Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, April 10, 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.



Bigotry Comes in Many Forms: We Oppose the Targeting of Huwaida Arraf and Silencing of the Palestinian Narrative with Bogus Charges of Antisemitism


Sign petition at:



We, the undersigned, are extremely concerned about the recent attacks on Huwaida Arraf, a highly respected Palestinian-American civil rights attorney and longtime human rights activist. It is clear that these attacks are politically motivated attempts to discredit Huwaida’s message and silence all advocates of Palestinian rights. It is dangerous and we must not tolerate it. Smears and lies have been widely hurled at Huwaida, and death threats to Arab and Muslim students.

To sign this petition, please scroll down below the partial list of names and your name will be added.

These attacks have come in the aftermath of Huwaida’s participation in a Bloomfield Hills High School diversity assembly on March 14, 2023. Huwaida was invited by the student organizers of the assembly to speak alongside four other speakers about her experiences dealing with racism. The goal of the assembly was to promote diversity and acceptance, and raise awareness of the dangers of racism and discrimination.  

Huwaida spoke about her work campaigning for Palestinian freedom and human rights, which includes co-founding an organization that brings people of all religions, ethnicities, and nationalities together to bear witness on the ground and support the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Huwaida spoke about the importance of dismantling systems of oppression, which are built on racist ideologies, and she urged students to remember that all human beings are deserving of the same rights that we want for ourselves. 

Following the assembly, Zionist organizations launched a campaign to pressure the school to apologize for allowing Huwaida to speak, calling her and her comments “hateful” and “antisemitic.” This was followed by a special board meeting where multiple individuals were permitted to malign Huwaida’s character using racist tropes and falsehoods. Meanwhile, the students who spoke up eloquently to debunk the lies were marginalized, as the school board promised to take steps to ensure that “mistakes like this” do not happen again. The principal of the school, an African American, has been put on administrative leave, and the pressure continues to fire him and other school administrators. 

It is not a mistake or antisemitic to invite a Palestinian speaker to participate in a diversity assembly. Nor is it a mistake or antisemitic to invite a speaker to talk about Palestinian rights. The mistake is equating speech about Palestinian rights and the erasure of the Palestinian lived experience with antisemitism. It is a deliberate tactic that has been used for years to intimidate people into silence about the atrocities being committed by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people. This tactic not only harms Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian rights, but it does a great disservice to the fight against real antisemitism by conflating the Palestinian struggle for liberation and criticism of the Israeli government’s policies with those who brandish swastikas and attack synagogues. 

We stand with Huwaida and the student organizers of the diversity assembly against these baseless attacks and nefarious defamation. We call on Jewish community leaders and organizations, and other social justice, human rights, and religious leaders and organizations to recognize the harm caused by denying the Palestinian experience and making false accusations of antisemitism. 

We call on the Bloomfield Hills school administration to reject all efforts to conflate speech about Palestinian rights with antisemitism. And, we call on everyone everywhere to remember the words of the late civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer —“nobody’s free until everybody’s free” — and to stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle to be free. 





Updates From Kevin Cooper 

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) French Unions, Still Furious Over Pension Law, Resume Protests

Hundreds of thousands again took to the streets to rally against plans to raise the retirement age, but there were signs that the demonstrations were losing some steam, at least for now.

By Aurelien Breeden, April 6, 2023

A large crowd of people, some holding signs and others carrying flags, filled a street.

Demonstrators, some holding a sign calling for President Emmanuel Macron’s pension overhaul to be blocked, protesting in Nantes, western France, on Thursday. Credit...Loic Venance/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

French workers marched and went on strike around the country on Thursday for the 11th time in three months, as the stalemate between President Emmanuel Macron and labor unions endured even after his pension overhaul to raise the legal age of retirement to 64 from 62 has become law.


Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets around the country, although there were signs that a movement that has posed the greatest political threat to Mr. Macron’s second term was losing some steam, at least for now.


The last day of nationwide demonstrations, last week, attracted about 740,000 people around France, a large number but nonetheless lower than in previous rounds of protests. The number of strikers in key sectors like transportation and education has also slowly declined.


France’s national railway company said three out of four high-speed trains would be running on Thursday, as well as one in two regional express trains, far better than on previous strike days; while the Paris transportation authority said that traffic on its network would be close to normal. The Education Ministry said that about 8 percent of teachers were on strike on Tuesday, far fewer than before.


But disruptions and small acts of protest, like brief traffic blockages, have not come to a halt by any means, including on days without organized protests, and some strikes could pick up again. In Paris, where the streets are now clear of mounds of trash that had piled up during a weekslong garbage-collector walkout, one of the main unions is threatening a new strike next week.


On Wednesday, protesters briefly shut the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and unfurled a banner that read “No to 64!” from the top of the famous landmark. Electricity workers have continued making sporadic power cuts in official buildings, including at a local prefecture in Lyon on Thursday. Some universities are still being occupied by protesting students.


The protests on Thursday came a day after a cordial but fruitless meeting — the first since January — between Élisabeth Borne, Mr. Macron’s prime minister, and the heads of the main labor unions. The union representatives left after less than an hour and complained that they were not being heard.


“They are living in a parallel reality,” Sophie Binet, the newly elected head of the Confédération Générale du Travail, France’s second-largest labor union, told reporters at a march in Paris on Thursday.


Ms. Binet acknowledged that enthusiasm for the walkouts was waning in some areas, partly because of the financial burden for striking workers, but she said that the protests were a “long-distance race,” not a sprint.


As long as the pension overhaul “is not withdrawn, the mobilization will continue in one form or another,” she added.


The chaotic unrest that followed Mr. Macron’s decision to push the law through Parliament without a full vote and the violence that marred some protests have slightly subsided — but not the persistent opposition to the pension overhaul and the anger against Mr. Macron, who is currently on a state visit to China but is closely following the turmoil back home.


The march in Paris on Thursday was mostly calm at midday. But some protesters targeted La Rotonde, the restaurant where Mr. Macron celebrated his 2017 electoral victory, pelting the establishment with rocks and bottles, and starting a small blaze that was quickly put out by firefighters.


Recent polling has shown that voters would be more likely to support Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader and Mr. Macron’s strongest rival in the past two French elections, and less likely to back the current president or his allies in a hypothetical election.


Mr. Macron’s opponents have warned that his insistence on pushing through the pension overhaul is creating a dangerous mix. Laurent Berger, the leader of the Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail, France’s largest labor union, told reporters at a protest in Paris on Thursday that Mr. Macron’s approach had led to increased mistrust toward the government, higher social tensions and more support for the far right.


“If those aren’t all the ingredients of a democratic crisis, I don’t know what is,” Mr. Berger said.


Mr. Macron’s government has argued that it followed the law at every step and that most opposition parties presented no realistic alternatives to ensure that the French pension system remains financially sustainable.


“I understand that we have been unable to convince at this time, but it’s work that must continue in the long term,” Olivier Véran, spokesman for the French government, told France Inter radio on Thursday.


“The far right is high in voting intentions,” Mr. Véran acknowledged. But, he added: “Why? Because it says nothing, because it offers nothing, and as always it reaps the fruits of anger.”


The new pension law will stand as is unless the Constitutional Council, a body that reviews legislation to ensure that it conforms to the Constitution, strikes part or all of it down.


The conflict between Mr. Macron and the opposition is now essentially in limbo, with all sides awaiting the council’s ruling, which is expected next week.


“The impasse” was the headline on the front page of Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper, on Thursday, while Olivier Baccuzat, deputy editor in chief of L’Opinion, another newspaper, wrote that the meeting between Ms. Borne and the unions “ended exactly as one might have feared: with nothing.”


“And for good reason, each of the protagonists got exactly what they came for: nothing,” he added in his editorial. “Or rather, little things that allow both sides to keep up appearances and to boast that they have not given up anything.”


The government maintains that it wants to talk with the unions but has refused to discuss the age increase with them, while the unions insist that dropping the measure is the only way forward. Each side has accused the other of refusing to compromise.


“We don’t agree, but we are talking,” Mr. Véran said. “And it’s important to talk.”



2) It’s Not ‘Deaths of Despair.’ It’s Deaths of Children.

By David Wallace-Wells, April 6, 2023

Ibrahim Rayintakath

How long a person can expect to live is one of the most fundamentally revealing facts about a country, and here, in the richest country in the world, the answer is not just bleak but increasingly so. Americans are now dying younger on average than they used to, breaking from all global and historical patterns of predictable improvement. They are dying younger than in any peer countries, even accounting for the larger impact of the pandemic here. They are dying younger than in China, Cuba, the Czech Republic or Lebanon.


