Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, March 29, 2023


Join the protest if the Texas court bans the abortion pill, Mifepristone!


Hands off abortion medications and bodily autonomy!


Meet up on the day following the ruling:

5:00 P.M. at Embarcadero and Mission 

(If the decision comes out on a Friday, the action will be on the following Monday.  Bring your outrage and picket signs!)


A Texas judge is poised to ban the abortion pill. If this happens, abortion access will dramatically be impacted, at least as much as the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision which overturned Roe v. Wade.


This ruling will seriously affect access to critical health care, not only for those seeking abortions, but for people in this country who have miscarriages every year. More than half of all abortions are done via mifepristone along with a second medication, misoprostol. While it is possible to have a medication abortion using only the as-yet-unchallenged drug misoprostol, it has a lower success rate and is more painful for the patient, adding punishment and abuse to the individual seeking relief.


The Trump-appointed federal judge Matthew Kaczmarek purposely exploited confusion about procedural details in the FDA's approval process to peddle the false narrative that the agency recklessly hastened review of mifepristone. The truth is that the FDA took more than four years to approve the drug and extensively examined its very minor risks. This drug has been available in France since 1987 (RU486) and has been used widely in the U.S. since 2000.  It is, in fact, safer than Tylenol according to medical experts.


The federal court case was lodged by a group called Alliance Defending Freedom. This organization is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in part because it is attempting to eradicate the separation of church and state and use legal strategies to graft its version of conservative Christianity onto the legal profession and the culture at large. Alliance members also claim that a "homosexual agenda" will destroy Christianity and society.


Attempts to undermine what should be the right to reproductive and bodily autonomy are an attack on all people’s healthcare needs. 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.


In San Francisco, we will join riseup4abortionrights and other organizations and meet up on the day following the ruling, at 5:00 P.M. at Embarcadero and Mission. If the decision comes out on a Friday, the action will be on the following Monday.  Bring your outrage and picket signs!


The National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice and its San Francisco affiliate vow to defend all forms of reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. For its full list of their intersectional demands, information on meetings, activities, endorsers, and resources see their website:



In San Francisco find them at:

 reprojustice.sf@gmail.com, https://linktr.ee/reprojusticenow




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.



Previously Recorded

View on YouTube:




Featured Speakers:


Yuliya Yurchenko, Senior Lecturer at the University of Greenwich and author of Ukraine and the Empire of Capital: From Marketization to Armed Conflict.


Vladyslav Starodubstev, historian of Central and Eastern European region, and member of the Ukrainian democratic socialist organization Sotsialnyi Rukh.


Kirill Medvedev, poet, political writer, and member of the Russian Socialist Movement.


Kavita Krishnan, Indian feminist, author of Fearless Freedom, former leader of the Communist Party of India (ML).


Bill Fletcher, former President of TransAfrica Forum, former senior staff person at the AFL-CIO, and Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Including solidarity statements from among others Barbara Smith, Eric Draitser, Haley Pessin, Ramah Kudaimi, Dave Zirin, Frieda Afary, Jose La Luz, Rob Barrill, and Cindy Domingo.



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.





Kevin Cooper Updates

March 23, 2023 

Dear Friends and Comrades, 

This is Kevin Cooper writing and sending this update to you in 'Peace & Solidarity'. First and foremost I am well and healthy, and over the ill effect(s) that I went through after that biased report from MoFo, and their pro prosecution and law enforcement experts. I am back working with my legal team from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

'We' have made great progress in refuting all that those experts from MoFo came up with by twisting the truth to fit their narrative, or omitting things, ignoring, things, and using all the other tactics that they did to reach their conclusions. Orrick has hired four(4) real experts who have no questionable backgrounds. One is a DNA attorney, like Barry Scheck of the innocence project in New York is for example. A DNA expert, a expect to refute what they say Jousha Ryen said when he was a child, and his memory. A expect on the credibility of MoFo's experts, and the attorney's at Orrick are dealing with the legal issues.

This all is taking a little longer than we first expected it to take, and that in part is because 'we' have to make sure everything is correct in what we have in our reply. We cannot put ourselves in a situation where we can be refuted... Second, some of our experts had other things planned, like court cases and such before they got the phone call from Rene, the now lead attorney of the Orrick team. With that being said, I can say that our experts, and legal team have shown, and will show to the power(s) that be that MoFo's DNA expert could not have come to the conclusion(s) that he came to, without having used 'junk science'! They, and by they I mean my entire legal team, including our experts, have done what we have done ever since Orrick took my case on in 2004, shown that all that is being said by MoFo's experts is not true, and we are once again having to show what the truth really is.

Will this work with the Governor? Who knows... 'but' we are going to try! One of our comrades, Rebecca D.   said to me, 'You and Mumia'...meaning that my case and the case of Mumia Abu Jamal are cases in which no matter what evidence comes out supporting our innocence, or prosecution misconduct, we cannot get a break. That the forces in the so called justice system won't let us go. 'Yes' she is correct about that sad to say...

Our reply will be out hopefully in the not too distant future, and that's because the people in Sacramento have been put on notice that it is coming, and why. Every one of you will receive our draft copy of the reply according to Rene because he wants feedback on it. Carole and others will send it out once they receive it. 'We' were on the verge of getting me out, and those people knew it, so they sabotaged what the Governor ordered them to do, look at all the evidence as well as the DNA evidence. They did not do that, they made this a DNA case, by doing what they did, and twisted the facts on the other issues that they dealt with.   'more later'...

In Struggle & Solidarity,

March 28, 2023

"Today is March 28, 2023

I spoke to Rene, the lead attorney. He hopes to have our reply [to the Morrison Forster report] done by April 14 and sent out with a massive Public Relations blast.

He said that the draft copy, which everyone will see, should be available April 10th. 

I will have a visit with two of the attorneys to go over the draft copy and express any concerns I have with it.

MoFo ex-law enforcement “experts” are not qualified to write what they wrote or do what they did.

Another of our expert reports has come in and there are still two more that we’re waiting for—the DNA report and Professor Bazelon’s report on what an innocence investigation is and what it is not. We are also expecting a report from the Innocence Network. All the regional Innocence Projects (like the Northern California Innocence Project) in the country belong to the Innocence Network.

If MoFo had done the right thing, I would be getting out of here, but because they knew that, somewhere along the line they got hijacked, so we have to continue this fight but we think we can win."

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


Background on Kevin's Case


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) Famed Antiwar Protester Was Once Cog in Russia’s Propaganda Machine

For 20 years, Marina Ovsyannikova worked for Russian state TV. What compelled her, shortly after Ukraine was invaded, to storm a live broadcast and tell viewers they were being lied to?

By Constant Méheut, March 24, 2023

Reporting from Paris.

A woman holding up a handwritten protest sign behind a seated news anchor in a television studio. Much of the sign is in Russian, but “No War” is written in large letters in English.
Ms. Ovsyannikova holding her protest poster during a live broadcast of Russia’s most-watched news program. It reads: “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here.” Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Her feet stuck in muddy soil on a pitch black October night, Marina Ovsyannikova stopped in despair. For four hours, she and her 11-year-old daughter had been trudging through plowed fields leading to Russia’s border, trying to escape the country.


With no phone signal, they had been navigating by the stars, diving to the ground when the headlights of border guards’ cars approached. They were lost.


“It was real hell,” Ms. Ovsyannikova said, recalling how she sat down in the mud and moaned, “Take me back to Moscow. I’d rather go to jail.”


And prison was a very real possibility for her if she did return.


Her antiwar protest a few months earlier had rattled the Kremlin and earned headlines around the world. In March of 2022, just a few weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had begun, she stormed a live broadcast of Russia’s most-watched TV news program, holding up a sign reading: “They’re lying to you.”


She was able to access the program’s live studio because Ms. Ovsyannikova herself had long been a cog in Russia’s propaganda machine. For two decades, she had worked as a journalist at Channel 1, a state-run television station whose flagship news program parrots the Kremlin’s views.


“I was well aware that we were creating a parallel reality,” Ms. Ovsyannikova, 44, said of her time spent working for state media. “The war simply became a point of no return. It was no longer possible to keep quiet.”


Immediately after her extraordinary protest, Ms. Ovsyannikova was detained, interrogated, fined and then later, after another protest, placed under house arrest.


Convinced both that she was innocent of any crime and that she had no future in Russia, she engineered her escape: She cut off her electronic monitor, swapped cars six times on her way to the border, then went the final distance by foot, finally sneaking under a barbed-wire border fence, before ultimately making her way to France, where she now lives in exile.


The roots of Ms. Ovsyannikova’s protest can be found in her childhood, which gave her both affection for Ukraine and firsthand experience of the horrors of war.


She was born in Odesa, Ukraine, to a Russian mother and a Ukrainian father who died when she was a baby. She grew up in Chechnya, where her mother, a chemical engineer, worked at an oil refinery. But she had to flee that home when Russian soldiers crushed the breakaway region in the mid-1990s, during a violent conflict that imbued her, she said, with a hatred of war.


As refugees, Ms. Ovsyannikova and her mother relocated to the outskirts of Krasnodar, in southern Russia. After studying journalism in college and working as a regional TV anchor, Ms. Ovsyannikova joined Channel 1 in Moscow in 2002. Her job: monitoring Western broadcasts to cherry-pick news that showed the West in a bad light to air on the network’s shows.


“In the minds of Russians, there had to be an image that all Americans were L.G.B.T supporters who killed Black people and abused adopted children from Russia,” she writes in “Between Good and Evil,” an autobiography to be released in the United States this month.


Still, despite her insider’s knowledge of — and degree of complicity in — the network’s propaganda role, Ms. Ovsyannikova stayed at Channel 1, a choice, she said in a video posted after her protest, of which she was now “deeply ashamed.”


To justify her decision, she said there was nowhere else for a journalist to go in a country with little to no independent press. Besides, her well-paid job allowed her to raise her two children in a gated neighborhood outside Moscow.


When Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the state propaganda apparatus went into full swing, dismissing civilian casualties and portraying the attack as a fight against neo-Nazis.


But on her screens, Ms. Ovsyannikova saw clips from Western media showing villages flattened by Russian strikes and streams of desperate Ukrainian refugees, reminding her of her childhood in Chechnya.


This was the tipping point that compelled her to surrender her privileges for what she knew would be the persecuted life of a Russian protester.


“Staying and working for a criminal regime amounted to signing a pact with the devil. Your hands would be covered with Ukrainian blood,” Ms. Ovsyannikova said.


Alone at home on a Sunday, she drew her protest sign using her daughter’s pens. She hid it in the sleeve of her jacket as she went to work the next day.


Sitting in the newsroom, Ms. Ovsyannikova anxiously watched for opportunities to burst past the guards blocking the entrance to the set of “Vremya,” Russia’s most-watched news show.


“A guard was looking at her phone,” she said. “I realized that was my chance.”


Ms. Ovsyannikova rushed to the set, unfurled her sign behind the anchor and shouted, “Stop the war!” Within six seconds, the camera cut away.


Ms. Ovsyannikova was quickly arrested and questioned for hours. She overheard her interrogators discussing what she should be charged with, worrying that images of her protest going viral had made her case one of global interest. President Emmanuel Macron of France had already publicly expressed concern about her fate.


Ms. Ovsyannikova, who resigned from her job, avoided criminal prosecution and was only fined 30,000 rubles, or about $400.


The next backlash she faced came from unlikely camps: Ukrainians and her own family.


A month after her protest, Ms. Ovsyannikova was hired by Die Welt, a German newspaper, to report on the war in Ukraine. But her past raised suspicions among Ukrainians, who questioned the authenticity of her antiwar conversion.


There was a protest outside the newspaper’s offices in Berlin, and Ukrainian activists posted on social media that there was “no such thing as ex-propagandists.” A reporting trip to Ukraine ended in failure as she could not secure accreditation.


“I was very naïve,” Ms. Ovsyannikova said. “I didn’t get that when Russian troops are shelling all of Ukraine, anyone with a Russian passport isn’t welcome.”


Back home, Ms. Ovsyannikova’s mother, “zombified by Kremlin propaganda,” wanted her in prison. Her son, 18, said she had “ruined our family life.” And her ex-husband, a top manager at the state-run channel Russia Today, was seeking custody of their two children.


Ms. Ovsyannikova returned to Moscow in July to deal with the custody case. But she couldn’t keep silent and protested again, outside the Kremlin, decrying the killing of children in Ukraine. This time, she was charged with the criminal offense of spreading false information about the country’s armed forces and placed under house arrest, awaiting a trial where she faced up to 10 years in prison.


“They were tightening the screws,” Ms. Ovsyannikova said. “My lawyer told me to flee.”


Her escape was coordinated by the French nongovernment organization Reporters Without Borders, with the assistance of a local network that helps dissidents leave the country. She fled with her daughter, Arisha, on a Friday night, when Russian security services are known to ease up.


Ms. Ovsyannikova got rid of her electronic tag with wire cutters and traveled within Russia for about two days, changing cars and guides in remote villages.


The last part of the journey was supposed to be a half-mile night walk to the border. But it took them hours to spot the flashlight of their next contact and reach safety.


“There were very stressful moments,” said Christophe Deloire, the head of Reporters Without Borders. He declined to reveal details of the operation, including where they crossed the border, for security reasons.


But he added that, in an era of information warfare, “weakening a propaganda system from within, including through defections, is useful.”


Ms. Ovsyannikova spent her first few months in France incognito, using a false identity for dentist visits and changing homes several times. She said she feared for her life, given Russia’s habit of poisoning opponents.


To dispel the fear, she has resorted to humor. “The Kremlin doesn’t have enough polonium for everyone,” she said.



2) Los Angeles Schools and 30,000 Workers Reach Tentative Deal After Strike

The three-day walkout included Los Angeles Unified School District teachers, gardeners, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and special education assistants.

By Corina Knoll, Adeel Hassan and Shawn Hubler, Published March 24, 2023, Updated March 25, 2023

A crowd of workers gather, with some holding signs that say, “Equitable Wages Now!”
Los Angeles school employees and supporters rallied in Los Angeles State Historic Park on Thursday. Credit...Mario Tama/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — The union representing 30,000 education workers reached a tentative deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District on Friday, following a three-day strike that had closed hundreds of campuses and canceled classes for 422,000 students earlier this week.


Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents support workers in the district, said that Los Angeles Unified, the second-largest school district in the nation, had met its key demands, including a 30 percent pay increase. The deal must still be voted on by the full union.


Mayor Karen Bass announced the deal on Friday at City Hall with Max Arias, the executive director of Local 99, and Alberto Carvalho, the district superintendent.


“I am grateful that we were able to find an agreement to move forward today,” Mayor Bass said, adding, “I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a new relationship that will lead to a stronger L.A.U.S.D. and a better future for its workers and students in the years ahead.”


During the strike, the union had pressed its case that many of its members made little more than the minimum wage and struggled to pay their bills in high-cost Southern California.


Local 99 members — who include gardeners, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and special education assistants — were joined by the Los Angeles teachers’ union, which is currently negotiating its own contract and had asked its 35,000 members to walk out in solidarity. All told, that meant as many as 65,000 school employees were part of the work stoppage.


The strike, which began on Tuesday, was limited to three days, and schools had already reopened on Friday morning, before Local 99 agreed to a tentative contract.


Local 99 members  had been working without a contract since July 1, 2020. The new deal gives them a series of retroactive pay raises and runs through June 30, 2024, according to the school district.


The minimum wage will be set at $22.52 per hour, and workers employed as of June 30, 2021, will get a one-time $1,000 bonus, the district said. A $3 million educational and professional development fund for union members will also be created.


Mr. Arias said that his members’ salaries would increase by 15 percent upon ratification. After Jan. 1, their salaries would be about 30 percent higher than they were on Tuesday, when the strike began.


“This has the potential for transformational change,” he said in an interview on Friday night. “We want this to be a spark to rethink our schools, our values around education. When 65,000 education workers are telling the parents that we need to do this to improve the conditions, that’s powerful.”


The S.E.I.U. employees have argued that they represent about 40 percent of the school district’s work force but less than 10 percent of its budget. The deal, however, could present a larger financial challenge for the district, because when one of its many unions negotiates favorable terms, the rest typically also demand them. Teachers, for example, make up the lion’s share of the district payroll, and are widely expected to take the SEIU deal into consideration in their contract negotiations. The teachers pointedly stood in solidarity with the SEIU employees, refusing to cross picket lines.


Both the school district and the union credited Mayor Bass, who took office in December, with helping broker the deal.


“She was absolutely magnificent in getting everybody to talk to each other repeatedly, even when things began going awry,” said Jackie Goldberg, the school board president. She said negotiations had also been eased with the help of a mediator.


Mayor Bass said in an interview on Friday evening that she had informally been in conversations with the district and union leaders “for a couple of weeks” before the strike started, “but we kept it quiet.”


A former member of Congress, Ms. Bass has long been known for her ability to bridge differences, particularly among fellow Democrats, through quiet, back-channel conversations. Elected with the support of S.E.I.U., she was a natural go-between, even though mayors in Los Angeles have little power over the schools beyond the bully pulpit.


When it became clear that face-to-face meetings were not going to be sufficient to prevent the strike, she said, she offered the two sides a neutral meeting space at Los Angeles City Hall.


Part of her work, she said, was to help the union understand the superintendent, who has spent most of his career in Florida. And part of her work had been helping the superintendent and the district understand the situation of the workers.


“We’re talking about the lowest-wage workers in the school district,” she said. “Many of them had incomes so low that they were housing insecure. A number of them were in and out of homelessness.”


That, she said, was both a surprise and a galvanizing discovery for her. “I didn’t know,” she said, adding that the strike had been “an education” for much of the city.


“When you think of low-wage workers, you don’t think of school employees,” she said.  “You think, maybe, of fast food workers. But you don’t think of individuals who take care of special needs kids.”


Many of the support workers said this week that their positions were only part-time, which means they must seek second or third jobs to pay their bills. At the news conference, Mr. Carvalho said the tentative deal would provide for additional hours of employment, as well as health benefits for part-time employees who work four or more hours a day, including coverage for their dependents.


“I have no doubt that this contract will be seen as a precedent-setting, historic contract that elevates the dignity, the humanity of our work force, respects the needs of our students, but also guarantees the fiscal viability of our district for years to come,” Mr. Carvalho said. “Those were indispensable priorities for all of us.”


Hugo Montelongo, a special education assistant at a high school in the San Fernando Valley, said that “nothing compares to what we just achieved.” Mr. Montelongo, 52, said that he had worked for more than 20 years for the district and that he was passionate about working with students who were focusing on life skills. The labor agreement, he said, was a long-awaited sign that people like him are valued.


“We do it with love, but you can’t get by on love,” he said. “It feels like they’re finally respecting what we do, accepting that what we do is worth more.”


Mr. Montelongo said the agreement would allow him to work 35 hours a week, instead of 30, which will help him through the summer months when he does not receive a paycheck. Over the last year, his utility bills have soared, as have the costs of food, insurance and gas.


“Our wages weren’t keeping up with inflation,” he said. “In Los Angeles the cost of living is ridiculous.”


After three days of protesting, Belen Perez, 24, was exhausted when she went to work Friday at an elementary school in Koreatown.


A teacher’s assistant, Ms. Perez said she was paid less than when she was a cashier at a CVS Pharmacy. But she loves trying to engage children in the classroom and figured the low pay was worth the experience as she studied to become a speech language pathologist.


When her group chat blew up late Friday afternoon with the news of the labor agreement, Ms. Perez had no regrets about having taken to the picket lines.


“It was relieving, because it showed something actually came out of this strike.”



3) The Income Gap Is Becoming a Physical-Activity Divide

Nationwide, poor children and adolescents are participating far less in sports and fitness activities than their more affluent peers.

