Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, March 17, 2023


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!



Public complaint about the health condition of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, illegally imprisoned in the United States

On Friday, March 16, 2023, Camilla Saab made an urgent call to the world to denounce the dire health condition of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, which endangers his life.

In July 2021, the Working Group against Torture and several UN rapporteurs expressed their concern about the irreparable deterioration of Alex Saab's health condition.  

Let us recall that in Cape Verde, on July 7, 2021, after many refusals, Alex Saab was visited by his family doctor, who, in his report, detected a worrying health condition of the Venezuelan official, especially because Saab is a stomach cancer survivor. The doctor diagnosed: anemia, anorexia, diabetes mellitus type 2, hypothyroidism, hypertension, and high risk of thromboembolic disease, including pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. In addition, he highlighted that a high infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori was found in his blood, and an endoscopy identified bleeding from the digestive tract that could mean a recurrence of cancer. Saab's lower left molar was found broken due to the beatings received during the torture, and access to proper medical care was recommended. However, he was never allowed to receive treatment.  

Subsequently, the treating physician issued, on September 9, 2021, a new report highlighting the need for patient Alex Saab to receive specialized medical care and asked the authorities of Cape Verde to consider the need to preserve the health and life of Alex Saab. Cape Verde did nothing in this regard.  

Alex Saab arrived in the United States, kidnapped for the second time on October 16, 2021, and from that moment until today, he has not received any medical attention according to the primary diseases that had been reported, ignoring the call of the UN rapporteurs. Alex Saab is in the Federal Detention Center in Miami, and his prison situation is even worse than in Cape Verde: he has not been allowed family visits. He has not seen his wife and children, who have also been victims of persecution by the U.S. authorities and their allies, for more than two years and eight months. 

Alex Saab has also not been allowed consular visits, a human right of every prisoner deprived of liberty. The U.S. State Department has yet to respond to the Venezuelan State's request to grant him a consular visit, as established in Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.  

In the medical reports made in July, Alex Saab's doctor had already informed that they had identified bleeding from the digestive tract, which could mean a cancer recurrence. Now, it is highly alarming to learn that Alex has been vomiting blood for weeks, and despite having reported it to the U.S. authorities, there is still a lack of medical attention at the prison. Why has the U.S. not bothered to treat him?  

Everything indicates that the lack of medical attention is part of a State policy, as was his illegal arrest. Do U.S. authorities want Alex Saab dead? Why, then, the insistence on not providing him with medical attention and not allowing his doctor to visit him? 

Everyone knows that the truth is on the side of the Venezuelan diplomat, and sooner or later, the United States must release him, but they are taking more time than usual. Could it be that they are waiting for his illnesses to develop further? 

We, the #FreeAlexSaab Movement, hold the U.S. Government responsible for diplomat Alex Saab's life and what may happen to him during his illegal detention.

·      We ask that the International Committee of the Red Cross to be present at the Federal Detention Center in Miami-USA. 

·      We urge the High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights to take action and denounce this violation of the human rights of the Venezuelan diplomat illegally detained in U.S. territory. 

·      We request the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, as the highest defender of International Law, to make an announcement on this case, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and human rights. 

·      We demand immediate freedom for Alex Saab Moran, the Venezuelan diplomat kidnapped in the United States. We urgently require a humanitarian, political, and diplomatic solution to this unjust situation. 

It is time to move forward. We urge the U.S. Government to sit down and reach an agreement. Venezuela has shown to be open to finding a solution.



Help U.S. Workers Visit Cuba on May Day

Los Angeles U.S. Hands Off Cuba committee members and supporters meeting to discuss solidarity with Amazon workers organizing unions and Cuba solidarity work.

World-Outlook is encouraging readers to donate to help workers from the United States, involved in union organizing efforts at Amazon warehouses, participate in an upcoming trip to Cuba. The Los Angeles US Hands Off Cuba Committee is organizing the delegation, which will coincide with May Day celebrations on the island.

There are many reasons to travel to Cuba. First and foremost, participants in a delegation such as this one will have the chance to see the Cuban Revolution for themselves; to meet and talk with Cuban workers, farmers, and political leaders. It is also a chance to show solidarity with the Cuban people who face Washington’s six-decades-long economic blockade, escalated in recent years by 243 new sanctions levied by the Trump administration, then continued and augmented by the Biden administration.

This 2023 May Day tour will be composed primarily of young people, unionists, and those seeking to build unions.

Nine Amazon workers involved in the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, New York — where last year workers won the first union representation election at an Amazon facility — plan to join the delegation. They include ALU president Chris Smalls and Cassio Mendoza, editor of the ALU newspaper. A worker at Amazon’s Moreno Valley ONT8 facility in the Los Angeles area also plans to participate.

Last week, three members of Carolina Amazonians United for Solidarity and Empowerment (C.A.U.S.E.), a group working to organize a union at an Amazon fulfillment center in Garner, North Carolina, said they too will join the delegation.

Other delegation members will include International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) workers, Steelworkers, L.A. teachers, and fifteen young activists from the Los Angeles Hands Off Cuba Committee.

The tour members will be in Cuba for the huge outpouring on May Day, the international workers holiday. A full schedule of political and cultural activities, including a meeting with the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC) is planned. The delegation will also meet with the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), as well as visit the new Fidel Castro Museum and the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).

This fund-raising effort is specifically to help defray the expenses for the Amazon workers who need some help, as their pay does not allow for much disposable income. Your contribution will help the Amazon workers participate. The goal is to raise $4,500. As of today, $1,800 has been contributed so far. World-Outlook will donate $100.

The cost per person to participate in this 10-day trip is $1,300. That figure includes airfare, housing, food, and transportation in Cuba, museum admissions, and visas. Each Amazon worker is contributing a minimum of $500 for their expenses. Many of these Amazon workers have their airline tickets and passports ready but additional funds are needed to ensure their participation.

We encourage you to help.

There are two ways to donate:

1.     Go-Fund Me Account:


2.     Send a check to the LA Hands Off Cuba Committee made out to the group’s treasurer: 

             Diana Cervantes

             12206 Trinity St. 

             Los Angeles, CA 90061

Please share this appeal with friends, family, and fellow workers who may want to help.

In solidarity,

World-Outlook editors

—World-Outlook, March 2, 2023





National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice

ReproJusticeNow.org info@reprojusticenow.org 

Facebook @ ReproJusticeNow

Statement to the Media


National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice

Email: info@reprojusticenow.org

Contact: Helen Gilbert (National Coordinator)

206-473-0630 (cell), 206-985-4621 (office)


For Release: Immediately

Interviews welcome


"Hands off abortion medications!" says National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice

Republican and rightwing pressure has intimidated the massive Walgreens drugstore chain from providing legal, safe and effective abortion drugs in 20 states, it was reported today. This comes even before a nationwide day of protests called on Saturday, March 4 by #StopAbortionRX, Students for Life of America and affiliated conservative and religious groups. Their “National Day of Protest to Cancel Abortion Cartels" targets CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid.


The anti-abortion activists use inflammatory and untrue language in describing a common, safe and necessary medical procedure. Their tactic of trying to intimidate customers by demonstrating at entrances and inside stores is nothing but bullying. These actions have the potential to interrupt people’s access to needed medical prescriptions of all kinds. By demonstrating at the access point between pharmacist and patient, anti-abortionists contribute to an already broken US healthcare system.


The FDA-approved drugs mifepristone and misoprostol are used together to terminate a pregnancy. Mifepristone stops the body from producing a hormone necessary to an embryo’s development. Since 2000, it has been approved to end pregnancies up to 10 weeks after gestation. Misoprostol is used a few days later to help the body expel the tissue with more speed and safety. In 2020, 53% of all abortions in the U.S. were medication-induced, which has been shown to be safe and 90% effective. Medication abortions are also less expensive, more accessible, and more private than surgical abortions.


In tandem with physical harassment of people seeking anti-pregnancy drugs, legal harassment is threatening reproductive choices across all states. A federal court case lodged by Alliance Defending Freedom is pending in Texas, where a Trump-appointed, historically anti-abortion judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, could reverse FDA approval for mifepristone. Medical experts say that inducing abortion with only misoprostol is less effective and more painful – adding punishment and abuse to the individual seeking relief.


A decision in the Texas case could come any time and could dramatically alter abortion access   at least as much as the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which overturned decades of abortion-rights precedent.


These further attempts to undermine what should be rights to reproductive and bodily autonomy are an attack on all people’s healthcare needs. And opponents of reproductive justice won’t stop there. Also threatened are contraception, sex education, non-religious health care providers, and social services that are vital to safely bearing and raising children in marginalized communities. Reproductive justice also includes an end to forced sterilization, the right to gender-affirming care, support for LGBTQ+ families and children, and an end to immigration policies that separate families.


The National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice and its affiliates across the country vow to defend all forms of reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. See the Mobilization’s website, www.ReproJusticeNow.org, for information on meetings and activities, endorsers, resources and its full list of demands.


The National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice was initiated by Radical Women in 2021 in order to build a grassroots coalition of forces to defend reproductive rights. It has organized numerous actions and currently has more than 30 endorsing organizations from around the country including unions, and racial justice, LGBTQI+, religious, radical, and feminist groups. Click here to add your organization's endorsement.


Mailing Address:

National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice

4710 University Way NE #100

Seattle, WA 98105


Add us to your address book.


For more information

Phone: 206-985-4621




Daniel Ellsberg Continues the Fight

Message sent by Kip Waldo


(Message from Daniel Ellsberg Below)


At the beginning of March, Daniel Ellsberg sent a message to “friends and supporters” letting them know that he faces a life-ending medical condition—inoperable pancreatic cancer. He said that the doctors believe that he has another three to six months to live.


This letter, full of Dan Ellsberg’s passion and humor, reflect his concern for and sense of responsibility to people who have come to know him. It is a reflection of the man who risked his future with his release, in 1971, of 7000 pages of top-secret documents exposing the systematic policy of lies told to the U.S. population and the world about the U.S. war on Vietnam. Those papers, which became known as “The Pentagon Papers,” were published in a number of newspapers including the Washington Post, the New York Times—the two major East-coast newspapers in the U.S. at the time. Their publication served to change the perspective of many who still believed those lies. 


He knew the risk he was taking. It resulted in Nixon, who was the president at the time, branding him as the “most dangerous man in America” and launched a massive manhunt to bring him to trial for espionage. The charges against him, a total of 12 felonies, were dropped after he stood trial for four months. It was a lucky coincidence that investigations surrounding the impeachment of Nixon for orchestrating the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters revealed that Nixon’s operatives had also broken into the offices of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in hopes of finding damning information. 


