Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, January 17, 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 meeting:

Thursday, 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:




Spring Action Week:  April 15 - 22, 2023
Holloman AFB, Southern New Mexico

Co-sponsored by CODEPINK & Ban Killer Drones

Mark your calendars & Join Us! 

Come for all or part of the week!



Dear friends and supporters of Kevin Cooper, 

We are horrified by the terrible report put out by the Morrison Foerster (MoFo) law firm who were assigned to conduct an independent investigation of Kevin Cooper’s case. As Kevin’s chief attorney, Norman Hile, says: "In short, Mofo did not do an innocence investigation. Instead, they simply looked at the evidence the prosecution used and then hired some of their own experts to affirm what the prosecution said.”

Attached is a brief press statement issued by Kevin’s defense law firm. If you would like to receive the link to the MoFo report (over 200 pages) let me know and I will email it to you.

More analysis and information will follow soon.

An immediate act of solidarity we can all do right now is to write to Kevin and assure him of our continuing support in his fight for justice. Here’s his address:

Mr. Kevin Cooper

C-65304. 4-EB-82

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974



January 14, 2023


Kevin Cooper has suffered imprisonment as a death row inmate for more than 38 years for a gruesome crime he did not commit. We are therefore extremely disappointed by the special counsel’s report to the Board of Parole Hearings and disagree strongly with its findings.  Most fundamentally, we are shocked that the governor seemingly failed to conduct a thorough review of the report that contains many misstatements and omissions and also ignores the purpose of a legitimate innocence investigation, which is to independently determine whether Mr. Cooper’s conviction was a product of prosecutorial misconduct. The report failed to address that critical issue. The evidence when viewed in this light reveals that Kevin Cooper is innocent of the Ryen/Hughes murders, and that he was framed by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department. 


The special counsel’s investigation ordered by Governor Newsom in May 2021 was not properly conducted and is demonstrably incomplete. It failed to carry out the type of thorough investigation required to explore the extensive evidence that Mr. Cooper was wrongfully convicted. Among other things, the investigation failed to even subpoena and then examine the files of the prosecutors and interview the individuals involved in the prosecution. For unknown reasons and resulting in the tragic and clearly erroneous conclusion that he reached, the special counsel failed to follow the basic steps taken by all innocence investigations that have led to so many exonerations of the wrongfully convicted. 


In effect the special counsel’s report says: the Board of Parole Hearings can and will ignore Brady violations, destruction of exculpatory evidence, planted evidence, racial prejudice, prosecutorial malfeasance, and ineffective assistance of trial counsel; since I conclude Cooper is guilty based on what the prosecution says, none of these Constitutional violations matter or will be considered and we have no obligation to investigate these claims.


Given that (1) we have already uncovered seven prosecutorial violations of Brady v. Maryland during Mr. Cooper’s prosecution, (2) one of the likely killers has confessed to three different parties that he, rather than Mr. Cooper, was involved in the Ryen/Hughes murders, and (3) there is significant evidence of racial bias in Mr. Cooper’s prosecution, we cannot understand how Mr. Cooper was not declared wrongfully convicted.  The special counsel specifically declined to address ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial or the effect of race discrimination.  We call on the governor to follow through on his word and obtain a true innocence investigation.



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) Russia-Ukraine War

Death Toll in Apartment Strike Rises to 40

By Megan Specia, Nicole Tung and Cassandra Vinograd, Jan. 16, 2023


A resident gathered her belongings after Saturday’s missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro, on Sunday.

Credit...Nicole Tung for The New York Times

The number of dead in a Russian attack on an apartment building in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro has risen to 40, emergency officials said on Monday, as rescuers found more bodies at the site of one of the deadliest attacks against civilians since the start of the war.


As search crews scoured the debris for survivors for a third consecutive day, details began to emerge about the lives lost. Two young mothers — Olha Usova and Iryna Solomatenko — were among the dead, along with Mykhailo Korenovskyi, a boxing coach and father of two, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense. One of the victims, Maria Lebid, was 15 years old, a Ukrainian official said.