"A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 70 percent of children from families with incomes above about $105,000 — four times the poverty line — participated in sports in 2020. But participation was around 51 percent for families in a middle-income range, and just 31 percent for families at or below the poverty line."

By Matt Richtel, Published March 24, 2023, Updated March 25, 2023


On a sunny day, teens in running gear gather at the starting line of a track.
Naomi Peralta, at left, prepares for a practice run at Highland High School in Albuquerque, N.M., in February. Credit...Adria Malcolm for The New York Times

Over the last two decades, technology companies and policymakers warned of a “digital divide” in which poor children could fall behind their more affluent peers without equal access to technology. Today, with widespread internet access and smartphone ownership, the gap has narrowed sharply.


But with less fanfare a different division has appeared: Across the country, poor children and adolescents are participating far less in sports and fitness activities than more affluent youngsters are. Call it the physical divide.


Data from multiple sources reveal a significant gap in sports participation by income level. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 70 percent of children from families with incomes above about $105,000 — four times the poverty line — participated in sports in 2020. But participation was around 51 percent for families in a middle-income range, and just 31 percent for families at or below the poverty line.


A 2021 study of Seattle-area students from fifth grade through high school found that less affluent youth were less likely to participate in sports than their more affluent peers. The study also found that middle schoolers from more affluent families were three times as likely to meet physical exercise guidelines as less affluent students.


A combination of factors is responsible. Spending cuts and changing priorities at some public schools have curtailed physical education classes and organized sports. At the same time, privatized youth sports have become a multibillion-dollar enterprise offering new opportunities — at least for families that can afford hundreds to thousands of dollars each season for club-team fees, uniforms, equipment, travel to tournaments and private coaching.


“What’s happened as sports has become privatized is that it has become the haves and have-nots,” said Jon Solomon, editorial director for the Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program.


Recent Aspen Institute research found that among children from families making less than $25,000 a year, participation in a healthy level of activity fell to 26.6 percent in 2021 from 34.1 percent in 2013. For children from families with $25,000 to $50,000 in income, participation fell during that time to 35.7 percent from 38.1 percent.


But among families with incomes above $100,000, participation rose in that period, to 46 percent from 43.9 percent, the Aspen Institute found.


“Particularly for low-income kids, if they don’t have access to sports within the school setting, where are they going to get their physical activity?” Mr. Solomon said. “The answer is nowhere.”


Schools are not always filling the gap. A recent report from the Physical Activity Alliance, a nonprofit organization, gave schools nationwide a grade of D– for physical fitness. That is a downgrade from a C– in 2014, with the new grade reflecting even less access to regular physical education classes, gym time and equipment in schools.


Ann Paulls-Neal, a longtime physical education teacher and track coach in Albuquerque, has watched the trend play out. For nearly 20 years, until 2017, she taught at John Baker Elementary, which drew students largely from middle- and higher-income families (less than one-third qualified for free or reduced-price lunch). There, “all of my students did at least one sport after school,” she said. “Club soccer or pretty much club anything.”


Then she moved to a school, Wherry Elementary, where 100 percent of the students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. Students played on the playground, she said, “but we had just three kids that were playing any kind of sport outside of school.”


She speculated about the reasons. Families couldn’t afford private sports or didn’t have cars or time to ferry their children to practice, she proposed, and clubs were unthinkable “if these sites or clubs don’t hold practice on a bus line.”


In 2019, Ms. Paulls-Neal became the department chair of health and physical education at Highland High School, where 100 percent of students qualify for free lunch. Here, she said, she was seeing the impact of “this club and school divide.”


More affluent children are often highly trained in sports — “a little bit ahead,” said Ms. Paulls-Neal, who is also the executive director of the New Mexico chapter of the Society of Health and Physical Educators, or SHAPE America. “And they are more comfortable moving, where the students in low-income areas are not.”


A similar pattern is emerging in Unit District No. 5 in McLean County, Ill. Faced with budget shortfalls, the district’s board of education voted this year to make a series of cuts, including to sports. Next year all the junior high sports will be gone: boys’ and girls’ basketball, cross-country, track, boys’ wrestling and baseball, and girls’ softball and volleyball.


The cuts also include freshman sports at the district’s two high schools; proposed cuts for the 2024-25 school year include junior varsity high school sports. In November, district voters rejected a proposal to raise taxes to fund those programs.


“It’s devastating for the kids,” said Kristen Weikle, the district’s superintendent. She said that school sports promote good grades and boost physical and emotional health among students who participate.


Private sports are accessible to some lower-income families, she added, but not to all. “It’s not just the cost to participate,” Ms. Weikle said. “It’s the cost to travel to competitions. It’s the time to take their child to club activities and then purchase the equipment.”


To improve equity, Valentine Walker, the coach of high school boys’ and girls’ soccer in the district, started a free soccer club in 2008. At the time, his 8-year-old son was participating in baseball and soccer clubs that cost hundreds of dollars a season. Mr. Walker noticed “an influx of Jamaicans and Africans and Hispanic kids whose families could not afford pay-to-play.”


Mr. Walker, who grew up in a poor family in Jamaica, saved money by borrowing school equipment and a 13-seat van from a friend for travel to tournaments and by having six or seven players share a hotel room. “I had to stick my nose under the door so I could get some fresh air,” Mr. Walker said with a laugh.


Mr. Walker is now fielding the second generation of that team, at a cost of around $400 per season; families that can’t afford it don’t pay, and more affluent families and sponsors subsidize the experience.


He conceded that his private team tended to take players who were more gifted or showed particular potential. But on his public high school teams he makes no cuts, because many less affluent students who lack club experience would not be able to play otherwise. In the summer, he holds open soccer workouts from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., followed by strength training in the weight room.


“This is not a policy — it’s just me,” he said. “It’s because of my desire to reduce the inequities.”


As public schools grapple with the economics of physical activity, a private youth sports industry has blossomed. Annual market revenue from team registrations, travel, apparel, equipment and other expenses grew to $28 billion in 2021 from $3.5 billion in 2010, according to WinterGreen Research, a private data company.


“It started with software” that enabled teams to organize and collect money, said Susan Eustis, WinterGreen’s president. And then, she said, “schools started defunding their sports.”


At first, she added, “these two things didn’t have much to do with each other.” But increasingly, entrepreneurs and private coaches used technology to market, organize and create tournaments and to serve a growing population of parents who wanted deeper experiences for their children, and whose schools were divesting from sports and gym programs.


She cited cost as a barrier to lower-income children’s participation in private sports. The Aspen Institute found that families spend on average $1,188 per year per child for soccer, $1,002 for basketball, $714 for baseball and $581 for tackle football.


Ms. Eustis largely champions private youth sports, which she says provide “elite” training, reduce bullying with professional coaches and start at young ages, as early as 3. Then there is the chance to travel with family as a group activity — “dynamic new travel teams that consume nights and weekends for families,” she wrote in her 2022 report. “The best and the brightest want top-notch sports training for their children.”



4) Two Migrants Found Dead and 13 Others Ill on Train in Texas, Authorities Say

The migrants were found trapped inside a sweltering shipping container that was stopped near a town in Uvalde County, according to officials.

By Edgar Sandoval, March 24, 2023


A line of cars sit next to a line of rail cars.

Law enforcement and medical personnel gathered alongside the stopped train near Knippa, Texas, on Friday. Credit...Uvalde County Constable Emmanuel Zamora

SAN ANTONIO — The bodies of two people believed to be migrants who had crossed into Texas from Mexico were found on Friday, along with 13 more people, including at least five who were in critical condition, inside a shipping container on a train in Uvalde County, officials said.


The train, which was stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents, was traveling near the town of Knippa through an area of Texas known for frequent immigration crossings.


At 3:50 p.m., a person called 911 and told dispatchers that about 12 to 15 people were experiencing severe symptoms of dehydration and were trapped inside a sweltering shipping container in an area where spring temperatures have hovered in the 80s in recent days, said Daniel Rodriguez, the chief of police for the city of Uvalde, about 11 miles west of Knippa. “The way they said it was, they were suffocating — they were having trouble breathing” he said.


It was unclear if the call had come from inside the container or if one of the people trapped inside had managed to call a relative and ask for help, said the mayor of Uvalde, Don McLaughlin Jr., who was briefed by the authorities.


The local police immediately contacted U.S. Border Patrol agents, who were able to stop the train about three miles east of Knippa, a town of fewer than 1,000 people, the chief said. When the Border Patrol agents arrived, the container was locked and “wired shut,” Mr. McLaughlin said.


By the time officers managed to pry open the container, they found that two of the people inside were dead and many others were severely dehydrated, the mayor said.


Chief Rodriguez said that five people in critical condition had been flown to hospitals in San Antonio, 60 miles east, and that five others had been taken by ambulance to area hospitals. Three others received care at the scene, he said.


Images from a local news outlet showed a heavy police presence, with local and state police personnel and U.S. Border Patrol agents descending on the rural border region and helicopters hovering over a freight train alongside Highway 90.


Officials with the Department of Public Safety in Texas plan to take the lead in investigating what led to the tragedy, Chief Rodriguez said.


The grisly discovery comes months after more than 50 migrants were found dead inside an overheated tractor-trailer in San Antonio, part of a troubling pattern in which human traffickers abandon migrants in deserted areas without regard for their safety, officials said. Schools are constantly being put on lockdown when Border Patrol agents pursue migrants trying to evade the authorities in populated areas.


“We need to be addressing what’s going on here in South Texas,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “It’s a tragedy that human lives are being lost — two lives that did not have to be lost. This happens weekly down here — not Uvalde, but the South Texas area.”


Chief Rodriguez said that the deaths compounded the grief the small community of Uvalde had been experiencing since the mass shooting last May in which a teenage gunman burst into Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two teachers.


“These individuals, they put themselves in so much danger, trying to come over to U.S.,” the chief said. “It’s just tragic that two people have to lose their lives. It’s a tragedy in a town that has seen a lot of tragedy.”



