Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, November 30, 2022


Railroad Workers United Open Letter to Congress and the President


Sign Here:



Dear President Biden, Democratic Leaders Pelosi and Schumer, Republican Leaders McConnell and McCarthy, and all members of the United States Congress: 

We are sending you this letter to urge you to rescind and reject President Biden’s proposal for Congress to force rail carriers and rail workers to accept a tentative contract agreement that has been rejected by four out of the twelve railroad unions. These four unions represent the majority of workers on the nation’s freight railroads, and by pushing through a tentative agreement that a majority of rank-and-file union members have declared completely unsatisfactory, President Biden and Congress would be overriding the democratically expressed will of railroad workers. 

While the tentative agreement provides significant wage increases, workers on the railroads have stated clearly and repeatedly that their fight is not just about money. Railroad workers are fighting for the right to live—and have a life—outside of work.

The freight rail industry is structured as a non-competitive oligopoly that is dominated by seven rail carriers and operates at the behest of Wall Street, prioritizing the maximization of profit for rail executives and shareholders, even if it comes at the expense of endangering the broader public and irreparably damaging the supply chain. In the past few decades, the rail industry has adopted the Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) model, which has benefited investors at the cost of railroad workers and the public at large. As noted in the Presidential Emergency Board Report #250, because of the PSR model, railroad companies have reduced the workforce by about 30 percent in 6 years, have instituted attendance models which pressure workers to work through exhaustion, reduced safety and checking procedures, all in order to reduce costs and increase profits. 

In fact, the railroad industry is the most profitable industry in the country. However, the billions of dollars of profit comes at the cost of railroaders being on call virtually 24/7, unable to access routine health care, missing the deaths of their loved ones and the birth of their children, and dying by the hundreds in work accidents. It has also come at the cost of the broader public, as PSR has created a situation where there are not enough working railroaders to service the demand which the rail industry faces, making it a direct cause for the current supply-chain crisis and a key contributor to inflation. 

The central demand of railroad workers has been increased days of sick leave which has been wholly absent from the tentative agreement. It is for this that workers are willing to go on strike. Railroad workers have been without a contract for over 3 years, dealing with these issues without resolution and without support from the Congress and Presidency. Urgent action has only taken place after the urging of big business not of workers.  

After a coalition of over 400 business groups sent a letter on Monday to Congress to call for immediate action to prevent a railroad strike, President Biden’s administration responded swiftly, urging members of Congress to override the will of the railroad workers, enshrine the tentative agreement into law, and force railroad workers back to work.

Senator Sanders has tweeted that he will “block consideration of the rail legislation until a roll call vote occurs on guaranteeing 7 paid sick days to rail workers in America”. We applaud this effort but we also note that rail workers are fighting for 15 days of sick leave and that the United States is the only country in the developed world that does not guarantee paid sick leave. Under the threat of a railroad strike, which will cripple the US economy if executed, the opportunity has opened up for all working people in the country to stand in solidarity with railroad workers and demand what we deserve, the right to live in dignity. 

While we are stuck at an impasse in the railroads, almost 50 thousand graduate student workers in the UC system are striking for better pay and conditions, with a key demand being a Cost of Living Adjustment(COLA). They are joined by the thousands of Starbucks and Amazon workers who have unionized their workplace and are currently bargaining for a contract, by the Warrior Met Coal United Mine Workers who have been on strike for 19 months, by the thousands of tenants who have formed tenant unions and are fighting for better housing, by nurses and teachers and various segments of all working people in the country who are all fighting the same struggle, in different forms, for a better world.

As members of Congress debate amendments to the Tentative Agreement in order to avert a railroad strike, we urge Congress and the President to also take hold of this historic opportunity to empower all working people. As such we urge Congress to adopt the following demands:

Public Ownership of the Railroads: To deal with the current supply chain crisis, Congress must take control of rail infrastructure as is done the world over and operate it under the public interest.

Universal Paid Family and Sick Leave: The United States is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid leave. Our members of Congress have the privilege of enjoying paid family and sick leave which must be expanded to include all working people.

Pass the PRO Act and Fund the NLRB: Congress must step up and ensure that the right to organize for working people is protected through the passage of the PRO Act and also ensure that the NLRB is properly funded to accommodate the sharp increase in unionization. 



Railroad Workers United



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) 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.



2) 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.



3) 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.



4) 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.



5) 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!”



6)Antiwar Activists Who Flee Russia Find Detention, Not Freedom, in the U.S.

Thousands of Russians are crossing the U.S. southern border to claim asylum. Many are ending up in immigration prison. “I left Russia for a place just like Russia,” said one.

By Miriam Jordan, Nov. 28, 2022


Mr. Shevchuk placing his wife’s wedding ring back on her hand after he was released from detention.

Mr. Shevchuk placing his wife’s wedding ring back on her hand after he was released from detention. Credit...Emily Kask for The New York Times

PINE PRAIRIE, La. — They had fallen in love their first year in medical school in Russia, joined by their commitment to building democracy in a country where any remaining hope of it was disappearing.


When Russia pushed into Ukraine early this year, Mariia Shemiatina and Boris Shevchuk, who had married and become practicing physicians, posted videos of the bloodshed and antiwar messages on social media. “I call on Russians to see the truth, to not believe the lies of the Russian media,” Ms. Shemiatina, 29, wrote on Instagram. Her posts were deleted by the authorities again and again, she said — until her accounts were blocked.


The police called her family in search of the couple, who had gone into hiding. Certain that they were on the brink of being conscripted to serve as medics on the front lines, or imprisoned for their political activity, the couple decided to flee.