“She was school president and ballroom dancer,” the official, Emine Dzheppar, the first deputy foreign minister, wrote on Twitter. “Her beautiful life dance was cut short.”


At least 75 people were wounded and 34 remained unaccounted for as of Monday afternoon, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said in a post on Telegram, the social messaging app. The strike on Saturday at the nine-story residential building prompted renewed calls for Moscow to be charged with war crimes. In an address to Ukrainians on Sunday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was also critical to punish “those who grease the Russian propaganda machine.”


Switching to Russian, he then warned: “Your cowardly silence, your attempt to ‘wait out’ what is happening, will only end with those same terrorists coming after you one day.”


Hundreds of rescuers are working at the site, the emergency service said, and more than 8,000 tons of debris have been moved. Mr. Zelensky said on Sunday night that the rescue operation would last “as long as there is even the slightest chance to save lives.”


“We are fighting for every person,” he said.



2) The 11 Most Anti-Capitalist Quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.

The truth is, most politicians would distance themselves from Dr. King's stunning (and spot on) indictments of capitalism.

By Katie Halper, Jan. 21, 2019


MLK 1963 March on Washington
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. To be fair, I guess I should wish "Sorry it's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day" to the people who don't believe it should be a holiday and the politicians who voted against making it one. I'm talking to you, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).

While both parties attempt to claim Dr. King, the Republicans have a much harder time doing so without distorting history and the truth. But the truth is, most politicians would distance themselves from Dr. King's stunning (and spot on) indictments of capitalism. There are, of course, a few exceptions, here and there.


As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, let's look at some of the things he said challenged capitalism and are left out of most history books.


1.     "I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic... [Capitalism] started out with a noble and high motive... but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has out-lived its usefulness."

- Letter to Coretta Scott, July 18, 1952.

2.     "In a sense, you could say we're involved in the class struggle."

-Quote to New York Times reporter, Jose Igelsias, 1968.

3.     "And one day we must ask the question, 'Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.' When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society..."

-Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.

4.     "Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis."

-Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.

5.     "Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God's children."

- Speech to the Negro American Labor Council, 1961.

6.     "We must recognize that we can't solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power... this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together... you can't really get rid of one without getting rid of the others... the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order."

- Report to SCLC Staff, May 1967.

7.     "The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism."

-Speech to SCLC Board, March 30, 1967.

8.     "I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective - the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed matter: the guaranteed income... The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."

- Where do We Go from Here?,1967.

9.     "You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism."

- Speech to his staff, 1966.

10.  "[W]e are saying that something is wrong ... with capitalism.... There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism."

- Speech to his staff, 1966.

11.  "If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God's children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell."

- Speech at Bishop Charles Mason Temple of the Church of God in Christ in support of the Memphis sanitation workers' strike on March 18th, 1968, two weeks before he was assassinated.



3) Record Police Killings in 2022 Show Need to Continue Organizing for Abolition

Building power and transformation is about encouraging the grassroots while confronting a resilient carceral state.

By Austin C. McCoy, January 15, 2023


Police watch as immigrants enter a migrant shelter on January 6, 2023, in El Paso, Texas.

Law enforcement killed a record number of Americans in 2022, two years after the largest racial justice uprising in the U.S. According to the Mapping Police Violence database, police slayed 1,183 people in the U.S. last year. Of those murdered, according to the database, 25 percent were Black, although Black people make up less than 13 percent of the national population.


One would think, in a post-George Floyd “moment of reckoning,” that a record number of police killings would garner more attention, especially in an election year. But would an average American recognize the names of Kiaza Miller, Mable Arrington or Joshua Leon Wright? Probably not.


Instead of a reckoning, we are living in a moment of reaction. This is evident in Republican attempts to discredit demands to defund the police through fearmongering around crime. Republican candidates and PACs spent millions of dollars flooding the airwaves with looped images of violence, property theft and destruction in their “law and order” campaigns during the midterm election cycle. Some of the ads were so flagrantly racist and demonizing that they inspired some journalists to recall the Willie Horton ad, George H.W. Bush’s infamous campaign spot designed to portray Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis as “soft” on crime.


