Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, January 11, 2023


Free Abortion on Demand! No Forced Sterilization!

Counter Demonstration against the Walk for Life:

Saturday, January 21st at 11:00 am

We'll gather at the Philip Burton Federal Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Avenue to rally, then march to Civic Center where the Walk for Life West Coast will hold their rally.

The National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice is still fighting for bodily autonomy for all, in spite of the overturn of Roe v Wade. The misogynists and racists are emboldened and are working to ban the abortion pill and contraceptives, roll back queer rights and strip protection of Native American and trans children.

Here in San Francisco, Reproductive Justice SF is organizing a rally and counter-protest against the Walk for Life West Coast. And we need you! 

It is only weeks away and we will be rallying for reproductive justice to show everyone that we are a pro-abortion city. We need you to join us for a united action that includes everyone who is deeply concerned about the far right's agenda. We especially need people to support the tasks of organizing this united effort! Contact us at reprojustice.sf@gmail.com with questions and to volunteer.

Spread the word by sharing the flyer linked here, and via social media on Instagram and Facebook .

Join our upcoming planning meetings:

Thursdays: 1/5 and 1/19 at 6:30 pm

Via Zoom: https://bit.ly/reprosfcoalition 

Together we can insist that the right wing will not continue their reign of terror unopposed.


Look for future National Mobilization events on the anniversary of Roe V Wade at https://reprojusticenow.org.


What we call for:

* Restore & expand Roe v. Wade; safe, legal abortion on demand without apology

* Repeal the Hyde Amendment

* Overturn state barriers to reproductive choices

* Stop forced sterilization

* No to caged kids, forced assimilation, & child welfare abuses

* End medical & environmental racism; for universal healthcare

* Defend queer & trans families

* Guarantee medically sound sex education & affordable childcare

* Sexual self-determination for people with disabilities

* Uphold social progress with expanded voting rights & strong unions


#AbortTheCourt            #MyDecisionAlone        #UnjustLawsWillBeBroken



Our mailing address is: 

Reproductive Justice - San Francisco

747 Polk Street

San Francisco, CA 94109




February 24-25 :: International Days of Action in Solidarity with Ukraine

On the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, activists throughout the world will be mobilizing for protests and education events in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and their struggle to liberate their country. 

The Ukraine Solidarity Network (U.S.) will be organizing actions and events. 

Connect with us!

Solidarity with Ukraine!

Ukraine Solidarity Network Mission Statement 

The Ukraine Solidarity Network (U.S.) reaches out to unions, communities, and individuals from diverse backgrounds to build moral, political, and material support for the people of Ukraine in their resistance to Russia’s criminal invasion and their struggle for an independent, egalitarian, and democratic country. 

The war against Ukraine is a horrible and destructive disaster in the human suffering and economic devastation it has already caused, not only for Ukraine and its people but also in its impact on global hunger and energy supplies, on the world environmental crisis, and on the lives of ordinary Russian people who are sacrificed for Putin’s war. The war also carries the risk of escalation to a direct confrontation among military great powers, with unthinkable possible consequences. 

It is urgent to end this war as soon as possible. This can only be achieved through the success of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion. Ukraine is fighting a legitimate war of self-defense, indeed a war for its survival as a nation. Calling for “peace” in the abstract is meaningless in these circumstances. 

The Ukraine Solidarity Network (U.S.) supports Ukraine’s war of resistance, its right to determine the means and objectives of its own struggle—and we support its right to obtain the weapons it needs from any available source. We are united in our support for Ukraine’s people, their military and civilian defense against aggression, and for the reconstruction of the country in the interests of the majority of its population. We stand in opposition to all domination by powerful nations and states, including by the United States and its allies, over smaller ones, and oppressed peoples. 

We uphold the following principles and goals: 

1.     We strive for a world free of global power domination at the expense of smaller nations. We oppose war and authoritarianism no matter which state it comes from and support the right of self-determination and self-defense for any oppressed nation.

2.     We support Ukraine’s victory against the Russian invasion, and its right to reparations to meet the costs of reconstruction after the colossal destruction it is suffering. 

3.     The reconstruction of Ukraine also demands the cancellation of its debts to international financial institutions. Aid to Ukraine must come without strings attached, above all without crushing debt burdens. 

