Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, November 27, 2022


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Oakland Jericho Fundraiser for Dr. Mutulu Shakur!

7 pm Pacific Time; 10 pm Eastern Time



Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

This is the cry heard around the world 

Make it reverberate in San Francisco on December 15th!

December 15, 2022, 5:00 P.M.

Federal Building, San Francisco

Meet for the protest at 7th and Mission

Civic Center BART, exit 7th St.

 Mumia Is innocent!

But this innocent, framed-up man has been held for over four decades in prison. Mumia is an internationally known political prisoner. As a former Black Panther and MOVE supporter, Mumia was framed for a crime he did not commit because he criticized the racist criminal justice system as a radio journalist. The evidence that should free him has now come to light, after being kept in the dark by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. 

Now, he will hear a judgement on his case for freedom in the Philadelphia PA Court of Common Pleas on the 16th of December.

Initiated by The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.  





In order to bring Mutulu home to his family in California safely and comfortably, we must raise funds to cover several urgent costs. These costs include Mutulu’s ground transportation from the prison to the airport, medical air transport from Kentucky to Los Angeles to be reunited with his family, adding a wheelchair accessible ramp and other modifications to his home, healthcare to address existing and emerging urgent medical needs, and other costs associated with him returning home.


To make tax-deductible contributions to his release fund, please donate through:


Community Aid and Development Corporation

EIN# 95-3402456


*The donation button is on the upper-right side of the page.


THANK YOU SO MUCH for your help in bringing Mutulu home!


And please circulate this good news and request to your friends and networks.

in solidarity,

Linda Evans



Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal Update

The struggle continues!

At 12:45pm October 26, 2022, a proposed order denying Mumia Abu-Jamal’s constitutional claims of jury bias and suppressed evidence was issued by Common Pleas court Judge Lucretia Clemons.


Abu-Jamal’s defense petition included newly discovered evidence that had been buried in the prosecutor’s own files.  This evidence documented key witnesses receiving promises of money for their testimony and evidence of favorable treatment in pending criminal cases. The petition also documented the abhorrent and unconstitutional practice of striking Black jurors during Mumia’s original trial. 


Racism remains the ELEPHANT in the room.   


“I am going to help them fry the n---word”--Original trial court Judge Albert Sabo said this in front of court clerk Terri Maurer Carter and fellow Common Pleas Court judge Richard Kline during the first week of Mumia’s 1982 trial.  


Philadelphia ADA Jack McMahon made the policy clear in a 1986 training tape stating that getting “a competent, fair and impartial jury. Well, that's ridiculous,'…“You don't want smart people. But if you're sitting down and you're going to take Blacks, you want older Blacks." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag2I-L3mqsQ


If you put thick blinders on that block out all reality and rely on procedural minutia for cover, honestly, it is still impossible to avoid the scorchingly blatant racism of trial judge Albert Sabo, Assistant District Attorney Joseph McGill, Mayor and former police chief Frank Rizzo, District Attorney during Mumia’s trial Ed Rendell, and Ron Castille DA on appeal.


Yesterday, Judge Lucretia Clemons in her oral statements from the bench continued a common practice of adopting wholesale the Philadelphia District Attorney’s positions. These positions only seek to preserve convictions at all costs.  These arguments prevent the defense from putting on the record evidence of discrimination.  PCRA procedural rules such as time bar, due diligence, waiver, previously litigated, all avoid a judicial review of the merits.


The racism is so transparent and indefensible so the DA is using court created law to dismiss cases before hearing new suppressed evidence. This is a blatantly dishonest practice routinely used by the prosecution and the courts when everyone knows, and I mean everyone knows, that racism was a hallmark of the original trial.


Striking Blacks from the Jury

Judge Clemons stated that she was dismissing the claim of striking Black jurors on procedural grounds, without addressing the merits of the claim.  She suggested that former counsel for the defense had not sought prosecutor McGill’s previously buried notes (notes that highlight his impermissible race based tracking and discrimination). Clemons adopts the prosecution position that the defense had the opportunity to receive these notes by merely asking the prosecution or cross examining ADA McGill in prior court proceedings. This is a key and deliberate misreading of the record. At no time were these crucial notes and the motivations that guided ADA McGill ever available to the defense. McGill struck Black jurors at a 71% rate, significantly higher than the strike rate for white jurors. His reasons for seating some white jurors and not seating nonwhite jurors were not on the record, they were in his notes.


One only has to look at the McMann training tapes that were made by the Philadelphia DA’s office which instructed district attorney’s how to strike black jurors. These were made after Mumia’s trial but they document the practice which was the norm in the office.  This is the context for this ruling which misstates the record and ignores the reality in these Philadelphia courtrooms.  Judge Lucretia Clemons and her law clerks complained on the record about how long it took them to find Pennsylvania cites to bolster their opinion.  Why is Judge Clemons working so hard to avoid the elephant in the room?


Suborning Perjury: Paying Witnesses

Additionally, at issue is the note from supposed “eye witness” Robert Chobert that asked ADA McGill after the trial “where is the money that is owe to me?” This note was scrubbed from any filings and buried by the prosecution for 40 years. This dramatic “Brady evidence” previously unavailable to the defense, was dismissed by the Judge in her written opinion as not “being material.” Meaning it would not have affected the jury’s verdict.  Underlying this is the wholesale adoption of the credibility determinations of the original trial court judge Albert “I am going to help them fry the n---word” Sabo.  It allows his racist tainted rulings to stand.


She also dismissed records from ADA McGill that extensively track and monitor another key witness Cynthia White, who’s pending criminal cases were ALL were dropped by the prosecution following her testimony.


How can the court ignore the context.  Note this information which follows had been previously prevented from being added to the record by Albert Sabo and other judges on appeal:


Photos from the Philadelphia Bulletin that prove Robert “I was on probation, did not have a license to drive a cab, and threw a Molotov cocktail into a school for pay” Chobert was not parked at the scene of the shooting. Chobert could not have witnessed the shooting. He was NOT parked directly behind the officer’s car as he claimed to be.  The answer is: because the PCRA (Post Conviction Relief Act) allows the dismissal of this critical evidence through by time bar.


Finally, Judge Lucretia Clemons admonished the defense to limit their briefs challenging her proposed ruling to cite Pennsylvania law.  It is commonly understood here, rather than being the birthplace of liberty, Pennsylvania is the place where the US Supreme Courts constitutional standards for criminal defendants are the very last place to be honored.


This case proves that racism reigns unabated in the American justice system, Mumia Abu-Jamal is the canary in the coal mine.   


Judge Clemons’ 31pg proposed opinion will be available today, 10-27-22. The Defense has 20 days to reply, and prosecution given 10 additional days to respond before the court’s order dismissing Mumia’s request for a new trial becomes final and appealable.  


Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent 42 years in prison for the death of Philadelphia Police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9th 1981. He has maintained his innocence and has sought his freedom by appealing to the very courts that now seek to preserve his unjust and unconstitutional conviction. At age 67 he has spent 42 years in prison.


Mumia Abu-Jamal is a broadcast journalist and internationally recognized author. Mr. Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence at SCI Mahanoy in Pennsylvania. He is the author of 13 books, holds a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature and is currently working on the requirements to complete a PhD in the History of Consciousness Department at University of California Santa Cruz.


Noelle Hanrahan, Esq. nhanrahanlaw@gmail.com 415-793-7958 www. Prisonradio.org


Every act matters.  Stand up. Join us as we launch Love Not Phear.


Cuando luchamos ganamos, When We Fight, We Win


Noelle Hanrahan

Prison Radio Co-Director




Urgent support needed for cancer-stricken, imprisoned writer/artist, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson’s Legal Fund!


Fundraiser for an attorney to represent Rashid’s struggle for medical care

Here is the new donation link for Rashid’s legal fund: https://fundrazr.com/025tu2?ref=ab_6BrbV1


Prostate cancer can be cured if discovered and treated before it spreads (metastasizes) beyond the prostate. But once it spreads it becomes incurable and fatal.

Rashid's prostate cancer was discovered over a year ago and diagnosed by biopsy months ago, before it had spread or any symptoms had developed. However, he has now developed symptoms that indicate it likely has metastasized, which would not have happened if he had begun receiving treatment earlier. Denied care and delayed hospital appointments continue, which can only be intended to cause spreading and worsening symptoms.

I just received word from Rashid through another prisoner where he is, that he was transported on October 25, 2022 to the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) hospital, which is a state hospital where Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) officials also work. MCV appears to have a nefarious relationship with the VDOC in denying prisoners needed treatment. Upon arrival to the hospital he was told the appointment had been rescheduled, which has now become a pattern.

The appointment was for a full body PET scan to determine if and to what degree his cancer has metastasized. When he met with a radiologist on October 4, 2022, after 3 prior re-schedulings, there was concern that his cancer may have spread because of symptoms he's begun developing. This is his fourth rescheduled hospital appointment which has delayed appointments for weeks to months, preventing him from receiving care.

Because of delayed testing and denied care Rashid has developed symptoms that continue to worsen, which include internal bleeding and pain. The passage of time without care is worsening his condition and making the likelihood of death from the spread of his cancer more certain.





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


I’m pleased to announce that last week our client, Daniel Hale, was awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. The “Corner-Brightener Candlestick” was presented to Daniel’s friend Noor Mir. You can watch the online ceremony here.

As it happens, this week is also the 20th anniversary of the first drone assassination in Yemen. From the beginning, the drone assassination program has been deeply shrouded in secrecy, allowing U.S. officials to hide significant violations of international law, and the American Constitution. In addition to the lives directly impacted by these strikes, the program has significantly eroded respect for international law and thereby puts civilians around the world in danger.

