Bring Mumia Home!
Wednesday, October 26, 12 noon
Federal Building in Oakland, CA
1301 Clay St. (at 14th St.)
1 block from BART (get off at the front of the train)
Initiated by The Labor Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
The Campaign To Bring Mumia Home
Stand with Mumia, his legal representatives and his supporters as Mumia has stood with us since the age of 14, as a leading figure in the Philadelphia Black Panther Party. His legal team will be in court petitioning to have the explosive new evidence heard and litigated allowing for a reopening of the Appeals process, which the Common Pleas Court Judge Lucretia Clemons will be deciding if the new evidence warrants an impartial hearing, leading to a new trial or outright release.
· That new evidence being a key witness testifying against Mumia in the original 1981 trial, asking the former DA, Joseph Mc Gil "where is my money? I've been trying to contact you"
· Ineffective counsel and jury fixing to keep Blacks off of high profile cases
The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home has a charter bus leaving NYC at 5:30 AM, headed to Philadelphia to protest a fraudulent conviction and patently unfair trial fraught with over 21 Constitutional violations. Go toBringmumiahome.com to purchase your ticket, $30. Call the Free Mumia Coalition hotline for more details. (212) 330-8029
We expect to be back in NYC by 4:00PM.
When We Fight We Win!
Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice Demands Release of Political Prisoner
Minneapolis, Minnesota – On September 1, Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice departed from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The march will pass through multiple cities, finally ending in Washington, DC on November 14. Rallies and prayer sessions will be held along the route. The walk is being coordinated by the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council to demand elder Leonard Peltier’s release from federal prison.
Leonard Peltier’s fight for justice
Leonard Peltier has been unjustly held as a political prisoner by the U.S. government for over 46 years, making him one of the world’s longest incarcerated political prisoners. He is the longest held Native American political prisoner in the world. Peltier was wrongly convicted and framed for a shooting at Oglala on June 26, 1975.
At the time, members of the Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were being endlessly terrorized and targeted by paramilitaries led by the corrupt, U.S.-government backed tribal chairman Dick Wilson. 64 people were killed by these paramilitaries between 1973 and 1975. The Lakota people called on the American Indian Movement (AIM) for protection, and Peltier answered the call. During the night of June 26, 1975, plainclothes FBI officers raided the AIM encampment at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. A shootout ensued, and two FBI officers, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, and one Native man, Joe Stuntz, were left dead.
In the ridiculous trial that followed, the two other Native defendants, Bob Robideau and Dino Butler, were completely exonerated. Peltier, on the other hand, was used to make an example. The FBI coerced a statement from a Native woman who had never met Peltier at the time she gave her statement. This false evidence was used to extradite Peltier from Canada, where he had fled after the shootout, and is used to imprison Peltier to this day.
The struggle continues
Leonard’s true “crime” is daring to fight back against the everyday oppression Native people face under the imperialist regime of the United States. Growing up on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota, Leonard lived through the U.S. government’s genocidal programs to forcibly assimilate Native peoples. Recently, Peltier opened up about his experiences in the Wahpeton Indian School. This was one of many boarding schools used to brutalize Native children into leaving behind their culture. Children were beaten constantly, especially for practicing any portions of their culture or speaking their language. Many didn’t make it out alive. This was part of the U.S. government‘s larger policy of intensifying attacks on the sovereignty of the First Nations. These experiences, among many more, led Peltier to become a member of the American Indian Movement to continue the fight back against genocide of Native peoples.
Peltier is a lifelong liberation fighter who has sacrificed immensely for the movement. He is also a 77-year-old elder with numerous chronic health problems, exacerbated by his fight with COVID earlier this year. Despite his innocence and health problems, the U.S. government has refused repeated calls for clemency for Peltier. Throughout his years of imprisonment, many have demanded Peltier’s freedom, including Nelson Mandela and, most recently, a UN Human Rights Council working group.
The time for Leonard Peltier to finally be released from prison is now. Join the fight to free Leonard Peltier, and to free all political prisoners!
There are many ways to support the march and strengthen the call to free Peltier. These include:
· Joining all or part of the walk
· Joining a rally
· Sponsoring the caravan with a hot prepared meal
· Dry food donations
· Hosting lodging/camping
· Driving a support vehicle
· Raising awareness of Peltier’s cause locally
· Promoting the caravan and rally
Monetary donations (can be sent via PayPal here)
Those interested in volunteering with the caravan can sign up here.
Learn more about Leonard Peltier and his case here:
—Liberation News, September 3, 2022
Urgent support needed for cancer-stricken, imprisoned writer/artist, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson’s Legal Fund!
Cash App: $Solidarity2RIBPP
To this end we are raising resources that will allow us to retain an attorney to fight and defend Rashid against the multiple abuses of the Virginia Department of Corrections. Most egregious are the refusal of life saving cancer treatment and the recent illegal & retaliatory transfer from Nottoway Correctional Center to Sussex 1.
It is apparent that our comrade and friend Kevin “Rashid” Johnson will not receive the care or cancer treatment that he requires without serious, legal intervention.
Please send support to CashApp: $Solidarity2RIBPP
If you are interested in organizing around this effort with us and would like more info, please dm us or email:
The US sanctions and embargo are preventing Cuba from rebuilding after Hurricane Ian.
The Biden Administration needs to act right now to help the Cuban people. Hurricane Ian caused great devastation. The power grid was damaged, and the electrical system collapsed. Over four thousand homes have been completely destroyed or badly damaged.
Cuba must be allowed, even if just for the next six months, to purchase the necessary construction materials to REBUILD. Cubans are facing a major humanitarian crisis because of Hurricane Ian.
Doctors for Assange Statement
Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition
‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong
Ahead of the U.K. Home Secretary’s decision on whether to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, a group of more than 300 doctors representing 35 countries have told Priti Patel that approving his extradition would be “medically and ethically unacceptable”.
In an open letter sent to the Home Secretary on Friday June 10, and copied to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland, the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, the doctors draw attention to the fact that Assange suffered a “mini stroke” in October 2021. They note:
“Predictably, Mr Assange’s health has since continued to deteriorate in your custody. In October 2021 Mr. Assange suffered a ‘mini-stroke’… This dramatic deterioration of Mr Assange’s health has not yet been considered in his extradition proceedings. The US assurances accepted by the High Court, therefore, which would form the basis of any extradition approval, are founded upon outdated medical information, rendering them obsolete.”
The doctors charge that any extradition under these circumstances would constitute negligence. They write:
“Under conditions in which the UK legal system has failed to take Mr Assange’s current health status into account, no valid decision regarding his extradition may be made, by yourself or anyone else. Should he come to harm in the US under these circumstances it is you, Home Secretary, who will be left holding the responsibility for that negligent outcome.”
In their letter the group reminds the Home Secretary that they first wrote to her on Friday 22 November 2019, expressing their serious concerns about Julian Assange’s deteriorating health.
Those concerns were subsequently borne out by the testimony of expert witnesses in court during Assange’s extradition proceedings, which led to the denial of his extradition by the original judge on health grounds. That decision was later overturned by a higher court, which referred the decision to Priti Patel in light of US assurances that Julian Assange would not be treated inhumanely.
The doctors write:
“The subsequent ‘assurances’ of the United States government, that Mr Assange would not be treated inhumanly, are worthless given their record of pursuit, persecution and plotted murder of Mr Assange in retaliation for his public interest journalism.”
“Home Secretary, in making your decision as to extradition, do not make yourself, your government, and your country complicit in the slow-motion execution of this award-winning journalist, arguably the foremost publisher of our time. Do not extradite Julian Assange; free him.”
Julian Assange remains in High Security Belmarsh Prison awaiting Priti Patel’s decision, which is due any day.
Sign the petition:
If extradited to the United States, Julian Assange, father of two young British children, would face a sentence of 175 years in prison merely for receiving and publishing truthful information that revealed US war crimes.
UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that "it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America".
Amnesty International states, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”
Human Rights Watch says, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”
The NUJ has stated that the “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.
Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.
The UK is required under its international obligations to stop the extradition. Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty says: "Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense."
The decision to either Free Assange or send him to his death is now squarely in the political domain. The UK must not send Julian to the country that conspired to murder him in London.
The United Kingdom can stop the extradition at any time. It must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty and Free Julian Assange.
Recently I’ve started working with the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee. On March 17, Ruchell turned 83. He’s been imprisoned for 59 years, and now walks with a walker. He is no threat to society if released. Ruchell was in the Marin County Courthouse on August 7, 1970, the morning Jonathan Jackson took it over in an effort to free his older brother, the internationally known revolutionary prison writer, George Jackson. Ruchell joined Jonathan and was the only survivor of the shooting that ensued. He has been locked up ever since and denied parole 13 times. On March 19, the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee held a webinar for Ruchell for his 83rd birthday, which was a terrific event full of information and plans for building the campaign to Free Ruchell. (For information about his case, please visit: www.freeruchellmagee.org.)
Below are two ways to stream this historic webinar, plus
• a petition you can sign
• a portal to send a letter to Governor Newsom
• a Donate button to support his campaign
• a link to our campaign website.
Please take a moment and help.
Note: We will soon have t-shirts to sell to raise money for legal expenses.
Here is the YouTube link to view the March 19 Webinar:
Here is the Facebook link:
Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:
Write to Governor Newsom’s office:
No one ever hurt their eyes by looking on the bright side
Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale
U.S. Air Force veteran, Daniel Everette Hale has recently completed his first year of a 45-month prison sentence for exposing the realities of U.S drone warfare. Daniel Hale is not a spy, a threat to society, or a bad faith actor. His revelations were not a threat to national security. If they were, the prosecution would be able to identify the harm caused directly from the information Hale made public. Our members of Congress can urge President Biden to commute Daniel's sentence! Either way, Daniel deserves to be free.