Instead of just breathing a sigh of relief at not having to spend the rest of his life in prison, Ellsberg continued on the path that his so-called treasonous act had set him on. He became one of the best-known public intellectuals in the U.S., sharing his understanding of the workings of the U.S. government, his constant concerns regarding the development and use of nuclear weapons, also an area of his expertise as a nuclear war planner. 


He published books and articles, was interviewed constantly, and spoke throughout the U.S. and many parts of the world. He rose in defense of other so-called whistleblowers like Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning who released secret information that exposed U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Edward Snowden who exposed the extent of government surveillance of U.S. citizens, and John Kiriakou, the CIA case officer and analyst, who exposed the CIA's torture program, along with others. He not only spoke, but he also demonstrated with others against the nuclear weaponization of war, against the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, policies toward Iran, carried out by the U.S., in support of Chelsea Manning who was imprisoned, for first amendment rights, in support of the Occupy movement and many more. For his actions he has been arrested more than 80 times.


It is impossible to measure the impact that he has had on others, with the example he set with his life, hoping to give others the courage to question and stand up against the murderous functioning of this system.


His letter (published below) reflects the qualities he embodies and that we could all hope to embody to some degree.


Message from Daniel Ellsberg


Dear friends and supporters,


I have difficult news to impart. On February 17, without much warning, I was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer on the basis of a CT scan and an MRI. (As is usual with pancreatic cancer—which has no early symptoms—it was found while looking for something else, relatively minor.) I’m sorry to report to you that my doctors have given me three to six months to live. Of course, they emphasize that everyone's case is individual; it might be more, or less. 


I have chosen not to do chemotherapy (which offers no promise) and I have assurance of great hospice care when needed. Please know right now, I am not in any physical pain, and in fact, after my hip replacement surgery in late 2021, I feel better physically than I have in years! Moreover, my cardiologist has given me license to abandon my salt-free diet of the last six years. This has improved my quality of life dramatically: the pleasure of eating my former favorite foods! And my energy level is high. Since my diagnosis, I've done several interviews and webinars on Ukraine, nuclear weapons, and first amendment issues, and I have two more scheduled this week.


As I just told my son Robert: he's long known (as my editor) that I work better under a deadline. It turns out that I live better under a deadline!


I feel lucky and grateful that I've had a wonderful life far beyond the proverbial three-score years and ten. (I’ll be ninety-two on April 7th.) I feel the very same way about having a few months more to enjoy life with my wife and family, and in which to continue to pursue the urgent goal of working with others to avert nuclear war in Ukraine or Taiwan (or anywhere else). 


When I copied the Pentagon Papers in 1969, I had every reason to think I would be spending the rest of my life behind bars. It was a fate I would gladly have accepted if it meant hastening the end of the Vietnam War, unlikely as that seemed (and was.) Yet in the end, that action—in ways I could not have foreseen, due to Nixon’s illegal responses—did have an impact on shortening the war. In addition, thanks to Nixon's crimes, I was spared the imprisonment I expected, and I was able to spend the last fifty years with Patricia and my family, and with you, my friends.


What's more, I was able to devote those years to doing everything I could think of to alert the world to the perils of nuclear war and wrongful interventions: lobbying, lecturing, writing, and joining with others in acts of protest and non-violent resistance. 


I wish I could report greater success for our efforts. As I write, "modernization" of nuclear weapons is ongoing in all nine states that possess them (the U.S. most of all). Russia is making monstrous threats to initiate nuclear war to maintain its control over Crimea and the Donbas—like the dozens of equally illegitimate first-use threats that the U.S. government has made in the past to maintain its military presence in South Korea, Taiwan, South Vietnam, and (with the complicity of every member state then in NATO) West Berlin. The current risk of nuclear war, over Ukraine, is as great as the world has ever seen. 


China and India are alone in declaring no-first-use policies. Leadership in the U.S., Russia, other nuclear weapons states, NATO and other U.S. allies have yet to recognize that such threats of initiating nuclear war—let alone the plans, deployments and exercises meant to make them credible and more ready to be carried out—are and always have been immoral and insane: under any circumstances, for any reasons, by anyone or anywhere.


It is long past time—but not too late!—for the world's publics at last to challenge and resist the willed moral blindness of their past and current leaders. I will continue, as long as I'm able, to help these efforts. There's tons more to say about Ukraine and nuclear policy, of course, and you'll be hearing from me as long as I'm here.


As I look back on the last sixty years of my life, I think there is no greater cause to which I could have dedicated my efforts. For the last forty years we have known that nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia would mean nuclear winter: more than a-hundred-million tons of smoke and soot from firestorms in cities set ablaze by either side, striking either first or second, would be lofted into the stratosphere where it would not rain out and would envelope the globe within days. That pall would block up to 70 percent of sunlight for years, destroying all harvests worldwide and causing death by starvation for most of the humans and other vertebrates on earth. 


So far as I can find out, this scientific near-consensus has had virtually no effect on the Pentagon's nuclear war plans or U.S./NATO (or Russian) nuclear threats. (In a like case of disastrous willful denial by many officials, corporations and other Americans, scientists have known for over three decades that the catastrophic climate change now underway—mainly but not only from burning fossil fuels—is fully comparable to U.S.-Russian nuclear war as another existential risk.) 


I'm happy to know that millions of people—including all those friends and comrades to whom I address this message!—have the wisdom, the dedication and the moral courage to carry on with these causes, and to work unceasingly for the survival of our planet and its creatures.


I'm enormously grateful to have had the privilege of knowing and working with such people, past and present. That's among the most treasured aspects of my very privileged and very lucky life. I want to thank you all for the love and support you have given me in so many ways. Your dedication, courage, and determination to act have inspired and sustained my own efforts. 


My wish for you is that at the end of your days you will feel as much joy and gratitude as I do now. 


Love, Dan


PS: I will enjoy reading any message you send me to this email, though I may or may not be able to respond to every message or call. I prefer email to calls, and in general I am avoiding personal visits, from concern about covid. Please know that I hold you in my heart.





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.

Anything But Justice for Black People

Statement from Kevin Cooper concerning recent the decision on his case by Morrison Forrester Law Firm

In 2020 and 2022 Governor Newsom signed in to law the “Racial Justice Act.” This is because the California legislature, and the Governor both acknowledged that the criminal justice system in California is anything but justice for Black people.

On May 28th, 2021, Governor signed an executive order to allow the law firm of Morrison Forrester (MoFo) to do an independent investigation in my case which included reading the trial and appellant transcripts, my innocence claims, and information brought to light by the 9th circuit court of appeals, as well as anything else not in the record, but relevant to this case.

So, Mr. Mark McDonald, Esq, who headed this investigation by Morrison Forrester and his associates at the law firm, went and did what was not part of Governor Newsom’s order, and they did this during the length of time that they were working on this case, and executive order. They worked with law enforcement, current and former members of the L.A. Sheriff’s department, and other law enforcement-type people and organizations.

Law enforcement is the first part of this state’s criminal justice system. A system that both the California legislature, and the Governor acknowledge to be racist, and cannot be trusted to tell the truth, will present, and use false evidence to obtain a conviction, will withhold material exculpatory evidence, and will do everything else that is written in those two racial justice act bills that were signed into law.

So, with the active help of those pro-police, pro-prosecutor, pro-death penalty people working on this case to uphold my bogus conviction we cannot be surprised about the recent decision handed down by them in this case.

While these results are not true but based on the decisions made in 1983 and 1984 by the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office, these 2023 results were not reached by following the executive orders of Governor Newsom.

They ignored his orders and went out to make sure that I am either executed or will never get out of prison.

Governor Newsom cannot let this stand because he did not order a pro-cop or pro-prosecutor investigation, he ordered an independent investigation.

We all know that in truth, law enforcement protects each other, they stand by each other, no matter what city, county, or state that they come from. This is especially true when a Black man like me states that I was framed for murder by law enforcement who just happened to be in the neighboring county.

No one should be surprised about the law enforcement part in this, but we must be outraged by the law firm Morrison Forrester for being a part of this and then try to sell it as legitimate. We ain’t stupid and everyone who knows the truth about my case can see right through this bullshit.

I will continue to fight not only for my life, and to get out of here, but to end the death penalty as well. My entire legal team, family and friends and supporters will continue as well. We have to get to the Governor and let him know that he cannot accept these bogus rehashed results.

MoFo and their pro-prosecution and pro-police friends did not even deal with, or even acknowledge the constitutional violations in my case. They did not mention the seven Brady violations which meant the seven pieces of material exculpatory evidence were withheld from my trial attorney and the jury, and the 1991 California Supreme court that heard and upheld this bogus conviction. Why, one must ask, did they ignore these constitutional violations and everything that we proved in the past that went to my innocence?

Could it be that they just didn’t give a damn about the truth but just wanted to uphold this conviction by any means necessary?

No matter their reasons, they did not do what Governor Gavin Newsom ordered them to do in his May 28, 2021, executive order and we cannot let them get away with this.

I ask each and every person who reads this to contact the Governor’s office and voice your outrage over what MoFo did, and demand that he not accept their decision because they did not do what he ordered them to do which was to conduct an independent investigation!

In Struggle and Solidarity

From Death Row at San Quentin Prison,

Kevin Cooper


Call California Governor Newsom:

1-(916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer 

(Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. PST—12:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. EST)



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



The writers' organization PEN America is circulating this petition on behalf of Jason Renard Walker, a Texas prisoner whose life is being threatened because of his exposés of the Texas prison system. 

See his book, Reports from within the Belly of the Beast; available on Amazon at:


Petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/protect-whistleblowers-in-carceral-settings



In the past year, we've learned that dozens of Federal Correction Institution Dublin employees sexually abused countless incarcerated people at the facility. Survivors' stories make clear that FCI Dublin staff specifically targeted immigrant women for abuse, and that ICE has knowingly detained and deported survivors and witnesses of sexual abuse by federal prison employees. Advocates have spoken with seven women who were sexually assaulted by prison staff and have already been deported, and at least 15 who are currently facing deportation (including at least six who are indefinitely detained by ICE).


We are writing to ask you to sign on to an open letter to the ICE leadership, demanding that they cease detaining and deporting noncitizen survivors and witnesses of prison staff sexual abuse, and release those currently in immigration detention. 


Sign on here:



You can read the full text of the open letter, and you can sign your organization on to the letter here:



Thanks for your consideration.





The Diabolic Intent to Murder: Medical Professionals’ & Prisoncrats’ constant delay game of untreated Cancer of Kevin Rashid Johnson                                                                                 

By Peter "Comrade Pitt" Mukuria

Kevin Rashid Johnson  is the Minister of Defense for the Revolutionary Intercommunal Black Panther Party (RIBPP). He is someone that I've been honored to have known for over a decade.  I've learned quite a lot from him over the years. In fact, he played a critical role in my political consciousness & growth.  

Prior to knowing Rashid personally or through his political work, my political awareness was rather undeveloped.  To know Rashid, is to learn from him.  One of the qualities about Rashid, which separates him from most, is that he practices what he preaches.   