However, Republicans did not act alone in the effort to restore police legitimacy and undermine radical demands to transform public safety in 2022. President Biden pledged to “fund the police” multiple times, including in his State of the Union address. Democratic Mayor Eric Adams of New York City proposed funding to hire 578 more police officers. However, New York City’s mostly progressive city council forced him to abandon his campaign promise to expand policing in the city. Lori Lightfoot of Chicago also continued to increase the city’s police budget and pledged support for law enforcement — and they are far from alone. Other cities controlled by Democrats — Houston, Austin, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles — also increased police funding in 2022.


Given the record number of police killings this year, one could be tempted to conclude that protest does not work. However, such a conclusion belies the reality that police power (and structural racism) is deeply entrenched in U.S. society, thus requiring long-term struggle. We only need to observe histories of anti-racist movements and protests to remind ourselves of this fact. Activists such as Ida B. Wells and organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched their crusade against lynching in the early 20th century and sought legislation banning extra-legal racist violence for decades. Yet, it would take Emmett Till’s murder and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 before the movement for racial justice began to escalate. Then, it would take community organizing, direct action and scores of campaigns before the passage of civil rights legislation. And, despite the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s, it would not be until 2022 that the U.S. passed anti-lynching legislation. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “the line of progress is never straight.”



4) How Restaurant Workers Help Pay for Lobbying to Keep Their Wages Low

The National Restaurant Association uses mandatory $15 food-safety classes to turn waiters and cooks into unwitting funders of its battle against minimum wage increases.

By David A. Fahrenthold and Talmon Joseph Smith, Jan. 17, 2023


A restaurant worker seen through the window on a door leading to the kitchen.

More than 3.6 million workers have taken the training, providing about $25 million in revenue to the restaurant industry’s lobbying arm since 2010. Credit...Amir Hamja/Bloomberg

McDonald’s employees marching in support of a $15 minimum wage in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The National Restaurant Association helped to scuttle a bill in 2021 to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers to $15 per hour over five years. Credit...Chandan Khanna/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — For many cooks, waiters and bartenders, it is an annoying entrance fee to the food-service business: Before starting a new job, they pay around $15 to a company called ServSafe for an online class in food safety.


That course is basic, with lessons like “bathe daily” and “strawberries aren’t supposed to be white and fuzzy, that’s mold.” In four of the largest states, this kind of training is required by law, and it is taken by workers nationwide.


But in taking the class, the workers — largely unbeknown to them — are also helping to fund a nationwide lobbying campaign to keep their own wages from increasing.


The company they are paying, ServSafe, doubles as a fund-raising arm of the National Restaurant Association — the largest lobbying group for the food-service industry, claiming to represent more than 500,000 restaurant businesses. The association has spent decades fighting increases to the minimum wage at the federal and state levels, as well as the subminimum wage paid to tipped workers like waiters.


The federal minimum wage has risen just once since 1996, to $7.25 from $5.15, while the minimum hourly wage for tipped workers has been $2.13 since 1991. Minimums are higher in many states, but still below what labor groups consider a living wage.


For years, the restaurant association and its affiliates have used ServSafe to create an arrangement with few parallels in Washington, where labor unwittingly helps to pay for management’s lobbying. First, in 2007, the restaurant owners took control of a training business. Then they helped lobby states to mandate the kind of training they already provided — producing a flood of paying customers.


More than 3.6 million workers have taken this training, providing about $25 million in revenue to the restaurant industry’s lobbying arm since 2010. That was more than the National Restaurant Association spent on lobbying in the same period, according to filings with the Internal Revenue Service.


That $25 million represented about 2 percent of the National Restaurant Association’s total revenues over that same period, but more than half of the amount its members paid in dues. Most industry groups are much more reliant on big-dollar donors or membership support to meet their expenses. Most of the association’s revenues come from trade shows and other classes.


Tax-law experts say this arrangement, which has helped fuel a resurgence in the political influence of restaurants, appears legal.


