Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, October 15, 2022


*Note date change to October 26, 2022

After more than four decades U.S. political prisoner Mumia ABU-JAMAL will have his case heard in the Philadelphia, PA Court of Common Pleas. Mumia, a former Black Panther and renown journalist, is innocent but framed by the racist criminal justice system—the same court system that had sentenced him to die by lethal injection, then to death by incarceration. The evidence has now come to light—but was long kept in the dark by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.


Free Mumia Abu-Jamal is the cry heard around the world for 40 years. It will reverberate in Philadelphia on Oct. 26. Here in the Bay Area, we will call for freedom for Mumia. Join us in this protest.


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! 



The West Coast Book Tour

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

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

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





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

By Stephanie Pavlick and Kit Baril

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


Leonard Peltier’s fight for justice

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


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


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


The struggle continues

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


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


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


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


·      Joining all or part of the walk

·      Joining a rally

·      Sponsoring the caravan with a hot prepared meal

·      Dry food donations

·      Hosting lodging/camping

·      Driving a support vehicle

·      Raising awareness of Peltier’s cause locally

·      Promoting the caravan and rally

Monetary donations (can be sent via PayPal here)

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


Learn more about Leonard Peltier and his case here:



Liberation News, September 3, 2022




The 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.

Please share, and submit your letter to President Biden today!







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


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


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


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


You can also email County Attorney Smith here.


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


About NWL


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


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


Learn more at womensliberation.org.


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





Doctors for Assange Statement


Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition

‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong 



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The doctors write:


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


They conclude:


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


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



Sign the petition:


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

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

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

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

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

Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.

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

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

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



Dear friends, 

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

Below are two ways to stream this historic webinar, plus 

• a petition you can sign

• a portal to send a letter to Governor Newsom

• a Donate button to support his campaign

• a link to our campaign website. 

Please take a moment and help. 

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

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


Here is the Facebook link:


Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:


Write to Governor Newsom’s office:




Ruchell’s Website: 



Charlie Hinton


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



Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


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





Laws are created to be followed

by the poor.

Laws are made by the rich

to bring some order to exploitation.

The poor are the only law abiders in history.

When the poor make laws

the rich will be no more.


—Roque Dalton Presente!

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

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







Screenshot of Kevin Cooper's artwork from the teaser.


 “In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper

A film by Kenneth A. Carlson 

Teaser is now streaming at:



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



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


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


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


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


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


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



New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case

By Johanna Fernández

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

Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workers World, January 4, 2022


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Demand Mumia's Freedom:

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


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



A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Video at:


Screen shot from video.

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




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

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


Bury My Heart with Leonard Peltier

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

By Michael Moore

—VIA Email: michaelmoore@substack.com

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


President Joe Biden


Phone: 202-456-1111

E-mail: At this link



Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland


Phone: 202-208-3100

E-mail: feedback@ios.doi.gov


Attorney General Merrick Garland


Phone: 202-514-2000

E-mail: At this link



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


I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.

I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.

You may bury my body in Sussex grass,

You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.

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

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.



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



The Moment

By Margaret Atwood*


The moment when, after many years 

of hard work and a long voyage 

you stand in the centre of your room, 

house, half-acre, square mile, island, country, 

knowing at last how you got there, 

and say, I own this, 


is the same moment when the trees unloose 

their soft arms from around you, 

the birds take back their language, 

the cliffs fissure and collapse, 

the air moves back from you like a wave 

and you can't breathe. 


No, they whisper. You own nothing. 

You were a visitor, time after time 

climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. 

We never belonged to you. 

You never found us. 

It was always the other way round.


*Witten by the woman who wrote a novel about Christian fascists taking over the U.S. and enslaving women. Prescient!



Union Membership—2021

Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Department of Labor

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

Technical information: 

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

Media contact: 

(202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov

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

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

Highlights from the 2021 data:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

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

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

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

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

Selected Characteristics of Union Members

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

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

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

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

Union Representation

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


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

Union Membership by State

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

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

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

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

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

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



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

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

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

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

Emergency Hotlines

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

State and Local Hotlines

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

National Hotline

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

Know Your Rights Materials

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

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

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective






1) Why Must Puerto Ricans Always Be Resilient?

By Yarimar Bonilla, Oct. 10, 2022

Dr. Bonilla is the director of Centro, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, and a professor of anthropology at the City University of New York Graduate Center. 


Clockwise from top left, Salinas Beach in Puerto Rico; a power outage in Yauco; a house in Salinas; Nereida Batista at her home in Toa Baja.

Clockwise from top left, Salinas Beach in Puerto Rico; a power outage in Yauco; a house in Salinas; Nereida Batista at her home in Toa Baja.Credit...Clockwise from top left, Alejandro Granadillo/Associated Press; Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times; Alejandro Granadillo/Associated Press; Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters

When I call to check in on my family in Puerto Rico, my mom, as she always does, assures me that they are OK: “Estamos bien.” But being OK means her last grocery run had to be thrown out after days without power. The grocery store in her neighborhood was forced to close temporarily because of a diesel shortage, and she’s bathing with a bucket during a heat wave. When I ask if she needs anything, she says, “Esperanza” — hope.


Why is it that five years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was so unprepared for Hurricane Fiona, a Category 1 storm? Why did a newly privatized grid collapse after just a few hours of rain? Why did newly built bridges so easily float away? Why are so many people still without power? And why has my mom lost hope that things will improve anytime soon?


Part of the problem is that the speed of emergency management has not adapted to climate change. It used to be that the scope of a natural catastrophe would not be surpassed for decades, but record-breaking storms have become all too frequent, and recovery efforts can’t keep up.


Emergency management efforts often focus on immediate response, providing temporary shelter and other needs, without a longer-term strategy. In the wake of Maria, thousands of people were relocated out of Puerto Rico and dropped in motels or on relatives’ sofas, with no plan for how to rebuild their homes or bring them back. The same happened after Hurricane Katrina, as thousands fled, never to return.


After Maria, the Federal Emergency Management Agency sank more than $1 billion into a doomed program called Tu Hogar Renace, or Your Home Reborn, which was meant to provide essential repairs to affected residences in Puerto Rico, reducing the demand for other shelter options. The program focused on basic repairs like fixing broken windows and doors but didn’t prepare structures to withstand future storms. Worse, it was gamed by contractors who charged exorbitant prices for shoddy subcontracted work.


Public works have been similarly challenged. The most visible example is a temporary bridge, built by FEMA contractors in Ohio and placed in the town of Utuado in 2018, at a cost of nearly $3 million. It was supposed to last 75 years, but last month, Fiona’s surging floodwaters washed it down the river. The irony is that the bridge Maria had destroyed was also a temporary one built after Hurricane Georges in 1998.


Puerto Ricans deserve more than Band-Aids that will be ripped away by the next disaster. We also need and deserve a faster recovery. It is unjustifiable and untenable that after a storm, residents are expected to spend weeks without electricity and years living under blue tarps. In the early months of the Covid pandemic, cash payments were released by the federal government with little bureaucratic friction because there was a clear sense of urgency. The same urgency needs to be brought to attending to a natural disaster.


Last week, President Biden said that people in Puerto Rico would be able to register to get $700 “to help cover the essentials,” but the application is not straightforward, and many fear being denied.


It has been widely documented that the already slow bureaucracy of federal assistance was delayed after Hurricane Maria, but it is important to note that applicants were also overly scrutinized. A recently released report by the United States Commission on Civil Rights showed that FEMA placed unnecessary requirements on Puerto Rico residents. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, hundreds of thousands of families that applied for federal assistance were denied, most often because they were unable to prove ownership of their homes — even though homeownership is not a requirement for aid and various forms of documentation could have been accepted.


In the end, just 40 percent of households that applied for FEMA assistance after Maria received any support, and only a little over 1 percent received the maximum payout. This does not account for the thousands who were unable to apply for aid at all because they were unable to navigate the bureaucratic labyrinth.


FEMA also followed unique procedures in Puerto Rico that are not used in the 50 states, purportedly to facilitate recovery and build back better. These procedures ended up being unduly bureaucratic and financially onerous for local governments, leading to delays in the construction of lifesaving infrastructure, like a much-needed hospital for the island municipality of Vieques, where there is currently no direct access to emergency care.