They managed to make it to Mexico in mid-April. Two weeks later, they drove to a U.S. port of entry, handed over their passports and requested asylum, expecting their first taste of true freedom. Instead, their hands were cuffed, their feet shackled and they were flown to remote immigration detention centers in rural Louisiana. It would be six months before they would see each other again.


“I thought when we left Russia that our suffering would be over,” Mr. Shevchuk, 28, said in an interview from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Pine Prairie, La. “I feel helpless.’’


As Vladimir Putin cracks down on dissidents and arrests draft dodgers, growing numbers of Russians are making their way across the U.S. southern border. But contrary to their expectations of asylum and freedom, many of them are being put into immigration detention centers that resemble prisons.


Even before Russia’s assault on Ukraine, anti-government activists had been pouring out of the country and seeking refuge in the United States. The exodus intensified after the war began in late February, reaching the highest tallies in recent history. In the 2022 fiscal year, 21,763 Russians were processed by U.S. authorities at the southern border, compared with 467 in 2020. In October alone, 3,879 came.


Everyone who touches American soil has the right to claim asylum, though it is granted only to those who can prove they were persecuted in their home country based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.


Many asylum seekers are released into the country and allowed to argue their cases later in court. But thousands are sent to detention centers, where it is difficult to secure lawyers and collect evidence, and the chances of winning asylum are extremely slim.


ICE has not released statistics on the nationalities of migrants being held behind bars, and immigration detention centers house people of all nationalities. But lawyers who work regularly with migrants say Russian asylum seekers appear to have been detained at relatively high rates in recent months — sometimes with bonds set in excess of $30,000. Some Russians have remained incarcerated for months under conditions they describe as extremely harsh.


“Proportionately, compared to people from other countries, there are more Russians being sent to detention,” said Svetlana Kaff, a San Francisco-based immigration lawyer who said she has been flooded with requests for help.


Like the young doctors who were held in Louisiana, many said they had come to the United States thinking they would be welcomed as allies in America’s push for democracy in Russia and Ukraine.


Olga Nikitina, who fled Russia with her husband after he was imprisoned there multiple times, spent five months in the same facility as Ms. Shemiatina. “The whole time I was there, they treated us like garbage,” said Ms. Nikitina, 33. “I called hotlines, but it did not help in any way”


Her husband, Aleksandr Balashov, 33, was detained for four months at a facility in Batavia, N.Y., where he says officers told him and others that they had no rights because they had entered the country illegally.


Ivan Sokolovski, 25, another activist, has been held at Pine Prairie for seven months. He recently lost his asylum case and said he fears that he will be deported to his death. “It would have been more humane to be shot dead at the border than to be held in prison so long,” he said.


Watchdog agencies and human rights groups have for years documented the prolonged confinement, medical negligence and mistreatment of immigrant detainees of all nationalities, especially those housed in for-profit contract facilities like those at Pine Prairie and Basile, 30 miles away, where Ms. Shemiatina was held.


Russian activists interviewed said they had never planned to leave their country until it became untenable to stay there. They said that they had expected the Biden administration would see them as allies and give them safe haven.


In detention, they said, they have been at the mercy of guards who treat them with indifference and, not infrequently, hostility.


ICE declined to discuss the case of Mr. Shevchuk and Ms. Shemiatina, but said in a statement that the agency was “firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody.” The statement said the agency regularly reviews its detention operations to make sure that noncitizens “are treated humanely, protected from harm, provided appropriate medical and mental health care and receive the rights and protections to which they are entitled.”


GEO group, the private company that operates a network of immigration detention centers, including the ones in Louisiana, said its facilities provide round-the-clock access to medical care, a legal orientation program and free telephone calls to lawyers.


Mr. Shevchuk and Ms. Shemiatina had been increasingly concerned about corruption and crackdowns on public expression in Russia. They joined protests called by the opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, in the run-up to Mr. Putin’s election to a fourth term in 2018. When the university threatened to withhold their degrees because of their activism, they continued to secretly donate money to Mr. Navalny’s organization in the years before he was poisoned and imprisoned.


“We believed young people can make change,” Ms. Shemiatina said.


The couple faced repercussions at the hospitals where they worked for their political views. They said their salaries were slashed after they refused to sign petitions and participate in demonstrations in support of Mr. Putin.


When Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the couple began posting photos and videos on Instagram and V Kontakte, a Russian platform, and learned that the police were looking for them.


As doctors were mobilized for the war effort, they decided they had to leave the country.


Unable to obtain visas to the European Union, they followed the route of other recent Russian dissidents, flying to Mexico on April 13. Two weeks later, in the city of Tijuana, they reached the U.S. border and requested protection.


At the port of entry near San Diego, when they were ordered to remove valuables, Mr. Shevchuk tucked their wedding bands into a compartment of his backpack.


After six days in separate, cold and windowless cells, they were flown to Louisiana on May 5 and placed in different detention centers.


At the South Louisiana ICE Processing Center in Basile, Ms. Shemiatina counted two dozen Russians in a dorm she shared with about 60 women in orange jumpsuits.


After three weeks, she had her first court appearance — over video with a judge thousands of miles away. She told her that she had illegally entered the country, but could assemble evidence to support her claim for asylum. Ms. Shemiatina explained that all the evidence was in the cellphone and laptop that authorities had confiscated, including screenshots of her antiwar posts, a notice about the call-up of physicians and evidence of threats she was receiving.


At Pine Prairie, Mr. Shevchuk went through similar motions. Still, at that point, he said, “I was thinking it wouldn’t be long until I saw my wife again.”


To pass the time and cheer up his wife, Mr. Shevchuk wrote letters and sketched drawings of romantic scenes — a couple sitting side-by-side gazing at a mountain, or standing hand-in-hand by a river — which he mailed to her. After a detainee threatened violence against him and other Russians, Ms. Shevchuk demanded they be moved. A guard handcuffed them during the transfer and knocked Mr. Shevchuk to the ground, he said, causing him to injure his head on the cement floor and his nose to bleed.