By reviewing his work, it’s conspicuous to note, that, he is someone who advocates for the voiceless, poor, & oppressed, those dubbed, The wretched of the earth.  His advocacy for his incarcerated peers isn't limited to writing about the horrible conditions of confinement.  He also involves himself in direct action. 

In countless cases, he has placed himself in direct conflict against the pigs, by advocating for his peers.  As a result of his political consciousness and his courageous spirit intertwined, he has been Interstate transferred to 8 different state prisons. In each of these prisons, he has encountered much of the same inhumane conditions of confinement & abuse of prisoners. Each time, he adamantly spoke out against it. Exposing the prisons & if needed, he implemented physical actions in defense of other prisoners. 

 As a result of his unbroken spirit and activism, he has actively, politically awakened his peers. He transformed their lumpen mentality into a revolutionary mentality. He, thus, became a nightmare to the prisons. 

In  October 2021 , Rashid, had blood tests conducted, however, he wasn’t made aware of the results in a timely manner. No news is usually an indicator of good health.  

A year later, he learned the results of the October 2021 bloodwork. The findings revealed that he had prostate cancer.  Given the amount of time that had passed, the cancer had spread and metastasized. I'm no medical professional, but it is a well-known fact that prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in men & can only be cured if detected & treated early. It's quite conspicious that it was a deliberate act for prison officials to be aware that he had prostate cancer & intentionally delayed notifying him for a year. 

Furthermore, they then played games with his scheduled appointments. The latest one was to have a PET Scan. They intentionally transported him there hours late to ensure that he wouldn’t receive his treatment & a new appointment would have to be scheduled. This same transportation delay tactic actually transpired on multiple occasions.  

Their sinister, diabolical intent is obviously to prolong his treatment to ensure the spread of the cancer & lead to a fatal outcome.  In the case of political & politicized prisoners, medical neglect is a common retaliatory response from the prison officials & this current medical mistreatment is an example. 

 All in all, it is of utmost importance that public protests continue. We must demand that Rashid receives proper treatment as his life is truly in danger.  

For decades, Rashid has stood up against violent guards in defense of other incarcerated people. He has risked his own comfort, advocating for his peers countless times.  Even those he didn’t know. He has exposed the dire & inhumane conditions the incarcerated are subjected to.  The abuse & the constant mistreatment. 

Prisons tend to act if pressured by the public or if actions are court ordered. Given the urgency of this matter- literally life or death-Public involvement would be far more effective as the courts would surely take too much time, which is a luxury we can’t afford as too much time has already passed.  As much as Rashid has fought for others, we must now reciprocate & fight for our brother & comrade. For updates on his health & conditions visit www.Rashidmod.com 

Dare To Struggle 
Dare To Win 
All Power To The People! 

 Comrade Pitt 

Peter Kamau Mukuria #5194931 
PO Box 534 
Jessup, MD 20794 

Minister of Labor ~RIBPP 


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.



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.



February 6, 2023 

Statement from Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier released this statement from his prison cell to mark the 48th anniversary of his unjust incarceration.[1]

Greetings my friends, supporters, loved ones. I know I’ve probably said this, or things like this, many times. Every time I say it, it is as heartfelt as the first time. From the bottom of my soul, I thank you for your support. Living in here, year after year, day after day, week after week, plays on your concepts of time and your process of thought beyond what you can imagine.

Every day, I have to say a prayer in the morning, about keeping my spirit up and the spirits of our people.

The struggles of the American Indian Movement, which are the struggles of all of us, have never ended for me. They go on, week after week, month after month, year after year.

When I speak, sometimes I think I may sound a bit too sensitive, but my love for my people and the love supporters have shown me over the years is what keeps me alive. I don’t read your letters with my intellect. I read them with my heart.

My imprisonment is just another example of the treatment and policies our people have faced since the arrival of the first Europeans. I’m just an ordinary man and I come from a live-and-let-live society, like all our people. And yet we have had to live in a state of survival ever since Columbus landed.

There is nothing about my case, nothing about the Constitution, which is a treaty between the American people and the government, that warrants my continual imprisonment.

They have historically imprisoned or killed our people, taken our land and resources. Any time the law was in our favor they ignored the law or changed the law to benefit their agenda.

After they have gotten what they wanted, a generation later, some politician would apologize. They have never negotiated sincerely with us unless we had something they wanted and could not take, or we were an embarrassment before the world, or we were some sort of opposition. The opposition has always been the dominant reason for them making treaties with us. I could go on and on about the mistreatment of our people and on and on about my case, but the United Nations said it.

That the United States has kept me locked up because I am American Indian. The only thing that really makes me different from other American Indians who have been mistreated, had land taken, or been imprisoned by our government, is that it is all a matter of court record in my case. The violation of my Constitutional rights has been proven in court. The fabrication of every piece of evidence used to convict me has been proven in court.

The United Nations itself, comprised of 193 nations, has called for my release, noting I am a political prisoner. In my case as a political prisoner there does not have to be a prisoner exchange. The exchange they need to make is from their policy of injustice to a policy of justice.

It does not matter what your color and ethnicity are. Black, red, white, yellow, brown—if they can do it to me, they can do it to you. The Constitution of the United States is hanging by a thread. Again.

I want to say, from my heart to your heart, most sincerely—do your best to educate your children. Teach them to defend themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. Make them aware of our history. Teach them to plant a food forest or any plant that will provide for them in the future.

Again, from my heart to yours, plant a tree for me.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.


Leonard Peltier

—Liberation, February 6, 2023



Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132

USP Coleman 1  

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

Note: Letters, address and return address must be in writing—no stickers—and on plain white paper.

[1] To learn what his case is about click here:


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) Authorities Reinstate Alcohol Ban for Aboriginal Australians

The reaction to a rise in crime has renewed hard questions about race and control, and about the open wounds of discrimination.

By Yan Zhuang, March 12, 2023

Yan Zhuang reported this story from Alice Springs, in Australia’s Northern Territory.


A man and woman sitting on a shaded porch look down at a small dog the man is holding.

“For 15 years, I couldn’t buy a beer,” said Geoff Shaw, shown with his partner, Eileen Hoosan, at their home in Alice Springs. Credit...Tamati Smith for The New York Times

Two men sit on the porch of a structure in a sandy field.

An Aboriginal town camp in Alice Springs. Little has been done to address Indigenous communities’ severe underlying inequality. Credit...Tamati Smith for The New York Times

Geoff Shaw cracked open a beer, savoring the simple freedom of having a drink on his porch on a sweltering Saturday morning in mid-February in Australia’s remote Northern Territory.


“For 15 years, I couldn’t buy a beer,” said Mr. Shaw, a 77-year-old Aboriginal elder in Alice Springs, the territory’s third-largest town. “I’m a Vietnam veteran, and I couldn’t even buy a beer.”


Mr. Shaw lives in what the government has deemed a “prescribed area,” an Aboriginal town camp where from 2007 until last year it was illegal to possess alcohol, part of a set of extraordinary race-based interventions into the lives of Indigenous Australians.


Last July, the Northern Territory let the alcohol ban expire for hundreds of Aboriginal communities, calling it racist. But little had been done in the intervening years to address the communities’ severe underlying disadvantage. Once alcohol flowed again, there was an explosion of crime in Alice Springs widely attributed to Aboriginal people. Local and federal politicians reinstated the ban late last month. And Mr. Shaw’s taste of freedom ended.


From the halls of power in the nation’s capital to ramshackle outback settlements, the turmoil in the Northern Territory has revived hard questions that are even older than Australia itself, about race and control and the open wounds of discrimination.


For those who believe that the country’s largely white leadership should not dictate the decisions of Aboriginal people, the alcohol ban’s return replicates the effects of colonialism and disempowers communities. Others argue that the benefits, like reducing domestic violence and other harms to the most vulnerable, can outweigh the discriminatory effects.


For Mr. Shaw, the restrictions are simply a distraction — another Band-Aid for communities that, to address problems at their roots, need funding and support and to be listened to.


“They had nothing to offer us,” he said. “And they had 15 years to sort this out.”


The liquor restrictions prohibit anyone who lives in Aboriginal town camps on the outskirts of Alice Springs, as well as those in more remote Indigenous communities, from buying takeaway alcohol. The town itself is not included in the ban, though Aboriginal people there often face more scrutiny in trying to buy liquor.


One recent day at Uncle’s Tavern, in the center of Alice Springs, patrons — almost all of them non-Indigenous — drank beneath palm trees strung with lights. In the town of 25,000, it seemed as if everyone had a friend, relative or neighbor who had been the victim of an assault, a break-in or property destruction.


As night fell, Aboriginal people who walked the otherwise empty streets were separated from the pub’s patrons by a fence with tall black bars, like something out of a prison. Sometimes, those outside pressed up against the bars; children asked for money for food, and adults for cigarettes or alcohol. The pub’s gate was open, but there were unspoken barriers to entry for the people outside.


Many Aboriginal people travel into town for basic services from the remote communities where they live, in conditions more akin to those of a developing country. Some Indigenous leaders in and around Alice Springs attribute the spike in crime to these visitors.


In the daytime, they were often the only people sitting in public spaces, with nowhere to go to escape the blistering heat. One Aboriginal visitor to Alice Springs, Gloria Cooper, said she had traveled hundreds of miles for medical treatment and was camping in a nearby dry creek bed because she couldn’t afford a place to stay on her welfare income.


“Lots of people in the creek,” she said. “Lots of children.”


The roots of the 15-year alcohol ban were a national media firestorm that erupted in 2006 over a handful of graphic and highly publicized allegations of child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory.


Many of the allegations were later found to be baseless. But just months before a federal election, the conservative prime minister at the time used them to justify a draconian set of race-based measures. Among them were the alcohol restrictions, along with mandatory income management for welfare recipients and restrictions on Indigenous people’s rights to manage land that they owned.


Now, the debate has flared up again at another politically charged moment, as Australia begins to discuss constitutionally enshrining a “voice to Parliament” — an Indigenous body that would advise on policies that affect Aboriginal communities.


Opponents have used the Alice Springs debate to argue that the proposal distracts from practical issues facing Indigenous communities. Supporters say that such a body would have allowed more consultation with affected residents and prevented the problem from escalating.


Indigenous leaders say that the roots of the dysfunction in their communities run deep. A lack of job opportunities has left poverty entrenched, which in turn has exacerbated family violence. Soaring Indigenous incarceration rates have left parents locked away and children adrift. Government controls on Aboriginal people’s lives, imposed without consultation, have bred resentment and hopelessness. Add alcohol to the mix, and the problems only mount.


“We’ve never had our own choice and decision making, our lives have been controlled by others,” said Cherisse Buzzacott, who works to improve Indigenous families’ health literacy. Because of this, she added, those in the most disadvantaged communities “don’t have belief changes can change; they don’t have hope.”