Daniel Hale’s revelations threw a beam of light into a very dark corner, allowing journalists to definitively show that the government's official narrative was a lie. It is thanks to the great personal sacrifice of drone whistleblowers like Hale that public understanding has finally begun to catch up to reality.

As the Sam Adams Associates note:

 “Mr. Hale was well aware of the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment to which other courageous officials have been subjected — and that he would likely suffer the same. And yet — in the manner of his famous ancestor Nathan Hale — he put his country first, knowing what awaited him at the hands of those who serve what has become a repressive Perpetual War State wreaking havoc upon much of the world.”

We hope you’ll join the growing call to pardon or commute Hale’s sentence. U.S. citizens can contact your representatives here.

Happy new year, and thank you for your support!


Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack



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.



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) In a Challenge to Beijing, Unrest Over Covid Lockdowns Spreads

Protests are rising as China enacts more lockdowns and quarantines, with no end in sight. The defiance is a test of Xi Jinping’s authoritarian leadership.

By Amy Chang Chien, Chang Che, John Liu and Paul Mozur, Nov. 24, 2022


Protesters facing off against security personnel in white protective clothing at the factory compound operated by Foxconn Technology Group, in this still image taken from a video, in Zhengzhou, China.

Protesters facing off against security personnel in white protective clothing at the factory compound operated by Foxconn Technology Group, in this still image taken from a video, in Zhengzhou, China. Credit...UGC, via Associated Press

In an iPhone factory in central China, thousands of workers clashed with riot police and tore down barricades.


In the southern city of Guangzhou, protesters broke out of locked-down buildings to confront health workers and ransack food provisions.


And online, many Chinese raged at the authorities after the death of a 4-month-old girl, whose father said access to medical treatment was delayed because of Covid restrictions.


As China’s harsh Covid rules extend deep into their third year, there are growing signs of discontent across the country. For China’s leader, Xi Jinping, the unrest is a test of his precedent-breaking third term in power and underscores the urgent political question of how he can lead China out of the Covid era.


The rare displays of defiance over the past two weeks are the most visible signs of frustration and desperation with the lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing that have upended everyday life. The anger, combined with outbreaks of Covid across the country that have driven cases to an all-time high, augurs a dark winter ahead.


Earlier this month, officials said they would adjust Covid restrictions to limit the impact the disruptions have had on the economy and government resources. The latest surge in cases has called that pledge into question, with many officials falling back on familiar heavy-handed measures to try to stop the spread of the virus.


Whether Mr. Xi can find a middle ground will reflect on China’s status as the world’s factory floor and a major driver of global economic growth. Some multinational companies are already looking to expand production elsewhere.


“What we’re witnessing at Foxconn is the bankruptcy of ‘the China model,’” said Wu Qiang, a political analyst in Beijing, referring to the Taiwanese operator of the plant in central China that produces half of the world’s iPhones. “It’s the collapse of China’s image as a production powerhouse, as well as China’s relationship to globalization.”


Many will be watching to see if recent chaos at Foxconn’s plant spreads elsewhere. Even before the riot that broke out at the plant this week, Apple had warned that a poorly organized lockdown there would impact its sales. Analysts have predicted longer waiting times for holiday purchases of the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max.


“If the government continues with its zero-Covid policy, Foxconn would only be the beginning. There is Foxconn today, but other factories will face similar situations,” said Li Qiang, founder and executive director of China Labor Watch, a New York-based Chinese labor rights group.


The Foxconn workers were lashing out about a delay in the payment of bonuses as well as the Taiwanese assembler’s failure to properly isolate new workers from those who had tested positive. The new hires had been recruited recently after thousands of workers fled the Foxconn plant last month because of a Covid outbreak.


From Tuesday evening until the dawn of Wednesday, thousands of workers clashed with riot police and health workers, according to four workers who spoke to The Times. Protesters destroyed barricades, stole food supplies and hurled pieces of fencing at the authorities.


“We protested the whole day, from day to night,” said Han Li, a new worker from Zhengzhou who had joined the protests. He said he had felt deceived, and that the bonus payments and living conditions at the factory were different from what he had been promised. Mr. Han said he saw workers get beaten and injured.


Videos that Foxconn workers shared with The Times showed workers, by the thousands, thrashing and hurling steel beams against police wearing riot gear and protective suits. One video, taken at dawn, showed the apparent aftermath: A motionless worker curled up on the roadside as a crew of security personnel stomped and kicked him. Another sat on the road with a bloodied sweater and towel wrapped over his head.


In a statement, Foxconn attributed the delayed bonuses to “a technical error” in its hiring system. Regarding the violence, it vowed to work with employees and the government to “prevent similar accidents from happening again.”


An Apple spokesman told the Times that Apple team members on the ground in Zhengzhou were “reviewing the situation” and were working with Foxconn “to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed.”


On Wednesday evening, Foxconn promised $1,400 to workers who wished to resign, offering them free transportation home.


“It’s all tears,” Mr. Han said on Thursday. “Now I just want to get my compensation and go home.”


In some ways, China’s struggles are of Mr. Xi’s own making. China has clung to harsh “zero-Covid” policies aimed at eradicating Covid infections, even as its vaccination efforts have lagged. For three years, Beijing pumped out propaganda in support of tough controls, arguing they were the only way to protect lives. It also described the terrifying consequences of the uncontrolled spread of the virus in much of the rest of the world.


At the same time, many others have questioned the need for lockdowns at all. This week, as millions of Chinese tuned in to watch the World Cup in Qatar, they saw unmasked crowds rooting for their favorite teams. Chinese social media users posted messages expressing sarcasm and envy, as they contrasted their cloistered lives with the raucous celebrations on TV.


Mr. Xi, one of China’s most powerful leaders in decades, has used heavy censorship and severe punishments to silence his critics. That makes the public airing of grievances particularly striking, such as in Guangzhou last week, when throngs of migrant workers staged a forceful protest after being confined for over three weeks.


In the locked-down district of Haizhu, home to roughly 1.8 million people, the workers, many of whom toil for long hours and low pay in Guangzhou’s textile industry, rushed into the street to protest food shortages. They tore down fences and barricades, and videos circulating online showed another confrontation between residents and police.


As cases continue to climb, the government’s pandemic prevention resources — which include food, hospital beds and quarantine facilities — have in some places been depleted, forcing workers to sleep on the streets or, in the case of Haizhu, in a tunnel, workers said.


People have also been angered by reports of deaths caused by delays in medical care resulting from Covid restrictions. Earlier this month, the death of a 3-year-old boy in the city of Lanzhou after coronavirus restrictions kept him from being taken promptly to a hospital drew an outpouring of grief and anger as well as fresh scrutiny of the costs of “zero Covid.”


A similar outcry erupted online last week following the death of a 4-month-old girl whose father took to Weibo, a Twitter-like Chinese social media outlet, to describe delays in the emergency response. Due to Covid protocols, dispatchers declined to send an ambulance, and when one arrived, responders refused to take his daughter to a hospital. In total, it took 12 hours for her to receive help.


“I hope the relevant departments will intervene, investigate a series of loopholes in epidemic prevention, inaction and irresponsibility, and seek justice for us ordinary people,” wrote Li Baoliang, the baby’s father. On Sunday, authorities released the results of an investigation into the incident. While the government expressed condolences to the family, it blamed the tragedy on individual medical staff who it said have a weak sense of responsibility.


Beneath Mr. Li’s online complaint, many pointed to the harms being done by policies designed to protect the public.


“What is taking people’s lives? Is it Covid?” asked one commenter.



2) Scenes From the Front Lines of Our Addiction to Fast Fashion

By Rachel Greenley, Nov. 25, 2022

Ms. Greenley is a seasonal warehouse worker and an M.F.A. student working on a memoir about cultural divides.


Calum Heath

I’m a seasonal worker in a warehouse of an online superstore. Five days a week, I make $18.75 an hour standing at a station with yellow bins brimming with returned clothing. My job is to determine — in less than two minutes — whether a garment should be resold.


I look for tears, stains and missing buttons. I peer into bathing suits for hygiene liners. I turn sweatshirt arms inside out to check for ripped seams and residual deodorant. I flip shoes over to see if the soles are dirty, and cautiously slip my gloved hands inside. Recently, I discovered a pair of worn socks buried in the depths of knockoff Timberland boots.


Even when the item passes my evaluation, embedded in the fabric is a deeper thread to unravel: Why do we buy disposable clothing that is made by low-wage workers and that tax an overtaxed environment?


Having previously crafted business strategy at the online superstore’s headquarters, I’m now in graduate school, and I took this job to study how the company’s focus on speed and scale affects the warehouse worker. Are corporate ways of working at odds with the realities on the warehouse floor? I soon learned that reality comprises an onslaught of fast fashion: the category of rapidly produced cheap clothing created by the likes of Topshop, Zara, H & M, Shein and Forever 21.


During a shift I process scores of shapeless apparel made of cheap, synthetic fabrics. Most of the items come from Chinese manufacturers with odd brand names like SweatyRocks and AUTOMET, as if created by a bot. Poor quality is not a reason to reject an item from being resold. The flimsy body-con club dresses, threadbare flannel button-ups and strangely colored polyester maxi dresses lack tags, as if the brands prefer not to be associated with their clothes. I consult customers’ comments, which cite poor quality: tacky material, didn’t match image, no shape. Last week, I picked up a beige crop sweater with a hulking torso but oddly tiny T-Rex sleeves. Checking the image of the item on the superstore’s website, I found a picture with batwing sleeves. Such disparities between the online image and the actual item are common. It’s akin to a dating app profile of a man who is pictured with a full head of hair but has been bald for decades.