Laws are created to be followed
by the poor.
Laws are made by the rich
to bring some order to exploitation.
The poor are the only law abiders in history.
When the poor make laws
the rich will be no more.
—Roque Dalton Presente!
(May 14, 1935 – Assassinated May 10, 1975)
 Roque Dalton was a Salvadoran poet, essayist, journalist, political activist, and intellectual. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets.
“In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper
A film by Kenneth A. Carlson
Teaser is now streaming at:
Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022
“In his Defense,” a documentary on the Kevin Cooper case, is in the works right now, and California filmmaker Kenneth Carlson has released a teaser for it on CarlsonFilms.com
Just over seven months ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an independent investigation of Cooper’s death penalty case. At the time, he explained that, “In cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined.”
That investigation is ongoing, with no word from any of the parties involved on its progress.
Cooper has been on death row since 1985 for the murder of four people in San Bernardino County in June 1983. Prosecutors said Cooper, who had escaped from a minimum-security prison and had been hiding out near the scene of the murder, killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, a friend who was spending the night at the Ryen’s. The lone survivor of the attack, eight-year-old Josh Ryen, was severely injured but survived.
For over 36 years, Cooper has insisted he is innocent, and there are serious questions about evidence that was missing, tampered with, destroyed, possibly planted, or hidden from the defense. There were multiple murder weapons, raising questions about how one man could use all of them, killing four people and seriously wounding one, in the amount of time the coroner estimated the murders took place.
The teaser alone gives a good overview of the case, and helps explain why so many believe Cooper was wrongfully convicted.
New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case
The following statement was issued January 4, 2022, regarding new legal filings by attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464)
The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won’t know for at least a month.
The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then-Prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill, prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury, and letters and memoranda which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct, and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in 1982, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latinx detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions.
In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed.
Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”
The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in U.S. courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. (lovenotphear.com/) Stay tuned.
—Workers World, January 4, 2022
Pa. Supreme Court denies widow’s appeal to remove Philly DA from Abu-Jamal case
Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder of Faulkner in 1982. Over the past four decades, five of his appeals have been quashed.
In 1989, the state’s highest court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s death penalty conviction, and in 2012, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.
Abu-Jamal, 66, remains in prison. He can appeal to the state Supreme Court, or he can file a new appeal.
KYW Newsradio reached out to Abu-Jamal’s attorneys for comment. They shared this statement in full:
“Today, the Superior Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider issues raised by Mr. Abu-Jamal in prior appeals. Two years ago, the Court of Common Pleas ordered reconsideration of these appeals finding evidence of an appearance of judicial bias when the appeals were first decided. We are disappointed in the Superior Court’s decision and are considering our next steps.
“While this case was pending in the Superior Court, the Commonwealth revealed, for the first time, previously undisclosed evidence related to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case. That evidence includes a letter indicating that the Commonwealth promised its principal witness against Mr. Abu-Jamal money in connection with his testimony. In today’s decision, the Superior Court made clear that it was not adjudicating the issues raised by this new evidence. This new evidence is critical to any fair determination of the issues raised in this case, and we look forward to presenting it in court.”
Questions and comments may be sent to: email@example.com
Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.
Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603
How long will he still be with us? How long will the genocide continue?
By Michael Moore—VIA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
American Indian Movement leader, Leonard Peltier, at 77 years of age, came down with Covid-19 this weekend. Upon hearing this, I broke down and cried. An innocent man, locked up behind bars for 44 years, Peltier is now America’s longest-held political prisoner. He suffers in prison tonight even though James Reynolds, one of the key federal prosecutors who sent Peltier off to life in prison in 1977, has written to President Biden and confessed to his role in the lies, deceit, racism and fake evidence that together resulted in locking up our country’s most well-known Native American civil rights leader. Just as South Africa imprisoned for more than 27 years its leading voice for freedom, Nelson Mandela, so too have we done the same to a leading voice and freedom fighter for the indigenous people of America. That’s not just me saying this. That’s Amnesty International saying it. They placed him on their political prisoner list years ago and continue to demand his release.
And it’s not just Amnesty leading the way. It’s the Pope who has demanded Leonard Peltier’s release. It’s the Dalai Lama, Jesse Jackson, and the President Pro-Tempore of the US Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy. Before their deaths, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu pleaded with the United States to free Leonard Peltier. A worldwide movement of millions have seen their demands fall on deaf ears.
And now the calls for Peltier to be granted clemency in DC have grown on Capitol Hill. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), the head of the Senate committee who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has also demanded Peltier be given his freedom. Numerous House Democrats have also written to Biden.
The time has come for our President to act; the same President who appointed the first-ever Native American cabinet member last year and who halted the building of the Keystone pipeline across Native lands. Surely Mr. Biden is capable of an urgent act of compassion for Leonard Peltier — especially considering that the prosecutor who put him away in 1977 now says Peltier is innocent, and that his US Attorney’s office corrupted the evidence to make sure Peltier didn’t get a fair trial. Why is this victim of our judicial system still in prison? And now he is sick with Covid.
For months Peltier has begged to get a Covid booster shot. Prison officials refused. The fact that he now has COVID-19 is a form of torture. A shame hangs over all of us. Should he now die, are we all not complicit in taking his life?
President Biden, let Leonard Peltier go. This is a gross injustice. You can end it. Reach deep into your Catholic faith, read what the Pope has begged you to do, and then do the right thing.
For those of you reading this, will you join me right now in appealing to President Biden to free Leonard Peltier? His health is in deep decline, he is the voice of his people — a people we owe so much to for massacring and imprisoning them for hundreds of years.
The way we do mass incarceration in the US is abominable. And Leonard Peltier is not the only political prisoner we have locked up. We have millions of Black and brown and poor people tonight in prison or on parole and probation — in large part because they are Black and brown and poor. THAT is a political act on our part. Corporate criminals and Trump run free. The damage they have done to so many Americans and people around the world must be dealt with.
This larger issue is one we MUST take on. For today, please join me in contacting the following to show them how many millions of us demand that Leonard Peltier has suffered enough and should be free:
President Joe Biden
E-mail: At this link
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
Attorney General Merrick Garland
E-mail: At this link
I’ll end with the final verse from the epic poem “American Names” by Stephen Vincent Benet:
I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.
I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.
You may bury my body in Sussex grass,
You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.
I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.
PS. Also — watch the brilliant 1992 documentary by Michael Apted and Robert Redford about the framing of Leonard Peltier— “Incident at Oglala”
By Margaret Atwood*
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
*Witten by the woman who wrote a novel about Christian fascists taking over the U.S. and enslaving women. Prescient!
Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Department of Labor
For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Thursday, January 20, 2022
(202) 691-6378 • email@example.com • www.bls.gov/cps
(202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov
In 2021, the number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions continued to decline (-241,000) to 14.0 million, and the percent who were members of unions—the union membership rate—was 10.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The rate is down from 10.8 percent in 2020—when the rate increased due to a disproportionately large decline in the total number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The 2021 unionization rate is the same as the 2019 rate of 10.3 percent. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.
These data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. For further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.
Highlights from the 2021 data:
• The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.1 percent). (See table 3.)
• The highest unionization rates were among workers in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). (See table 3.)
• Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.6 percent) than women (9.9 percent). The gap between union membership rates for men and women has narrowed considerably since 1983 (the earliest year for which comparable data are available), when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)
• Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
• Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 83 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($975 versus $1,169). (The comparisons of earnings in this news release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.)
• Among states, Hawaii and New York continued to have the highest union membership rates (22.4 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina continued to have the lowest (1.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively). (See table 5.)
Industry and Occupation of Union Members
In 2021, 7.0 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, the same as in the private sector. (See table 3.)
Union membership decreased by 191,000 over the year in the public sector. The public-sector union membership rate declined by 0.9 percentage point in 2021 to 33.9 percent, following an increase of 1.2 percentage points in 2020. In 2021, the union membership rate continued to be highest in local government (40.2 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.
The number of union workers employed in the private sector changed little over the year. However, the number of private-sector nonunion workers increased in 2021. The private-sector unionization rate declined by 0.2 percentage point in 2021 to 6.1 percent, slightly lower than its 2019 rate of 6.2 percent. Industries with high unionization rates included utilities (19.7 percent), motion pictures and sound recording industries (17.3 percent), and transportation and warehousing (14.7 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.2 percent), professional and technical services (1.2 percent), food services and drinking places (1.2 percent), and insurance (1.5 percent).
Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2021 were in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). Unionization rates were lowest in food preparation and serving related occupations (3.1 percent); sales and related occupations (3.3 percent); computer and mathematical occupations (3.7 percent); personal care and service occupations (3.9 percent); and farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (4.0 percent).
Selected Characteristics of Union Members
In 2021, the number of men who were union members, at 7.5 million, changed little, while the number of women who were union members declined by 182,000 to 6.5 million. The unionization rate for men decreased by 0.4 percentage point over the year to 10.6 percent. In 2021, women’s union membership rate declined by 0.6 percentage point to 9.9 percent. The 2021 decreases in union membership rates for men and women reflect increases in the total number of nonunion workers. The rate for men is below the 2019 rate (10.8 percent), while the rate for women is above the 2019 rate (9.7 percent). (See table 1.)
Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate in 2021 (11.5 percent) than White workers (10.3 percent), Asian workers (7.7 percent), and Hispanic workers (9.0 percent). The union membership rate declined by 0.4 percentage point for White workers, by 0.8 percentage point for Black workers, by 1.2 percentage points for Asian workers, and by 0.8 percentage point for Hispanic workers. The 2021 rates for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics are little or no different from 2019, while the rate for Asians is lower.
By age, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2021, at 13.1 percent. Younger workers—those ages 16 to 24—had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.2 percent.
In 2021, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.1 percent) continued to be considerably higher than that for part-time workers (6.1 percent).
In 2021, 15.8 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, 137,000 less than in 2020. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 11.6 percent, down by 0.5 percentage point from 2020 but the same as in 2019. Workers represented by a union include both union members (14.0 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.8 million). (See table 1.)
Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,169 in 2021, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $975. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, these earnings differences reflect a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size, or geographic region. (See tables 2 and 4.)
Union Membership by State
In 2021, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.3 percent, while 20 states had rates above it. All states in both the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average, while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. (See table 5 and chart 1.)
Ten states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2021. South Carolina had the lowest rate (1.7 percent), followed by North Carolina (2.6 percent) and Utah (3.5 percent). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2021: Hawaii (22.4 percent) and New York (22.2 percent).
In 2021, about 30 percent of the 14.0 million union members lived in just two states (California at 2.5 million and New York at 1.7 million). However, these states accounted for about 17 percent of wage and salary employment nationally.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on 2021 Union Members Data
Union membership data for 2021 continue to reflect the impact on the labor market of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Comparisons with union membership measures for 2020, including metrics such as the union membership rate and median usual weekly earnings, should be interpreted with caution. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 led to an increase in the unionization rate due to a disproportionately large decline in the number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The decrease in the rate in 2021 reflects a large gain in the number of nonunion workers and a decrease in the number of union workers. More information on labor market developments in recent months is available at:
Resources for Resisting Federal Repression
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.
Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
- Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312
- San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963
If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:
Know Your Rights Materials
The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides.
- Know Your Rights During Covid-19
- You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement
- Operation Backfire: For Environmental and Animal Rights Activists
WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office
We also recommend the following resources:
Center for Constitutional Rights
Civil Liberties Defense Center
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Grand Jury Resistance Project
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
Tilted Scales Collective
No To Expanded Foreign Military Occupation of Haiti
Haiti Action Committee joins with Haiti’s popular movement to strongly condemn the call for an expanded foreign military occupation of Haiti made on October 7th by US/ UN occupation-imposed prime minister Ariel Henry. Henry obediently followed calls made by the UN Integrated Office in Port-au-Prince the day before for an expanded UN occupation of Haiti and by OAS General Luis Almagro who tweeted that Haiti “must request urgent assistance from the international community to help resolve security crises, determine the characteristics of an international security force.”
We strongly condemn the letter submitted on October 9th by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the UN Security Council, proposing the deployment of a foreign, armed occupation force to Haiti. And we denounce the Biden Administration’s drafting of a UN Security Council Resolution calling for the immediate deployment of a foreign “rapid action force” in Haiti, as reported on October 15th.
Turning to the UN Security Council, OAS, and United States government to “stabilize” the crisis in Haiti is like pleading with arsonists to put out the fire they’ve ignited.
For more than 18 years now, ever since the US-backed coup d’etat in 2004 against the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti has been under US/ UN occupation, an occupation that has perpetrated gross human rights abuses including rape and other forms of sexual abuse, an occupation that has brought cholera to Haiti and that has systematically destroyed Haiti’s institutions while increasing hunger and misery.
Courageously facing police and paramilitary attacks, the population of Haiti has taken to the streets in ever-growing numbers, demanding their basic human rights and democracy, along with an end to corruption and to the plunder of public resources. They demand an end to US/UN occupation, and an end to the right-wing Haitian Tét Kale Party (PHTK) regime headed by Ariel Henry. They are demanding a transitional government of public safety (Sali Piblik) to create a foundation for free and fair elections and a return to democratic rule. They are demanding an end to IMF-imposed austerity, soaring prices of basic necessities, and declining real wages. Instead, they are demanding that their tax money be invested in education, healthcare, sanitation, clean drinking water, and support for Haiti’s peasant farmers who have been the backbone of local food production.
Moreover, the people are demanding an end to the terror inflicted by the Haitian National Police and paramilitaries, including the G-9 death squad led by ex-police officer Jimmy Cherizier, working with the PHTK regime. They are demanding an end to the proliferation of kidnappings, rape, police killings, and massacres throughout the country, such as the horrific Lasalin massacre. For further testimony regarding this massacre, view this powerful video. The people are protesting the atrocious conditions in Haiti’s prisons and the skyrocketing rate of prisoner deaths due to starvation, overcrowding, medical neglect and other abuses. All of these injustices have been occurring with total impunity, under the authority of the US/UN occupation.
The US government’s financing of the repressive Haitian National Police (HNP), which has escalated its attacks against unarmed protestors, has been extensive, increasing in correlation with the police’s documented collaboration with paramilitary death squads. As noted recently, from “2010 to 2020, Washington pumped in $312 million for weapons and training. In 2021, the White House and State Department sent a combined $20 million. In July 2022, the State Department bolstered the SWAT training program with a $48 million package.” All the while, HNP police killings of unarmed Haitians have continued with impunity.
Neither the major, international human rights organizations nor the UN Human Rights Commission are keeping track of the thousands of unarmed Haitians who have been killed and are being killed by the US-imposed PHTK regime’s police and paramilitary affiliates over the last 5 years. This past July alone, more than 500 people were killed in the impoverished neighborhood of Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince. In a rare development, the US corporate media acknowledged this most recent killing spree, but attributed it to “gang violence”, fitting the convenient racist narrative about Haitians in particular and people of African descent in general. Here are but 3 examples, among hundreds, of recent victims this year who do not exist within the media universe defined by CNN, Fox News, MSNBC etc:
This past September 15th, as widely reported inside of Haiti, Widney Véron Joseph, a nationally esteemed student and second winner of the new secondary exams for the western department, was killed on the road to the airport. The father of the victim believes that this act was committed by agents of the National Police of Haiti. “After shooting my son, they burned him alive. I begged the police in vain to allow me to take him to the hospital, they categorically refused,” said the 21-year-old boy’s father in tears on Radio Caraïbes. Widney Véron Joseph was about to go to a friend’s house to charge his laptop and phone when he was murdered, his father said, adding that his son would have gone to Canada next October for medical studies.
Two days later, on September 17th, following a day of massive protest mobilization, the Haitian National Police (HNP) approached a barricade established by protesters in Delmas 47, a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. The police opened fire on the protesters. Reportedly, according to a community witness, about 4 people were killed. One community resident, known by her nickname as Doudouce, was hit by police fire, but was not killed. She was screaming for help, but when community members tried to intervene to help her, the police forced them to disperse. Then, according to the witness, a police-operated heavy machine, like a garbage truck, scooped up the bodies of the victims, including Doudouce who was still alive and screaming. The machine then dumped her and the other bodies into the trash compartment, then dumping atop of them the burning barricades.
Also on September 17th, but in the southern city of Okay, police went to the home of a young activist named Dimmy Samedi. They shot him in his home, then dragged him out still alive, and shot him again outside, killing him.
We denounce the arrogance of the UN, OAS, the US government, and the Core Group of imperial powers claiming the role of guardians of the people of Haiti while they fan the flames of repression and violence.
The Haitian people are not fooled by this tragedy and farce; they recognize clearly that arsonists cannot be the firefighters. Only the organized power of the Haitian popular movement can put out the fires ignited by the 2004-coup d’etat and ensuing US/UN occupation.
We call upon people to condemn all foreign intervention in Haiti and to stand in solidarity with the Haitian popular movement in this vital moment.
No to US and UN military intervention in Haiti • US Stop Supporting Ariel Henry and the PHTK regime in Haiti • US Stop Funding/Training Haitian National Police • US Stop Deporting Haitian Refugees • End the US/ UN occupation of Haiti!
DONATE! Support Haiti’s Popular Movement with a donation to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.
For more information, contact the Haiti Action Committee at email@example.com or at our website www.haitisolidarity.net
Mouse experiments at Boston University have spotlighted an ambiguous U.S. policy for research on potentially dangerous pathogens.
By Carl Zimmer and Benjamin Mueller, Oct. 22, 2022
“The government’s policy for such experiments is the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight, or P3CO framework. It was established five years ago in response to a set of contentious experiments in which researchers set out to transform an influenza virus that infected birds into one that could infect mammals.”
Boston University said that the experiments were approved by its own safety committee as well as the Boston Public Health Commission. Credit...Cydney Scott for Boston University
Scientists at Boston University came under fire this week for an experiment in which they tinkered with the Covid virus. Breathless headlines claimed they had created a deadly new strain, and the National Institutes of Health rebuked the university for not seeking the government’s permission.
As it turned out, the experiments, performed on mice, were not what the inflammatory media coverage suggested. The manipulated virus strain was actually less lethal than the original.
But the uproar highlighted shortcomings in how the U.S. government regulates research on pathogens that pose a risk, however small, of setting off a pandemic. It revealed loopholes that allow experiments to go unnoticed, a lack of transparency about how the risk of experiments is judged and a seemingly haphazard pattern in the federal government’s oversight policy, known as the P3CO framework.
Even as the government publicly reprimanded Boston University, it raised no red flags publicly about several other experiments it funded in which researchers manipulated coronaviruses in similar ways. One of them was carried out by the government’s own scientists.