5) Are We Actually Arguing About Whether 14-Year-Olds Should Work in Meatpacking Plants?

By Terri Gerstein, March 27, 2023

Ms. Gerstein is a fellow at the Center for Labor and a Just Economy at Harvard Law School and the Economic Policy Institute. She spent more than 17 years enforcing labor laws in New York State, working in the state attorney general’s office and as a deputy labor commissioner. 


A person wearing a hooded sweatshirt, photographed from behind.
A 13-year-old boy who works 12-hour shifts, six days a week, at an egg farm outside Grand Rapids, Mich. Credit...Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas signed a bill this month rolling back the state’s child labor protections, making it easier for employers to hire children under 16. Elsewhere, bills to allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work in meatpacking plants and other dangerous jobs in Iowa as part of training programs and 16- and 17-year-olds to take jobs at construction sites in Minnesota are under consideration.


These enacted and potential rollbacks are happening just when the country is experiencing a surge of child labor violations on a scale and of a type that we hadn’t heard about for many years. Laws in the United States prohibit certain very dangerous work for minors, but recent investigative reporting by The New York Times and Reuters has exposed migrant children as young as 12 working at car factories, meat processors and construction sites; household-name companies generally avoid liability through the use of sometimes sketchy subcontractors and staffing agencies.


Labor agency data released in February showed spikes in the number of children being employed illegally by companies. The U.S. Labor Department said last month that it saw a 69 percent increase since 2018; it found that in the last fiscal year, 835 companies employed more than 3,800 children in violation of federal labor laws. Child labor violations include not only situations involving hazardous work, but also less shocking yet still deeply troubling cases by more typical employers of teens, with minors of varied demographics working schedules far longer and later than what’s legally permissible. Chipotle Mexican Grill, for instance, has been accused of numerous violations: The company paid a total of more than $9 million as settlements for alleged child labor violations in Massachusetts and New Jersey in 2020 and 2022.


What’s going on here, and why is this happening now?


And when child labor violations come to light, especially horrifying ones, shouldn’t elected officials strengthen laws and fund enforcement rather than allow more children to be exploited?


Facing a labor shortage that could have been avoided, it appears that some business interests and lawmakers would prefer to expand the pool of exploitable workers to vulnerable children rather than improve working conditions to attract age-appropriate employees. This is shameful and should immediately stop. For their part, government leaders at all levels should shore up workplace protections and adequately fund enforcement.


The U.S. labor shortage that has employers scrambling should not be a surprise; it’s a foreseeable result of policy decisions of recent years, specifically related to Covid-19 and immigrants.


Many employers, especially in low-wage industries, were cavalier with their workers’ health and lives, failing to provide personal protective equipment or improved ventilation. Government enforcement agencies didn’t do enough to safeguard workplace safety, especially in Covid’s early days, when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration response, in the view of many labor organizations, was wholly inadequate.


Predictably, these policies reduced the available labor force. More than 1.1 million people in the United States have died of Covid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (with many likely unreported), and long Covid is keeping as many as four million people out of work. The labor force participation rate sharply declined (by around two million people) among those 65 and older, who face greater vulnerability to complications and death from Covid.


The labor market shortfall also results in part from a decline in immigration and an increase in out-migration, predictable results of anti-immigrant attitudes and policies. In 2015 and 2016, net migration to the United States exceeded a million per year. Those numbers declined steadily starting in 2017 (landing around 376,000 in 2021, although the number seems to be increasing again). Even now, the United States is admitting far below its annual ceiling of refugees. Refugees, like asylum seekers, are eligible for work permits and should be attractive employees.


The shortage, then, is mostly of our own making. Facing this situation, employers could lure people back to the work force by offering better conditions. Indeed, research published in 2022 showed that those surveyed would take meatpacking jobs if they paid just a little better, around $2.85 more per hour. Benefits like health insurance, retirement benefits and signing bonuses also would encourage them.


But raising wages for workers, providing benefits and giving signing bonuses would mean slimmer profits, representing concessions to workers’ slightly increased bargaining power during our current tight labor market. Instead, some employers and some business interests are turning to the most vulnerable and exploitable work force around: children.


Of course, it’s good for teenagers to have jobs. They can gain responsibility and learn a lot in their first forays into the world of work. What the law prohibits is oppressive labor conditions that interfere with teenagers’ physical and educational well-being by requiring excessively long work hours or exceedingly dangerous work. Workers under the age of 25 are injured at disproportionately high rates.


Government leaders should do everything in their power to stop the swell of child labor violations. Most attention to date has focused on the Biden administration, which has announced a plan that includes the creation of a task force, the use of all available enforcement tools and a Department of Health and Human Services audit of policies on migrant children’s placement, plus requests for more enforcement funding and higher child labor penalties. (The maximum first-time penalty is about $15,000 per child.) But there’s more for all levels of government to do.


Stronger workplace laws are sorely needed at the state and local levels. Increasing penalties is a good start; some state penalties are absurdly puny. (Colorado’s penalty for a first-time child labor violation is $20 to $100.)


But even the highest penalties are irrelevant if businesses believe there’s virtually no chance they’ll get caught, which is why far greater funding is needed for labor enforcement. The Department of Labor’s wage and hour division has been starved for funds for years. State labor enforcement resources are also typically minimal relative to needs, and sometimes they don’t even exist.


Laws should also hold corporations responsible and not allow them to deflect responsibility to subcontractors or staffing agencies for child labor violations that happen while making their products. These corporations are the entities most able to prevent child labor; they can terminate contracts, hire third-party compliance monitors or use their own employees.


Legislatures could create strict liability — meaning absolute liability, regardless of knowledge or intent — for child labor violations in company supply chains. For example, in Maryland, Nevada, New York and several other states, construction industry general contractors are liable for wage violations by subcontractors, and in Washington, D.C., higher-level entities are liable for wage and paid sick leave violations even if they use a staffing agency or subcontractor.


Lawmakers should also create criminal liability for violations or enhance it where it exists. In Illinois, New York, Utah and Texas, for example, child labor violations are misdemeanors. These crimes should be upgraded, but prosecutors should still bring cases against employers even under current law.


The federal government has pledged to use the “hot goods” provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows it to enjoin the transport of goods made in violation of the law, including child labor laws. States can pass similar laws or replicate a little-known but clever New York law, applicable to the garment industry, that allows the state labor department to attach a tag on unlawfully manufactured apparel labeling them as such, which would no doubt hurt sales. The Department of Health and Human Services audit of how it places unaccompanied migrant children will undoubtedly show the need for better vetting of sponsors and better follow-up after placement. Also, granting work permits to these teenagers would help by allowing them to earn money with aboveboard employers that follow the law.


States and cities can form their own task forces and collaborate closely with local districts. They can also aggressively enforce child labor laws, as Minnesota authorities did this month at a meatpacking plant. And labor enforcement agencies can do what the New York Times reporter Hannah Dreier did: request information from the federal government about where unaccompanied minors were living and stake out sites where children may be working.


Even arguing about whether 14-year-olds should work in meatpacking plants, as though it were an appropriate subject for legitimate political debate, runs the risk of normalizing a practice that should be totally out of bounds. We need higher wages, safer workplaces and all-around better jobs. What we don’t need — and it’s outrageous we’re even discussing it — is more oppressive child labor.



6) ‘Catastrophe’ for Poor New Yorkers as Pandemic Food Aid Ends

The Met Council, a major nonprofit, is calling for nearly $13 million in emergency city funding for food pantries.

By Emma G. Fitzsimmons, March 27, 2023

Jocelyne Grandu, wearing layers of outerwear, a hood and a face mask pulled beneath her chin, eats alongside others at a food pantry in West Harlem.
Jocelyne Grandu, left, is among the 1.5 million New Yorkers who will receive less in food benefits once a federal assistance program ends in March. Credit...Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

For nearly three years, New Yorkers have been able to take advantage of a pandemic-era lifeline that provided people like Jocelyne Grandu, a retired French teacher who lives in Harlem, with an extra $80 each month in food stamp benefits.


But with that federal assistance ending this month, more than 30 million people across the country are expected to receive less help.


In New York City, more than 1.5 million people, or nearly one in five residents, could receive smaller food stamp benefits, according to nonprofit leaders — reflecting a loss of at least $160 million total in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits each month.


“What we’re seeing is really a catastrophe for well over a million New Yorkers,” said David G. Greenfield, executive director of Met Council, a prominent Jewish nonprofit that oversees 100 food pantries. “We’re hearing from our clients that they’re rationing things like medication, they’re not going to be able to pay their rent and they can no longer pay for things like child care.”


As Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council negotiate next year’s budget, Mr. Greenfield has called on the city to set aside nearly $13 million in emergency funding for food pantries, where demand for aid has surged: Visits to food pantries in the city rose by more than two-thirds last year compared with 2019.


The mayor’s office said in a statement that the end of the additional SNAP benefits “presents a challenge for families that rely on these benefits to put food on the table.” But with the end of federal pandemic aid and new labor contracts, the city is facing a budget gap of $12 billion in just a few years, according to an analysis by the Citizens Budget Commission, a fiscal watchdog group. Mr. Adams, a Democrat in his second year in office, has proposed a $550 million plan to cut costs.


City Council leaders have criticized the mayor for proposing cuts to key services including libraries and universal preschool.


As part of the federal pandemic policy, each SNAP recipient received an average of $251 a month. That amount is expected to decline by about a third in March, according to the Agriculture Department, which administers the food stamp program.


For Ms. Grandu, 69, the loss of the extra benefits was upsetting. She visited a food pantry in Harlem last Friday looking for a warm meal, and hoping to take home leftover bagels. She often takes home extra milk at lunchtime, too.


“They give us a carton of milk and people sometimes don’t take it, so I take two, and I’m OK for the weekend,” she said. “This is one thing I have to purchase less of, because a carton of milk is so expensive.”