The best days at the warehouse are Sundays. English and Spanish pop music plays loudly, and we can choose our work stations. I work next to two young moms who started on the same day I did. In the din of beeping scanners, gliding conveyor belts and endless bins of returns, our heads bow over clothing until we call to each other and hold up a toddler-size pink taffeta dress — we coo — or a faded T-shirt fraudulently returned in place of a new one — we grimace. We roll our eyes when our 20-year-old manager’s responses to our questions have a consistent “Duh, Mom” tone.


During breaks, we complain about how hard it is to wrangle maxi dresses into resale bags. We laugh about how we arrived on our first day with shiny clean hair and a full face of makeup, and now we just roll out of bed. There’s a freedom I hadn’t expected — from appearance, from soft skills, from endless emails, from anxiety that used to seep in on Sunday nights. Yet, my job is just as much stitched to consumerism as my corporate role was. And stock proceeds from that white-collar job subsidize my warehouse work; the hourly wage doesn’t cover my bills. Regrettably, I’m no Barbara Ehrenreich.


Of the 75 million garment workers worldwide, it’s estimated that less than 2 percent make a living wage, according to 2017 data compiled by one advocacy group. When we buy fast fashion from the comfort of our couches, we support a system in which low-wage workers (most of them people of color) make the clothes at one end of the world, and other low-wage workers (many of them also people of color) process the returns, unseen in the concrete suburbs of American cities.


Now, one could argue that garment work may actually raise people out of poverty and give them choices they didn’t have. But America’s stock market incentivizes ever-rising growth. If consumers won’t accept higher prices to increase a brand’s profit, manufacturers will cut corners in other ways, such as with low wages or unsafe working conditions.


Think about the economics of a $26.99 SweatyRocks shirt. How can that price cover the cost of materials, labor, global shipping and delivery to your doorstep — not to mention the cost of it potentially being returned to a warehouse, where a person has to evaluate whether you wore the shirt while walking your dog? If the shirt gets scanned to the unsellable bin, it may then end up in a landfill where the polyester will take as much as two centuries to biodegrade. Indeed, 66 percent of discarded clothes end up in landfills each year, and another 19 percent are incinerated, according to a 2018 Environmental Protection Agency report. Brands point to sustainability efforts, but fast fashion is simply incompatible with sustainability. We operate under an economic belief that growth is unlimited. Our natural resources are not.


As the day winds down at the warehouse, a manager will ask, “Want to know your rate?” — the average number of units processed per hour. I fluctuate between 23 and 26. That is another correlation between the job I used to do and the one I’m doing now: data. In a gleaming office tower boardroom, I used to attend intense weekly business reviews. I processed paper then, not clothes. Each corporate manager needed to know an exorbitant depth of data, and the vice president of my division seemed to take perverse pleasure in watching his underlings squirm. On any given day, there’s someone like me in a boardroom, prepping to answer why return processing is up or down. Instead of reporting data, I’m now embedded in that data.


One of the young moms I started with recently went back to school to earn her high school diploma. The other appreciates that this job is during her son’s school hours. I’m still trying to answer my initial question. What I’ve learned in the meantime is that, whether I’m in the office tower or the warehouse, I’m part of a pattern sewn together with overseas garment workers, cargo ship crews, delivery drivers, corporate managers trying to explain data points, and warehouse workers. We support a system of throwaway clothes that didn’t deserve their trip around the world or the number of hands that touched them.



3) The Search for Beauty in a Prison Cell

By Reginald Dwayne Betts, Nov. 25, 2022

Mr. Betts is a poet, lawyer and creator of Freedom Reads, an initiative to curate libraries and install them in prisons across the country.


Holly Stapleton

The first morning I woke up in a cell, I was 16 years old and had braces and colorful bands covering my teeth. My voice cracked when I spoke. I was 5-foot-5 and barely weighed more than a sack of potatoes. Before my 18th birthday, I’d scuffle in prison cells, be counseled to stab a man (I declined) and get tossed into solitary confinement five times. And still, of those years, the memory that endures is the moment a prisoner whose name I’ve never known slid Dudley Randall’s “The Black Poets” under my cell door in the hole.


When I left prison eight years later, on March 4, 2005, I intended to never return. But I’ve walked into over two dozen other prisons in states from Maine to Oregon to visit friends still doing time, to see clients seeking clemency or simply to talk about something we were all interested in: books.


Once, in a prison in Trinidad, a brother asked, “Did you ever feel free in prison?” I have come to believe that beauty is a kind of freedom. And now when I return it is always, it seems, to answer a single question: Should beauty exist in prison?


Back in 2009, when I first spoke to young folks at the Rikers Island jail complex in New York, my first born was so young that I didn’t understand what it meant to be afraid for his future. When I returned to Rikers, some days ago, I knew I’d meet teenagers barely older than my now 15-year-old son — teenagers barely older than I was when handcuffs first changed my life.


At the gate, I passed through a time portal. For a second it was the winter of 1996 and my mom was weeping because I faced life in prison for carjacking. But this morning is different. I am 42 years old, returning with the wild and outlandish idea that there should be things of beauty in prison.


I was there to perform a piece of theater based on “Felon,” a collection of poems that I’d written. I’d tell them my story. Of prison, yes, but also of the years later: of my co-defendant Marcus Bullock (who, like me, had been called a “super predator”) serving as my best man when I married; of Terell Kelly, whom I helped earn parole two decades after we walked the yard of a now demolished prison in Capron, Va.; of Rojai Fentress and Kevin Williams, who I also helped get out early.


I didn’t tell them about Christopher Tunstall, another friend I helped make parole after he served 26 years in prison, who died six months after his release. I hope they understood how the beauty of a book isn’t just what it does today, but what it might allow you to do a decade from now. I wish I’d told them how it was an argument and a yellow torts book that led me to take my first legal course.


The conversations about places like Rikers are usually limited to the violence that takes place there, as if prison, like the streets we walk each day, isn’t filled mostly with people attempting to get by. People who reach for beauty in every way they can. During my time in prison, I got into a single real fight. People don’t understand how many of us sought to become more than our crimes or how many of us starved for lack of a conduit to the dignity that we sought.


About two years ago, I started Freedom Reads, an organization that builds micro-libraries of 500 books. In the more than 50 prisons where we have placed these libraries, across a half-dozen states, people look out of their cell door and see beautiful curving shelves of walnut or maple or cherry wood, filled with our greatest literature.


At the gate, I passed through a time portal. For a second it was the winter of 1996 and my mom was weeping because I faced life in prison for carjacking. But this morning is different. I am 42 years old, returning with the wild and outlandish idea that there should be things of beauty in prison.


I was there to perform a piece of theater based on “Felon,” a collection of poems that I’d written. I’d tell them my story. Of prison, yes, but also of the years later: of my co-defendant Marcus Bullock (who, like me, had been called a “super predator”) serving as my best man when I married; of Terell Kelly, whom I helped earn parole two decades after we walked the yard of a now demolished prison in Capron, Va.; of Rojai Fentress and Kevin Williams, who I also helped get out early.


I didn’t tell them about Christopher Tunstall, another friend I helped make parole after he served 26 years in prison, who died six months after his release. I hope they understood how the beauty of a book isn’t just what it does today, but what it might allow you to do a decade from now. I wish I’d told them how it was an argument and a yellow torts book that led me to take my first legal course.


The conversations about places like Rikers are usually limited to the violence that takes place there, as if prison, like the streets we walk each day, isn’t filled mostly with people attempting to get by. People who reach for beauty in every way they can. During my time in prison, I got into a single real fight. People don’t understand how many of us sought to become more than our crimes or how many of us starved for lack of a conduit to the dignity that we sought.


About two years ago, I started Freedom Reads, an organization that builds micro-libraries of 500 books. In the more than 50 prisons where we have placed these libraries, across a half-dozen states, people look out of their cell door and see beautiful curving shelves of walnut or maple or cherry wood, filled with our greatest literature.



4) Buffeted by Economic Woes, U.K. Starts to Look at Brexit With ‘Bregret’

Stung by inflation and bracing for tax increases, the country is in the midst of its gravest slump in a generation, leading many to wonder how much the split with the European Union is to blame.

By Mark Landler, Nov. 22, 2022


Chester, northwestern England, this month. Among the Group of 7 advanced countries, Britain is the only one with an economy that is smaller now than it was before the pandemic started.

Chester, northwestern England, this month. Among the Group of 7 advanced countries, Britain is the only one with an economy that is smaller now than it was before the pandemic started. Credit...Oli Scarff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

LONDON — Six and a half years after voting to leave the European Union, three years after the formal departure, two years after signing a post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels and one month after installing its fourth prime minister since the 2016 referendum, Britain is caught in — what else? — another debate over Brexit.


Brexit may be in the history books, but “Bregret,” as the British newspapers have called it, is back in the air.


The cause of the remorse is clear: Britain’s economic crisis, which is the gravest in a generation and worse than those of its European neighbors. Not all — or even most — of the problems are because of Brexit, but Britain’s vexed trade relationship with the rest of Europe indisputably plays a role. That makes it a ripe target for an anxious public casting about for something to blame.


The latest eruption of this never-ending drama began last week with an opinion poll that showed support for Brexit had fallen to its lowest level yet. Only 32 percent of those surveyed in the poll, by the firm YouGov, said that they thought leaving the European Union was a good idea; 56 percent said it was a mistake.


The Brexit second-guessing grew louder this week, after The Sunday Times of London published a report that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was considering pursuing a closer arrangement with the European Union, modeled on that of Switzerland. The Swiss have access to the single market and fewer border checks, in return for paying into the bloc’s coffers and accepting some of its rules.


Mr. Sunak quickly shot down the report, which was attributed to “senior government sources.”