The Boston episode “certainly tells us the P3CO framework needs to be overhauled pretty dramatically,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. “The whole process is kind of a black box that makes it really difficult for researchers.”
The N.I.H. said that every study it considers for funding is vetted for safety concerns by agency experts, who decide whether to escalate it to a higher-level dangerous pathogen committee.
Some experiments, though, either because they are conceived later on or because they do not rely directly on federal funds, end up falling outside the scope of that process, leading to confusion, biosafety experts said. And the rules could be overhauled soon. After months of meetings, a committee of government advisers is expected to deliver updated recommendations for such research by December or January, the agency said.
The government’s policy for such experiments is the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight, or P3CO framework. It was established five years ago in response to a set of contentious experiments in which researchers set out to transform an influenza virus that infected birds into one that could infect mammals.
Under the policy, the N.I.H. and other agencies are supposed to flag grant applications for experiments that could potentially produce a new pandemic. Risky research may not be funded or may require extra safety measures.
Critics of P3CO have complained that this evaluation happens largely in secret and ignores projects that aren’t funded by the U.S. government. In January of 2020, the government’s advisory panel, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, held a public meeting to discuss reforms. But subsequent meetings were canceled, ironically enough, because of Covid’s arrival.
In the months that followed, Republican politicians attacked the N.I.H. for supporting past research on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, suggesting that a lab leak there might have been responsible for the pandemic. (In July, Dr. Rasmussen and other scientists published studies pointing instead to a market in Wuhan as the origin.)
Under this growing scrutiny, the N.I.H.’s advisory board met in February, worked on new recommendations over the summer and released a draft last month. It proposed expanding the scope of pathogens that can prompt a review beyond those that have a high fatality rate. Unlike smallpox or Ebola, Covid has a low fatality rate but is so contagious that it still wreaked global devastation.
In its ongoing discussions, the board has also considered the risk posed by computer software, such as programs that could figure out how to make a pathogen spread faster.
Researchers had mixed reactions to the new guidelines.
“The first draft makes some important advances and leaves a lot of things unaddressed,” said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who has been pushing for tighter rules since the bird flu experiments more than a decade ago.
In comments submitted to the advisory board last month, Dr. Lipsitch and his colleagues said that proposed experiments must be justified by real, practical benefits rather than unsupported claims.
Other scientists, while welcoming clearer guidance, worried about onerous regulations that would bog down commonplace and innocuous experiments.
“Tell us what paperwork we need to fill out so we can do our jobs, which is to help the public respond to these types of things when they come at us,” said Robert F. Garry, Jr., a virologist at Tulane University.
The ambiguity of the government’s policy was laid bare this week when the news hit about the experiments at Boston University.
Mohsan Saeed, a virologist at the school, and his colleagues posted a report online aiming to understand the differences between Omicron and other variants. The researchers made a new virus that was identical to the original version but carried an Omicron spike. They then put the modified virus into a strain of mice that is very sensitive to Covid and widely used to study the disease.
Previous research had found that the original strain of Covid killed 100 percent of the mice. The new study found that the modified virus was less deadly, killing 80 percent.
Last Sunday, a story ran in The Daily Mail with a headline claiming that “scientists have created a new deadly Covid strain with an 80 percent kill rate.” The following day, an N.I.H. official, Emily Erbelding, told the news site Stat that Boston University should have discussed the experiments with the agency ahead of time.
But, some researchers pointed out, the federal guidance is vague on what disclosures are required after a research proposal is approved. Science often takes unexpected turns, and officials do not generally apply the guidance to experiments that are conceived after funding has been granted.
“The government should be providing the guidance to help people figure this out,” said Gregory Koblentz, a biodefense specialist at George Mason University.
In a statement to The New York Times, Boston University said that the experiments were approved by its own safety committee as well as the Boston Public Health Commission.
The university also said its scientists were not obligated to notify the N.I.H. because, although they had received government funding for related research, they used university funds to pay for the experiments in question. The agency said it is reviewing the matter.
The highly publicized dispute over technical laboratory protocols sent mixed messages to the scientific community and the public, said Syra Madad, an infectious disease epidemiologist at NYC Health and Hospitals.
“It seems like an epic communication failure,” said Dr. Madad, who is also on the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. “This is why we’re revisiting the policy — to make sure that it’s clear, it’s transparent, it makes sense and it is operationally feasible.”
Dr. Madad and other experts agreed that the proposal for the Boston University experiments should have gone through a more rigorous evaluation. “In my opinion, that certainly looks like it meets the criteria for P3CO review,” she said.
But even if the study had gone through that process, some scientists said, it would have likely been given the green light.
Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, noted that the coronavirus is already rampant among humans and has evolved far beyond the variants used in the experiment. The hybrid lab virus would be unlikely to cause a serious threat if it escaped.
“I understand why it worries people because you are making a virus for which you can’t totally predict the properties,” Dr. Bloom said. “But this does not seem to me to be a particularly high risk.”
The N.I.H.’s stern public statements about Boston University’s research raised questions about the way it and other health agencies had assessed such experiments in the past. Last month, scientists with the Food and Drug Administration published a study in which they, like the Boston team, injected mice with coronaviruses engineered to carry an Omicron spike.
The F.D.A. is required to follow the P3CO rules. But the agency said in a statement that the hybrid virus created as part of its study did not amount to “a new version of the virus.” The study did not fall under the dangerous pathogen guidelines, the statement said, because “we set out to understand how the virus works, not identify new ways to make it more potent.”
Some independent experts said the agency’s rationale did not explain why the study passed muster: An experiment cannot bypass the approval process simply because the researchers did not intend to make a more dangerous virus.
“If it’s research that could be anticipated to possibly result in the enhancement of a potential pandemic pathogen — a more transmissible and/or virulent strain than exists in nature — it needs to be reviewed. Period,” Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in an email.
The F.D.A. researchers are not the only American scientists to tinker with coronaviruses in this manner. At the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, scientists have relied partly on federal funding for studies on whether vaccines generate protection against coronaviruses altered to carry Omicron spikes.
Those techniques can save scientists months of waiting for samples of Omicron viruses from human patients, allowing them to study the dangers of new variants and anticipate the need for booster shots. Outside experts said the Texas experiments were even less risky than the Boston study because they generally infected cells, not live animals, with the viruses.
While proposals from the Texas team would have been reviewed by the N.I.H., they were not escalated to the dangerous pathogen committee. The agency did not say why. (Since 2017, only three studies that the N.I.H. proposed to fund were reviewed by that committee, it has said.)
“There is really no one in charge of scanning the medical literature, and it can be random events that bring these particular experiments to public attention,” Dr. Inglesby said. “And it shouldn’t be that way.”
Others raised a different problem: Research that isn’t funded by the government does not have to follow the government’s rules.
“I think that ultimately we would all agree that publishing a policy that would be broadly applicable would be ideal,” said Karmella Haynes, a biomedical engineer at Emory University and a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. “Now how to actually enforce that, I think, is beyond our charge.”
One possibility might be to come up with a policy modeled on the Federal Select Agent Program, which requires anyone seeking to work with certain dangerous substances, such as anthrax, to register with the government.
“Any recommendation that does not include codifying the requirements in regulations with the force of law will not add up to anything,” said Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University.
Federal officials, he added, may be under pressure to strengthen oversight next year if Republican proponents of a crackdown win power in the midterm elections in November.
On the other hand, a politically fractious debate could put better regulations even further out of reach, some said.
“I worry about inhibiting our ability to understand these viruses that have killed millions of people,” said Gigi Gronvall, a biosafety specialist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Seventeen have died so far this year, the highest toll since 2013.
By Jan Ransom and Jonah E. Bromwich, Oct. 22, 2022
The prison facilities at Rikers Island. Credit...Uli Seit for The New York Times
Seventeen people have died after being held in New York City’s troubled jail system this year, the most in nearly a decade, even as officials have rushed to implement reforms to stave off the threat of a federal court takeover.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, Erick Tavira, 28, was found unresponsive with a sheet around his neck in a mental health observation unit at a jail on Rikers Island, according to internal documents obtained by The New York Times. He was pronounced dead shortly after.
Mr. Tavira’s death marked a grim milestone: This is now the deadliest year in the city’s jail system since 2013, when twice as many people were being held there.
Long besieged by intractable problems, Rikers Island and the city’s other jail facilities have been engulfed in violence and disorder since 2020, when a mass outbreak of Covid among correction officers hurt morale and led to chronic staff absenteeism. With so few guards showing up for work, some detainees have been forced to go without food or medical care.
Mayor Eric Adams and his jails commissioner, Louis A. Molina, have vowed to enact a reform plan that was ordered and approved earlier this year by a federal judge. But lawyers for the incarcerated have said that the city is incapable of keeping detainees safe, and they have called for an outside official to take control of the jails.
The following list of those who have died after being held in the jail system this year was drawn from Correction Department records and interviews with city officials and lawyers and friends and family members of the deceased. It shows that most of those who died were men and that overwhelmingly they were Black or Hispanic, reflecting the population at Rikers.
Oct. 22 — Erick Tavira
Cause of Death: Suspected Suicide
Jail: George R. Vierno Center
Arrest date: June 13, 2021
“Our deepest condolences go out to Mr. Tavira’s family, friends and loved ones in their time of grief,” Mr. Molina said in a statement. “We take the health and safety of everyone in our custody seriously, and we are conducting a preliminary investigation into this death.”
Mr. Tavira was arrested in June 2021 and charged with second degree strangulation. He had been in custody for more than a year. He died at the George R. Vierno Center, a jail facility on Rikers.