But activists for raising minimum wages — and even some restaurant owners — say the arrangement is hidden from the workers it relies on.


“I’m sitting up here working hard, paying this money so that I can work this job, so I can provide for my family,” said Mysheka Ronquillo, 40, a line cook who works at a Carl’s Jr. hamburger restaurant and at a private school cafeteria in Westchester, Calif. “And I’m giving y’all money so y’all can go against me?”


Ms. Ronquillo is also a labor organizer in California. She said that she had taken the class every three years, as required, and that she never knew ServSafe funded the other side of that fight.


As workers have become more aware of how their payments to ServSafe are used, something of a backlash is developing. Looking ahead to coming battles over minimum wages in as many as nine states run by Democrats, including New York, Saru Jayaraman of the labor-advocacy group One Fair Wage said she was encouraging workers to avoid ServSafe.


“We’ll be telling them to use any possible alternatives,” Ms. Jayaraman said.


The kind of class that these workers pay for, called “food handler” training, is offered by ServSafe or its affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. But online databases maintained by the National Restaurant Association show the vast majority of its classes are taken in four large states where food-handler classes are mandatory for most workers: Texas, California, Illinois and Florida.


Other companies also offer this training. But restaurant industry veterans say that ServSafe is the dominant force in the market — to the point that some restaurant owners said they did not realize there were alternatives.


“ServSafe is very much the Kleenex” of the industry — a brand that defines the business, said Nick Eastwood, who runs a competitor called Always Food Safe. “We believe they’ve got at least 70 percent-plus of the market. Maybe higher.”


The president of the National Restaurant Association, Michelle Korsmo, declined to be interviewed. In a written statement, she said the group had sought to protect both public health and the financial health of the industry.


“The association’s advocacy work keeps restaurants open; it keeps workers employed, it finds pathways for worker opportunity, and it keeps our communities healthy,” Ms. Korsmo wrote. Her group declined to say how much of the training market it captures.


As money flowed in from the National Restaurant Association’s training programs, its overall spending on politics and lobbying more than doubled from 2007 to 2021, tax filings show. The national association donated to Democrats, Republicans and conservative-leaning think tanks, and sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to state restaurant associations to beef up their lobbying.


During the Clinton and Obama administrations, the association was a major force in limiting employer-provided health care benefits. And though pressure from liberal groups has grown and workers’ wages have fallen for decades when adjusted for inflation, the group helped assemble enough bipartisan opposition to scuttle a bill in 2021 to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers to $15 per hour over five years.


The association had also won a series of battles over state-level wage minimums, though its fortunes reversed last year. Both the District of Columbia and Michigan moved to eliminate the “tip credit” system — where restaurants are allowed to pay waiters a salary below the minimum wage, on the expectation that tips from customers will make up the rest. That was the first time any state had eliminated the tip-credit system in more than 10 years.


Legally, the National Restaurant Association and its state-level affiliates are a species of nonprofit called a “business league,” with more freedom to lobby than a traditional charity.


Since the 1960s, their lobbying has focused heavily on the minimum wage — arguing that labor-intensive operations like restaurants, which employ more workers at or near the minimum wage than any other industry, could be put out of business by any significant increase in employee costs.


Fifteen years ago, they had just lost a battle in that fight.


Over the association’s objections, Congress had raised the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. Former board members said they were searching for a new source of revenue — without asking members to pay more in dues.


“That’s when the decision was contemplated, of buying the ServSafe program,” said Burton “Skip” Sack, a former chairman of the association’s board. “Because it was profitable.”


At the time, the ServSafe program was run by a charity affiliated with the restaurant association. The association bought the operation, transforming it into an indirect fund-raising vehicle.


After that, state restaurant associations in California, Texas and Illinois lobbied for changes in state law.


Previously, those states had required food-safety training for restaurant managers, which typically was paid for by restaurants themselves. After the association’s takeover of ServSafe, lobbying records show, the state affiliates pushed for a broader and less-common type of mandate, covering all food “handlers” like cooks, waiters, bartenders and those who bus tables.


The three state legislatures agreed, in lopsided votes.