You may think this problem is a matter of 70-year-olds who won’t live to see 80 or perhaps about the so-called deaths of despair among white middle-aged men. These were the predominant explanations five years ago, after the country’s longevity statistics first flatlined and then took a turn for the worse — alone among wealthy nations in the modern history of the world.


But increasingly the American mortality anomaly, which is still growing, is explained not by the middle-aged or elderly but by the deaths of children and teenagers. One in 25 American 5-year-olds now won’t live to see 40, a death rate about four times as high as in other wealthy nations. And although the spike in death rates among the young has been dramatic since the beginning of the pandemic, little of the impact is from Covid-19. Over three pandemic years, Covid-19 was responsible for just 2 percent of American pediatric and juvenile deaths.


Firearms account for almost half of the increase. Homicide accounted for 6.9 percent of deaths among that group, defined as those 19 years old or younger, and suicide accounted for 6.8 percent, according to a January analysis published in JAMA Network Open. Car crashes and accidental drug overdoses — which the National Center for Health Statistics collates along with other accidental deaths as “unintentional injuries” — accounted for 18.4 percent. In 2021, according to a JAMA essay published in March, more than twice as many kids died from poisoning, including drug overdoses, as from Covid-19. More than three times as many died of suicide, more than four times as many died from homicide, and more than five times as many died in car crashes and other transportation accidents (which began increasing during the pandemic after a long, steady decline).


Last week, the former Treasury secretary Larry Summers called the deepening life expectancy crisis, documented in recent surveys and studies, “the most disturbing set of data on America that I have encountered in a long time” and “especially scary remembering that demographics were the best early warning on the collapse of the U.S.S.R.” In many ways this feels like hyperbole. And yet, by the most fundamental measures of human flourishing, the United States is moving not forward but backward, at unprecedented speed, and now the country’s catastrophic mortality anomaly has spread to its children.


The new life expectancy studies pick up the thread of work by Anne Case and the Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, economists who, beginning in 2015, suggested that a broad social malady was visible in the growing mortality rates of non-college-educated white men in middle age. Their research into what they called “deaths of despair” offered a sort of data-based corollary to a narrative about the country’s left behind, stitched together in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s rise, in part to make sense of it. In the years since, the same data has invited a whole competitive roster of divergent analyses: that such deaths reflected social dysfunctions driven by ballooning income inequality; that they illustrated health disparities that frequently tracked those inequalities, from obesity and cigarette smoking; that they showcased the country’s threadbare social safety net, which briefly expanded during the pandemic and then abruptly shrank; that they arose from striking declines in what conservatives often call prosocial values like patriotism and religiosity.


The new data tells a somewhat different story. In the big picture, opioids still play a large role, and suicide contributes, too. But that pattern of elevated middle-aged mortality is giving way to a growing crisis of juvenile death. The demographics are shifting away from those narrow markers of class and race identified by Case and Deaton, as well.


Mortality is still increasing more quickly for those without a college degree, but as John Burn-Murdoch demonstrated vividly in The Financial Times, except for a few superrich Americans, individuals at every percentile of income are now dying sooner than their counterparts in Britain, for instance. For the poorer half of the country, simply being an American is equivalent to about four full years of life lost compared with the average Brit. For the richer half, being an American is not quite as bad but is still the equivalent of losing, on average, about two years of life. And this is even though an American earning an income in the 75th percentile is much richer than a Brit at the same income percentile, since American incomes are much higher.


This is not to say that longevity declines are uniform, exactly. Black Americans, on average, can expect to live five fewer years than white Americans; Black American men have lower life expectancies than men in Rwanda, Laos and North Korea. White Americans, in turn, can expect to live seven fewer years than Asian Americans. Life expectancy in the Black Belt of the Deep South is as much as 20 years lower than it is north of the Mason-Dixon line and west of the Mississippi, according to the American Inequality Project. And there is even a notable difference between counties that supported Joe Biden in 2020 and counties that supported Trump.


While the past few years of data are skewed by Covid mortality, you still see the American anomaly even if you subtract the pandemic: In all other nations of that counterfactual world, The Financial Times calculated, life expectancy would have either stabilized or increased, while in the United States the huge surge in violent deaths alone would have cut the country’s life expectancy by a full year.


For earlier generations, life expectancy at birth was often a misleading statistic, because before modern medicine, if a person survived childhood and adolescence, he or she could be expected to live at least to contemporary middle age, and so the remarkably low median life expectancy estimate was suppressed by how many newborns did not make it to 10 or 20. (Thomas Jefferson wasn’t an old man when he wrote the Declaration of Independence at 33, when life expectancy was probably about 45, but only two of his six children with his wife, Martha, survived to adulthood.)


In modern America, a similar if less dramatic threshold appears to have emerged. If you make it to retirement age, you can expect to live about as long as your counterparts in other wealthy countries. This is its own kind of failure, given how much more money Americans spend on health care. But it is merely a waste, not a horror. The horror is that, as Burn-Murdoch memorably put it, in the average American kindergarten at least one child can expect to be buried by his or her parents. The country’s exceptionalism of violence is more striking among the young but extends into early adulthood; from age 25 to 34, Americans’ chances of dying are, by some estimates, more than twice as high, on average, as their counterparts’ in Britain and Japan.


And the death rates are growing at a startling speed. According to that March JAMA essay, the death rate among America’s youths increased by 10.7 percent from 2019 to 2020 and 8.3 percent from 2020 to 2021. The phenomenon was more pronounced among older children and adolescents, but the death rate among those age 1 to 9 increased by 8.4 percent from 2020 to 2021, and almost none of that effect was the result of the pandemic itself.


The pandemic years look even grimmer when we examine pediatric mortality by cause. Guns were responsible for almost half of the increase from 2019 to 2020, as homicides among children age 10 to 19 grew more than 39 percent. Deaths from drug overdoses for that age cohort more than doubled. In 2021, as schools reopened, pediatric deaths from Covid nearly doubled but still accounted for only one-fifth of the increase in overall pediatric deaths — a large increase on top of the previous year’s even larger one.


The disparities are remarkable and striking, as well. Most of the increase in pediatric mortality was among males, with female deaths making only a small jump. Almost two-thirds of the victims of homicide were non-Hispanic Black youths 10 to 19, who had a homicide rate six times as high as that of Hispanic children and teenagers, and more than 20 times as high as that of white children and teenagers. In recent years, the authors of the JAMA essay write, deaths from overdose were higher among white children and teenagers, but increases in the death rates among Black and Hispanic children and teenagers erased that gap, statistically speaking, in 2020.


In this way, the new data manages to invert and upend the deaths of despair story while only confirming the country’s longstanding patterns of tragic inequality. That narrative, focused on the self-destruction of older and less-educated white men, took hold in part because it pointed to an intuitive sense of national psychic malaise and postindustrial decline. But the familiar narratives about the country’s problems are proving more enduring: The country is a violent place and is getting more violent, and the footfall of that violence and social brutality is not felt equally, however much attention is paid to the travails of the “forgotten” working class. Probably we should be much more focused on protecting our young.



3) Israel Strikes Back at Lebanon After Rocket Barrage

Tensions along the border between the two countries have escalated to the highest level in years. On Friday, a shooting attack in the occupied West Bank killed two Israelis.

By Isabel Kershner and Patrick Kingsley. April 7, 2023

Reporting from Jerusalem


People walking among big craters by the side of a street with buildings in the background.

Inspecting damage from overnight Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on Friday. Credit...Fatima Shbair/Associated Press

Israel bombarded targets in Lebanon and Gaza overnight in retaliation for a barrage of rockets fired from Lebanon that was seen as the most serious escalation in years along Israel’s northern border. But much of the fighting had subsided by Friday morning and all sides appeared intent on containing the cross-border violence.


In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, however, a new attack stirred tensions. The Israeli military said that shots had been fired on a car carrying Israelis in the Jordan Valley, and the ambulance service Magen David Adom said that two women had been killed and a third critically injured. The Israeli government said that it was treating the shooting as a “terrorist” attack, suggesting that Palestinians were suspected.


Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that dominates the Gaza Strip, praised the shooting and described it as a response to Israel’s “crimes” against Muslim worshipers at a holy site in Jerusalem and to the airstrikes on Lebanon and Gaza. But it stopped short of taking responsibility.


Frictions have steadily climbed over the course of this week, starting with an Israeli police raid in the early hours of Wednesday at the holy site, the Aqsa Mosque compound, which is known to Jews as the Temple Mount. Palestinians had barricaded themselves inside a prayer hall of a mosque ahead of an expected visit to the compound by Jewish pilgrims marking the start of Passover, which coincides this year with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.