Sept. 22 — Robert Pondexter
Cause of Death: Likely pulmonary embolism
Jail: George R. Vierno Center
On Sept. 22, Elmore Robert Pondexter, collapsed in a psychiatric unit at the George R. Vierno Center and later died at Bellevue Hospital, according to his family, lawyer, jail records and three people with knowledge of the matter.
In the days leading up to his death, Mr. Pondexter, who had been held at the jail since April 2020 on charges of rape and related offenses, had complained to his sister and daughter that he had chest pain and problems breathing.
Mr. Pondexter, who was being held in the Program to Accelerate Clinical Effectiveness — Rikers Island’s most heavily staffed intensive-care psychiatric housing area — collapsed after 5 a.m. on Sept. 18 and was taken to Bellevue Hospital, according to jail records and two people with knowledge of the incident. He went into cardiac arrest soon after, and doctors concluded he was unlikely to regain consciousness. He was taken off life support at 2:50 p.m. and pronounced dead at 7:50 p.m., his family said.
Mr. Pondexter was granted compassionate release before he died, and his death was not counted in the Correction Department’s official tally.
Sept. 20 — Gregory Acevedo
Cause of Death: Suspected suicide or escape
Jail: Vernon C. Bain Center
Arrest date: Feb. 26, 2022
On Sept. 20, while in the recreation yard on the roof of the Vernon C. Bain Center, a massive barge known among detainees and jail employees as “the Boat,” Gregory Acevedo climbed a towering security fence lined with barbed wire shortly before noon, three people familiar with the matter said. He remained at the top of the fence for a while, one of the people said, as officers fired pepper spray at him in an unsuccessful attempt to force him down. Mr. Acevedo then jumped into the East River, the people said.
Fire officials received 911 calls about the incident at least three minutes after Mr. Acevedo climbed the fence. According to jail records, officers threw him life rafts, but he refused to accept them. By the time the Police Department’s harbor unit pulled Mr. Acevedo from the water, he was unresponsive and in critical condition, the people said.
He died at Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens at 10:59 p.m., according to the people with knowledge. Mr. Acevedo, who was on parole, had been at the jail since his arrest on robbery and assault charges in February.
It was unclear whether Mr. Acevedo was trying to escape or attempt suicide, though the Department of Correction called the incident an “attempted escape” in a statement. A fourth person with knowledge said that Mr. Acevedo, 48, had a history of mental health problems.
Sept. 14 — Kevin Bryan
Cause of Death: Suspected suicide
Jail: Eric M. Taylor Center
Arrest date: Sept. 7, 2022
Mr. Bryan, 35, was found at about 7 a.m. hanging from a pipe inside a locked staff bathroom, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Bryan had been at the jail for a week, ordered held in lieu of $5,000 bail on burglary charges and other offenses stemming from six separate incidents, court records show.
Arrested multiple times since December, he had been released in each instance before being detained again in September, an official said. A court-ordered drug treatment program accepted him in June but kicked him out after he failed to show, the official said.
Mr. Bryan died after being forced out of a housing area by other detainees through a gate that had been opened by a correction officer, people familiar with the mater said. He locked himself inside a staff bathroom and hanged himself from a pipe, the people said.
Officers kicked the door open in an attempt to save him, one person said, but Mr. Bryan was pronounced dead at 7:44 a.m.
Mr. Molina said in a statement that the department will investigate the death.
Aug. 30 — Michael Nieves
Cause of Death: Suicide
Jail: Anna M. Kross Correctional Facility
Arrest Date: June 8, 2022
Mr. Nieves slit his throat with a razor in front of two correction officers and a captain, who failed to respond for at least 10 minutes, according to five people with knowledge of the matter.
“The health and safety of those in our custody is paramount and an immediate review of this incident required we take immediate action and suspend three uniform staff members involved,” Mr. Molina, the commissioner of the Department of Correction, said in a statement on Tuesday evening after a Times report on Mr. Nieves’s self-inflicted wound. “We are conducting a full investigation into this and will continue to work tirelessly to bring safety to our city’s jails.”
The episode was captured on video and it showed Mr. Nieves bleeding out onto the floor of his cell, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Unlike most of the deaths this year, Mr. Nieves’s grave injury was not the result of insufficient staffing. Mr. Nieves, who had been described by officials as seriously mentally ill, was most recently held in the Program to Accelerate Clinical Effectiveness — Rikers Island’s most heavily staffed intensive-care psychiatric housing areas.
Aug. 15 — Ricardo Cruciani
Cause of Death: Suspected Suicide
Jail: Eric M. Taylor Center
Arrest Date: Mr. Cruciani was admitted to Rikers on July 29, after being convicted at trial.
The Correction Department did not immediately respond to questions about Mr. Cruciani’s death or whether he had been placed on suicide watch, as his lawyer, Frederick Sosinsky, and the judge presiding over his trial had requested. After his death, Mr. Sosinsky called for an investigation and said that, to his knowledge, his client had never been placed on suicide watch.
Mr. Molina, the Correction Department commissioner, said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of this person in custody.” He said that the department would review the death.
Mr. Cruciani was being held in a general population dormitory that was understaffed, according to an official familiar with the matter, who, like some others interviewed about this year’s deaths, spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
A second official said that Mr. Cruciani had entered the shower area at 4:23 a.m. and was found unresponsive at 5:35 a.m. by an officer overseeing the housing unit.
July 15 — Michael Lopez, 34
Cause of Death: Suspected overdose
Jail: Anna M. Kross Center
Arrest Date: May 18, 2022
Mr. Lopez, 34, had been held at the jail on $2,500 bail on burglary charges in Manhattan. Mr. Lopez had six open cases in Manhattan, including three burglaries from the same Target, three burglaries from the same Duane Reade and one assault case, records show.
Mr. Lopez had schizophrenia disorder and struggled with drug addiction, his mother Jennie Rosario-Megibow, 64, said in a recent interview. During his latest stint on Rikers, Ms. Rosario-Megibow said her son had never received any of the four medications he was on for his mental illness and she believes he overdosed in an attempt to self medicate.
“He was held in an observation unit charged with ensuring his safety, yet he was still deprived of the services that he needed and deserved,” said a statement from The Legal Aid Society, which represented Mr. Lopez. “Had Mr. Lopez been spared detention, he would have been connected to programming, and he would be alive today.”
A Correction Department spokesman said that the department extends its condolences to Mr. Lopez’s loved ones and that the incident was under investigation.
July 10 — Elijah Muhammad, 31
Cause of Death: Suspected overdose
Jail: George R. Vierno Center
Arrest Date: June 8, 2022
Mr. Muhammad, who had been held at the complex on an assault charge, appeared to have been lying dead in his cell for hours before his body was discovered by correction staff members, according to two people familiar with the matter. The delay prompted the immediate firing of one rookie correction officer and the suspensions of others, one of the people said.
Mr. Muhammad had been receiving treatment for schizophrenia, according to one of the people with knowledge of his case. In the days before he died, he had spent more than 32 hours in isolation before being returned to a regular cell, a violation of department rules against holding detainees in so-called de-escalation units for more than six hours at a time. While in the isolation cell, Mr. Muhammad did not have a bed or access to medical care, the person said.
June 21 — Albert Drye, 52
Cause of Death: Unknown
Jail: Eric M. Taylor Center
Arrest Date: May 17, 2022
Mr. Drye died at the Bellevue Prison Hospital Ward, according to the Legal Aid Society, which was representing him. He had been held on assault, harassment and weapons charges in Manhattan and the Bronx, and had been seriously ill with an unspecified ailment and hospitalized for several weeks before his death.
Before he was hospitalized, he had been held at the Eric M. Taylor Center, where new detainees are assessed before being placed in jails.
June 20 — Anibal Carrasquillo, 39
Cause of Death: Suspected overdose
Jail: George R. Vierno Center
Arrest Date: Sept. 27, 2019
Mr. Carrasquillo had been held on a $50,000 bail on charges including robbery, drug possession and assault. He was last seen alive shortly after 10 p.m. on a Sunday, a person with knowledge of the incident said. Shortly before 1 a.m. on Monday, a jail supervisor found him unresponsive in his cell.
Mr. Carrasquillo’s wife, Sheniqua Bryant Carrasquillo, 31, criticized New York City officials for having neglected him. “He was in your custody,” she said in an interview. “He should have been protected, and he wasn’t.”
A Correction Department spokesman said that the department extends its condolences to Mr. Carrasquillo’s loved ones and that the incident was under investigation.
June 18 — Antonio Bradley, 28
Cause of Death: Suicide
Arrest Date: Oct. 13, 2021
Antonio Bradley died three days after he was granted compassionate release to Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, Correction Department officials said. Because he was released from custody before his death, the city does not include him in its official count of the deaths in custody this year.
Mr. Bradley, who had been held in a mental observation unit on Rikers, used his sweater to hang himself in a courthouse cell following a hearing in Bronx criminal court. A person familiar with his death said he had been hanging for several minutes before jail officers noticed him and that, by then, he was brain-dead. He died days later.
May 28 — Emanuel Sullivan, 20
Cause of Death: Unknown
Jail: Robert N. Davoren Center
Arrest Date: February 7, 2022
Mr. Sullivan was found in his bed by a correction officer, according to the Correction Department. He was being held on a second-degree murder charge and a first-degree robbery charge, records show. Correction Officials said that the housing area where Mr. Sullivan died was staffed and that tours of it had been conducted by correction officers throughout the day. Little additional information about his death has come to light.