“I came to realize that I had left Russia for a place that was just like Russia,” he said.


Mr. Shevchuk went on a hunger strike. He fired off complaints to the immigration detention ombudsman, hotlines for human rights groups and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.


Finally, in early August, the couple made their way to the top of the wait-list of ISLA, a nonprofit immigrant aid organization in New Orleans. Their lawyer, Jessica Gutierrez, filed requests for the couple’s release, noting that they were not a flight risk and had a sponsor to receive them.


ICE responded that “after review of all the relevant facts,” it had determined that they could be released if each posted bond in the amount of $15,000.


But where would they find $30,000?


By then, Ms. Shemiatina had begun experiencing excruciating pain in her pelvic area and numbness on the left side of her body, but M.R.I.s were inconclusive, according to medical reports reviewed by the Times.


On Oct. 5, she was found unconscious in her room and then began having seizures. She was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with an unspecified neurological problem. When she was unable to walk without assistance, Ms. Gutierrez demanded her immediate release from ICE custody to “preserve her life.” Instead, she was sent back to detention.


On Oct. 28, ICE agreed to lower the bond for the couple to $10,000 each — money they still did not have.


“This is all so senseless,” Mr. Shevchuk said in an interview then, looking pale and despondent.


Finally, a Russian dissident Mr. Shevchuk had met at the border, Mr. Balashov, amassed the money to free Ms. Shemiatina.


She traveled to New Orleans on Nov. 6 to await her husband, wearing a brace to support her leg.


Dan Gashler, a history professor at the State University of New York in Delhi and a volunteer for Freedom for Immigrants, which aids detained immigrants, had organized a fund-raiser to pay Mr. Shevchuk’s bond and fly the couple to New York. Community members volunteered to house and help them.


“These are incredible young people who fled because of their opposition to the regime,” he said, “and fell victim to our broken asylum process.”


On Nov. 8, Ms. Shemiatina climbed into a minivan, her lawyer at the wheel, for the three-hour drive to meet her husband at Pine Prairie. “I’m more happy than on my wedding day,” she declared.


When Mr. Shevchuk emerged from the concertina-ringed facility, smiling broadly, he quickened his pace to reunite with his wife, who hobbled toward him.


From his backpack, Mr. Shevchuk retrieved the wedding band he had hidden away six months earlier. He slipped it on Ms. Shemiatina’s finger.



7) Proud, Scared and Conflicted. What the China Protesters Told Me.

In more than a dozen interviews, young people explained how the events of the past few days became what one called a “tipping point.”

By Li Yuan, Nov. 29, 2022


A protest in Shanghai on Sunday drew crowds and a heavy police presence.

A protest in Shanghai on Sunday drew crowds and a heavy police presence. Credit...The New York Times

They went to their first demonstrations. They chanted their first protest slogans. They had their first encounters with the police.


Then they went home, shivering in disbelief at how they had challenged the most powerful authoritarian government in the world and the most iron-fisted leader China has seen in decades.


Young Chinese are protesting the country’s harsh “zero-Covid” policy and even urging its top leader, Xi Jinping, to step down. It’s something China hasn’t seen since 1989, when the ruling Communist Party brutally cracked down on the pro-democracy demonstrators, mostly college students. No matter what happens in the days and weeks ahead, the young protesters presented a new threat to the rule of Mr. Xi, who has eliminated his political opponents and cracked down on any voice that challenges his rule.


Such public dissent was unimaginable until a few days ago. These same young people, when they mentioned Mr. Xi online, used euphemisms like “X,” “he” or “that person,” afraid to even utter the president’s name. They put up with whatever the government put them through: harsh pandemic restrictions, high unemployment rates, fewer books available to read, movies to watch and games to play.


Then something cracked.


After nearly three long years of “zero Covid,” which has turned into a political campaign for Mr. Xi, China’s future looks increasingly bleak. The economy is in its worst shape in decades. Mr. Xi’s foreign policy has antagonized many countries. His censorship policy, in addition to quashing challenges to his authority, has killed nearly all fun.


As a popular Weibo post put it, Chinese people are getting by with books published 20 years ago, music released a decade ago, travel photos from five years ago, income earned last year, frozen dumplings from a lockdown three months ago, Covid tests from yesterday, and a freshly baked Soviet joke from today.


“I think all of these have reached a tipping point,” said Miranda, a journalist in Shanghai who participated in the protest on Saturday evening. “If you don’t do anything about it, you could really explode.”


In the last few days, in interviews with more than a dozen young people who protested in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Wuhan, I heard of a burst of pent-up anger and frustration with how the government implements “zero Covid.” But their anger and despair goes beyond that, all the way to questioning the rule of Mr. Xi.


Two of these people said that they don’t plan to have children, a new way to protest among young Chinese at a time when Beijing is encouraging more births. At least four of the protesters said that they were planning to emigrate. One of them refused to look for a job after being laid off by a video-game company in the aftermath of a government crackdown on the industry last year.


They went to the protests because they wanted to let the government know how they felt about being tested constantly, locked inside their apartments or kept away from family and friends in the Covid dragnet. And they wanted to show solidarity for fellow protesters.


They are members of a generation known as Mr. Xi’s children, the nationalistic “little pinks” who defend China on Weibo, Facebook and Twitter. The protesters represent a small percentage of Chinese in their 20s and early 30s. By standing up to the government, they defied the perception of their generation. Some older Chinese people said that the protesters made them feel more hopeful about the country’s future.