In an apparent response to the police raid, militias based in southern Lebanon on Thursday fired more than 30 rockets across Israel’s northern border, causing damage to property but no fatalities. The Israeli military attributed the rocket fire from Lebanon to branches of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, two militias based in Gaza that also have a presence in Lebanon. Both of those groups had condemned the raid at the holy site.


The military said it believed that the groups had acted with the knowledge of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia that dominates southern Lebanon.


Israeli warplanes retaliated before 1 a.m. on Friday with strikes on several sites in Gaza, most of them connected to Hamas’s military wing. Roughly four hours later, Israeli planes struck what the military said were three sites controlled by Hamas in southern Lebanon, close to where the rocket barrage originated on Thursday afternoon.


Experts said it was the most serious escalation along the Israel-Lebanon border since 2006, when Israel fought a monthlong war against Hezbollah. It raised fears of a wider conflict on multiple fronts between Israel, Palestinian militias and their allies.


The violence further complicated an already volatile security situation in the region. It came at a time of rising tensions in Jerusalem, unusually high violence in the occupied West Bank and divisions within the Israeli military and the broader society over a contentious plan by the Israeli government to overhaul the country’s judiciary.


“Israel’s reaction, tonight and in the future, will exact a significant price from our enemies,” Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said after his military’s warplanes hit Gaza.


The Israeli response did not immediately prompt more rocket fire from Lebanon, but it did lead armed groups in Gaza to launch 44 short-range rockets toward Israel, according to the Israeli military.


Most were intercepted by Israeli air defense systems or landed in open areas and only one hit a building, as both sides avoided causing the kind of damage that would turn the confrontation into all-out war.


The Lebanese government, which has only limited influence over Hezbollah-dominated southern Lebanon, condemned the rocket fire emanating from its territory in an apparent effort to deflect any plans for further launches and Israeli retaliation.


The militias in Gaza avoided firing rockets deep into Israeli territory — a sign that they did not seek a more drawn-out conflict. Israel also avoided targeting dense urban areas, though one strike caused collateral damage to a hospital, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. No injuries were reported on either side.


On Friday morning, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a spokesman for the military, said that there had been “a lot of messaging” in diplomatic channels in an effort to defuse the situation, and that Egypt had played a main role. “Quiet will be answered with quiet,” he told reporters in a briefing, adding, “Nobody wants an escalation right now.”


After several hours of calm along the borders with Gaza and Lebanon, the Israeli military announced at about 11 a.m. that residents in those areas no longer needed to remain close to bomb shelters.


No Jewish pilgrims were expected to enter the holy site in Jerusalem on Friday, when it is generally closed to non-Muslim visitors, a factor that security officials hoped could help prevent another round of clashes.


Hiba Yazbek contributed reporting from Nazareth, Israel.



4) Deadly Attack Exposes Growing Threat in Mexico: the Military

Uniformed soldiers shot and killed unarmed civilians, including an American, then blocked medics from providing care, a top government official said. To many Mexicans, such abuse is all too familiar.

By Maria Abi-Habib and Galia García PalafoxPhotographs by Alejandro Cegarra, April 7, 2023

The reporters traveled to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to meet with the families of several men who were shot and killed by the military.


A girl walking by a house pockmarked with bullet holes on a street corner in Nuevo Laredo where five young men where killed by the Mexican military.
A house pockmarked with bullet holes on a street corner in Nuevo Laredo where five young men were killed by the Mexican military.

Gustavo Ángel Suárez Castillo, an American citizen from San Antonio, piled six friends, including two brothers, into his white pickup truck with Texas plates just before dawn, having spent the night celebrating the news that he was going to be a father. Suddenly, four vehicles filled with armed men began chasing and firing at them.


The pickup truck crashed and as the passengers tumbled out, the armed men threw some to the ground, shooting one in the back, survivors told The New York Times. One recounted how he watched his brother slowly stop breathing while the assailants blocked medics from arriving.


When it ended, five of the men,  including Mr.  Suárez, were dead and the other two severely injured.


The attackers? Uniformed Mexican soldiers.


The shooting in the city of Nuevo Laredo in the early hours of Feb. 26 has been called a coldblooded execution by the survivors and a top government official. So far, four of the 21 soldiers involved in the encounter have been arrested and the case is under investigation by civilian prosecutors and the military.


The episode has deepened concerns about the growing footprint of Mexico’s armed forces, which has not only been put in charge of domestic security, but has also been given a rapidly expanding portfolio of businesses, like a new international airport and a major rail line.


It underscores what human rights advocates and analysts say is a dangerous flaw in Mexico’s governing system: one of the country’s most powerful institution operates with little oversight.


Despite a long history of human rights abuses, the military assumed overall responsibility for civilian security after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador dissolved the federal police, which was widely considered corrupt and unable to stamp out Mexico’s rampant violence.  


He created a National Guard to help secure the country and, last year, put it under the military’s control, in a move than some observers called unconstitutional. The National Guard polices streets across Mexico with the military, and often takes a back seat to the army when securing territory.


Homicides have fallen slightly, but disappearances continue to rise and, critics say, residents are at risk of falling victim to heavy-handed tactics.


The Defense Ministry is under the command of an active-duty general, not a civilian leader, is not required to publicly release documents or report on its activities and often refuses to appear before Mexico’s Congress to answer questions.


The military’s strict control over its own affairs has led the Mexican president to consolidate other government projects under the armed forces, limiting their transparency. Cases of civilian deaths at the hands of the army almost never go to trial.


“Given the increasing role of the armed forces in Mexico, it is really crucial and urgent” that they “are regulated with a civilian supervision mechanism, which should be created to control and eventually get accountability,” said Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


The U.N. has called for an independent investigation into the Nuevo Laredo killings, citing the military’s history of excessive use of force in the city.


An initial military statement implied that the men in the pickup were armed and had not heeded orders from soldiers.


But that claim was contradicted by Alejandro Encinas, a top federal government human rights official.


“It was not a confrontation,’’ Mr. Encinas said. “They were executed.”


The soldiers fired 117 rounds during the incident even though the victims never brandished a weapon, a preliminary report by the National Commission on Human Rights found.


The Defense Ministry declined to comment on the killings, citing the ongoing investigations.


Asked for comment on Mr. Suárez’s killing, an American official   said the U.S.  government had issued its highest-level warning for Tamaulipas, the state that includes Nuevo Laredo, and had warned its citizens not to travel there.


Lawyers representing the families of the dead and the survivors say the army has tried to cover up details of what unfolded that morning.


They accuse the soldiers of removing the truck’s license plates to bolster their accusation that the men were behaving suspiciously. A survivor said he was forced at gunpoint to tape a confession that the men had fired on the soldiers first.


A week after the attack, about a dozen soldiers showed up around midnight at one of the survivor’s homes in an attempt to intimidate him into silence, his lawyers say.


“We do not understand why they shot some young people who were not even attacking them,’’ said Raymundo Ramos, the president of the Committee of Human Rights in Tamaulipas, an advocacy group representing the survivors and the families of the dead men.


(An earlier New York Times investigation revealed that Mr. Ramos had been spied on illegally by the military while working on a different case in Nuevo Laredo involving the armed forces and accusations of human rights violations.)


During Mr. López Obrador’s administration, the military has moved well beyond its main security mission into a variety of lucrative businesses.


It built and operates Mexico City’s new airport and is constructing much of the nation’s largest tourism project, a $20 billion, nearly 1,000 mile railroad that it will also manage once completed. The armed forces are also now in charge of the country’s customs, one of Mexico’s biggest income generators, with expected revenues of $59 billion for 2022.


Such responsibilities, analysts warn, give the military the ability to raise money on its own and could undermine Mexico’s balance of power.


At the same time, in Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Texas, the military’s long track record of abuses has bred deep resentment.


Mr. Ramos’ organization has documented 18 cases of human rights violations linked to the military since 2018, including executions, rape and torture of civilians. But only one has gone to trial.


In one case, a 4-year-old girl, Heydi Mariana, was shot and killed last August when the car she was riding in came under fire from soldiers. At least 16 bullets ripped through the vehicle.


The military said the girl was killed during a confrontation with criminals, but has not provided evidence. No one has been charged in the case.


“My daughter was going to kindergarten,’’ said the girl’s mother, Cristina Rodríguez, 26, who added that soldiers showed up at Heydi’s funeral, a move the family interpreted as an act of intimidation. “She was not a delinquent.’’