May 18 — Mary Yehudah, 31
Cause of Death: Suspected Overdose
Jail: Rose M. Singer Center
Arrest Date: Feb. 11, 2022
Mary Yehudah, 31, was awaiting trial on a robbery charge when she was found unresponsive in her cell. She was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens but died the next morning. Lawyers for Ms. Yehudah said they had been trying to get her into a drug-treatment program.
May 7 — Dashawn Carter, 25
Cause of Death: Suspected Suicide
Jail: Anna M. Kross Center
Arrest Date: May 7, 2022
Mr. Carter was found hanging from a window in his cell just two days after being transferred back to Rikers from a state psychiatric hospital, according to a person with knowledge of the circumstances surrounding his death.
When Mr. Carter was returned to Rikers on a Thursday, mental health officials at the jail cleared him to be held in a general population housing area known as Quad Upper 12, according to the person familiar with his case. Mr. Carter was later found slumped over near his bed around 5 p.m. that Saturday, said Joseph Russo, the president of the union representing deputy wardens and assistant deputy wardens.
Mr. Carter had been charged with first-degree robbery and third-degree burglary, according to officials.
March 18 — Herman Diaz, 52
Cause of Death: Choking
Jail: Eric M. Taylor Center
Arrest Date: Feb. 22, 2022
Mr. Diaz’s death was detailed in a report from the city Board of Correction, a jails watchdog panel. According to the report, Mr. Diaz choked on an orange and was not assisted by a correction officer on duty, who was on modified duty and not permitted to interact directly with people in custody.
Mr. Diaz was carried to the medical clinic by other detainees and pronounced dead by medical staff at 10:58 a.m., about 40 minutes after he began to choke.
March 17 — George Pagan, 48
Cause of Death: Sepsis, complicated by substance use and H.I.V. infection.
Jail: Eric M. Taylor Center
Arrest Date: March 9, 2022
Clearly ill, Mr. Pagan “regularly urinated, defecated and vomited on himself” during his nine days in custody, the Correction Board report stated.
Despite his condition, he was allowed to miss nine scheduled medical appointments in six days and placed in a general-population housing area where he was offered no food or drink other than what was provided to him by other detainees. It is unclear whether his condition was called in by a correction officer but eventually, other detainees carried him out of the unit to receive medical care. He is survived by a sister and brother.
Feb. 27 — Tarz Youngblood, 38
Cause of Death: Overdose
Jail: George R. Vierno Center
Arrest Date: Sept. 5, 2021
Mr. Youngblood was inside another man’s cell — it was not clear why — when he became unresponsive. Other detainees carried him down a flight of stairs and attempted to provide him with medical assistance, the Correction Board report stated.
Video footage showed that correction officers did not conduct rounds at the intervals required in the hours before Mr. Youngblood’s death. He is survived by his domestic partner, their three children, his mother, his stepmother and his stepsister.
William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.
The manufacturing and disposal of electric vehicles result in more greenhouse gases than nonelectric models, but that difference will eventually disappear altogether.
By Eric A. Taub, Published Oct. 19, 2022, Updated Oct. 22, 2022
Studies have found that though it’s true that the production of a B.E.V. causes more pollution than a gasoline-powered counterpart, that greenhouse gas emission difference is erased as the vehicle is driven. Credit...Matt Williams
This article is part of our series on the Future of Transportation, which is exploring innovations and challenges that affect how we move about the world.
In the 19th century, major cities faced their own emissions problem: horse manure.
With horse-drawn carriages clogging major thoroughfares, cities were burdened with noxious, smelly manure that drew flies and spread disease.
The issue started to resolve itself as internal combustion engine cars grew in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century. Of course, that meant horses, slowly but inexorably, were replaced by vehicles emitting greenhouse gases.
Now, as battery electric vehicles, or B.E.V.s — marketed as a more environmentally friendly vehicular option — replace internal combustion engines, some skeptics are pointing out that they actually have a larger carbon footprint than nonelectric vehicles. That’s due to the manufacturing and disposal of B.E.V.s — specifically their batteries — as well as a reliance on coal to create the electricity that powers them.
To determine the environmental costs of the trade-off, trade organizations and universities have conducted life cycle analyses, or L.C.A.s: comparisons between the amount of greenhouse gases created from the production, use and disposal of a B.E.V. and the gases from a gasoline-powered vehicle of a similar size.
The good news: Studies have found that, though it’s true that the production of a B.E.V. causes more pollution than a gasoline-powered counterpart, this greenhouse-gas emission difference is erased as the vehicle is driven.
And erasing the difference does not appear to take very long. In a study conducted by the University of Michigan (with a grant from the Ford Motor Company), the pollution equation evens out between 1.4 to 1.5 years for sedans, 1.6 to 1.9 years for S.U.V.s and about 1.6 years for pickup trucks, based on the average number of vehicle miles traveled in the United States.
The study found that, on average, emissions from B.E.V. sedans were 35 percent of the emissions from an internal-combustion sedan. Electric S.U.V.s produced 37 percent of the emissions of a gasoline-powered counterpart, and a B.E.V. pickup created 34 percent of the emissions of an internal combustion model. (Because gasoline-powered pickups consume more fuel than smaller vehicles, switching to a battery electric pickup results in a greater reduction in emissions.)
These results vary, based on how much greenhouse gas is created through the production of the electricity needed to charge a battery. The greater the use of renewable sources — such as wind, solar, nuclear and hydropower — the greater the reduction in emissions.
Of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States, 78 had increased overall emissions from electric sedans than from internal combustion vehicles — a result attributable to the fact that, in these counties, most of the electricity was generated from coal, said Greg Keoleian, director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study.
One of the main critiques of B.E.V.s has centered on a reliance on coal to produce the electricity needed to power these vehicles, along with the emissions produced by battery production and the shortness of battery life.
For example, a study conducted at the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, said that a Mercedes C220 diesel creates less greenhouse gas emissions than does a Tesla Model 3. Michael Kelly, professor emeritus of engineering at Cambridge University, argued that the need to charge electric vehicles would overload the electric grid and could lead to power cuts in Britain. He also believes the world does not have enough raw materials to make the large quantities of batteries needed.
Neither of those statements is accurate, according to Auke Hoekstra, director of energy transition research at the Eindhoven University of Technology. In a paper published in 2020, Mr. Hoekstra writes that batteries will most likely last more than 500,000 kilometers, or 310,000 miles; that research shows gasoline and diesel pollute more than previously thought; and that the energy needed to create batteries has already declined while electricity production from renewable sources is growing.
Mr. Keoleian said he expects that electric vehicle emissions will improve, even in those U.S. counties that rely on coal to create power for the vehicles. “In the future, B.E.V. emissions will decrease due to the retirement of coal plants and the increase in renewable energy sources,” he said. “Our message is that we need to accelerate the transition to battery electric vehicles.”
Multiple studies have supported the view that electric vehicles are already the more environmentally friendly choice — and will only become more so as technology progresses.
“The Ford-financed study is 100 percent correct,” Mr. Hoekstra said. “All studies agree that electric vehicles save between 50 to 70 percent CO2 equivalents and that the time needed to recoup the additional emissions caused by battery production is one to two years. The more you drive, the faster you’ll recoup.”
This January, another study, conducted by Ricardo PLC, a nonprofit think tank focusing on transit and fuel, found similar results. In 200,000 miles of driving, a typical internal combustion vehicle would emit 66 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. A battery electric vehicle would emit 39 tons over that same distance. And within 19,000 miles, the higher emissions caused by battery manufacturing would be offset by lower emissions from driving an electric vehicle.
There are other challenges that still need to be met, including reducing the amount of materials necessary to produce batteries and finding other sources for components, “but there are no showstoppers,” said Nikolas Hill, head of vehicle technologies and fuels for Ricardo Energy & Environment, based in Oxford, England.
Even though the United States should experience significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions because drivers travel greater distances, countries in Europe have also seen benefits.
According to an L.C.A. study published in 2020, prepared by Ricardo for the U.K. Department for Transport, electric vehicles saved an estimated 65 percent in emissions compared with a similar internal combustion vehicle. With expected improvements in battery manufacturing and the further decarbonization of the British electrical grid, B.E.V.s are predicted to generate a 76 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 and a potential 81 percent decrease by 2050.
By 2050, it’s possible that emissions from the production phase of an electric vehicle and of a conventional internal combustion model will be similar, the report stated.
In an L.C.A. study conducted by Volkswagen, the company found that driving its ID.3, a small B.E.V. not sold in the United States, more than 120,000 miles in Europe would create about a 26 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions compared with a Golf model of a similar size.
And a study conducted in India by RMI, a nonprofit organization that works to increase sustainable energy systems, found that the country still showed net gains for B.E.V.s even though it generates 75 percent of its electricity from coal.
“The superior efficiency of B.E.V.s is so significant that operational savings even in carbon-intensive contexts position B.E.V.s as a net win,” said Clay Stranger, managing director of the institute’s transportation program.
All of the criticisms of B.E.V.s will soon be a thing of the past, said Mr. Hoekstra, as battery production becomes cleaner and begins to last the lifetime of a vehicle, while electricity generation moves away from coal.
“There are no countries in the world where B.E.V.s pollute more than internal combustion vehicles,” he said. “And when it comes to the U.S., there’s no way in hell that the current electrical generating mix will remain as polluting as it is today.”
The company moved to contain the labor push after it took off nationally. Now, with strikes and other tactics, organizers seek to regain momentum.
By Noam Scheiber, Oct. 24, 2022
Noam Scheiber has covered the Starbucks union campaign since it began in 2021 and reported this article from Boston and Evanston, Ill.