Zhang Wenmin, a former investigative journalist known under her pen name Jiang Xue, wrote on Twitter that she was moved to tears by the bravery of the protesters. “It’s hard for people who haven’t lived in China in the past three to four years to imagine how much fear these people had to overcome to take to the streets, to shout, ‘Give me liberty, or give me death,’” she wrote. “Amazing. Love you all!”


As first time marchers, most of them did not know what to expect. A Beijing protester said that she was so tense that she felt physically and emotionally exhausted the next day. More than one person told me that they needed a day to collect their thoughts before they could talk. At least three cried in our interviews.


They are proud, scared and conflicted about their experiences. They have different views about how politically explicit their slogans should be, but they all said that they found shouting the slogans cathartic.


Miranda, who has been a journalist for eight years, said that she couldn’t stop crying when she shouted with the crowd, “freedom of speech” and “freedom of press.” “It was the freest moment since I became a journalist,” she said, her voice cracking.


All the people I interviewed asked me to use only their first name, family name or English name to protect their safety. They had felt a relative safety when marching with others just days earlier, but none dared to put their name to comments that would be published.


The slogans that they recalled chanting were all over the place, illustrating the wide frustration with their lives. “End the lockdown!” “Freedom of speech!” “Give back my movies!”


Quite a few of them were taken aback by how political the Saturday protest in Shanghai turned out to be.


They were equally surprised, if not more, when more people returned on Sunday to request the release of protesters who had been detained hours earlier.


All six Shanghai protesters I spoke with thought that they were going to a vigil on Saturday evening for the 10 victims who died in a fire Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region in China’s west. In the beginning, the atmosphere was relaxed.


When someone first chanted, “No more Communist Party,” the crowd laughed, according to Serena, a college student who is spending her gap year in Shanghai. “Everyone knew it was the redline,” she said.


Then it became increasingly charged. When someone yelled, “Xi Jinping, step down!” and “C.C.P., step down!” the shouts were the loudest, according to Serena and other protesters who were also there.


In Beijing, a marketing professional in her mid-20s with the surname Wu told her fellow protesters not to shout those politically explicit slogans because that would guarantee a crackdown. Instead, she shouted slogans that urged the government to implement the rule of law and release detained Shanghai protesters.


A protester in Chengdu and one in Guangzhou, separated by 1,000 miles, both said that they were stopped from shouting slogans that other demonstrators deemed too political and were told to stick to the Covid-related demands.


For many of them, this weekend was their first brush with the police. A protester named Xiaoli in Chengdu said that she had never seen so many police in her life. After being chased by them, she said that she could hear her heart beating fast when she passed by officers on her way home.


It was clear that many protesters blame Mr. Xi for the extremely unpopular “zero-Covid” policy. A young Shanghai professional with the surname Zhang said that Mr. Xi’s norm-breaking third term, secured at last month's party congress, spelled the end of China’s progress. “We all gave up our illusions,” he said.


He cried when he mentioned an old man’s question during this year’s Shanghai lockdown, “Why has our country come to this?” Mr. Zhang, who said that he grew up poor in a village, was grateful for the government’s assistance in his education. “I thought we would only move upward,” he added.


The young protesters are most conflicted about the impact of their actions. They felt powerless about changing the system as long as Mr. Xi and the Communist Party are in power. They believe that many people in the public supported them because the unyielding Covid rules have violated what they see as baseline norms of Chinese society. Once the government relaxes the policy, they worry, the public’s support for protests would evaporate.


At the same time, some of them argued that their protests would make the public aware of their rights.


No one knows what the protests will become — a moment in history, or a footnote. The official state media has kept quiet, though some pro-government social media bloggers have pointed fingers at “foreign forces.” Police have enhanced their presence on the streets and called or visited protesters in an attempt to intimidate them.


I asked Bruce, a Shanghai finance worker in his 20s, whether the protests meant that people have changed their view of Mr. Xi. He responded, “It was probably not because the public’s opinion of him changed, but because those who are critical of him have spoken up.”



8) As Haiti Unravels, U.S. Officials Push to Send in an Armed Foreign Force

Fearing a mass exodus, some Biden officials are pressing for a multinational force, but they don’t want to send U.S. troops and haven’t been able to persuade other countries to take the lead.

By Natalie Kitroeff, Photographs by Adriana Zehbrauskas. Nov. 29, 2022

Natalie Kitroeff, a Times correspondent, and a photographer, Adriana Zehbrauskas, traveled with the Haitian National Police to a gang-controlled area of Port-au-Prince to report this article.

"'If you bring military forces before solving the political crisis it will not work,' said Mr. Espérance. 'There are too many connections between the police, the authorities and the gangs.'”


Peering out on Cité Soleil, the largest slum in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, from a police armored vehicle this month. Gangs control much of the city.

Peering out on Cité Soleil, the largest slum in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, from a police armored vehicle this month. Gangs control much of the city.

After days of gunfights in early November, Haitian police officers emerged triumphant: They had finally liberated the nation’s biggest port from the gangs that had taken it over for two months.


But when members of Haiti’s SWAT team returned to the shantytown that surrounds the port just days later, they still did not feel safe enough to even leave their armored truck.


The officers anxiously scanned rows of rusty shacks for hidden gunmen, too wary of the danger outside to open the doors.


The upshot was clear: The police keep trying to fight back, but gangs still run much of Haiti.


The assassination of Haiti’s president last year set off a new wave of terror across the Caribbean nation. But conditions in the country have plunged to horrifying new lows in recent months, as gangs carried out such extreme violence that the carnage has been compared to civil war.


Now, fearing that the humanitarian crisis engulfing Haiti could spur mass migration to the United States and elsewhere, some top Biden administration officials are pushing to send a multinational armed force to the country, several current and former officials say, after the Haitian government made an appeal for such an intervention last month.