New York City is still struggling to recover from the pandemic. Housing costs have soared and the unemployment rate remains stubbornly higher than the national average — ultimately pushing more people to apply for assistance.


At the Community Kitchen and Pantry in Harlem last Friday afternoon, dozens of people arrived for a warm meal of steak and carrots and rice, served with an everything bagel, a banana and some orange juice. Sean Thomas, 40, said he came to the community kitchen, run by the Food Bank for New York City, because he had run out of food stamps.


“Eggs are expensive,” he said. “Everything is expensive.”


Mr. Greenfield sent a letter this month to Justin Brannan, the chair of the Council’s Finance Committee, urging him to restore a “food pantry initiative” that the city provided during the height of the pandemic.


Mr. Brannan, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said in an interview that he wanted to make food pantries a priority even at a time when the city is facing difficult budget decisions.


“I think it’s definitely something that the Council is going to take a serious look at,” he said. “While Covid might be in our rear view, the lines at our local food pantries certainly haven’t subsided.”


A spokesman for the mayor, Jonah Allon, did not respond to a request for comment about Mr. Greenfield’s appeal for additional funding for food pantries, and highlighted other city funding for food programs, including the Community Food Connection program.


“We will continue to do everything in our power to help New Yorkers in need,” he said.


At the same time, the Adams administration has been criticized for delays in processing food stamp requests, a problem that city officials have blamed in part on a staffing shortage. In January, the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit against the city for failing to process applications and renewals for SNAP and cash assistance benefits within the 30-day time frame required by law.


The delays in processing SNAP requests are getting worse, according to new data from the city’s Department of Social Services. The on-time rate in December 2022 was 22.4 percent — compared with 35.8 percent overall during the second half of last year.


City officials have also blamed the delays on a surge in demand. SNAP applications rose from nearly 27,000 in January 2019 to nearly 45,000 in January 2023, according to the Department of Social Services.


The slowdown further exacerbates what other nonprofit leaders say is a hunger crisis in New York City. Leslie Gordon, president of the Food Bank for New York City, said she was “deeply concerned” about the cuts to SNAP and that her organization was bracing for a “tsunami wave of people to reach our lines.”


The City Council speaker, Adrienne Adams, said in her State of the City speech earlier this month that the city’s food stamp delays were unacceptable. In a statement, she said that the Council would be “prioritizing food assistance in the city budget.”


Ms. Adams also called on state leaders in New York to follow the lead of New Jersey lawmakers, who raised the monthly minimum SNAP benefit by providing state funding.


Mr. Greenfield said that emergency funding from the city would help “shore up” the city’s overburdened food pantry system, especially the smaller groups that serve immigrant and minority communities, and would assist New Yorkers who are desperate for help.


“It’s having a dramatic impact,” said Mr. Greenfield of the reduction in benefits. “One woman who has three kids just told us she’s thinking of leaving New York because she can’t afford to live here.”


One of Met Council’s clients, Laurette Durrant, 68, of Queens, has been receiving $516 per month in food stamps for herself and her granddaughter. That amount will drop this month to $332, according to her SNAP specialist at Met Council. She said it was difficult to pay her rent and her electricity bills, and she hoped the federal government would consider bringing back the extra benefits.


“That allowance helped me out so much,” she said. “I depend upon it.”


Dana Rubinstein contributed reporting.



7) Fire in Mexico Kills at Least 39 in Migration Center Near U.S. Border

The fatal blaze comes as border cities across Mexico have been flooded with migrants turned back from the United States and more arriving from other countries.  

By Natalie Kitroeff and Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, March 28, 2023

Figures wrapped in aluminum foil, with paramedics and security forces on the scene at night.
A fire broke out at a government-run migrant detention facility in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on Monday night, killing dozens of migrants who were inside. Credit...Go Nakamura for The New York Times

At least 39 people were killed on Monday night and 29 others seriously injured when a fire broke out at a government-run migrant detention center in northern Mexico, near the U.S. border, Mexican authorities said.


The fatal blaze comes as border cities across Mexico have been flooded with migrants turned back from the United States and more arriving from other countries, with many hoping to cross after a pandemic-era public health rule expires in May.  


The fire broke out in a National Migration Institute facility in Ciudad Juárez, a border city across from El Paso, Texas, shortly before 10 p.m., according to a statement by the Mexican government.


Sixty-eight men from Central and South America were being detained there, the statement said, adding that the 29 injured men were in serious condition and had been transported to local hospitals for urgent care.


President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico said the men held at the facility had been angry at the authorities.


“As protest, at the door of the shelter, they put mattresses and set them on fire, and they did not imagine that this was going to cause this terrible tragedy,” said Mr. López Obrador, during his regular daily news conference on Tuesday morning.


“We assume it was because they found out they were going to be deported,” he added.


Migrants are sleeping in churches, hotels and sometimes on the street. To survive, many have taken to selling candies, cleaning windshields and begging for change.


On the morning of March 12, hundreds of people — including women and children — rushed to the border and gathered at a bridge that connects the city with El Paso, according to local media reports.


The migrants begged to cross into the United States, but were turned back by law enforcement officers.


In a video recorded by La Verdad, a local media outlet, a woman carrying a small child on her shoulders started shouting, “We just want to pass! Please help us! Enough is enough, we are tired of being here in Juárez! Migration does not leave us alone! It takes away what little we have! Help us!”


The next day, the mayor of Ciudad Juárez, Cruz Pérez Cuéllar, announced that his government would toughen its approach to migrants stranded in the city.


“The truth is that our patience is running out,” he said at a news conference, according to local media outlets. “We have the obligation of taking care of the city.”


Human rights groups signed a joint letter this month denouncing what they said were abuses by Mexican migration officials and “the criminalization of migrants.” The letter said that migrants’ documents were destroyed in a raid on a local hotel on March 8 carried out by units from the police, the national guard and the Mexican military.


“With the excessive presence, a clear message of intimidation is sent to the people,” read the statement.


The migrants killed in Monday night’s fire were mainly from Central America and Venezuela, Mr. López Obrador said. At least 28 of the victims were from Guatemala, according to the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry.


The Mexican authorities are conducting an investigation into who was responsible for the tragedy in order to determine whether to bring criminal charges against any officials, and working with consulates in the migrants’ countries of origin to determine their identity and repatriate the bodies, according to a senior Mexican official not authorized to speak publicly.


Television footage showed a swarm of police cars, ambulances and other emergency vehicles in the area. What appeared to be a number of bodies wrapped in large foil blankets could be seen in the facility’s parking lot, and people outside clung to the perimeter fence as emergency responders tended to the victims.


Some of the victims bodies were covered in soot.


The institute said that it had begun communicating “with consular authorities from different countries” in order to identify the dead.


In the hours before the disaster, several news outlets said that personnel from the detention center had been rounding up migrants in the city who were begging or selling merchandise on the street, and that there had been tensions between detained migrants and the staff.


In December, the United States Supreme Court said that a pandemic-era health measure that restricted migration at the southern border would remain in place for the time being. That measure, known as Title 42, has allowed migrants who might otherwise qualify for asylum to be swiftly expelled at the border.


The court’s ruling delayed the potential for a large increase in unlawful crossings into the United States from Mexico. But the measure is scheduled to expire in early May.


Reporting was contributed by Maria Abi-Habib, José Bautista, Jody García, Rocío Gallegos, Mike Ives and Euan Ward.



8) Seized by More Protests, France Is Caught in a Tense Impasse

Neither President Emmanuel Macron nor opponents of his pension overhaul were ready to back down on a new day of strikes and marches, with fears of rising anger and violence.

By Aurelien Breeden, March 28, 2023

Reporting from Paris


A large, dense crowd in the street with signs. A French flag has the words “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” written on it.

Protesters marching in Paris against the government pension overhaul this month. Credit...James Hill for The New York Times

Stuck in a highly charged standoff, France was gripped by another round of disruptive strikes, huge street demonstrations and potentially violent protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension overhaul.


A surge of violence on the fringes of last week’s largely peaceful marches was an ominous sign, ratcheting up the already high tension between Mr. Macron and opponents of the move to raise the legal age of retirement — labor unions, almost all opposition parties and over two-thirds of the French public.


The disturbances on Tuesday were wearingly familiar to many in France after three months of conflict: Roads and university entrances were blocked, trains and flights were canceled and gas stations in the west and the southeast experienced shortages amid continuing disruptions at refineries and fuel depots.


Garbage was still piled up in many neighborhoods of Paris, even though one of the main garbage-collector unions said it would suspend its strike on Wednesday.


Mr. Macron is now in the seemingly untenable position of trying to smooth over tensions even as he forges ahead with the most contentious policy of his second term: a gradual raise of the age when most workers can start collecting a government pension, if not a full one, to 64, from 62.


Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets around the country. If their numbers surpass one million, it will be the fifth time since January.


Philippe Martinez, the leader of the Confédération Générale du Travail, France’s second-largest labor union, told reporters at a protest in Clermont-Ferrand, in central France, that it would not “be the last.”


“When you hear workers talk about their jobs,” he said, “you immediately understand that two more years isn’t possible.”


The fury has coalesced around not just Mr. Macron’s pension overhaul but also his decision to push it through the lower house of Parliament without a vote, using a constitutional tool known as Article 49.3.


“The anger and resentment is at a level that I have rarely experienced,” François Hollande, a Socialist who was Mr. Macron’s predecessor — and whose approval ratings dropped to such depths during his presidency that he declined to run for re-election — said on Sunday.


Mr. Macron’s timing, Mr. Hollande told the BFMTV news channel, could not have been worse.


“When you launch a pension overhaul in a context of strong inflation, heavily reduced purchasing power and worries over a war in Ukraine,” he said, “that fuels incomprehension.”


The uptick in violence has been accompanied by accusations of police misbehavior and brutality. The government has countered that the security forces are facing increasingly brazen attacks on police officers or on public buildings carried out by protesters whom officials called radicalized.


“We respect strikes and demonstrations, but we will be particularly vigilant that they do not lead to new excesses,” Olivier Véran, the French government spokesman, said on Tuesday.