“Under my leadership,” Mr. Sunak told business executives on Monday, “the United Kingdom will not pursue any relationship with Europe that relies on alignment with E.U. laws.”


“I voted for Brexit, I believe in Brexit,” Mr. Sunak added. “I know that Brexit can deliver, and is already delivering, enormous benefits and opportunities for the country.”


But the prime minister’s denial is no more likely to settle the issue than did the vow of one of his predecessors, Boris Johnson, to “get Brexit done” or the insistence of another former prime minister, Theresa May, that “Brexit means Brexit.” Both of those leaders spent much of their time in 10 Downing Street fighting battles related to the split with the bloc. Mrs. May lost her job because of it.


While nobody is predicting that Britain will seek to rejoin the European Union, political analysts said that the Sunday Times report, on top of the dismal economic data and growing popular sentiment against Brexit, would open a fresh chapter in Britain’s search for a new relationship with the rest of Europe. Where that would lead, they cautioned, was impossible to predict.


“A genie’s been let out of the bottle,” said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group. “What’s beginning is a much more fundamental debate. What is the long-run equilibrium between the two sides? Is it Switzerland? Is it Norway?” he added, referring to a country that has even closer ties to the European Union than Switzerland, also without being a member.


“You can’t really address the economic problems the U.K. has without addressing and improving the trade relationship with the E.U,” Mr. Rahman said. “Otherwise, you’re just fiddling around the edges.”


Calculating how much to blame Brexit for Britain’s woes is tricky, however, given all the other headwinds battering the country. Economists note that Britain has been cursed by stagnant growth since the financial crisis of 2009, a result of inadequate investment and slumping productivity.


In a forecast released last week alongside Mr. Sunak’s new budget, a fiscal watchdog group, the Office for Budget Responsibility, said that Brexit had exerted a “significant adverse impact” on Britain’s trade.


It has also exacerbated labor shortages across businesses as diverse as London restaurants and trucking companies. While some of that is because of Britons who left their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and have not yet rejoined the labor force — a sort of economic long Covid — employers are also struggling to replace workers from Europe who went home after Brexit and did not return.


It is not an accident that public sentiment began to swing against Brexit a year ago, when Britain suffered an acute shortage of truck drivers, which caused delays in deliveries of fuel to gas stations and long lines of motorists. That ended a honeymoon earlier in the year, when the government claimed, dubiously, that its swift approval and rollout of a Covid vaccine was thanks to Brexit.


Since then, Britain has been gripped by double-digit inflation, rising interest rates and a recession that the Bank of England recently warned could last two years. Among the Group of 7 advanced countries, Britain is the only one with an economy that is smaller now than it was before the pandemic started. It was recently overtaken by India as the world’s fifth-largest economy.


“We can argue about the extent to which Brexit is responsible for Britain’s economic problems,” said John Curtice, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, and a leading British expert on polling. “But it is very difficult to convince people that a wonderful economic nirvana is coming around the corner because of Brexit.”


Mr. Sunak has other problems. There is no indication that the European Union would go along with a Swiss-style arrangement for Britain, even if he pursued it. Britain has refused to abide by an agreement it struck with Brussels on the hybrid trade status of Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom but shares a border with the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union.


While Mr. Sunak has tried to lower the temperature in talks with Brussels over that deal, there is no imminent sign of a breakthrough. Resolving the perennial tensions over Northern Ireland is a prerequisite for any bigger reset.


There is even less hope that his Conservative Party, with its powerful euroskeptic flank, would accept a Swiss-style relationship. The Sunday Times report provoked fierce denunciations from Brexiteers like David Frost, who had negotiated the trade agreement with Brussels for Mr. Johnson.


There has been fevered speculation about who might have leaked it, ranging from Mr. Sunak’s chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, who voted against Brexit, to Mr. Sunak himself. The prime minister’s Brexiteer credentials are often questioned by hard-line euroskeptics because of his more pragmatic style.


“The way to deal with the economic consequences of Brexit would not be tolerable politically for many in the Tory party,” said Anand Menon, a professor of European politics at Kings College London.


That leaves Mr. Sunak in a quandary. The most obvious solution is politically unpalatable. His predecessors were able to promote Brexit as a blow for British sovereignty or as a curb against uncontrolled immigration. Now, it is being judged on its economic impact — and being found sorely wanting.


“Brexit wasn’t viewed through the lens of economics,” Professor Menon said. “It was viewed through culture or values. Now everything is economic, and while you can sell Brexit many ways, selling it as a boost to G.D.P. is a stretch.”



5) Sheriff’s Deputies Are Indicted in Fatal Shooting of Man Who Called 911

The Sheriff’s Office in Clear Creek County, Colo., said it fired the deputies, Andrew Buen and Kyle Gould, after they were charged in connection with the shooting of Christian Glass, 22, in June.

By Amanda Holpuch, Nov. 24, 2022


Police body camera footage shows Christian Glass behind the wheel of his Honda Pilot after it became stuck on an embankment on a mountain road near Silver Plume, Colo., on the night of June 10.

Police body camera footage shows Christian Glass behind the wheel of his Honda Pilot after it became stuck on an embankment on a mountain road near Silver Plume, Colo., on the night of June 10. Credit...Colorado State Police

Two Colorado sheriff’s deputies have been indicted in connection with the fatal shooting in June of a 22-year-old Boulder man, Christian Glass, who had called 911 for help when his S.U.V. became stuck on a mountain road at night, prosecutors said.


The office of Heidi McCollum, the Clear Creek County district attorney, announced the indictment of the two Clear Creek County sheriff’s deputies, Andrew Buen and Kyle Gould, on Wednesday. The Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that the deputies had been fired because of the indictment.


Mr. Buen was charged with second-degree murder, official misconduct and reckless endangerment, prosecutors said in a statement. Mr. Gould was charged with criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. The statement did not list a lawyer for either deputy and neither could immediately be reached for comment.


Arrest warrants were issued for both men, who were expected to appear in court in mid-December, prosecutors said. Mr. Buen’s bond was set at $50,000 and Mr. Gould’s bond was set at $2,500, prosecutors said.


Mr. Glass was killed on the night of June 10, after he called 911 when his Honda Pilot got stuck on an embankment on a mountain road near Silver Plume, a former silver mining camp in the Rocky Mountains, about 45 miles west of Denver.


Roughly a half-dozen officers responded to the call and negotiated with Mr. Glass for more than an hour. Body camera footage shows the officers asking him to drop a knife, and then using a stun gun and firing beanbag rounds at him when he does not follow their orders. Mr. Glass’s mother, Sally Glass, has said her son was having a “mental health episode.”


The Sheriff’s Office initially said that Mr. Glass had tried to stab one of the law enforcement officers, who had “tried to bring the situation to a peaceful resolution.”


Lawyers for Mr. Glass’s family, Siddhartha Rathod and Qusair Mohamedbhai, said that the officers had used unnecessarily aggressive tactics. In September, the lawyers released audio of the 911 call and radio transmissions, as well as body camera footage from the responding officers.


The material detailed what happened after Mr. Glass called 911. Mr. Glass told a dispatcher that his vehicle was stuck in a “trap,” that he was coming out of a depression, that he feared “skinwalkers” and that he needed help.


A dispatcher asked Mr. Glass if he had weapons and Mr. Glass said that he had knives, a hammer and a rubber mallet with him. Mr. Glass’s family said that Mr. Glass was an amateur geologist and used the equipment as tools. He told the dispatcher that he would keep his hands visible when officers arrived.


“I understand that this is a dodgy situation for you guys as well,” he said. He also said he was afraid to get out of the car.


The dispatcher told law enforcement agencies that Mr. Glass was “very paranoid” and “not making much sense.”


Video footage shows that roughly half a dozen officers arrived and nearly surrounded the vehicle while Mr. Glass stayed inside.


He did not open the S.U.V.’s door or window, unlock the vehicle or get out, as officers requested. At one point, he turned to the closed window, cupping his hands in a heart-shaped gesture at the officers.


The negotiations lasted more than an hour, and toward the end, an officer broke the S.U.V.’s driver’s side window and ordered Mr. Glass to “drop the knife.”


Mr. Glass continued to hold a knife and officers continued to order him to drop it, firing beanbag rounds at Mr. Glass and using a stun gun on him.


Mr. Glass twisted in his seat and swung an arm at the broken window, toward an approaching officer, and gunshots were fired, the videos show. An autopsy report said Mr. Glass had six gunshot wounds. The report also noted that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was in Mr. Glass’s system, along with amphetamine that, according to a doctor who spoke to The Denver Post, was commensurate with medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.


Mr. Buen was initially placed on administrative leave after the shooting, pending the outcome of an investigation, and was back working in September, Bruce Snelling, the undersheriff at the time, told The New York Times that month. Mr. Buen had been on the force for about five or six years, most recently in the patrol division, and had no record of disciplinary issues, Undersheriff Snelling said.


On Wednesday, after the indictment was made public, the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office moved swiftly to fire Mr. Buen and Mr. Gould, even though an investigation of the shooting by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office had not concluded.


“While the investigation is still underway,” the office said in its statement, “preliminary findings show there were policy and procedural failures, and the initial news release about the shooting, based on the information available at the time of the incident, does not reflect the entirety of what happened on that terrible night.”


At a news conference in September, Mr. Glass’s mother, Sally Glass, said that her son loved to take long drives in the mountains, that he was an artist and that he was struggling with his mental health the night he was killed.


“He was just too scared to get out of his car,” she said.


In a statement responding to the indictment, the family’s lawyers said Mr. Glass’s parents were “relieved appropriate charges have been brought against some of those responsible for the murder of their son.”