But the United States doesn’t want its own troops included in that force, even though officials fear that the tumult in Haiti will send an even bigger wave of migrants to American shores.


Now, fearing that the humanitarian crisis engulfing Haiti could spur mass migration to the United States and elsewhere, some top Biden administration officials are pushing to send a multinational armed force to the country, several current and former officials say, after the Haitian government made an appeal for such an intervention last month.


But the United States doesn’t want its own troops included in that force, even though officials fear that the tumult in Haiti will send an even bigger wave of migrants to American shores.


“That has always been the U.S. government’s biggest Haitian nightmare, a mass migration event,” said Daniel Foote, who served as the U.S. special envoy to Haiti for part of last year. “It’s already upon us; the next step becomes biblical, with people falling off anything that can float. We aren’t that far away from that.”


Haiti’s government took the extreme step of requesting foreign armed intervention last month to curb the unrest subsuming the nation. It was an explicit acknowledgment of how desperate the instability has become, in a country that remains deeply resentful of past foreign interventions.


While United Nations peacekeepers were last stationed in Haiti in 2010, they brought cholera to the country, scientists say, causing one of the worst outbreaks in modern times. Nearly 10,000 Haitians died, and respect for the United Nations in Haiti was “forever destroyed,” Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general at the time, later wrote.


Now, the Biden administration is encountering resistance to rallying a multinational force, including from American military leaders who do not want to be drawn into a mission that would require a significant amount of time and resources, the U.S. officials said.


A U.S.-backed resolution urging the deployment of a “rapid action force” to Haiti has stalled in the U.N. Security Council, but the administration has continued to lobby allies to make boots on the ground a reality. Still, administration officials say the force should not include U.S. troops, arguing that Haiti remains scarred by America’s long history of messy and sometimes brutal intervention in the country, including an occupation that lasted almost two decades.


For now, Haitians are navigating several catastrophes at once, without much help from their government — or anyone else.


Biennaise Mesilas, 64, was doing laundry a few months ago when a neighbor brought her son’s body home in a wheelbarrow full of blood.


The 24-year-old had been selling sacks of water in their hometown, Cité Soleil, the largest slum in Haiti’s capital, when gunfire erupted and a stray bullet caught him above the eye.


“When that happened to my son, that was the end of everything for me,” Ms. Mesilas said.


She couldn’t get to the cemetery because of the constant shooting. So she dug a grave near her home, an unsuitable burial ground flooded from the rainy season, and spread stones on the coffin so it would sink into the dirt. Ms. Mesilas fled the area soon after.


“If I had stayed longer in Cité Soleil, I would have died,” she said.


She moved to a public plaza where thousands of displaced people settled after gang warfare broke out in the slum in July. Children, shot while playing outside or walking home, recovered from their wounds while sleeping on cardboard and cement.


This month, the authorities kicked everyone out of the makeshift camp, leaving entire families to roam dangerous streets in search of shelter.


Political turmoil has produced several waves of migration from Haiti in years past. Haitians left en masse during the dictatorship of Jean Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, who ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986. A military coup that overthrew a democratically elected president in 1991 launched a cascade of boats carrying tens of thousands to the coast of Florida.


There are signs that a new exodus may be coming. Across the border in the Dominican Republic, which shares an island with Haiti, the government has cracked down on Haitian migrants so harshly that the U.S. authorities recently said “darker-skinned” Americans were at risk of being targeted.


At sea, more than 7,000 Haitians were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard from October 2021 through September of this year, compared with 1,527 during the previous 12 months.


Their perilous journeys are driven by a constellation of horrors.


For the first time ever, the United Nations documented “catastrophic” levels of hunger in Haiti last month, leaving thousands facing famine-like conditions.


Cholera recently reappeared in the country for the first time in years, an outbreak that spread partly because gangs prevented aid workers from delivering basic care in the poorest areas.


Rival armed groups have set fire to entire neighborhoods in turf battles, killing husbands in front of their wives and raping mothers within view of their children. Kidnappings reached an average of four abductions per day in October, according to the U.N.


Critics of the Haitian government fear that the arrival of foreign forces would only strengthen a tenuous claim to power by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has run the country for more than a year without being confirmed by Parliament.


“We cannot keep supporting this government that has brought us to this brink,” said Monique Clesca, a member of the Montana Accord, a coalition of civil society and political parties that opposes Mr. Henry’s call for intervention.


Bitter memories remain from the most recent attempt by outsiders to stabilize Haiti. The U.N. peacekeeping mission that spent more than a decade in the country had some success subduing gangs in Cité Soleil but was also accused of committing widespread sexual violence before departing in 2017.


Still, Ms. Clesca and so many in Haiti have come to believe that the dystopian status quo is no longer tenable.


“We are living a hellish existence,” Ms. Clesca said, “if you can call it existence.”


Desperate for even the briefest respite from the violence, some Haitians have come to believe that the only option left is to accept yet another incursion from abroad.


“I think most Haitian people would tell you they need intervention,” said Pierre Espérance, the executive director of the Haitian National Human Rights Defense Network. “They are tired with the government, they are tired with the police, they are tired with the gangs, and they cannot move around the country.”


Ms. Mesilas, whose son was killed, has no faith in the Haitian government. But she also has no time for people who think the country can go on any longer without the help of foreign forces.


“The reason they are saying this is that they don’t face the same situation as we are facing,” she said. Foreign forces “would be good for us,” she said, “because we live in misery.”


Frantz Elbé, the Haitian police chief, called the mission to retake the port “a great victory for the country” but acknowledged that his forces were battered in the process.


“They had a lot of high-caliber guns that caused a lot of damage,” Mr. Elbé said of the gangs, adding, “I can use all the support I can get.”


U.S. officials say that a force of around 2,500 military and police officers could be enough to secure the country’s main arteries, so that goods can flow freely, according to two administration officials.