Tensions were further inflamed over the weekend after extremely violent clashes erupted in western France between thousands of riot police officers and environmental activists who were protesting the construction of water reservoirs that have become a flashpoint. Two protesters sustained critical injuries in circumstances that remain unclear and are still in a coma, according to the authorities.


“We are in a moment of total tension, with a very deep resentment, and anger that is rising,” Laurent Berger, the leader of the French Democratic Confederation of Labor, France’s largest labor union, told France 2 television on Monday.


“If democracy is just electing people, and then they do what they want for five years, it doesn’t work,” he said, referring to the length of a presidential term in France.


The government and its opponents have appealed for calm, but they agree on little else. For labor unions, the increase in the legal age of retirement has always been a nonstarter. For Mr. Macron, it is necessary to balance the finances of the French pension system, which he says are unsustainable, even at the cost of unrest in the streets that grew so chaotic it prompted authorities to postpone a planned visit by King Charles III of Britain.


Labor unions say they are willing to discuss changes to labor laws and to the retirement system — without an age increase — only if the government retreats on the pension overhaul. The government says that it wants to discuss those issues but that the pension law has run its democratic course, and it rejected a request from Mr. Berger for what the union called a “mediation” to overcome the crisis.


A frustrated Mr. Berger quickly shot back, telling reporters ahead of the march in Paris, “I’ve had enough of these flat refusals of discussion and dialogue.”


An earlier gesture had come from Élisabeth Borne, Mr. Macron’s prime minister, who said she wanted to be more circumspect in using Article 49.3 and who is conducting a flurry of meetings over the next few weeks to chart the government’s next steps.


But the promise rang false for many opponents, who blame Mr. Macron’s inflexibility for the unrest, one of the most significant threats to the French president since the Yellow Vest movement that rocked his first term.


The standoff has grown increasingly bitter. A top lawmaker from Mr. Macron’s party said she and her family had received death threats. The president of France’s lower house of Parliament, also an ally of Mr. Macron, said she had received a similar letter full of antisemitic and sexist threats.


Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, said that 13,000 officers would be deployed across the country to provide security at the protests, including over 5,000 in Paris, where many shops and businesses on the march route were boarded up on Tuesday.


Mr. Darmanin said that since Mr. Macron had decided to push the bill through the lower house, dozens of buildings like town halls and police stations, as well as over a hundred constituency offices of lawmakers, had been targeted by vandalism and arson. Over 800 officers have been injured during protests.


Unions, lawyers, human rights groups and the Council of Europe say the authorities are also to blame for the increasing violence, accusing the police of employing excessive force or harsh tactics like large-scale corralling and unwarranted preventive arrests.


The police’s internal watchdog and disciplinary body has opened 17 investigations of misconduct related to the protests.


Videos and audio recordings that appear to show officers beating or threatening protesters have circulated widely on social media. In Paris, one union said a member had lost an eye because of a dispersal grenade; in Rouen, the authorities said that a tear-gas canister had most likely seriously injured a protester’s hand.


The pension law will stand unless the Constitutional Council, a body that reviews legislation to ensure that it conforms to France’s Constitution, strikes parts or all of it down. A ruling is expected in April.


“Macron’s belief — or hope — remains that he can gradually ‘change the subject’ to other more popular reforms,” Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, wrote in an analysis.

But, he added, “As things stand, the confrontation looks likely to continue for several weeks.”


Liz Alderman contributed reporting.



9) Hospitals Are Increasingly Crowded With Kids Who Tried to Harm Themselves, Study Finds

Hospitalizations for pediatric suicidal behavior increased by 163 percent over an 11-year period, an analysis of millions of hospital admissions in the United States found.

By Ellen Barry, March 28, 2023


A black-and-white view of a hospital entrance after a rain, with puddles of water in the street and ambulance driving inside the hospital.
An ambulance entrance at a Boston children’s hospital. An analysis of pediatric hospitalizations showed that mental health hospitalizations increased by 25.8 percent and cost $1.37 billion in the 11-year period. Credit...Annie Flanagan for The New York Times

The portion of American hospital beds occupied by children with suicidal or self-harming behavior has soared over the course of a decade, a large study of admissions to acute care hospitals shows.


An analysis of 4,767,840 pediatric hospitalizations by researchers at Dartmouth, published on Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA, found that between 2009 and 2019, mental health hospitalizations increased by 25.8 percent and cost $1.37 billion.


The study did not include psychiatric hospitals, or reflect the years of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that it is a considerable undercount.


Especially striking was the rise in suicidal behavior as a cause: The portion of pediatric mental health hospitalizations involving suicidal or self-harming behavior rose to 64.2 percent in 2019, from 30.7 percent in 2009. As a proportion of overall pediatric hospitalizations, suicidal behavior rose to 12.7 percent in 2019 from 3.5 percent in 2009.


Though the rise in suicidal behavior among American youths is well-established, the study underlines the gaping inadequacies in our health system, said Dr. Gabrielle A. Carlson, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Stony Brook University medical school, who was not involved in the new study.


“You have got a whole system failure here that is registering itself in suicidal kids,” Dr. Carlson said. Parents seeking care for children, she said, encounter a series of frustrations: Clinicians who don’t take insurance or aren’t taking new patients; crisis interventions staffed by low-paid, poorly trained workers; insurers that don’t reimburse well.


“The hospital ends up being the place you go when all else fails,” Dr. Carlson said. “Could you have nipped it in the bud earlier? That is a systems-of-care problem.” She added, “This is playing itself out in an attention-grabbing way.”


The study analyzed the Kids’ Inpatient Database, the largest nationally representative database of pediatric acute care discharges, which includes patients under the age of 21.


Mental health hospitalizations rose significantly in children between the ages of 11 and 14, but they declined in younger and older age groups during the same 11-year period. Girls became a larger portion of mental health hospitalizations, rising to 61.1 percent in 2019 from 51.8 percent in 2009. Hospitalizations for suicidal behavior rose to 129,699 in 2019 from 49,285 in 2009.


The study did not examine what caused the trends, but Dr. JoAnna Leyenaar, one of the paper’s co-authors, pointed to “a growing, growing use of social media among children and adolescents and in particular, growing use among younger adolescents,” which she said had been shown to increase symptoms of depression.


Whatever, the reason, she added, “we don’t have the magic formula to figure out how to dial this back and make things better.”


Dr. Leyenaar said the research was informed by her personal experience as a hospital pediatrician: Though her training included no formal mental health experience beyond a six-week rotation in medical school, children hospitalized after a suicide attempt or self injury are now a central focus of her working life.


“Five years ago, my care for these patients didn’t look very different from my care for children with respiratory illnesses,” said Dr. Leyenaar, an associate professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. Her team has added trainings on safety planning and cognitive behavioral therapy, in the hope that younger doctors “leave residency better equipped to care for youth with mental health conditions than we did.”


The findings should spur policymakers to place more mental health care services in school and community settings, which “may well result in decreased hospitalizations,” said Mary Arakelyan, a research project manager at Dartmouth Health Children’s and another co-author. Meanwhile, she said, hospitals should confront their increasingly central role as mental health providers.


“For so long, the culture has been, in the hospital, that medical emergencies are the true emergencies,” said Dr. Christine M. Crawford, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Boston Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.


Mental health training, she said, should be given throughout the hospital, “kind of like how everyone in the medical staff is trained on how to do CPR.” And, she said, hospitals need to be incentivized to add inpatient psychiatric units, which, because of reimbursement rates, “hemorrhage money.”


The study traced a major shift in the kinds of mental health problems being treated in hospitals, with depressive disorders rising to 56.8 percent in 2019 from 29.7 percent in 2009. Hospitalizations for bipolar disorders, conduct disorders and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia decreased, which could reflect better outcomes due to early intervention programs and more wraparound care.


Rates of suicidal behavior are a “marker of distress” among children who lack coping skills to manage stress and “big emotions,” said Dr. Crawford, who is also an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine.


“When you actually talk to kids who engage in self-harm, who impulsively ingest the Tylenol, they oftentimes talk about an argument that they had with a peer, or a disagreement that they had with an adult,” she said.


In most cases, she said, these children have suffered from diagnosable depression for “many, many months” without being treated. “The kids we’re seeing in the emergency room are doing this rather impulsively in the context of some argument,” she said.



10) How Can We Be a Country That Does This to Our Children?

By Esau McCaulley, March 28, 2023

A photograph of a swing set with a broken swing.
Dennis van de Hoef

The formal clothes of children are endearing. Take a suit or a dress and shrink it down to a size appropriate for elementary school kids and the cuteness factor is undeniable. This is because we all know that ties, button-down shirts and stately dresses are not really the province of the young. Children belong in things that can get dirty, splashed by mud or ripped by sliding into second base or tussling with a classmate.


But tiny caskets? Of course, we revolt. Death is not supposed to visit the lives of our daughters in pigtails or stalk our sons who still have gaps in their teeth.


The parents of three young children at the Covenant School in Nashville now have to choose final outfits and caskets for their children because a shooter entered a school with assault-style rifles and a handgun.


The killer, who also took the lives of three adults at the school, was another in a long line of murderers whose ideologies vary as much as the objects of their violence: Asians, African Americans, Black church attendees, members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, former classmates, moviegoers, grocery shoppers and Christian school students and staff. The one thing that unites these killers is the easy access they had to weapons, owing to the laws that exist in our republic.


There are many ways to judge the success or failure of a country. We can look at its economy, the strength of its military or the quality of its education. We can examine the soundness of our bridges or the smoothness of our highways. But what if we used a different standard? We should judge a nation by a simple metric: the number of weeping parents it allows, the small caskets it tolerates.


The debate around gun control is not new, of course, and each tragedy brings a fresh wave of calls for common sense gun regulation. The adversaries of reform will rebuke us for turning a tragedy, the deaths of six innocent people, into an occasion to debate politics. We will be urged to offer prayers for the victims and their families while we await the appropriate time to discuss the more difficult issues. But too often it seems that rather than waiting for the right time, politicians are simply trying to wait out the news cycle.