4.     We recognize the suffering that this war imposes on people in Russia, most intensely on the ethnic and religious minority sectors of the Russian Federation which are disproportionately impacted by forced military conscription. We salute the brave Russian antiwar forces speaking out and demonstrating in the face of severe repression, and we are encouraged by the popular resistance to the draft of soldiers to become cannon fodder for Putin’s unjust war of aggression. 

5.     We seek to build connections to progressive organizations and movements in Ukraine and with the labor movement, which represents the biggest part of Ukrainian civil society, and to link Ukrainian civic organizations, marginalized communities and trade unions with counterpart organizations in the United States. We support Ukrainian struggles for ensuring just and fair labor rights for its population, especially during the war, as there are no military reasons to implement laws that threaten the social rights of Ukrainians, including those who are fighting in the front lines.


Click here to read the complete list of USN Endorsements: 



Please sign below to add your endorsement:




Ruchell is imprisoned in California, but it is important for the CA governor and Attorney General to receive your petitions, calls, and emails from WHEREVER you live! 


SIGN THE PETITION: bit.ly/freeruchell




Call CA Governor Newsom:

CALL (916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer (Mon. - Fri., 9 AM - 5 PM PST / 12PM - 8PM EST)


Call Governor Newsom's office and use this script: 


"Hello, my name is _______ and I'm calling to encourage Governor Gavin Newsom to commute the sentence of prisoner Ruchell Magee #A92051 #T 115, who has served 59 long years in prison. Ruchell is 83 years old, so as an elderly prisoner he faces health risks every day from still being incarcerated for so long. In the interests of justice, I am joining the global call for Ruchell's release due to the length of his confinement and I urge Governor Newsom to take immediate action to commute Ruchell Magee's sentence."


Write a one-page letter to Gov Gavin Newsom:

Also, you can write a one-page letter to Governor Gavin Newsom about your support for Ruchell and why he deserves a commutation of his sentence due to his length of confinement (over 59 years), his age (83), and the health risks of an elderly person staying in California’s prisons. 


YOUR DIGITAL LETTER can be sent at bit.ly/write4ruchell


YOUR US MAIL LETTER can be sent to:

Governor Gavin Newsom

1303 10th Street, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814


Email Governor Newsom




Under "What is your request or comment about?", select "Clemency - Commutation of Sentence" and then select "Leave a comment". The next page will allow you to enter a message, where you can demand:


Commute the sentence of prisoner Ruchell Magee #A92051 #T 115, who has served 59 long years in prison. 

He was over-charged with kidnapping and robbery for a dispute over a $10 bag of marijuana, a substance that is legal now and should’ve never resulted in a seven-years-to-life sentence.  Ruchell is 83 years old, so as an elderly prisoner he faces health risks every day from still being incarcerated for so long.


Write to District Attorney Gascon

District Attorney George Gascon

211 West Temple Street, Suite 1200

Los Angeles, CA 90012


Write a one-page letter to D.A. George Gascon requesting that he review Ruchell’s sentence due to the facts that he was over-charged with kidnapping and robbery for a dispute over a $10 bag of marijuana, a substance that is legal now and should’ve never resulted in a seven-years-to-life sentence. Ruchell’s case should be a top priority because of his age (83) and the length of time he has been in prison (59 years).


·      Visit www.freeruchellmagee.org to learn more! Follow us @freeruchellmagee on Instagram!

·      Visit www.facebook.com/freeruchellmagee or search "Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee" to find us on Facebook!

·      Endorse our coalition at:

·      www.freeruchellmagee.org/endorse!

·      Watch and share this powerful webinar on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u5XJzhv9Hc



Ruchell Magee

CMF - A92051 - T-123

P.O. Box 2000

Vacaville, CA 95696


Write Ruchell uplifting messages! Be sure to ask questions about his well-being, his interests, and his passions. Be aware that any of his mail can be read by correctional officers, so don’t use any violent, explicit, or demoralizing language. Don’t use politically sensitive language that could hurt his chances of release. Do not send any hard or sharp materials.



of Detroit Shakur Squad


The Detroit Shakur Squad holds zoom meetings every other Thursday. We educate each other and organize to help free our Elder Political Prisoners. Next meeting is Thurs, Jan 12, 2022.  Register to attend the meetings at tinyurl.com/Freedom-Meeting




Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal march down JFK Blvd. past the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice and City Hall, in Philadelphia, Friday, December 16, 2022.Jessica Griffin / Staff Photographer

Results of Mumia Abu-Jamal's Court Hearing 

December 16, 2022


In October, Common Pleas Court Judge Lucretia Clemons strongly signaled in a 30-page opinion that she is leaning toward dismissing the defense appeal.