Some Indigenous leaders oppose the alcohol ban on these grounds, arguing that it continues the history of control of Aboriginal communities. Others say that their own contributions to the community show why blanket bans are unfair.


“Some of my mob, some are workers and some are just sitting down, haven’t got a job,” said Benedict Stevens, the president of the Hidden Valley town camp, using a colloquial term for an Aboriginal group. “And what I’m saying is it wouldn’t be fair for us workers to not be able to go back home during the weekends, relax, have some beers.”


Before the alcohol ban expired last year, a coalition of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organizations predicted that a sudden free flow of alcohol would produce a sharp rise in crime. They called for the restrictions to be extended so affected communities could have time to develop individualized transition plans.


The predictions proved accurate. According to the Northern Territory police, commercial breaks-ins, property damage, assaults related to domestic violence and alcohol-related assaults all rose by about or by more than 50 percent from 2021 to 2022. Australia does not break down crime data by race, but politicians and Aboriginal groups themselves have attributed the increase largely to Indigenous people.


“This was a preventable situation,” said Donna Ah Chee, the chief executive of one of these organizations, the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. “It was Aboriginal women, families and children that were actually paying the price,” she added.


The organization was among those that called for a resumption of the ban as an immediate step while long-term solutions were developed to address the underlying drivers of destructive drinking. Ms. Ah Chee said she considered the policy to be “positive discrimination” in protecting those most vulnerable.


What Indigenous leaders on all sides of the debate agreed on was that long-term strategies were needed to address the complex disadvantages facing Indigenous communities.


The problems in Alice Springs were caused by decades of failing to listen to Indigenous people, said William Tilmouth, an Aboriginal elder. The answers, he added, would be found when “politicians and the public looked beyond the alcohol. What they will find is people with voice, strength and solutions waiting to be heard.”



2) Lawyers to Face Off Before Judge in Closely Watched Abortion Pills Case

The first hearing in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn F.D.A. approval of the pills takes place Wednesday morning in Texas.

By Pam Belluck, March 15, 2023

Pam Belluck, who has been writing about reproductive health for over a decade, traveled to Amarillo, Texas, to cover the hearing in the abortion pill case.

A man in a blue suit speaking in court. His name, Mr. Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, is on a white card in front of him.
It is unclear whether Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk will rule from the bench at the end of the hearing. Credit...U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

A hearing Wednesday in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn federal approval of a widely used abortion pill will provide the first opportunity to hear the arguments of the anti-abortion groups that filed the lawsuit and of the Food and Drug Administration, which is fighting to keep the abortion pill legal.


The lawsuit, which seeks to end more than 20 years of legal use of medications for abortion, could have widespread implications in states where abortion is legal, not just where it is illegal. Medication abortion is used in more than half of pregnancy terminations in the United States and 40 percent of clinics that provide abortion services offer abortion pills only, not the surgical procedure.


The hearing on Wednesday will revolve around the plaintiffs’ request that Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the Northern District in Texas grant a preliminary injunction ordering the F.D.A. to withdraw its longstanding approval of mifepristone, the first pill in the two-drug medication abortion regimen, while the case proceeds through trial.


Judge Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee who has written critically about Roe v. Wade and previously worked for a Christian conservative legal organization, took some unusual steps leading up to the hearing. In a meeting last Friday with lawyers for the parties in the case, he asked them to keep quiet about the fact that a hearing had been scheduled and told them he planned to delay making the public aware of it and would only enter it into the public court record the evening before.


In a transcript of the Friday meeting obtained by The New York Times, Judge Kacsmaryk said that other aspects of the case have “brought a barrage of death threats and protesters and the rest” and that he wanted to avoid an “unnecessary circus-like atmosphere” that might disrupt the lawyers’ presentations in court.


Despite the judge’s request, news organizations learned about the hearing and reported it. Members of groups that support abortion rights are planning to demonstrate outside the court building while the hearing is in progress, including by wearing kangaroo and judge costumes to protest what they consider to be a “kangaroo court” and by driving a truck around the city streets with a billboard that will say “a majority of Americans support abortion access.”


The lawsuit claims that the F.D.A. did not adequately review the scientific evidence or follow proper protocols when it approved mifepristone in 2000 and that it has since ignored safety risks of the medication.


The F.D.A. and the Department of Justice, which is representing the F.D.A., have strongly disputed those claims, saying the F.D.A.’s rigorous reviews of mifepristone over the years had repeatedly reaffirmed its decision to approve mifepristone, which blocks a hormone that allows a pregnancy to develop.


It is unclear if the judge will rule at the end of the session Wednesday. Most legal experts expect that he will make his decision at a later date.


Here are some of the issues that the judge has asked lawyers to be prepared to discuss at the hearing:


Whether the plaintiffs have legal standing to bring the lawsuit


The plaintiffs are led by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, an organization that lists five anti-abortion groups as its members. Shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the alliance was incorporated in August in Amarillo, where Judge Kacsmaryk is the only federal judge.


The five groups are not based in Amarillo, but Erik Baptist, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group that is representing the plaintiffs, said that some of the groups’ members are in the Amarillo area, as is one of the four doctors who are plaintiffs in the case.


The plaintiffs contend they have legal standing to sue as parties who experienced injury from the F.D.A. approval because they have treated women who they say have suffered harm from abortion pills. Legal experts, including some conservative legal scholars, said it might be difficult to support a claim that the plaintiffs have standing because the harm they are claiming could be considered several steps removed from the F.D.A.’s approving the drug. The intermediate steps include patients choosing to take the drug and then seeking medical care.


If the judge were to decide that the plaintiffs do not have legal standing to sue, then the case could not proceed.


Whether this lawsuit is an appropriate legal challenge to the F.D.A.’s authority


The judge has indicated that he expects the parties to discuss issues related to the F.D.A.’s authority to approve and regulate drugs. Some legal experts have pointed to constitutional provisions and Congressional actions that suggest that the F.D.A. has overarching authority that cannot be second-guessed by a court. Legal experts say that if the judge were to rule for the plaintiffs, it would apparently be the first time a court had acted to order that a drug be removed from the market over the objection of the F.D.A.


The F.D.A. has also said in its filing in the case that there is a six-year statute of limitations to challenge the agency’s actions and that the plaintiffs are bringing this lawsuit much too late.


The plaintiffs argue that their lawsuit is an appropriate legal action.


Did the F.D.A. err in approving mifepristone under the regulation used at the time?


Mifepristone was initially approved in 2000 under a set of regulations called “Subpart H,” which was created to expedite the approval of drugs “that have been studied for their safety and effectiveness in treating serious or life-threatening illnesses.”


The lawsuit alleges that mifepristone did not qualify for this type of approval because the plaintiffs say that “pregnancy is not an illness.”


The approval process for mifepristone was not expedited — it took over four years — but the F.D.A. applied Subpart H, which allowed the agency to impose additional restrictions on use of the drug, including requiring health care providers to have special qualifications to prescribe it and dispense it only in certain medical settings.


The F.D.A. argues that “illness” is a term that generally applies to medical conditions, not only to diseases. The agency says that any confusion in semantics was cleared up several years later when Congress created a new regulatory framework that used the term “disease or condition.”


Are abortion medications unsafe?


The plaintiffs claim that the pills, which they call “chemical abortion,” cause “cramping, heavy bleeding and severe pain” and that the F.D.A. has never adequately evaluated the scientific evidence for safety.


The F.D.A. vigorously disputes this claim, as do mainstream medical organizations. They say that bleeding and cramping are normal consequences of the process, a sign that the pregnancy tissue is being expelled, and cite years of scientific studies that show that serious complications are rare. The organizations note that mifepristone has actually been regulated much more strictly and studied more intensively than most other drugs.


For a dozen years, the F.D.A. has imposed on mifepristone an additional framework of restrictions and monitoring called a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS. It is a framework that has been used for only about 300 other drugs. In recent years, the F.D.A. has extensively reviewed new data on mifepristone and concluded that the drug was safe enough to lift several of the restrictions, including the requirement that patients obtain the drug in person from a provider.



3) A Rush to Mine the Deep Sea Is Underway. It Must Be Stopped.

By Diva Amon, March 15, 2023

Dr. Amon, a marine biologist, is the director of SpeSeas, an ocean conservation group based in Trinidad and Tobago, and a researcher and adviser at the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"Nauru, one of the world’s smallest nations, with a population of around 11,000, is the sponsor of Nauru Ocean Resources Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, the Metals Company. That company wants to mine parts of a region known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, between Hawaii and Mexico, for polymetallic nodules. These nodules contain many of the base metals now required to make batteries, and the Metals Company says they offer “the cleanest path toward electric vehicles.” (Companies must be sponsored by a country under the treaty to engage in mining.)"


An illustration of two men in suits and ties shaking hands looming above ships engaged in ocean mining.
Myriam Wares

Descending to the depths of the ocean is part of my job as a deep-sea biologist. Traveling three miles below the sea surface never ceases to uplift me. I’ve seen strange and wonderful creatures, from anemones with seven-foot tentacles that billow across the seafloor, to sharks that glow in the dark, 1,000-year-old corals and blind white crabs sustained by bacteria they cultivate on their claws.


The deep sea is a trove of biodiversity, rich in living resources used in medicines and critical in regulating the climate and providing spawning and feeding grounds for fish. The planet would not be the same without it.


But the ocean is facing plenty of problems. Pollution can be found in every marine ecosystem, from the estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year to toxic chemicals accumulating in animals living in the deepest deep-sea trenches. The waters are becoming warmer, more acidic and less rich in oxygen. Twenty percent to 25 percent of marine species are already at considerable risk of extinction.


Now a new threat looms.


The ocean could be the next frontier for mining. An obscure but consequential organization formed under the United Nations Law of the Sea treaty is finalizing regulations for mining activities in over 40 percent of the planet’s surface. Approval of these rules, in the works since 2014, could come possibly as soon as July. After that, a scramble to mine the deep sea could commence. And once it begins, there will be little hope of reining it in.


Why the rush? In June 2021, the Pacific Island nation of Nauru, one of the 167 member nations plus the European Union of the regulatory organization, the International Seabed Authority, invoked a provision of the treaty that requires the authority to adopt rules for deep-sea mining within 24 months. Nauru, one of the world’s smallest nations, with a population of around 11,000, is the sponsor of Nauru Ocean Resources Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, the Metals Company. That company wants to mine parts of a region known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, between Hawaii and Mexico, for polymetallic nodules. These nodules contain many of the base metals now required to make batteries, and the Metals Company says they offer “the cleanest path toward electric vehicles.” (Companies must be sponsored by a country under the treaty to engage in mining.)


Nauru’s action could open much of the high seas to deep-sea mining, permanently altering near-pristine and vast areas of the ocean.