Similarly, the Jones Act delayed the arrival of emergency supplies like diesel and inflated their costs at a time of critical need. It took a week for the Biden administration to approve a temporary waiver after Fiona, but by then many businesses, like my mom’s grocery store, had begun to shutter because they were unable to power their generators.


Some believe that demanding equal treatment for Puerto Rico in the wake of disasters is the key to solving its current problems, but equality is not the same as justice. And in any case, we know that even within the 50 states, disaster aid is not exempt from structural inequality.


Mr. Biden held a news conference in the town of Ponce last week, surrounded by electrical cables, presumably staged to signal his commitment to rebuilding and modernizing the electrical grid in Puerto Rico. Yet many are beginning to wonder if his promises are little more than political theater. Five days after his visit, residents took to the streets to protest ongoing power outages and lack of running water.


The residents I have spoken to say they have yet to see crews from LUMA Energy, the island’s privatized power company working in the area. Instead, the company filed legal action against local mayors working to restore power in their municipalities.


As was the case after Hurricane Maria, community leaders have stepped in to fill the gaps left by the government. Local aid organizations replaced FEMA-distributed blue tarps with roofs and bought and installed solar microgrids, fostering the hope that people like my mom so urgently need.


But broader changes must come soon. Puerto Ricans are done with resilience. We are tired of celebrating our ability to endure, of being creative in the face of adversity and of surviving despite state neglect. After Maria, we rallied together in a spirit of collective recovery, but we can no longer carry the weight. The storms will keep coming, and we can’t be expected to pick ourselves back up on our own again and again. We need our government infrastructure to be as resilient as we are forced to be.



2) Teenagers Are Telling Us That Something Is Wrong With America

By Jamieson Webster, Oct. 11, 2022

Dr. Webster is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. 


Illustration by Chantal Jahchan. Photograph by Getty Images

We’ve long known that suicide can be contagious without quite understanding how or why. In my practice as a psychoanalyst in New York, I recently worked with a 13-year-old girl whose friend had committed suicide during the pandemic and who had begun to feel suicidal herself. Teenagers are notoriously suggestible to peers, who buffer their nascent sense of self, so the 54 percent increase in suicides in the 10-to-24 age group between 2007 and 2020 is a serious cause for alarm.


Listening to my patient, it was a question about an unpredictable future that seemed most salient in her suicidal ruminations. This girl, who I will call by her first initial, B., to protect her privacy, spoke passionately about climate change, about racism and inequality, about all the “mental health” issues of her friends who were on this medication and that medication, and had eating disorders, attention disorders, self-harming behaviors and depression. Her burgeoning sexuality was also greeted as a threat — how can I be a sexual woman in this environment? Yes, the pandemic exacerbated a groundless feeling, but the way adolescents investigate their world for its failings means they touch an open wound in this country: What happens when we realize the escalator — so crucial to the American dream — didn’t go anywhere (and maybe never really worked, at least not for many)?


B. also spoke to the contradictions of her parents, who seemed unhappy in their work, in their role as parents, in the privileges accorded to them, along with those denied to them, and were enraged by the political environment on all sides. Yet, she proclaimed, they were pushing their daughters toward the same kinds of achievements and the same lifestyle, and any sign of negative emotion from their children was seen as an attack, as if they were pointing out that the life they were given wasn’t any good, when the reality of everything these parents said pointed to the fact that, well, life wasn’t so good. Why, she proclaimed, would she want any of this, and why do they want her to pretend as if she wants it? “They don’t even pretend they want it, really!” she exclaimed.


On first glance, this feels like your age-old adolescent trying to define a personal space away from their parents’ values, attentive to the hypocrisies of any family, and time and place. What felt new was how quickly this became a fantasy of withdrawal, as if she couldn’t sustain a sense of self or place. B. wants to move to the countryside and raise dogs: “beautiful, innocent, fluffy dogs, just like mine!” She doesn’t want to work, or make money, or have children, or be with anyone really.


While she took on the sweet air of a much younger child, it didn’t take much to hear the depression. Many adolescents I see immediately want to exit the world stage, as if all options are already on the table, played-out, disenchanted, and the only choice is to disappear, or take medicine, get famous, detach — other versions of disappearing, suicide being the most extreme.


Article after article shows us that America’s teenagers aren’t doing well, without putting their finger on what is wrong beyond issues of individual “mental illness” and the usual bugbears trotted out — social media, video games, the weakening of the family unit. But what are the teenagers telling us is wrong? We seem to have forgotten that adolescents are lightning rods for the zeitgeist. They live at the fault lines of a culture, exposing our weak spots, showing the available array of solutions and insolubilities. They are holding up a mirror for us to see ourselves more clearly.


In 1950, the psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson theorized that the danger for American adolescents was “diffusion” when they needed identity. Deep down, he felt Americans lived a series of extreme contradictions between the “open roads of immigration and jealous islands of tradition, outgoing internationalism and defiant isolationism; boisterous competition and self-effacing cooperation,” to name a few, only loosely held together. Our identity isn’t grounded in accrued cultural sensibilities but rather the unstable ideal of being able to choose in any direction, at any moment.


This defiantly active personality could quickly give way to depressive withdrawal, and when that failed, psychosomatic illness, delinquent behavior and psychosis beckoned, Erikson surmised from his work with patients in the hospital. He worried about the series of huge changes in a given life in America that would only be exacerbated by globalization, emancipatory and technological revolution, in a young country. How would the American adolescent fare?


Society, he wrote, must lighten the conflicts for our children through a promise of security, identity and integrity that allows for true spontaneity and flexibility that alone can keep a person intact. While Erikson always felt to me very much of his time, a kind of midcentury pragmatist who was a tad patrician — something that has always rubbed me the wrong way — returning to his thought lately has felt revelatory, almost prophetic.


“Attachment is confusing,” a 14-year-old told me. “I start crying but feel nothing, literally nothing, which is weird, and then find myself telling myself, ‘You’re a teenager, teenagers are confused, and anyway, don’t get attached to anything, it’s all going to change.’ But then I think of the changes coming and I feel exhausted before really knowing what I want.” She is so articulate about herself, more than I could have been at her age, or even twice her age. I marvel at her capacity for introspection, which makes it hard to see the source of her confusion, including the extent of her youthful naïveté.


When B. spoke about her gender identity, something suicidal broke through. The pressures, contradictions and vulnerability of being a girl felt too much, and she would double over in my office saying she had her period, as if to demonstrate something unbearable about verging on womanhood. Identity seemed to name a point of the utmost pain and confusion. Identity politics — so fraught on both sides of America’s political divide — wasn’t the cause of B.’s pain. In fact, identity politics, too, is born from the suffering our adolescents pinpoint.


Freud felt that adolescence was the decisive time for separation, establishing the differences between generations, as each adolescent confronts the realities of adult life for the first time. The danger for this age group is getting swallowed up by their families or by the flimsiness of group psychology before they’ve established a “trial” identity. Adolescent crisis, he wrote, “may also be looked upon as an attempt at cure” that “ends often enough in a complete devastation.” One is only properly psychiatrically ill on the other side of adolescence, which seems to shuffle us into various forms of neurosis and psychosis. Most psychotic breaks occur during or in the years following puberty.


“I looked in the mirror and I couldn’t recognize myself,” a 17-year-old patient explained to me after going to the emergency room for an episode of extreme depersonalization. After this breakdown, something in her gave way to somatic issues — she was then diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome — and she suffered recurrent anxiety and panic attacks. I’ll call her by her first initial, too, A. After a couple of years of therapy, A. gained some ground articulating the desires that scared her and were causing diffusion.


Her identity felt attacked by what felt outside of its scope: What if she was gay? What if she was more like her parents than she thought? Did she feel more like an American or did she feel closer to the country where her parents came from? Why couldn’t she do the things she most wanted to and seemed to give way so easily to things she didn’t want to do? These questions were asked through actions — sex, drugs, failing to do her work, doing her work to the utmost perfection — but also as a relentless internal attack: “Where is your sense of self?”


On the other end of the spectrum, one can often find in the stories of adolescent, mostly white, male school shooters the same set of difficulties swimming around identity, a self that is falling apart, an internal attack that is cured through imagining an external one, and saddest of them all, cries for help before the act that remain unanswered: The 15-year-old who is accused of killing four students at his high school in Oxford, Mich., in 2021, wrote in his journal: “the first victim has to be a pretty girl with a future so she can suffer like me.”