However, she gave the two sides one last chance Friday, Dec. 16, 2022 to argue their positions. The lawyers did so in a courtroom filled with about 50 Abu-Jamal allies, as well as Faulkner’s widow, Maureen, and a smaller number of her supporters. Mumia Abu-Jamal was not present.

Clemons said she would rule within three months. Before ending the hearing, the judge asked the prosecutors and defense lawyers to make sure that Abu-Jamal’s lawyers had reviewed every scrap of evidence that the District Attorney’s Office could share.

“I do not want to do this again,” she said.




Watch the live-stream of the Dec. 16 Court Rally at youtu.be/zT4AFJY1QCo.

The pivotal hearing follows a hearing Oct. 26 at which the Judge said she intended to dismiss Abu-Jamal’s appeal based on six boxes of evidence found in the District Attorney’s office in Dec. 2018. Clemons repeatedly used procedural rules – rather than allowing for an examination of the new evidence – in her 31-page decision dismissing Mumia Abu-Jamal’s petition for a new trial. (https://tinyurl.com/mtvcrfs4 ) She left the door open on Abu-Jamal’s appeal regarding the prosecution’s selection of jurors based on race.

Abu-Jamal’s attorneys Judith Ritter, Sam Spital  and Bret Grote filed a “ Petitioner’s Response to the Court’s Notice of Intent to Dismiss PCRA Petition” (https://tinyurl.com/mvfstd3w ) challenging her refusal to hold a hearing on the new evidence.

Just this week, the UN Working Group on People of African Descent filed an Amicus brief, a friend of the court document that reinforced the facts and arguments in Mumia's attorney's PRCRA filing. (https://tinyurl.com/587r633p ) They argued that no judicial time bar should be applied when the defendant is a victim of historic racial bias that may have tainted the possibility of a fair trial and due process.

At a press conference Dec. 13 announcing the Amicus brief, the Hon. Wendell Griffen, Division 5 judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit Court for Pulaski County, Arkansas said, “Clemons is only the second Black judge to hear any aspect of Abu-Jamal’s case. Will she have the courage to say that there are too many factors here that compel for Mumia to justify dismissing the motion? This evidentiary hearing is required, because exculpatory evidence was concealed.” (https://youtu.be/Xh38IKVc_oc )

Griffen clarified his statement on Dec 14 during a Democracy Now interview (https://youtu.be/odA_jjMtXQA): “Under a 1963 decision that every law student knows about, and every lawyer that does criminal law practice, in Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court of the U.S. held that due process of law is violated when the prosecution conceals evidence relevant to guilt or punishment from the bench. In this country, that kind of precedent should have required Mumia to be released and the Commonwealth decide whether or not to prosecute him based upon having revealed the right evidence. That hasn’t been done.”

More details on Abu-Jamal’s case can be found at 
https://tinyurl.com/ymhvjp8e and https://tinyurl.com/34j645jc.





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
A campaign is underway to hire an attorney to represent Kevin Rashid Johnson’s struggle for medical care. The prison has denied this care to him, despite a cancer diagnosis discovered over one year ago for which no treatment has yet been provided.

Here is the donation link for Rashid’s legal fund: 
Please be as generous as you can.


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.



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



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!



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression

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

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

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

Emergency Hotlines

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

State and Local Hotlines

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

National Hotline

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

Know Your Rights Materials

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

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

We also recommend the following resources: 

Center for Constitutional Rights

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Grand Jury Resistance Project

Katya Komisaruk

Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources

Tilted Scales Collective






1) In Power With Netanyahu, Ultra-Orthodox Parties Chart Israel’s Future

Bolstered by growth in numbers and political influence, ultra-Orthodox parties are pushing for greater autonomy, with potentially far-reaching implications for the country.

By Isabel Kershner, Jan. 9, 2023


Mr. Netanyahu has also agreed to create special budgets for public transportation in Haredi areas and to pass a law anchoring Torah study as a national value, akin to compulsory military service.
Mr. Netanyahu has also agreed to create special budgets for public transportation in Haredi areas and to pass a law anchoring Torah study as a national value, akin to compulsory military service. Credit...Corinna Kern for The New York Times

JERUSALEM — To preserve his new government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is making significant concessions to far-right political parties on Palestinian issues, judicial independence and police powers, but also less noticed moves on behalf of another key member of his coalition: parties that represent the fast-growing ultra-Orthodox public.