Some deep-sea mining companies argue that extracting minerals such as copper, nickel and cobalt from the ocean floor is more sustainable than extracting them from land-based mines. But what little independent science there is to back their claims is contested.


I led a team of 30 other scientists from around the world in a comprehensive study published in the journal Marine Policy last year that found that “there are few categories of publicly available scientific knowledge comprehensive enough to enable evidence-based decision-making regarding environmental management” of deep-sea mining. We added that “closing the scientific gaps” is a “monumental task that is essential to fulfilling the overarching obligation to prevent serious harm and ensure effective protection, and will require clear direction, substantial resources and robust coordination and collaboration.”


We’re still nowhere near closing those gaps.


There is also a growing body of evidence that mining hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean floor could inflict irreversible damage on ocean health. Huge machines would be sent down to the ocean floor that scrape up minerals — and everything else in their way — creating plumes of sediment that would spread for many miles into the surrounding waters and emitting noise and light that disturb dark, quiet ecosystems in the deep seas that took eons to develop. A recent analysis of the seabed authority’s process of assessing the environmental impact of exploration found it to be “severely deficient, both in procedure and in substance.” The study was the work of scientists and legal scholars from 11 nations.


What’s also deeply worrisome is that the companies and countries lobbying the seabed authority to open the deep sea to mining don’t appear to prioritize equity in their plans. The oceans and their resources are, as the Law of the Sea puts it, “the common heritage of mankind” and are an especially integral part of the culture and well-being of ocean-dependent communities. The resources are supposed to be “vested in mankind as a whole,” according to the U.N. treaty, and should be managed to ensure that any mining benefits as many people as possible. Right now, there is no mechanism to accomplish this.


Concerns have also been raised that the seabed authority doesn’t display the transparency, objectivity and science-based decision-making critical for overseeing such a fraught and nearly impossible-to-monitor industry. There is no robust and inclusive engagement of all those with a stake and no transparent decision-making processes. Because of these issues, deep-sea mining lacks “social legitimacy,” as seven ocean experts and I argued last month in a comment in the journal npj Ocean Sustainability. Without that legitimacy, we said, “investors and consumers might reject seabed minerals and their use.”


A seabed authority meeting scheduled to begin Thursday in Jamaica offers the opportunity to put the brakes on this dash to excavate the deep sea. Member countries still have much to deliberate, and it now seems likely that they will be unable to reach an agreement in the near future, much less by the July 9 imposed by Nauru’s action. What that will mean is not entirely clear should mining companies submit applications to begin excavations in the absence of regulations.


More than 700 ocean experts have signed a statement urging a delay of deep-sea mining. Some major companies and banks have pledged similar support or created policies that exclude financing of deep-sea mining. And 12 countries have called for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, with France going further and pressing for an outright ban.


Fortunately, it’s not too late for governments to stop this rush before it starts. More countries must step up and say they will not approve deep-sea mining unless and until there is sufficient scientific research on the potential risks and strong regulations can be put in place to protect these hidden but vitally needed ecosystems. Once a moratorium is in place, countries then can take time to assess whether we really need to mine the deep ocean at all.



4) Live Updates: Macron Pushes French Pension Bill Through Without Full Vote

President Emmanuel Macron, shy of support in Parliament for his contentious proposal to raise the retirement age, used a constitutional measure to enact the bill without putting it to a vote in the powerful National Assembly.

By Roger Cohen and Aurelien BreedenReporting from Paris


A group of students in a street, holding banners and signs.
Students in Paris on Thursday, protesting the French government’s plan to raise the retirement age. Credit...Lewis Joly/Associated Press

President Emmanuel Macron, apparently short of parliamentary support for his contentious proposal to increase the retirement age by two years, has decided to push the legislation through without a vote in the National Assembly, a decision certain to inflame an already tense confrontation over the measure in France.


The decision prompted raucous protests on Thursday inside the assembly chamber, where opposition lawmakers sang the French national anthem and banged on their desks, drowning out a speech by the prime minister, a Macron ally. The noisy session came after weeks of protests and strikes against Mr. Macron’s proposal that have disrupted public transportation, left garbage piling up and sparked impassioned debate over the future of the country’s cherished social protection system.


Earlier on Thursday — a day after hundreds of thousands of people marched in cities around France to oppose the plan — the upper house of Parliament, the Senate, approved the bill, which increases the age when most workers are able to retire with a government pension to 64, from 62. But in the National Assembly, the lower and more powerful house, Mr. Macron’s party and its allies hold only a slim majority, and did not have enough votes to pass the bill.


Here is what to know:


The decision to use Article 49.3 of the French Constitution, which enables a government to push a bill through the National Assembly without a vote, gives opposition lawmakers 24 hours to file a no-confidence motion against the government, although it is rare for such motions to succeed. The article has been enshrined in law since 1958, but over the past decade it has increasingly been seen as an undemocratic tool used by governments to strong-arm lawmakers.


Mr. Macron says France’s pension system is in “an increasingly precarious state” because retirees are living longer and their numbers are growing faster than those of today’s workers, whose payroll taxes finance the system. But his plan has angered a society that reveres retirement and a generous balance between work and leisure. In polls, roughly two-thirds of French people say they disapprove of the plan.


Eight large-scale national protests in two months have convulsed France, and a strike by garbage workers has left trash piled neck-high in Paris and other cities.


For Mr. Macron, who has spent much of his time since re-election last year focused on diplomatic issues like the war in Ukraine, the pensions issue could be central to his domestic legacy. He cannot run again in 2027, as France’s constitution limits presidents to two consecutive five-year terms.



5) Seven Virginia Deputies Charged With Murder in Death of Man at Hospital

A prosecutor said that the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office deputies got on top of a handcuffed and shackled Irvo Otieno, causing him to die from asphyxiation. His family says he had a mental illness.

By Eduardo Medina, Published March 15, 2023, Updated March 16, 2023


The S.T.A.R. Center, at Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, Va, where Irvo Otieno passed away on Tuesday.

The S.T.A.R. Center, at Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, Va, where Irvo Otieno passed away on Tuesday. Credit...Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch, via Associated Press

Seven sheriff’s deputies in Virginia have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a Black man with a history of mental illness who died after the officers smothered him as he lay on the ground in handcuffs and leg shackles at a hospital, his family’s lawyer and a county prosecutor said on Wednesday.


The man, Irvo Otieno, 28, of Henrico County, Va., whose family emigrated from Kenya when he was 4 years old, appeared to have died from asphyxiation, or oxygen deficiency, on March 6 at Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, his family’s lawyer, Mark Krudys, said in an interview. His family says Mr. Otieno was deprived of medication while in jail that he needed for his mental illness.


The seven deputies from the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office “have been placed on administrative leave” until the case is closed, Sheriff Alisa Gregory of Henrico County said in a statement.


“The events of March 6, at their core, represent a tragedy because Mr. Otieno’s life was lost,” Sheriff Gregory said, noting that her office was cooperating with the investigation of the Virginia State Police.


The Dinwiddie County prosecutor, Ann Cabell Baskervill, said in court on Wednesday that Mr. Otieno had suffocated from the weight of the seven deputies smothering him, CBS 6 News reported.


“There is video footage of exactly what happened, and he was not agitated and combative,” Ms. Baskervill said of Mr. Otieno. “He was held down on the ground, pinned on the ground for 12 minutes by all seven of our defendants charged here.”


She did not immediately respond to emails and calls seeking comment on Wednesday.


The authorities have identified the deputies involved as Randy Joseph Boyer, 57, of Henrico; Dwayne Alan Bramble, 37, of Sandston; Jermaine Lavar Branch, 45, of Henrico; Bradley Thomas Disse, 43, of Henrico; Tabitha Renee Levere, 50, of Henrico; Brandon Edwards Rodgers, 48, of Henrico; and Kaiyell Dajour Sanders, 30, of North Chesterfield.


Court records did not list the names of lawyers representing some of the deputies. The records show that court hearings were scheduled on Wednesday to appoint lawyers for some of them.


Cary Bowen, who is representing Mr. Branch and did not respond to calls and an email seeking comment, told reporters outside the courthouse in Dinwiddie County on Wednesday that the prosecutor “has taken a very aggressive position here, and it’s pretty unusual to go about things the way it’s been done,” ABC 8 News reported.


Mr. Bowen added in court that the deputies had struggled to restrain Mr. Otieno, whom he described as “physically very robust” and as having a history of mental health struggles.


The Henrico Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4, the local police union, said on Facebook that while the death of Mr. Otieno was tragic, “we also stand behind the seven accused deputies.” The organization also emphasized that the Virginia State Police had not yet finished its investigation, and that the medical examiner had not released a cause of death as of Wednesday.


“With these things in mind, and cognizant of every accused’s presumption of innocence, we support our brothers and sisters, and hope for a quick resolution that clears their names,” the union said.


The medical examiner’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday night.


The case is the latest example of an encounter between law enforcement and a person with a mental illness that ended in violence or death. According to a Washington Post database that tracks police shootings in the United States, 21 percent of people killed by law enforcement since 2015 had a known mental illness.


The death of Mr. Otieno also came as law enforcement agencies across the country face increasing scrutiny over arrests that have turned deadly. Earlier this year, Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man pulled over in a traffic stop, was beaten by Memphis police officers for roughly three minutes on the evening of Jan. 7, and died three days later.


Mr. Otieno was a well-known athlete growing up in Henrico, Mr. Krudys said, and began having mental health struggles as a young adult.


Mr. Krudys declined to share more details about Mr. Otieno’s mental health condition.


On March 3, Mr. Otieno appeared to be experiencing mental health distress and walked to a neighbor’s lawn, where he picked up some solar-powered lights laid out on the property, Mr. Krudys said.


A neighbor called the Henrico Police Department, whose officers placed Mr. Otieno under an emergency custody order before taking him to a hospital “for further evaluation,” the police said in a statement.


At the hospital, police said last week, Mr. Otieno was “physically assaultive” toward officers, who arrested him, took him to the Henrico County Jail and charged him with three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer and one count each of disorderly conduct in a hospital and vandalism.


Mr. Otieno’s family disputes that he was violent at the hospital.


While in jail, Mr. Otieno’s mother, Caroline Ouko, tried to bring him medication for his mental illness, though officials initially would not allow her to drop it off, Mr. Krudys said. Later, the jail accepted one medication, he added. Officials at the jail told her that Mr. Otieno would see a doctor in a few days, he said.


“The more time that passes without you getting your meds,” Mr. Krudys said, “the more distressed you become.”


On March 6, Mr. Otieno was taken from the jail to the state hospital, where, the prosecutor said, the deputies smothered him.


Mr. Krudys said that he was continuing to gather details about what had occurred while Mr. Otieno was detained.


“I mean, it’s a very harsh treatment for somebody that’s obviously in a very confused state,” Mr. Krudys said of the deputies’ actions.