But the Biden administration has not yet persuaded any other country to lead such a mission.


Canada has resisted, in part because it is wary of sending security assistance if it is not supported by the political opposition in Haiti, officials say. Brazil has also demurred, with officials telling Reuters this month that it is unlikely to get involved.


The risks of sending armed forces to Haiti are high, with uncertain rewards. Winning battlefield victories would not wipe out the gangs, past experience shows, because it would not touch their true source of strength: longstanding ties with Haiti’s economic and political elite.


Gangs have existed here for decades, experts say, because they are backed by those in power who use the groups to cement their hold on Haiti.


“If you bring military forces before solving the political crisis it will not work,” said Mr. Espérance. “There are too many connections between the police, the authorities and the gangs.”


Mr. Espérance wants foreign countries to push Mr. Henry to reach a meaningful agreement with the opposition but does not think Haiti has time to wait for the prime minister to give up power before accepting help for law enforcement.


“I understand the victims,” Mr. Espérance said. “I know the police we have today; they are not able to do the job.”


In recent months, gangs have aggressively expanded their empires, establishing control without much resistance from the authorities. Large expanses of the capital are now impenetrable without risking attack by the criminals who rule over them like warlords.


Caught in the middle are Haitians like Dr. Hubert Morquette, who lives on the grounds of the hospital he runs in Port-au-Prince because he is too scared to make the journey to and from his home every day.


“I don’t like interventions, but it’s a matter of survival,” Dr. Morquette said, shrugging. “There’s no other option.”


Andre Paultre contributed reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.



9) Biden Says Congressional Leaders Must Act to Prevent Rail Strike

President Biden told lawmakers that the U.S. economy would be “at risk” if rail workers went on strike next month.

By Michael D. Shear, Nov. 29, 2022


President Biden sitting at a table with his hands clutched, with congressional leaders flanking him.
Meeting with congressional leaders, President Biden told reporters he was “confident” that Congress could reach a solution that would prevent a strike. Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Biden told congressional leaders from both parties on Tuesday morning that they must act to prevent a nationwide rail strike, saying that doing so was “not an easy call” but was necessary because the economy would be “at risk” if the trains shut down as a result of a work stoppage.


Meeting with the top Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate, Mr. Biden told reporters he was “confident” that Congress could reach a solution that would prevent a strike.


Mr. Biden’s comments came as he met with the lawmakers to discuss a range of issues facing them in the coming days, including funding the government, providing support for Ukraine and protecting same-sex marriage.


In a brief statement, the White House said Mr. Biden had summoned the leaders to a meeting in the Roosevelt Room “to discuss legislative priorities through the end of 2022.”


Mr. Biden and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are hoping to make the most of the next few weeks, while the party still controls both chambers of Congress. When the new Congress begins early next year, Republicans will have a slim majority in the House, giving them control over the agenda there.


On Monday night, Mr. Biden urged lawmakers to swiftly pass legislation that would prevent a labor stoppage by rail workers next month, saying that such a move could have devastating effects on the nation’s economy.


“Congress has the power to adopt the agreement and prevent a shutdown,” the president said in a statement. “It should set aside politics and partisan division and deliver for the American people. Congress should get this bill to my desk well in advance of Dec. 9 so we can avoid disruption.”


Mr. Biden’s call for Congress to act underscores the recognition that a rail strike could have a devastating effect on the fragile economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. Frozen train lines would snap supply chains for commodities like lumber, coal and chemicals and delay deliveries of automobiles and other consumer goods, driving up prices even further.


Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday night that the House would vote on the matter this week, ahead of a strike deadline set for early December. It is not clear what will happen in the Senate, where Democrats have 50 seats in the 100-member chamber and most bills require Republican support to pass.


The president is a staunch union backer who has previously argued against congressional intervention in railway labor disputes, arguing that it unfairly interferes with union bargaining efforts. In 1992, he was one of only six senators to vote against legislation that ended another bitter strike by rail workers.


The decision to embrace congressional action as a solution to the labor dispute is a gamble that threatens to anger some of his biggest supporters in the labor community.


Though many members are likely to be upset by the prospect of congressional intervention, some union leaders may quietly prefer that intervention to come in December rather than in January, when the House comes under Republican control and may be more likely to back the skimpier deal.


Congress has the authority to intervene in a variety of ways. It could push back a strike deadline and extend the negotiating period, or require the two sides to involve an arbitrator. It could also enact a deal directly through legislation — whether it was the agreement that some unions already have voted down, or a less generous proposal that a presidential board issued over the summer.


The agreement voted down by several rail unions would raise wages by nearly 25 percent between 2020, when the last contract expired, and 2024. But it has proved contentious among rail workers who argue that it does not go far enough to resolve what they say are punishing schedules that upend their personal lives and their health.


The American Trucking Associations, an industry group, recently estimated that relying on trucks to work around a rail stoppage would require more than 450,000 additional vehicles — a practical impossibility given the shortage of equipment and drivers.


The railroad industry immediately threw its support behind Mr. Biden’s call for legislation.


“No one benefits from a rail work stoppage — not our customers, not rail employees and not the American economy,” Ian Jefferies, the chief executive of the Association of American Railroads, which represents major carriers, said in a statement. “Now is the appropriate time for Congress to pass legislation.”


Four of the 12 unions representing more than 100,000 employees at large freight rail carriers have voted down the tentative agreement that the Biden administration helped broker in September.


Some workers have long suspected that Congress would intervene rather than allow them to strike, a suspicion that Mr. Biden’s labor secretary, Martin J. Walsh, heightened during an interview with CNN this month, when he said Congress would have to take action if the two sides could not reach a deal on their own. It was unclear whether Mr. Walsh was speaking hypothetically or urging intervention.