Members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community have long enjoyed benefits unavailable to many other Israeli citizens: exemption from army service for Torah students, government stipends for those choosing full-time religious study over work and separate schools that receive state funds even though their curriculums barely teach government-mandated subjects.


Those benefits have fueled resentment among large segments of the more secular public, and Israeli leaders have declared for years that their intention was to draw more of the ultra-Orthodox, known as Haredim, into the work force and society.


But the string of promises by Mr. Netanyahu in recent weeks as he pulled together the country’s most right-wing and religiously conservative government ever suggest that Haredi leaders are pushing hard to cement the community’s special status, with broad-ranging implications for Israeli society and the economy.


Mr. Netanyahu has promised ultra-Orthodox leaders a new, separate city for Haredim where the Haredi lifestyle would guide planning. He has agreed to increase funding for Haredi seminary students and provide access to government jobs without university degrees. And he has pledged a wide range of government handouts for the Haredi school system.


“It’s very clear that the Haredi leadership that sewed up these agreements is going for strengthening the Haredi autonomy and not integration,” said Prof. Yedidia Stern, president of the Jewish People Policy Institute, an independent research center.


The departing finance minister, Avigdor Liberman, a staunch critic of the Haredi parties, said the cost of all of the additional promised funding for Haredi causes would come to an estimated 20 billion shekels (about $5.7 billion) a year and constituted “an attempt to collapse the Israeli economy.”


The promises to the Haredim are a part of a range of changes that the Netanyahu-led coalition is trying to enact, including judicial overhauls that would allow Parliament to strike down Supreme Court decisions and give politicians more influence over the appointment of judges. The coalition has the numbers in Parliament to push through the measures, which it plans to soon introduce as legislation, as long as the various parties stay united, but they could also face challenges in the courts.


The new coalition government has also promised an uncompromising approach to the Palestinians, with some senior officials ultimately supporting the annexation by Israel of the occupied West Bank, territory that the Palestinians see as part of a future state for them, as well as an acceleration in Jewish settlement construction there.


In one of his first acts as Israel’s minister of national security, the ultranationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir last week visited a volatile Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims, defying threats of violent repercussions and eliciting a furious reaction from Arab leaders and international condemnations.


Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister, was ousted from office 18 months ago and replaced by a tenuous coalition of anti-Netanyahu forces from the right and left, but excluding the Haredi and far-right parties. After that coalition collapsed, Israel’s fifth election in under four years brought Mr. Netanyahu and his far-right and ultra-Orthodox bloc back to power, together winning a majority of 64 seats in the 120-seat Parliament.


Ultra-Orthodox parties won the most parliamentary seats in years in the November elections, reflecting the fast growth of this largely insular community and making them linchpins of Mr. Netanyahu’s government.


To ensure the loyalty of the ultra-Orthodox parties, Mr. Netanyahu also agreed to create special budgets for public transportation in Haredi areas and to pass a law anchoring Torah study as a national value, akin to compulsory military service. Another contentious law is to be introduced to formalize the longstanding arrangement granting exemption from the draft to Torah students, further undermining the once-hallowed principle of universal conscription.


Haredi society is not homogeneous, and some more modern Haredim join the army, seek a secular higher education to equip them for the labor market and even work in high-tech.


Most Haredi women have jobs, albeit often low-paying ones. But only about half of ultra-Orthodox men go to work. Critics say that the promise to increase stipends for Torah students will act as a disincentive for them to join the labor force.


Haredi children now make up a quarter of all Jewish children in the school system and a fifth of all pupils in the country, Jewish and Arab. Most Haredi boys focus on religious studies and learn little or no math, English or science.


“When the Haredim were a small group, that was OK,” Professor Stern said. “Now it’s impossible. To allow this to go on despite the large numbers of Haredim means the country won’t be able to function.”


In order to increase at least one area of employment for Haredim — their representation in public authorities and corporations — a university degree will no longer be a criterion for some, mostly unspecified jobs. (One of the few examples cited was for art therapists, who are much in demand but in short supply in the ultra-Orthodox community.)


Diplomas like those given out to graduates of post-high school religious seminaries for women will be considered as equivalent to a university degree, as will five years of work experience. At present, the vast majority of ultra-Orthodox high school graduates do not meet the minimum university entry requirements.


Torah study will be formally recognized as higher education, and yeshiva students will get the same 50 percent discount on public transportation as university students.


