to avoid. But early on Friday morning, local journalists reported that the prison commissioner said the state had not been able to kill Mr. Miller before its midnight deadline.

 

Mr. Miller was convicted of killing three men on Aug. 5, 1999, at two Alabama businesses where he had worked, a plumbing company and a warehouse selling oxygen canisters.

 

In 2018, Alabama passed a law allowing death row prisoners to choose to be killed by the untested method of nitrogen hypoxia, in which a person is fatally deprived of oxygen, in part because the state was having difficulty obtaining drugs for lethal injections. Mr. Miller said he had signed a form opting to be killed that way because of a fear of needles, but the state said it had no record of the request.

 

A federal judge had halted the execution after the head of Alabama’s prisons said the state would not be ready to execute Mr. Miller by nitrogen hypoxia on Thursday. The judge ruled that it was quite likely that Mr. Miller had filled out the form and that prison officials, who had no formal system of recording prisoners’ responses, had misplaced it. An appellate court upheld that decision on Thursday, but it was overturned later that night by the Supreme Court.

 

Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit that collects data on executions, said the Supreme Court had eroded its credibility by saying the execution could take place.

 

“Today is another clear example that, when it comes to executions, it’s the outcome that matters to this court, whether or not it’s legal,” Mr. Dunham said. “That’s not what a neutral arbiter of the law does. That’s not what a legitimate court does.”

 

Alabama is among several states that have sought new execution methods as political pressure on pharmaceutical groups has made it more difficult for states to obtain lethal injection drugs.

 

South Carolina had planned to kill a prisoner by firing squad until a judge ruled this month that the method was unconstitutional. In Oklahoma, after a series of botched lethal injections, the state’s attorney general said in 2018 that it would pursue the use of nitrogen gas in executions; but it has used only lethal injection since, killing five prisoners with the method since last year.


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