Workers at a Starbucks in Boston were on strike for more than two months this summer. Credit... M. Scott Brauer/Bloomberg
For much of the summer, employees reliably turned up at a Starbucks near Boston University. But instead of going inside to serve coffee, they sat outside in lawn chairs — as part of a strike over what they said was retaliation for unionizing.
When passers-by inquired how long the strike would last, workers responded, “As long as it has to.” Ultimately, they shut the store for more than two months, until satisfied that Starbucks would not impose new scheduling requirements in union stores that they said would force some of them to quit. Starbucks said it had told union stores for weeks that there would be no such change and denied retaliating against union supporters.
The walkout was one of dozens at unionized Starbucks locations in recent months, meant partly to re-energize a labor organizing effort whose momentum has stalled since the spring and has so far yielded no contract.
When workers at three Buffalo-area locations filed for union elections in August 2021, it appeared to catch the company off guard. The campaign spread rapidly, unionizing roughly 250 stores.
But election filings dropped from about 70 in March to under 10 in August, ushering in a second phase of the campaign: an uneasy stalemate in which organizers struggled to sign up new stores even as the company was hard-pressed to reverse their gains.
“In the context of the size of the organization as a whole, it’s a drop in the bucket,” said David Pryzbylski, a partner at the management-side firm Barnes & Thornburg, alluding to the company’s 9,000 corporate-owned locations. But he added: “Anyone who thinks it’s going back anywhere close to zero is foolish. It’s safe to assume they’ll have at least hundreds of cafes unionized going forward.”
That has led to a third phase of the campaign, in which the union, Workers United, has stepped up efforts to win concessions from the company through collective bargaining, which is scheduled for the coming weeks.
Some of the concessions sought by the union, like a commitment by the company to stay neutral in future elections, could make it easier for workers to unionize. Others, like paid leave tied to a pandemic, which the company has discontinued, could encourage more workers to join the union by showing it can deliver concrete benefits.
But to win such concessions and greatly expand the union’s reach, labor experts say, supporters will almost certainly have to increase pressure on the company, through strikes or other means. And that has heightened the importance of a number of cities — in addition to Boston and Buffalo, places like Eugene, Ore.; Albany, N.Y.; and Ann Arbor, Mich. — where there are several unionized stores, dozens of workers willing to coordinate their actions and a community that is largely sympathetic.
“Massing forces in a particular geographic region and attempting to spread the conflagration there has the potential to work,” said Peter Olney, a former organizing director of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. “I would focus on those metro areas.”
J. Alexander Kueng was a rookie Minneapolis police officer when he held Mr. Floyd down while a fellow officer fatally knelt on his neck.
By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Oct. 24, 2022
J. Alexander Kueng, left, arriving at court in St. Paul, Minn., in July. Credit...David Joles/Star Tribune, via Associated Press
A former Minneapolis police officer who helped to pin George Floyd down as he gasped for air under the knee of another officer pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Monday, concluding the second-last of the criminal cases against the four officers involved in the death.
J. Alexander Kueng, a rookie officer at the time, placed his knee on Mr. Floyd for several minutes in May 2020 while Mr. Floyd protested that he could not breathe and eventually lost consciousness. The death of Mr. Floyd, who was Black, set off protests around the world over racism and police abuse. and led to federal civil rights charges against the officers who were at the scene when he died.
Mr. Kueng, who also is Black, is already serving a three-year prison sentence in the federal case, after a jury convicted him of failing to provide aid or to intervene as another officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Mr. Kueng had knelt on Mr. Floyd’s torso.
As part of Mr. Kueng’s plea agreement, the Minnesota attorney general’s office agreed to drop a more serious charge against him of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Mr. Kueng pleaded guilty instead to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter; the standard prison sentence for that crime is about four years.
The guilty plea came on what was scheduled to be the first day of jury selection for the murder trial of Mr. Kueng and another of the officers, Tou Thao, who kept back bystanders who were shouting that Mr. Floyd needed medical help. Mr. Thao, who is Asian American, is now the last of the four officers with unresolved criminal charges in the case.
Mr. Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of second-degree murder by a state jury last year in a highly watched televised trial. and later pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating Mr. Floyd’s rights. He is expected to spend more than two decades in prison.
The fourth officer, Thomas Lane, who held down Mr. Floyd’s legs, was convicted in federal court of violating Mr. Floyd’s rights by not providing medical care; he also pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Mr. Lane, who is white, was the only officer to suggest at the scene that the officers should roll Mr. Floyd onto his side to help him breathe. Mr. Lane is expected to serve just over two years in prison, after taking into account credit for good behavior.
All four officers were fired the day after Mr. Floyd died, as protests engulfed Minneapolis and spread to other cities, turning destructive at times.
The officers had driven to an intersection outside a South Minneapolis convenience store on May 25, 2020, after a clerk at the store called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
Mr. Floyd, 46, who had worked as a security guard before losing his job during the coronavirus pandemic, resisted the officers’ attempts to get him into the back of a police car, ultimately pushing his way out of the back seat with his legs while handcuffed.
As Mr. Floyd lay handcuffed and face down on the street, Mr. Chauvin continued to hold his knee on the back of Mr. Floyd’s neck for several minutes after Mr. Floyd passed out. Mr. Floyd never regained consciousness.
By Gareth Dale, Truthout, October 24, 2022
Rishi Sunak is greeted by supporters as he arrives at the Conservative Party Campaign Headquarters after being announced the winner of Conservative Party leadership contest in London, United Kingdom, on October 24, 2022.
As so often in recent times, the Tory Party has a new leader, and therefore Britain a new prime minister. In the last leadership contest, Rishi Sunak managed to lose to the inept ideologue Liz Truss, who then, only weeks later when challenged by a tabloid newspaper to outlast a lettuce, lost to the vegetable.
How did the political script twist into this farce? How could former Prime Minister Boris Johnson — a figure so disgraced that he should be auditioning for pantomime villain roles in the run-up to Christmas — countenance a comeback and why did he fall short? Why is Sunak so despised in the Tory Party and how did he nonetheless carry the day? What does his government represent and how will the Labour Party respond?
The trigger came when Truss’s government attempted a Reagan-style borrowing binge.
Truss was not the choice of her fellow Tory Members of Parliament (MPs). Since 2001, a voice in some Tory leadership contests has been granted to party members. Their demographic is distinctive: small in number, overwhelmingly old, white, male, bigoted, middle-class residents of southern England. In a word, out of touch. Their idol, Truss, promised Reaganite tax cuts for the wealthy plus Johnson-style cake-ist populism. (When it comes to cake, “he is pro having it and pro eating it too.”) All this, in a period of stagflation when central banks were raising interest rates.
The sums didn’t add up. Truss lost the support of capital, in the shape most immediately of currency and gilts traders. Sterling slumped to a record low against the dollar and the price of government debt soared.
The fracture between capital and the “party of capital” under Truss had begun earlier, in the slipstream of the 2008 Great Recession. The 2010s were years of despair and polarization. The rich were greatly enriched, thanks to quantitative easing. Everyone else was subjected to austerity. Wages flatlined or declined, and have still not recovered.
In response, both major parties undertook a “populist” turn. Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour populism was all about opposing austerity. For the Tories, it was opposition to the European Union and immigration. As the Tory Party signed up to the Brexit cause, it abandoned its traditional role as the party of big business. The corporate sector, with two major exceptions to which we’ll come below, opposed Johnson’s “hard Brexit.” It would snaggle Europe-bound exports in far too much red tape.
The timing of Britain’s last general election, 2019, saw the fortunes of these two populisms intersect in a way that artificially inflated the Tory triumph — and Johnson’s already oversized ego.
Corbyn, like Truss, was defenestrated by establishment forces. In his case, party members had been permitted in 2015 to choose the leader but the bulk of MPs opposed their decision. Whereas Truss was swiftly deposed by “the markets,” Corbyn was slashed, day after day, by a thousand knives wielded by the Labour machine and their media friends (led by the Guardian and the BBC). Labour officials and most MPs declared open war on Corbyn from the get-go. This made the party unelectable. They preferred to lose to the Tories than see a socialist win.
The same election saw Tory populism reach its acme. It succeeded in parlaying Brexit support into conservative electoral gains, even in areas blighted by Thatcher-era deindustrialisation.
Johnson was the frontman in the populist turn — a British Trump. The comparisons with Trump can be overegged: Johnson doesn’t regularly consort with fascists, nor is he quite so gratuitously vulgar. Yet, like Trump, he is a lawbreaker, and is prone to smear opponents with inflammatory falsehoods. Like Trump, he is a bully in clown’s costume. He kicks down — but in an ever-so-British manner: through wit. His upbeat humor, cast-iron confidence, nostalgic racism, casual nastiness toward oppressed communities and the ability to breezily say unsayable things, formed a package that tapped a cruel streak among many voters who, in insecure times, shore up brittle selves by championing the “right” to denigrate others.
Being mocking and facetious, Johnson’s “banter” unsettles the sense of tradition that Tories hold dear. Likewise his iconoclasm and unpredictability. At one moment he’ll blurt out: “Fuck business.” The next, he’s cordially reminding his financial friends that, following the Great Recession, he “stuck up for the bankers” when everyone else “wanted to hang them from the nearest lamppost.”
No wonder many Tory MPs gaze at “Boris” in mesmerized ambivalence. They share his bigotry and admire his ability to win support among the plebs. Yet they shudder at the corrosion of traditional conservative values.