“However, justice for Christian will require all those involved being held accountable,” the statement said. “Christian’s death is a stain on every officer who was present and failed to prevent the escalation and unnecessary uses of force.”



6) This Holiday Season, the Poor Buckle Under Inflation as the Rich Spend

Even if policymakers achieve a gentle economic slowdown, it won’t be smooth for everyone.

By Jeanna Smialek, Photographs by Tony Luong Reporting from Boston, Nov. 25, 2022

Langham Hotel in Boston has plush suites and conference rooms.
Langham Hotel in Boston has plush suites and conference rooms.

People on a line outside a brick building, bundled up in winter clothes.

Across town, in Dorchester, people line up for Thanksgiving turkeys at Catholic Charities.

November has been busier than expected at the Langham Hotel in Boston as luxury travelers book rooms in plush suites and hold meetings in gilded conference rooms. The $135-per-adult Thanksgiving brunch at its in-house restaurant sold out weeks ago.


Across town, in Dorchester, demand has been booming for a different kind of food service. Catholic Charities is seeing so many families at its free pantry that Beth Chambers, vice president of basic needs at Catholic Charities Boston, has had to close early some days and tell patrons to come back first thing in the morning. On the frigid Saturday morning before Thanksgiving, patrons waiting for free turkeys began to line the street at 4:30 a.m. — more than four hours before the pantry opened.


The contrast illustrates a divide that is rippling through America’s topsy-turvy economy nearly three years into the pandemic. Many well-off consumers are still flush with savings and faring well financially, bolstering luxury brands and keeping some high-end retailers and travel companies optimistic about the holiday season. At the same time, America’s poor are running low on cash buffers, struggling to keep up with rising prices and facing climbing borrowing costs if they use credit cards or loans to make ends meet.


The situation underlines a grim reality of the pandemic era. The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to make borrowing more expensive and temper demand, hoping to cool the economy and bring the fastest inflation in decades back under control. Central bankers are trying to manage that without a recession that leaves families out of work. But the adjustment period is already a painful one for many Americans — evidence that even if the central bank can pull off a so-called “soft landing,” it won’t feel benign to everyone.


“A lot of these households are moving toward the greater fragility that was the norm before the pandemic,” said Matthew Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank.


Many working-class households fared well in 2020 and 2021. Though they lost jobs rapidly at the outset of the pandemic, hiring rebounded swiftly, wage growth has been strong, and repeated government relief checks helped families amass savings.


But after 18 months of rapid price inflation — some of which was driven by stimulus-fueled demand — the poor are depleting those cushions. American families were still sitting on about $1.7 trillion in excess savings — extra savings accumulated during the pandemic — by the middle of this year, based on Fed estimates, but about $1.35 trillion of it was held by the top half of earners and just $350 billion in the bottom half.


At the same time, prices climbed 7.7 percent in the year through October, far faster than the roughly 2 percent pace that was normal before the pandemic. As savings have run down and necessities like car repair, food and housing become sharply more expensive, many people in lower-income neighborhoods have begun turning to credit cards to sustain their spending. Balances for that group are now above 2019 levels, New York Fed research shows. Some are struggling to keep up at all.


“With the cost of food, the explosive cost of eggs, people are having to come to us more,” said Ms. Chambers of Catholic Charities, explaining that other rising prices, including rent, are intensifying the struggle. The location planned to give out 1,000 turkeys and 600 gift cards for turkeys, at its holiday distribution, along with bags of canned creamed corn, cranberry sauce and other Thanksgiving fare.


Tina Obadiaru, 42, was among those who lined up to get a turkey on Saturday. A mother of seven, she works full time caring for residents at a group home, but it isn’t enough to make ends meet for her and her family, especially after her Dorchester rent jumped last month to $2,500 from $2,000.


“It is going to be really difficult,” she said.


The disproportionate burden inflation places on the poor is one reason Fed officials are scrambling to quickly bring price increases back under control. Central bankers have lifted interest rates from near zero earlier this year to nearly 4 percent, and have signaled that there are more to come.


But the process of lowering inflation is also likely to hurt for lower-income people. Fed policies work partly by making it expensive to borrow to sustain consumption, which causes demand to decline and eventually forces sellers to charge less. Rate increases also slow down the labor market, cooling wage growth and possibly even costing jobs.


That means that the solid labor market that has buoyed the working class through this challenging time — one that has particularly pushed up wages in lower-paying jobs, including leisure and hospitality, and transportation — could soon crack. In fact, Fed officials are watching for a slowdown in spending and pay gains as a sign that their policies are working.


“While higher interest rates, slower growth and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said at a key Fed conference in August. “These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation.”


Central bankers believe that a measure of pain today is better than what would happen if inflation were allowed to continue unchecked. If people and businesses begin to expect rapid price increases and act accordingly — asking for big raises, instituting frequent and large price increases — inflation could become entrenched in the economy. It would then take a more punishing policy response to bring it to heel, one that could push unemployment even higher.


But evidence accumulating across the economy underscores that the slowdown the Fed has been engineering, however necessary, is likely to feel different across different income groups.


Consumer spending overall has so far been resilient to the Fed’s rate moves. Retail sales data moderated notably early in the year, but have recently picked back up. Personal consumption expenditures aren’t expanding at a breakneck pace, but they continue to grow.


Yet underneath those aggregate numbers, a nascent shift appears to be underway — one that highlights the growing divide in economic comfort between the rich and the poor. Credit card data from Bank of America suggest that high- and middle-income households have replaced lower-income households in driving consumption growth in recent months. Poorer shoppers contributed one-fifth of the growth in discretionary spending in October, compared with around two-fifths a year earlier.


“This is likely due to lower-income groups being the most negatively impacted by surging prices — they have also seen the biggest drawdown of bank savings,” economists at the Bank of America Institute wrote in a Nov. 10 note.


Even if the poor feel the squeeze of elevated prices and higher interest rates and pull back, the economists noted that continued economic health among richer consumers could keep demand strong in areas where wealthier people tend to spend their money, including services like travel and hotels.


At the Langham, a newly renovated hotel in a century-old building that originally served as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, there is little to suggest an impending slowdown in spending.


In “The Fed,” the hotel bar named in a nod to the building’s heritage, bartenders are busy every weeknight slinging cocktails with names like “Trust Fund Baby” and “Apple Butter Me Up” (both $16). When guests come back from shopping on nearby Newbury Street, the hotel’s managing director, Michele Grosso, said, their arms are full of bags. He sees the fact that the Thanksgiving brunch sold out so fast as emblematic of continued demand.


“If people were pulling back, we’d still be promoting,” he said of the three-course, family-style meal. “Instead, we’ve got a waiting list.”


The consumption divide playing out in Boston is also clear at a national level, echoing through corporate earnings calls. American Express added customers for platinum and gold cards at a record clip in the United States last quarter, for instance, as it reported “great demand” for premium, fee-based products.


“As we sit here today, we see no changes in the spending behaviors of our customers,” Stephen J. Squeri, the company’s chief executive, told investors during an earnings call last month.


Companies that serve more low-income consumers, however, are reporting a marked pullback.


“Many consumers this year have relied on borrowing or dipping into their savings to manage their weekly budgets,” Brian Cornell, the chief executive of Target, said in an earnings call on Nov. 16. “But for many consumers, those options are starting to run out. As a result, our guests are exhibiting increasing price sensitivity, becoming more focused on and responsive to promotions and more hesitant to purchase at full price.”


The split makes it hard to guess what will happen next with spending and inflation. Some economists think the return of price sensitivity among lower-income consumers will be enough to help overall costs moderate, paving the way for a notable slowdown in 2023.


“You get more promotional activity, and companies starting to compete for market share,” said Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives.


But others warn that, even if the very poor are struggling, it may not be sufficient to bring spending and prices down meaningfully.


Many families paid off their credit card balances during the pandemic, and that is now reversing, despite high credit card rates. The borrowing could help some households sustain their consumption for a while, especially paired with strong employment gains and recently fallen gas prices, said Neil Dutta, head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro.


As the world waits to see whether the Fed can slow down the economy enough to control inflation without forcing the country into an outright recession, those coming to Catholic Charities in Boston illustrate why the stakes are so high. Though many have jobs, they have been buffeted by months of rapid price increases and now face an uncertain future.


“Before the pandemic, we thought in cases,” Ms. Chambers said, referencing how much food is needed to meet local need. “Now we think only in pallets.”



7) Amid Israeli Blockade on Gaza, a Fishing Fleet Limps Along

An Israeli blockade that restricts the movement of Gazans out of the strip and limits imports — or bans them completely — has been devastating for the enclave’s fishing industry.

By Raja Abdulrahim, Nov. 27, 2022


A Palestinian fisherman carrying his bounty after a trip out to the sea along the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian fisherman carrying his bounty after a trip out to the sea along the Gaza Strip. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

A fisherman on a paddle board at sunrise inside the Gaza port.

A fisherman on a paddle board at sunrise inside the Gaza port. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

GAZA CITY, Gaza — Not far from the edge of the port in the Gaza Strip lies its boat cemetery: two rows of beached fishing vessels that even Gazan ingenuity cannot salvage.


Motors and propellers have been stripped. The once-bright blue, green and yellow paint on more than two dozen fishing boats is peeling. The fiberglass on some looks as if it has been eaten away.


The boats began piling up in Gaza 15 years ago after Israel, aided by Egypt, imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the small Palestinian coastal enclave in 2007. The blockade severely restricts the movement of Gazans out of the strip and limits imports or bans them completely, including medical equipment and construction material.


For Gaza’s fishermen, the blockade has prevented them from buying motors, propellers, fiberglass and many other items needed to repair the boats and maintain a functioning fishing fleet. It has damaged a vital but shrinking part of the strip’s economy while crimping the supply of an important but increasingly out-of-reach part of the local diet.