I find myself trying to allay teenagers’ inner voices, slow down their rush to action, give room to their anxiety, and buy time to explore what are invariably complicated feelings about themselves and their world, without believing I have any answers. But don’t we live in a country full of aggressive, blaming speech, a preference for quick solutions, and the reduction of real impasses to superficial actionable items, disavowing anxiety while sowing confusion?


A. wants to be an artist and she has a special talent for it, but when her sense of self feels so precarious, how can she willingly choose a precarious profession? It’s as if she is asking a question she was forced to ask her entire life and that certainly is part and parcel of the unresolved conflicts her parents had as immigrants to the United States. But truth be told, we all have these questions about how precarious life has to be in this country, how to live with the hopelessness about the future that is emerging and how all of this is coming up against the pursuit of self and freedom so celebrated in America. Adolescence, then, is not only an attempt at a cure. It is the chance we have for finding one, not only for them, but for all of us.



3) Haiti Has Been a Plaything of Powerful Forces for Too Long

By Lydia Polgreen, Opinion Columnist, Oct. 12, 2022


Protesters demanding the resignation of Ariel Henry, Haiti’s acting prime minister, set fires in the streets of Port-au-Prince this month.

Protesters demanding the resignation of Ariel Henry, Haiti’s acting prime minister, set fires in the streets of Port-au-Prince this month. Credit...Richard Pierrin/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The gunmen who invaded Christelle Pierre’s neighborhood in July gave her a stark choice: run or die. She was six months pregnant with her first child. The men were members of one of the ruthless criminal gangs that range unchecked across this city. They swiftly burned her neighborhood to the ground.


I met her here late last month, a couple of days after she had given birth atop a square of cardboard in a public park. The cloth diapers, the downy receiving blankets and the infant mattress she had carefully saved up for had burned. Gone, too, was her husband. The gangsters who overran their community shot him in the head and left his body to burn, too.


“I can’t stay on the streets with a baby,” she told me. “But I have nowhere to go. There is no shelter, no food, no medicine, no work. There is only chaos in this country.”


Haiti is in free fall.


The most powerful person here is a gang leader who goes by the nom de guerre Barbecue (given name: Jimmy Chérizier). His men have set up flaming barricades blocking distribution of the country’s sources of fuel and food. Gangs, most of which have ties to political and business leaders, have all but shut down Haiti’s economy by cutting off the flow of fuel and food. Hunger is bearing down on many families. Cholera, which once killed around 10,000 people here, is once again spreading.


Officially, Haiti’s government is led by a deeply unpopular acting prime minister, Ariel Henry, who came to power with the support of the United States and other major regional powers after the assassination of the former president over a year ago. He and his foreign backers have ignored a proposal from a coalition of Haitian civil society groups aimed at creating a more representative interim government and paving the way for a return to democracy. Street protests demanding his resignation have convulsed major cities for weeks. The security situation has become so dire that on Friday, Henry pleaded for an international security mission to help the overmatched police retake the streets.


For all its seeming complexity, the current upheaval turns on the same question that has driven almost every crisis on this island for the past 230 years: Who will rule Haiti? And will Haitians ever truly have the chance to resolve that question for themselves, or will outsiders once again play the decisive role in the country’s future?


It is a question I had been wrestling with since I first went to Haiti as a young reporter for The New York Times. It was on the eve of the 2004 bicentennial of Haiti’s independence, after the only successful modern revolt by enslaved people. My experiences in Haiti made self-determination and self-rule for the formerly colonized people of the global south one of the central subjects of my career as a correspondent in Africa and Asia. And it was the question of self-determination that brought me back here now. Haiti has long had independence, but where was its true freedom? It has long had elections, but where was its true democracy?


At that time Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic former Catholic priest who had become the country’s first democratically elected president, faced a surge of protests — some backed by his longtime enemies in the country’s tiny, wealthy elite, along with formerly staunch allies who now viewed him as a burgeoning autocrat. The most recent round of parliamentary elections hadn’t been held, and Aristide was essentially ruling by decree. The United States and European partners each blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in promised aid as a form of political pressure. Human rights activists said Aristide was empowering street gangs to protect his government and intimidate and even kill critics of his government.


I was dropped, suddenly, into this complex story. When you are a daily news reporter on a big breaking story, it is easy to get lost in the incremental changes. I spent my days in the streets interviewing ordinary people, most of whom were loyal to Aristide, who had come up from the city’s slums. Their anger was palpable and played out in violent street clashes.


Like many foreign correspondents in Haiti at that time, I spent my evenings learning about the country from young Haitians who were like me: 20-something, college educated in North America, fluent in English and French, cosmopolitan in outlook. Their wealthy parents owned businesses threatened by Aristide’s redistributive policies, and they supported political parties and candidates that wanted to remove him from office. Over endless bottles of Prestige beer and platters of chicken djon djon, my views were perhaps inevitably shaped by theirs, subtly softening the stark reality of what was unfolding: a usurpation of the will of a majority of the Haitian people.


By the end of February 2004, an armed insurrection pushed Aristide from power and onto an American jet taking him into exile. American Marines arrived soon after, with President George W. Bush declaring that “it is essential that Haiti have a hopeful future. This is the beginning of a new chapter.”


Who had wanted Aristide gone? I had attended many street protests against his government and saw that the opposition was not entirely confined to a small wealthy elite. But given his enormous popularity among the poor, it seems unlikely that a majority of Haitians wanted him out.


Aristide had made powerful enemies. He had demanded that France pay Haiti $21 billion, recompense for the repugnant debt it placed on its now liberated colony. The French were among the first nations to demand his ouster. Aristide’s allies would later call his departure a kidnapping; the French ambassador at the time recently told The New York Times that the United States and France had effectively carried out a “coup.” U.S. officials have long rejected both characterizations. Later, investigative reporting in The New York Times would demonstrate how a powerful conservative American organization helped shape the opposition — and raise fresh questions about the United States’ role.


In another place, a leader like Aristide could have served out his terms in office, faced defeat and then nursed his political grudges and meddled with his enemies from the sidelines. What is self-rule other than the right to choose your own disappointment? But this is Haiti, a country where all but a handful of leaders have left office one of two ways: in exile or in a coffin.


Standing on the tarmac at the airport here on Feb. 29, 2004, watching the American plane that carried Aristide into exile, I could not help but feel something irretrievable was lost. The best of what he represented — a demand for just redistribution, from without and within, as a route to true democracy and equity, was gone. What remained was his worst impulse: the gangs that had helped secure his presidency. It was a trauma from which Haiti has never really recovered, leaving it a broken nation living in the shadow of the most powerful country in the world — a boogeyman, a headache, a pawn.


What does the world owe Haiti today? First and foremost to leave it alone. To give Haitians the time, space and support to imagine a different future for their own country.


Dan Foote, a former U.S. special envoy to Haiti, has since become an exceptionally blunt critic of Washington’s policy. He told me that “American foreign policy still believes subconsciously that Haiti is a bunch of dumb Black people who can’t organize themselves, and we need to tell them what to do or it’s going to get really bad. But the internationals have messed Haiti up every time we have intervened. It is time to give the Haitians a chance. What’s the worst that can happen? They make it worse than we have?”


Haiti has been used and abused by more powerful nations since Christopher Columbus landed on the north coast of the island in 1492. The United States has seesawed between shunning and smothering Haiti, initially refusing to recognize the country, then invading it in 1915, turning into a quasi-colony for 19 years. Cold War calculations ensured that the United States retained deep influence over Haiti’s politics and economy, sometimes uneasily, throughout the brutal regimes, from 1957 to 1986, of the Duvaliers, father and son.


Over the past dozen years, Haitian politics has grown ever more fractured as the country has been battered by a shattering earthquake and a series of storms and hurricanes. The political scene has been dominated by American-backed center-right leaders credibly accused of corruption and connections to criminal networks.


Between the isolation and foreign meddling, the country’s political culture curdled into a noxious stew of fratricidal paranoia. In the absence of a modern industrial economy, the country quickly stratified. There is a mercantile class that makes most of its money importing goods and selling them to everybody else — desperately poor people surviving on subsistence wages and remittances from a thriving diaspora in the United States, Canada, France and beyond.


These years have battered Haitians’ faith in elections. In the first truly democratic election in 1990, more than half of eligible voters cast ballots. In the last election, less than 20 percent did.


Haitians also, understandably, have little faith in outsiders. Jean Rosier, a 53-year-old security guard, echoed what many people in Haiti told me.