In written statements, the state restaurant associations said they were not trying to raise money. Instead, they said they worked with other groups seeking to reduce food-borne disease.


“This law was happening with or without our participation in the process,” said the president of the California Restaurant Association, Jot Condie. California legislative records show his association was the sponsor of the bill that imposed the mandate.


ServSafe soon had waves of new customers, which in turn generated more money for the association and its lobbying efforts. Today, Florida, California, Texas, Illinois and Utah all have similar requirements. John Bluemke, a senior vice president for sales at ServSafe from 2002 to 2010, said there was little need to pursue mandates in smaller states: “Once you did the big states, who cares about Nebraska?”


“If you’ve got a million people going through that thing, do the math,” Mr. Bluemke said. The National Restaurant Association does not release figures about the cost of offering food-handler classes, but Mr. Bluemke said that — because they are generally offered online — the costs are low and the profits high.


“We always said the first course costs you a million dollars,” Mr. Bluemke said, for making the video. “And the rest are free.”


When managers take mandatory training, restaurant veterans say, the employer usually pays. But state websites say that restaurant employees should expect to pay for these classes themselves, and restaurant workers interviewed by The New York Times said that was their experience.


The restaurant association notes that some employers have covered the costs of getting certified and that employees are given lower rates in certain circumstances. So not all 3.6 million workers paid $15 each.


“The N.R.A. is different from most traditional trade associations in our business model,” Dawn Sweeney, the National Restaurant Association’s chief executive at the time, wrote to members in 2014 — reminding them of what a good deal they had.


Business leagues, which are tax-exempt, are generally allowed to run a for-profit business, as long as it advances the common interest of their broader trade. The National Restaurant Association contends that its business cleanly fits this standard.


“The rules the I.R.S. has passed are not always clear as to what is and is not allowed,” said Anna Massoglia, an investigations manager at OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan group that tracks the flow of money in politics. “This makes it easier for groups to exploit that lack of clarity. I’m not familiar with another group that has done it to this scale.”


The Internal Revenue Service declined to comment, citing taxpayer-privacy rules.


For restaurant workers, there is little clue that money paid to ServSafe supports lobbying — much less lobbying that tries to keep workers’ pay low. The only hint is a line on ServSafe’s website, saying it “reinvests proceeds from programs back into the industry.”


Even some members of the restaurant association — the beneficiaries of this arrangement — said they did not know how it worked.


Johnny Martinez, a Georgia restaurateur, said he supports a $15 minimum wage and pays at least that much in a state where it is still $7.25 per hour. And he describes his association membership as “the price of entry” for navigating the industry, “even though I disagree with them on a lot of things.”


But he expressed frustration upon discovering the connections between ServSafe and lobbying efforts, saying “it feels very wrong” to him.


“This is a certification that’s also wrapped up inside of a lobbyist,” Mr. Martinez said. “It is weird that the tests that they require the workers to pay for are being run by the same company that’s fighting to make sure those people don’t make more money.”


Tiff Fehr and Will Houp contributed reporting.


Talmon Joseph Smith is an economics reporter based in New York. @talmonsmith



5) Nurses Are Burned Out and Fed Up. For Good Reason.

By Lydia Polgreen, Jan. 18, 2023

“The only way in our society people get access to care is: one, a woman does it for free through the family; or two, an industry figures out how to make money off of it.”


People in a crowd stand behind a speaker, and some hold signs that say, “We deserve safe staffing.” Some wear red beanies.

Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

It is enraging but not particularly surprising that our health care system is failing the most essential of its workers. Nurses are the keystone holding up our rickety and raggedly uneven health care system. We desperately need more of them, but we have created a health care system — indeed, a broader society — that, as if by design, devalues them and takes them for granted. Like workers in other female-dominated professions in the care economy, nurses are spoken of, often with a whiff of condescension, as heroes. But just like teachers, social workers, health aides, day care workers and mothers, we sure don’t treat them that way.


In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, America’s nurses were rightly praised for the central role they played. But nurses are burned out. Many are simply leaving the profession. Thousands across the country are doing what the nurses at Montefiore and Mount Sinai in New York City did last week: go on strike.