Then there is Johnson’s lying, in pathological profusion: to the public (frequently), to the EU negotiators when signing the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, and even to the Queen for goodness sake. His serial mendacity has brought an investigation by Parliament’s Privileges Committee into whether he misled MPs over his numerous COVID rule breaches. If found guilty, he would face suspension as an MP. This looming case swayed many Tory MPs against nominating him to replace Truss as party leader. It’s sobering to note that, but for this coincidence of timing, Johnson would likely have regained the premiership.
Prior to politics, Johnson’s career was in the press. It’s one of very few economic sectors that largely backed a “hard Brexit.” The other was finance, with hedge funds to the fore. It was here that Rishi Sunak won his spurs, and he sings to the hedge fund hymnsheet: Slash regulations and give the markets free rein.
Sunak has become PM against hostility from the populist right. He symbolizes the “cosmopolitan globalism” they abhor. They may forgive him his U.S. green card, his Santa Monica beach penthouse and his vast fortune, but not his marriage to an Indian woman, his skin color or his recent fiscal policies. As chancellor under Johnson he hiked Britain’s tax burden to its highest level in 70 years to fund the lockdown furlough scheme. Later, he applied the final shove when Tory MPs removed Johnson from office. Johnson’s secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, Nadine Dorries, went so far as to share a montage of Rishi stabbing Boris in the back. For all the talk of party unity, these scars run deep.
Temperamentally, Sunak is Johnson’s antipode: dapper, teetotal and pragmatic. As such, he suits the Tory project going forward. Messaging to the markets will need to be slick.
Sunak’s government faces a global headwind in the shape of stagflation, but also two homemade poisoned chalices: his and Johnson’s previous flops.
Of their most vaunted successes, both have flattered to deceive. The first, in 2016, was the Brexit referendum. Winning 17 million votes, around a third of the electorate, represented the biggest democratic vote in British history. Yet the Tory Brexit aim was to inaugurate a new economic growth model, with new trade deals assisted by deregulation. That has not gone to plan, as a recent report by the House of Commons public accounts committee makes clear. Britain’s per capita GDP has risen less since 2016 than most of Europe and much less than the U.S. Brexit, far from healing intra-Tory schisms, has deepened and multiplied them, including between the austerian “extreme centre” (Sunak, and the current chancellor Jeremy Hunt) and the populist right (Johnson and Truss).
Johnson and Sunak’s other sham success was the response to COVID. They crow of having quickly purchased vaccines. Overall, however, the “let-the-virus-rip” instincts that they both shared, compounded by glaring errors (such as the nepotistic appointment of a hapless horse-racing entrepreneur to head COVID Test and Trace) led to an abysmal record. The life expectancy of British people, especially in deprived neighborhoods, slumped. Britain’s COVID-caused excess mortality exceeds almost all nations of Western Europe and all the G7 countries apart from the U.S. Long COVID continues to afflict around 2 million people, causing labour shortages and burdening the health system.
Sunak has defeated Johnson, thanks to a rule change stipulating that any prospective leader must secure at least 100 nominations from MPs. Johnson was barely able to secure half that figure. Where does this leave Sunak’s government?
The bleak fact is that Britain, experiencing eye-watering levels of poverty and chronic ill health, and now wracked by a cost of living crisis, will re-commence austerity mode. Its new leader is possibly the richest MP in history and certainly the only prime minister whose wealth exceeds that of the monarch. As a former hedge fund partner, he represents the most parasitic and destabilizing form of finance. His wife belongs to the “non-dom” class, i.e. the multimillionaires who are permitted to avoid paying tax on the vast bulk of their wealth and earnings. According to tax experts, Sunak “has not been transparent with his finances and his hedge fund background raises questions about his commitment to fighting tax avoidance.” As chancellor he oversaw what is by some measures Britain’s biggest ever rise in inequality. Hated by many in his party and lacking Johnson’s charisma, he is set to oversee a final brief spell of Tory rule. At time of writing we don’t yet know his cabinet team but we can predict that he will be flanked by Hunt, notorious for his role as useful idiot for Rupert Murdoch and for having inflicted “ruin” upon the National Health Service.
In short, although Sunak inherits a substantial parliamentary majority, the Tory Party is fractious and a substantial segment of MPs and members loathe him. Their majority is likely to disappear as soon as it’s subjected to an electoral test. (And Sunak will receive little or no boost from ethnic minorities. That Britain’s PM is nonwhite is historic, but this is no “Obama moment.”)
The main beneficiary of the Tory omnishambles will be Labour. But here’s the rub. Labour post-Corbyn has gravitated to the extreme center. Their leader, Keir Starmer, wishes to repeat the trick of three decades ago. On “Black Wednesday” of 1992 the then-Tory government lost confidence of the markets and sterling slumped. With the Tories branded financially incontinent, Labour restyled itself “New Labour,” the party of sound finances, fiscal responsibility and centrist neoliberalism. Having ruthlessly purged his party of left-wing spirit — with the sustained application of deceit, corruption and lawbreaking, a major email leak has recently revealed — Starmer’s Labour can offer little but platitudes and “market discipline.” The aim is to manage the nation’s finances in inclement times such that a little space for infrastructure spending can be found, which will rekindle upward circles of GDP growth. It’s a bloodless pitch that stands a prospect of electoral success only through the opponent’s ineptitude. The fundamental crises, of social inequality and democratic decline, from which the turbulence of Britain’s politics stems would remain unaddressed. The very policies laid down under the last Labour government — including the empowerment of the Bank of England and the financial markets — are coauthors of the economic polarization, social fragmentation and seething anger that lie behind the recent scenes of chaos at 10 Downing Street. Whether a Sunak premiership survives longer than a Truss, a Johnson or a lettuce, the turbulence is set to continue.
At least six Palestinians were killed in a night of violence in the West Bank, raising tensions further ahead of elections in Israel next week.
By Isabel Kershner, Oct. 25, 2022
Mourners carrying the bodies of Palestinians who were among those killed in an overnight Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday. Credit...Majdi Mohammed/Associated Press
JERUSALEM — Israeli forces carried out a major raid against a Palestinian militia in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday, killing a leader of the group and four other men, according to members of the militia and Palestinian officials.
The predawn raid targeted the Nablus-based militia known as the Lions’ Den, which emerged this year and does not answer to any of the established Palestinian factions. Many Palestinians have championed the group’s fighters as popular heroes, in part because Israel’s occupation of the territory has dragged on for more than a half-century and become increasingly entrenched.
Israel has blamed the Lions’ Den for a rise in shootings that it says are aimed at its troops and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including one that killed a soldier this month. It said that it had killed the group’s leader, Wadie al-Houh, in an exchange of gunfire, adding that he was the main target of the raid and was responsible for producing bombs and obtaining weapons for the group.
This year has already been the deadliest in the West Bank since 2015 for Palestinians in the conflict with Israel. And the raid, along with the threat of revenge attacks, raised tensions further in an already volatile atmosphere ahead of Israel’s general election, which is set to take place next week.
The Israeli army has kept Nablus under a tight siege for about two weeks, severely restricting movement in and out of the city in an effort to contain attacks. Palestinians have decried the closure as a collective punishment.
On Tuesday, the Israeli military said that its troops and special forces had raided a “hide-out apartment” in the Old City of Nablus that the Lions’ Den used as a headquarters and explosives manufacturing site. The troops blew up the explosives lab, the military added.
It said that its troops hit multiple armed men and fired back at gunmen who were shooting at them, while dozens of Palestinians burned tires and hurled rocks at the forces.
The Lions’ Den confirmed that Mr. al-Houh was killed and that he was a leader of the group.
The militia has won the admiration of many young Palestinians by posting videos on social media of its attacks on Israelis in real time. These young Palestinians are as frustrated with the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited authority over parts of the West Bank, as they are with Israel.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, denounced the Israeli raid as a war crime, while Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that dominates the Gaza Strip, warned that Israel’s “crimes would plunge Palestine into escalation.”
The dead were carried in a funeral procession in Nablus, wrapped in flags with the Lions’ Den insignia. Along with the five who were killed in the Nablus raid, the Palestinian Health Ministry said at least 20 Palestinians were injured.
Another Lions’ Den operative was killed in Nablus on Sunday when a motorcycle exploded as he passed by. The group blamed Israel for what it described as an assassination and swore to avenge it.
Israel did not claim responsibility. But if it was behind the killing, Israeli experts said, it would be the first time that Israel has carried out a targeted killing in the West Bank in more than 20 years.
In addition to blaming the Lions’ Den for a rise in shootings at troops and in West Bank settlements, the Israeli authorities say that in the past few weeks, the group also sent an operative to carry out an attack in Tel Aviv, which was thwarted by the police, and that it planted an explosive device in a gas station near a West Bank settlement.
Separately on Tuesday, Palestinian officials said that a sixth Palestinian was killed overnight in the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh near the city of Ramallah. The Israeli military said its soldiers spotted a man hurling an explosive device at them near Nabi Saleh and responded with live fire.
No casualties were reported on the Israeli side in either episode.
Much of the violence between Israelis and Palestinians this year has focused on the northern West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin. Unrest has spread to Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 in a move that most countries have not recognized.
And there has been a noted rise in violence against Palestinians and their property by extremist Jewish settlers, who frequently set out to confront Palestinians and their supporters during the fall olive harvest.
Right-wing opponents of Israel’s centrist prime minister, Yair Lapid, have criticized his government during the election campaign for not acting more aggressively against Palestinian militants. But Mr. Lapid vowed on Tuesday to keep pursuing Palestinians who attack Israelis.
“We will reach every place,” he said. “Israel will never be deterred against operating for its own security.”
Gabby Sobelman and Hiba Yazbek contributed reporting.