“The international powers don’t want change in Haiti,” he said. “They prefer that we are weak, that we are poor. They want us to have our hands out so they can spit on them.”


If the United States once valued Haiti as a playground for American capitalism and a bulwark against encroaching communism, it now simply wants to keep Haitian migrants out.


History has given the United States much to answer for in Haiti, and yet the two countries have become so enmeshed that even inaction by the United States is a kind of action.


Juan Gonzalez, the senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs on the National Security Council, said last month that the United States is not putting its finger on the scale to support any faction. “There really is not an easy fix in Haiti,” he said. “I also think that just leaving it up to Haitians to resolve their problems, I think ignores the really, really concerning and deteriorating situation inside the country.”


The current crisis presents a seemingly impossible puzzle. The existing government is weak and has no legitimacy; it remains in place largely through the support of the United States and other Western powers.


The impulse of just about every outsider, as well as the current government, is to try to hold elections as soon as possible to replace the extra-constitutional government with one that represents the wishes of Haiti’s people. But in a country where there is no security, it is hardly possible to hold a credible election. And an election, even a technically fair and free one, is necessary but not sufficient for true self-rule. Much more will be required to restore a modicum of trust and faith in government here.


In my conversations with Haitians, I found a slender but persistent wisp of hope that this is finally the time to declare a kind of political bankruptcy, clear all old political debts and begin anew, with a fresh compact to carry Haiti forward.


A broad swath of Haitian society, including rival political parties, trade unions, grass-roots community groups and human rights activists, have come together to propose a detailed framework for a political transition.


Their compact, called the Montana Accord, calls for an appointed interim president, and the members of the group elected a former Haitian central bank governor named Fritz Jean as a consensus candidate for the job early this year. Jean told me the country needs time to rebuild its institutions and work toward elections. He pledged that he would not be a candidate for the presidency in those elections.


For much of this country’s history, the Haitian people have been playthings of powerful forces from without and within — of colonial and neocolonial powers, of economic elites, of global criminal networks, of politicians seeking to line their own pockets.


There is a word in Haitian Kreyòl, “granmoun.” Translated literally, it means “big person.” But the actual meaning captures something deeper. To be a granmoun is to be the owner of your destiny, in control of your life and future. A granmoun is a sovereign being.


Magali Comeau Denis, a leader of the group trying to put in place the Montana Accord, introduced the word to me, when explaining how she sees Haiti’s future. Then, she said: “This is the first time in Haitian history where we have really talked about our future with the economic, social, political and community groups together, directly at the table, giving their input and making changes and having their objections heard,” she told me. “This is it. This is our chance.”


The first step to helping Haiti fulfill its destiny, to be the independent Black republic its revolution promised, may be for the rest of us to get out of its way.



4) Protests in Iran Spread, Including to Oil Sector, Despite Violent Crackdown

Human rights groups say at least 185 people have been killed and thousands injured or arrested, but demonstrations that began after the death of Mahsa Amini have continued nearly a month.

By Farnaz Fassihi and Jane Arraf, Oct. 12, 2022


A still image taken from a video showed Iranian women cheering and waving their hijabs above their heads in a street in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan province, in September.

A still image taken from a video showed Iranian women cheering and waving their hijabs above their heads in a street in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan province, in September. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Defying a lethal crackdown in cities across Iran, protesters demanding the ouster of Iran’s Islamic Republic have driven their uprising into a fourth week, with workers from the country’s vital oil sector going on strike this week and activists calling for further work stoppages and protests on Wednesday.


Despite efforts by Iran’s security forces, including the feared plainclothes Basij militias, to crush the protests, they have only widened. Some have turned into chaotic street battles, with the security forces opening fire and protesters fighting back and refusing to give ground, according to witnesses, rights groups and videos of the clashes on social media.


The internet and popular communications applications in Iran have been disrupted for weeks, making it difficult to confirm the true toll of the government’s crackdown on the protests, which have been led and inspired by women from their start in mid-September. But human rights groups said Tuesday that at least 185 people had been killed, including 28 children, with thousands injured or arrested so far. The government said that 24 of its security forces had been killed and about 2,000 wounded.


The protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police after they arrested her under the country’s rule requiring women to wear dress modestly and cover their hair in public. Iran’s security forces claimed she died of a heart attack, but her family said she had been killed by blows to her head and was healthy at the time of her arrest.


The government’s violent crackdown has been intense in many cities across the country, and in recent weeks it has escalated in the Kurdish region where Ms. Amini lived and the protests began.


One city there, Sanandaj, about 250 miles from Tehran, came under intense fire over the weekend, according to residents, rights groups and videos posted on social media. Security forces indiscriminately opened fire on residents and homes and threw tear gas into residential buildings, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 400, according to the Kurdish rights group Hengaw.


Since the protests began in September, two teenage girls have joined Ms. Amini as the faces of the uprising, appearing on posters and street art across the country, their names chanted as rallying cries and trending on Persian-language Twitter. The girls — Nika Shakarami and Sarina Esmailzadeh, both 16 but from different towns — went missing after they joined the protests in September, their families only learning their fates after the authorities suddenly returned their bodies.


The government claimed that the girls had killed themselves by jumping from buildings. But family members immediately rejected those accusations, telling the media and human rights groups that the girls had been beaten to death.


Last week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, broke weeks of silence over the protests, accusing the United States and Israel of aiding the demonstrators, and voicing support for the security forces’ actions.


But scenes like those this month at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran — Iran’s most elite academic institution, where the authorities shot rubber bullets into crowds of young people and beat and arrested dozens, according to witnesses — have reverberated, outraging even some Iranians who had formerly supported the revolutionary government.


Iran has been rocked by nationwide protest movements before, most notably over contested election results in 2009, and over the economy in 2017 and 2019. Those also brought a swift and deadly reaction from the authorities.


But the current uprising has not only been able to survive weeks of crackdown attempts; it has also grown and taken a tone directly threatening the country’s theocratic leadership, with women burning their hijabs, campuses erupting into protest, and marchers chanting “Death to the dictator!” and “We don’t want an Islamic republic!”


Now nearing the month mark, the protests have taken on a rhythm. Larger demonstrations erupt across the nation every few days, including one this past Saturday. Those have been backed by smaller neighborhood-scale protests nearly every day, and by widespread daily acts of civil disobedience, including women walking with their hair uncovered, shops closing, and people chanting against the regime nightly from rooftops and open windows.


Activists called for another nationwide protest on Wednesday, and called for workers and businesses to join.


More professionals have been answering the call recently. Saeed Dehghan, a prominent lawyer, said a group of lawyers planned to stage a protest outside the judiciary building in Tehran on Wednesday to denounce “the state violating the rights of the people.”


The country’s main medical association issued a statement on Tuesday signed by 800 physicians condemning the violence and stating that they consider “the people as the real owners of the country, and we support their just demands.”


Workers in the oil and energy sector have staged strikes for two days. On Monday, workers from the Abadan and Kangan oil refineries and the Bushehr Petrochemical Project in Asaluyeh went on strike, and a video showed the workers in Asaluyeh blocking a road and chanting “Death to the dictator!” Eleven workers were arrested on Tuesday, but the walkouts continued, according to media reports, and more were expected on Wednesday.


Strikes that could further damage the economy, particularly those called by the unions representing the bazaar merchants and the oil and energy sector, carry a heavy weight in Iran’s history. During the 1979 Islamic revolution, strikes in those sectors were a powerful tool that accelerated the Shah’s collapse.


Amnesty International and rights groups sounded the alarm on Tuesday about the violence unfolding in Sanandaj, the city in the Kurdish region, which has a strong tradition of civil society and organized opposition parties.


Rebin Rahmani, director of the France-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network, said that it had identified four demonstrators killed by security forces in Sanandaj since the protests began, including a man in his 20s who was shot in his car by a plainclothes security officer.


Videos posted on social media and supported by witness accounts were said to show the security forces standing in the middle of a road in broad daylight in Sanandaj, shooting at crowds. At night, people barricaded the streets with debris and bonfires, and fought back by throwing bricks at the security forces. One video appeared to show the forces lining up on an empty street at night and firing at the windows of homes.


Haider, a resident of Sanandaj in his 20s who works in sales and marketing and asked to only be identified by his middle name out of fear of retribution, told The New York Times that he had heard gunfire and the sound of protesters from his balcony on Saturday and Sunday night. “We were shocked, they were trying to kill people,” he said. When he and his family left for a farm just outside the city on Monday, they saw surveillance drones overhead, he said.


Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, traveled to Sanandaj on Tuesday and said in a speech that those protesting in the city were “the enemy of the Iranian nation,” according to Iran’s official media. The sound of gunfire continued even as the minister toured the city.


In Qom, a religious city that has traditionally been a power base for the state, young protesters blocked the streets and chanted for the downfall of Ayatollah Khamenei, videos on social media showed.


“We need to live in freedom!” said Haider, the Sanandaj resident. He said a friend of his had lost an eye after being shot by pellets. “The government shouldn’t choose what we wear or what we hear.”


The official response has mostly been dismissive. President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday compared protesters to flies and labeled them enemies during a speech at a university campus. Afterward, university demonstrations took on a new chant: “Raisi, get lost!”


The head of the country’s judiciary, the hard-line cleric Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, has played a central role in the crackdown on protesters, officials say. But on Sunday, he appeared to be attempting damage control, saying that he was ready for dialogue with protesters and that the government was willing to make “corrections” to policies.


But many Iranians viewed Mr. Mohseni Ejei’s gesture as insincere, and instead took it as a sign that the state was realizing that crackdowns alone might not resolve the current crisis.


The government is also facing increasingly vocal criticism for its handling of the crisis from its power base, including some conservative politicians. Mohammad Sadr, a member of the powerful Expediency Council that advises the supreme leader and has oversight over the government, said on Tuesday that Ms. Amini’s death had ignited “pent-up frustrations, demands and rage especially among the young generation,” and added that “you cannot rule by force.”


Sangar Khalil contributed reporting.



5) Ex-Officer Is Charged After Shooting Teen Eating in a McDonald’s Parking Lot

James Brennand was charged with two counts of aggravated assault. He was fired from the San Antonio Police Department after a shooting that left a 17-year-old on life support.

By McKenna Oxenden, Oct. 11, 2022


Erik Cantu’s vehicle after he was shot in it by Officer James Brennand, who was dismissed from the San Antonio Police Department.

Erik Cantu’s vehicle after he was shot in it by Officer James Brennand, who was dismissed from the San Antonio Police Department. Credit...KHOU 11

A former rookie San Antonio police officer was arrested and charged Tuesday night in the shooting of a teenager who had been eating in a McDonald’s parking lot and is now on life support.


The former officer, James Brennand, who was fired from the San Antonio Police Department on Oct. 2 because of the shooting, was charged with two felony counts of aggravated assault and could face two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine if convicted. It was unclear whether he had a lawyer.


Body camera footage showed the former officer abruptly opening the door of a car and opening fire moments later on the teenager, Erik Cantu, after he tried to drive away.


Mr. Cantu, 17, remains in critical condition and on life support, the family’s lawyer, Brian Powers, told The Associated Press.


“The last two days have been difficult, and we expect more difficulty ahead, but we remain hopeful,” Mr. Powers said.


William McManus, the San Antonio police chief, said at a news conference that Mr. Brennand turned himself in at about 6:30 p.m. after a warrant was issued. The chief said he did not anticipate additional charges against the officer unless Mr. Cantu dies.


The Bexar County district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Mr. Brennand was responding to a disturbance call at the McDonald’s in north-central San Antonio when he spotted a car that he believed was stolen.


Video released by the police shows Mr. Brennand flinging the car door open and ordering the teenager out. Mr. Cantu, who looked confused and was still holding his food and chewing, put the car in reverse with the door open and tried to leave, which is when Mr. Brennand started to fire. He continued shooting at the car as it drove away.


Mr. Cantu was initially charged with evading detention in a vehicle and assault on a police officer but the Bexar County district attorney, Joe Gonzales, later dropped the charges.


The authorities have not yet said how many shots were fired and how many times Mr. Cantu was struck. A 17-year-old female passenger was unharmed.


Mr. Brennand faces two charges because two people were involved, Chief McManus said at a news conference broadcast by a local TV station, KENS 5.


Chief McManus said the shooting was “unjustified both administratively and criminally” and defended the department’s training tactics, saying that “it was a failure for one particular police officer.”



6) Human Brain Cells Grow in Rats, and Feel What the Rats Feel

Human brain “organoids” wired themselves into rats’ nervous systems, influencing the animals’ sensations and behaviors.

By Carl Zimmer, Oct. 12, 2022

A slice of rat brain showing the human cortical organoid in bright green.
A slice of rat brain showing the human cortical organoid in bright green. Credit...Pasca Lab, Stanford University

Scientists have successfully transplanted clusters of human neurons into the brains of newborn rats, a striking feat of biological engineering that may provide more realistic models for neurological conditions such as autism and serve as a way to restore injured brains.


In a study published on Wednesday, researchers from Stanford reported that the clumps of human cells, known as “organoids,” grew into millions of new neurons and wired themselves into their new nervous systems. Once the organoids had plugged into the brains of the rats, the animals could receive sensory signals from their whiskers and help generate command signals to guide their movements.


Dr. Sergiu Pasca, the neuroscientist who led the research, said that he and his colleagues were now using the transplanted neurons to learn about the biology underlying autism, schizophrenia and other developmental disorders.


“If we really want to tackle the biology of these conditions, we’re going to need more complex models of the human brain,” Dr. Pasca said.


In 2009, after training in medicine in Romania, Dr. Pasca joined Stanford as a postdoctoral researcher to learn how to create human neurons in a dish. He and his colleagues took skin cells from volunteers and bathed them in chemicals that caused them to change character. Now they were more like embryo cells, which can become any tissue in the body.


With the addition of more chemicals, the researchers coaxed the cells to develop into neurons. They could then observe pulses of voltage shoot down the length of the neurons as they lay in a dish.


Dr. Pasca and his colleagues carried out the same experiment again, this time using skin cells from people with Timothy syndrome, a rare form of autism caused by a single mutation that leads to serious heart problems as well as impaired language and social skills.


Growing Timothy syndrome neurons in a dish, Dr. Pasca could see a number of differences between them and typical neurons. They produced extra amounts of signaling chemicals such as dopamine, for example.


But examining single cells could reveal only a limited number of clues about the condition. Dr. Pasca suspected that he could learn more by studying thousands of neurons joined together in circuits called brain organoids.


A new chemical recipe allowed Dr. Pasca to mimic the condition inside the developing brain. Bathed in this broth, skin cells turned into progenitor brain cells, which in turn became tangles of neurons found in the brain’s outer layers, called the cortex.


In a later study, he and his colleagues connected three organoids: one made of cortex, another of spinal cord and a third of muscle cells. Stimulating the cortex organoid caused the muscle cells to contract.


But organoids are far from being miniature brains. For one thing, their neurons remain stunted. For another, they are not as electrically active as ordinary neurons in a living brain. “It’s clear that there are a number of limitations to these models,” Dr. Pasca said.


Scientists began putting organoids in living brains, theorizing that a petri dish limited an organoid’s development. In 2018, the neuroscientist Fred Gage and his colleagues at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies transplanted human brain organoids into the brains of adult mice. The human neurons continued to mature as the mouse brain suppled them with blood vessels.


Since then, Dr. Gage and other researchers have implanted organoids into the back of brain, where mice perceive signals from their eyes. When the animals saw pulsing flashes of white light, the human-organoid neurons responded in much the same way the mouse’s own cells did, according to a study published online in June that has not yet been peer-reviewed.


Dr. Pasca and his team were also working on organoid transplants, but they chose to put them into young rodents rather than adults. A day or two after a rat was born, the scientists injected an organoid the size of a poppy seed into a region of the brain called the somatosensory cortex, which processes touch, pain and other signals from across the body. In rats, the region is especially sensitive to signals from their whiskers.


The human neurons multiplied in the rat brain until they numbered about three million, making up about a third of the cortex on one side of the rat brain. Each cell in the organoid grew six times longer than it would have in a petri dish. The cells also became about as active as neurons in human brains.


Even more strikingly, the human organoids spontaneously wired themselves into the rat brain. They connected not just to nearby neurons, but to distant ones as well.


Those connections made the human neurons sensitive to the rat’s senses. When the researchers blew puffs of air over the rat’s whiskers, its human organoid crackled in response.


Dr. Pasca and his colleagues also ran experiments to see how the organoids affected the behavior of the rats, using a water fountain in their chambers.