It’s unclear what prompted the struggle between the deputies and Mr. Otieno on March 6 at the state hospital, Mr. Krudys said, but footage inside the building appears to have captured the encounter.


That footage has not been released, and the Virginia Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services, which oversees the state-run hospital in Dinwiddie County, did not respond to calls seeking comment on Wednesday night.


Mr. Otieno’s family plans to see the video for the first time on Thursday, Mr. Krudys said. Ben Crump, the lawyer representing the family of Mr. Nichols, will be at a news conference attended by the family.



6) You Don’t Have to Be a Doctor to Know How Much Trouble the N.H.S. Is In

By Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick, March 17, 2023

Ms. Pollock is a clinical professor of public health at Newcastle University. Mr. Roderick is a principal research associate at the Population Health Sciences Institute and a lawyer. 


Violet Reed

On Dec. 15, nurses walked out and began the largest nurses’ strike in the history of Britain’s National Health Service. They were protesting working conditions that have left them burned out and stretched thin — and compromised patient safety — and wages that fell in the last decade in real terms. Ambulance workers joined them. This week, thousands of junior doctors went on strike for three consecutive days.


“I come to work and can see that there’s a patient waiting eight hours to see a doctor. There are some days where I finish my shift, come back the next day and then I see the same patient still sat waiting in A&E” — the emergency room — “the next day,” Dr. Kiara Vincent, one of the doctors striking, told the BBC on Monday.


But you don’t have to work in a hospital to know that Britain’s N.H.S. is in the most serious crisis of its history; you just have to be injured, or ill. Thousands of people are estimated to have died in the last year because of overwhelmed ambulance and emergency services. There are 7.2 million people in England, more than 10 percent of the population, on waiting lists for treatments like hip or knee replacements, back surgery or cataract operations. And hundreds of thousands of people have had a doctor’s referral for outpatient care at a hospital rejected because there are no available appointments — they are simply bounced back to the doctor to begin the process again.


That the flagship health care service of one of the wealthiest countries in the world is in such a state is shocking, but not without explanation. Decades of marketization, 10 years of Conservative austerity and a pandemic have hollowed out the N.H.S. so much that people who can afford to, and increasingly those who can’t, are having to pay for health care.


A two-tier system with more and more in common with American health care is taking shape. It’s not working, and we’ll soon be at the point where it’s too late to do anything about it.


The damage to the N.H.S. was inflicted in three main waves.


In the late 1980s and early ’90s, a Conservative government introduced the internal market and closed long-stay hospitals — where care was free — under the euphemistic banner of “care in the community.” Private nursing homes backed by equity investors took over provision for older people, and care became chargeable and means-tested, mirroring Medicaid “spend down” rules.


In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Labour, under Tony Blair, built dozens of new hospitals with money from partnerships with private investors. The new hospitals were saddled with enormous loan and interest repayments — around $60 billion is still owed.


In 2010, the Conservatives, back in power — alongside the Liberal Democrats until 2015 — embarked on a decade of austerity. A government-commissioned report released last year called the years between 2010 and 2020 the N.H.S.’s “decade of neglect.”


The cumulative effect was devastating: In the three decades that preceded the pandemic the number of NHS beds in England was more than halved. Shortages — of beds, ventilators or intensive care specialists — in early 2020 were not unique to Britain, but Britain had fewer per capita beds than comparable countries. There was a palpable sense of panic about how Britain and its health service were going to manage.


Britain did manage. And it was because of the dedication of the people who work for the N.H.S., and the retired staff who came out of retirement to help. Britons know this: Research from the spring of 2022 suggests that the British public still overwhelmingly support the founding principles of the N.H.S., even as their satisfaction with it sinks to the lowest level in decades. (Nurses and ambulance workers have the most public support of all of the workers who have been staging strikes in Britain this winter.)


But people are also tired of waiting — or not able to wait — and more and more are paying for private treatment.


There was a 35 percent increase in people choosing to self-fund care between 2019 and 2021, with “market-beating growth” reported in the self-pay market since the Covid pandemic. The number of people self-funding operations like hip and knee replacements more than doubled.


And there are indications that some of the people paying for private treatment are doing so not because they can afford to, but because they can’t afford to wait: Between 2019 and 2021, as self-funding increased, the number of people paying with private insurance decreased; people are reportedly taking out loans to pay for operations and, in a development that will be familiar to Americans but is something quite new in Britain, more and more people are turning to GoFundMe to raise money for medical treatment.


The government has done plenty to encourage this shift: In 2012, the Conservatives increased the cap on what percentage of an N.H.S. hospital’s income could come from treating private patients to 49 percent.


An investigation by The Guardian in January found that some N.H.S. hospitals with private divisions were promoting self-pay for people who “don’t want to wait for an N.H.S. referral,” while warning N.H.S. patients that services were “extremely busy.” And it’s well established that doctors who work for the public and the private sector have a conflict of interest and can game the system, telling patients that they’ll have to wait months for N.H.S. treatment one week and then treating them privately the next.


More private patients is supposed to mean more money for the service. But since the profit margins on the income from private patients are treated as confidential, researchers have not been able to verify whether private patient units have created more money for N.H.S. patients, whether they make any profit or even lose money.


What we do know is Britons who want to use the N.H.S. are finding it increasingly hard to do so. It doesn’t have to be this way, but change won’t be easy.


In the short term the N.H.S. should stop treating private patients and use public funds to increase the numbers of beds and staff. And sooner rather than later, doctors should be required to choose between working for the public system or the private sector.


There have been four attempts to introduce a bill — that we co-authored — that would reinstate the N.H.S. as a planned system of universal public health care in England in the House of Commons since 2015 — and all four have failed, the last one in 2018. The prospects of any future attempt would depend on the next government.


On Thursday, after months of rolling strikes, the government increased its pay offer to nurses and ambulance workers. Three of the largest health unions agreed to recommend the offer to their members. Junior doctors went back to work, but their dispute is far from over.


The N.H.S. as Britons have known it — accessible, free at the point of use, cherished — is becoming something else. But as long as there are still people willing to fight for it, it’s not too late to save it.



7) Going Hungry in America

The country’s neediest are dealing with food stamp cuts and rising prices at the same time.

By German Lopez, March 17, 2023


A circular sign that says “SNAP and EBT accepted here,” hanging in a grocery aisle.
A Dollar General in Lexington, S.C., in 2021. Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Earlier this year, millions of Americans got a notice: Your food budget is about to be cut, potentially by hundreds of dollars a month. Here are some tips on how you can manage. You can’t appeal.


The notices signaled the coming end of a federal increase in food stamps that started in the early days of the pandemic, when unemployment spiked and lawmakers feared that hunger would, too.


The cuts come at a particularly bad time for low-income Americans. Grocery prices increased 10 percent over the past year, according to data released this week. It amounts to a one-two punch: The country’s neediest have less aid to pay for food as it’s getting more expensive.


The big question is what happens now. Some experts have warned that the country is approaching a “hunger cliff,” with the number of Americans going hungry likely to spike this spring. To buy food, other families may have to use money that would otherwise have gone to rent or other bills — and fall behind on those payments.


The stress on family food budgets represents a tangible example of how a recent rise in the nation’s poverty rate is affecting people’s lives. The poverty rate fell sharply in 2021 — to 7.8 percent by one measure, from 11.8 percent in 2019 — thanks mostly to economic relief laws that Congress passed in response to Covid. But Congress has let many provisions expire, and the poverty rate rose in 2022 as a result.


“It is a very large and abrupt change,” said Ellen Vollinger of Food Research and Action Center, an advocacy group. “The hardship will fall on these families.”


Emergencies’ end


We already have a glimpse of how the food stamp cuts will play out. This month’s cuts ended the expanded benefits in the 32 states that still had them, but 18 states had already revoked their extra benefits. In those 18 states, food insecurity, which measures insufficient access to food, rose more quickly than in states that kept the benefits, researchers at Northwestern University and the Jain Family Institute found.


These charts from my colleague Ashley Wu show the trend in four of the states that cut food stamps earlier. The data fluctuates. But generally, more households struggled to get enough to eat after the cuts:

The situation could get worse. When many of those 18 states cut benefits, food prices were rising less quickly than they have been more recently. The government adjusts food stamps for inflation, but only once a year, in October. So if prices keep rising quickly, the real value of food stamps will fall behind for the next several months.


Food stamp benefits will still be higher than they were before the pandemic because the Biden administration separately increased them in 2021. But those increases don’t outweigh the end of emergency benefits for many recipients, meaning their food budgets will still decrease.


Some conservatives say the warnings are overblown. Angela Rachidi of the American Enterprise Institute argued that the effects of the emergency benefits were exaggerated and that they were always supposed to be temporary.


Return to normal


Ultimately, the food stamp cuts will probably push more people — potentially millions more — into poverty, said Megan Curran of the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University. That increase will largely erase what remains of recent years’ progress on the issue.


In that sense, the food stamp cuts fit into a broader story: During the pandemic, the U.S. expanded its safety net to prevent the worst outcomes of a crashing economy. Those policies worked to keep people out of poverty. But now that the economy has recovered from the initial pandemic shock, Congress is letting the safety net shrink back down. And poverty is rising back to where it once was.



8) I Pledge Allegiance to … My Conscience

By Pamela Paul, March 16, 2023

Marissa Barnwell in front of an American flag.

Marissa Barnwell Credit...Gem Hale for The New York Times

On Nov. 29, 2022, Marissa Barnwell, an honor student at River Bluff High School in Lexington, S.C., was walking to class when the Pledge of Allegiance came on over the loudspeaker. It was Marissa’s 15th birthday and, as she told me recently, “I started off that day very happy, just living life.” Though other students passed in the hallway without incident, school camera footage shows a confrontation between Marissa and a teacher. According to Marissa, the teacher yelled at her to stop walking, grabbed her by the arm and pushed her against a hallway wall. She was then escorted to the principal’s office.


Once there, Marissa says she told the principal she’d been assaulted by a teacher for exercising her First Amendment right not to participate in the pledge. As Marissa recalls, he responded, “Don’t you love this country?”


There are many ways to express patriotism. In the grand, short scheme of American history, the Pledge of Allegiance, in its current form, is relatively new. The authorship of the pledge has recently been disputed, but it is commonly attributed to Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist who claimed to have written it in 1892. In the 1920s, it was amended to refer specifically to the flag “of the United States of America,” in case any recent immigrants got the wrong idea about which country they were heeding. It wasn’t until 1954, at the height of the Red Scare, that President Eisenhower succumbed to pressure from McCarthyites in Congress to insert the words “under God” into the pledge.