Haredi politicians have long promoted a conservative social agenda that rejects the idea of civil or same-sex marriage, and opposes gay rights, as well as work and the provision of public transportation on the Sabbath. And their political involvement has alienated many Jews abroad who practice less stringent forms of Judaism.


The new concessions agreed to by Mr. Netanyahu — including proposals to restrict the Law of Return, which currently grants refuge and automatic citizenship to foreign Jews, their spouses and descendants who have at least one Jewish grandparent — are already straining Israel’s ties with many in the Jewish diaspora.


More than half of the country’s Haredim live in Jerusalem or Bnei Brak, just east of Tel Aviv, or in ultra-Orthodox suburbs of those cities, according to the annual statistical survey of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan research group, and poverty rates are higher than among the general population.


Haredim make up some 13 percent of the population, but Haredi families have an average of seven children, more than double the number of the average Israeli family. If current trends continue, almost one in four Israelis, and about one in three Israeli Jews, are projected to be Haredi by 2050.


Another significant pledge by Mr. Netanyahu to the Haredi parties would allow rabbinical courts to arbitrate in civil matters if both sides in a dispute agree, meaning that some work disputes, for example, could be settled according to ancient religious law.


Secular Israelis have been alarmed by other Haredi demands they view as further encroachment in the public sphere, including demands for more gender-segregated beaches to comply with modesty rules.


Yitzhak Pindrus, a senior representative of the United Torah Judaism alliance, made up of two Haredi parties, sought to play down the concerns, saying that nothing had changed in the Haredi mind-set.


“Our demands are the same since 1977,” he said in an interview. “We are really old-fashioned — 2,500 years old. We don’t change our demands as a result of elections.”


“If 3 percent of the beaches were enough, we now need more if we are 20 percent of the population,” he said, referring to a practice of setting aside gender-segregated areas of beaches for Haredim. “The idea is to get closer to 6 percent,” he said, insisting that the point was not more autonomy, but to cater to the community’s larger numbers.


The separatist approach of the Haredi politicians has become a matter of debate within the Haredi community itself.


The coalition agreements for the new government “lay the foundations for the two-state solution: the state of Israel and the state of the Shtetl,” wrote Eliyahu Berkovits, a Haredi research assistant at the Israel Democracy Institute, in a recent article, using the Yiddish word for the traditional Jewish villages of Eastern Europe before the Holocaust.


The “Haredi enclave” has grown much larger, he wrote, and “is set to go one step further and become an autonomous state.”


In an interview, Mr. Berkovits said that Haredi politicians still acted as if they were representing a small minority that needed to protect its own interests. “The Haredi community has to understand that we are bigger,” he said, “and we are responsible for the future of Israel.”


He said he was proud of his community and praised its “amazing values.” But, he added, “it’s easier to do what you have done for past 20 years than to rethink the whole thing.”


While the numbers of modern, working Haredim are increasing, so are the hard-core and extremist factions. In recent weeks, extremists in Jerusalem vandalized an optical store because it used pictures of women wearing spectacles in its advertising and rioted over the arrest of a Haredi suspected of setting fire to a cellphone store, critically wounding a mother of 11 who was hit by a burning dumpster.


The Haredi approach over the years was one of “exile mentality,” said Israel Cohen, a political commentator for Kol Berama, a Haredi radio station, and was about remaining apart rather than trying to influence general society.


A “Haredi-Israeli culture” has now grown up, he said, and “Haredim want Israel to be more Jewish.” He added: “You’d think a Haredi becoming more Israeli would become more liberal. But no, it’s the opposite. They want Israel to become more Haredi.”



2) R.J. Reynolds Pivots to New Cigarette Pitches as Flavor Ban Takes Effect

Now that California’s tobacco prohibitions are in place, some Camel and Newport items are billed as newly “fresh” or “crisp” non-menthol versions.

By Christina Jewett and Emily Baumgaertner, Jan. 11, 2023

"To public health authorities, the potential reduction in smoking rates from a menthol ban could extend the length and quality of millions of lives. To R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies, the loss of sales from menthol cigarettes could be financially damaging."


A line of cigarette packages on a shelf in a store includes varieties of Parliaments, Newports and Marlboros, colored in green, blue and red.