After 15 days of training, the rats learned they could get a drink from the fountain when their organoid was stimulated. The human organoids were apparently sending messages to the reward-seeking regions of the rats’ brains.


These species-blending experiments raise provocative ethical questions. Before starting the work, Dr. Pasca consulted with experts at the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford, who urged him to pay special attention to the animals’ pain and well-being.


“You’re not just worried about how many mice are in a cage, or how well they’re fed,” said Henry Greely, a Stanford law professor. “This is a new kind of thing. You don’t know what you might see.”


Dr. Pasca’s team found no evidence that the rats experienced pain, became prone to seizures or suffered a loss of memory or control of their movements. “It turns out that the rats tolerate the human graft really well,” Dr. Pasca said.


Giorgia Quadrato, a neurobiologist at the University of Southern California who was not involved in the new study, noted that the human organoids did not make the rats more human. On learning tests, for example, they scored no better than other rats.


“They are rats, and they stay rats,” Dr. Quadrato said. “This should be reassuring from an ethical perspective.”


But that might not hold true if scientists were to put human organoids in a close relative of humans, like a monkey or a chimpanzee. “It would be a good opportunity to set guidelines to operate in the right ethical framework in the future,” she said.


Dr. Pasca said that the similarity between primates and humans might allow the organoids to grow more and take on a bigger role in the animal’s mental processes. “It’s not something that we would do, or would encourage doing,” he said.


Instead, he is using the implanted organoids to study neurological disorders. In one experiment, Dr. Pasca’s team implanted an organoid from a patient with Timothy syndrome on one side of a rat’s brain and implanted another organoid without the mutation on the other side.


Both organoids grew in the rats. But the Timothy syndrome neurons developed twice as many branches for receiving incoming signals, called dendrites. What’s more, the dendrites were shorter.


Dr. Pasca hopes that he will be able to observe differences in the way rats behave when they carry brain organoids from people with autism and other neurological conditions. Such experiments could help reveal how certain mutations alter the way the brain works.


Dr. Isaac Chen, a neurosurgeon and organoid researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the research, saw another possibility in the new study: the repair of injuries to human brains.


Dr. Chen envisioned growing brain organoids from the skin of a patient with a damaged cortex. Once injected into the brain of the patient, the organoid might grow and wire up with healthy neurons.


“This idea is definitely out there,” he said. “It’s just a matter of, How do we take advantage of it, and take it to the next level?”



7) ‘Botched execution’ lasted 90 minutes as Alabama inmate survived ‘torture,’ lawsuit says

Julia Marnin, Tue, October 11, 2022













An Alabama inmate on death row survived a “botched execution” lasting 90 minutes as prison workers unsuccessfully searched for his veins, according to a federal lawsuit.


In late September, a knock on the window bordering the execution chamber ended the lethal injection attempt before Alan Miller was left alone for 20 minutes hanging vertically on a gurney with needle puncture wounds — wondering if he was to die that day, court documents state.


The event was described as “torture” after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the execution to proceed.


Now attorneys representing Miller say he is “the only living execution survivor in the United States.”


Miller has awaited his execution after a judge sentenced him to death after two workplace shootings in 1999 that left three men dead in Alabama, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.


A month before his execution date, Miller filed a complaint against John Q. Hamm, the commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, Terry Raybon, the warden of Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore and state Attorney General Steve Marshall on Aug. 22, alleging he faced “constitutionally inadequate treatment” in prison, court records show.


Since the “botched execution,” Miller filed a new complaint on Oct. 6 to include claims related to his failed lethal injection at Holman Correctional Facility after Hamm, Raybon and Marshall sought to have his lawsuit dismissed, according to court filings.


The Alabama Attorney General’s Office declined McClatchy News’ request for comment on Miller’s lawsuit on Oct. 11. Attorneys from the office are representing Hamm, Raybon and Marshall. McClatchy News contacted Miller’s attorneys for comment on Oct. 11 and was awaiting a response.


Miller’s new complaint says officials are rushing to have him executed by lethal injection again — even though he initially opted for a different execution method — to end his lawsuit and avoid facing his claims. On Oct. 4, the defendants asked the state Supreme Court for permission to execute Miller “as soon as possible.”


“Defendants are well aware that if they kill Mr. Miller, this litigation—and all judicial scrutiny of their constitutional violations against Mr. Miller — becomes moot,” the new complaint states.


The case


In 2018, Miller selected nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method on an election form, the lawsuit says.


With this method, an inmate inhales nitrogen, eventually resulting in asphyxiation and death, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.


However, Miller’s lawsuit accuses officials of losing his nitrogen hypoxia election form, as well as other inmates’ election forms. State officials claimed there was no record of Miller’s form, according to the complaint, and it was ultimately decided that Miller was to be executed by lethal injection.


Previously, medical professionals have had trouble finding Miller’s veins, and the lawsuit accuses officials of having this knowledge and knowing “Miller would suffer greatly from their attempts to set an IV in his veins.”


On Sept. 1, Miller submitted a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent him from being executed by a method other than nitrogen hypoxia, the complaint says.


On Sept. 22, Hamm, Raybon and Marshall filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to have Miller’s preliminary injunction vacated, according to the complaint. Hours later, the Supreme Court granted the defendants’ request, allowing for Miller’s execution to proceed by lethal injection that evening.


“It is difficult to overstate the mental — and eventually physical — anguish that Mr. Miller experienced on the night of September 22 into the early morning hours of September 23,” the complaint states.


The day of Sept. 22, Miller visited his family before learning he was to be executed that night due to the Supreme Court’s decision, according to the lawsuit. Then, he said his final goodbyes to his attorneys.


After Miller laid down and officials strapped him to the execution gurney, he was repeatedly slapped as prison workers tried to find his veins and made puncture wounds in a process described as “painful and traumatic,” according to the complaint.


Miller’s upper body was punctured in a number of places as he experienced excruciating pain before they tried puncturing his foot, where he says they hit a nerve, creating more pain, the complaint states.


After roughly 90 minutes, the process was abandoned entirely and Miller was left alone hanging on the gurney, according to the lawsuit.


“Mr. Miller felt nauseous, disoriented, confused, and fearful about whether he was about to be killed, and was deeply disturbed by his view of state employees silently staring at him from the observation room while he was hanging vertically from the gurney,” the complaint states. “Blood was leaking from some of Mr. Miller’s wounds.”


Eventually, Miller heard a prison worker tell him “your execution has been postponed” and he was sent back to his death row cell on Sept. 23 with no explanation, according to the complaint.


Miller’s lawsuit argues he has suffered post-traumatic stress and physical pain since the “botched execution.”


“Defendants’ insistence on continuing to execute Mr. Miller via lethal injection can only be considered intent to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on him,” the complaint states.


The lawsuit seeks to prevent Miller’s execution by lethal injection and to recover monetary damages for him in connection with his failed execution, according to the complaint.


Atmore is about 120 miles southwest of Montgomery near the Alabama-Florida border.



8) The Rent Revolution Is Coming

For the 44 million households who rent a home or apartment in the U.S., inflation keeps pushing costs higher and higher. Anger is rising too. It could be a breaking point.

By Conor Dougherty, Reporting from Kansas City, Mo., October 15, 2022


Organizers with KC Tenants protesting a new set of housing ordinances during a council meeting at City Hall.

Organizers with KC Tenants protesting a new set of housing ordinances during a council meeting at City Hall. Credit...Barrett Emke for The New York Times

Here’s a list of places you might imagine seeing an argument over housing policy. A city council meeting. A late-night zoning hearing. Maybe a ribbon-cutting to christen a new affordable housing complex.


Instead, there was Quinton Lucas, the mayor of Kansas City, Mo., on a stage dressed as the pope with a half-dozen hecklers in yellow T-shirts berating his new housing plan from the audience in front of him. Mr. Lucas had arrived at the outdoor Starlight Theater on a warm August evening for a cameo appearance in a local production of “Sister Act.” Just before he walked onto the stage, the demonstrators, who belonged to a group called KC Tenants, unfurled a banner that read “Mayor Lucas: Developing Displacement.”


A pack of uniformed security guards promptly smothered the scene. During the slow procession to the exit gates that followed, members of KC Tenants chanted, “The rent is too damn high!” while the audience tried to focus on the mayor/pope and the dancing nuns.