In 1935, a seventh-grade student, Lillian Gobitas, and her brother William, a fifth grader, both Jehovah’s Witnesses, refused to recite the pledge in school on religious grounds. They were harassed and ostracized; children threw rocks at Lillian, and she and William were expelled. The case eventually rose to the Supreme Court, which decided against them. That decision was overturned in 1943. “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein,” Justice Robert Jackson wrote in the majority opinion.


I knew none of this history in the late 1970s, when I moved from one suburban New York town to another and wound up in a second-grade public school classroom where each day began with the pledge. Students rose from their desks, affixed their right hands to their hearts and repeated the words in unison.


Only I wouldn’t do it — and as a consequence, I was sent to the principal’s office. I remember explaining that I did not believe in God and therefore didn’t wish to participate. I remember my mother being called and that whatever she said must have appeased them. I was released back to class, presumably having lain to rest any concerns that the new kid was some kind of troublemaker.


Marissa Barnwell and I chose not to recite the pledge for different reasons and under very different circumstances. My confrontation took place during the relatively apathetic ’70s in liberal New York. I was 7 years old, white, painfully shy. Marissa is a Black 15-year-old attending a predominantly white school in red state South Carolina during a highly polarized time; she was singled out among numerous students walking during the pledge in the hallway that day. When her story broke, she was denounced on social media, often in incendiary and hateful terms; on Facebook, one comment urged her to “go back to her monkey cage in Africa if she doesn’t like to recite the pledge to the country that’s doing her and her retarded family a favor by letting them live among decent humans.”


This kind of repellent racism is the very reason Marissa first stopped reciting the pledge in third grade, inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. Marissa told me: “Protesting the Pledge of Allegiance is basically saying that I’m aware of the way American society treats Black people, that we are not all treated equally, with liberty or with justice. I want to be sure to acknowledge that what’s being pledged isn’t the truth.” In 2019, an 11-year-old boy was arrested in Florida after a dispute over his refusal to stand for the pledge, which also served as a protest against racism.


People may have many reasons to exercise their First Amendment right not to recite the pledge. Those reasons can be personal and private; they should not need a public defense. No federal law requires citizens to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, stand when it is delivered or stop to acknowledge its recitation. State law, however, sometimes does. Texas, for example, requires students to pledge allegiance every day, not only to the United States but to the Lone Star State as well.


Many Americans may not be aware of just how unusual it is for students to recite a daily oath to their country or their country’s leader. The oddity probably stands out most to those who have immigrated here or who have lived outside this country for any significant time. In Britain, students don’t start their school day with “God Save the King.” In France, public schoolchildren don’t pay fealty to the tricolor before setting to the day’s lessons.


In some countries, students sing a national anthem before school events, but few require regular loyalty pledges from their students; among those that do are North Korea, Singapore and, until recently, Turkey. When I lived in Thailand in the ’90s, movie audiences had to stand before every film while the royal anthem played, accompanied by a short film about the king. As a noncitizen resident of the country and out of respect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, I also stood up. These days, in a sign of civic unrest, more Thais are staying seated in quiet protest of his successor, King Maha Vajiralongkorn.


Some people believe that protest itself is a form of patriotism — that only those who are deeply invested in their country and who believe in its capacity to overcome wrongs would bother pointing out injustices. Should such dissent be viewed as any less patriotic than the indifference exhibited by those who absent-mindedly put a hand to their chest while repeating words to which they may not have given consideration?


Marissa Barnwell, a high-achieving and conscientious teenager, understood her constitutional rights and exercised them. (Her family is now suing the school district and others, accusing them of violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments.) Isn’t that — more than reciting a loyalty oath, whether you believe in it or not — what citizenship is about? That’s how Marissa sees it. When she grows up, she told me, she wants to be a lawyer because, as she put it, “I want to make sure there is representation for fair treatment for all, and I want to be that person.”



9) Women’s Health Care Is Still Underfunded. The Consequences Are Dire.

By Jessica Grose, March 18, 2023

A woman in a hospital gown sits on the edge of an examination table.
SDI Productions/Getty Images

In 2013, I talked to Marlena Fejzo about her research on hyperemesis gravidarum — morning sickness so extreme it “can lead to dehydration, weight loss and vitamin deficiencies.” At the time, I noted that Fejzo, who had suffered from the condition herself, was one of the few researchers studying the malady, despite that in Western societies it’s the most common reason for first-trimester hospitalizations and can be, in extreme cases, life threatening.


This week for The Times Alice Callahan profiled Fejzo, a geneticist at the medical schools at both the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California. According to Fejzo, Callahan wrote, “Hyperemesis hospitalizations are thought to cost patients and insurers about $3 billion per year.” But funding for studies about the illness is still woefully inadequate, as it was 10 years ago when I interviewed Fejzo.


“Since 2007,” Callahan reports, the National Institutes of Health “has funded only six hyperemesis studies, totaling $2.1 million.” We know more about hyperemesis now — that there may be a specific genetic component to it — than we did a decade ago, in part because Fejzo has tirelessly studied it.


Also this week, for The New Yorker, my friend Jessica Winter wrote about another understudied and devastating condition that affects women: postpartum psychosis. “A woman experiencing postpartum psychosis may show signs of mania, depression or both; she may have aural hallucinations, paranoia or delusions; she may stay awake day and night,” Winter explains. In exceedingly rare but sometimes highly publicized cases, mothers have killed their children, or themselves, when suffering from postpartum psychosis.


Winter wrote that while potentially one in seven women suffers from perinatal and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (or P.M.A.D.s, a category that includes postpartum psychosis), these disorders’ “neurochemical byways are not well mapped.”


Dr. Veerle Bergink, the director of the Women’s Mental Health Program at Mount Sinai, told Winter this about postpartum psychosis:


There is no money for it, not for research, not for treatment. There are no guidelines. This is one of the most severe conditions in psychiatry, one that has huge impacts on the mother and potentially on the child, and there’s nothing.

This shouldn’t surprise and anger me as much as it does, because I already knew that diseases that tend to afflict women don’t receive as much funding as diseases that tend to afflict men. According to a 2021 paper published in The Journal of Women’s Health:


In nearly three-quarters of the cases where a disease afflicts primarily one gender, the funding pattern favors males, in that either the disease affects more women and is underfunded (with respect to burden), or the disease affects more men and is overfunded. Moreover, the disparity between actual funding and that which is commensurate with burden is nearly twice as large for diseases that favor males versus those that favor females.

I emailed Maya Dusenbery, the author of the 2018 book “Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed and Sick,” to get her take on why women’s reproductive health — which includes hyperemesis and postpartum psychosis — is in particular so poorly studied.


Dusenbery said that there are knowledge gaps across areas of women’s health because we’re still “playing catch-up in understanding that women’s experiences can sometimes differ from men’s when it comes to the risk factors and presentation of the same disease or the effectiveness and side effects of the same treatment,” and that some of the knowledge gap can be traced to “the tendency to psychologize women’s illness. In attributing women’s unexplained symptoms to ‘hysteria,’ medicine didn’t have much motivation to study their biological underpinnings.”


When it comes to women’s reproductive health, she said, “there’s been a more complicated dynamic” because there’s been a history of looking at women’s biological functioning “as sort of inherently pathological.” Menstruation, childbirth and menopause were seen as a kind of permanent sickness or weakness, which (conveniently, for some) prevented women from fully participating in public life. But there’s also been a history of psychologizing “women’s unexplained symptoms,” Dusenbery said, meaning women have also been told that their painful cramps or extreme morning sickness were just signs of mental illness.


During her second pregnancy, Fejzo was so sick that she couldn’t swallow a teaspoon of water, lost 15 pounds and ultimately miscarried. Her doctor, Callahan wrote, told Fejzo that “women make themselves sick during pregnancy to gain the sympathy of their husbands, and later, that her illness was a ploy for attention from her parents, who were helping with her medical care.”


That was in 1999, not 1899.


In her book, Dusenbery wrote: “Today, medicine seems to have generally settled into a position that manages to incorporate the worst of both worlds: It’s considered ‘normal’ for women’s reproductive functions to be a bit abnormal — and if it’s really bad, well, maybe it’s all in your head.”


The solution to this diagnostic purgatory, she said, is more research into “basic physiology to explain the individual variation” of women’s experiences when they menstruate or give birth. Why do some people, like Fejzo, and me, have debilitating and life-altering morning sickness, while 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women don’t have any morning sickness at all? Experts have theories, including Fejzo’s identification of a genetic variant that is linked to hyperemesis — but we don’t have enough tools to help women who are suffering right now. Funding women’s health equitably wouldn’t give us answers overnight, but it would set us on the right path.



10) Wyoming Becomes First State to Outlaw the Use of Pills for Abortion

The law is the only one in the nation to prohibit the use separate from a total abortion ban and is part of a growing effort by conservative states to target the pills.

By David W. Chen and Pam Belluck, Published March 17, 2023, Updated March 18, 2023


A person holds a box of abortion pills.
Because the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to an abortion, the fight over abortion access is now in the hands of the states. Credit...Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

Wyoming on Friday became the first state to ban the use of pills for abortion, adding momentum to a growing push by conservative states and anti-abortion groups to target medication abortion, the method now used in a majority of pregnancy terminations in the United States.


Wyoming’s new law comes as a preliminary ruling is expected soon by a Texas judge that could order the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to withdraw its approval of mifepristone, the first pill in the two-drug medication abortion regimen. Such a ruling, if it stands, could upend how abortion is provided nationally, affecting states where abortion is legal as well as states with bans and restrictions.


Legislation to ban or add restrictions on medication abortion has been introduced in several states this year, including a bill in Texas that would not only ban abortion pills but also require internet service providers to take steps to block medication abortion websites so people in Texas could not view them.


In these states, proposals to block or restrict abortion pills have typically been introduced along with other anti-abortion measures, a reflection of the range of obstacles to abortion these states have tried to erect since the Supreme Court overturned the national right to abortion last June.


Medication abortion is already outlawed in states that have total bans, since those bans already prohibit all forms of abortion. But Wyoming became the first state to outlaw the use of  pills for abortion separate from a total ban.


Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming, a Republican, signed that state’s abortion pill ban on the same day that he said he would allow another more sweeping measure banning abortion to become law without his signature. That law, which takes effect on Sunday, would ban abortion under almost all circumstances, making it a felony to provide an abortion.


“I have acted without bias and after extensive prayer, to allow these bills to become law,” Mr. Gordon wrote in a letter to Wyoming’s secretary of state released on Friday evening.


Mr. Gordon said in the letter that he withheld his signature from the broader abortion ban because he feared it would complicate matters in an ongoing legal battle over an earlier abortion ban passed by Wyoming legislators.


The broader ban outlaws medication abortion as well, and the measure that bans abortion pills would mostly have the effect of adding additional penalties for medication abortion providers.