Later on Tuesday, the Senate is also scheduled to vote on legislation to provide federal protections for same-sex marriages. If the bill passes, the House will still have to vote on it before the end of the current Congress and send it to Mr. Biden’s desk for his signature.


In addition, lawmakers face a mid-December deadline to fund the federal government. A failure to agree on a temporary spending package could shut down parts of the federal government.



10) 300 Years Ago, There Was a Brutal Murder. We Could Learn From the Treaty That Followed.

By Nicole Eustace, Nov. 30, 2022

Dr. Eustace is a professor of history at New York University. Her book “Covered With Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America” received a Pulitzer Prize in history this year and was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2021.


A moose-antler comb believed to have been created by a Susquehannock or Seneca artist in the late 17th or early 18th century may be emblematic of a Haudenosaunee commitment to achieving diplomatic accord with settler colonists.

A moose-antler comb believed to have been created by a Susquehannock or Seneca artist in the late 17th or early 18th century may be emblematic of a Haudenosaunee commitment to achieving diplomatic accord with settler colonists. Credit...Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection API

Three hundred years ago, leaders of three British colonies and representatives of the Indigenous nations known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy gathered in Albany, N.Y., to sign what is the oldest continuously recognized treaty in colonial American and United States law. They sought to resolve a crisis that colonists believed could convulse the continent like no other: the brutal murder of a Seneca hunter named Sawantaeny by a pair of white fur traders, the brothers John and Edmund Cartlidge.


Colonists feared that violence would spark a war with the confederacy and threaten the British Empire in North America. But the gathered Haudenosaunees had set their minds on peace, not war. The treaty the two sides negotiated and signed that September contained a Haudenosaunee vision of reparative justice that set aside every anxious expectation of the colonists. Yet its contents came to be buried by the passage of time as surely as Sawantaeny’s body was covered with earth.


When we learn as students about the founding documents of the United States, we seldom hear about the Great Treaty of 1722, even though it is the oldest treaty still recognized by the U.S. State Department. The ideals espoused by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other colonial revolutionaries are central to the story of the nation’s founding. But what’s been largely forgotten are the extensive statements on justice that Indigenous people advanced in carefully composed speeches made at treaty conferences. These records of diplomatic meetings are as much a part of our national heritage as the familiar writings of Revolutionary-era leaders.


What’s distinctive about the Treaty of 1722 is the alternative approach it offered to creating a fair society, one in which people who commit crimes can later be reintegrated into the community — and one in which a crisis of violence can be resolved without inflicting further harm. The treaty provided a working model of restorative justice, demonstrating how communities of the victims and the perpetrators of a crime can come together to repair social relationships through economic, emotional and spiritual offerings. The story has applications today, demonstrating that criminal justice reforms that may sound radical now, as they are pursued by a wide range of community activists, researchers, educators, legislative reformers and progressive jurists, actually have a long American tradition.


On a freezing February afternoon in 1722, John Cartlidge and his younger brother Edmund rode their horses up the Susquehanna River Valley in what today is Pennsylvania but was then Native ground to the cabin where Sawantaeny lived with his Shawnee wife, Weenepeeweytah. The Cartlidge brothers had hoped to bargain for a large assortment of deerskins and fur pelts that Sawantaeny had accumulated. But after a long night of drinking and haggling without success beside a winter campfire, the brothers came to blows with Sawantaeny.


They beat him to death, then galloped off into the woods. John Cartlidge was the justice of the peace in nearby Chester County, and he, for one, knew just what sort of harsh punishment they could expect from British colonial justice, with its emphasis on guilt, punishment and retribution: jailing in Philadelphia’s prison house attic, a trial in the neighboring brick courthouse and then a trip to the gallows. They were later captured and jailed in Philadelphia to await their fate.


But the Native people of the Susquehanna River Valley — a multicultural, multilingual group of many different Iroquoian- and Algonquian-speaking nations — told the British that their preferred remedy was reparations, not retribution. Their position on the fate of the Cartlidge brothers set off a debate with the colonists about the true nature of justice that stretched on for more than six months as each side argued over which culture’s legal customs would be followed.


At a meeting in Philadelphia to try to resolve the crisis, Native diplomats explained to William Keith, the governor of Pennsylvania, that the Haudenosaunees expected Native practices to prevail in resolving the murder. One of those diplomats, Satcheechoe, a member of the Cayuga nation, presented the Haudenosaunees’ view. He demanded that the governor travel to Albany to join British and Haudenosaunee leaders there in working out a treaty between the two and to pay his respects in person to the Native representatives. Only a formal visit could satisfy Haudenosaunee protocols, which required the expression of formal condolences, participation in spiritual rituals of community renewal and the payment of trade goods as reparations.


Then Satcheechoe added a final explicit instruction to the governor: The Haudenosaunees, he said, “desire John Cartlidge may not die for this. They would not have him killed.” Governor Keith argued that “the laws of our great king” did not allow for setting a killer free, insisting that “such a man by our laws must die.” But Satcheechoe made the Native position clear: “One life is enough to be lost. There should not two die.”


In September of 1722, Governor Keith traveled to Albany to meet with the Haudenosaunees and delegations from the colonies of Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania. Because all of the assembled were at peace with one another, Native leaders argued that it made no sense to pursue vengeance. Rather, a representative of the gathered members of what were then five confederated nations of Haudenosaunees explained, “we do in the name of all the Five Nations forgive the offense and desire you will likewise forgive it.” The Haudenosaunee representative asked that the Cartlidges “be released from prison and set at liberty.” Governor Keith responded that he would fulfill their request “in order to confirm the friendship that is so happily renewed and established by this treaty.”