Repairs and maintenance that were once easy and affordable became too costly or scarce, causing some fishermen to just give up and dump their unsalvageable boats in the cemetery.


“This is a war on our livelihoods,” said Miflih Abu Rial, a fisherman and official in the fishermen’s union, standing on the bow of one of his family’s boats, which has been in the cemetery for years.


Gazan and industry officials warn that if Israeli restrictions are not eased, the strip’s fishing sector could completely collapse in the next few years as more and more boats are removed from service.


Israel says the blockade and restrictions are for its security and intended to prevent Hamas, which controls Gaza, and other militant groups from using “dual use” items — products that Israel says can be used for both civilian and military purposes.


“Some items that serve the fishing industry are defined as dual-use materials,” the Civil Administration, the Israeli authority that carries out civilian policy in occupied territories under the command of the military, said in a statement.


Israel’s blockade has devastated Gaza’s economy, in which poverty is widespread and unemployment hovers around 50 percent. Palestinian officials and human rights groups have long maintained that the blockade amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s two million residents in the densely packed enclave.


“The fishing sector now works at 50 percent capacity and every day it is decreasing,” said Jehad Salah, the head of the fisheries directorate in Gaza. “When they ban the equipment needed for maintenance then they are forcing people to leave this industry.”


A United Nations-initiated program to allow maintenance and repair materials to be sent in was finally just put into place after months of negotiations, a U.N. official said.


The agreement allows individual fishermen to request orders of dual-use materials needed to repair their boats. Each request must be approved by both the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Once approved, the fishermen can make the order, and the importation and distribution of the materials will be overseen by the United Nations.


Only a few dozen have had their orders approved so far.


On Nov. 13, the first batch of materials entered Gaza, the first since 2007, a shipment that included 500 pounds of fiberglass, 1,100 pounds of Polyester resin and a total of 70 pounds of blue, white and yellow paint.


Next month, motors will be allowed in, Mr. Salah said. He added that he was withholding judgment on the program’s success.


The Israeli civil administration said the materials will be brought in under strict security and supervision.


For Gaza’s fishermen, the negative effect of the blockade is multifold. In addition to the limits on goods coming in, the naval blockade restricts how far out into the Mediterranean Sea fishermen can go and thus how much and the type of fish they are able to catch.


Fishermen are at risk of being shot at by the Israeli coast guard and being detained or having their boats confiscated by Israel if they get too close to the boundaries of the permitted fishing areas. There have been more than 300 shooting episodes this year, according to the United Nations, with 14 fishermen injured. At least 47 have been detained by Israel.


With little relief from the blockade, Gaza’s boats limp along, kept semifunctioning by a combination of salvaged used parts from other vessels, modified car and truck parts that are not made to be in the salty sea, and occasionally smuggled items. But the black market mostly dried up after President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt cracked down on smuggling tunnels between his country and Gaza.


In June 2016, the brothers of Mr. Abu Rial, the fisherman, were on one of eight boats owned by their family when it was seized at sea by Israeli forces. The boat was returned to them nearly two years later but needed extensive repairs to make it seaworthy again. Family members did not have the money, nor could they find the necessary parts, so the boat was put in the cemetery.


Now Mr. Abu Rial, 44 and a third-generation fisherman, uses another aging boat with a motor that has been on its last legs for the past two years. Sometimes the mechanic must fix it three times a week. Other times, Mr. Abu Rial goes weeks without fishing because the motor will not work.


Recently, he had to sell some of his wife’s gold jewelry to pay bills.


“After I get the motor fixed, I just pray that it will last a week or even a day,” he said, standing outside his family’s storage room at the port. Inside, the walls are covered with graffiti scrawled by their children, who occasionally visit the port to begin learning the family trade. A rusting refrigerator laid on its back is filled with old and spare boat parts.


Farther down the port, along a breakwater built using rubble from previous wars in Gaza between Hamas and Israel, Methat Redwan Bakir’s boat has been tied up for years.


“The Israelis took it for three years and returned to me with no nets and no engine and no lights,” he said. “It hasn’t moved since it came back.”


Mr. Bakir’s brother and 11 other fishermen were on the boat in 2016 along the northern fishing limit when they were shot at by the Israeli coast guard, which also fired water cannons at the vessel, he said. The boat was confiscated and all 12 crew members detained. Ten of them were released the next day, and Mr. Bakir’s brother was detained for 18 days before being let go. Another man was imprisoned for five years.


For decades, the boat supported five families on which they could make up to $1,000 a day from fishing.


It would have cost Mr. Bakir, 57, a father of four daughters, several thousand dollars to fix. So he tied it up and abandoned it.


In the green murky waters nearby, Mr. Bakir watched as a group of young men learned the trade, working to unravel fishing nets and preparing to go out to sea. But it remains unclear how long this industry can survive here.


Now, Mr. Bakir goes out on a six-meter-long flat-bottomed boat with a 20-year-old motor that breaks down as often as it works. And instead of using nets, he relies on a rudimentary mix of equipment: fishing rods, plastic bottles and multiple baits.


In the sand next to his boat lies a small banner from a past solidarity protest: “Viva Palestina,” it reads, and, “End the occupation.”


With a dwindling number of functional motors in Gaza, increasing numbers of fishermen are using paddle boards to continue their trade. On any morning, men standing atop wide two-person boards, loaded with nets, can be seen going out to sea.


“The paddle board is a new thing, but it is very dangerous,” said Mr. Salah, the fisheries director.


Ashraf Al-Aawoo, 47, had been using a paddle board for months after his boat fell into disrepair.


But one day in the spring, he and a partner found the fish plentiful. The net bulged with fish but the paddle board could not take the heavy weight and sank.


Mr. Al-Aawoo, deeply tanned from a lifetime on the water and under the sun, had to swim more than a mile back to shore with his fellow fishermen.


The Gazan coast guard fished the paddle board out of the water.


Even if he had the money to repair it, there is not any fiberglass in Gaza to buy, Mr. Al-Aawoo said.


In frustration, he dragged the board from the sandy shore to the entrance of the port and left it on the road shoulder as a statement — like a sole cemetery plot for another Gazan boat.



8) Long Stretches of the Mississippi River Have Run Dry. What’s Next?

By Laurence C. Smith, Nov. 27, 2022

Dr. Smith is a professor at Brown University and the author of “Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations and Shapes Our World.”


Barges along a parched section of the Mississippi River outside of Lake Providence, La.
Barges along a parched section of the Mississippi River outside of Lake Providence, La. Credit...Trent Bozeman for The New York Times

Last month, record low water levels in the Mississippi River backed up nearly 3,000 barges — the equivalent of 210,000 container trucks — on America’s most important inland waterway. Despite frantic dredging, farmers could move only half the corn they’d shipped the same time last year. Deliveries of fuel, coal, industrial chemicals and building materials were similarly delayed throughout the nation’s heartland.


This critical river and its tributaries — responsible for transporting more than $17 billion worth of farm products and 60 percent of all U.S. corn and soybean exports annually — has been stricken by drought since September, amid a time of global grain shortage and soaring food prices. While water levels will recover modestly this week, thanks to some upstream rain and snow, the long-term forecast remains dry.


Conditions are even worse in the southwestern United States, where an ongoing 22-year drought — now the harshest in 1,200 years — has shriveled Colorado River reservoirs, straining water supplies for farms, cities and hydropower from the Hoover Dam. Across the Atlantic in Germany, warmer temperatures and longer droughts have shrunk the Rhine River, making navigation harrowing on a waterway responsible for up to 80 percent of the country’s ship-bound cargo.


Economic powerhouse rivers like these are being sucked dry not only by climate change but by fast-growing cities and farming operations that need more water. Agriculture is the single largest consumer of freshwater, and global food demand is still rising.


There are no new rivers left to tap. We must learn to do more with less.


Radical new thinking is the only way to make sure our rivers endure. The good news is that we are already reimagining what rivers can do — and what they can be.


Because rivers deposit sand, plugging shipping channels and reservoirs, their power to move sediment is normally framed as a problem to be fixed by dredging. But in Louisiana, where coastal wetlands are disappearing rapidly, a roughly $2.2 billion proposal is advancing to divert part of the Mississippi River into Barataria Bay, where additional sediment can help protect it from rising sea levels. Using BP settlement money from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill catastrophe, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion would mimic natural delta-building processes in a place that has lost hundreds of square miles of coastal land over the last century. Projects like this one make the Mississippi’s ability to move sediment an asset rather than an expense.


If reservoirs fall to the point where they can barely be used for hydropower, they can still be used to store intermittent wind and solar energy — by recycling water that has already passed through the dam’s turbines back into its reservoir.


One outlandish proposal to do this at a massive scale reimagines the Hoover Dam as a three-billion-dollar renewable energy battery, connecting it to vast new solar and wind farms. While logistical issues make this particular idea a moonshot, there are plenty of opportunities to connect dams with renewable energy farms at a much smaller scale and lower cost.


Creative opportunities also exist for small, low-impact hydropower technologies — including modernized water wheels that can be retrofitted into existing or historical dam structures. Some technologies require no existing structures at all. Hydropower projects that are small enough to operate in reduced flows and small rivers can generate clean, renewable electricity with little environmental downside. Already some 200 low impact projects in the United States have been approved or are pending certifications, and across Europe there may be nearly 30,000 more potential sites at old mills.