In California, R.J. Reynolds has begun marketing what it says is a new, non-menthol Newport cigarette. Antismoking advocates criticized the campaign as an attempt to circumvent the state’s ban on flavored tobacco products. Credit...Aaron Wojack for The New York Times

R.J. Reynolds has wasted no time since California’s ban on flavored tobacco went into effect in late December. “California, We’ve Got You Covered,” the company declared in bold letters on a flier mailed to its cigarette customers.


The law prohibits flavors, odors or “tastes” in tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. But antismoking experts argue that R.J. Reynolds, the maker of Camel and Newport brands, is trying to circumvent the ban by luring smokers with a suite of what it says are new non-menthol versions offering “a taste that satisfies the senses” and “a new fresh twist.”


The campaign is viewed by critics as a provocation of California authorities who are supposed to enforce the ban, which includes a provision outlawing packaging or claims that suggest a product has a flavor. The Food and Drug Administration also is moving forward with a national plan to take menthol cigarettes off the market.


To public health authorities, the potential reduction in smoking rates from a menthol ban could extend the length and quality of millions of lives. To R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies, the loss of sales from menthol cigarettes could be financially damaging.


Luis Pinto, the vice president of communications at R.J. Reynolds, said in an email that the “products introduced in California meet and comply with all applicable regulatory requirements.” He added that the new cigarettes “are not subject to the recently enacted ban because they do not have a distinguishable taste or aroma other than tobacco.”


But while not all tobacco-control experts are certain that the new products violate the California law, they do agree that the Reynolds marketing campaign reflects decades-long efforts by tobacco companies to protest and flout government regulations.


Dr. Robert Jackler, a professor at Stanford Medicine who provided the ads to The New York Times, called the new marketing “outrageous.”


“The thing that surprises me is there’s no camouflage,” said Dr. Jackler, who received the mailers along with staff members of Stanford’s program on tobacco advertising. “They’re saying, ‘This is our menthol replacement. And by the way — wink, wink — it is not really menthol.’”


The tobacco flavor ban in California initially took shape as a law passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020. Reynolds and others gathered signatures to let voters decide through a referendum on the issue. In November, 63 percent of voters approved the ban.


In mid-December, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the law, rejecting a request by Reynolds. The company had cited “substantial financial losses” as a likely outcome of the ban, given that menthol cigarettes make up one-third of the cigarette market. The company had also noted that if the ban were to take effect, its customers “may never pledge the same brand loyalty.”


The company had already sought to have the Supreme Court hear a separate appeal to the Los Angeles County flavor ban, which was passed in 2019.


Bans on flavored tobacco products have been imposed in Massachusetts and dozens of cities and counties. Several states and numerous local authorities have outlawed flavored e-cigarettes. The California law also applies to vaping products.


The California Department of Public Health said that it provided outreach to tobacco retailers on the law but that “enforcement is left to the local jurisdictions.” The Reynolds marketing campaign was earlier reported on the L.A. Taco news site.


Menthol has been a major target for those who want to reduce smoking, since it infuses a cool, minty sensation that often appeals to young smokers and masks the harshness of tobacco. Studies have shown that the products have been marketed heavily to Black people.


Carol McGruder, the co-chairwoman of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council and a supporter of the state law, said the new ads did not surprise her.


“It’s racist, predatory marketing,” Ms. McGruder said. She added that public health officials were constantly having to react to the tobacco companies’ tactics, “as they try to stay alive — using addicted, lifelong customers.”


Fliers for the new products were mailed to Reynolds’s customers who had sought coupons. They include ads for “new” Camel and Newport varieties with “bold, lasting flavor.” The company’s records of ingredients show that the Camel Crisp and the Newport EXP versions contain a synthetic cooling agent referred to as WS-3, according to Sven Jordt, a Duke University researcher who has written about the compound in e-cigarettes.


Dr. Jordt said that the chemical had a cooling effect but not a minty odor or flavor, and that the health effects of the additive were unknown. While other countries have banned flavored tobacco or menthol, he said, only Germany and Belgium have prohibited this particular additive.


Mr. Pinto, of Reynolds, said the cigarettes with the cooling agent “are not subject to the recently enacted ban because they do not have a distinguishable taste or aroma other than tobacco.”


A spokesman for Altria, which sells Marlboro cigarettes, said the company had stopped selling menthol cigarettes in California and was in compliance with the new law.


Worldwide, tobacco companies have discovered loopholes to bans on menthol or flavored tobacco, studies show. In Canada, flavor cards and additive drops have been used to supplement unflavored products. In Denmark, smokers now have access to menthol sprays, capsules and tubes.