The night before the February attack on the pickup truck, the victims, all in their 20s, were at a local nightclub to toast the news that Mr. Suárez was going to be a father.


After piling into Mr. Suárez’s truck, they passed four military vehicles carrying 21 soldiers that started pursuing the men. In a statement, the military said the soldiers had heard gunshots from the direction of the pickup.


The account of what happened next is based on interviews with the survivors, relatives of those killed, their lawyers and the government’s report.


The soldiers rammed one of their vehicles into the truck without identifying themselves or asking them to stop, the survivors say, a statement confirmed by the National Commission for Human Rights.


The impact forced the truck to crash outside the home of Sara Luna, 60.


The soldiers were already firing, Ms. Luna says, adding that she later counted 64 gunshots striking her home.


The gunfire lasted about 15 minutes, she says.


When it ended, she and her husband opened their front door a crack and saw soldiers standing over bleeding bodies. The soldiers ordered them inside.


Alejandro Pérez Benitez, 21, one of the two survivors, says he was in the pickup truck with his brother when the shooting started.


Another occupant, who had been shot, stumbled out of the truck outside Ms. Luna’s home, asking soldiers for an ambulance, Mr. Pérez says. They shot him again and killed him, Mr. Pérez says.


Mr. Pérez got out of the truck, at which point a soldier forced him onto his knees at gunpoint.


“‘Kill him, kill him so there is no evidence,’” he recalls another soldier yelling.


The soldiers made him lay facedown next to his brother.


Then, Mr. Pérez says, they shot his brother in the back. As he lay in a pool of his brother’s blood, Mr. Pérez could hear an ambulance — but the soldiers blocked it from arriving for over an hour.


Mr. Pérez says he put a hand on his brother’s body. It started to go cold. He kissed him.


Mr. Pérez says he was then forced to tape a confession that he had shot at the soldiers first.


Luis, 25, a barber who also survived, recalls emerging from the car with bullet wounds to his lungs and stomach. He says he was also thrown onto the pavement by the soldiers and shot in the back.


The soldiers accused him of trying to run away.


“I told them, ‘How am I going to run, I’m bleeding to death,’” he says.


Paramedics were eventually able to take Luis to a hospital, where he was put in a medically induced coma. His full name is being withheld because he fears retaliation from the military.


Humberto Suárez, the father of the American victim, woke up that morning expecting to prepare a catfish he had caught to celebrate his son starting a family.


Soon after, he received a call that his son was dead. He rushed to the scene to find his son’s bloodied remains splattered across the truck’s floor.


Days later, Mr. Suárez says, a military representative met with him and relatives of the other victims to discuss a financial settlement, a common tactic by the military, analysts say, to try to dissuade families from going to the media or to try to take cases to civilian courts.


“They did not come to say ‘we are sorry,’” he says of the meeting, which he secretly recorded and shared with The New York Times. “They came to ask how much we wanted, as if our sons were dogs.”


Emiliano Rodríguez Mega contributed reporting from Mexico City.



5) Judge Invalidates F.D.A. Approval of the Abortion Pill Mifepristone

The Texas judge’s ruling was quickly contradicted by another federal judge in Washington State who ordered the F.D.A. to keep mifepristone available.

By Pam Belluck, Published April 7, 2023, Updated April 8, 2023


A close-up view looking down into a clear plastic cup containing a single white mifepristone pill; a patient's hand with painted fingernails holds the cup between thumb and index finger.
A patient in New Mexico prepared to take mifepristone, the first of two sets of pills taken for a medication abortion. Credit...Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

A federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary ruling invalidating the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, an unprecedented order that — if it stands through court challenges — could make it harder for patients to get abortions in states where abortion is legal, not just in those trying to restrict it.


The drug will continue to be available at least in the short-term since the judge, Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, stayed his own order for seven days to give the F.D.A. time to ask an appeals court to intervene.


Less than an hour after Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling, a judge in Washington state issued a ruling in another case, which contradicted the Texas decision, ordering the F.D.A. to make no changes to the availability of mifepristone in the 18 states that filed that lawsuit.


The conflicting orders by two federal judges, both preliminary injunctions issued before the full cases have been heard, appear to create a legal standoff likely to escalate to the Supreme Court.


President Biden said his administration would fight the Texas ruling. “This does not just affect women in Texas,” he said in a statement. “If it stands, it would prevent women in every state from accessing the medication, regardless of whether abortion is legal in a state.”


The order by Judge Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee who has written critically about Roe v. Wade, is an initial ruling in a case that could result in the most consequential abortion decision since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June.


On Friday night, the Justice Department filed a notice that it is appealing the Texas ruling.


“Today’s decision overturns the F.D.A.’s expert judgment, rendered over two decades ago, that mifepristone is safe and effective,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement, adding that the Justice Department would ask that the decision be stayed while the appeal is pending. He said the department is reviewing the ruling in the Washington case.


The lawsuit, filed by a coalition of anti-abortion groups and doctors, seeks to end more than 20 years of legal use of mifepristone, the first pill in the two-drug medication abortion regimen.


The lawsuit in Washington State was filed against the F.D.A. by 18 Democratic attorneys general who were challenging the agency’s restrictions on the prescribing and dispensing of mifepristone. In a preliminary injunction in that case that he applied to the states that had sued, Judge Thomas O. Rice, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, blocked the agency from taking “any action to remove mifepristone from the market or otherwise cause the drug to become less available.”


Medication abortion is the method used in more than half of abortions in the United States. The lawsuit claims that the F.D.A. did not adequately review the scientific evidence or follow proper protocols when it approved mifepristone in 2000 and that it has since ignored safety risks of the medication.


The F.D.A. and the Justice Department have strongly disputed the claims in the lawsuit and said that the federal agency’s rigorous reviews of mifepristone over the years had repeatedly reaffirmed its decision to approve mifepristone, which blocks a hormone that allows a pregnancy to develop. In a statement Friday night, the agency said: “F.D.A. stands behind its determination that mifepristone is safe and effective under its approved conditions of use for medical termination of early pregnancy, and believes patients should have access to F.D.A.-approved medications that F.D.A. has determined to be safe and effective for their intended uses.”


In the 67-page Texas ruling, Judge Kacsmaryk appeared to agree with virtually all of the claims made by the anti-abortion groups and repeatedly used the language of abortion opponents, calling medication abortion “chemical abortion” and referring to a fetus as an “unborn human” or “unborn child.”


”The court does not second-guess F.D.A.’s decision-making lightly,” the judge wrote. “But here, F.D.A. acquiesced on its legitimate safety concerns — in violation of its statutory duty — based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions. There is also evidence indicating F.D.A. faced significant political pressure to forgo its proposed safety precautions to better advance the political objective of increased ‘access’ to chemical abortion.”


A lawyer for Danco Laboratories, which makes the branded version of mifepristone, called Mifeprex, and had joined the lawsuit on the side of the F.D.A., forcefully disagreed with the judge’s characterizations.


“The court’s ruling rewrites the facts and the law to tell its preferred narrative — which is a story line that conflicts with established legal principles and with Mifeprex’s well-established safety profile,” the lawyer, Jessica Ellsworth, said in a statement. Danco filed a notice that it was appealing the ruling.


Erik Baptist, a lawyer for the anti-abortion groups that filed the Texas case called the decision “a significant victory for the doctors and medical associations we represent, and more importantly, the health and safety of women and girls.” Mr. Baptist, who is senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal organization, said, “by illegally approving dangerous chemical abortion drugs, the F.D.A. put women and girls in harm’s way, and it’s high time the agency is held accountable for its reckless actions.”


Legal experts said that even if the Texas ruling is ultimately upheld, there would be several legal options that could allow the manufacturers of mifepristone to continue supplying the drug and providers to continue prescribing it to patients.


Shortly after the rulings on Friday night, the chief executive of GenBioPro, one of the two manufacturers of mifepristone in the United States, issued a statement saying the company was reviewing the decisions of both judges.


“We will take any steps necessary to lawfully make mifepristone available and accessible to as many people as possible in the country,” the statement from the C.E.O., Evan Masingill, said.


And if legal access to mifepristone is blocked, some abortion providers plan to provide only the second abortion medication, misoprostol, which is used safely on its own in many countries where mifepristone is less available. Misoprostol, a drug that is approved for other medical uses, causes contractions similar to a miscarriage and is considered slightly less effective on its own than in combination with mifepristone and more prone to cause side effects like nausea.


In the Texas lawsuit, the plaintiffs also seek to ban the use of misoprostol for abortion, but their request for a preliminary injunction focused on mifepristone.