Such is the state of housing in America, where rising costs are flaring into pockets of resistance and rage. Take two-plus years of pandemic-fueled eviction anxiety and spiking home prices, add a growing inflation problem that is being increasingly driven by rising rents, and throw in a long-run affordable housing shortage that cities seem powerless to solve. Add it up and the 44 million U.S. households who rent a home or apartment have many reasons to be unhappy.


That unhappiness extends across the economic spectrum. At one end are renters who aspire to buy a home but have had their dreams dashed by high home prices and, now, rising mortgage rates. At the other are low-income tenants who make up the bulk of the 11 million households who spend more than half of their income on rent. In between is a hollowed-out middle class that is steadily losing ground, although not enough to qualify for much sympathy or help.


The confluence of all these forces has fueled a swell of tenants’ rights activism that has brought organizing muscle and policies like rent control to cities far beyond the high-cost coasts. Kansas City, Mo., is a leading example. With a population of 500,000, where the avenues are lined with brick buildings and side streets have modest homes with raised porches, the city offers little to suggest a renters’ revolution. Zillow’s home value index puts the typical Kansas City home at $230,000, or more than $100,000 below the national level.


But with a steadily expanding economy driven by the logistics and medical industries, Kansas City has seen its rents increase 8.5 percent from a year ago, outpacing the rest of the nation, according to rental search site Apartment List. Over the past decade, Kansas City, like many places, has added a collection of high-end towers and apartments even as its stock of low-income housing has withered. The strain from rising rents, which landlords say they need to cover their costs, is creeping from people working in low-income service professions to middle-income teachers and city workers, part of a festering affordable housing crunch that spreads more widely across the nation each month.


KC Tenants is one result. Pairing aggressive protests with traditional lobbying, the group exploded onto the political scene during the pandemic and has since become instrumental in passing tenant-friendly laws like an ordinance that gives renters a lawyer during eviction proceedings. It has also left a trail of embittered opponents who find the group’s tactics, such as protesting outside judges’ homes, ill-suited to what many residents describe as a cordial Midwestern town.


“It’s a transition in politics for us,” said Mayor Lucas, a Democrat, who says he meets with the leaders of KC Tenants regularly, despite being a frequent subject of the group’s protests. “There is a new, almost tougher political edge, in the sense that there are people who are organizing and intrigued by politics and are very angry and are not coming out of the same institutions that built a lot of us.”


America’s housing problem was simmering long before the pandemic, and tenant organizing is a well-established trade. What’s changed is the depth of the housing shortage and the suddenness with which Covid-19 and inflation have tipped smaller cities into an affordability crisis. This has opened the aperture for policies once deemed politically impossible, in a wider range of markets.


Unlike homeowners, whose budget problems are blunted by a litany of tax breaks and fixed-rate mortgages, renters are mostly unprotected from rapidly rising prices. Once cities around the country passed widespread eviction moratoriums and emergency rent caps that were followed by tens of billions of dollars in pandemic rental assistance, it was only natural for housing activists to push for some of those temporary policies to be made permanent.


Politically speaking, inflation has only helped. Nationally, rents are now 20 percent higher than they were in early 2020, creating an opportunity for renter-friendly laws to get baked into long-term policy.


“People take for granted that rent is always going to go up,” said Tara Raghuveer, a co-founder of KC Tenants. “There’s so little political imagination about what could be different, and now I think that’s changing.”


A hyper-focused worker who blends the rhetoric of a revolutionary with the efficiency of a chief executive, Ms. Raghuveer also directs the Homes Guarantee campaign, which works to create tenant unions around the country. She described KC Tenants as both a local movement and national experiment through which organizing ideas can be test-driven.


“I think every national organizer should be accountable to a local base,” she said.


During a three-day visit in which I hung around the office and shadowed meetings and protests, Ms. Raghuveer returned repeatedly to an idea that has become a refrain among tenant groups: the hope that growing resentment over housing costs is fostering a broad tenant identity that will inspire a wide range of renters to organize and vote with a shared interest. In the activist nomenclature, this is known as “tenants as a class.”


That’s an audacious goal in a country where homeownership is all but defined as success. An irony of the nation’s housing problem is that it’s become so pervasive that it has created as many opportunities for cleavage as it has for coalition. Need has grown faster than resources, making housing policy a prism through which a stealth conflict between the middle class and the truly poor is filtered.


Even so, what’s clear is that in Kansas City and elsewhere tenants are becoming a real constituency. That’s not something you could say as recently as a few years ago. But a few years ago the rent wasn’t quite so high.


Getting the Data


KC Tenants began, more or less, as homework.


Ms. Raghuveer, now 30, was in her final year at Harvard when she settled on a topic for her senior thesis: evictions, inspired by the work of Matthew Desmond, the Princeton sociologist and author of “Evicted,” the 2016 book that explored the housing struggles of low-income families in Milwaukee. She’d grown up in Mission Woods, a suburb on the Kansas side of the Kansas-Missouri border, and conducted her thesis research in the Kansas City metropolitan area.


After college, Ms. Raghuveer was invited to talk about her thesis in policy forums, and that’s how she met the women who would help her start KC Tenants.


One was Tiana Caldwell, whose husband contacted Ms. Raghuveer as the family bounced between hotels after being evicted from their apartment amid Ms. Caldwell’s treatment for ovarian cancer. Another was Diane Charity, a 72-year-old retiree who rents a two-bedroom townhouse and who met Ms. Raghuveer during a presentation at the local health department.


“She gave all these stats and I said, ‘I need to talk to you,’” Ms. Charity said. “We’ve been telling these stories forever, and no one’s listening. But she had what it took — I’m sorry to say this, but to talk to white people and people in power, you got to have data.”


KC Tenants was founded in 2019 by a group that included Ms. Charity and Ms. Caldwell. A local union allowed the group to work out of its offices, and a folding table there formed KC Tenants’ first headquarters. That’s where Ms. Raghuveer was working when the Covid-19 pandemic erupted.


‘Shut it down’


For all the uncertainty that the pandemic wreaked on markets and the economy, there seemed to be at least one prediction that housing experts and policymakers agreed on in its early days: a “tsunami of evictions” was imminent.


Nearly three years later, that prediction has yet to materialize. The economic recovery from the immediate shock of Covid was faster than many expected, and in the meantime trillions of dollars in federal stimulus spending and eviction moratoriums helped plug the gaps. Still, the attention that Covid brought to housing insecurity is poised to be a lasting remnant of the pandemic economy, even after rental assistance wanes and the patchwork of moratoriums expire.


It shows up in cities like Los Angeles, where the City Council this month voted to expand tenant protections for renters in the same meeting that it voted to end its Covid-related eviction moratorium. Last year, voters in St. Paul, Minn., passed a new rent control ordinance. The uneven rollout of federal rental aid, in which bureaucratic hurdles frequently prevented cities and states from getting money to tenants, inspired a number of cities to experiment with cash assistance programs that are now becoming a permanent feature of the policy landscape.


For organizers, the pandemic provided an almost perfect opportunity to build their ranks. Here was a crisis that affected large swaths of renters pretty much all at once, in contrast to the normal state of affairs in which tenants who are falling behind or evicted are dealing with problems that seem unique to their lives and mostly handled in private.


“Embedded in tenant organizing are deeper questions about the structure of our political economy,” said Jamila Michener, a professor of government and public policy at Cornell who has studied tenant organizations. “It’s getting people to think about not just how you can leverage power against your landlord or get the city council to help you, but also questions like: Why does the economy seem to be rigged against people like you so systematically?”


In 2019, Jenay Manley was making $11.50 an hour at a QuikTrip gas station when a paperwork error cost her a voucher that covered a portion of her rent through the federal Section 8 housing program. To help make up for the loss, she allowed a former boyfriend who she said was abusive to move back in. One night, she texted a friend who had been displaced by a rent hike to ask what she could do. The friend, Maya Neal, suggested that she go to a KC Tenants meeting. There, she heard Ms. Caldwell tell her story of being evicted during cancer treatment.


“It was just this clarifying moment of, We’re not OK. People are not OK,” she said. “We are struggling, and no one knows. And the more of us who tell our story, the more of us realize our story is worth being told.”


A few months later, after leaving the night shift at QuikTrip, Ms. Manley, along with her sister and three children, stationed herself along Interstate 70, next to a minivan with “#CancelRent” scrawled across a window in purple marker. She was there to protest the burden of Covid on tenants in a socially distant manner.