Drafters of the California law had the international experience in mind, by outlawing flavor accessories and any claims that promote a flavored product. To Dr. Pamela Ling, the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California San Francisco, the message is clear.


“If you squint at the ads, you’re going to see this as a flavorful product, whether it says it or not,” Dr. Ling said. “The colors, the packaging, the associations that your brain makes with the look and feel — that overrides the text that says this is not menthol.”


Advertisements and packaging that so vividly suggest a flavor put a clear onus on California officials to respond to Reynolds, said Matt Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.


“This is Reynolds basically challenging California to say, ‘I don’t think you’re serious,’” Mr. Myers said. If the state fails to take decisive action, he added, “the industry once again will escape.”


The products being marketed as “new” also appear to challenge the authority of the F.D.A., according to Micah Berman, an associate professor of public health and law at Ohio State University. Under the Tobacco Control Act, products introduced after 2007 must be cleared by the agency, in part to keep tobacco companies from innovating to heighten the appeal of their products.


“I think this is something the F.D.A. should go back and take a look at,” Mr. Berman said.


Whether the products were cleared — and if they are “new,” as advertised — is difficult for F.D.A. officials to immediately determine. That’s because a 2016 legal defeat for the agency allows cigarette companies to change a product’s name without informing the F.D.A. To find out which cigarette is in a particular package, the agency typically investigates or inspects records in a manufacturing facility, said Mitch Zeller, the former director of the F.D.A.’s tobacco division.


The agency cleared one Camel product with an “alternative menthol” flavor capsule in 2021. Reynolds declined to give The Times the authorization records for the California non-menthol cigarettes.


Abigail Capobianco, a spokeswoman for the F.D.A., said that the agency closely monitored compliance with federal tobacco laws and regulations, and that it took corrective action when violations had occurred. But she declined to comment on the new products in California. The agency said it was finalizing its menthol rule and would “not allow entities to subvert the intent” of the product standard.


California’s approach to the products will be an important bellwether of how a national menthol ban might play out, Dr. Ling said.


Reynolds is “testing it out,” Dr. Ling said. “If they’re successful in pulling this off in California, they’ll be totally prepared to circumvent a federal ban everywhere else.”


Adam Liptak contributed reporting.



3) Amazon loses bid to overturn historic union win on Staten Island warehouse

By Alina Selyukh and Giulia Heyward, January 11, 2023















Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls speaks at a New York rally on September 5, 2022. The company had fired Smalls from its Staten Island warehouse after he helped lead a pandemic-era walkout.

Amazon should recognize its first unionized warehouse in the U.S., a federal labor official has ruled, rejecting the company's bid to unravel a breakthrough union win on Staten Island.


On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board's Region 28 regional director, Cornele Overstreet, dismissed Amazon's allegations that labor-board officers and union organizers improperly influenced the union vote. In the spring of last year, the upstart Amazon Labor Union won the right to represent some 8,000 workers at the massive New York warehouse.


Wednesday's decision requires Amazon to begin bargaining "in good faith" with the union. However, the company is expected to appeal the ruling before the full labor board in Washington, D.C., which it can request by Jan. 25. Labor experts say members of the board are likely to side with their regional colleagues in confirming the union's win. The case could make its way into courts.


"I think that's going to take a long time to play out," Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said at a conference in September, claiming "disturbing irregularities" in the vote.


At stake is the future of labor organizing at Amazon, where unions have struggled for a foothold as the company's web of warehouses has ballooned, making it the U.S.'s second-largest private employer after Walmart.


Workers are divided. Now, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Shakopee, Minn., are pushing for an election on whether to join the Amazon Labor Union, which is run by former and current Amazon workers.


But some 400 workers at a warehouse near Albany, N.Y., voted 406-206 against unionization in October. Earlier last year, Amazon workers at a second, and smaller, Staten Island warehouse voted 618 to 380 against joining the ALU. And unionization efforts at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama have thus far been unsuccessful.


On Staten Island, Amazon Labor Union won the first union election by more than 500 votes in April 2022. Shortly afterward, Amazon challenged the result.


The company alleged that union organizers coerced and misled warehouse workers, and that Brooklyn-based labor officials overseeing the election acted in favor of the union. In September, the NLRB attorney who presided over weeks of hearings on the case recommended that Amazon's objections be rejected in their entirety.


Editor's note: Amazon is among NPR's recent financial supporters.