Their No. 1 demand is not more pay or better benefits, the traditional stuff of labor negotiations. Instead, they want hospitals and nursing homes to hire more nurses and commit to set ratios of patients to nurses, something institutions have long resisted, in order to reduce their workload and increase patient safety.


In a major victory for the nurses’ union, Mount Sinai and Montefiore medical centers, two of the biggest in New York, agreed last week to do just that, ending the strike in three days.


Given how heavily regulated and bureaucratic America’s health care system is, it may come as a surprise that hospitals aren’t legally required to have a certain number of nurses on hand per patient. Especially since similar rules are in place in other highly regulated industries. Federal regulations require a strict minimum number of flight attendants on each flight depending on the type of aircraft. If the airline is even one short, the plane remains on the tarmac.


Yet nurses in an intensive care unit, a cancer ward, an emergency room or a labor and delivery ward can routinely find themselves juggling many more patients than common sense would suggest they could care for, never mind best practices recommended by medical experts. One striking nurse I interviewed last week told me that he routinely had to juggle 15 to 20 patients, significantly more than the recommended number. Only California regulates the ratio of nurse staffing in every hospital unit. Efforts to expand this practice elsewhere have failed.


This is not a problem created by the pandemic. For years America has been grappling with a nursing crisis, which is now peaking just as our health care system faces perhaps the biggest challenge in its history: the relentless care needs of the aging baby boomer generation.


Yet at precisely this moment, when demand for health care is surging and pay for nurses is rising, tens of thousands of nurses have already fled the profession. Even before the pandemic, surveys showed that roughly half of nurses reported experiencing burnout and one in four were planning to leave their job in the next year. Now it is about one in three. By 2025, the U.S. health care system could be short as many as 450,000 nurses.


We have known for a long time that inadequate nurse staffing leads to more patient deaths. In a 2002 peer-reviewed study, researchers found that each additional patient assigned to a hospital nurse increased the likelihood of death by 7 percent. And yet understaffing is the rule, not the exception.


How did we get here? America spends more on health care per capita than any other developed nation, but what we get in return is a highly uneven set of health outcomes. We pride ourselves on leading scientific advancement of medicine, and the quality of specialists who treat serious illness requiring advanced care is envied the world over.


But the United States is near the bottom of the list of developed nations on some of the most common health problems, like asthma, diabetes and heart disease. It is a scandal that America’s maternal mortality rate is more that double that of many other wealthy nations. There are many factors that lead to these poor outcomes, many of them systemic, like poverty and racism. But a major reason we are sicker and live shorter lives on average than people in other rich nations is our lack of access to the kind of basic, primary care and monitoring that is the bedrock of nursing.


“It’s not a sexy thing, but that’s really what we do day in and day out: Control the traffic and be the beacon for problems, and get the right people in the room when something’s going wrong,” said Christopher Friese, a professor of nursing at the University of Michigan.


Hospital administrators say they are desperate to hire more nurses. Mount Sinai and Montefiore, for instance, have hundreds of openings they have not been able to fill. Part of the problem is that there just aren’t enough nurses who want to work in hospitals, largely for the reasons I’ve outlined: overwork and a feeling of futility from not being able to provide adequate care. This leads to a vicious cycle, as nurses flee jobs in hospitals or the profession altogether early in their careers, making it all the more difficult to attract new ones.


Hospitals operate under the brutal and confounding economics of American health care. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates are set by the government, and, according to the hospitals, don’t cover the actual cost of care. Private insurance companies negotiate to pay as little as they can, frequently creating perverse incentives that skew care toward expensive, high-tech testing and procedures and away from the labor-intensive basics of primary care. So when it is time to cut costs, administrators inevitably look at labor, and nurses almost always make up the biggest work force, said Alexi Nazem, a physician and the chief executive of Nomad Health, a health care staffing company. Our system treats nurses more as a cost center than a value creator, so that the goal in too many cases becomes as few nurses as possible caring for as many patients as possible.