Simply ripping out obsolete structures can have a big effect, too, restoring rivers to a free-flowing state with tremendous ecological and recreational benefits. Federal regulators have just approved an extraordinary plan to demolish four aging dams that for a century have been blocking salmon spawning runs on the Klamath River in California and Oregon, drawing protest from Native American tribes and fishermen. Rivers restore their old characteristics amazingly quickly once their shackles are removed. Based on studies of smaller dam demolitions on the Elwha River and others in the Pacific Northwest, salmon should begin recolonizing their ancestral waterway almost immediately.


Some bold ideas require no modification of rivers at all. New space-based technologies can track freshwater levels globally, helping to enforce international water-sharing agreements and strengthen river forecasting models. Laser measurements from NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite demonstrated the potential for this recently. Next month, the United States and France will launch the SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) satellite, a new radar technology that will blanket the Earth with three-dimensional measurements of water levels and river discharge. These data, if proven after testing, could help all nations manage their freshwater resources with observations both within and outside their borders.


Throughout history, societies have grown and prospered along rivers. Today, nearly two-thirds of us live alongside them. The ways in which societies use rivers have changed drastically over time, giving rise to cities, powering the Industrial Revolution and populating the world’s arid lands through massive dams and water diversion schemes, among other transitions. It’s time now to reimagine our relationship with rivers once again.



9) The Only U.S. Territory Without U.S. Birthright Citizenship

People born in American Samoa, which has been held by the United States for more than 120 years, are not automatically citizens of the United States.

By Natasha Frost, Nov. 25, 2022


Pago Pago, American Samoa, in 2020.

Pago Pago, American Samoa, in 2020. Credit...Gabby Faaiuaso for The New York Times

It seems straightforward enough. As the American Constitution put it, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”


And generally, that’s accurate. People born in any of the 50 states, one federal district and four major territories (Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands) are automatically American citizens.


But in one American territory, which has been held by the United States for more than 120 years and which is some 2,600 miles (4,184 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii, they aren’t.


Every April, people in American Samoa, which has a population of about 50,000, celebrate “Flag Day,” the most important holiday of the year, commemorating its five islands and two coastal atolls becoming part of the United States. Its residents serve in the U.S. military — indeed, more soldiers per capita come from the Pacific territory than from any other U.S. territory or state. If they choose to leave their island home, they can live anywhere else in the United States they like. They even hold American passports.


But they aren’t United States citizens. Instead, American Samoans are U.S. “nationals,” a small but significant distinction that precludes them from voting, running for office, and holding jobs in a narrow selection of fields, including law enforcement. They can become citizens after moving to the mainland, but the process is long, requires passing a history test and costs at least $725, before legal fees, without any guarantee of success.


Until quite recently, the difference between being a U.S. national and a U.S. citizen was not always closely observed. Many American Samoans living elsewhere in the United States voted in elections without knowing that they were ineligible to.


But under the Trump administration, that distinction became more closely observed. In 2018, a woman born in American Samoa ran as a Republican state House candidate in Hawaii, before learning that she was ineligible to run or even to vote. American Samoans serving as officers in the U.S. Army suddenly found that unless they underwent naturalization, they would be demoted.


A handful of American Samoans living in the United States have attempted to challenge the status quo. In a recent case, which the U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to hear, three American Samoans living in Utah sought to demonstrate the ways in which not having U.S. citizenship were harmful to them.


One said he had been criticized by his peers for not voting in elections; another was precluded from pursuing a career as a police officer, he said; a third said that as a noncitizen, she could not sponsor her ailing parents for immigration visas to the United States, where they could receive better health care. (Her father subsequently died before he was able to relocate.)


Perhaps surprisingly, the government of American Samoans, as well as a majority of its citizens, is opposed to its residents acquiring birthright citizenship, particularly by judicial fiat, said Michael F. Williams, a lawyer who represents the government.


In 1900, chiefs in American Samoa agreed to become part of the United States by signing a deed, which included protections for fa’a Samoa, a phrase meaning “the Samoan way” that refers to the islands’ traditional culture.


“The American Samoan people have concerns that incorporating citizenship wholesale to the territory of American Samoa could have a harmful impact on traditional Samoan culture,” Williams said. He added: “The American Samoans believe if they need to make this fundamental change, they should be the ones to bring it upon themselves, not have some judge in Salt Lake City, or in Denver, Colorado, or Washington, D.C., doing it.”


Yet the reasons American Samoans do not have birthright citizenship were not originally related to any effort to protect Samoan culture. Instead, a set of court cases in the early 20th century, known as the “Insular Cases,” established that U.S. territories were at once part of the United States and outside of it. The reason, the Supreme Court ruled in 1901, was that these territories were “foreign in a domestic sense,” “inhabited by alien races,” and that therefore governing them “according to Anglo-Saxon principles may for a time be impossible.”


Those calling for a legislative change include Charles Ala’ilima, a lawyer based in American Samoa.


“There’s only one class of citizens in the United States — except here in American Samoa,” he said. “What we have now is basically the imposition of second-class status on a people that are under the sovereignty of the government. That is the definition of colonialism.”


Some legal scholars contend that American Samoa is not entirely subject to the United States Constitution, allowing it to maintain certain features of life, including the sa, a prayer curfew in place in some villages, and traditional communal ownership of land. Imposing birthright citizenship, they argue, would put those traditions at legal risk.


But in the 1970s, a court in Washington, D.C., found that residents of American Samoa had the right to a jury trials “as guaranteed by our Constitution” — even after a court in American Samoa said that introducing jury trials would be “an arbitrary, illogical, and inappropriate foreign imposition.”


Introducing jury trials has made little difference to the Samoan way of life, Ala’ilima said, and there was no evidence to suggest that granting its people citizenship would either. In the Northern Mariana Islands, another U.S. territory, residents can restrict land ownership to people of native descent — while still receiving birthright citizenship.


“My impression is that at some level, they know that if they get upgraded to citizen, nothing’s going to happen,” he said, of the American Samoan government. Already, he added, a significant minority of American Samoans were citizens of the United States through descent.


But for others in the territory, Hawaii, a former U.S. territory that acquired statehood in 1959, stands as a warning. “The government of American Samoa looks at Hawaii and sees what has happened to the native Hawaiians. Hawaii has become a playground for rich Americans; Native Hawaiian people are looking at crumbs,” Williams said.


“Programs that were established by the state government in Hawaii for the benefit of Native Hawaiians, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, have been struck down or limited by constitutional litigation, based on the argument that it would be unfair to help one category of citizens based solely on their race,” he added.


It may be that, to the extent American Samoa is already exposed to this risk, as some contend, granting birthright citizenship to its people would make little difference, beyond giving its people something that they are constitutionally owed. But for its leaders, and its deeply conservative people, the unknown consequences for now feel far too great.



10) Major News Outlets Urge U.S. to Drop Its Charges Against Assange

In a joint letter, news organizations warned that the indictment of Julian Assange “sets a dangerous precedent” that could chill reporting about matters of national security.

By Charlie Savage, Nov. 28, 2022


A cardboard cutout of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, as his supporters surround the British Parliament in London in October.

A cardboard cutout of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, as his supporters surround the Parliament in London in October. He has been fighting extradition from Britain since his arrest there in 2019. Credit...Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — The New York Times and four European news organizations called on the United States government on Monday to drop its charges against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, for obtaining and publishing classified diplomatic and military secrets.


In a joint open letter, The Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País said the prosecution of Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act “sets a dangerous precedent” that threatened to undermine the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.


“Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists,” the letter said. “If that work is criminalized, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.”


Mr. Assange, who has been fighting extradition from Britain since his arrest there in 2019, is also accused of participating in a hacking-related conspiracy. The letter notably did not urge the Justice Department to drop that aspect of the case, though it said that “some of us are concerned” about it, too.


Each of the five organizations had worked with Mr. Assange in 2010 and 2011, during the events at the heart of the criminal case. WikiLeaks, which obtained leaked archives of classified American diplomatic cables and military files, gave early access to the troves to traditional news outlets, which published articles about notable revelations.


A spokeswoman for The Times, Danielle Rhoades Ha, said that the company’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, in consultation with the legal department, decided to sign the letter. The newsroom was not involved, she said.


The case against Mr. Assange is complicated and does not turn on the question of whether he is considered a journalist, but rather on whether his journalistic-style activities of soliciting and publishing classified information can or should be treated as a crime.


The letter comes as Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has sought to rein in ways in which the Justice Department has made it harder for journalists to do their jobs. In October, he issued new regulations that ban the use of subpoenas, warrants or court orders to seize reporters’ communications records or demand their notes or testimony in an effort to uncover confidential sources in leak investigations.


Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks catapulted to global fame in 2010 when he began publishing classified videos and documents related to the United States’ wars and its foreign relations.


It eventually became clear that Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, had provided the archives to WikiLeaks. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison after a court-martial trial in 2013. President Barack Obama commuted most of her remaining sentence shortly before leaving office in January 2017.


Ms. Manning’s disclosures amounted to one of the most extraordinary leaks in American history. They included about 250,000 State Department cables that revealed many secret things around the world, dossiers about Guantánamo Bay detainees being held without trial and logs of significant events in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that divulged, among other things, that civilian casualties were higher than official estimates.


The letter noted that the same five institutions had publicly criticized Mr. Assange in 2011 when unredacted copies of the cables were released, revealing the names of people in dangerous countries who had helped the United States and putting their lives at risk. At Ms. Manning’s trial, prosecutors did not say anyone had been killed as a result, but officials have said the government spent significant resources in getting such people out of danger.


While the Obama administration and career law enforcement and national security officials disliked Mr. Assange, transparency advocates and antiwar activists treated him as an icon.


His public image shifted significantly after WikiLeaks published Democratic emails that had been hacked by the Russian government as part of its covert operation to help Donald J. Trump win the 2016 presidential election. But the criminal case against him is not about the Democratic emails.