I am a son of the Black church, so I am well versed in such delaying tactics. We have not had the luxury of time to mourn. When domestic terrorists bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963, murdering four of our little girls, Martin Luther King Jr. used the eulogy he delivered in the presence of the children’s caskets to challenge the church and the government to change.


He said: “These children — unoffending, innocent, and beautiful — were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician.”


The deaths of the children spoke to the state of anti-Blackness in America. In death, their blood cried out for justice and transformation. Similarly, every single young body riddled with bullets from guns that we could control preaches a sermon. They issue a word of condemnation, a Jeremiad.


Do not misunderstand: I believe in the power of prayer. But the Christian response can’t be limited to it. That assumes that all activity on behalf of the innocent lies in the hands of the almighty when the Christian Scriptures themselves suggest that God will judge us according to how we treat the most vulnerable. We should not be accountable for only the fervency of our intercession but also for the relentlessness of our actions.


Taylor Schumann is a shooting survivor, wife, mom, Christian and advocate for gun reform. The author of the book “When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough: A Shooting Survivor’s Journey Into the Realities of Gun Violence,” she says that some people who resist gun reform do so out of fear, but they are looking at it the wrong way. “The desire for gun control does not come from a place of wanting to take away something, but rather to save something else: fellow human beings,” she told me. “We’ve tried so many things to reduce gun violence, everything except widespread gun reform. If there were another way to do it, I believe we would’ve found it by now.” Ms. Schumann is right. We have not found another answer and so we are left with a question, which is: Whom do we love more, our guns or our children?


My wife and I had occasion to visit Edinburgh, Scotland, last summer. Strolling along its cobbled roads, we wandered into one of the many old churches. Carved into the cool stone walls were names of those long dead.


All that we could know about them was the year of their birth and the day of their passing. The life that took place in the middle was lost to history. We noticed that a few lived very brief lives, dying as children. My wife and I wondered what had befallen them — illness, accident or some other tragedy? The disquiet around the death of the young echoes through the centuries.


Years from now, when those of us alive today have gone the way of all flesh, others will wander through our graveyards. They will see the waves of tombstones commemorating children with not enough years between the first number and the last. But unlike those children in Scotland, the cause of those tragedies will not be a mystery. The undeniable testimony of our actions will be that our children kept dying because some of us did not love them enough.



11) Eastern Kentucky Needs Flood Relief, Not Another Federal Prison

By Sylvia Ryerson and Judah Schept, March 29, 2023

Ms. Ryerson is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University whose work focuses on Appalachia. Dr. Schept writes about the prison-industrial complex and is a professor at Eastern Kentucky University. 

Small homes on a hill. A low mound of rubbish several yards wide sits in front of one of them.
Debris remains piled in front of a home in Thornton, Ky., eight months after it was flooded. Credit...Jared Hamilton for The New York Times

Along the riverbanks of Eastern Kentucky, the redbud trees are just starting to bloom, their branches still lumbering under the weight of last summer’s catastrophic flood: Lawn chairs, trampolines, twisted gutters and school backpacks remain high in the treetops, each item a persistent and disorienting sign of how life here was turned upside down last July when shallow streams surged more than 18 feet in 10 hours in parts of the state, killing more than 40 people and leaving hundreds homeless. Yet while residents reach for the possibility of renewal, the largest regional investment being offered is a federal prison proposed for Letcher County, the heart of the flood zone.


The possible federal correctional institution adds insult to an already injured region. In 2019 activists defeated the proposal, demanding that the funds be used for more forward-thinking purposes, including safe and affordable housing — all the more needed since the flood. The Trump and Biden administrations recommended rescinding funding, with Trump’s calling the prison “unneeded” and “wasteful spending.” Yet because of the outsize influence of Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers, Republican of Kentucky, who has served on the House Appropriations Committee for decades, the funds remain allocated, and so the Bureau of Prisons is back in Letcher County, trying to break ground.


With a price tag of over half a billion dollars, the prison is poised to receive more funding than the combined amount that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have earmarked for flood relief in Eastern Kentucky. Meanwhile, some residents are still living in temporary accommodations in state parks, travel trailers and even tents.


Such spending priorities reflect a century-long pattern of regional development premised on extraction and exploitation. Coal mining has devastated public health and the local ecology and most likely made the floods last summer worse. Prisons in Appalachia, many built on former strip-mining sites, fail to address coal’s legacy while perpetuating the horrors of mass incarceration. Mr. Rogers has already brought three federal prisons to his district in Eastern Kentucky, giving it one of the highest concentrations of federal correctional facilities nationwide. Yet the counties with these prisons remain three of the poorest in the country, with poverty rates over triple the national average. The evidence is overwhelming: Just as coal never brought broad-based prosperity to the region, nor do prisons.


For Dr. Artie Ann Bates, a psychiatrist and lifelong Letcher County resident, the proposed prison is “a trauma on top of the trauma.”


Her clients in the region have included both formerly incarcerated people and correctional officers. As she described this moment, “We managed somehow to survive strip mining, and that was awful. That’s sort of calming down because coal is gone mostly, and it seemed like maybe we were turning a corner. But then the flood broke us as an area.” After a sigh, she continued, “And now we’ve got to deal with this prison. Again.”


Having a prison come to town is now a familiar experience for many in Central Appalachia — and rural Americans across the country. Over the past four decades of mass incarceration, more than 350 prisons have been built in rural communities, promoted as economic development to address the crises of deindustrialization, environmental contamination and out-migration. In Eastern Kentucky, coal employment is near its lowest level in more than a century. Steep drops in coal production mean that a severance tax from mined coal that once upheld local budgets, including Letcher County’s, has all but dried up, leaving area officials desperate for new tax revenue.


Prison building offers a purported solution to these very real crises, yet it is a pernicious plan that promises to alleviate poverty for some through incarcerating others. It also reproduces stark racial inequalities. Letcher County, for example, is 98 percent white; the federal prison population is approximately 39 percent Black and 30 percent Hispanic. Importantly, rural prisons are also a disingenuous development strategy. A team of sociologists led by Dr. Gregory Hooks analyzed all new prison growth from 1960 to 2004 and found “no evidence” that prisons bring employment growth to rural counties.


The residents of Letcher County need no sociologist to persuade them of their reality. In 2019 community organizers, local landowners, national environmental attorneys and people in prison forged a coalition to defeat the first iteration of the prison. Using the hashtag #our444million, organizers demanded that the $444 million allocated to build the prison be redirected toward meeting their actual needs and desires.


Tanya Turner, a member of the coalition, said in 2020, “When you are just seeing so intimately every day what your community lacks, it’s hard not to dream about what that much money could do. People talked about rehab facilities, art centers, big maker spaces, all kinds of stuff.”


Mitch Whitaker, a fourth-generation Letcher County resident and master falconer whose property was included in the original rendering of the prison site, refused to sell his land, causing significant delays for the project. For him, the experience of dealing with the Bureau of Prisons was all too reminiscent of battles his father and grandfather fought against absentee coal companies that wanted to take the same land. “This was, again to me, a flashback of the heyday,” he said.


Today this coalition is re-forming, shifting the debate about rural prison growth and building an opposition rooted in multiracial solidarity among poor communities. Its conviction that better options abound feels all the more urgent for residents still recovering from the summer’s fatal floods. As Dr. Bates put it, how can you organize if you’re living in a tent? “I think those of us who were lucky enough not to be totally destroyed by the flood have to step up and try to stop this prison,” she said.


Those of us outside Letcher County would be wise to follow their lead. As lawmakers debate the federal budget for 2024, there is again an opening for intervention and leverage. Demand of your representatives that Congress rescind the funding for the prison. Insist on more relief and recovery spending in Eastern Kentucky and real solutions for all communities on the front lines of climate disaster and economic abandonment.



12) Mexico Investigates Migrant Deaths in Border City Fire as Homicide Case

The authorities identified eight suspects and said government workers and private security workers had done nothing to help migrants flee the blaze at a detention center in Ciudad Juárez.

By Simon Romero, Natalie Kitroeff and Eileen Sullivan, March 29, 2023


Migrants placing flowers outside of detention center in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. (Screenshot)

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — Mexican officials announced on Wednesday that they were investigating a fire at a migrant detention center in Ciudad Juárez as a homicide case, saying that government workers and private security employees had not allowed detainees to escape from the blaze that killed at least 39 people.


The authorities, in a news conference, said they had identified eight suspects, including federal and state agents, and would issue four arrest warrants on Wednesday.


“None of the public servants, nor the private security guards, took any action to open the door for the migrants who were inside where the fire was,” said Sara Irene Herrerías Guerra, a top federal human rights prosecutor.


The announcement came after a video emerged appearing to show that the migrants had been trapped when the fire broke out on Monday. Uniformed figures at the center can be seen walking away from the blaze while people remain behind bars as the area fills with smoke.


The authorities said they might also investigate one migrant suspected of starting the fire.


“Our country’s immigration policy is one of respect for human rights,” said Rosa Icela Rodríguez, the government’s secretary of security. “This unfortunate event, which is the responsibility of public servants and guards who have been identified, is not the policy of our country.”


It was a striking development in a case that has drawn intense scrutiny to the Mexican government’s handling of the surge of migrants flowing into the country over the past year, seeking to enter the United States.


Ciudad Juárez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, has long prided itself on absorbing waves of newcomers, many from Mexico who come to work in factories and others from across Latin America who stop on their way to the United States.


But what used to be a transit point for U.S.-bound migrants has turned into a hub for those who believe they have no choice but to stay — either after being sent back by the U.S. authorities or while waiting to apply to enter legally.


At intersections across the city, groups of migrants can be seen asking for money. Some hold up cardboard signs pleading for help. Others sell food out of coolers.


Many sleep in abandoned construction sites or anywhere else they can find on the streets in this Mexican city, draped in blankets and ragged sleeping bags.