As a further diplomatic courtesy, the Haudenosaunees offered to confirm the colonists’ Pennsylvania land claims. This offer explains why colonists safeguarded the treaty and passed it down through the centuries from the British Empire to Revolutionary America and the U.S. State Department today.


British leaders never wanted to reveal to their colonists how closely they had been forced to adhere to Native principles of justice, nor to acknowledge Native arguments against incarceration and capital punishment. Instead, as he sent a copy of the treaty off to the British Board of Trade to be archived, Governor William Burnet of New York pretended that English law had determined the outcome and that Governor Keith had decided against prosecuting the Cartlidges only because of a lack of admissible evidence, not because he admitted the validity of the Native position.


The month of November has been celebrated as Native American Heritage Month, certainly an appropriate time to recall the Great Treaty of 1722 and its lessons, still fresh after 300 years. As movements for criminal justice reform seek new momentum, it is time to resurrect Native principles of justice and reconsider this treaty in a new light.



11) Some Rail Workers, Seeking Sick Days, Say Biden Betrayed Them

The request for Congress to impose contract terms that several unions had rejected rankled rank-and-file members who had rallied behind the president.

By Noam Scheiber, Nov. 30, 2022


Rail workers walking on train tracks beside construction equipment.

Rail workers at a train yard in Atlanta. Credit...Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

As the legislative representative for his local union, Gabe Christenson, a longtime freight railroad conductor, worked hard to help elect Joe Biden president in 2020. “I have shirts of me campaigning — blue-collar Biden shirts,” he said. “I knocked on doors for him for weeks and weeks.”


But since Monday, when President Biden urged Congress to impose a labor agreement that his union had voted down, Mr. Christenson has been besieged by texts from furious co-workers whom he had encouraged to support the president. “I’m trying to calm them down,” he said.


Mr. Biden said he was taking action to avoid a nationwide strike that would threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs and that the industry estimates would cost the economy more than $2 billion per day.


But for many of the more than 100,000 freight rail workers whose unions have been negotiating a new labor contract since 2020, Mr. Biden’s involvement amounts to putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the industry.


They say the rail carriers have enormous market power to set wages and working conditions, power that is enhanced by a federal law that greatly restricts their right to strike compared with most private-sector workers. They complain that after waiting patiently through multiple procedural steps, including a presidential emergency board, they had a narrow window to improve their contract through a labor stoppage and that Mr. Biden has effectively closed that window.


“They should let the guys work it out for themselves,” said Rhonda Ewing, a signal maintainer in Chicago. “We know it’s holiday time, which is why it’s the perfect time to raise our voices. If Biden gets involved, he takes away our leverage.”


The agreement Mr. Biden asked Congress to impose would raise pay nearly 25 percent between 2020, when the last contract expired, and 2024, and allow employees to miss work for routine medical appointments three times per year without risking disciplinary action. It would also grant them one additional day of paid personal leave.


It would not provide paid sick leave, however, a provision that many workers argue is the bare minimum they can accept given their grueling work schedules, which often leave them on the road or on call for long stretches of time. Rail carriers say workers can attend to illnesses or medical appointments using paid vacation.


Four of the 12 unions that would be covered by the agreement voted it down, and several others approved it only narrowly.


Tony Cardwell, the president of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division — International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which voted down the agreement Mr. Biden has asked Congress to impose, said that simply asking Congress to include paid sick days in the agreement would have gone a long way toward satisfying his members.


“If he would have said, ‘I want this one thing,’ it would have changed the whole narrative,” Mr. Cardwell said in an interview on Wednesday.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told members on Tuesday night that she would hold a vote on a separate bill that included seven paid sick days, but it was unclear whether it could pass both houses of Congress.


The sense of betrayal is especially acute because Mr. Biden has long portrayed himself as friendly to organized labor, and many union leaders regard him as the most labor-friendly president of their lifetimes thanks to his appointments and his support for regulations and legislation that they favor.


Daniel Kindlon, an electrician who works at a rail yard near Albany, N.Y., and is the head of his local union, said that while he is not a huge supporter of the president, he was impressed when Mr. Biden spoke at the electrician union’s convention in Chicago this spring.


“It was the best 45 minutes I’ve heard him talk,” Mr. Kindlon said. Yet he said he struggled to understand why Mr. Biden couldn’t have pushed Congress to go further.


“You would think he would just try to get them to throw in a couple days of sick time; that’s really all the guys were asking for,” he said.


Several union members and local officials said they had urged co-workers who had previously supported Donald Trump to back Mr. Biden, arguing that they he would be friendlier to labor. They said that these co-workers had reached out to complain about what they saw as Mr. Biden’s about-face since Monday, though it was unclear how many of these union members had voted for the current president.


“Many Trump voters calling me out for endorsing Biden,” said Matthew A. Weaver, a carpenter with rail maintenance employees union, said by text Tuesday night. Mr. Weaver previously worked as an official for his union in Ohio.


Many union members have long suspected that Congress would intervene to prevent them from striking. Mr. Kindlon said several members of his local union abstained from voting on the tentative contract this fall because they didn’t believe their vote mattered. Many took the view that “this is going to get jammed down our throat anyways; why do I care?” he said.


Many who placed their hopes in Mr. Biden assumed that they would not be allowed to strike for very long, but reasoned that even a brief strike lasting several hours, or the mere threat of one, would have been sufficient to extract more concessions from the rail carriers.


“I mean, that would have looked way better,” said Mr. Christenson, the longtime conductor. “Even if he had ulterior motives, let us have our day. He could show he was with us.”


Mr. Cardwell, of the maintenance workers union, said that “the fact that he did it so early” was surprising, given that there was still roughly a week or more to potentially extract concessions before a strike would have occurred.


Robert Chiarito contributed reporting.