The open letter notes that the Obama administration had weighed charging Mr. Assange in connection with the Manning leaks but did not do so — in part because there was no clear way to legally distinguish WikiLeaks’ actions from those of traditional news organizations like The Times that write about national security matters.


But in March 2018, under the Trump administration, the Justice Department obtained a sealed grand jury indictment against Mr. Assange. Initially, the charges sidestepped issues of press freedom, narrowly accusing him of a hacking-related offense by offering to help Ms. Manning mask her tracks on a secure computer network.


Under Attorney General William P. Barr, the department later escalated the case by obtaining an additional indictment that included a second set of allegations: that his journalistic-style activities violated the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law that makes the unauthorized retention and dissemination of national security secrets a crime.


(Another indictment expanded the allegations attached to the hacking-related charge, to include a broader WikiLeaks effort to encourage hackers to obtain secret material and provide it to the group.)


There is no precedent in the United States for prosecuting a publisher of information — as opposed to a spy or a government official who leaked secrets — under the Espionage Act. The Trump administration’s decision to bring such charges against Mr. Assange raised novel and profound questions about the meaning of the First Amendment.


For now, those issues have not been tested in court because the case is paused while Mr. Assange fights extradition. But the open letter called on the Justice Department to drop the Espionage Act charges.


“Holding governments accountable is part of the core mission of a free press in a democracy,” the letter said.



11) Meet the Man on a Mission to Expose Sneaky Price Increases

Edgar Dworsky has become the go-to expert on “shrinkflation,” when products or packaging are manipulated so people get less for their money.

By Clare Toeniskoetter, Nov. 26, 2022

Toeniskoetter went to many pharmacies in Somerville, Mass., with Mr. Dworsky to examine cough syrup.


Procter & Gamble, which makes Dawn dish soap, did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

Procter & Gamble, which makes Dawn dish soap, did not respond to a request for comment for this article. Credit...Photo illustration by The New York Times; Photo by Simon Simard.

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — A few weeks ago, Edgar Dworsky got a promising tip by email. “Diluted cough syrup,” read the message, accompanied by a photo of two packages of syrup with a curious difference: The new one appeared to be half the strength of the old one.


Mr. Dworsky gets emails like this frequently, alerting him to things like a bag of dog food that discreetly shrank from 50 pounds to 44 pounds. A cereal box that switched from “giant” to “family” size and grew about an inch taller — but a few ounces lighter. Bottles of detergent that look the same, but the newer ones come with less detergent.


The cough syrup message looked intriguing. Mr. Dworsky made plans to investigate.


He has dedicated much of his life to exposing what is one of the sneakier tricks in the modern consumer economy: “shrinkflation,” when products or packaging are subtly manipulated so that a person pays the same price, or even slightly more, for something but gets less of it.


Consumer product companies have been using this strategy for decades. And their nemesis, Mr. Dworsky, has been following it for decades. He writes up his discoveries on his website, mouseprint.org, a reference to the fine print often found on product packaging. Print so tiny “only a mouse could read,” he says.


He writes about shrinkflation in everything — tuna, mayonnaise, ice cream, deodorant, dish soap — alongside other consumer advocacy work on topics like misleading advertising, class-action lawsuits and exaggerated sale claims.


One recent Mouse Print report explored toilet paper shrinkflation. “Virtually every brand of toilet paper has been downsized over the years,” Mr. Dworsky wrote, documenting more than a decade of toilet paper shrinkage.


Mr. Dworsky, 71, is a semiretired lawyer whose career began as a market researcher before briefly becoming an on-air consumer reporter for local television alongside a young Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News personality. Mr. Dworsky was “one of the most sincere broadcasters I’ve ever seen,” Mr. O’Reilly said recently, adding that Mr. Dworsky “wasn’t one of those slick broadcasters trying to sell something.”


At the height of his career, he worked with the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, on his way to becoming a self-employed consumer advocate and possibly the world’s foremost expert on shrinkflation.


Lately, Mr. Dworsky has had his work cut out for him. With inflation at a 40-year high, business owners have been increasingly shrinkflating their products in an attempt to hide price increases.


Companies are doing it out of necessity, said Krishnakumar Davey, president of consumer product goods at IRI, a market research company. “Manufacturers are facing huge costs,” he said, referring to the price of raw ingredients, labor and shipping. “They’re trying to figure out how to balance that.”


Mr. Dworsky works seven days a week from his modest, three-bedroom condo in Somerville, where he lives alone. But for him, thrift is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. He made less than $7,000 last year, mostly from donations and ad revenue. He gets by on Social Security, his state pension and savings.


He’s quick with one-line zingers about his own frugality: I preach what I practice. Splurge isn’t a word in my vocabulary. People go duck hunting or deer hunting. I’m bargain hunting!


One recent Thursday, Mr. Dworsky started his day at 4:45 a.m. with breakfast of a store-bought coffee cake muffin and a glass of apple juice before checking his email and scanning the web for consumer news to include in his newsletter and his other website, Consumer World.


Then he turned his attention to shrinkflation. Already that day, he had two television interviews lined up to discuss the downsizing of Halloween candy.


In interviews, he’s the same person he is off-camera: simultaneously goofy and serious, affable yet awkward. Mr. Dworsky ran through the details of his candy investigations, pointing out that some manufacturers have defended smaller products by saying they have fewer calories. But on Halloween, kids don’t care, he said. “They just want some good candy.”


With inflation rattling the nation, shrinkflation recently drew the attention of John Oliver, who noted Mr. Dworsky’s quirky TV presence. “News outlets love to cover this, usually with the help of what seems to be the one go-to expert on the topic,” Mr. Oliver said, rolling clips of Mr. Dworsky emphatically listing examples of downsized products like toothpaste and sports drinks.


“Yeah! You tell ’em, Ed!” Mr. Oliver says. “I love everything about that man.”


Mr. Dworsky’s work has received notice in academic circles as well. Joseph Balagtas, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University who has studied shrinkflation, said Mr. Dworsky was the only person he was aware of who is documenting the phenomenon. Hitendra Chaturvedi, a supply chain management professor at Arizona State University, said he had turned to Mr. Dworsky’s examples to build the data sets for his own research.


Before setting out to investigate the cough syrup tip, Mr. Dworsky made himself lunch, a seafood wrap from his bargain-hunted pantry. He can rattle off the prices of virtually everything in it. The imitation crab meat had gone up recently to $5.99 for a 2.5 pound package but was still “a great deal.” The celery set him back $1.50, the most he ever spent on celery, he said.


Then he hit the road. First stop, a Walgreens.


It’s difficult to catch shrinkflation, he said. But if he’s lucky, he can find examples in stores when new inventory arrives, putting newer and older packages on the same shelf side-by-side.


Mr. Dworsky also looks out for clues like “New and improved” on packaging. But most importantly, he examines the weight.


“Look at the products you buy all the time, note what the net weight is,” he said. “When you go back to the store, double check that it’s still the same as your last bag, box or bottle.”


But the case of the cough syrup would be even trickier to investigate, he said, because it’s a possible case of what he calls skimpflation. He would need to examine whether the contents were, in effect, watered down — changing the formulation so that people were paying the same for fewer doses of cough syrup. The tipster had sent in images from a supermarket-brand, similar to Robitussin DM, showing that the adult dose had doubled to 20 milliliters for the new bottle, from 10 milliliters for the old.


Mr. Dworsky wondered if other stores’ versions had done the same. He spent nearly two hours visiting five different drugstore chains. He was hoping to find both new and old products at the same pharmacies, to catch them red-handed.


Mr. Dworsky is accustomed to being a bit of an outsider. He said he had inherited what he called the “cheap gene” from his father and recalled a childhood spending weekends at his dad’s, playing with his favorite toy, a cardboard supermarket. He’d sit inside and bag up mini boxes of cereal and oatmeal.


He spent much of his career in consumer education for the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and as an assistant attorney general in consumer protection.


His boss at the time, Robert Sherman, remembered Mr. Dworsky walking into his office in the early 1990s with two packages of deodorant. “What do you see?” he recalled Mr. Dworsky asking.


Mr. Sherman thought the two packages were exactly the same. But no. “This one has more than the other one, the difference is the size of the cap,” Mr. Dworsky said.


Of course, manufacturers are free to change their product sizes at will. But Mr. Dworsky put together an office news release, wanting to spread the word to shoppers that they should look out for sneaky price increases.


It was the birth of his professional focus on shrinkflation.


In interviews with nearly a dozen people who have worked with Mr. Dworsky over the years, it’s clear that consumer advocacy is his life’s work. He has never been married, has no children, and at one point, in jest, referred to his shrinkflation discoveries as his family. “All my children are my favorites,” he said. “It’s hard to single out one as the best.”


Recently, Mr. Dworsky has been thinking about his legacy. He believes his biggest impact was writing the Massachusetts food store item pricing law in 1987, which set up rules around price transparency. Currently, he’s fighting against “digital discount” coupons, which he thinks are harder for seniors to access because they require technical skill to use.


His interest in cough syrup continued into November with more research. He plans to reveal his findings on Mouse Print, but in an interview he said he believed it was a case where Robitussin had changed its formula several years ago and its store-brand competitors had just recently followed.


A spokeswoman for Haleon, the manufacturer of Robitussin, said, “While we continually innovate our formulations to meet the evolving needs of consumers, the quality and integrity of our products is always paramount.”


Mr. Dworsky worries that consumer advocacy is a dying profession, and gets frustrated at how hard it is to uncover these examples. “There’s kind of almost a resignation that these are so difficult to find,” he said. “It takes someone with an eagle eye.”


But he’s celebrating his cough-syrup findings. “It’s an absolute high,” he said. “I hit gold!”