In July 2020, KC Tenants protested the end of a local eviction moratorium and tried to halt eviction proceedings by logging onto virtual court hearings and continuously reading a script — “Every eviction is an act of violence” — so that judges and lawyers couldn’t hear one another. By October, the group’s members were chaining themselves to the courthouse doors.


They also started targeting lawyers and public officials, including through a rally in the front yard of Judge J. Dale Youngs, who oversees the circuit court in Jackson County. Mr. Youngs said in an interview that at one point the group spray-painted “FU” onto a flagstone path in his yard. He added that he did not know if “FU” was the completed thought or if the vandal was interrupted before the message could be finished.


“I’m a pretty big supporter of the First Amendment, and I’m the first to admit democracy is messy,” Judge Youngs said. “But when you go protest in front of someone’s private home, I think the only reason you’re doing that is to let them know that you know where they live. And there’s something kind of inherently not cool about that.”


Locals argue over how effective these protests were, but there’s little doubt that housing pressures brought on by Covid helped open the door to policies that otherwise would never have happened. The biggest, by far, is a new right-to-counsel ordinance in which the city will pay for a lawyer to represent any tenant facing eviction. The measure was drafted by KC Tenants, according to Andrea Bough, the City Council member who introduced it.


In an interview in her office, Ms. Bough expressed the same anxiety I had heard all around town, including from the mayor and from low-income tenants: even though Kansas City remains inexpensive compared with larger cities, it is spiraling into the same affordability problems as those places and is no more equipped to solve them.


“We aren’t to the point of a widespread housing crisis, but if we don’t do something we’re going to get there,” she said.


The right-to-counsel law, which went into effect this year, has already changed the landscape. Julie Anderson, a Kansas City attorney who represents a number of local landlords, said that the cost of an eviction had risen by a factor of five and that the process now took from three months to a year, up from a month or so. Her clients are unhappy, but it’s also been good for business: Ms. Anderson said she had hired two lawyers and three paralegals to handle the extra work.


“That part of my practice was very uneventful,” she said. “Now, post-Covid, almost everything is contested.”


The Tenant Class


KC Tenants now has 4,300 members, seven full-time employees and piles of yellow T-shirts ready for distribution. The nonprofit organization operates out of a second-floor office inside a Methodist church, and is funded through a mix of individual donors and foundations. It has a $450,000 annual budget.


This month, members launched a separate entity, KC Tenants Power, that is registered as a 501(c)(4) and has more leeway to engage directly in politics. Like everyone else these days, Ms. Raghuveer seems to spend most of her time on video calls, talking in front of a banner that reads, “Eviction Kills.”


Tenant-organizing has been central to any number of social justice and civil rights movements stretching from the turn of the twentieth century, but, in recent decades, it has rarely been successful outside localized pockets. An enduring issue in organizing tenants as a class is that homeownership is still most families’ goal.


Covid has illustrated this. Once remote workers could live anywhere they wanted, many renters left big, expensive markets for smaller cities where they could afford a home.


Ms. Raghuveer believes in a growing tenant identity, but she has no delusions. She doesn’t imagine that one day she’ll lead a protest march in which public-housing tenants lock arms with residents of luxe buildings, where one-bedrooms start at $3,000 a month and include access to rooftop pools and private dog parks. What she does believe is that housing instability, however it is experienced, can be a catalyst for a broader coalition that operates across traditional political lines.


She pointed to a recent effort to help a local trailer park where the county was evicting residents in order to build a jail on the property. This would normally have been an organizing no-brainer. However, during a meeting, several members of KC Tenants said they were reluctant to get involved because a number of the cars and trailers in the park had Trump stickers and flags on them. Other members responded by recalling that the group’s community agreements, which they read before every meeting, declare that KC Tenants does not make assumptions about anyone.


So a group went to knock on doors.


“This little skinny gal comes to my door, and I’m like, ‘Who in the hell is this?’” said Urban Schaefer, a resident of the park who helped organize it after meeting Ms. Raghuveer. “A lot of people were skeptical about it.”


In the end, about a dozen members of KC Tenants worked with residents to demand a better deal. And the county sweetened its offer: six months of free rent and at least $10,000 in relocation costs.


Inventing Hope


There weren’t any MAGA hats at the KC Tenants meetings I went to, but it was a generally diverse group with a range of motivations for being there. There were Black women, who are among the people most affected by eviction, both locally and nationally. There were white men, who began whatever they were about to say with acknowledgments of privilege. And there was a child of the housing bust, whose faith in the American dream was shattered when his family was foreclosed on and a chain of moves followed.


During a meeting of a tenants’ union in the gentrifying Midtown neighborhood, I met an economics professor who had come because she had wanted to better understand the housing problem. Later, at meeting in a Section 8 building on the other side of Troost Avenue — long the city’s dividing line between its Black and white residents — several attendees sat in wheelchairs, and one said he’d recently slept under a bridge.


Small frictions abound. At one recent meeting, a young man talked about the “carceral state,” only to have Ms. Charity reply: “Are you talking about jail?”


This diversity is, unintentionally, the policy conundrum that Mayor Lucas and other officials are grappling with as more people look to the government for help with housing.


Around the country, developers have spent the past decade building mostly higher-end units. Eli Ungar, the founder of Mac Properties, which is based in Englewood, N.J., and owns about 9,000 apartments, including 2,000 in Kansas City, bluntly laid out the economics. The cost of development is now so high that the most reliable way to make money is by building apartments for tenants who regard the cost of rent as “a matter of curiosity.”


This leaves two groups behind.


“The folks who think of themselves as middle class and are feeling increased worry and pressure as rents go up faster than incomes, and the people who are most vulnerable in our society and desperately need housing that no developer can provide without a massive subsidy,” Mr. Ungar said. “As a citizen, I would be entirely comfortable with my taxes being higher to provide well-maintained housing for those who can’t afford it. The question is how that is achieved, and market-rate developers are not unilaterally going to say, ‘I will reduce my income to achieve this goal.’”


Caught in the teeth of a housing problem that is growing faster than local budgets, public officials inevitably try to solve both problems at once, pitting the middle class against families who live on minimum wage or fixed incomes. This was the crux of the “Sister Act” protest.


As part of a new housing plan, Mayor Lucas had proposed a $50 million bond issue to fund low-income housing, but at the same time he wanted to loosen the city’s regulations for apartment projects that receive tax breaks through a program designed to create affordable housing in market-rate projects. The shift would allow developers to substitute middle-income units for those reserved for families in the lowest income brackets.


KC Tenants framed the change as selling out families closest to the edge. The mayor’s retort was that the previous iteration of the program had resulted in no new units for anyone, and his hope was that the revisions would push developers to build middle-income housing, which the city needs as well.


In the interview, he cast himself as a leader trying to navigate a difficult problem in world of limited resources.


“We don’t have a Scandinavian tax structure,” he said. “Maybe we can get to it, but I don’t know that it starts in Kansas City.”


Two days after the “Sister Act” protest, when the City Council held its vote on the plan, the chambers were packed with yellow T-shirts. After a 9-to-4 vote in favor of the new policy, Ms. Neal, an early KC Tenants member, yelled, “How dare you!” Security hauled her out with her arms behind her back in a scene that members’ cellphones captured from every conceivable angle.


When Ms. Neal was gone, Ms. Caldwell, the once-evicted tenant whose cancer is now in remission, continued the chant. “Not another penny for the slumlords!” she shouted. She was removed just as fast, only instead of getting booted to an outdoor bench, like the one where Ms. Neal sat after she’d left the building, Ms. Caldwell was arrested and taken to a local police station.


An hour later, the lawn outside the station was crowded with yellow shirts. Members of KC Tenants lay on the grass typing on laptops and eating pizza. A slice was waiting for Ms. Caldwell when she emerged a short time later to cheers.


“I’m feeling great,” she said to the crowd, as her 15-year-old son joined her. “I’m doing this so that my baby will never have to.”


After a chant of “Tiana, we got your back!” a small group that included Ms. Caldwell and Ms. Raghuveer went to a wine bar to relax. The bar was closing, but Ms. Raghuveer said she’d called the owner, who’d promised to keep it open for them. She added that he was a renter.


Conor Dougherty is an economics reporter and the author of “Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America.” His work focuses on the West Coast, real estate and wage stagnation among U.S. workers. @ConorDougherty