Since last year’s Supreme Court ruling overturning the national right to abortion, the pills used in medication abortions have increasingly become the focus of political and legal battles. Some conservative states, in addition to banning or restricting abortion in general, have begun considering legislation that specifically targets abortion pills. And several recent lawsuits have been filed in efforts to preserve or expand access to medication abortion.


The lawsuit filed in Washington state was intended to be a direct challenge to the Texas case. The Democratic attorneys general filed the case in late February on the first day that Judge Kacsmaryk could have issued a ruling. While its main claims sought to eliminate a framework of extra restrictions that the F.D.A. has long applied to mifepristone, the suit also asked the judge to declare that the F.D.A.’s “approval of mifepristone is lawful and valid” and to enjoin the F.D.A. “from taking any action to remove mifepristone from the market or reduce its availability.”


In a news conference earlier this week, Washington’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, characterized the lawsuit he and the other attorneys general filed as “the opposite of what’s going on in Texas.” He added “So the potential is there for two decisions or judges that are, in effect, contrary to one another. In other words, one judge in Texas could potentially say ‘Hey I’m issuing a ban on mifepristone nationwide’ and a judge in Washington State in the case with 17 other states could say ‘no, no, not only is it available, you got to expand access to it.’”


The case has caused a frenzy of concern in the reproductive health community. It was filed by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, an organization that lists five anti-abortion groups as its members and was incorporated in August in Amarillo, Texas, where the case was filed. Judge Kacsmaryk is the only federal judge covering the Amarillo division in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas.


The F.D.A. has regulated mifepristone more stringently than many other drugs and has regularly reviewed evidence for its safety and effectiveness.


For a dozen years, the agency has imposed an additional framework of restrictions and monitoring for the drug. Called a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, that framework has been used for only about 300 other drugs, only 60 of which it currently covers.


In recent years, the F.D.A. has extensively reviewed new data on mifepristone and has lifted several of the restrictions, including the requirement that patients obtain the drug in person from a provider.


Some of the same anti-abortion organizations that filed the Texas lawsuit had previously filed, in 2002 and 2019, citizen petitions opposing the F.D.A.’s actions on mifepristone. Both were rejected by the agency as unfounded. And a 2008 review by the Government Accountability Office found no irregularities in the F.D.A.’s mifepristone approval.


Legal experts said that the ruling appeared to be the first time that a court had acted to order that a drug be removed from the market over the objection of the F.D.A. and that if the ruling stood, it could have repercussions for federal authority to regulate other types of drugs.


In his statement, Mr. Biden said, “If this ruling were to stand, then there will be virtually no prescription, approved by the F.D.A., that would be safe from these kinds of political, ideological attacks.”


Adam Liptak contributed reporting.



6) The Hideous Resurrection of the Comstock Act

By Michelle Goldberg, April 8, 2023


A woman ties a band around Margaret Sanger’s mouth.

Margaret Sanger with her mouth covered, in protest of not being allowed to talk about birth control. Credit...Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Illustration panels include Anthony Comstock taking a bath while clothed, recoiling from a shop window displaying women's undergarments and chasing a poodle with its coat sheared to reveal its hindquarters.

An illustration by L.M. Glackens from 1906 showing Anthony Comstock as a monk thwarting displays of excessive flesh. Credit...Library of Congress

Anthony Comstock, the mutton-chopped anti-vice crusader for whom the Comstock Act is named, is back from the dead.


Comstock died in 1915, and the Comstock Act, the notorious anti-obscenity law used to indict the Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, ban books by D.H. Lawrence and arrest people by the thousands, turned 150 last month. Had this anniversary fallen five or 10 years ago, it barely would have been worth noting, except perhaps to marvel at how far we’d come from an era when a fanatical censor like Comstock wielded national political power. “The Comstock Act represented, in its day, the pinnacle of Victorian prudery, the high-water mark of a strict and rigid formal code,” wrote the law professors Joanna Grossman and Lawrence Friedman. Until very recently, it seemed a relic.


Yet suddenly, the prurient sanctimony that George Bernard Shaw called “Comstockery” is running rampant in America. As if inspired by Comstock’s horror of “literary poison” and “evil reading,” states are outdoing one another in draconian censorship. In March, Oklahoma’s Senate passed a bill that, among other things, bans from public libraries all content with a “predominant tendency to appeal to a prurient interest in sex.” Amy Werbel, the author of “Lust on Trial: Censorship and the Rise of American Obscenity in the Age of Anthony Comstock,” described how Comstock tried to suppress photographs of cross-dressing women. More than a century later, Tennessee has banned drag performances on public property, with more states likely to follow.


And now, thanks to a rogue judge in Texas, the Comstock Act itself could be partly reimposed on America. Though the act had been dormant for decades and Congress did away with its prohibitions on birth control in 1971, it was never fully repealed. And with Roe v. Wade gone, the Christian right has sought to make use of it. The Comstock Act was central to the case brought by a coalition of anti-abortion groups in Texas seeking to have Food and Drug Administration approval of mifepristone, part of the regimen used in medication abortion, invalidated. And it is central to the anti-abortion screed of an opinion by Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, the judge, appointed by Donald Trump, who on Friday ruled in their favor.


It’s true that, as Kacsmaryk noted, the Comstock Act bars mailing “every article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine or thing which is advertised or described in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply it for producing abortion or for any indecent or immoral purpose.” The law imposes a five-year maximum prison sentence for first offenses and up to 10 years for subsequent ones. That’s why, almost as soon as the Supreme Court tossed out Roe, social conservatives started clamoring for the Comstock Act to be enforced against medication abortion. When 20 Republican attorneys general wrote to Walgreens and CVS warning them against distributing abortion pills, they invoked the Comstock Act.


Many legal scholars see this invocation of the Comstock Act as legally dubious. As David S. Cohen, Greer Donley and Rachel Rebouché explain in the draft of a forthcoming Stanford Law Review article, circuit court cases in the 1930s found that the Comstock Act applies only to materials used in unlawful abortions. But for judges hellbent on banning abortion, as we’ve seen, precedent doesn’t mean much. “The Comstock Act plainly forecloses mail-order abortion in the present,” wrote Kacsmaryk. He added, “Defendants cannot immunize the illegality of their actions by pointing to a small window in the past where those actions might have been legal.”


On Friday a Washington judge issued an opinion directly contradicting Kacsmaryk’s and ordering the F.D.A. to continue to make mifepristone available. The dispute now is likely headed to the Supreme Court. The emphasis on Comstock in Kacsmaryk’s decision, tweeted the legal scholar Mary Ziegler, could appeal to “self-proclaimed textualists” on the Supreme Court like Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who emphasize the ordinary meaning of words in a statute, outside the context of legislative intent or history.


Such a reading of the Comstock Act could do far more than prohibit patients from getting mifepristone by mail. “Absent the narrowing construction applied by the federal circuit courts, the law’s plain terms could effectively ban all abortion nationwide because almost every pill, instrument or other item used in an abortion clinic or by a virtual abortion provider moves through the mail or an express carrier at some point,” wrote Cohen, Donley and Rebouché.


There is something head-spinning about how quickly Comstock’s spirit of punitive repression has settled on a country where, not long ago, social liberalism seemed largely triumphant, with the rapid acceptance of gay marriage, the growing visibility of trans people and over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. The notion that it’s the government’s job to protect people from vice appeared increasingly passé as states legalized marijuana and gambling. It’s true that even before the end of Roe, conservatives had a lot of success rolling back reproductive rights in red states. But just a year ago, the idea of a judge using the Comstock Act to halt medication abortion nationwide would have seemed hysterical.


Maybe we should have seen it coming. Comstock’s power, after all, derived from a reaction to the sexual radicalism that took root in the Gilded Age. (One of his great nemeses was Victoria Woodhull, the suffragist, spiritualist, free-love advocate and presidential candidate.) By the time the Comstock Act was passed, vulcanized rubber, invented in 1839, had allowed for the mass production of rubber condoms and diaphragms. Other forms of birth control were widely sold in pharmacies. Before Comstock had Madame Restell arrested, which apparently drove her to suicide, she was a celebrity abortionist with a mansion across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. There’s a dialectic relationship between freedom and reaction.


Werbel described Comstock as representing “antiquated Christian nationalism.” She added, “He just doesn’t change over time. And the world around him does.” Ultimately, she argued, the cruelty of Comstock’s crusade helped spark the creation of the modern civil liberties movement, and she hoped that once again, Americans would rebel against religious authoritarianism. Indeed, the nationwide backlash against abortion bans suggests they already are rebelling. But a lot of people had to suffer before the first iteration of Comstockery subsided, and a lot of people are going to suffer from its rebirth.