Both laws are likely to be challenged quickly in court by abortion providers, who will seek to prevent the bans from taking effect while the legal challenge proceeds. A previously enacted abortion ban has so far been blocked by the courts after providers and others filed suit claiming that the law violated the Wyoming state Constitution’s guarantee of freedom in health care decisions. The newly enacted abortion ban is an attempt to circumvent that constitutional provision by declaring that abortion is not health care.


Wyoming’s abortion pill law would take effect on July 1 and would make it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.” Doctors or anyone else found guilty of violating this law would be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $9,000 fine. The law explicitly says that pregnant patients will be exempt from charges and penalties.


Wyoming has only one clinic that provides abortions, Women’s Health & Family Care Clinic in Jackson. It provides only medication abortion, not the surgical procedure.


Earlier versions of the bill had named specific drugs: mifepristone and two brand-name versions of it as well as misoprostol, the second drug used in the medication abortion regimen.


But doctors testified in objection, pointing out that misoprostol, in particular, had many other medical uses, including helping pregnant patients successfully give birth. The doctors raised concerns that pharmacists would be fearful of stocking any of the drugs, and some Republicans said names of abortion medications could simply be changed to get around the law. As a result, the final language was broadened to outlaw using any medication for abortion without mentioning specific drugs.


At least three other bills have been introduced in 2023 that seek to ban medication abortion. In Iowa, the bill did not make it to a vote before the legislative session ended, and in Hawaii, a Democratic state, the bill seems unlikely to succeed.


A bill introduced in Texas, a state that already bans abortion, includes many provisions that seek to close off any access to pills, including making it difficult for Texas patients to learn about or use abortion services outside of the state. The bill would make it illegal to manufacture, distribute or “provide an abortion-inducing drug in any manner to or from any person or location in this state.”


It would also make it illegal to “create, edit, upload, publish, host, maintain, or register a domain name for an internet website, platform, or other interactive computer service that assists or facilitates a person’s effort in obtaining an abortion-inducing drug.”


Many patients learn about abortion options from websites like Plan C, a clearinghouse of information about medication abortion. And a growing number of patients in states with abortion bans are arranging to receive pills through telemedicine websites like Aid Access, a European-based service that has pills shipped to any state from India, and Hey Jane, one of several American-based services that will provide pills to patients who travel to a state where abortion is legal and where they can receive the medication by mail in those states.


In addition to Wyoming and states with total abortion bans, 15 states have enacted restrictions on access to medication abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group supporting abortion rights. Those restrictions range from requiring that the drugs be provided by a physician to requiring the patient have an in-person visit with a doctor. Several states, including Texas and Arizona, have outlawed the mailing of abortion pills, and bills to ban mailing pills have been introduced in at least three other states this year.


“We are seeing efforts to further bar access to medication abortion because abortion opponents recognize that even with abortion bans in effect in 12 states and lack of access in an additional two, patients are still able to obtain abortion pills,” said Elizabeth Nash, state policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute. “Now, abortion opponents have turned to the courts, attorneys general and state legislatures to further limit access to pills.”


Since January, when newly elected legislatures began to convene for the first time since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision ended the national right to an abortion, more than 500 bills in states across the country have been proposed that are related to abortion.


Some states where Democratic legislatures have strong — or even unexpected — majorities are moving to strengthen abortion protections. In Minnesota, the first bill of the 2023 legislature, which made it harder for future legislatures and governors to water down those protections, was signed in January by Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat. In Michigan, the legislature repealed an abortion ban, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is expected to sign it.


But a majority of new bills aim to restrict abortion access. And with several states now wrapping up their legislative sessions, bills are starting to land on governors’ desks.


Under the other new Wyoming law, the “Life Is a Human Right Act,” performing an abortion or administering abortion medication would be considered a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, and doctors would have their licenses revoked. The law bans abortion with narrow exceptions for rape, incest and dire risks to the pregnant patient’s life or health.


“While other states are pushing an extreme abortion agenda, comparable to North Korea’s and China’s inhumane laws, Wyoming is a pro-life state, affirming that life is a human right and ensuring that women have real support,” said state Representative Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, the bill’s sponsor.


The law is intended to replace an existing ban, which is now on hold because of a legal challenge over its constitutionality. How that affects the actions of the Wyoming Supreme Court, though, remains to be seen.


At issue is the definition of health care: Under the Wyoming Constitution, residents have the right to make their own health care decisions. So the new law stipulates that abortion is not health care.


“Instead of being health care, abortion is the intentional termination of the life of an unborn baby,” the new law states. “It is within the authority of the state of Wyoming to determine reasonable and necessary restrictions upon abortion, including its prohibition.”



11) Police Pleaded for Hours With a Man in Crisis. Then They Shot Him.

New Jersey’s attorney general said that the man, Najee Seabrooks, lunged toward Paterson officers with a knife. They fatally shot him, renewing criticism of using armed officers to deal with people in distress.

By Maria Cramer and Tracey Tully, Published March 17, 2023, Updated March 18, 2023


A man in a red-and-white cap and dark T-shirt grins.
Najee Seabrooks had been feeling the stress of his job, relatives said.

A crowd of demonstrators marches with banners.
Protesters in Paterson, N.J., have demanded accountability from the police. Credit...Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

For hours, the Paterson police pleaded with Najee Seabrooks to come out of a locked bathroom where he was threatening to kill himself.


“Everybody’s walking out of here, including you,” one of the officers told him, according to video from police body cameras released by the New Jersey attorney general’s office this week.


“I’m dying in this bathroom,” said Mr. Seabrooks, a 31-year-old mentor at an anti-violence organization in Paterson, a city of 158,000 people in northern New Jersey.


“That’s not happening, Najee,” the officer replied. “Not on my watch. Come on. You’re going to live a long time. This ain’t how it ends for you.”


But at 12:51 p.m. on March 3, about five hours after someone called 911 to report a man in distress, Mr. Seabrooks was declared dead. He had been shot by two officers, who fired at him after Mr. Seabrooks came out of the bathroom and “lunged toward the officers with a knife in his hand,” according to a statement by the attorney general’s office, which is investigating the shooting.


The attorney general’s office identified the two officers who fired their weapons as Anzore Tsay and Jose Hernandez, both of whom are members of the department’s emergency response team.


The case has roiled the city, where Mr. Seabrooks’s colleagues and family have demanded to know why mental health specialists were not allowed into the apartment so they could help. Protesters have marched to decry the shooting and to call for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate. One week after Mr. Seabrooks was shot, several dozen people gathered at a restaurant owned by one of the officers involved in the shooting and banged and kicked at the security gate.


The footage released by the attorney general, taken from at least four hours of video from cameras worn by the officers on scene, shows the police repeatedly telling Mr. Seabrooks, who can be seen at points holding a bloody knife, to come out and talk to his mother. They asked him how they could help, urged him to stop cutting himself and then pleaded with him to come out so they could take him to a hospital. Then, at 12:35 p.m., Mr. Seabrooks leaped out of the bathroom.


“It was a dangerous situation in there,” said André Sayegh, the mayor of Paterson, whose administration had repeatedly urged the state attorney general’s office to release footage from police body cameras.


The officers “were there to render aid and as you’ll see in the videos, they were trying as much as possible to avoid a tragic outcome,” he said.


The police did not respond to messages for comment. The attorney general’s office said it would not comment beyond its statement, citing the continuing investigation.


Members of the Paterson Healing Collective, the antiviolence organization where Mr. Seabrooks had worked for two years as an interventionist, said the videos show precisely why the police should not be the primary responders when a person is in the throes of a mental health crisis.


The officers had their weapons drawn as they spoke with Mr. Seabrooks, who told officers he had three knives and “a gun, fully loaded.”


Members of the Paterson Healing Collective said that they were barred by the police from intervening as they waited for hours in the lobby of the multistory apartment building where Mr. Seabrooks was shot.


Mr. Seabrooks had repeatedly texted members of the collective that morning asking them where they were, said Liza Chowdhury, project director of the Paterson Healing Collective.


“‘I need to hear your voices. I need to see your faces,’” she said he texted. Even after Mr. Seabrooks’s colleagues showed the messages to officers at the scene, “the police would not allow us in,” Ms. Chowdhury said. When she asked the city’s public safety director, Jerry Speziale, to give her staff access to the apartment, she said he responded that the department had sent a unit trained to de-escalate these types of situations.


Mr. Speziale did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.


Ms. Chowdhury said that her staff is trained to talk for hours to people going through “the worst situations in their lives.”


“Any mental health professional knows patience is key,” she said. “Patience, empathy, understanding.”


Ms. Chowdhury, who was a probation officer for 10 years, said showing a gun to someone going through a mental health crisis only increases paranoia and fear.


Yannick Wood, director of criminal justice reform at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, said “there’s something wrong with the system when someone calls for a mental health issue and they end up getting approached by men with guns.”


When officers arrived, Mr. Seabrooks was already in the bathroom. He had arrived at his brother’s apartment at about 2 a.m., grabbed “some knives” and locked himself in, his relatives told the police.


The family said that “he may have been experiencing a bad reaction to something he had smoked,” according to the attorney general, “and that his actions were completely out of character.”


Uniformed officers tried to cajole him out, then had his mother speak to him from outside the door.


“Please, Najee,” she said, crying. “I love you, Najee. Open the door. Najee, come on, please open the door for me.”


He would not come out.


His mother told the police that Mr. Seabrooks did not have a history of mental illness, but that the job, which entails helping to steer young people from violence, was becoming stressful, according to the video.


“I think that’s getting to him,” she said. “He’s seen a lot of his friends get killed.”


When an officer told her that Mr. Seabrooks told the police he had a gun, she seemed confused.


“Where did he get a gun from?” she asked.


A specialized unit soon arrived, bearing shields, high-powered firearms and wearing helmets.


At 11:46 a.m., Mr. Seabrooks, who was shirtless, peeked out of the door and saw the officers, who were pointing their guns in his direction. He let out a yell.


“That’s how you coming?” he asked, then cursed.


“Drop the knife, man,” an officer demanded.


“Less than lethal,” a supervisor ordered. “Less than lethal.”


They told him to stop cutting himself and to come out. The camera angles make it hard to see Mr. Seabrooks in the bathroom, but he can be heard screaming.


The officers continued to plead with him to drop the knives.


“Just put them down,” one of the officers said. They offered to let him talk to his mother again.


“I’m sure she don’t want to see you like this,” one officer said, seconds before Mr. Seabrook appeared to leap out of the door.


“Drop it!” the officer yelled, just before the shots were fired.


Ms. Chowdhury said Mr. Seabrooks’s family is planning to hold his funeral on Saturday. He had a daughter, who is about 4, she said.


Ms. Chowdury said that while her staff members were at the scene, she was texting Mr. Seabrooks and talking to the police on the phone. Then, members of her staff called to say they had heard shots.


“I just said no. I didn’t believe it,” she said. “I never thought that the police were going to kill him.”