That is incredibly shortsighted, Linda Aiken, a professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, told me. In 2021, she and a group of researchers published a study examining proposed legislation in New York that would require hospitals to meet minimum nursing staffing ratios. They studied a group of Medicare patients in New York and found that better staffing ratios could have prevented more than 4,000 deaths and saved upward of $700 million in medical costs over a two-year period — a conservative estimate given the scope of the study.


But the hospital industry lobbied hard against the proposed bill, arguing that hospitals need more staffing flexibility. According to the Healthcare Association of New York State, an industry group, four of five hospitals in the state are either losing money or operating on unsustainable margins.


“Hospitals are pretty much driven by their balance sheet, and not over the long term,” Aiken told me.


The version of the New York legislation that ultimately passed did not include fixed staffing ratios, mandating instead that a committee of nurses and hospital administrators work together to set ratios. If they cannot agree, the law permits the hospital to unilaterally impose its own staffing plan.


This is a real missed opportunity. Like many caring professions, nursing has long been undervalued and taken for granted. It is not a coincidence that these jobs, like so many others that involve caring for others, are performed overwhelmingly by women, though the number of male nurses has been growing.


Gabriel Winant, a labor historian at the University of Chicago who has written a book about health care, said that the failure to value care work of all kinds hurts everyone: “The only way in our society people get access to care is: one, a woman does it for free through the family; or two, an industry figures out how to make money off of it.”


The pandemic showed us all how frayed and unsustainable our systems of care are. Nurses sit at the top of the care hierarchy, and they have a big role to play in transforming the way we value care work, Winant said.


“We could imagine nurses at the leadership of a broad, small-d democratic coalition or movement for higher quality care for all,” he told me.


We spend a lot of time in our politics talking about the need for meaningful jobs that support a middle-class life. It is hard to imagine a more meaningful job than nursing. But to get people interested in doing this job, and sticking with it for the long haul, we need to invest in making it sustainable as a long-term career, imbued with the respect and dignity it deserves. Our lives depend on it.



6) ‘It Is Time For Us to Grow the F Up’: Stevie Wonder Shares Powerful Message for MLK Day

The musician-activist says the “universe” is profoundly “pissed” off at us for failing MLK's vision of a just society



Stevie Wonder in Los Angeles, on December 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

On Monday, legendary singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder released a video commemorating this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The musician-activist’s overall message was that the “universe” is profoundly “pissed” off at us for doing the opposite of achieving the fallen civil-rights leader’s vision of a just society.


Early on in the four-minute video, posted to Twitter on MLK Day, Wonder wishes Dr. King a “happy birthday,” before recounting: “Forty years ago today, I was marching in the cold and snowy streets of Washington, D.C., where thousands of people all believed in the right and the power to convince Congress that this national holiday was needed — not just to honor this man of peace, but to honor the principle of peace and unity.” Wonder adds: “Forty years ago, we marched, and then we peacefully entered the Capitol to explore ways to reach across the aisle.” 


Wonder, who has repeatedly denounced candidate and then president Donald Trump over the years, appeared to be emphasizing the word “peacefully,” in order to explicitly differentiate that type of nonviolent activism from the Trump-inspired rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.


“Forty years, what have we done for the planet? How have we really helped each other? Where has poverty been eliminated, why are guns still protected, and why has hate been elevated? Truthfully, we’ve done very little in 40 years,” Wonder says. “Now it is time for us to grow the [fuck] up, and get out of our virtual delusions that sell murder, mayhem, terrorism, and hate…Dr. King, I wish I could say you were here. But it feels like we did not deserve you then, and we’re not much better now.”


He adds: “And people, I believe deep in my soul the universe is watching us — and she is pissed. But will we fix it? I hope so.”


Wonder’s decades-long record of social and political activism has been recognized both in the United States and abroad. The United Nations has recognized his work over the years, and the organization writes that Wonder’s “activism has been pivotal in U.S. and world events. In 1983, he spearheaded a campaign to make Martin Luther King Day a national holiday in the United States. He also advocated for the end of apartheid in South Africa.”