7) Keir Starmer Is Quietly Bending the U.K. Labour Party to His Will

Political observers from his own side say he has been “ruthless” in reshaping the party as it looks to reclaim power.

By Stephen Castle, April 7, 2023

The Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, in a white shirt, red tie and dark pants, stands at a white lectern. Behind him is a wall painted with a Union Jack flag, and in front of him are bright TV lights.
Keir Starmer, leader of Britain’s Labour Party, in London last month. Credit...Pool photo by Jordan Pettitt

Mr. Starmer banned his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, center from running as a Labour lawmaker.
Mr. Starmer banned his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, center from running as a Labour lawmaker. Credit...Henry Nicholls/Reuters

LONDON — The leader of Britain’s opposition, Keir Starmer, can often seem more like the technocratic human rights lawyer he once was than the no-holds-barred politician now reshaping the Labour Party with an eye toward making it more electable.


But as his former allies on the left wing of his party have discovered, appearances can be deceptive.


Mr. Starmer prompted a bitter rift recently when he banned his leftist predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, from running as a Labour lawmaker, leaving the former leader claiming democratic procedures had been trampled and warning that his supporters were “not going anywhere.”


But beneath the ugly media brawl, the unceremonious purging of Mr. Corbyn was a substantive victory for Mr. Starmer, strengthening his already firm grip over the party. Three years after taking over, he has quietly but efficiently marginalized Labour’s once ascendant left-wing, enforced strict discipline over his top political team and grabbed control of the party machinery, including its selection of Labour candidates for Parliament.


“So far the processes that he has put in place have been utterly ruthless, and the left underestimated him,” said John McTernan, a political strategist and onetime aide to the former prime minister, Tony Blair.


The lesson for his enemies is perhaps not to mistake Mr. Starmer’s courteous and mild-mannered bearing — or absence of fanfare — for a lack of willingness to play political hardball.


“Keir Starmer is not narrating what he’s doing,” Mr. McTernan added. “He’s just doing it.”


Tom Baldwin, a senior adviser to another former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, agrees. “In his absolute determination to remove all obstacles to victory, Keir Starmer is more ruthless and competitive than any Labour leader I’ve ever seen,” he said.


He added: “Tony Blair had a very clear view about where he wanted to go, but did he chuck any of his predecessors out of the party? No.”


A spokesman for Mr. Starmer did not respond to a request for comment.


Under Mr. Corbyn’s leadership, Labour’s 2017 general election campaign scored an upset by depriving the prime minister at the time, Theresa May of the Conservative Party, of her parliamentary majority, signaling her political decline. At that zenith of his political career Mr. Corbyn, often likened to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, basked in the adulation of enthusiastic young supporters, some of whom sang his name at the Glastonbury rock festival.


Two years later the bubble burst and Labour suffered its worst general-election defeat since 1935, while Mr. Corbyn’s leadership was tarnished by cases of antisemitism in his party.


There followed a highly critical report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints. In 2020, when Mr. Corbyn claimed that the scale of the problem was “dramatically overstated” by opponents, Mr. Starmer suspended him from Labour’s parliamentary group, forcing him to sit as an independent.


It was at Mr. Starmer’s behest that Labour’s governing body, its National Executive Committee, completed the political purge of the former leader last month, provoking a surprisingly muted reaction from the party’s left wing that underscored its dwindling influence.


Jon Lansman, a founder of Momentum, a left-wing pressure group within the Labour movement, told Times Radio that Mr. Starmer “unfortunately is behaving as if he was some kind of Putin of the Labour Party. That is not the way we do politics.”


But asked if he would campaign for Mr. Corbyn were the former leader to run for election not as a Labour Party candidate but as an independent, Mr. Lansman replied: “No, I certainly wouldn’t. I want to see Keir Starmer elected as prime minister of this country, and we need a Labour government.”


Other internal critics have kept a low profile sensing that they, too, might fall victim to the purge. After all, Mr. Corbyn was not the first left-winger to be exiled to Labour’s equivalent of Siberia. In 2020, Mr. Starmer fired a lawmaker, Rebecca Long-Bailey, from his top team after she shared on Twitter an interview with Maxine Peake in which the actress claimed that the U.S. police tactics that killed George Floyd were learned from Israeli secret services.


The silence from internal critics spoke of the political transformation Mr. Starmer has achieved seemingly out of public sight.


Elected to Parliament in 2015, Mr. Starmer never adhered to the hard left of the party but nonetheless served in Mr. Corbyn’s top team and campaigned to make him prime minister.


When Mr. Corbyn quit as leader in 2019, Mr. Starmer straddled the internal factions, reassuring the left by arguing that Labour should not “oversteer” away from his predecessor’s agenda.


Mr. Corbyn’s supporters say that is exactly what Mr. Starmer has done, while other critics argue he has offered no vision to excite voters, seeming content to capitalize on the current Conservative government’s unpopularity.


But breaking with Mr. Corbyn, as part of a wider “detoxification” strategy, seems to have helped opinion poll ratings that now put Labour well ahead of the Conservatives.


National voting must take place by January 2025. With Mr. Starmer in a seemingly commanding position to become the next prime minister after four successive general-election defeats, Labour lawmakers have found a new discipline, reinforcing their leader’s authority.


For Mr. Starmer there are some dangers in purging his predecessor. Were Mr. Corbyn to run as an independent in the constituency in north London that he has represented since 1983 (including for more than a decade when Mr. Blair led the party), he might win. Even if he lost, Mr. Corbyn could attract media attention and distract from Labour’s wider campaign.


Another risk is that the party loses some of the young, enthusiastic supporters that Mr. Corbyn attracted.


James Schneider, a former aide to Mr. Corbyn, described Mr. Starmer’s approach as a “barefaced political attack on the ideas and social forces that were mobilizing to redistribute wealth and power in this country, and that came quite close to taking office” in the 2017 general election.


The assault on the left had, Mr. Schneider conceded, been “in a technical sense extremely effective and swift,” catching that wing of the party off guard, adding, “I don’t think anyone thought it would be quite so dramatic and quite so total as it has been.”


Such is the stifling control exercised by Mr. Starmer’s allies that only one candidate from the left has so far succeeded in dozens of Labour internal selections for parliamentary candidates, Mr. Schneider said.


Critics have accused the party leadership of fixing the process, weeding out candidates it dislikes with “due diligence” checks (claims it denies).


But ensuring that Mr. Starmer can rely on those elected on a Labour ticket could be critical if the next general election is close, and if the party wins a small majority.


Allies say Mr. Starmer’s uncompromising tactics have paid off. Mr. McTernan, the former Blair aide, described his hold over Labour as “undislodgeable,” adding that he has tight control over its lawmakers, the National Executive Committee and the shadow cabinet — Mr. Starmer’s top team.


“He also has the trade unions loyally lined up behind him, so it’s hard to know what else he needs to do,” Mr. McTernan said.



8) Texas judge halts FDA approval of abortion pill

The Biden administration has filed an appeal.



The J. Marvin Jones Federal Building and Mary Lou Robinson United States Courthouse is pictured.

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, sided with anti-abortion medical groups that challenged the federal regulation of the drug. | Justin Rex/AP Photo

A Texas federal judge ruled Friday evening to suspend the FDA’s approval of mifepristone — one of two drugs used together to cause an abortion — virtually banning the sale of the pills across the country. The decision, however, will not take effect for a week, giving higher courts time to consider the appeal the Biden administration filed Friday night and delaying for now the impact on hundreds of thousands of patients who use the medication both for abortions and treating miscarriages.


U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, sided with anti-abortion medical groups that challenged the federal regulation of the drug, ruling that both the initial approval of the pills in 2000 as well as more recent FDA decisions allowing them to be prescribed via telemedicine, sent by mail and dispensed at retail pharmacies, are unlawful.


Meanwhile, a Washington State federal judge issued a conflicting order Friday night that blocks the FDA from rolling back access to the pills in the dozen blue states that brought the lawsuit.


The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, clashes with Kacsmaryk’s in that it orders the FDA to maintain the status quo, raising the likelihood that the issue could go before the Supreme Court.


Kacsmaryk’s decision, for its part, is a sweeping endorsement of arguments brought by anti-abortion groups and disputed by the government and major medical groups that the FDA failed to adequately consider the safety risks of the pills.


Hitting back at arguments that it was inappropriate to allow a challenge to a medication that have been approved for decades, he also wrote that “the FDA stonewalled judicial review” and “ignored” petitions from anti-abortion organizations to revisit the pill’s approval.