“Help us eat and to not sleep in the street,” read a sign held by Vicleikis Muñoz, 20, a Venezuelan woman in downtown Juárez who was eight months pregnant and traveling with her two children, 5 and 3.


“We survive from asking for money,” she said on Wednesday. “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”


Migrants have tried to cross the border en masse, a move that has frustrated many residents who legally cross daily into El Paso to work. The mayor of Ciudad Juárez vowed a crackdown, while rights groups denounced abuses by the authorities.


Those simmering tensions came into sharp relief on Monday night, when the fire burned through the detention center, which is federally operated. The Mexican president said migrants had started the blaze during a protest, suggesting they were angry because they had found out they would be deported.


Viangly Infante Padrón, a Venezuelan migrant who has been in Ciudad Juárez since December, said the authorities picked up her husband on Monday afternoon and took him to the detention center.


She went there that day to try to get him out, and waited inside until about 9:30 p.m., when she heard a commotion coming from where she believed the men were being held.


“I heard kicks and screams,” Ms. Infante Padrón said in an interview, adding that she heard one migration official say, “Take the women out.” Before she was whisked outside, she begged officials to free the men.


“I started crying and I said: ‘How is it that they’re burning? Why are you not opening the door?’” Ms. Infante Padrón said. “They never opened the door for him, nothing.” She said she waited outside for 15 minutes before firefighters arrived and started removing bodies. Her husband, she said, is now in the hospital.


Standing outside a local school on Wednesday, the mayor of Ciudad Juárez, Cruz Pérez Cuéllar, defended the city government’s treatment of migrants.


“We are being called xenophobic and racist,” he said. “This is a completely open government, and there is no xenophobia on our part. We are a city of migrants.”


Analysts said a turning point for Ciudad Juárez came after President Biden, facing relentless Republican attacks over the surge in migration over the summer, announced a new policy intended to curb the record levels of illegal border crossings.


U.S. border officials had been seeing an explosion in crossings by Venezuelans, who could not be deported by the American authorities because of strained relations with Venezuela.


In October, the Biden administration struck a deal with Mexico intended to blunt the influx: The United States could expel Venezuelans to Mexico in exchange for creating legal pathways for them to pass into the United States.


The number of Venezuelans crossing the border illegally dropped within days. The Biden administration saw this as so successful that it negotiated another deal with Mexico to expand the agreement to include Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans — populations who similarly could not be easily expelled to their home countries.


But Ciudad Juárez soon started to see larger numbers of Venezuelans and others gathering in the streets, residents and analysts say. Many were in limbo — it was futile to try to cross into the United States because of the new policy, but they did not want to go home.


So they stayed.


“We passed into a phase we weren’t familiar with,” said Rodolfo Rubio, a migration expert and professor at El Colegio de Chihuahua, a public research institution in Ciudad Juárez.


Mr. Rubio said the sight of so many migrants begging at intersections and camping on streets jolted some in the city. Protests by Venezuelans, along with an effort by a large group formed to rush across the border this month, also put the authorities on alert.


The strain in Ciudad Juárez has been mirrored across the north of Mexico, current and former officials say, as the Biden administration has made changes in its border policies.


This year, the United States created legal pathways for migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to apply for a two-year humanitarian parole in the country. The Biden administration also expanded access to a government app, CBP One, for migrants to fill out an application and secure an appointment at a port of entry.


But to apply via the app, a migrant must be in northern Mexico. Now, people are waiting days and even months in Mexican border communities to secure an appointment, with only a limited number of slots available.


At a shelter with about 800 migrants in Reynosa, Mexico, last week, only two secured appointments, said Guerline M. Jozef, a founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, which helps people seeking asylum.


“We do not have the capabilities to deal with this amount of migrants,” said Martha Bárcena, who was the Mexican ambassador to the United States from December 2018 to February 2021.


The fire, Ms. Bárcena added, “should make Mexico and the U.S. aware that the measures that have been agreed on are not working and they are causing terrible tragedies.”


Steps away from the site of the fire, Carlos Armendáriz, who sells used tools on the sidewalks in Ciudad Juárez, said he sympathized with the victims and their families. But, he added, he had a mixed view of the migrant population in town.


“I’ll be frank,” he said. “I don’t see them working. The majority are begging.”


Mr. Armendáriz, 64, who was born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, was a migrant himself for years in the United States, working largely in construction in Texas, until he was deported more than a decade ago.


Mr. Armendáriz said that he had offered some migrants from Venezuela temporary work helping to do repairs at his home. But almost none took him up on the offer, he said.


“I was a migrant on the other side,” he said. “We went there to work like beasts.”


Mr. Armendáriz emphasized that he still viewed Juárez as a welcoming city, and that it had opportunities for anyone who wanted to work hard. “But only 10 percent of the new people want to work,” he said. “The other 90 percent? I don’t know about them.”


Some Venezuelans take issue with the perception that their presence is increasing tension in the city.


“We work hard every single day,” said Jesus Cardoso, 29, a migrant from the Venezuelan state of Barinas. He and his wife, Yitmar, 30, make arepas, a Venezuelan staple, to sell on the streets.


Mr. Cardoso said they arrived a month ago with their 4-year-old son, who is enrolled in a public school in Ciudad Juárez. They are hoping to reunite with relatives living near Houston.


“All we want is a chance to cross the border,” he said. “We don’t want to stay here. But if we have to, we’ll survive.”



13) A Florida School Banned a Disney Movie About Ruby Bridges. Here’s What That Really Means.

By Charles M. Blow, March 29, 2023


A 1960 photo of Ruby Bridges being escorted by federal marshals.

Associated Press

This month, an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Fla., stopped showing a 1998 Disney movie about Ruby Bridges, the 6-year-old Black girl who integrated a public elementary school in New Orleans in 1960, because of a complaint lodged by a single parent who said she feared the film might teach children that white people hate Black people.


The school banned the film until it could be reviewed. So I decided to review the film myself.


First, here’s a refresher on Ruby: When she integrated that school, she had to be escorted by federal marshals. She was met by throngs of white racists — adults! — jeering, hurling epithets, spitting at her and threatening her life. Parents withdrew their children.


Only one teacher would teach her, so every day that 6-year-old girl had to be in class by herself, save for the teacher, and eat lunch alone.


Ruby became afraid to eat because one of the protesters threatened to poison her. Her father lost his job, and the local grocery asked that her family not come back to the store.


All of this was endured by a Black first grader, but now a Florida parent worries that it’s too much for second graders to hear, see and learn about.


Furthermore, of all the ways Ruby’s story could have been portrayed, the Disney version is the most generous, including developed story lines for Ruby’s white teacher and the white psychiatrist who treated her. And in the end, another white teacher and a white student come around to some form of acceptance.


The movie is what you’d expect: a lamentable story about a deplorable chapter in our history, earnestly told, with some of the sharpest edges blunted, making it easier for children to absorb.


But in Florida, the point isn’t the protection of children but the deceiving of them. It’s to fight so-called woke indoctrination with a historical whitewash.


And the state has given individual parents extraordinary authority as foot soldiers in this campaign: In this case, a single objecting parent is apparently enough to have a lesson about our very recent history questioned or even banned. Remember: Bridges isn’t some ancient figure in a dusty textbook, she’s alive and well today. She’s 12 years younger than my own mother.


Earlier this year, in the same school district, Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” was banned from all district high schools because a parent complained about a rape scene in the book.


Also this month, a principal in Florida was pressured to resign after students were shown Michelangelo’s statue of David, a biblical figure no less, and three parents complained.


Giving so few parents so much power to take educational options away from other parents and children runs counter to the spirit of democracy and free inquiry, and enshrines a form of parental tyranny of the hypersensitive, the inexplicably aggrieved and the maliciously oppressive.


It portends an era of bedlam in Florida’s schools, all courtesy of extremist state legislators’ and Gov. Ron DeSantis’s quixotic war on wokeness.


What happens if this glove gets turned inside out and minority parents begin to complain about the teaching of other aspects of American history and culture?


What happens if they reject lessons or books about Thomas Jefferson because he raped a teenage girl he enslaved, Sally Hemings, and was the father of her children, including at least one born while she was a child herself. (For the record, I consider all sex between enslavers and those they enslaved rape, because it was impossible for the enslaved to consent.)


What happens if a parent objects to a school celebrating Columbus Day because Christopher Columbus was a maniacal colonizer who sold young girls as sex slaves?


What happens if parents object to books about and celebrations of Thanksgiving because the standard portrayal of the first Thanksgiving as a meeting among friends who came together to share bounty and overcome difference is a fairy tale?


What if they object to the Bible itself, which includes rape, incest, torture and murder?


History is full of horribleness. We do ourselves and our children no favors pretending otherwise.


Learning about human cruelty is necessarily uncomfortable. It is in that discomfort that our empathy is revealed and our righteousness awakened.


These debates continue to center on the discomfort of white children, but seem to ignore the feelings of Black children, discomfort or otherwise.


As I watched the film, I was incredibly uncomfortable, sometimes angry, sometimes near tears as I revisited Ruby’s story.


How did that happen? How do we honor that moment, condemning the cruelty of the racists and exalting her bravery? And how do we address the effect of racial discrimination on the American experience?


If an accurate depiction of white racism and cruelty is a metric by which educational instruction and materials can be banned, how is a true and full teaching of American history possible?


Maybe distortion is the point. It’s the resurrection of a Lost Cause moment in which a revisionist history is crafted to rehabilitate Southern racists.


The wave of censorship we’re seeing also invokes, for me, the “slave” Bible, an abridged text used in the 1800s in the West Indies to try to pacify the enslaved. Passages that evoked liberation were cut and passages that supported slavery were kept. It was a tool of psychological warfare masquerading as sacred text.


DeSantis’s Florida is engaged in similar psychological warfare. Its battlegrounds are race, gender and sexuality, and it is napalming inclusive narratives.


The state’s crusading censors are choosing the comfort of ignorance over the inconvenience of truth.