The judge’s decision includes language commonly used by anti-abortion advocates, describing the intent of the pill as one “to kill the unborn human,” referring to abortion providers as “abortionists,” and describing the “intense psychological trauma” of people who use the pills and then see “the remains of their aborted children.”


Roughly a quarter of states have banned nearly all abortions in the eight months since Roe v. Wade was overturned but this decision has the potential to affect pregnant people across the country — including in Democratic-controlled states that have prioritized abortion access.


The pills, which the FDA approved for use in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy more than two decades ago, recently became the most common method of abortion in the United States, and a way many people have circumvented state bans since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June.


Both abortion-rights supporters and opponents have focused intensely on the pills in recent months — leading to clashes in state legislatures, regulatory agencies and the courts.


‘A dangerous precedent’


The Justice Department quickly appealed the case to the right-leaning 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday night, and top members of the Biden administration said that defending the FDA’s authority and maintaining access to the pills is a top priority.


“If this ruling were to stand, then there will be virtually no prescription, approved by the FDA, that would be safe from these kinds of political, ideological attacks,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Friday night, referencing widespread concerns among medical providers that the decision would spur other legal challenges to long-approved medications, including vaccines and contraception. “My Administration will fight this ruling.”


Attorney General Merrick Garland also weighed in Friday evening, saying that while the Justice Department “strongly disagrees” with the Texas decision and is appealing it, the DOJ is still reviewing the Washington State ruling. In both cases, he stressed, the administration “is committed to protecting Americans’ access to legal reproductive care.”


The anti-abortion groups that brought the challenge, meanwhile, cheered Kacsmaryk’s ruling Friday night, calling it a “significant victory” and insisting on a call with reporters that if higher courts don’t intervene over the next week, the two pharmaceutical companies that make the pills “should cease production of this drug.”


Erik Baptist, a senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, who argued the case in Texas on behalf of anti-abortion medical groups, declined to comment on the ruling out of Washington State that protects access to the drugs, but said the issue “may be inevitably going to the Supreme Court.”


Baptist also pushed back on accusations that his organization engaged in “judge shopping” by filing the case where the group knew it would come before Kacsmaryk who — before being confirmed to the federal bench in 2019 — was an attorney for the First Liberty Institute, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group. He argued that some of the doctors he represented in the case are based in Amarillo, Texas, and have recently been impacted by the pills by having to divert resources to patients who took them and needed follow-up care.


At oral arguments in the case in March, the anti-abortion medical groups and individual doctors Baptist represented claimed that the FDA erred in its approval of the drug and didn’t adequately consider its safety risks — a position Kacsmaryk cited in his ruling.


“The adverse events from chemical abortion drugs can overwhelm the medical system and consume crucial limited medical resources, including blood for transfusions, physician time and attention, space in hospitals and medical centers, and other equipment and medicines,” the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical & Dental Associations and other organizations claimed in their suit. “The more patients suffering emergency complications from chemical abortion drugs or seeking to reverse the effects of the drug regimen, the less time and attention Plaintiff doctors have to treat their other patients.”


The Justice Department asked Kacsmaryk to dismiss the case, saying the doctors and medical groups have no standing and are attempting to “upend [the FDA’s] longstanding scientific determination based on speculative allegations of harm.” The DOJ also argued that the groups are well past the statute of limitations for challenging the 2000 approval of the pills, saying they can only legally go after the more recent agency actions that have loosened restrictions on how patients obtain them.


The 2021 and 2023 rule changes that allowed patients with a prescription to receive the pills by mail and pick them up at retail pharmacies were based on “multiple studies that showed that administration of the drug was associated with exceedingly low rates of serious adverse events,” DOJ argued to the court. The FDA first allowed telemedicine prescription of the pills just for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic and later moved to make the rules permanent based on new safety data.


Danco, the maker of the drug, has also intervened as a party in the case, arguing that the suit threatens “the company’s economic health.” The company said it would immediately appeal the ruling, calling it “a dark day for public health.”


Democratic state attorneys general joined forces with the Biden administration in the Texas case but a dozen of them faced off with government lawyers for the FDA in the Washington State case, arguing that the remaining federal restrictions on the pills are unsupported by science and hamper states’ ability to care for patients who need the medication.


Washington’s Bob Ferguson and Oregon’s Ellen Rosenblum co-led the lawsuit, joined by the Democratic attorneys general representing Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont.


Judge Rice has not yet ruled on their challenge of the REMS — or Risk Evaluation & Mitigation Strategies — that the FDA places on a narrow class of drugs, including requirements that patients sign a “Patient Agreement Form” acknowledging the risks of the medication and that health care providers who prescribe the drug first obtain certification and prove they can accurately date pregnancies, diagnose ectopic pregnancies and provide or arrange for a follow-up care if needed.


Potential impact of Texas ruling


If the ban ordered by Kacsmaryk ultimately takes effect, some parts of the country could be hit particularly hard. An analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights think tank, found that abortion clinics in 2 percent of U.S. counties only offer abortion pills and don’t have a procedural option. Some of the states set to be most impacted — including Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Mexico — are serving their own residents and a large influx of patients from neighboring states with more restrictions. Guttmacher estimates the decision could impede access for at least 2.4 million people.


Some abortion providers have announced that they plan to pivot to prescribing just the second pill in the two-pill regimen — misoprostol — in the event that mifepristone is banned. The drug is subject to fewer restrictions because it’s used for many non-abortion purposes, including treating stomach ulcers. Misoprostol-only abortions are also common in other countries, but they have a slightly higher rate of patients requiring follow-up surgery to complete the abortion than the two pills used together.


“We’ve been preparing for the last few weeks, putting together updated policies and procedures that will go into effect should the ruling make mifepristone unavailable,” Ashley Brink, the director of the Trust Women abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas, told reporters in February. “We’ve held trainings for our doctors on how to counsel patients on what to expect and we’ve met with our attorneys about our legal exposure.”


“However,” she stressed, “not every clinic may be able to pivot as quickly to a misoprostol-only protocol.”


If the decision banning mifepristone is allowed to stand, the FDA could move to approve it again if it receives a new application from the pharmaceutical company — a process that could take months if not years.


Abortion-rights advocacy groups also warn the decision could open the door to a wide range of ideologically motivated challenges to anything from birth control to vaccines.


“It basically puts at risk people’s access to medication that they rely on,” Carrie Flaxman, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, said in an interview. “This would allow anyone to come back decades later and claim a medication is unsafe.”


Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.



9) I Worked at the F.D.A. The Abortion Pill Decision Is Dangerous.

By Joshua M. Sharfstein, April 10, 2023


A group of women, two holding signs that read "Defend Medication Abortion."
David Erickson/Associated Press

A federal judge in Texas has taken a shocking and irresponsible action: invalidating the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, a medication used safely by hundreds of thousands of women each year to help terminate pregnancies as part of a two-pill regimen. For what appears to be the first time, a court has invalidated an agency drug approval — an approval that was based on extensive review of scientific evidence, earned the unanimous support of outside experts and retains, after two decades, the full backing of major professional medical organizations.


The decision is so stunning that it is reasonable to ask whether courts should have any role in reviewing the F.D.A.’s scientific decision-making at all. In fact, judges do have an important job: protecting the ability of the agency to use science and expert judgment to support the health of the American people. The Texas decision is a perversion of this role and, by undermining the F.D.A., represents a threat to the safety of millions of Americans.


There’s a name for the day of the week when the F.D.A. finds itself in court: Monday. Also, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Sometimes the weekends, too. The agency’s large stable of dedicated attorneys defends its actions on a multitude of issues. These include routine administrative matters such as whether the agency moved too fast or too slow on a generic drug approval or whether the agency has missed regulatory deadlines.


More consequential cases challenge whether the agency has the authority under statutes or the Constitution to address serious threats. For example, the Supreme Court struck down the agency’s initial attempt to regulate the marketing of tobacco products, leading Congress to later pass legislation permitting the agency to move forward. To the chagrin of many public health advocates, an expanding constitutional doctrine of corporate speech has led courts to limit the actions that the F.D.A. can take to protect the public.


And then there are those cases that seek to overturn actual regulatory decisions, which may be brought by advocacy groups, regulated companies or other affected parties. In determining whether the agency has been “arbitrary and capricious,” the standard of review, courts have long respected the judgments of the F.D.A.’s experts, especially those that are in line with expert advice and the consensus of leading medical organizations. This respect has led courts in rare instances to intervene when inappropriate political interference has disrupted the agency’s normal processes.


Example A is Plan B. In 2009, a federal judge ordered the F.D.A. to make emergency contraception available over the counter to 17-year-olds. The decision came after investigations found that the leadership of the F.D.A. during the Bush administration deviated from normal procedures when it overruled the decisions of multiple staff scientists, the views of leading medical associations and the vote of advisory committees, all of which were supportive of making the product available without a prescription to people of all ages.


By 2011, the agency’s scientists had again determined that it was appropriate to permit emergency contraception to be sold over the counter without age restrictions. This time, the F.D.A. commissioner appointed by President Barack Obama supported the scientists’ position, publicly explaining that it was based on scientific findings, expert advice, and data from well-designed studies. Yet the secretary of health and human services overruled the agency and blocked approval for all ages on the basis of her own review of the evidence, a decision endorsed by the president himself.


Again, the matter headed to court. The judge found that the secretary’s decision was “obviously political,” and cited expert testimony stating that the F.D.A.’s scientific decisions shouldn’t “bend to political winds.” The court ordered the F.D.A. to make emergency contraception available over the counter without age restrictions.


Political attempts to interfere in F.D.A.’s decision making are rare, but dangerous. During the Trump administration, concerns over political interference at the F.D.A. flared up during in the Covid-19 pandemic. The White House reportedly pressured the agency to support ineffective treatments and authorize vaccines before key data on safety had been gathered. Overruling agency scientists could have led to a court battle, with the judiciary needing to step in to preserve the agency’s authority and the trust of the public.


Now, growing ideological polarization, reflected in the Texas decision’s embrace of extreme language about abortion and health, poses new risks to the F.D.A.’s integrity. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires the F.D.A. to approve medications on the basis of “substantial evidence.” Trust in the agency’s work rests on the idea that decisions that affect a nation are based on facts, not ideology or influence.


Courts should protect this principle. Were a future administration to attempt to evade these requirements, such as by withdrawing medications that have been appropriately studied and approved, courts should strike it down. Such a threat of legal action may have kept the Bush administration from reconsidering the approval of mifepristone back in the early 2000s. Courts should also step in, as they have done in the past, as states like Wyoming try to outlaw approved drugs.


The scientific and regulatory excellence of the F.D.A. is a point of national pride. Because of its independent, thorough and expert reviews of data, the agency remains the international gold standard for approving medications. Confidence that the F.D.A. can do its work is essential for clinicians and patients, who routinely depend on the agency’s decision making on matters of life and death. It is also necessary for companies and their investors to develop important new therapies for devastating conditions. If judges can interfere with legitimate and well-supported F.D.A. action, there is no reason to believe that the consequences will be limited to abortion medications.


Courts can protect the work of F.D.A., or they can destroy it. In issuing an order to keep mifepristone on the market in certain states, a federal judge in Washington State is supporting the many millions of Americans who depend on the F.D.A.’s scientific decisions. The Supreme Court will soon have to decide which side it is on.



10) The Superyachts of Billionaires Are Starting to Look a Lot Like Theft

By Joe Fassler. April 10, 2023


If you’re a billionaire with a palatial boat, there’s only one thing to do in mid-May: Chart your course for Istanbul and join your fellow elites for an Oscars-style ceremony honoring the builders, designers and owners of the world’s most luxurious vessels, many of them over 200 feet long.


The nominations for the World Superyacht Awards were all delivered in 2022, and the largest contenders are essentially floating sea mansions, complete with amenities like glass elevators, glass-sided pools, Turkish baths and all-teak decks. The 223-foot Nebula, owned by the WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, comes with an air-conditioned helicopter hangar.


I hate to be a wet blanket, but the ceremony in Istanbul is disgraceful. Owning or operating a superyacht is probably the most harmful thing an individual can do to the climate. If we’re serious about avoiding climate chaos, we need to tax, or at the very least shame, these resource-hoarding behemoths out of existence. In fact, taking on the carbon aristocracy, and their most emissions-intensive modes of travel and leisure, may be the best chance we have to boost our collective “climate morale” and increase our appetite for personal sacrifice — from individual behavior changes to sweeping policy mandates.


On an individual basis, the superrich pollute far more than the rest of us, and travel is one of the biggest parts of that footprint. Take, for instance, Rising Sun, the 454-foot, 82-room megaship owned by the DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen. According to a 2021 analysis in the journal Sustainability, the diesel fuel powering Mr. Geffen’s boating habit spews an estimated 16,320 tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent gases into the atmosphere annually, almost 800 times what the average American generates in a year.


And that’s just a single ship. Worldwide, more than 5,500 private vessels clock in about 100 feet or longer, the size at which a yacht becomes a superyacht. This fleet pollutes as much as entire nations: The 300 biggest boats alone emit 315,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, based on their likely usage — about as much as Burundi’s more than 10 million inhabitants. Indeed, a 200-foot vessel burns 132 gallons of diesel fuel an hour standing still, and can guzzle 2,200 gallons just to travel 100 nautical miles.


Then there are the private jets, which make up a much higher overall contribution to climate change. Private aviation added 37 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2016, which rivals the annual emissions of Hong Kong or Ireland. (Private plane use has surged since then, so today’s number is likely higher.)


You’re probably thinking: But isn’t that a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of coal plants around the world spewing carbon? It’s a common sentiment; last year, Christophe Béchu, France’s minister of the environment, dismissed calls to regulate yachts and chartered flights as “le buzz” — flashy, populist solutions that get people amped up but ultimately only fiddle at the margins of climate change.


But this misses a much more important point. Research in economics and psychology suggests humans are willing to behave altruistically — but only when they believe everyone is being asked to contribute. People “stop cooperating when they see that some are not doing their part,” as the cognitive scientists Nicolas Baumard and Coralie Chevallier wrote last year in Le Monde.


In that sense, superpolluting yachts and jets don’t just worsen climate change, they lessen the chance that we will work together to fix it. Why bother, when the luxury goods mogul Bernard Arnault is cruising around on the Symphony, a $150 million, 333-foot superyacht?


“If some people are allowed to emit 10 times as much carbon for their comfort,” Mr. Baumard and Ms. Chevallier asked, “then why restrict your meat consumption, turn down your thermostat or limit your purchases of new products?”


Whether we’re talking about voluntary changes (insulating our attics and taking public transit) or mandated ones (tolerating a wind farm on the horizon or saying goodbye to a lush lawn), the climate fight hinges to some extent on our willingness to participate. When the ultrarich are given a free pass, we lose faith in the value of that sacrifice.


Taxes aimed at superyachts and private jets would take some of the sting out of these conversations, helping to improve everybody’s climate morale,” a term coined by Georgetown Law professor Brian Galle. But making these overgrown toys a bit more costly isn’t likely to change the behavior of the billionaires who buy them. Instead, we can impose new social costs through good, old-fashioned shaming.


Last June, @CelebJets — a Twitter account that tracked the flights of well-known figures using public data, then calculated their carbon emissions for all to see — revealed that the influencer Kylie Jenner took a 17-minute flight between two regional airports in California. “kylie jenner is out here taking 3 minute flights with her private jet, but I’m the one who has to use paper straws,” one Twitter user wrote.


As media outlets around the world covered the backlash, other celebrities like Drake and Taylor Swift scrambled to defend their heavy reliance on private plane travel. (Twitter suspended the @CelebJets account in December after Elon Musk, a frequent target of jet-tracking accounts, acquired the platform.)


There’s a lesson here: Massively disproportionate per capita emissions get people angry. And they should. When billionaires squander our shared supply of resources on ridiculous boats or cushy chartered flights, it shortens the span of time available for the rest of us before the effects of warming become truly devastating. In this light, superyachts and private planes start to look less like extravagance and more like theft.


Change can happen — and quickly. French officials are exploring curbing private plane travel. And just last week — after sustained pressure from activists — Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam announced it would ban private jets as a climate-saving measure.


Even in the United States, carbon shaming can have outsized impact. Richard Aboulafia, who’s been an aviation industry consultant and analyst for 35 years, says that cleaner, greener aviation, from all-electric city hoppers to a new class of sustainable fuels, is already on the horizon for short flights. Private aviation’s high-net-worth customers just need more incentive to adopt these new technologies. Ultimately, he says, it’s only our vigilance and pressure that will speed these changes along.


There’s a similar opportunity with superyachts. Just look at Koru, Jeff Bezos’s newly built 416-foot megaship, a three-masted schooner that can reportedly cross the Atlantic on wind power alone. It’s a start.


Even small victories challenge the standard narrative around climate change. We can say no to the idea of limitless plunder, of unjustifiable overconsumption. We can say no to the billionaires’ toys.